We went to Toronto last week. Sort of a mini-vacation. We planned the trip around a few events and winged the rest. We didn’t realize the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) was happening, which sort of made finding last minute hotel rooms an adventure.
We headed up Sunday, with an all too brief stopover along the way to meet up with twitter pal SheikYurbouti, followed by a mad rush to make it downtown in time for the first of our first of three Pearl Jam concerts. Yes, three. I’d taken Andrea to see Eddie Vedder — the lead singer — perform solo a few times but this was my first time seeing them as a group. This trip made Andrea’s tenth, eleventh, and twelfth shows. We booked tickets months ago through Andrea’s fan club connection and our seats were great. Aisle seats at all three shows, and I was able to sit for two of the shows and still see the stage. Even the view from at the third show, where we were center row floor, wasn’t so bad.
I noticed an interesting behavior (and by interesting, I mean HULK SMASH RAWR) by some of the men standing at the end of a row. When a woman would tap on their arm/shoulder to get past, it was used as an opportunity to stroke, touch, or otherwise make inappropriate physical contact in a confined space. It seemed to get worse as the night (and the drinking) continued. I didn’t see anything obvious enough to intervene or call security but clearly someone’s best judgement was not in play.
Monday started off with Bakka Phoenix. I’d been looking forward to that trip for ages. We spent at least an hour browsing and talking to the staff (it wasn’t Chris, but I can’t remember what her name was). I picked up quite a few books and only gossiped a little, I swear. Later that night, more Pearl Jam. By this time, I’ve become fairly efficient at navigating both freeway and surface streets despite the grinding sound coming from the rear end of the car, which turn out to be the brake pads. Metal on metal never sounds pretty.
Tuesday was my day, to a tv taping for some professional wrestling (yes, I know it’s scripted). I’ve been to a few taping over the last twenty years but this one was special. One of the performers, Adam Copeland aka Edge, officially retired due to injury and had a nice send off in his home town. Love or hate wrestling, life is about doing what you love no matter what someone else tells you and this was a bittersweet moment to celebrate the career of someone who did that and now, due to circumstances beyond their control, must move on to the next chapter.
We had a free day Wednesday so we decided to go to the Toronto Zoo. I took nearly 500 picture, which will take me half a year to sort through, and walked a dozen miles or so it felt. Zoos are oddly pleasant, if tiring, experiences. Going mid-week during the school year meant there was very little crowd. It was peaceful. Someone would make a killing renting scooters or segways, though, especially with the hills. Since it was our first early night of the week, we stayed with Andrea’s sister and enjoyed a relaxing evening.
Our first real complication came on Thursday. We were heading to Hamilton, an hour away, for the last Pearl Jam show of our trip. As it turns out, Hamilton was hosting the Canadian Country Music Awards or some such. It ended up being cheaper, and not much further to drive, to stay the night in Niagara Falls, than to find somewhere in Hamilton or Toronto.
We spent a few hours in Niagara that afternoon, before commuting to Hamilton for the show that night. It’s a total tourist trap, but still a lovely place to visit. We napped, then walked to the falls, which are spectacular.
Friday morning, we drove through wine country and met up with an old friend of mine that I’ve known online for a decade but never met. After that, back to Toronto for a Blue Jays game, where the beat the Yankees (sorry Matthias) at the bottom of the 9th.
All in all, a pretty nice and mostly unplanned vacation. We had specific points in time set but otherwise we picked a direction and drove. It’s a little risky not planning on where to sleep in advance but it worked out and we had nice bit of sightseeing for the detour that went with it. This was the best kind of trip I could have not planned.