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Road Trippin’ with Momma

I feel like I need to start of by explaining my absence- now there is really no excuse but (I hate it when people say this but now I understand) I have been extremely busy this summer. The good news though is I have plenty of stories to tell and lots of places I’ve been and seen. So I will start from the beginning, my mum came to visit me after 16 months of not seeing her. You can imagine my excitement! 🙂

Now here was the plan, the first two days she got here I decided to show her the 6 (Toronto- it’s what us folk refer to it as here 😉 drake influence you know). We went up the CN Tower to the 360 Restaurant for dinner and to watch the sun set and then on the Saturday, shock I took her to Niagara falls. But then we did go to Niagara on the lake, which was new to Jamie and I and let me tell you- its gorgeous. It’s a cute little town which actually has a lot of British influence.

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Momma & Me 🙂

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The Lake of course
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The British influence inspired me to have Fish & Chips, yum!

Now after I had shown my mum the typical tourist attractions in Toronto and Niagara, it was time to hit the road for out ROAD TRIP. First thing Sunday morning, we were off… first stop was OTTAWA (the Capital of Canada)!

It took us about 5 hours to get to Ottawa and it decided to torrential rain as well which didn’t make it any easier. Now I would say I am a confident driver back in the UK but driving in Canada is a different story. I would love a Canadians perspective on this, but I think the drivers out here on insane. Everyone cuts each other up, goes so fast- it really doesn’t surprise me how many accidents there are. Anyway we arrive in Ottawa around mid afternoon and were worried we weren’t going to have much time to explore as we were leaving the next morning. I can tell you now, we were wrong… we explored what we wanted of Ottawa all in that afternoon.

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Our B&B for the night: Auberge ‘The King Edward’ B&B

I would definitely recommend staying at this B&B if staying in Ottawa. The host was very pleasant and gave us all the information on Ottawa we needed, as well as some recommendations on where to go after (we’ll come onto this). AND he has a dog, which is always a bonus for me… AND the breakfast was delicious… it had me at homemade breakfast muffins, croissant with Nutella, granola- all that good sweet stuff lol. They do savoury options as well but if you know me…IMG_5194.JPG

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View of parliament

Personally, Ottawa didn’t do it for me, an afternoon was enough there. But if you are interested in Parliament, Museums and spending over the odds for dinner in Byward market then this is the place for you.

Now the next day we were heading up to Montreal, and our host recommended driving on the Quebec side and to go through a small town called Montebello. Here there is the largest Fairmont Chateau in the world and let me tell you, it is grand. This is definitely what I like about meeting people and the advantage of having a car… to be able to discover treasures like this that we wouldn’t have known about if it wasn’t for our B&B host.

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The outside looks like pencils

DSCF4191.JPGDSCF4203.JPGWe literally stayed here an hour as thats all we had on the car park lol, so we had a cup of tea, admired the Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello and left; short and sweet!

Next we went to Montreal for a 1 night stay, unfortunately the weather was shocking and a lot was closed because of the rain. Click here to read what I got up to the other times I have visited Montreal.

This was unfortunate for my mum because I wanted to show her Montreal but hopefully our next stop made up for it… QUEBEC CITY!!! I’m just going to say it now, I love Quebec City!IMG_5257.JPGIt’s so strange cause as we drove towards Quebec city, the weather just got brighter and brighter… its like we drove out of the storm and came into the light. It was perfect and as you can see from the above picture, I (and we) was excited! Click here to see what we got up to in Quebec city (I wanted to do a separate post as we stayed for a few days and got up to lots).

After a great few days in Quebec city it was time to make our way back to Toronto, but it is an 8 hour drive (it doesn’t sounds a lot but when we drove to Montreal which is 6 hours, we said we would never do that in one day again). So, we decided to stop off somewhere on the way. Mum had definitely done her research and was reading about Canada and saw a place called a thousand islands, which I googled and it looked cute so thats where we stopped!

It was just over a 5 hour drive from Quebec city, one positive about driving in Canada, well Ontario/Quebec specifically it is very simple. A lot of the roads are highways so its easy to navigate, the tricky part is the cities (and the crazy drivers). As well different provinces have different rules such as you can turn right on a red light in Ontario but you cannot in Quebec. Also, always research which side of the road you are driving on- we have been here over a year now and I have definitely spent some time on the wrong side of the road.

