Normally when I go on a trip, I’m rushing until the last minute trying to finish everything and get all my packing done. This time we decided to do it a little different, and finish packing the weekend before we had to leave. That gave us about 4 days to spend in Toronto with some of our family and friends. For anyone going on a long trip, I would highly recommend this strategy! You still get stressed, but you’re not hopping on a plane tired and stressed. Instead you can feel a bit relaxed and happy that you got to spend some final care-free time with loved ones, without constantly looking at your watch because you have to go home and continue packing.
All the girls at high tea! We were served lots of tiny, fancy pastries, our choice of tea, and a decadent assortment of desserts.
Friday, August 5 – After we finished packing in the morning, we took the afternoon/evening to take one last big road-trip in my old car. It was super hot, but we made it to Toronto. After a brief bit-stop, we headed over to the apartment of some of our friends – Dan and Catherine. Originally we thought we might go clubbing or have a big night out but we were pretty fried. Instead we sat around in their living room and chatted over a few drinks (Dan always has interesting drink selections like new beers from the area or other new things he’s trying out). Then we took an Uber over a lounge-type bar. They had fancy cocktails and I got a yummy salad too. It was also pretty interesting to watch some of the ladies in the bar, dancing for some of the guys while they sat and videotaped them. Pretty strange – we even had to squeeze by them to leave the bar when we decided to call it a night. Our friends also have a super comfy pull-out couch which they kindly offered to us, and we were asleep pretty quickly.
Left: A secret, beautiful patio on the roof of the hotel! Right: View from the roof of Union Station and the street below.
Saturday, August 6 – Saturday we got up, showered, and packed up our small bags. We headed to a cute little brunch place that was just a few blocks away from their house (Dan and Catherine love brunch!, and I love bacon :P). The food was really good. They were leaving for a trip in Germany as well, so we talked about their plans for touring the country. We chatted and had a nice time before I had to leave to catch the train. They all walked me to the subway station and we said our goodbyes. Then I headed north to Anne’s place and Steve headed south to Union Station to catch the GoTrain to Newmarket (where his parents live).
Once at Anne’s we just hung out for a bit (since I was early). Anne and I tried on different outfits and talked to Ryan for a bit (who was starting a carpentry project as we were leaving). They’re a really nice couple, and I always like spending time with them. Once we were ready, we got back on the subway and headed South to Union station. We walked over to the Royal York Hotel and arrived a few minutes early (which was good, because we weren’t sure exactly which restaurant we were meeting at and where it was in the big building). We were meeting up for Kim’s Bachelorette party (a girl Anne and I had gone to university with). Eventually we found Kim and the other girls and said our introductions. It was fun to see everyone all dressed up! 🙂
We learned a lot about honey and bees and the regulations for them in Toronto.
We waited a long time to actually get into the restaurant (even though we had a reservation) but it gave us a good chance to chat. Once inside, none of us really knew the protocol for “high tea”. Eventually we all picked a tea (they had about 15 to choose from) and were each served a plate on small sandwiches (not my favourite – but I enjoyed the company). Then came the dessert which was quite opulent! Kim also had a few naughty presents from her bridesmaids, so that was pretty fun to watch.
After we had finished the meal, one of the executive chefs at the hotel showed up to take us on a tour. I wasn’t expecting a tour and was really excited to see the beautiful building. He took us up the elevator to the top, and then a few more flights of stairs. The view of the CN tower and the rest of downtown Toronto was spectacular. They have a little garden up there all in raised beds, and he told us about the different fruits and herbs they grow for the kitchen. It would be a lovely spot for a picnic! He also took us to the other side to see the beehives – pretty cool. Who knew all that was up there way above the city?
It was really amazing to have such a good view of the city.
