The Great Canadian Adventure, Day 3!

And now, let’s get back to recounting the details of the great Canadian Adventure, shall we? Because I gotta tell you people about Memoire et Racines, not to mention GBS, but I ain’t skipping ahead!

Our last day in Toronto involved less wandering around than the two previous ones, in no small part because we needed to keep some time free for userinfosolarbird to get back to Chez Cow and prepare for her house concert! But that said, we did have a good wander about through the late morning and early afternoon.

The first stop of the day was at the Ontario Legislative Building in Queen’s Park, so that userinfocow could drop off tasty Montreal bagels for a friend. On the way, Dara and I spotted various amusing signs out the windows of the bus, so I took pics. I was disappointed that “Dragons and Skulls” did not in fact sell either dragons OR skulls–it was apparently a defunct Chinese gift shop. “Adult Movie Pet Food” just made me giggle on general principle for the juxtaposition, while “Cabbagetown” made both me AND Dara giggle and think of Avatar: The Last Airbender‘s cabbage vendor NPC!

Once we got to the Legislative Building, we peeked into the lobby, as far as we could get in the building without joining one of the formal tours, and we did snap a few pics while we were in there. There was nice art on the walls as well as the ceremonial mace used by the Legislature.

After that we wandered through a bit more of the park, specifically cutting past a building that userinfocow told us was the medieval studies building for the University of the Toronto. There was a neat sign there all in Latin–and how many signs do you see on colleges anywhere, TOTALLY IN LATIN? I also rather liked an ivy-covered arch nearby.

Then we cut over to the Village, Toronto’s LGBT district, and I snapped more pics of urban art that caught my eye on the way. We stopped at Glad Day for books (where I picked up a potentially interesting novel called Three, mentioned in my last book round up post). We stopped for yogurt (which was tasty). We popped into a candy store (where I giggled at the sight of an ancient Six Million Dollar Man lunchbox, which I recognized because my brother had had one of those when I was a kid!). And we stopped to look at an AIDS memorial, which was touching.

But the thing I liked best about this particular day’s wandering was Riverdale Farm. I hadn’t ever encountered an urban farm before, and it was really pretty neat to be able to wander through a farm right in the middle of a major city.

Once we were done wandering around the farm, the weather took a turn for the worse–and just as we made it off the bus near Cow’s place, it finally opened up raining. I’d brought my raincoat, thankfully, so I didn’t get too wet. Dara was not so lucky!

But it was all good, because the rest of the day pretty much went to Dara’s house concert. Attendees If and Sarah were very fun to chat with (and I in particular had great fun talking to Sarah since she works for Kobo and I was pleased to be able to yak about putting Faerie Blood up on Kobo’s new Writing Life site), and they took well to Dara’s music, particularly “Sad Muppet”! A very nice way to round out the Toronto phase of our trip!

The Great Canadian Adventure, Day 2!

Day 2 of the Great Canadian Adventure involved more wandering around through Toronto, and in this particular case, that meant that our fine host userinfocow took userinfosolarbird and me along Queen Street towards downtown Toronto. The plan was to stop and have lunch and hang out for a bit, until it was time to meet up with Susan, my Le Vent du Nord fandom friend!

Queen Street was a good walk, not too strenuous or long, especially given that I’ve done comparable walking daily getting to and from work. There was a lot of construction along the route, but there was also some nice art, like the animal mural we found under one particular bridge! And I gotta say, I really like the random bits of under-bridge art we’ve seen in Toronto so far. Apparently Toronto’s bridge trolls are quite artistically inclined!

I didn’t get shots of all of the animals on that mural, but yeah, it was very pretty.

We eventually wound up at a place called the Distillery, this neat little walkable market area down near the lakefront, with a lot of nice old brick buildings. At the Mill Street Brewery pub, we stopped for some very tasty lunch. There were super-tasty pretzels with sea salt, and this day’s venture into Cider Science brought us Thornbury Cider. Which was tasty, a bit sweeter than the stuff we’d had the night before, but still not quite as intense as Strongbow!

Then we wandered more around the general Distillery area. We stopped in a tiny sake shop, which was awesome. The guy at the counter was very knowledgeable about the various sakes they were selling, and Dara and I did “Tasting Flight”, which was small samples of three different kinds of sake. We wound up buying a bottle, and Dara was particularly happy to be able to swap a bit of Japanese in conversation with the gentleman.

And we found some seriously neat skiffy-esque sculpture!

After the Distillery, it was time to head to the St. Lawrence market and meet up with Susan! Cow parted ways with us at that point, but it was great to meet Susan face to face. It was not surprising to me in the slightest that one of the first things she did was hand me one of the smaller posters for the Le Vent du Nord show she arranged, hee!

And it was also not surprising that the boys of Le Vent du Nord were one of my and Susan’s primary conversation topics. But we also yakked about Doctor Who, since Susan was wearing an adorable “Doctor Pooh” t-shirt–think Pooh with the Tom Baker scarf–and about audio equipment, Toronto, our various personal histories, the St. Lawrence market we were wandering through, and more.