When we got to our B&B in Thousand Islands, Gananoque we were blown away by the view as well as the house we were staying at. Riverview B&B, Lansdowne House was on Thousand Island Parkway which runs along side the River. All of the properties along this road have a pretty stunning view as you will see below.

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The evening we arrived, we went into the town which was like a 10 minute drive away and found a cute place to eat. The town of Gananoque is very cute and picturesque. The houses are adorable and the lake is calming and beautiful. We had a little stroll around before heading back to get some kip.

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The Gananoque Inn

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Dessert with a view

The final day of our trip we only had a 3 hour drive back to Toronto, so we booked onto a boat trip around the thousand islands in Gananoque. The boarder to the States is located in the middle of the water so its interesting to which islands are on which side. This was a nice and cute end to our road trip.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Mother and I’s 5 night, 6 day road trip, it was a great adventure to endure while my mum came to visit and I was so happy that I got to spend some quality time with her as well as exploring together. Mums last 2 nights we spent at home in Toronto before the dreaded goodbye. Miss you mum, come back soon! Xxx

Jollietravels (well Hollie in this case) xxx

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Niagara Falls!!!

The beautiful wonder of the world, that is, Niagara Falls!!! I will admit, it is truly stunning- but… I have seen this stunning wonder 3 times already and funnily enough I am going tomorrow too lol- my mum is visiting me and I haven’t seen her in 16 months!!!!!DSCF3360

First things first though, I’m not sure about you guys but I thought Niagara Falls was in Toronto, or at least near it… it is not! It’s in Niagara (who’d of thought?!), well I guess it’s not too too far away, it’s about a 2-and-a-half-hour drive, or about 3 hours on public transport (train and bus) or there is a bus trip you can buy from Toronto to Niagara Falls and Niagara on the lake (which I haven’t been too yet, but will be going tomorrow- so stay tuned). Niagara has many different aspects to it, you have the falls; which really do take your breath away. You have the strip of Niagara (Clifton Hill), which to be honest (don’t hate me) reminds me a little of Skegness (UK), I think it takes away from the natural aspect of the falls as it is a very built up and kid friendly. It has a little fair, every fast food restaurant (except McDonalds funnily enough), gift shops, treat shops, a Ripley’s Believe it or not, casinos and much more.

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The Strip

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Then you have ‘The Q’ which is Queen St in Niagara. It is a shame because The Q seems like it was the hustle n bustle once upon a time, but now you just see closed down businesses and hotels. You’re just waiting to see the tumbleweed roll across the road. It is very airy, but it’s kinda cool and calming.

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The Q is where Jamie and I got off the bus and walked from to the falls, it was so nice to see the cute little houses overlooking the lake, which is so sooooooo blue- it’s gorgeous!!! It’s also crazy to think that you are looking directly at the states. Some of the houses have the Canadian flag outside and then on the other side they have the American flag.

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Smaller falls before the Great Niagara Falls

As you get closer to the falls, you can certainly hear the roar of the water falling. It’s exciting, I will let you know though- the actual falls is the last one you see lol there are other falls as you are walking to it and Jamie and I kept getting excited like is this one it? But it wasn’t, and then when you see the actual Niagara Falls you are like ‘ahhh that’s it!!!’.

Now there are different ways you can see the falls, obviously from the side walk, by boat (Maid of the Mist), behind the falls and there is a zip line you can do in front of the falls (which Mum and I will be doing tomorrow). All the others I have done already- so I thought I would share my array of photos with you so you can see the view from each. I will also link all of them, so if you are stopping by Niagara Falls, you know where to go! 😉

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On Maid of the Mist
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Behind the Falls
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Top of the Falls

I hope you have enjoyed the pictures… I feel this post is more pictures than words but it’s something you have to see for your own eyes- the Niagara Falls talks for itself and its truly stunning! See you in my next one.

Jollietravels xxx

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Being in Toronto

Sorry it’s been like over 2 weeks since I’ve posted, my aim is to post once a week and I have failed already L but to make up for it, I will continue to bring great content ;)! Carrying on from my previous post, which seemed to be my most viewed post so far (so let me know if you want more of that kind of content) I thought I would put together some tips, hints and information on getting settled in Toronto, Canada (specifically).

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Nathan Phillips Square – City Hall

First of all,
if you have managed to get a visa for Canada then well done you- personally I thought it was the most stressful process, its literally like trying to get Glastonbury tickets; they sell out so fast! I’m not going to talk about the process of applying for a visa but if you would like me to do a post on it, let me know in the comments below. Now you want to get set up for when you do the big move, I suggest joining groups on Facebook for people who are in similar situations to you, Jamie and I are in a ‘Brits in Toronto’ and ‘Irish in Toronto’ groups on Facebook (I know we’re not Irish lol) and I’m assuming there will be similar groups depending on where you are going- you just need to search J I didn’t know about these groups until an Irish friend at work told me about the Irish group and then a couple of months later an English friend told me about the Brit group. These groups are so helpful as everyone is in the same situation, people are asking questions (I found my hairdresser from a recommendation on there), giving advice (you can help people if you know), selling things (we brought our shoe rack from the group lol) and often arranging meet ups so you can make friends (we are yet to go to a meetup).

Living in the six!

Once you have booked your one-way ticket, I do suggest having accommodation booked for at least a week or staying with friends or family if that’s available for you- just so you can get familiar with your surroundings etc. and know where you want to be based.

We stayed in a B&B for 10 nights until luckily we were offered to stay in Jamie’s boss’s condo for 3 weeks and then moved into our cute basement apartment at the beginning of April; which we had found on Craigslist. You can also search other websites such as viewit and kijiji. The only problem with some places is that they want a letter from your employers etc. and if you have just moved here and without work it can be a little tricky. Referring back to the Facebook groups again, quite often people will be advertising a room to rent etc. so again its handy to consult the groups especially as these places might not require you to have a job at first etc. To give you a range on prices, for a basement apartment not directly downtown but close by you can pay around $1000, if you are looking to live in a condo then you will be paying $1500+. Personally, I am glad we have started off in a basement apartment as it allowed us to get our money right and continue to do a lot of activities as well as saving some money and hopefully in the future we will move into a condo because to be honest, I wouldn’t mind a good view; this obviously all depends on how much you earn also. My last point is to google the area that you have found a place to live in before you agreeing to living there. The last thing you want to do is agree to something to find out later it’s a dodgy spot. Jamie and I fell lucky with our place, as we really weren’t familiar with the area but we visited at night and in the day prior to paying the deposit. We also google mapped to see how far it was from an area we were told not to live in and luckily we were far away. There may be a church next to a strip club at the top of our road but the people in our neighbourhood are super friendly. Just only the other day, this man was saying Portuguese to us and waving an umbrella- I immediately thought ‘he’s crazy’ but it turns out he wanted to give us the umbrella because it was due to rain. Bless his cotton socks, we took the umbrella and my gosh did it chuck it down. He was our savior!

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Home Sweet Home

Work Work Work

Sometimes in the Facebook groups, people will put if their company are hiring etc. I also strongly recommend signing up to job agencies, all of them. Whether they have a position that you want for long term or if they have on going temporary work to get you experience, money and out of the house; it is worth it. Before you start applying though, make sure you do some research and update your resume (CV) accordingly. Here are a few tips I personally recommend for your resume:

  • Include your new (local) cell number (I suggest getting a local SIM ASAP)
  • Do not include your address, hiring managers do not need to know where you live at this point and it is a security risk- just include the city you live in.
  • Tailor your resume to the specific role you are applying for- I feel like this is common sense now?
  • Do not put the country your previous roles were, hiring managers should not be prejudice to where you are from but this is to make sure they cannot be.
  • Say resume rather than CV, so they know you are clued in.

I also strongly recommend getting LinkedIn (if you haven’t already) as there are so many articles on there on how to improve your resume, your interviewing skills and so on. I have found it extremely helpful and you can also apply for jobs on there and connect with recruiters, hiring managers etc.

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Views from work

2017-03-03 16.56.20Now enough of the grown up stuff, what other information can I give you to prepare you for Toronto and Canada?

– Tim Hortons is everywhere! They love it and I love it!

– There’s also a lot of Starbucks, people just love their coffee (I’m not a coffee drinker myself, but I guess that saves me money lol).

