Just the ticket!

After nearly a full week of resting up and taking it easy out here in Toronto, I was feeling good.  So good in fact, that we thought we would celebrate by starting the weekend early and having a few little Thursday night drinks!  We had a lot of plans this weekend, so I was definitely pleased to be on the mend.

THURSDAY

I spent the day on Thursday mostly having a lounge and taking it easy.  I had a late breakfast while browsing the net and spent half the day in the bathroom, primping and plucking and generally pampering myself with the array of goodies I brought from home.

          

By the time Phil gets home from working hard all day, he is more than ready for a pint.  However, he also doesn’t want to go too far as he is usually shattered.  Luckily for us, there are 2 bars right under our apartment block and so we decided to head down to one of these.

We chose The Miller Tavern.   The reason – I had looked online and liked the look of the dessert menu!

          

We got a table by the window, looking out at the CN Tower all lit up.  I really love this landmark, it just dominates the skyline during the day, then transforms on a night, changing colour.  It is so prominent amongst all the other lights from people going about their general lives in apartment blocks and offices around it.

We drank Molson Canadian lager, which is actually really nice.  I am mostly a cider drinker back home but out here I don’t mind a nice lager every now and again.  The fact that drinking cider costs a fortune always helps too like!  I was gonna attempt to sweet talk the waiter to convince him that we were Movember entrants.  I was even ready to pull the equal opportunities card, all in the name of a half price Manhattan, but in the end I decided against it.  I might have given it a go if we were sat at the bar, but I decided to behave myself as we were seated in the dining area and it was a bit more well to do, and ladies with tashes would be rather out of place among the suits and little black dresses.  Next time though…

       

Phil ordered his main and I got a dessert, asking for it to be brought out at the same time as his meal.  One of the worst things about being a fussy eater is feeling stupid in restaurants when you don’t want a main meal.  I have had some places be really horrible about this and make a big fuss in the past, but luckily for me The Miller Tavern staff were great and it was not a problem.  I had a Cherry Cheesecake, which was lovely, but a bit too much for me to finish!  Portion sizes are generous to say the least.  Phil had the Pulled Pork Quesadilla and thoroughly enjoyed it.  The service here was great, our waiter was very attentive, checking that everything was OK and quick to notice when our glasses were running low.  They had a sports channel playing at the bar, so we caught up with the goals from the England match the night before.  Although we had already seen Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s goals on the internet, we still watched in amazement at his fourth, which was absolutely world class.  Don’t see goals like that every day!

        

With full tums we returned to our apartment having enjoyed a lovely night with good food and drinks.  This place is a little posh to be a comfortable regular haunt, but we will no doubt be visiting here again, I have my eyes on the chocolate cake!

FRIDAY

It is officially Twilight day!  Breaking Dawn Part 2 was released today and we were gonna get us some vampire action tonight!  Anticipating the crowds for a regular Friday night, never mind opening night, I thought I would get our tickets during the day to to save us the job of queueing later.

Ever the eager beaver I set off at 9am to walk into the Entertainment district.  As this was my first time walking to this area I decided to take the 2 main streets from the apartment, rather than try and find some short cuts.  I wouldn’t take this route again as there are much easier ways to get there I now realise, but it was straight forward enough.

I met a few interesting characters along the way as well, which is a regular occurence here.   It is very much like New York or any other major city in that respect, you can’t walk 5 foot without seeing someone or something and thinking ‘How very bizarre!’.  I like it.  This morning’s walk was no different –  a lovely little old lady asked if she could paint me, I politely declined as I couldn’t see a canvas and had a feeling she was gonna start emulsioning my face.  A group of very witty builders seemed to enjoy wolf whistling and cat calling at ladies walking by, and I was very pleased I had leggings on when I saw a sign from a basement window explaining that they had the great vantage point of being able to see up women’s skirts from their work space!  At least they are honest 😀

Another highlight of the walk was that I was high fived by a very pleasant tramp.  Sometimes I think I wear an illuminated sign above my head explaining that I invite weirdness.  He was great though, and singled me out for a high five, much to the amusement of the people around me.  I couldn’t leave him hanging obviously, so I reciprocated and he was chuffed to bits, telling me I was a diamond and shouting YEAH over and over!  Surreal moment.

