Monday, October 9, 2017

Roller Coaster Road Trip 2017: Hello Toronto!

The drive from Niagara Falls to Toronto via Queen Elizabeth Way is an easy and direct path, but full of traffic.  What I thought would be an hour, hour and a half drive turned into something like three hours.  That's okay, though, because Toronto was our destination and I was excited to get there!

First impressions of Toronto...the outer boroughs of NYC.  In fact, the apartment we rented in the Little Portugal section reminded me a lot of Astoria, right down to the confusing parking areas in an alley behind the houses.  Once we'd found where to park the car, we quickly unpacked the car and moved into our new digs, another AirBnB place.  By the time we had done this, it was already around 5 p.m. and we were starving.  Our host told us that there were a lot of great eateries in the neighborhood, so we set out for a walk in search of food and just checking out Toronto.

Kinda Queensish, right?  Anyway, after walking around for hours, deciding that we were way underdressed for a lot of the eateries we came across, we opted for some Mexican takeout and headed back to the apartment...delish!  The rest of the evening was spent sitting on our cool little porch, drinking, laughing and people watching. That night was probably the most relaxing and one of the funnest nights of the entire trip.  Oh, and Gary found a lil piece of himself in that neighborhood, too...

The view from our porch

We had until Monday morning at the flat in Toronto, and our plan was to explore the city on Saturday and hit Canada's Wonderland on Sunday, our last full day.  Start with roller coasters, finish with em.  We got up Saturday morning and headed on foot towards Lake Ontario, the center of the downtown area.  I should have known ahead of time that we'd be doing a lot of walking that day...any day spent exploring a city is such, and boy did we walk!  Over 30,000 steps that day!

One of the sites that we wanted to visit was the world-famous CN Tower, an icon of the Toronto skyline.  We walked along the water, using our vision to get towards the iconic landmark.  The day was gorgeous, sunny skies and warm temperatures, and we meandered through the promenade, stopping at an outdoor craft fair along the way.  Once we'd hit the street where we wanted to be, we left the shoreline towards CN Tower.  

Rogers Centre, home of the Toronto Blue Jays, is just next to the tower and a game was just beginning, which was kind of cool.  I almost wished I had bought tickets to the game because that would have been even cooler.  As it turned out, the CN Tower itself was a day killer!  The line to go up to the observation deck was about three hours long, and though it did kill much of our day, and our energy, it was still a pretty awesome thing to do.  

As you might imagine, the views of the city and Lake Ontario were spectacular, and looking down into the stadium was pretty neat.  They had this one attraction up there, a windowed floor that you could stand on, looking all the way down 1,800-plus feet right below you.  Not as easy as it sounds.  Rich was the brave one there, taking advantage of the unique perch.  Me, I stepped on and off so quickly, you had to be watching me all along to catch it, lol.  Check out some pictures...

There's my brave Dit!

After the tower, we headed back to walk along the waterfront once again, with a new destination in mind.  I had read in a guide book about this place called the Distillery.  I wasn't sure exactly what it was, and I did misjudge the distance, causing us to walk another hour or so just to get there.  The Distillery is a district full of cafes, shops and restaurants set within the former, historic home of the former Gooderham & Worts Distillery.  

Though the place was charming, I think the long walk there had taken the wind out of our sails a bit and we tiredly meandered through the bustling area in a little over an hour.  It was a cool place, very crowded, and it was there that I found my Toronto Maple Leafs shirt.  That's a thing I have about Canada.  I'm a big hockey fan (I would have LOVED to go to the Hockey Hall of Fame, but didn't want to torture Rich and Gary.) and whenever I visit, I like to grab a shirt of the local hockey team.  I added this one to my Quebec Nordiques shirt that I bought awhile back.  Anyway, check out some of the sights of the Distillery...  

These ladies were selling prose, on any topic, name your price.  I couldn't think of a topic.

By the time we were ready to leave the Distillery, we were starving.  We decided to head more towards home, this time in a taxi, to catch a row of restaurants that a local artist had told Gary about.  We opted for a big sports bar, of which I can't remember the name, and we ended up staying there for several hours, closing our night over some brewskies and conversation.  It wasn't the evening I had envisioned, but we were tired and we did have a lot of laughs.  

We made our way home, bellies full and a little bit of a buzz in our heads, looking forward to sitting on our porch with some more laughs as we contemplated our day in Toronto.  The moon was bright that night, a perfect period to a pretty nice day!  Very cool city, Toronto.  I think I'd like to visit again.

The next day, Sunday, would be the last day of a very memorable trip.  We were going to finish it like we started...riding roller coasters.  Stay tuned as we take a look at the cool Canadian coasters of Canada's Wonderland, and in the meantime, check out the rest of the trip...

