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Summer Vacation 2011

Just got back from an awesome 2-week vacation back east in Ontario. Weather there was nice and dry unlike here in Vancouver. I'm also glad temperatures soared to 32 degrees during my visit because I can safely say I didn't miss summer this year. More importantly, we got to see our family and created lasting memories for my two young children.

We rented an economy car with Enterprise rent-a-car at 1400 Upper James Road for $157 per week and was a great deal because it came with unlimited mileage. This helped because we drove quite a bit. Here are the places we went to see, in this order.

(Downtown Hamilton; http://www.downtownhamilton.org/)
This is where my family lives and where we stayed at for 5 days. Downtown has a lot of history in it and I noticed that most of the residences/commercial buildings appear to be made out of red bricks.

(Gage Park, Hamilton, Ontario; http://www.hamiltonfolkarts.org/)
There was a fair at a nearby park and we walked there to check it out. There were rides, food, drinks, and music. Big Sugar rock band was performing and music was great. We left a bit early because the kids didn't like the loud music.

(Fashion Outlet Mall of Niagra Falls, New York; 1900 Military Road, Niagara Falls)
We crossed the border to the US and started early with shopping. This outlet mall had the best deals ever. I believe we went back to this mall twice during our trip.

(Seneca Hotel Casino in Buffalo, New York; http://www.senecaniagaracasino.com/)
This hotel was just a few blocks away from the border and we had a great view of the July 4 fireworks as we stayed on the 25th floor. The only thing I didn't like was the smoking at the Casino. I believe Epot got sick that day because of that. Why couldn't the US ban smoking indoors like in Canada?

(Aquarium in Niagara, Buffalo, New York; 701 Whirlpool Street, Niagara Falls; http://www.aquariumofniagara.org/)
Next, we went to the aquarium. We saw the sea lions and the magic show. Kids were thrilled.

(Buffalo Zoo, Buffalo, New York; 300 Parkside Avenue, Buffalo; http://www.buffalozoo.org/)
The following day we went to the zoo. We got to see lions, tigers, elephants but missed the giraffes. Got lots of pictures taken and my son was ecstatic.



(Fallsview Casino Resort; 6380 Fallsview Boulevard, Niagra Falls, Ontario; http://www.fallsviewcasinoresort.com/)
This is one of the classier hotels we stayed at. There were retail stores, sports bars, kid-friendly access to fitness centre, and all-you-can-eat buffets. We watched the World Rock Symphony Orchestra and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

(Clifton Hill in Niagra Falls, Ontario; http://www.cliftonhill.com/)
This is a tourist spot and was bustling with people. We went to the arcades, visited the Rainforest Cafe, cooled off at Tim Hortons, and took tons of pictures at the Dinosaur Miniputt golf course.

(Outlet Store, Niagara Falls, Ontario; 7500 Lundy's Lane, Niagara Falls)
What's a vacation without more shopping, right? We went to another local outlet mall and spent some time at a neighborhood coin laundry to get fresh change of clothes.

(Ceasar's Palace in Windsor, Ontario; http://www.caesarswindsor.com/)
This hotel was for adults only and is just like the Las Vegas hotel. The kids were bored because they couldn't get to the pool or the fitness center. We got to watch the Julio Iglesias concert which my sister-in-law Evelyn purchased for me and my wife - thank you. It was a very romantic night.

(Windsor Crossing Outlet Mall, Windsor, Ontario; http://www.windsorcrossing.com/)
There was more shopping the next day at the one of the local outlet a malls. There weren't as many discounts as the premium outlets in the US and there was construction going on so we didn't quite get the most of that visit.

(Great Lakes Crossing Outlet Mall in Auburn Hill, Michigan; http://www.greatlakescrossingoutlets.com/)
This mall is the best outlet mall I've been too. They have all the name brands like Abercrombie & Fitch or Victoria Secret that we don't have here in Vancouver yet. We crossed the US border twice because of this mall.

(General Motors building in Detroit, Michigan; http://www.gm.com/)
We also crossed the US border to see the majestic GM building. We ate at the food court, walked the busy seawall outside, and kids took a spin in carousel.



(MGM Grand Casino in Detroit, Michigan; http://www.mgmgranddetroit.com/)
Just like Caesar's Palace, the MGM Grand is a copy of the one in Las Vegas. We went in to take a look and got some free bottled water while in there as it was very hot that day. It was huge and had more blackjack tables than Caesar's Palace (we didn't get to play).The only turnoff for me was that smoking was allowed. It stinks in there because of that.

(The University of Western Ontario, 1151 Richmond St, London, Ontario; http://www.uwo.ca/)
At the end of our excursion, we passed through Brian's school on the way back to Hamilton. It was a humongous university and made me want to go back to school myself. We drove around twice or three times trying to find the bookstore so that Brian can buy a sweater before school starts in the fall. It's going to be a great experience for Brian, I can tell.

The trip back to Hamilton from Windsor was about 3 hours. We stayed at my in-laws for 2 more days before we flew back home. We had a going-away party set up by Aunt's Marlene/Merle, held at Alma/Oliver's home. Many thanks for throwing the party for us.

Most of all, our heartfelt thanks go out to Kuya Rey and Ate Evelyn for organizing a memorable, expense-free, stress-free vacation for us.

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