Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Tale of Two Cities

I recently took a trip to Rochester, NY, my hometown, and Toronto, Canada, Rochester's sister city on the other side of Lake Ontario. They were both to visit friends, and I had a great time in both cities.

First up, Rochester! (Isn't it pretty?)

I headed out to Western New York via JFK and JetBlue to attend my good friend Deanna's wedding celebration. After having to get up at some ungodly hour, I landed in Rochester on a Friday morning and was greeted by my lovely Mother. We got in the car and headed to Honeoye Falls to hang out and chill.

I had plans to meet Don and his fiancee Kelly for dinner. So I got in the car and drove to Rochester, pulling up in front of a house I did not recognize! Look at it, it looks so pretty! Good job, Kelly. After some hanging out and such, we went off to Beale Street for dinner and it was yummy! I had a pulled chicken dinner and stuffed myself good. Then out for a drink or two at the bar before I had to call it a night. I always have so much fun hanging out with these two. Thanks for dinner guys!!

Saturday was Deanna and Tom's party. They threw a nice soiree in their backyard, and it was catered by Dinosaur Barbeque! Barbeque two nights in a row! w00t!! This was great. I got to see some of my oldest friends at this party, and we all kinda fell right back into that comfy, homey kinda vibe you can only feel with people you've known FOREVER.

Look! It's Deanna and Karla! YAY! Needless to say, as usual, I didn't take many pictures, because I was too busy chatting and having a good time. But Karla got her hands on my camera phone and took a few pics. Heh.

Karla's lovely husband Wes, and Deanna's younger brother John.

Paulie... posing. Heh.

John's lovely daughter Juliana (isn't she cute?) (OMG, John is a daddy?... weird).

Me in mid-whatever. Thanks Karla...

No pictures of Deanna's older brother Mark, but we had a nice conversation or two, and it was great to see him as well. It was crazy hot and humid, but the party was a great success. I finally left after it got dark and the air was thick with mosquitoes. Thanks Deanna and Tom for such a great time, and a fun trip down memory lane.

I started out Sunday with a visit to Heather and her awesome girls, Jada and Kara. Looks like the tooth fairy has been VERY busy here. We took off to go blueberry picking, but Mother Nature let loose with a big ol' rain storm, so we went to Dunkin' Donuts instead. Hee. That's where I got this awesome picture. After donuts and goofiness, we headed back to Heather's and commenced the weaving of tote bags. It was supposed to be a crafty project that the girls would help us with, but it soon became clear that Heather and I were way more interested than the girls in this project, so we wove and chatted while the girls hung out with us. I always love getting crafty with Heather. Hmmm, I wonder how those totes turned out.

After my visit with Heather, I met my brother Zach over at the Brewery to say hi to Jane and some her friends before we headed off to a Red Wing game at Frontier Field . This was my first visit to Frontier, and it is a great little ballpark. We got some Zweigles and beer and sat down for some baseball! (honestly, Zweigles white hots may be the best.hotdogs.ever!) It was great to hang out with Zach, something I don't get to do often enough, until Mother Nature once again made an appearance and the rain came a pouring down. We decided to cut the game short since we weren't decked out in rain gear, and headed home.

Monday I went down to Dad's office (after having my 40 year old eyes examined on Saturday), to drop off my glasses and have lunch with Dad, Zach and Jane. Nothing like a good meal at Critic's! Hee. So, everyone went back to work and I went back to Mom and Dad's to pack and try not to freak out about getting on a plane. It was a quick little trip, but I got to see everyone and I had a really good time. Rochester in the summer is so pretty. I'm glad I went.

I got this rockin' shot of the falls on my camera phone! Yay for me.

Two weeks later I got back on a plane (eesh), and headed out for my first international flight to Toronto. I finally got to use my passport!

Thank you random user of photobucket for this great picture of Toronto. Isn't it pretty?

First of all, I would just like to say, I hate to fly, and my experience flying out of LaGuardia on American Airlines didn't help. I swear to god, I will never fly with this carrier ever again. They were horrible. But once we got over the lake (which really is huge, thus being a Great Lake, I suppose), seeing Toronto out the window made the hassles okay. Plus, I had the great pleasure of sitting next to a very chatty Afghani woman who constantly was being yelled at by the flight attendant for not following ANY of the rules, and for telling me some interesting stories about her recent visit to Afghanistan. She was very sad about the state of her home country, and thought it may be another 20 years before she goes back. Very sad.

So, I went to Toronto to vist Fran, who is on tour there with Avenue Q. Plus, I love Toronto. The picture above is the hotel from the mezzanine level. It was very nice, and apparently Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton stayed there back in the day. Fancy!

After my $60 cab ride from the airport (!!), I hung out in the hotel until it was time to meet Fran for dinner. It feels like forever since I had seen her, and it was good to just hang out and have a yummy meal (I had a veggie bowl at the aptly named Fran's Diner). After dinner Fran went to work and I went back to the hotel and just chilled. We met at the hotel bar for a few drinks after work (the suggestively named Consort Bar) and then headed up to the room to hang out and watch some The West Wing. Awwww, just like old times!