When I got to the cinema, I was greeted by this… a queue of people snaking down the block.  And it wasn’t even open yet!

This was an hour and a half before opening!  There was no other choice than to go shopping until it opened 🙂

I spent a good hour in Chapters, a book store close to the cinema, ooohing and ahhhing over new and rare books, the shop seems to go on forever and I didn’t get round the whole place in the hour I spent there.  The staff were really helpful too when I needed help finding what I was looking for.  I am a sucker for stationary, as sad as that sounds, and they had an amazing collection of journals and notepads here.  A gorgeous brown leather bound notepad caught my eye, and I have added it to the birthday/Christmas wish list.  I also loved their collection of fun journals, and will be picking one of them up before long.  Just before I came out here, Phil’s Mam gave me a lovely Cath Kidston notepad which I have been using a lot, but a girl can never have too many books to jot her thoughts in I say.

I then headed down to Marshalls, which is kind of like a Canadian version of Debenhams mixed with Matalan.

Great place to pick up gifts for people back home, so I can’t say too much!  But I did get myself a couple of odds and ends from the beauty section.  A few hair products and some skin care.  Since the operation I haven’t been sleeping as much, and I feel like it’s really showing in my skin, and around my eyes especially.  I decided to give the Skin Effects Intense Smoothing Serum by Dr Jeffrey Dover a try.  I will give you my verdict after a few tries, for those of you that are interested (men, I will pre warn you when the talk turns to skin care reviews, don’t worry)

With my purse a lot lighter, I couldn’t put off joining the Twihards in the line any longer and so I started to make my way back up to the cinema.  On the way I realised I could be queueing for quite some time, and although it wasn’t freezing, I thought a hot chocolate would make the stand somewhat more enjoyable.  With this in mind I popped into a fantastic little coffee shop called Dark Horse and got a hot chocolate to go.  The coffee shop was in a basement and was really cool.  The staff were great and I enjoyed some free brownies whilst waiting.  I especially liked their tip jar sign, it made me giggle.  The barista done me a lovely heart shape in my drink, but I forgot to take a picture till I had taken a slurp, so it doesn’t look as good, sorry Mr coffee shop man, I am selling you short, I know it’s an art!

       

My creamy warm cocoa kept me busy until I got to the front of the queue, about 35 minutes later.

Tickets purchased I decided to walk through the Entertainment district and find a short cut home.  Not that I didn’t want another high five or anything, it was purely to get my bearings, honest!  The place is great, something going on everywhere.  So many cafés and bars and theatres that it would take a year to work your way through them all, block after block lined with them.  I found Emily Street too, which made me smile and I put it straight on Facebook with my best friend Kelly, Emily’s Mam, tagged for good measure.

       

I did get a bit lost at one point, but luckily for me, that great landmark I love so much is always sticking out above the buildings, and so it is my guide to get me home safe and sound! Look for the CN Tower and walk towards it, job done!

Knowing the weekend was going  to be hectic, and seeing that this was the last chance I was going to get to relax, as soon as I was home I popped down to the pool and spa.  The doctor advised that I couldn’t use the gym just yet, but that swimming would be a great exercise during my recovery, so I feel very lucky to have this amazing space in our building.  I managed 20 lengths of the pool before it started to become a little bit sore, so I wound down with a nice jacuzzi.  Because most people in the building are at work during the day, I more or less have the place to myself, so I took my time, enjoying the peace and tranquillity of the sauna and the steam room before showering and going up to meet Phil as he arrived back from work.

                  

We had a couple of beers while getting ready and enjoyed the view as the sun went down over the harbour.  We are both extremely thankful for the chance to be here and it is in moments like this when you realise how lucky you are.  We are certainly trying to make the most of the fantastic opportunities we have been given and enjoy every minute.

