Sunday, February 17, 2013

Toronto to New York

I am currently on a good ol West Jet flight, full of Newfies in white Oakley’s, heading back to my current home of Fort Mac.    I got on a flight this morning from Toronto with red eyes…the usual.  Every time I leave people I love, it’s a bigger water works show than the Bellagio fountains. 

My latest trip was to Toronto with a brief escape to New York City.  There is no denying it, the west side of Canada talks so much shit about Toronto that I honestly expected nothing other than another huge, smoggy city full of self centered and rude well dressed people scurrying around like little mice.   I gotta say that I was pleasantly surprised with my introduction to the city.  I thought it was a friendly place with awesome and eclectic shops and restaurants scattered among unique and colorful neighborhoods.  Having the city shoulder to shoulder with Lake Ontario, it took away from the claustrophobic big city feel and my skin really appreciated as I stopped shedding like Goldmember for the week.

Obviously, adding a reunion with my best friend to the equation made the trip what it was meant to be. A hilarious, fun, exciting and drunken hell of a time.  A couple nights we took it easy and enjoyed some good conversation but we also had a few adventures.  Our first main outing was to a Raptors/Celtics game, which was amazing.  I have never been to a NBA game and I am stoked that I got to experience with Jules because we played basketball together throughout high school.  We both share a passion for the sport, large beers, red and black clothes and tall athletic men.  Just kidding?  It was a close game but the Celtics squeaked out with the win.  But lets get real; the real winner was Coors Light with the $14.50 beers.   And us too, of course because we made the JumboTron.

Our next outing involved our passports and a badass rental car.  We cruised down to Buffalo, New York, as I scored some AMAZING tickets (4th row, centre, behind the Sabers bench) for only $80 a pop.   I have been to quite a few NHL games and besides the excitement of watching my husband Sidney Crosby play; this was by far the best game I have ever been to.  Canadiens were leading 2-4 going into the 3rd and the Sabers came back to tie it up, forcing some overtime which was great because we still had full drinks to finish.  No goal in OT pushed it into a shootout with the Sabers beating Montreal.  Always fun to have a home win when you are visiting a city.  I made the JumboTron again (although it was just my hand, it still counts!) and we were spotted on TSN high fiving some Buffalo fans.  FUN.  We then ventured out to a few pubs and made some new friends.  Buffalo was a strange city.  I felt like I was in a small, poor ghost town so I was very shocked when someone told me the population was over a mill…. I feel like I should double-check that.

On the way home, we stopped at Niagara Falls but thanks to storm Nemo, we couldn’t see shit all.  We took some pictures in front of the white wall of snow and then headed out with a brief stop at a sketchy psychic.  She told me I was going to live a long life so I wasn’t scared about driving in the snow storm (just kidding, that broad was cray, and she was also wrong about a few other things.  And besides, would she actually tell me that I was going to be turned into jam in a few hours if she did actually know?)  Anyways, after a few hours of me dropping f bombs at the Ontario drivers who cant drive in snow (they were NON STOP braking on icy snowy roads instead of just slowing down casually) we made it back to Julies beautiful little place alive and well. 

Up next was the Lady Gaga concert.  Unfortunately for all of us, our friend and Julies sis-in-law, Chelsi, was supposed to fly in for the show but her flight was cancelled due to the storm.  Super shitty!  We dressed up unusually tacky with big hair and slutty lipstick and pranced over to the ACC to rock out, sing, dance and get inspired by the always positive and encouraging Lady Gaga.  She is an amazing performer… an amazing singer, dancer and pianist.  She came out riding a white horse.  Yes, a horse. WTF.  Then the horse even head banged!  Then somewhat to a surprise, she came crawling out of a giant vagina to “Born this Way”.  Props for creativity.  The rest of the show was as equally creative and exciting and we sang and danced and had an awesome time. 

We spent the next day chilling in TO and I took off on a little adventure to the top of the CN Tower and for a stroll down Yonge.  I was really impressed with the downtown.  After I grabbed a latte and a cookie, I strolled through the streets and in and out of shops and absolutely loved it.  There are so many independent retailers and restaurants lining the streets.  I could have spent days wandering through all the streets but lets get real, I was on the hunt for some Asian takeout.   Found a little joint and ordered up some tofu and crashed early as I was on my way to the Big Apple in the am.

This was my second trip to NYC so luckily; I knew exactly what I wanted to do and how to make it happen.  Once I landed and taxied in to the hotel, I immediately headed down to the Ground Zero memorial where I spent some time at the fountains reading names and remembering.  My heart felt exceptionally heavy standing in a place where such powerful events took place.  It took me back to the exact moment I was when I heard the terrible news that September 11th morning.  I didn’t feel angry standing there, like some have asked.  Besides complete and utter sadness, my main thoughts were around peace, and how different people can feel so misunderstood and feel such strong reasoning to do something so extreme.  It scared me, knowing there is a group out there that thought, and continue to think, that those terrorist attacks were the right thing to do. 

I spent some time at St. Paul’s Chapel and the Trinity church where the silence of these masterpieces is mind blowing.  To walk in off of Wall Street into complete silence and beauty is truly breathtaking.  I then hiked around down and around Wall St, making stops at the Trump tower and New York Stock Exchange.  After a quick Starbucks run, I shopped my face off for a couple hours before dropping off the goods at the hotel and getting ready for the Ben Howard concert.

An old friend introduced me to Ben Howard not too long ago and it was love at first listen.  He plays acoustic, self-written songs about love and life and friendships and everything else in between.  His show was extremely heart felt and amazing and I enjoyed every second listening to him play.   The walk home felt heavy and mystic.  The city was foggy and cool and it brought out some weird emotions in me.  I truly feel like New York City is so powerful because of its ability to minimize you.  The city is unsympathetic, industrious and unavailable yet powerful and luminary.

The next morning I walked down West 48th to 5th Avenue where I strolled past the designer shops and looked in awe at the window displays.  I stopped at the New York Public Library, the official Yankees Clubhouse, Grand Central Station and then the Empire State Building.  I cruised up to the top and spent some time taking photos of the amazing Manhattan skyline.  After my visit there, I stopped at Bryant Park for tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich while thinking about the history of the park that I learned when author Malcolm Gladwell recently spoke of when visiting Fort McMurray.  That night I went to the Broadway musical “Wicked” which was an amazing show.  Wicked is the prequel to “The Wizard of Oz” and told the story of how the witch became wicked and where the characters of the lion, tin man and scarecrow came from.   After the show, I walked to the Rockefeller center to get some more photos of Manhattan by night.  Gorgeous views that I will never forget.

In the morning I grabbed a bagel and a tea and took a stroll through Central park and fed some squirrels and birds and watched the horses.  I felt like I was in a dream.  I wish I had some more time there but I had to grab a few items before my time was up.  I did a bit more shopping and ended my busy touring with a visit to the Museum of Modern Art where my favourite artist, Edvard Munch, had a featured exhibit that I was able to see for the second time.  His gallery is extremely intense and personal and has a way of demanding your attention.  I love his artwork.

After an “interesting” cab ride to the airport, I was glad to be up and on my way back to the motherland of Canada.  I compare New York city to the summer fair, where you cant wait to go, spend all day eating pizza and pretzels, spending obscene amounts of money on useless shit, have a great time, but come home feeling exhausted, broke and like you want to scrub yourself down with paint thinner.  It’s the city where you blow your nose and your Kleenex is black and all you did was shop.  Its nasty... but amazing.

An absolute lovely vacation. I am so blessed. 


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