Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lions, and Puppies, And Movie Stars..oh my..

There are those friends who make you laugh, those friends who help you cry, those who hold your hair back, and those who can stand you snoring. Luckily I have Linds.

She can take on those challenges and she can tolerate traveling with me...because it is always an adventure! (That's the euphemism for disaster.) Plus it helps that we are equally obsessed with completing the 1,000 things to do before you die list!

This weekend adventure took us to Toronto for Memorial Day, but not before a quick little stop to Niagara Falls. Friday we snuck out of town and caught a flight to Buffalo, while the rest of the world headed south for some sun.

Like a machine we picked up our luggage and our rental, plugged in our hotel coordinates and we were off. Well, sort of…we reserved an economy, but since our flightmates all had the same idea, all they had left were land whales. So Chez copa and our Land Whale took off for the Canadian border – in search of free health care…I mean culture. After a few very personal questions from a hot Montee…we were cleared to cross. For the record…Linds is a lawyer and our trip is not for work.

I should have known right off the bat what kind of trip this was going to be…as we were parking our land whale in the Best Western (we keep it classy) guest parking lot for the night, sitting at the foot of our spot was a lion winking at linds from his cage. No joke. We got a picture of the trailer he was coming out of, but we both sat there laughing too long to get the actual cat on film. Your guess is as good as ours as to what he was doing there.

Like true Americans, we embraced all the cheesiness that Niagara had to offer… the country’s largest glow in the dark mini golf, Rainforest caf√©, and of course….the Maiden of the Mist. Too bad we didn’t film that because it was a train wreck of awesome…linds spent the horseshoe falls tour inhaling her plastic poncho, and I couldn’t keep my hood on to save my life.

As a memento of our survival we stole our ponchos…and then bought an overpriced snowglobe. Damn. We showed them.

Then it was a pitstop at Starbucks and on the road for some Toronto action. On the way up we passed at least 15 vineyards. (seriously.) Fighting the urge to right angle it for a tasting, we pulled into the Le Meridien King Edward, Toronto. One word BOOOOGIE! This was one classy joint, and the two of us looked like drowned puppies checking in.

After the color returned to my face, and we showered off, it was time to hit the pavement. We had two more spots to hit on our list – the Art Gallery of Ontario and the flagship Four Seasons. It was also Open Doors Toronto where they open 150 architectural, historic, cultural and/or social significance buildings to the public. So we had plenty of exploring to do. But on the way, we kept bumping into a filming crew.

I didn’t think much of it so we grabbed a few shots and some video and kept bouncing on our way. One gallery a drink and four miles later, we rested our feet at the four seasons for a glass of local Niagara Chardonnay (finally), making friends with our bartender, and annoying the hell out of our barmates. Then we headed up the hill, through the most adorable neighborhood (Rosedale.) to dinner at CAVA.

Tucked inside an office building courtyard, this tapas restaurant is no joke. We were told to order 3-4 dishes each, but after splitting oysters, wine (Niagara Pinot Nior this time), asparagus, edamame bruschetta,
eggplant with queso fresco, cauliflower with Spanish saffron, and a fresh tamal, there was no hope for us. We collapsed on the subway and waddled back to the hotel, too tired to crash the wedding that was happening in the ballroom down the hall. (But don’t think for a second, we didn’t consider it.)

Waking up on our second day, we headed down to the main dining room for some egg white omelets and coffee, and personal sized jar of honey slipped into my purse.

Then we started our walking tour again only this time headed south to the CN tower. But right outside our hotel, the camera crew had set up again. This time we needed answers. It turns out they were filming a movie set in New York called Cosmopolis. Sitting across from us that morning was Robert Pattinson and Paul Giamatti.

On the way we joined a march for awareness for something or other on one block, danced in a parade celebrating Israel’s independence on the next, cheered on bicycle racers around the corner, and coached some puppies being trained on another. I’ll say this…not a dull day in this city. We decided to take refuge in a little community park, but even that turned out to be a coordinated effort…the pigeons had choreographed quite a bathing routine for us.

I think all in all, Toronto is one of my new favorite cities. This was my first trip to Canada, but I couldn’t help thinking that if Chicago and London had a baby …it would be Toronto. The city had American high-rises literally wedged in with gothic cathedrals. The people were friendly in that Midwestern sort of way, but still with an urban sensibility. The streets were clean and there was so much going on, who wouldn’t get hooked. Linds and I sure did.

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