Saturday Fran had to work two shows, so while she was at the theater, I hoofed it around Toronto. I checked out Yonge St., where there was a kickin' little Turkish festival going on, and stumbled into the Gay section of town, which was, of course, very cute. After another yummy dinner at Fran's Diner, Fran went back to work and I continued walking around the neighborhoods. I discovered Front St. which had their weekend street market going, and I met a really nice local woman sitting in a park and we chatted about all kinds of stuff for an hour or so. After work Fran and I did the same thing. Drink at the bar (this time with some of her fellow Avenue Q-ers), and up to the room for more The West Wing (yes, we are old, and like to hang out and watch old TV shows. Deal with it).

Sunday, Fran only had one show, and I had promised (okay, insisted) to take her out for a belated birthday dinner. Literally, I found this place last minute, and it was PERFECT! (yes, I stole this picture straight from Fran's blog.. thanks Fran!). Jamie Kennedy's Wine Bar was awesome. Exactly what I wanted, and the food was yummy squared. I highly recommend it to anyone heading to Toronto.

The rest of Sunday was kinda a blur, as there was much drinking and meandering about the city. Otherwise known as FUN! Oh wait! We went to the CN Tower!! As the sun went down, we took the elevator up, up ,up and took in the views. We could see the soft glow of Rochester on the other side of the Lake. Pretty. The CN Tower is an obvious touristy thing to do, and well worth it, in my opinion (and I will not put a picture here, as I did not take one, and most of you know what the place looks like).

Monday was Fran's only full day off, so we started off with a wonderful breakfast at Over Easy on Yonge St. A great breakfast place that filled us up good! And then off to the Toronto Islands (check out the old-school pic I found online). Monday happened to be a civic holiday in Toronto, so we and several others waited in line for the ferry's to the islands on a hot, cement slab, all sweaty and cranky. Once on the ferry (we went to Ward Island, initially), the cool lake breeze cheered us up, and once we landed, we were greeted by an island full of adorable cottages and a sweet boardwalk.

It was yet another gorgeous Canadian day, and, being New Yorkers and used to walking forever, we walked all the way to Centre Island where we found a wee amusement park and farm with chickens and horses and pigs. Fun for the city folk!

As much fun as we were having, and as lovely as a day it was, we finally had to catch the ferry back, because we had tickets for a Blue Jays game! We got there a little early, so we got to see them open the dome! After a quick nosh, we got our seats and waited for another Avenue Q-er to show up, Annika. Fran and I had on our Yankees caps, and Annika showed up with he Red Sox hat, and we settled in for a Roy Halladay pitch-fest. Normally, as a Yankee fan, it is my duty to root against Roy Halladay, and to not mingle with Red Sox fans, but we were in Canada, and we cheered and chatted and had a good ol' time. Thanks Annika, for all the good Canadian beer and popcorn!

Thanks to Fran for getting us great first base line seats, and the Blue Jays kicked the A's butts, 6-1. The A's fans sitting in front of us moved away pretty quickly after the game started. Hee.

Tuesday was my last full day in Toronto, and Fran and I made the most of it. We went to the Toronto Necropolis, one of the oldest historic cementaries in Canada. Coooooool. I would like to thank the completely hot concierge at Fran's hotel for finding this cementary, and printing out a map for us. Seriously guys, Brandon was smokin', and he was kind enough to flirt with me every time I saw him after that. And then we hopped in a cab and went over to the Redpath sugar museum. Very cheesy. It was in a little shack out behind the factory, and we giggled our way to it. A self-guided tour, we learned a little about sugar (Paris lumps?), and killed some time. Hey, not every tour is a slam bang, people!

Fran had to go off to work, so I spent my last evening hanging out at the hotel, where I found this little gem in the room mini-bar (okay, I found it a few days earlier, but didn't get a pic until the last night):

TeeHeeHee!! Now, I ask you, would you ever find something like that in a fancy-ass hotel in America? No sir, you would not! I'm not sure if this is good news or bad, just a little window into the differences between our two countries.
So, it was time to go. I hopped on the Toronto subway to get to the airport after making a sleepy goodbye to Fran. After passporting my way back into America, I got on an Air Canada flight home.
Here, I must give props to the lovely Air Canada crew. Like my experience with American Airlines, there were some bumps along the way to getting on board and off the ground, but very much unlike AA, the Air Canada people were so kind and cheery, it barely felt like a problem. Customer service is everything, I tell ya'.
I happened to be the only person sitting in the Emergency Exit row, so the flight attendant came over and gave me the drill. Telling me, in the case of an emergency landing, how to look out the window to make sure the door was clear of fire or wreckage (!!), and how to open the door and toss it out the plane. She told me I could then exit the plane, unless I felt like being a Hero, and helping others off. The whole time she was looking at me like, if we land in an emergency, chances are, all this would be moot, as I freaked out a little in my head, embellishing the already horrifying thoughts of a plane crash in my head. Thanks Air Canada flight attendant lady!
Toronto and Rochester. Two really nice little cities on opposite sides of a Great Lake. Who wins in the nice-a-thon? Gotta give it to Toronto, where even the people begging for change are polite and well spoken (and decidedly way less crazy than your typical New York City change beggars). Although after visiting Rochester, I don't have a wallet weighed down with all that crazy Loonie and Toonie Canuck change!

1 comment:

mommiesboys said...

What a GREAT trip!!!! Love the blog and WOW Avenue Q huh? That is AWESOME!!! Feels like I was with you... well done Erika.