In any case, once we were on the plane, it was a smooth flight up to Toronto, though we had a very sharp drop down to the city centre airport, and had to wait for a gate since we were late. I used my Nexus card to bypass the small line, almost waiting more in the 3 person line that I would have in the regular one, but insistent on getting my $50 worth. :-) Bit of a wait for the short ferry ride, it was nice to see that they're at work on a pedestrian tunnel. I walked up to the streetcar stop and found that they were running bus service due to construction. The streetcar at Queen pulled away just as I got off the bus and I had a bit of a wait for the next one. Turns out that the Gardiner was closed that weekend, and it messed with all east-west traffic. I kept thinking I should just hit up an ATM while waiting, but then thinking I'd spot the streetcar lights coming (probably would have worked to hit the Scotiabank at the first bus stop). Anyway, eventually made it across to Gladstone and walked up to IndexG. The owners were in their apartment on site and came down to check me in (got a small discount on the room) and bring me up to the room. Think it was my first time in the room just off the stairs, the Grassetto, but it turned out to be fairly quiet there (no more than 4 other people at breakfast in the mornings).
Wifi was working, so I sent a quick update to friends I was planning to meet, washed a bit of the airport stink off and then walked further down Queen to hit up the Yukon bar. I quickly found a table full of my friends (Monica and Shannon, Trevor, Louise, Steph) and joined them for cocktails, but the kitchen had closed just before I arrived. This was aggravating as the server brought out previously ordered stuff while I was sipping my drinks, but I wasn't desperately hungry at least. I hit up the ATM there, I'd forgotten that most Toronto establishments have the bathrooms in the basement, been too long since I've been back for a visit. The Yukon G&T was tasty and I did a custom order of a St Germain martini for my second drink. We sat out a torrential downpour, but once it petered off we started heading out. Trevor gave me a lift back to my BNB on his way home and I gratefully settled into my quiet room.
It was a more civilised weeekend hour by that point so I stopped dawdling and made my way over to Landsdown to meet up with Steph and Martin for the trip to Northbound. Traffic was *nuts*, we probably should have taken the TTC if we could have gone underground ASAP, but we used the drive to catch up on news that I'd missed out on (wow, so much change). We were hungry again by the time we made it to Yonge and Wellesley so we hit up the Starbucks for more snacks and caffeiene. I collected an armful of tops that I'd scoped out on the web site and took them to the change room, as well as a bonus skirt that would go with my jacket and started tryign things on. Steph was lured into trying on a trench coat and a belted dress, and noted down the model numbers. For me, the top that I liked best was of course the most expensive one, and not available in my size. I ended up putting in an order for the M one after trying on the L, and took the mermaid skirt after getting good feedback when I modelled it. ;-) The order came without tax as it was shipping direct to me, but I told them to phone me to get my card for shipping charges, hoping I could find an alternate to next day international FedEx (spoiler: I didn't). Birthday money and the tax break offset it a bit, but still, it was a birthday and xmas present stop for me in one shop. :-) We'd hoped to have time to hit up Fashion Crimes for their half off sale, but traffic was still bad and it was closing in on 5pm, with dinner reservations at 7 it felt like we'd be cutting it too close for browsing time.
They dropped me off at the BNB and I got cleaned up and changed for dinner and was happy to see the glint of sunshine through the blinds, just in time for walking over to Kanji Sushi. I got there about 20 mins early and right off the bat there were some warning signs that not all was going to go well: the hostess seemed quite confused by me and my reservation. She led me to the bar to wait, where happily enough it was happy hour and I promptly ordered a $5 cocktail to start off the night. Jason arrived first and we caught up at the bar while waiting for the others to arrive. I think BC, Siobhan, Darrell, and Axel were next and they were just seated right away, so we settled up at the bar and headed over to sit. Louise ended up caught in traffic on the streetcar, and my cousin Neil on the road. I think Justin ended up walking most of the way and beat the streetcar. Steph and Martin walked over, and I think Trevor was able to get there with minimal fuss as well, but there was definitely a spread out arrival time for everyone. Not sure if that contributed to the ordering confusion, but the sake I was sharing with Axel and Siobhan had to be asked for about 3 times (the first kind was sold out, after he forgot about it, then he forgot the second one on the counter). I also had a single serving of the Demonslayer sake, it was a nice clean sake after the more flavoured ones that we'd been sharing. The food was good, once it eventually arrived. I had the miso marinated cod as well as having had an appetiser sushi at the bar, and ordered a plate of oysters to share. The creme brulee was good, though it probably would have been best to skip dessert and get out of there faster. The server had asked us if we wanted separate bills, and of course we said yes, but then it turned out he wasn't supposed to do that for parties larger than 6, but he was going to. This took about an hour to sort out, we were in there over 3 hours I think. :-( I moved around a little, trying to talk to everyone, but the one long table approach makes it hard. Maybe dim sum and a big round table for my next big dinner. :-)
Most everyone peeled off home once we extracted ourselves from the restaurant, but I was still raring to go since I'd been dosing on tea all day. We decided against a club night since my feet were hurting too much to dance (and it was far), opting instead to walk up to Black Dice, a Japanese Rockabilly bar on Dundas. It was tiny (the picture on the web page is taken from the door way) but there was one table for four so Trevor, Sio and Darrell and I grabbed seats and they went up to order drinks. I initially asked for a G&T but then saw that they had some sake based cocktails and Japanese whisky so I went up to change my order for a cocktail. I got a shot of whisky to end the night later on. We had fun tipsily chatting, though we had to take turns reaching out to close the door as it wouldn't close all the way when smokers went in or out. I think we stayed until just past 1 or so, walking home from there.
