Thursday, October 26, 2006

Toronto highlights

My time in Toronto flew right by -- but is that any surprise in this city whose default pace is warped speed?! Some quick highlights:

My sister's convocation! (aww, doesn't she look cute?!) The whole family gushed with pride as she walked across the stage and got "hooded." It was fun being my sister's official photographer because her fancy schmancy digital SLR made me feel like such a pro.

Great cuisine ...
food is always a highlight of my travels! Ironically I ate and enjoyed every ray of the Asian rainbow: Japanese (yay for Toronto's sushi pizza, but the best Japanese still resides in Vancouver), Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Thai. Managed to convince mom to break out of the mould and had Greek. And got my fix of ice cream (Demettre's, Greg's roasted marshmallow flavour and I got to try those new dippin' dots ice cream -- feels just like sticking your tongue on a frozen metal pole, which is why I'm grimacing as I eat them!).

Family time... It was good to spend time with my family, and even better that we were able to be there and help my sister find an apartment. After checking out a few places (including a shoebox size condo on the waterfront for $1000/month), we found Flo a great little apartment on the main subway line. She thanked me for my help and goodwill, but I must admit I benefit from the apartment too as it'll be my accommodations for future visits :)

Now it's back to life in Vancouver... gotta take a deep breath before I dive in again! Let's hope I don't sink...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

from sunny vancouver to rainy toronto

Left sunny Vancouver yesterday at 5am only to arrive in down-pouring rainy Toronto a few hours later. The flight my sister and I were on was supposed to arrive one minute after the flight my parents were on so we could meet up conveniently at the baggage carousel... only problem was due to the rain they had only one runway open! Then it took us 3 hours to sort through luggage, van rentals and drive to our B&B in downtown Toronto in the middle of rush hour gridlock traffic. Ah, the joys of big city life!

I must say though, I know I haven't had much time to blog recently. Life has been so insanely hectic in Vancouver. I was desperate to get away for a break to round up the family for a little "vacation" in Toronto. You know you're wound up when you think Toronto will be a restful place for vacation compared to the leisurely pace of Vancouver!

But it turns out it's still enough of the change of pace I needed to slow down and open my eyes. I don't usually have fond memories of Toronto itself -- other than all the visits over coffees and meals with friends each round of 3 weeks I spend out here every year. But I found myself quite enjoying pointing out the sights to my mom who was sitting beside me in the van while my sister and dad sat in the front navigating the rush hour traffic, weaving through express ways and one way streets.

Florence and Dad were like two peas in a pod in the front seats and really worked well together in getting us to places. Mom and I were like two peas in another pod, chatting on and off in the back, nodding off here and there because we had both been up all night getting ready for the trip (surprise surprise). If there was ever any doubt about how my sister is a carbon copy of my dad and I am cut of the same cloth as my mother, this trip expels all question about that!

I noticed for the first time in awhile the endearing mom and pop shops and character of the older brick buildings around town, compared to the slick shiny glassy buildings of Vancouver. Of course there are the usual franchise stores, but a lot more family shops and restaurants to balance it out. I was reading in my dad's CAA guide that Honest Ed's is the best bargain shop around still (a few floors of Army and Navy type of goodness)... no big box stores to be seen here!

Then I was reminded and inspired to take mom and dad around all the neat little neighbourhoods around town just to walk around and take in the sights. I hope we get time to do that... the trip has turned from "vacation" to helping my sister settle in and find a place to live (she got her dream job with CBC Toronto as a Media Librarian... a perfect combo of her background in history, journalism and library sciences... way to go Flo!)

Overall I think we are in a healthy place in our relationships with each other, but still am noticing our communication patterns that can be improved. It was quite funny tonight when my sister said in a hushed voice to me, "I didn't realize how loud our family talks!" I couldn't hear her over the fan of my laptop, so I kept saying, "what?! what? I can't hear you!" and she finally said more loudly "I didn't realize how loud our family talks!" Classic irony. :)

Anyway, I should probably go to bed now... I thought I had adjusted to the three hour time change forward due to being wiped from my previous all-nighter which got me in bed at normal Toronto time last night, but here I go the second night in town now staying up until 4am local time... I guess my insane hours are more of a pattern than I wish, no matter which part of the coutnry I may find myself in!

Goodnight... or perhaps shall I say, good morning!