Toronto, Nov 05

My friends Stephanie and Martin had announced that they were going to throw a big party in Toronto to celebrate their getting married, with the original plan being for them to elope to Quebec City first and have the actual ceremony there. But paperwork and red tape intruded and the ceremony was pushed back long enough that it turned out that they would get married at the party instead. I was psyched as it meant that I'd be able to see them get married. I had hoped that Cris would be able to come up with me, so that I could show him around my Toronto (he'd been up before, but we'd never gone together) but visa issues intruded and I went up on my own.

Friday November 18

I had planned to ride my bike into work, have a short day, grab my laptop and head home early enough to take the T to the airport. But in the morning I noticed that the rim of my rear wheel had torn and the bike wasn't in ridable condition. I wasn't really in riding condition either, having been hit with a bit of food poisoning from dinner the night before, and Cris offered to drive me to work. He also lent me his suitcase, as mine was starting to split it's zipper, and I had been commissioned to bring some knee high boots to Steph, not possible in my backpack (plus there was the ballgown I planned to wear to the wedding). Cris rocks. :) I got there just after nine and was able to get a fair amount done before leaving at 4 to catch the 55 bus to Hynes. Green line to blue line to airport shuttle, and I was at terminal C checking in by 5. An abortive attempt to check in at the United kiosks ended up with me moving over to the Air Canada counter and checking in there. Security was quick, and I was soon at my gate, laptop open, trying to get my cd to play. Turned out that the headphone in line volume control had gone way down .*sigh* I finished up my NaNoWriMo word quota for the day, Qntal helping to block out the sounds of people on cell phones. The flight's been oversold, so they're soliciting volunteers to be bumped, I'm hopeful that since I checked in so early that I'm all set. We're currently 15 mins past boarding time, with people standing around irate. I'm not even sure if the plane is there yet, I can't see it from my seat and I'm not giving it up at this point. I'm still a bit oogy from the food poisoning, and missing obvious things, this could be fun. *sigh* Hope to take the Airport Express down to the Royal York at Union Station, but if I get delayed significantly, JV is coming in at 11 or so, and we could share a cab. Otherwise, to the Madison Manor to check in and then hopefully out to the Cadillac Lounge. Gah, the girl across the way is almost in tears about shortening her weekend. Huh, neat, another woman's offered to give up her seat for her. And, the plane just pulled up, I might get out of here sometime soon after all. That's odd, the girl across the way is actually just going for a wedding as well, wonder if I'll see her at Hart House? The girl got on as the last passenger, and her next call to her boyfriend was devoid of the incipient tears of the first two, so all was good in the departure lounge.

I ended up finishing my issue of "Fantasy and Science Fiction", and tried to doze a bit on the short flight. EnRoute also had an article about the 10 best new Canadian restaurants, and I made note of George in Toronto, and Garcon! in Montreal. There were a few bumps, and I was parched by the time we landed, but overall a good flight, if 20 mins delayed. The inbound plane had needed de-icing in Toronto before taking off, so it started the delay domino effect. I got a text from JV asking for Monica's cell, so I texted him back in the immigration line, and it moved fairly fast. They waved me past, not having to pay duty on the wedding present that came in just over the exemption limit. My bag was waiting for me, and I got to the Airport Express ticket booth 8 mins before the next departure. I let Cris know that I'd landed safely, and paced a bit in the chill. I'd seen the snow covering the city as we came in, but the arrivals level was underneath departures, so there wasn't any snow visible where I was waiting. The bus soon pulled up, and I was the only one getting on at this terminal, 2. We swung by another terminal and then onto the 427. A woman got on and sat behind me, talking quietly in French until we hit downtown, and then started chatting up the older guy across from her. She was from Cambellton NB and he was from Sidney NS, and they bonded quickly over being fellow maritimers. We stopped at the Boston Harbour Westin first, and then looped back to the Royal York. It was just past 10:30 at this point, and the hotel check in was supposed to close at 11, so I grabbed a cab in the line outside the hotel and took it up to Bloor and Spadina. My cabbie was from east Africa, and we had a whole discussion on how different languages accentuate or roll the R (he's convinced that Philipinos draw it out most). Axel called as we were going up Spadina, and said they were at the Rhino. The Madison Pub was in full swing, and there's construction outside on the street, but the room's been quiet so far. I had to call the front desk a couple of times to figure out how to get into the building with my room - checkin was two doors down. Then up to the fourth floor, and my quaint neat room. I did a quick face wash and tooth brushing, and then went back down to the street.

