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Girls Gone Wild(ish!) in Gananoque

By Samantha Spencley-Vandenbrink

Ganbloggirls  It was Aly’s Birthday…her 40th, shhhhh….but really, she looks amazing for 40!
After a conversation about what she wanted to do for her special day (me suggesting a day of fun around Toronto buying her expensive shoes and cocktails) she responded that she’d prefer to go on a road trip. Specifically, she wanted to go to Boldt Castle and the 1000 Islands. What a wacky lady, I’d have take the expensive shoes!

I began the process of finding the right place to take her for a special weekend. First I checked out the hotels and B&B’s of Gananoque and found a lovely place called The Gananoque Inn and Spa. After checking an online map, I saw that it was a convenient 10-minute walk to the Gananoque Boat Line. When I called to book, I was happy to discover that they offer packages that would made the trip more affordable. For less than $400 I was able to treat my friend to overnight accommodations, $100 voucher for dinner, free breakfast, parking and to top it off, it included the Boat tour!!! I upgraded the boat cruise to the 5-hour tour and it was all super affordable.

Upon arrival at the Inn, Aly and I were overwhelmed with how lovely the town of Gananoque is. So sweet, with large brick detached gingerbread houses and sprawling gardens. We actually started a joke about the porch vs porch-less houses. In Toronto, 97% of homes have porches, so the porch-less homes looked serious and stoic. And the porch ones in “Gan” were large and luxurious. We would giggle and say, “I’m a house” and stand up straight when referring to the porch-less, whereas the porched ones had a hand wave. We were in hysterics. I guess you had to be there.

Gananoque InnOnce we got settled in our room, which I might add was on the water with clear views of the bay, we went out for a walk to check out the area before dinner. For the record, our room was private and super cute, complete with a fireplace, two queen beds, a large bathroom. The beds were super comfy too…we didn’t jump on them…or did we?!. We were pleasantly surprised on our tour of the grounds to find the Chef and his family gardening in the Inn’s Garden. Fresh Basil, Parsley and Chives were just some of the herbs and plants he was growing for the meals he was preparing for the weekend. We watched the water, the birds and the sun go down, then made our way over to the restaurant for dinner.

We both greatly enjoyed our meals at the Watermark Restaurant. I had the garlic shrimp to start and the lamb…Ahhhmmmaaazzzzing!!!! The shrimp was plump and sweet and the lamb was fresh and cooked to perfection. Aly got the swordfish app and the baked zucchini main…looked amazing as well and both of us finished out plates.

We strolled over to the neighbouring tavern…tee hee “Tavern”. Inside we found a great mix of locals and travellers alike. We sang and danced and drank till 11pm. Not enough time for us crazy Toronto girls, and the bartender agreed to stay open till midnight for us and let us to continue to party while she closed up around us.. After saying good night to the town and other stragglers, we staggered back to our waterfront room.

Just a few hours later we were up and getting ready for the Gananoque Boat Line tour that was set toganphotos leave at 10:30am. It was hard to get out of bed since they were so comfy, but we eventually did and even made it in time for our hot breakfast at the Watermark Restaurant. We both got the Eggs Benny and they were delicious.

With our tummies full, we lumbered the 10min walk over to the boat tour kiosk to get our tickets that were waiting under my name for us. High five for us both remembering our passports because Boldt Castle is actually on American soil. We boarded the boat, only to find more fun and interesting people to spend the 5 hour tour with. There was a couple celebrating their one-year anniversary, a couple from Montreal, a woman, her adult son and her friend who stopped for the trip while on their way home from picking him up from University. There was a bachelorette party of 7 women all taking selfies on the deck and foreign tourists. Other groups were on the boat, but as we spent most of our time on the top deck, the one I mention arethe people we had the most laughs with.

ganboatlineblogThe boat tour was LOVELY! Warm sun, cool breeze, and good tunes over the speakers. Once we got out of the bay and into the straight, info about the islands and the history of the area was fed to us over the speakers. If one chose to, you could go down a level and see a video that played along, showing footage of shipwrecks, phases of houses and islands in construction and a map showing where we were on the water. The captain and mates were entertaining, allowing us to drive the boat and get photos of us doing it.

Once on Boldt Island, it was reminiscent of Casa Loma. A rich dude wanted to build his wife a grand house to prove his love…then she dies before the construction is done and he abandons the project due to his grief. It was a beautiful building, with lots of graffiti on the top floors after years of neglect, which I feel should stay since it’s apart of the history of the island. The state of NY started to renovate the building in 1977 since it’s abandonment at the turn of the century and the grounds, extra buildings and GananoqueBlogfirst 2 floors of the main house are in impeccable condition since the renovationss. But here’s the lesson…never let your husband build you a grand home…get jewellery and vacations, because it just means bad things will happen before you can enjoy it….case in point, Casa Loma (lost it due to taxes), Boldt Castle (she died), Taj Mahal (she died), Kellie’s Castle (he died), Petit Trianon (she died, he then gave it to his mistress), Todmorden (they ended up splitting up not long after completion), Winchester Castle (she went insane), Layton Castle (was built out of spite after she left him. It was said he tried to use the house to lure her back), Dupont Castle (divorced before completion), Craigdarroch Castle (he died, then the architect died all before completion), Larnach Castle (it’s said to be haunted and depressing), and I’m sure there’s more!

The ride back to Canada was full of romantic idealisms from all of us on the boat as we passed Millionaires Mile along the island straight. Beautiful houses, sweet islands, amazing structures and calm waters, it was a lovely afternoon. Once we returned to Gan, we went back to the Gananoque Inn and its restaurant Muskie Jack’s patio in the sun for lupper (lunch/supper). I ordered a juicy burger on a gluten free bun with salad and Aly had a perfectly cooked salmon on brown rice. Sitting on the patio enjoying our meals, we discussed the fun we had and looked at our photos of the day. Once full and paid up, off we went to Kingston for our next leg of the adventure!

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