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Remember that time I met Ryan Gosling in Toronto?

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No? Well… BECAUSE IT NEVER HAPPENED.

But not because he wasn’t sitting something like three yards away from me. In the same restaurant. In Toronto. And don’t worry, I Googled the swoon-worthy actor while sipping away a table wait at the bar, and saw he was from ONTARIO (the province of my then-existence), so the premise wasn’t completely… err, foreign.

And no, I DIDN’T PUSS OUT ASKING IF IT WAS HIM.

*sigh* I did.

I even had AB as my cohort, Googling for visible arm tattoos (while I kept shushing him for saying the words “RYAN GOSLING” and “tattoos” and “actor” turned up to 11 and made him point his iPhone screen away from my-#2-on-the-no-questions-asked-list’s potential view).

While AB gloriously confirmed it was decidedly NOT The Notebook actor, I am not convinced. That was his face! His tattoos! His smirky, devilish smile. HIS EYES. *faint*

His… bald spot? Hmm.

Dammit. Whatever. He’s totally hot in person.

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Road Trip! Toronto vacation, Part One

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There are snow birds. And there are people like me: who travel NORTH in December for vacation. Also? Driving through Buffalo during winter? Pain in my ass. For serious, it snows here every. single. day. That there were no trucks on the highways before the white stuff accumulated is ridiculous.

It’s OK, I got Florida on my side this February. While more “working remotely” than another vacation, it will be nice to get out of the cold. Hopefully. I seemingly have no luck going SOUTH for good weather either.

Be that as it may, this was an actual travel-without-laptop and your-cell-phone-is-no-good-here kind of vacation. With roller derby. Love. I can’t tell you the freedom in disconnecting for a while. Save for checking in to random locations with wifi available and taking pictures, I rarely used my iPhone.

Have I told you that it has been nearly 20 YEARS since visiting Toronto? I don’t remember much of my prior trip, other than winning some national band competition and seeing the CN Tower and traveling by one of those school tour buses. And perhaps getting remanded to the bus during the Niagara Falls leg of the tour because of some shenanigans the night prior in the hotel. *ahem* This time, obviously, we I drove. Besides the 30 mph (and slower) driving conditions through New York, the trip was relatively painless — a little less than 5.5 hours (snow notwithstanding).

So, this trip is best told in segments: one part travel adventures, one part roller derby, another complete with food reviews (and Yelp links) and maybe a fourth on local landmarks and neighborhoods — a general wrap-up of the city exploration, if you will.

This initial post is mostly though to exclaim that I’M BACK! And I’m sicker than when I left.

And that Canadian poutine really is the best thing ever. The end.

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Packing Up. Leaving Town. Again.

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I mean, part of that header is inherently incorrect, as I probably should have UNpacked from my Thanksgiving trip first. Perhaps I would have felt more like I was home for more than two days.

Packing for this trip? I have total apathy. Not to mention, I’m sick today. So, the process has essentially entailed grabbing all of my favorite things off their hangers and folding or rolling them into my largest suitcase. And an extra shoulder bag for tall boots, accessories and make-up bags. I want to dress cute and trendy in Toronto, but I’ll likely be bundling up, wearing rain boots for the duration of my stay and yearning for the extra luggage space for a few of my vintage coats. You know, when I’m not wearing my roller skates. I swear, an entire quadrant of my bag is devoted to tights and knee socks.

Ahh, there IS a mission behind this trip! Blood & Thunder roller camp for a couple days, then act-like-a-tourist for a couple more. And hoping for wifi, as I have NO CLUE behind the roaming rates for using 3G in Canada. See you next week. If you don’t mind me, I’m going to go drown my sorrows in poutine for five days. NOM.

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Vacation Dreaming Post #4,642

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Does anyone sign up for those airline special newsletters each week? I keep finding flights to Montreal on my list. Have I asked already if anyone has been?

Man, sometimes I get into these travel posts, and wonder if I’m being wholly redundant. Perhaps I should search myself before blogging. Anyways, we’re attempting to figure our plans for the remainder of this year, then next year’s early plans as well. We haven’t solidified our cruise plans (again), but we are keeping the dates open in the short chance we get a deal as last-minute bookers. These things happen some times when the boat needs to be filled to capacity to make a cruise worthy of sailing. Again, if we get our planning butts in gear and schedule Ireland and Scotland (must-do’s on both of our lists), then it might become a definite “no” for the cruise.

Rambling, rambling, rambling. Back to Montreal.

Hiking, an amazing jazz festival, art galleries, a lot of things in French that I cannot understand… but it’s an old vs. new metropolis port city, which invigorates my fascination with Montreal. I love any city placed properly on the water (ahem, CLEVELAND?!).

But seriously, the Underground City also sounds freaking awesome, but not if it’s one of those “touristy” things that EVERYONE does. If it’s like the West Side Market on Saturdays, then I’ll be annoyed.