I found the bank machine where I expected it and caught a fast cab ride right outside over to Queen W and the Rhino. They were in the back room, as promised, and everyone greeted me as I came in. I think at that point Etienne, Astrid, Trevor, Siobhan, Axel, Steph, Krista, Matt, Joy were there, and then Lee Chaos and his girlfriend arrived, and then Monica, JV and Trev. Martin was still at home getting set up for the after party that they were going to host. I was about to pass out from hunger, not having had anything since the cup of soup as my second lunch (after a first lunch of oatmeal), so I was pretty quiet until my sweet potato soup and hummus and pita arrived. I was sitting with Joy and Axel and Steph to start, but then people started moving around to chat with others or to get away from the Queen sing along that broke out at the other end of the table. We were there until last call, and I shared a cab back with Monica, JV and Trev, dropping them off first. I took a shower before bed, and was asleep at 3. I had to weave through a few drunks leaving the Pub but they were quiet over all and didn't keep me up at all.

Saturday November 19

I woke up at 8, tried to ignore the light, and got up for good at around 9:30. I threw on clothes and went to the pub for the included continental breakfast. They were out of bagels, I had cereal, a boiled egg, juice, tea, and a muffin, saving a danish for later (ie never, it's too rich, but I had taken it and didn't want it to hit the trash right away). Wrapped the present for S&M, hung up my dress to let the wrinkles fall out, called Krista and woke her around 10:40, and texted JV to say I'd call him when the Gin Palace occupants woke up more and called me. We were supposed to meet up at around noon at Monica's, think it'll be a bit later. There's to be a strike on Kensington market and the cheese shops there, to train for the cheese banquet tonight. I caught up on my NaNoWriMo this morning, sitting on my bed, laptop in lap, the sun shining through blinds covered by white gauzy curtains. I feel like I'm in a Paris garret, the room has funky angles and I'm pretty high up. Think I'll wander out to find a drug store while waiting for the masses to wake. Or even go down to meet up with JV first.

I popped into the Shopper's on Bloor and picked up some reactin, and a curl defining spray for tonight. Dropped stuff off at the room and was walking south on Spadina when Krista called, I gave her Monica's address and we agreed to meet there. I got there first, met her room mate Peter and Monica and Trev and I chatted a bit. Krista, Matt, and Joy arrived fairly soon after, and JV had gone for a walk and was at Active Surplus. We went to Kensingtons for a quick meal (two of the benches at the tables across the way were actually long wooden swings hung from eyebolts in the ceiling via strong ropes. I want one.), and then to Global Cheese for lots of cheese (I got some Wensleydale with cranberries). I led them across Dundas to Yonge, to the HMV there, and I picked up a copy of Waydowntown from the DVD section. Then we braved the Eaton Centre (passing a ninja bake sale - a dojo was doing demonstrations and selling pie) to go to Williams and Sonoma so JV and Joy and Matt could pick up gifts. Cris called me while I was waiting on them, and said that my bike wasn't really worth fixing, that I should just shoot it. I protested and told them to fix the wheel and one other thing, so that I had transportation while I shop for a new one. The front suspension is apparently shot and not servicable, and there was other stuff, but the connection was a bit lossy. The shoppers stuck around to wait for gift wrapping, and Trev and Monica led me to the Lush near the subway stop at Dundas. The Slammer shower gel is really discontinued, so I got myself some soap, backtracked to the washroom, and then walked back to the Madison. I went via Hart House to map out how long it would take me to walk (25mins) and then dropped off my stuff at the hotel and walked out again to get supper. I got sucked in by Goldfish, and it took longer than I thought but their prix fix menu was worth it - a good and well spiced lentil soup, a perfect duck breast on a spicy sweet potato mash with roasted veggies and good sauces, and then a slice of apple cheesecake. I was the only diner for most of the time, and then a couple came in. I was able to watch traffic on Bloor, was right across from the Tafelmusik church. Rushed back to my room, took a quick shower, "curled" my hair, threw on the dress and took the Spadina car down to Harbord, and walked across to Hart House. Lots of people there, and it was hot, so I switched out the velvet jacket for the shawl. The ceremony was lovely, though I was stuck behind tall people and had a hard time seeing. They came out to the Imperial March. Cheese and finger food then arrived, and the music went up slowly. Dorian was a ball of energy, and Panic got him dancing first. I danced quite a bit. Jackie introduced herself to me, but I went all shy and didn't talk back enough. Nibbled on food, got some of the last of the baked wheel of brie, and had a good time. Stayed until close - midnight, walked back to the hotel, and showered and changed and then took the T to Steph and Martin's place out in Parkdale. I had to bring Steph the NN boots, and I arrived just in time for the toast. Chatted a bit with Krista, Monica and Axel in the kitchen, and Steph would come by often, but by 2:30 my tummy was registering it's need to be asleep. I get nauseous when I'm too tired, it sucks. Got a cab right outside the door, the cabbie insisted on getting a price quote from me on a program for breeding pigeons - I think, he may have been talking about something entirely different, but I want to think it was pigeons. Brunch tomorrow at 1 at Sneaky Dee's, and then Krista and I will take the Airport Express from Union.

