“And on the weekend, also because it’s Thanksgiving, we’ll take you up to the cottage … You’ve been to a typical Canadian cottage? No!? Oh, you’ll just love it up there. The Georgian Bay area is very beautiful … Sean’s mum will be delighted to meet you!”
You know you are in the luck when a Canadian suggests you join them to “the cottage”. In our case, Sean, Natalie and their wonderful little son Hudson have decided to take us out to meet Sean’s mum, who lives in a typical, beautiful Canadian countryside house. I have met Natalie back in my home country Austria before, but have never been around her home, the Greater Toronto area. After food-touring Canada’s largest city, the young family picks us up at the train station and casually drives us north for what is a good two-and-a-half, three hour drive: Nothing much for Canadian standards, we learn, where driving distances are either stretched by the immense expanse of the country and / or the odd traffic jam itself.
“So where are we exactly?”
A good question from the backseat of our friends’ car against the deepening darkness around. Both the changing colours of the leaves outside as well as the early sunset hour mark the transition from summer to autumn, but the air is still surprisingly warm for the season. “Port Severn“, Sean calls from the front seat, with Hudson happily babbling away in the middle of Daddy’s van. “We’re almost there. Tomorrow morning, we’ll take you out for a boat ride after breakfast. That will give you a good overview of the area ..” – “Oh, it’s so beautiful, especially right now”, Natalie adds with warmth in her voice. “So beautiful, eh buddy? Little Hudsy boy ..?”
Port Severn, or Six Mile Lake, is where the family cottage of “our Canadians” is located. From Toronto, it is easy to choose among a myriad of options for getting out into the countryside. If unlike us you don’t know anyone local, try popular platforms such as AirBnB that will give you a range of options for planning your perfect weekend escape.
Where to go once you are in the Georgian Bay area: We really enjoyed our trip with the Lake Muskoka Steamship as well as a visit to Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh & Muskoka Lakes Winery!
Wine. Again, of course. My #winelover friends, after talking about my visits to both the Okanagan as well as Niagara Falls Canadian wine regions, will be smiling right now. But of course, this one is different, as it is rather sweet cranberry wine we are talking about. The “Cranberry Marsh” moreover gives you a good idea about cranberry farming, an experience I connect to my former Thanksgiving cooking course in New York, making cranberry sauce together with our main meals there.
Not too far away, you can also go on (another) lake cruise with the Muskoka Lake Steamship company, a boat tour that runs every one and a half hours during the season and starts at 10.00 in the morning. Our advice would be to choose the morning one, as we did, and have a brunch type little lunch at the nearby “Blue Willows” café : A cute, English-style café with delicious tea varieties, scones, sandwiches and salads to choose from.
And then, the next morning, we simply were in the luck. Again.
I mean, what other way is there to describe the following moments and photographs? Yes, you may be just as lucky as us that morning, as the clear, crisp autumn air makes for gorgeous weather scenario on a typical fall day in rural Canada … What. A. Moment. Thank you Sean, Natalie, and Hudson, for taking us out !!! “Oh, I have to put the boat away for winter anyway …”, Sean casually adds, then breaks into one of his big smiles again. “Nah, come on! I do enjoy this just as much as you guys”, both him and Natalie seem to add in silence. Blessed we are, knowing these wonderful people around!
Last but not least, on your way out from, or back into, Toronto, you can stop at a place called “Cheltenham Badlands” for some (more) spectacular, natural beauty.
The “Cheltenham Badlands”, as they are called, are an extraordinary rock formation of a deep reddish colour, interspersed with the odd white line running through it. Artists immediately warm to their odd shapes and peculiar colours, while geologists I’m sure could tell you more as to why this strange-looking land is there in the first place – amid an otherwise rather normal-looking, typical Canadian forest landscape. Have a look at their website for more updates as to when the official trail opens again, as …
Have a look at more of my travel photos here:
I have also produced a travel video that highlights some of my travel adventures in Western Canada, all the way from Vancouver to the vast open plains east of the Rocky Mountains. A fascinating, funky take on what has truly been a life-changing journey. Enjoy with sound & smile 🙂