Once ready we made our way into downtown for the night.  We had a few pre-movie drinks in The Office Pub.   It has a really nice feel about it in here, it is contemporary without losing the comfortableness.  The exposed brick walls and designer lighting make it feel trendy without trying too hard, great pub.  We sat at the bar, which is a favourite of ours in USA and Canada, we much prefer it than getting a table for nights like this.

             

We had a couple of pints of Steam Whistle Pilsner each, a really nice pint.  Smooth and full of flavour, not too fizzy either.  In fact it was just right.  If Goldilocks drank lager, I reckon her and Baby Bear would be out every night on this stuff.

     

The time had came, it was finally Twilight time! 😀 Because I had picked the tickets up earlier we walked straight into the cinema and bypassed the queues directly upstairs to the snack area.  This cinema was pretty impressive, I have to say.  It was HUGE!  You had to go up staircases and escalators just to get to your screen never mind everything else.  The cinema had everything you could wish for; games room, bar, shops, pizza places, even a Hurricane simulator, although I am not quite sure who would wish for that! The massive haired people who came out seemed to enjoy it though!

One of my pet hates about cinemas in this area of the world (USA, I mean you!) is the lack of sweet popcorn.  So to find a popcorn specialist shop, Poptopia, that didn’t only have one kind of sweet popcorn, but a full wall of options, was like winning the cinema snack lottery!  I decided on hot caramel popcorn after a sample (I LOVE how you can sample everything before you buy here!) and even though I opted for the small size, I still had to leave some behind.  Very tasty, but my teeth and greasy fingers weren’t as pleased as I was with my find.

We found two seats together (not allocated, don’t like) and settled in for the movie.  It was brilliant.  I know it is not everyone’s cup of tea, and I can see why, but we really enjoyed it.  Phil surprised me by liking the series of Twilight films, I thought I would have to drag him kicking and screaming, but even he said it was the best one of the whole lot.  I cried buckets.  Two enthusiastic thumbs up!

SATURDAY

Woke up nice and early this morning, ready to pack as much into today as possible, so much to do, so little time!

I was excited, as only a girl could be, to start using my new face cream!

But disaster 😦 the pump didn’t work.  Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about me *blush* It’s the popcorn, honestly.  It was more Breaking Wind than Breaking Dawn this morning!  I will go back to get a refund or exchange for the lotion, but there was nothing I could do about the other problem, Phil would just have to put up with it.  Very unladylike I know, but what can you do!

The weather was lovely this morning and I didn’t need to put a jacket on, just a jumper and a scarf.  I certainly wasn’t expecting this when I packed my case with more coats and woolens than you can shake a stick at!  I have had to wear my sunglasses every day too, even when it isn’t as warm as this, as the sun is very bright in Toronto in winter.  All that squinting can’t be good for my crow’s feet!

We were going to see Ash tonight, and rather than pay the TicketMaster rip off prices I had found a little record store in a neighbourhood next to the University where you could buy them at cost.  The neighbourhood was lovely, so pretty and autumnal.

College Street was pretty cool, with lots of little bars and stores, even a old school movie theatre showing free films.

In amongst them all was Soundscape, a cool gem of a shop with a great selection of indie and rock classics, and new up and coming artists.  They also have tickets for most of the gigs around the Toronto area, so it’s a good place to know to save a few dollars.  They only take cash for tickets so Phil hunted down a bank while I had a mooch around, having a gander.

          

Armed with our next set of tickets we set off to enjoy the rest of the day.

I popped home to pick up a jacket, and we went down to spend the day at the harbour, which is literally a 5 minute walk from our apartment.  The block in the centre is our building, and this picture is taken from the harbour boardwalk.