Sunday November 20

My phone rang to wake me up at 10:30, and I rushed around packing things up in the half hour I had before check out time. Everything fit neatly back in the suitcase, with the presents gone and nothing big bought to fill their space on the way back. My phone rang but I ignored it, missing a call from Joy as I was heading down the stairs. Checked out, no extra charges on the room (the two .5L bottles of water I got each day were included), and the clerk let me have a quick breakfast as she was cleaning up the food. I reached Joy and found that she and Matt were going to eat at Caddy's and then hit the road for Buffalo, but I couldn't make it out there and back before brunch at 1, so I said bye over the phone. I walked across Bloor, dodging through the crowd lining the street in anticipation of the start of the Santa Claus parade, and walked down to College, taking a picture of the scary figure above the Silver Dollar entrance. I hopped on the streetcar and took it down to Queen, but the Lush had closed there - possibly to move into the Eaton Centre - and nothing at Le Chateau fit me, though a lot of it reminded me of things that Shannon and Julia would really like. I want to try and make a long skirt with a translucent bias inset - they only had sizes 5/6 and 13/14 in stock. I browsed through a book store but didn't have time to go over to Bakka, I took the streetcar back up Spadina and then walked across College to Sneaky Dee's. Monica, Trev and JV were there already, and we held the table as more people showed up. Axel, Siobhan, and Krista weren't too late, and Panic and Steph and Martin arrived soon after. Erika, Dave, d and s came just before I left, d looking really tired out from his big night last night. Liz and Ray grabbed the perpendicular table for their group of old Montreal friends. I had my traditional conchos con huervos, and a pot of earl grey tea. I snuck my camera into the washroom to finally get some pictures of the graffitti covered walls in there - I need to compare mine with Martin's of the men's washroom, apparently there's a gender difference in what gets written on washroom stall walls.

Krista and I said our goodbyes at 3, and walked over to Spadina and got onto the streetcar northbound. I sent her off to walk to the Southbound subway platform, and scurried back to Madison Manor to get my suitcase and pack. I had to hunt down the clerk up in the bar, but she came down happily to unlock the check in room so I could get my backpack and suitcase. Rolled it back to the station and through the long tunnel to the NS platform. Train down to Union, where it was utterly packed, to claustrophobia inducing levels, with the remnants of the crowd from the parade. We fought through and found ourselves up on the street right by the Royal York, and found the ticket window around the side no problem. The bus came right at 4, but he had to navigate horrific traffic, and we didn't get to the airport until close to 5 (it should only take 20mins). A cavalcade of police escort and parade floats passed us on the Lakeshore as we waited to get onto the eleveated Gardiner. Terminal 2 came up first, so I said goodbye to Krista and got off the bus to check in. No real lines to speak of, but I decided to use up my last Mapleleaf Lounge pass and hide in there anyway. Got some writing done, and timed it just right so that I walked out and up to my gate as they were boarding my rows. Good flight, with a bit of bumps, and the couple next to me were somewhat annoying when they weren't asleep, very twitchy and almost argumentative (and the guy started sniffling when he woke up, I better not get his cold!). Suitcase came out quick, and I took the silver line to South Station and the red line to Harvard and the bus was there soon after I arrived, the 71 for once, so I had a short roll home. Cris was still out, so I wrote some more and tried out more of the cheese that I'd picked up at Global finally.

Overall, a great weekend, if tiring. I'm glad that I got to witness Steph and Martin's wedding, and hang out with so many friends again. I still need to plan a trip up there again when nothing's going on so I can hang out more and see more of the city. Siobhan invited me up for NYE, so we'll see, Krista and Eric will be there for a week then as well.


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