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What time of the year is best for Canada trips?

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OK, I’ve asked before I’m sure, but when is the best time to book flights to Toronto? What time of year would you most enjoy the Canadian city and why?

I like a combination of activities, based on weather conditions, but also I am not certain how HORRIBLE the Winters are in Toronto, if I go (read: too much snow, I wouldn’t mind, but AB would likely nix it). I think my trip there in Junior High School was in the Spring, and I remember it being rather beautiful and comfortably tempered. Do summers get as hot up North as they are here? I HATE 100 degree days, and would be rather cranky, but if it’s 70 high on a Summer day, then we’re golden.

The bike rides between wineries thing still appeals to me (friends did this and highly encourage us to do so) and I can skip majority of the “tourist” trappings, as I’m sure it’s the same CN Tower as in 1992. AND there is always the Toronto Film Festival in the Fall for my inner indie movie lover. The Distillery District is apparently much like East 4th Street, with food, drinks, music, no crazy drivers allowed — but they have shopping, which is a huge bonus and missing from downtown Cleveland.

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Canad-a Possibility?

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Why won’t this girl shut up about Canada already?

As I mentioned, there are extremely cheap flights to Toronto right now. Like, less than $100 cheap. I can work with this kind of budget. Considering the gas prices rising through summer, the annoyance of flying could be worth it.

Some of the things in Toronto I’ve already seen:
CN Tower
Blue Jays Stadium
Casa Loma
Um. Um. Um. THAT’S ALL I REMEMBER FROM 17 YEARS AGO!
I think we went to a zoo or science museum or something.

What I would like to do/see:
My friends, Sylvia & J (and their new baby)
St. Lawrence Market (nobody in the US has a place like our West Side Market. But Toronto does!)
Depending on the season, a hockey game, of course
Steam Whistle Brewing (more for the building than for the Pilsner)
Yonge-Dundas Square (like Times Square, but Canadian)
Eat Poutine! (poutine is much like our love of pommes frites, but similar to GHT’s gravy frites)
And Burger Bar (I’m building my own with everything weird I can add)
The Olympic Cheese Mart (duh! Can I travel anywhere without sampling new cheeses? It’s rhetorical)
I also have an interest in stopping near Niagara Falls, renting a bike and riding around to all the wineries in close proximity in the province. Aforementioned Toronto friends have recommended this, and said it was a blast. But then I guess I wouldn’t be flying into Toronto. I’m sure I could recreate this fantastical journey somehow…

What else should be on my list?

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I’m talking about Canada again…

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I haven’t been to Canada in a few years, and then, it was only Niagara Falls. A lot of touristy regular BS, mixed in with Casino and (awesome) strip bars. I haven’t been to Toronto since a class trip in junior high school (all the same, without the gambling and nudity). We’ve been talking about a trip to the Northwest, which allows us easy travel access to the beautiful Vancouver. But, I really want to see Toronto again or even Montreal to experience more of the city culture and entertainment scene, rather than the usual tourist traps.

Friends went to Montreal a couple years ago for New Year’s — and the pictures made the city look like so much fun (I mean, isn’t NYE always, regardless of the city). I think I’ve mentioned this before, why Canada appeals to me — its liberalness, its music scene, its people are just so friendly and cool. I think I would fit in well. And, I would also shop.

The flights to Toronto right now are CHEAP. There is an airline deal in my email each week for flights around $100; however, we have three trips for Spring/Summer/Fall respectively planned.

Good thing I work from wherever I want, right?

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Canada is an equal province opportunity.

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Since the Winter games have ended, I’ve been considering travel holidays to Canada. Yes, now I’m British. I haven’t been to Toronto since a class trip in junior high. I thought I remembered it as a band vacation, but I just roomed with fellow band geeks. I got all the tourist destinations out of the way. Even if we were subjected to Bus Only upon reaching Niagara Falls because a few of us “heavens” were hanging out of our hotel room windows.

Damn, I bet it feels almost God-like to be a chaperone.

I remember a snowy-highways-closed road trip to Niagara upon turning 19 (you know, the drinking under 21 legality thing) with HSS. I’m certain we went there for sex without supervision too. And a little gambling.

But not on the birth control.

That leaves almost a decade of not traveling to our Neighbor of the North. And if I went again, I can’t remember. Shocker, Mel.

The idea that actually PARTYING in Toronto is a mere six hours away is ridiculous. Actual techno clubs. Dance music. Happy and equal gay people. OK, so maybe I want to try my luck at a real Canadian lesbian.

Vancouver (and British Columbia in general) reads like an amazing adventure-filled wonderland of camping/kayaking/something outdoorsy. I’m thinking a week of Oregon/Washington/BC could work with my new freelance availability. Boyfriend?

Hopefully it’s also gay-friendly on the West coast. I get confused between time zones.

And no, I am not interested in those sipid vampire-y tourist traps.

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