And to think I almost went to Vegas.
I just got back from a week in Toronto and I have to say that I had a fantastic time.
The trip was a last minute decision, as I considered visiting my aunt in the Berkshires, flying out to Sin City or staying the hell home.
I cut Las Vegas from the list when I realized that I have no great interest in gambling or seeing any of the live shows.
I’d like to see Vegas some day, but you don’t have to spend an entire week in the circus to have a good time.
I finally picked Toronto, a town that I’ve been interested in seeing for years. The name “Toronto” supposedly means “Place of Meetings” and that just what it was for me.
While I saw several of the city’s major sites, undoubtedly the biggest moment of my trip was meeting the fabulous Jenni of Calamity Jen in the real world after something like seven years of communicating through our respective blogs and Facebook.
I’ve “watched” Jenni as she got married and gave birth to her beautiful son, Kai. Last week I had the pleasure of having dinner at her home with her fabulous family on my first full day in town.
It was a great way to kick off my vacation and after a delightful evening with Jenni & Company, I somehow found the nerve to ride the CN Tower’s outdoor elevator—without Xanax, mind you—to get a first class view of the city.
I had booked a seat on a bus tour out to Niagara Falls and rode the Maid of the Mist for a close up view.
On the way up, the bus driver played a DVD about Niagara’s history that discussed the people (lunatics?) who went over the Falls in a barrel, long before there was such a thing as Xanax.
Prior to this boat ride, I had only thought of Niagara Falls as a place for honeymoons and a key element in a classic comedy bit. But I honestly never had a strong desire to visit the place. The boat ride changed all that.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing or hearing. The roar of the falls was like a nonstop explosion and the experience reminded me that despite our obsession with technology, nature still offers the greatest show on earth.
We were all drenched by the time the 20-minute ride was over. The boat crew had given us ponchos that were supposed to protect us from the driving water, but, as I mentioned to Jenni, I hope the people who made these things don’t make condoms.
Slowly I Turn...
What else? Well, I rode out to the Toronto Zoo to see the pandas, visited the Royal Ontario Museum to take in the Mesopotamia exhibit, and checked out the Ontario Science Centre.
I think my favorite city, however, was Casa Loma, once the home of financier Sir Henry Mill Pellatt.
This is an honest-to-God castle located right in the city, complete with secret stairwells and an 800-foot tunnel that leads from the main house to the stables across the street.
Oh, yeah, I also managed to appear on Canadian TV. One night a local radio station teamed up with a cable provider to sponsor an outdoor screening of “Star Trek Into Darkness” in Yonge-Dundas Square.
People showed up dressed as their favorite Star Trek characters and a local TV news crew stopped by to do a slow pan over the audience while the movie was playing.
I knew nothing of this until I got back to my hotel room and switched on the evening news. I had my hood on in response to the chilly night air, but I still recognized my gorgeous self as I sat like a monk and chomped away on my free popcorn.
The week ended with an excellent dinner in downtown Toronto with Jenni and fellow blogger Heather of Orange Blossom Goddess, whom I also met for the first time.
The only unpleasant moment during the whole trip occurred on my walk back to the hotel on that last night when I saw one street mutt pounding on another dude. The fight didn’t last long, as the attacker’s pants were falling down and exposing his derriere. Being a true New Yorker, I looked straight ahead and pretended I didn’t see anything.
I was up the next morning at a positively obscene hour to get back to New York to attend a birthday party for a friend—also named Jen.
It’s still hard to believe that I was standing in front of the gates of the U.S. Immigration Office in Toronto at 4AM and then partying with friends in an East Village houkhah joint a few hours later.
So that was my week. It wasn’t quite as exciting as going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, but for a last minute, seat-of-the-pants operation, it worked out just fine.