The market, by the way, is worth mentioning just because it reminded me a lot of Pike Place, only more vertically oriented rather than sprawling. Much of the same kind of stuff sold therein, only involving a lot more maple snacks. I bought maple candy and icewine candy, the latter of which I hadn’t heard of and which proved to be tasty.

We wandered around the University of Toronto campus a lot, too, which was a nice place to walk. By the time we got there, though, a thunderstorm was rolling in–and neither Dara nor I had thought to prep for a thunderstorm! Dara didn’t have her umbrella, and I didn’t have my raincoat. DOH. Taking shelter from rain did however find us a neat arch with a WWII memorial.

The plan HAD been to take Susan to dinner, but we wound up blowing the time we had available just by talking and wandering! We did at least have a chance to duck into a cafe–again, to hide from rain–and drink hot beverages and yak more. But eventually we had to return Susan to the subway so she could scamper back to Uxbridge by bus. And Dara and I made our way back along Queen Street, heading back to Chez Cow!

On the way, we saw a spaceship building. I was a bit disappointed it wasn’t an actual spaceship.

It got to serious raining by the time we made it off the streetcar, so we ducked into the first open restaurant we could find, a pizza place. Which had perfectly acceptable pizza, and a friendly waiter who told us he was from the Yukon and that he quite disliked the bit of Toronto he lives in, but that he quite LIKED the bit the restaurant was in! I.e., Cow’s neighborhood, Leslieville. We are so far in agreement on the excellence of Leslieville.

It continued to be quite thunderstormy as the night progressed, to degrees I haven’t experienced since I was a kid, or since Dara and I were in Orlando for the Worldcon in the early nineties. I dreamed of lightning as I slept. And I’m told that Toronto really needs the rain, so it’s all good.

Today, though, I’ll be heading out with my raincoat!

The Great Canadian Adventure, Day 1!

So yeah, the Great Canadian Adventure has begun, folks! and I made it safely to Toronto last night, after a surprisingly relaxed and groovy jaunt out of Sea-Tac. Thanks to kindly running us down to the airport on his way to work, we got there super-early and had acres of time to kill. We wound up walking all up and down all the various wings of the airport, and even stopped for 15-minute massages at a massage bar in one wing. Which was beautiful and relaxing, and which is something that should be done more often before flying, I feel.

We also looked at various bits of airport art. Most of this are of a big mural we found at the end of the A wing, which looked really cool with the sun coming down through it, and I quite liked the sleeping figures at the top. For comparison, though, I also present the dubious brown bits of sculpture that we wound elsewhere in our airport wanderings–sculpture that wasn’t particularly improved by the proximity of similarly shaped white pieces hanging from the nearby ceiling.

And we wound up having all this time to kill at the airport even given the madhouse that SeaTac was, thanks to mechanical failures and flight cancellations. We got a baggage fee waived even though Dara’s bouzouki was oversized, and even the security line was surprisingly quick and painless; neither of us got dinged for the full-body scanner, thankfully.

The flight was a bit bumpy, but we made it in okay, and Canadian customs was also quick and painless. came to meet us and escort us back to Chez Cow, and then we popped back out again to go get a very late (by local time) dinner at Cow’s nearby preferred pub. We had lovely service from the Croatian bartender there and got to try a local cider, for the first volley in this Adventure’s objective of CIDER SCIENCE! Verdict on the Waupoos: a good light, dry cider, not as overt in flavor as Strongbow, but that stuff’s hard to beat. The fish and chips were tasty as well, and we eventually keeled back over at Chez Cow around midnightish.

Much to my amazement, my brain popped online around sixish–i.e., threeish Pacific time. And I was astonishingly awake and have mostly remained so all day! When the HELL did I turn into a morning person, anyway?

But today was relaxed and groovy, an overall theme for this trip. We wandered out through the Leslieville district, had some nice lunch at a Japanese place, and then a lovely walk along the beach of Lake Ontario. Internets, this is the first time I’d ever been to one of the Great Lakes! And the sheer visual size of it just blew me away. I’m used to Lake Washington–which, don’t get me wrong, is no tiny pond–but even with Lake Washington, I can see the distant shorelines way down at the other end.

With Lake Ontario, though, there’s nothing out there but blue horizon. The weird thing, though, is that it looks like it ought to be ocean, except that there are no waves and no tides, and the air doesn’t smell like salt. It was great fun to wade down into the beautiful clear water, though, and see some tiny wriggling mini-fish. Here’s the shots I got of the lake!

Our evening went to Ethopian food for dinner, and then a casual stroll got us back to Chez Cow. I got a couple more pics on the way! I giggled at the No Hockey sign, but also the Traffic Calming one, because apparently the local streets just wanted a nice relaxing cup of tea. The mural and the tunnel, though, those were awesome. And the tunnel totally makes me think a scene of some sort ought to take place in it.

We are closing this first day in Toronto with experiments in margaritas and vodka. And tomorrow there will be meeting of fellow Le Vent du Nord fan Susan!