– Poutine is Canadas delicacy- its chips (fries), cheese and gravy. Personally, it sounds like something you have after a night out lol, I’ve had it once- it’s nice, but I prefer other foods.

– There is a ridiculous amount of adverts (commercials) on TV- and I mean RE-DIC!!! You watch the first minute of a program, then there’s an ad- WTF! There is normally 3 ad breaks for a 30-minute program (compared to 1 ad per 30 mins in the UK). It used to really wind me up, but I tend to record my programs now and then watch then to avoid this scandalous nonsense.

– Something that took some getting used to is places and directions are given by north, south, east and west rather than (like back home) up/down the road, then take a left/right lol. I’m secretly memorizing ‘never eat shredded wheat’ in my head and thinking where the heck is north or south lol. But to make things easier to anyone who comes/visits here, the lake (Ontario) is south. So when someone asks where you live, you would say west and then give them the nearest intersection- now north America will think this is normal but not for us Brits. This was so strange to get used to but now it comes naturally to us. I’m afraid when I visit home, I’m going to say ‘north up Westdale lane and then go west to head into town’ wahhhhh, people are going to say/think ‘YOU’VE CHANGED’ but nooooo I’m still me.

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Queen Street West

Everyone also thinks you’re from Australia- I get it allllll the time, and when you say you’re not, they say are you from London? No I’m from England, not everyone lives in London you know. I mean I don’t always get angry but it can be annoying, quite often people are just really interested and I think it’s about 80% of my conversations with new people lol.

Anyways I’m rambling on now, next stop Niagara Falls…

Jollietravels xxx

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Settling in Toronto

Now I wanted to write this post as I feel sometimes people assume that those who have gone ‘travelling’ or to live in another city/country are ‘living the dream’ constantly. Don’t get me wrong, I am so glad that Jamie and I decided to make the move to Canada but it isn’t always ‘living the dream’, there is some reality to it. As I mentioned in my ‘Views in Toronto’ post, Jamie found a job pretty quickly. He had an interview on the third day of us being here and then started the following week. For me, it wasn’t that easy. I will mention, Jamie had actually applied for his role while we were in Calgary and they got back to him the day before we came to Toronto so it was lucky we had our flight booked and heading that way. IMG_2807

As Jamie starts his first day, I am sat in the B&B room (a different one, we changed from Downtown Home Inn as they were fully booked so we couldn’t extend, boo) and I’m thinking to myself ‘shit, what do I do now?’ lol reality hit. I continue my job search, I had already applied for a few jobs as most nights we would have an hour or so looking/applying for jobs as well as looking for somewhere to live. But so far, no news. We had found a place to live though, we went to view it one evening after Jamie had finished work and I put the deposit down the following day unfortunately though we couldn’t move in until April 1st and it was still the beginning of March. It was a 1-bedroom basement apartment close to downtown (30 min subway ride) which at first we were unsure about as we don’t have basement apartments in the UK and didn’t like the idea of it. However, after living there now for the past year- I love it, it is just what we needed to kick off our lives here. Good price, good location and great landlord. Our landlord (bless him) asked us if we had a bed or a TV and we were like ‘no, we have our backpacks and that’s it’ lol and he said he will sort it out… we hope so lol.

Jamie’s first week went by, without me getting any phone calls or emails from potential employers. But on a brighter note, Jamie’s new boss offered us to live in his empty condo in Oakville where Jamie was working (until we could move into our basement apartment). So on the weekend, we ventured to Oakville with our backpacks, my pull along case, Jamie’s other backpack and 2 Ikea bags- we had brought ourselves our very own towel each and duvet cover and sheets (yay). This was a lot to carry to the subway, on the subway, to the train station, on the train, onto a bus and then a 10-minute walk to the condo. Looooool what you do when you’re travelling ey haha, I remember walking on the road nearly crying because I just wanted to get there and Jamie was like a mile ahead of me. By this point I hated carrying my backpack around. I despised it lol. But finally, we arrived.
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Oakville is such a lovely town, so many beautiful houses- definitely a place you would like to bring up your children and they can safely play on the street. Our condo was nice, it wasn’t furnished, it was just what his boss had left there from when they lived there but fortunately it was the essentials we needed. The supermarket was literally 3 minutes from the condo so it was a great for the next 3 weeks. It was only until Jamie went back to work on the Monday that I realized… there’s not a lot to do in Oakville. The gym was a good 30-minute walk and we hadn’t signed up yet as I didn’t have a job- so Joe Wicks on YouTube it was then. It was the second week that it really hit me, tell a lie- it hit me the first week but I still had Toronto to go and explore, our place to sort out, people in the B&B to talk too. When I was in Oakville, I was literally alone- it was sooo quite in the day, literally no-one was around.