We are so happy to be living so close to the harbour, and we will definitely be spending a lot of time down here.  It is absolutely stunning.  Once the weather changes it won’t be as calm, we know that, with the choppy water and cold breeze coming in from Lake Ontario, but even that couldn’t fail to be romantic here.  It really is absolutely beautiful.

            

We walked right along the boardwalk, admiring the man made art amidst the natural beauty.  Although, that particular sculpture I put a picture of above just reminds me of a giant boobie, and that is why it features.  Sorry, immature I know, but so true.

There are a lot of boats in the harbour that take you out onto the lake to have a meal and a drink.  We loved the look of these, so we will definitely be adding that to the already never ending to do list.

       

The further along we walked, the more we discovered.  The Tall ship Kajama is docked here and really is stunning and steeped in history, although now it does cruises along the lake, which would be a brilliant experience.  No Captain Jack Sparrow on board though, sorry ladies 😦

There are bars and restaurants spanning the front so we thought it only right to sample a couple.  We found a great little ice rink, and although Phil has been scared off skating for life after his experience in New York on Valentine’s day, it was still lovely to watch with a pint.  There was a real range of experience on the ice – there were some brilliant skaters, twirling and dancing around and there were tiny kids in helmets skidding along on their bum mostly.  We went into the rink side bar and restaurant, got a pint of Canadian and giggled and marvelled at the skills on show.

        

After our pint, we carried on along the harbourfront and found the most perfect little beach area.  It was a great find, and obviously not used by many.  You forgot that you were in a busy urban city and felt like you were far away on a little beach somewhere.  To have an area like this in amongst the high rise buildings and bustling city is a great idea.  There were skate boarders and bikers practising  their tricks along the metal poles on the walk way, some of the stunts they were doing had me covering my eyes with my hands, daredevil doesn’t quite cover it!  Brilliant.  We stayed and chilled for a while watching them, as the sun started going down.

       

We began to walk back towards home, remembering we had passed an Irish bar right on the marina which we thought it would be nice to stop at for a couple of drinks and some food.  We were right.  It was a real little gem by the name of  The Watermark.  I can see this being a local of ours, 10 minutes walk from the apartment, great friendly service and good food at a reasonable price.

We stayed here for a couple of hours, sitting at the bar watching sports and chatting.  The barman was great, refilling glasses as soon as they were empty.  We drank Rolling Rock which I really like.  It seems I am becoming quite the lager drinker! The sooner I can get to that gym the better I think!  Add that to my new love of fries and I think I am gonna have to live there!  Phil had the Ontario half pound Angus burger… I helped him with the chips.

    

We merrily made our way home, to quickly get ready and then straight back off out to the Ash gig!  No rest for the wicked.  Since the weather was playing nice, I even went for a dress and bare legs!  Not sure how much longer I will be able to do that though, according to the weather reports.

Before the gig we spent a great couple of hours in a pub called Kilgour’s.  Of all the pubs we have been in since we got here, this was by far our favourite.  We sat at the bar, and were right in amongst the local regular drinkers.  This is definitely a place where everybody knows everybody, the customers even brought gifts in for the vast collection of trinkets behind the bar (while we were there one lady gave the owner a snow globe and it got pride of place next to the TV!) I think I may drop some proper Heinz Spaghetti off for him, the Candadian equivalent just doesn’t quite hit the spot so I think it is only fair it makes the wall!

      

The owner made us feel like we had drank there for years, it was such a friendly place.  He gave us samples of his beers till we found the ones we liked and by the end of the two hours we knew everything about this Habs fan from Montreal who supported Liverpool football club because he roomed with his business partner from Liverpool in the 80’s.  We also knew all about the regulars who sat around us, chatting as if it wasn’t only 2 hours ago we walked through the door for the first time.  We watched part of a film called 2 headed shark attack and it was like a stand up comedy show, with the bartender doing Carmen Electra impressions and the regulars filling us in on intergral parts of the story, such as the threesome scene which is just genius!  If we hadn’t had a gig to go to I think we would still be there now.