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Ten Years On

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The anniversary crept up on me out of nowhere.  All I had to do was hear someone say 'October 7th' and suddenly I remembered.  It was ten years ago tonight that Joe and I ended our relationship of 20+ years.  That night was one I will remember vividly for the rest of my life.  It was one of those few times in my life where I took a major detour after a long five years of contemplating the signs that were laid before me.  Of course my life today is not where I envisioned it to be when I made the move to, well move on, but even so, it was the right move.

I was such a different person back in those days.  Though my self-confidence is not at its peak these days, it was abysmal back then.  I was much heavier, I spent my days off alone, and my nights were full of lonliness because Joe and I had stopped talking long before.  I was unhappy, and though it took me about four months to do so, I finally freed myself from that vice that had been gripping y insides for so long.

Ten years on I have no regrets.  Regardless of whether my life has turned out the way I had wanted it to, it is irrelevant to my decision back then.  Over the past ten years I've learned a lot more about who John is.  I've made plenty of friends I wouldn't otherwise have known, I've managed to keep a house on my own, and though we still stay in touch, I don't really think of Joe any longer with the same sentiment I once did in the years right after the breakup.  

So here I am, ten years single and counting.  Will I ever find another relationship?  I really don't know, but at this moment, the prospects seem bleak (which is a whole other story!).  I've learned to love the freedom that comes with being unattached to someone over these past ten years, so I'm not sure how eager I really am to jump into something.  Joe knew what he wanted and within just a couple of years he was already with someone, who he's still with today.  Sometimes when I have conversations with him, I am reminded of what it was like to be interwoven with another person, doing 'couple' things, and I have no envy whatsoever for that life.

That being said, I would like to have someone in my life.  In what capacity I am not sure at this point, but the loneliness isn't fun.  I do know the next person has to be pretty darned special to fill that spot with me, and I am willing to wait until the right one comes, if he ever comes.  Aside from one person I dated these past ten years, I've found myself on guard all the time, looking for signs of possible negativity to come, and usually I've ended it before anything really got cooking.  Maybe that's a bad thing, I don't know, but I believe when the right person comes along I'll just know.  Hey, I love being single, but I really hope that by the next time another ten years rolls around, I won't be alone still.  Fingers crossed!  

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Roller Coaster Road Trip: Amazing Niagara Falls, Part II

When I'd last left off, the three of us, Rich, Gary and I, had gone to explore the backside of the Canadian side of the Falls, and by then it was almost dusk and we were in for some more spectacular views.  You see, as the sky grows dark, the Falls light up in brilliant hues of red, green, white, purple and blue, and at around 9 p.m., the skies light up as well with a nightly fireworks show.  These pictures don't really capture the absolute brilliance of it all, but they do give you a good idea of what it was like...


Wow, what a great ending to a great day!  Once again, if you've ever wanted to go to see Niagara Falls, you should do it at least once in your lifetime.  Like I'd mentioned previously, the wonder of it all just has you wanting to take in as much of it as you can.  I feel very lucky to have visited.  

After the fireworks, we wandered a bit through the town for some crowd watching and a bite before heading over to Alice in Wonderland. The streets were still teeming with tourists enjoying all of the touristy things this place has to offer. There was one place, about a block up from the promenade, that we had noticed had a very long line. We decided to check it out, only o find out it was an ice cream place, but it couldn't have been any ordinary ice cream parlor with a line around the block.  We moved closer to investigate...

Sweet Jesus!  They had a vampire child advertising their ice cream.  Though the menu was tempting, we were hungry for some real food, and besides...that line!  I thought about posting this picture as my profile on Facebook, just to see what people would say.  I never did.

I found this place on AirBnB, and the advertisement actually called it Alice in Wonderland.  It is owned by a person called Wei, and boy he (or she) wasn't kidding.  The entire place, a charming two-story house within a five minute drive to the downtown area, was decorated in bric a brac from the famous novel and film.  Just take a look-see...

Although I wasn't really looking too much forward to this particular lodging, it was comfortable, clean, convenient, and very charming.  Thanks to Wei!

Friday was our last day in the Falls area and we had some things on our list, like ziplining, a boat ride on Hornblower Cruises, and the Aero Car, which is an antique cable car that runs across the Niagara River where the rushing white water rapids converge to form a whirlpool.  This was our first stop.  



As you can see from these pictures, this experience was pretty amazing, too!  Highly recommended if you visit the Falls area!  

Once we had finished the Aero Car ride, we headed back into town for one last few hours with the famous Falls.  The day had been pretty overcast and we were immediately disappointed to find out that it was too windy for the zipline to run, so we quickly headed down to Hornblower Cruises to get one last up close view of Niagara Falls.  This is yet another must if you visit, as the views from the water, up close, are spectacular and engrossing.  Take a look...

It was a little wet!

So for the next couple of hours after our cruise, we took one last meal and one last walk around to shop and look around.  After roller coastering for four days straight, which at the time seemed so long before, we needed this wonderful respite and for 36 hours we got to experience such a great place!  

Stay tuned for the last stop on our Roller Coaster Road Trip 2017, Toronto, Canada, and in the meantime, check out my past entries for this trip: