Saturday, April 12, 2008

Canadian Adventures

Most people head someplace warm for spring break to help banish the winter blues, but this week we headed far, far north to Canada. I have been saying for years that I would go visit my high school friend and college roommate Jenna in Toronto and this year we finally made it. My oldest daughter became fixated on Canada after finding out that not only did my friend live there but that they have REAL snow, and she started our vacation in motion by asking Santa for ice skates to go skating in Canada for Christmas. Well, she did not receive ice skates (we live in Atlanta) but her obsession did get us seriously thinking about heading north. Then Jenna had a new baby and we had to go to make sure she had things under control. Baby quality control, its a tough job but someone has to do it. Who knew Toronto was such a cool city? There was plenty to keep us entertained. Actually, we probably saw about a tenth of the stuff we wanted to see since we were herding 4 children from six years down to 3 months.

Our first day was of course taken over by travel; the Atlanta airport was a nightmare of long lines. The flight into Buffalo wasn't bad though and Jenna's husband, Len, was nice enough to come pick us up at the airport and drive the hour and a half to their house in Oakville, a suburb of Toronto. We got settled and did introductions and such, then Jenna brought out the yummiest cheese plate I think I have ever experienced and I knew it was going to be a great trip. Oh, you didn't know that cheese can set the whole tone for a vacation? Well, shows what you know. Len cooked us a fantastic pasta dinner and after some wine and conversation we hit their hot tub, which became the girls' favorite thing about Canada, they have hot tubs there. Next time I guess we can just go stay at the Hilton down the road and they'll be just as pleased.

Sunday was filled by our trip into the city to go up into the CN Tower, which has the highest observation deck in the world (second highest building). This was the day we wanted to do tons of things, but after getting 4 kids and 4 adults out of the house, lugging said people through the city, scaling a million stairs (with stroller) and elevators and checking out the views we were all exhausted and ready for a very late lunch. The weather was gorgeous, the city was packed with people since it was the first really pretty day they had had all winter and we had a great time catching the sights.

Monday the boys set off to the Hockey Hall of Fame while Jenna and I took the kids to an indoor fair type thing that they loved. It is actually an area in a mall that is filled with rides and activities for the kids, from a ferris wheel to bumper cars and boats to the obligatory carousel, but I can't remember what it was called. Since it was a Monday, we practically had the place to ourselves and the girls could ride whatever they wanted over and over again. That night Jenna's mom and aunt came for kid patrol while the adults all went out to dinner at Sotto Sotto and absolutely gorged ourselves on Italian food. When we sat down there was a young lady at the table next to us dining with her dad who was terribly disappointed because they had been told that Mark Wahlberg would be at our table that night. In the course of conversation Jay mentioned that he once ate next to Rob Lowe and she had no idea who that was until we said he was in Austin Powers. Ah, youth. It was great to get out and be grownups and we unknowingly (at least I didn't realize, a little too much wine perhaps?) lingered an hour past the restaurant closing. Ugh, I hated those people when I waited tables, but it was such fun to be those people.

Tuesday was our big excursion to Niagara falls. We once again had a gorgeous day, which I could really see making a huge difference in the enjoyment of the falls since they are already terribly windy and misty to start with. The falls are truly mesmerizing and the Canadians definitely have a better chunk on their side, so if you are going to see them make sure you cross the border, which is still easy breezy by car. Niagara was an all day adventure and a great way to end up our trip. Also, the flight home the next day was so much easier with leaving out of the Buffalo airport instead of Atlanta, and we somehow managed to time it where we didn't even hit rush hour traffic. I can definitely see us returning to Toronto in the future.

Jenna has always loved to point out the things that are different in Canada than the States, and there are just enough little things to provide entertainment to us Americans. I tried to document a few to share. For example, if you go to the fridge looking for the jug of milk you will stand there for a very long time because their milk is in bags. Bags I tell you! For some reason I found this endlessly entertaining. Jenna made a whole collection of snacks and candy you can't get down here, the Kinder eggs (which are chocolate eggs that have toys in the middle) and "All Dressed" chips (which are a combination of all chip flavors smushed into one bag) were our favorites. Also, those Canadians loooove to put their maple leaf all over things, such as the golden arches a Mickey D's. Don't plan on doing a lot of shopping if you visit Toronto, things are crazy expensive even though our dollars are now about equal, but we did manage to do some damage at a store there called Roots and are now all stocked up with t-shirts that have beavers on them. Now that we are back maybe I'll be inspired to finally finish the quilts for Jenna's girls, it is completely shameful that I started one of them 3 years ago and have yet to quilt it. Aboot time to get to it, eh?

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