This is when I started to become a little sad, I was getting frustrated that no-one had contacted me in regards to a job. I had literally applied to everything I wanted to do and didn’t. Because of my frustration and loss of determination I became lazy, I didn’t want to get out of bed, I had no energy and I was really missing home. I really did rely on my family and friends to pick me up, but sometimes it was a daily thing where I felt I needed to speak to someone to assure me we had done the right thing by moving here. Because of my mood, this also effected Jamie- he felt sorry for me and wanted to come home earlier to be with me but also needed to get the hours in to earn money.

Don’t think I want this post to turn into a depressing moan, I just want people to know that its normal to go through these feelings. I personally don’t think about the negative when I want to do something- I like to think of the positives and strive for what I want to do. Whereas Jamie sometimes think about the negative and worries about the ‘what ifs’. Jamie was very lucky to find a job so quick; which is great but don’t think because you haven’t found a job straight away there is no hope. I personally didn’t think about how long it would take me to get a job before I came travelling and looking back now, it took me just over a month.

I had applied to a job posting on a website that happened to be advertised through an employment agency and someone called me from the agency. Now I was new to the agency world but attended the interview and got to find out how agencies work. Unfortunately, the job that the agency put me forward too, decided to not move forward with my resume (CV) due to lack of administrative experience, but I decided to continue following up with my representative to see what else was available and luckily enough (I do think sometimes timing is key) the day I decided to call they had an internal role available and I’ve been there ever since.

My purpose of this post is to show you that sometimes it is an emotional rollercoaster when trying to find a job and settle in to a new country when you don’t know anyone, especially when you are unemployed. Jamie and I brought a certain amount of money travelling and wanted to limited ourselves to that amount hence we wanted to start working after our month of travelling. The strain of me not having a job for the second month meant Jamie was paying for the both of us. I am so thankful to Jamie for supporting me and us through that time as it wasn’t easy for either of us. I was also reluctant to tell my family and friends that I wasn’t very happy because we had spent 2 years planning to come here and then I was sad in only the second month. But telling them made me realise how much I love my family and the support they give me and also how much my friends were there for me. I will never take anyone for granted and make the effort to maintain my friendships back home as these people mean the world to me. I understand not everyone have others to talk to and if you are reading this post, believe me- you will get there. You may have your ups and downs but keep going and your time will come- my next post will give tips and hints on how to help you become employed (it will specifically be based on my experience in Canada, but you never know it may work elsewhere too).

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See you in my next one…

Jollietravels xxx

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Views in Toronto

So here we are, the last city we visited before settling down and looking for work, the end of a month’s travelling… we are in TORONTO!!! Funny thing is, we weren’t going to come to Toronto because to fly from Edmonton (which by the way I didn’t do a post on because it wasn’t worth it) was super expensive. It is actually really expensive to fly around Canada, it’s cheaper to fly to the States or equal to fly to other places in the world. IMG_2832
As soon as we walked around Toronto, I loved it! Jamie wasn’t so sure at first but soon came to realise that there is so much going on here!!! So much to do, and so much to see and my blog is going to showcase that… I think when people think of Canada, they think ‘cold’, ‘snow’, ‘bears’. I know that was a lot of the conversation topics we had when we told people we were moving here. But it’s so much more than that, Canada is actually super-hot in the summer!!! Hotter than I expected… I mean we was wearing clothes that we would wear on holiday, not what I would wear in the UK. And with the warm weather comes so much possibilities and opportunities… anyway I’m jumping ahead of myself. Let’s talk about when we got here… when it was still snowing lol.