Justin had said that he might check out Word on the Street and I was getting close to the time I said that I'd get there, so I hopped a streetcar then the subway to head up to Queens Park. I came out of the subway stop in Heaven. :-) Book selling tents as far as the eye could see, as well as a row of conveniently placed port a potties. :-) Lots of author readings and signings, and each store/publisher/author tent was split into four pieces, so it worked well to check out two sides as I went one way then the other two on the way back. I was low on cash and tried the festival ATM but it wouldn't read my US card, so I headed over to Yonge St, right next to Northbound, to use the Scotiabank ATM there. So tempting to go back in and browse, but books were on my mind instead. Back into the crowds around the tents and I ended up having to buy a tote bag to carry all that I bought. A dapper older gentleman handed me a book mark saying that a reader needed a book mark. I bought Canadian horror, Arctic poems, a $1 noir collection, and a comic book sized novella since it grabbed me on the first sentence, and left more than I took. :-) Was tempted by an Indian cook book but it weighed 10lbs.
From there, I walked across to Bakka-Phoenix for even more books (a Tanya Huff compared one ad well as her actual new one). I had been keeping an eye out for Justin in the crowds but ended up running into him there instead. He'd thought ahead and grabbed a TTC day pass that lets two ride on it, so he treated me to a lift via streetcar to Kensington Market and we ate at Fat Bastard Burritos, where I was thankful for the warning to not order the large size. :-) It was good to catch up one on one, I barely got a chance to say hi to him at dinner the night before. From there I got a another streetcar ride to close-ish to my BNB where he wanted to check out a shop on Ossington - I need to leave some time to browse along there next time. We split there, and I walked down to Queen and browsed a bit more in vintage stores, grabbing a Le Chateau halter top since it fit so well and was cheap. I also found a tattered hem black dress that looked awesome, so grabbed it in the theory that I would regret it if I didn't (and ended up wearing it a few days later to Allure, so win).
It was still a bit before 4:30, but I was done with walking and hauling my
stash around with me, so I went back to the BNB to grab the rest of my
stuff. I'd packed the bottle of wine that Neil gave me in my tote bag and
was planning to check it, the new book bag being perfect to hold my purse
on top of my other purchases. I had to put the tote in a bin in the
special luggage section because it was too small, but it survived. I'd
printed out my boarding pass in the ferry terminal, and that was good
since the machines were out of order in the main terminal, and I still ahd
a wait to check my bag (only one person working for a while, and a flight
got cancelled or missed or something). Good thing I was early, though the
security line was non existent. I actually was more delayed by an older
lady gushing over a very large bracelet that I had in my carry on bag - it
shows up as a big metal chunk and I always forget to put it separate
(luckily this time my metal pill case didn't trigger anything). Every
single thing that I bought at the $5 bling store in NYC has been more than
worth the cheap cost, it would be worthwhile to go back just to hit it up.
:-) I had a fair amount of time to hang out in the waiting lounge, had tea
and cookies to fill my stomach and kept an eye out for Justin arriving for
his Ottawa flight, but it never showed up on the lounge's monitor (might
have been the US enabled lounge). I had a glass of wine to while away the
flight and put the cap on my birthday weekend (free, Porter is nice like
that). Breathed a sigh of relief to see that my Northbound and Bakka and
other shopping shenanigans didn't hit the $800 duty free allowance (I
swear it went up), so I was able to do the Global Entry kiosk on arrival.
Which of course wasn't workign well - there are two types of machines
there, one you put the card in face up, one face down. Two officers were
helpign me by the end, the card had to go all the way over to the right,
but I've forgotten already if it was up or down. *sigh* I think I took the
shuttle/Blue/Green/bus option to get home, and was there before midnight
in any case.