Originally posted to Windy City Curling Blog.

 

Labatt Crystal

As I write this I’m drinking Labatt Crystal, which (as far as I know) is only available in Canada. Neil and I are staying in downtown London, Ontario for the night. London is about an hour past the border, and roughly 90 minutes from Toronto.

We hit the road about 9:00 AM (Central) this morning, traffic wasn’t bad at all. We stopped for lunch in Lansing, Michigan at Big John Steak & Onion…with a name and a sign like this, how could you not stop?

Big John

We ate quickly and jumped back on the highway. One more stop for gas, and before we knew it we were through Port Huron, over the bridge, and at the border.
Border

When it was our turn, we got through in about 90 seconds and immediately hit up the currency exchange.

CE

A few minutes later and all our American money had been converted into shiny Canadian Money. The exchange rate is about $1.20 Canadian for every $1.00 American, so needless to say I felt a little bit richer heading back to the car…of course, I’m sure I’ll be quite disappointed when I change it back and lose out.

If you’re not familiar, Canadian money looks very different from American money. It’s more colorful, and different denominations have different colors. The coins are similar, but since there are no $1 bills $1 and $2 coins are used instead (known colloquially as loonies and toonies respectively).

Funny Money

Once we left the currency exchange we had about an hour drive to London. Things looked pretty much the same as the United States…the roads are in better shape, and all road signs/speed limits are in kilometers obviously. Tim Horton’s is everywhere. Honestly it was a boring drive, think I-80 West of I-55 or I-57 South of I-80 for comparison. Eventually we hit civilization…I mean London, and of course immediately hit the beer store at the Labatt Brewery.

Beer Store

It was too late to take a tour, but we picked up some beer and swag and headed for our hotel. We checked in, and discovered that there was a horse track nearby. Being the degenerate gamblers that we are, we made plans to hit it up after dinner. Speaking of dinner, we had an excellent meal at The Church Key Bistro on Richmond. Excellent food, friendly staff, and great atmosphere. I can’t recommend it enough.

Western Fair racetrack and casino is about a ten minute drive from our hotel. We headed there after dinner to check it out and hopefully get into trouble.

Track

The casino is just slot machines, so we didn’t really bother (we do like slots, but just weren’t feeling it tonight). As for the races, it’s smaller purse harness racing, so we figured what the hell and watched and bet on a few races.

Bet Race

We weren’t really winning though, so after about an hour or so we split and hit up a grocery store. After discovering that Pinty’s foods aren’t microwavable, I consoled myself by buying a bunch of candy. My spirits were lifted when I found out that there are Crunchie Biscuits as well as candy bars. I also picked up a chocolate Stanley Cup, which I plan to mail to the Minnesota Wild as it is the only way they will ever get one.

Food

So, there’s our first day in a nutshell. Tomorrow it’s off to Toronto. During the day we plan to hit up the St. Lawrence Market and the Hockey Hall Of Fame, and then tomorrow night it’s opening ceremonies and the first draw!

 

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