We stayed in a B&B called Downtown Home Inn, which I recommend to anyone who comes to Toronto. We were a bit skeptical at first because there is no reception or anyone to greet you, they leave the key at the door and email you a code and BAM you’re in! The B&B is a cute town house converted into a B&B, the décor is lovely and the amenities have everything you need. Every cereal, bread, bagels, milk, orange juice, snacks, that’s all stocked daily. There are utensils so you can cook your own meals as well which was handy for us travelers. It is also nice to have a communal area to see and talk to other people, I used this as an opportunity to talk to Canadians/others and get to know about Canada as much as I could (Jamie thought I just ask too many questions lol). The location is great, you can walk to Yonge-Dundas square in about 15 minutes (if you’ve never been to Toronto, you may not know what Yonge-Dundas Sq is but no worries, we didn’t either- you can trust me though, it’s a good location).

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To be honest, we weren’t quite sure what Toronto had to offer except the CN tower which we didn’t want to go up yet as it was winter and there wouldn’t have been a clear view. But the B&B had lots of information on things to do so we basically explored the different neighbourhoods Toronto has to offer in our first 5 days (we booked 5 nights at the B&B). I’m not sure about other places (in the world, depending where you are reading from) but where we are from (Nottingham, UK) there was a town center where most people would go for shopping, restaurants, cinema and most social activities and you would just say ‘nipping to town’. It’s completely different here, there is no town center where everything is and all in walking distance- there is downtown Toronto which is split into different neighbourhoods in which you go to depending on what you are doing. Different neighbourhoods are known for and have different things (see map below).

We weren’t in Toronto very long until we decided we would settle here, it was a mix off we are this side of Canada anyway, it’s so expensive to go back west and we genuinely liked the city- but wasn’t sure what to expect. Jamie also had contact from an employer in Toronto who wanted to meet him so we went with it. Our second day in the city, we brought a local SIM (647 gang though, not 416), set up a bank account and prepared Jamie for his interview the following day. The third day, we had to venture to Oakville where the interview was- we thought Oakville was in Toronto but it turns out it isn’t lol. The location was on an industrial road (Jamie works in the trade) but we had no idea where we were and it looked like we were in the middle of nowhere. Whilst Jamie was in his interview there wasn’t much for me to do so I found a Tim Hortons (seen as they are everywhere) thinking yes, I’ll just sit here until he is done- well that wasn’t the case, as it was an industrial estate it was drive through only. So I got my peppermint tea, and stood on the side of the main road casually waiting for Jamie to finish lol. I was thankful that he didn’t take that long to woe them and was offered a job (woo). He was starting the following Monday.

I’m going to split the first month or so (of Toronto, whilst we were getting settled) into a 3-part series as it’s the best way I can think to do it and don’t want each blog post to be too long. The next post I’m going to do is a ‘real talk’ post, about my personal experience of finding a job in Toronto, settling in and about the ups and downs I/we went through. The final post, I want to write about the best way (that I recommend) to help you settle into a new city and find a job, whether it be Toronto or anywhere you have chosen to adventure too. It’s a big decision and step to make, that I know a lot of people want too or have done so I thought it would be helpful and insightful to see it from my point of view and hopefully helps others too. Also some tips and hints that I wish I knew before I came here but have learnt along the way. So stay tuned for part 2 coming soon.

Jollietravels xxx

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First blog post

So this is my first post… I thought I would do an introduction page to kick things off and tell you where we are at right now.

We are currently living in Toronto, Ontario and have been since the end of February 2016. We left the UK on February 3rd and spent the full month visiting a few places in Canada we wanted to see and try out; the aim really was to find the perfect spot to settle as well as travel. I am going to write a detailed post of each of the places we visited before we landed here.

We were lucky enough to visit the following places:

Reykjavik, Iceland
Whistler, British Columbia (BC)
Vancouver, BC
Calgary, Alberta (AB)
Lake Louise, AB
Edmonton, AB
Toronto, Ontario (ON)

After visiting the few places that Canada has to offer, we were in love with Toronto the most and here we are….

But it doesn’t stop there! We have had the busiest summer  in 2016 and the weather has been an absolute pleasure and very accommodating (sometimes too hot) so we have lots to share with you on what Toronto has to offer, as well as other places we have visited in the summer and from now on… we have itchy feet and I feel like when I get my pay pack it is normally spent on where to go next.

I am so excited to share our adventures with you and hope you are interested in what my blog has to offer. I am aiming to give useful information on what to do, places to see, where to stay, how to get there and any other useful info I can tell you.

Enjoy,

Jollietravels xxx