But we did, and so we said our goodbyes and went down to Toronto’s version of Ku Club – Lee’s Palace.

      

The inside was dark and grungy and awesome.  Right up our street.  They served bottles of Strongbow so I was all over that like a rash, and soon we were nodding our heads along with The Kestrels, who we both really enjoyed.  The lead singer reminded me of my friend Chris, from home, although Phil and Chris’s wife Fiona would probably disagree, but I am telling you, he was his double!

        

Then it was time for Ash, and some proper britpop classics.  This was their 20th anniversary tour, which makes me feel WELL old!  But time has done them no harm, and they sounded great and put on a brilliant show.  It was a small gig, intimate.  I am pretty sure there may be talk among the regulars about the crazy dancing English girl who was a bit mental, as by this time we were both very drunk and for anyone that knows me, that only can mean only one thing!! The moves came out.  I was stroking the dog and bouncing around with the best of them, and the encore was amazing.  Ash have some belter tunes and we had a fantastic night in a great venue.

      

SUNDAY

Hangover central today!  I don’t remember leaving Lee’s Palace, hence why the night’s description stopped so abruptly after Ash.  I know we had fun though 😀

Today’s tickets come in the form of basketball!  We were going to see Toronto Raptors V Orlando Magic, and I was really looking forward to it.  I really started enjoying basketball when we were in Boston, so I have been very eager to go and see a game.

But before all that foreign sport, there was the important matter of a football match going on back in England, Sunderland were playing Fulham at Craven Cottage.  We haven’t been playing our best lately so we were nervous as we watched it on the internet.  No need to be though – Fletcher, Carlos and Sess saw to that 😀 Excellent win and a much needed confidence boost for my lads in red and white, and I bet a great day for all the fans that made the journey to London.  HAWAY!! 😀

Credit to BBC Sport for the image

 With 3 points safely tucked in my back pocket, we walked over the road to the Air Canada Centre for the game.  There were thousands of people milling about, and there was a real buzz in the air.

       

We got some beer and some snacks and nearly choked on the prices!  $12 after tax for a beer!! 8 dollars for a bag of M&M’s!  I can see why they have Ambulance men standing by, they nearly had to cart Phil away when he heard what they were charging!  And that explains the very stringent bag checks on the way in, they wouldn’t want you to be bringing your own candy in now would they when they can charge double the price once you are inside.  Shocking!

Anyway, prices aside, it was an amazing day.  The sport is fast paced and luckily for us, the Raptors were playing well.  They won the game and won me over, I thought I was a strict Boston Celtics girl, but I now have a real soft spot for Toronto.  If only for the mascot! Man that Dinosaur thing was funny!

The entertainment is something else at sport over here, every time out, every end of quarter, half time, pre game, post game, there is something going on.  Constant music, fireworks, cheerleaders, crowd interaction on the big screen and that mascot.  I would pay the entance fee alone to watch his version of Gangnam Style, I cried laughing.  I SO wanted to be on the big screen for the bobble head game (if the camera comes to you you have to wobble your head around, sounds weird, and it is, but it is hilarious!) So many prizes were given away too, every time there was a break in play it was like “Get on your feet, best dancer wins a DVD player!!” And everyone was up strutting their stuff on the big screen, then when the music ended, if you were the lucky dancer, spot prize!  Some dude won $500 for just catching a ball!  It was brilliant.  I can see that this is going to be my sport,  I know I have a lot more to try, but I just get basketball and it has clicked with me.  It’s going to take some topping, let me just say that.

               

   

What a weekend!! 😀

I am glad we didn’t need tickets for an early night, because we were both tucked up and snoring by 9.30 last night.  Well, we did say we wanted to make the most of our weekends off together and we certainly did that.

6 thoughts on “Just the ticket!

  1. Loads of detail, reading it felt like I was actually there…. It won’t be a surprise to people to find out that I completely refused to buy any food or drink within the stadium. Thieving gits. £8 for a pint in a plastic cup? I’d rather drink the bog water!

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