After the tour, Anne and I hopped back on the subway to go back to her place. She had a nice dinner all prepared for me, which was good because I’m super picky. Ryan had burgers, and Anne and I had a nice Caesar salad with fresh cooked chicken and bacon – delish! We also decided to Uber so we could both have a few drinks, and emptied a few of her almost finished bottles or liquor! 😉 After dinner, we played a board game they had just bought (which I had played a few times before at board game cafes). The game is called Pandemic. I really like it because it’s competitive but you’re all working as a team against the game instead of working against each other (so nobody can end up hating each other). The game ended just as it was time for us to leave, so we quickly changed and got ready before heading out.
At around 9 we left Anne’s house and decided to take an Uber this time (we didn’t really want to spend over 4 hours on the subway that day). It was really quick and only cost us $20 each way (split 2 ways), so totally worth it! We got to the Drake Hotel just before 10pm, so no cover. Since we were the first to arrive, we ordered some fries and sangria and chatted until the other girls arrived. They had obviously already started drinking, but it was fun to dance with everyone and to see Kim complete some of the “dares” prepared for her by the bridal party. We really loved the music and dancing and many shots were had.
Left: Anne and I had the same shirt, so we decided to try on matching outfits! Right: All the girls at the bachelorette in the lobby of the Drake Hotel.
Around 1am we decided to change venues and we got in 3 cabs to Dundas square. Instead of heading for our actual destination, we got out at McDonald’s and chowed down on delicious (if you’re drinking), greasy food. I do love my grilled cheese Happy Meals with bacon! We were going to go see some dancing men…. but it was late and expensive, so we saw some ladies instead. Now this blog isn’t rated R, so I won’t elaborate – but we had a silly time with shenanigans before heading back to Anne’s around 2am. We pulled out her super comfy couch for me to sleep on and we both went to bed right away – it had been a long day!
Sunday, August 7 – Woke up on Anne’s couch, still a bit sleepy. Said goodbye to Anne and Ryan before packing my bag and heading down to the garage (where we had parked the car for the weekend). Easily found the brunch spot on my GPS and drove there in only 20 minutes without getting lost – score! It had been really complicated to try and make plans with everyone. Some people were only free Saturday and some only Sunday, and some early and some later. Eventually I just told 2 of my groups of friends that I would be at the brunch spot all day and they could show up whenever. It worked out perfectly. It’s always weird shoving people who’ve never met together at an event, but they had all done international internships and now lived in Toronto, so I was sure they would find things to talk about – and they did! There was yummy food and coffee and a bunch of people showed up (Mike – my roommate from Ghana, Yazan – my friend/fellow EWBer from Ghana, and Alex, Kevin, and Amanda – who all participated in Humber’s IYIP program with me). It was nice to chat and relax on the patio.
Daytime and nighttime Kim are a bit different – but both lots of fun! 😉
By about 3pm I decided I should head to Newmarket to see Steve and his fam. Yazan took some photos of me with my car (photoshoot!) and we said our goodbyes. I used my GPS to get to Newmarket and had no problem at all (other than the fact I still had no A/C and was sweating buckets). I arrived in Newmarket about 45 minutes later, and Steve and I brought the luggage from the car into the living room (since the car would be gone the next morning). I said hello to his family and his sister’s new little baby Jayla (who was only 1 month old at the time – so cute!). His parents had just gotten back from the east coast, so we had lobster for dinner. It was really nice to talk to them about our upcoming trip (even though they probably wish we were moving in next door instead!). 🙂
Monday, August 8 – On Monday we slept in, it was wonderful. 🙂 In the morning, Steve went to go help his dad with chores around the house. Whenever we’re in town, his dad finds some manly chores for him to do. He also has a wood stove they use for heating in the winter, so these tasks often involve cutting down trees in neighbour yards, carrying large wheelbarrows of stuff, and stacking wood in the backyard/basement. It gives them a good chance to have their manly bonding time while I check my emails and on my own thing inside.
Steve and his dad are constantly cutting, moving, or stacking wood for the winter when we’re in Newmarket.
When we found out we were leaving the country, one of the things we had to decide what to do with was our car. My mom had the car for many years as a secondary car, and I often used it when I was in Ottawa for groceries and other activities that were difficult on the bus (which I took to/from work, drinks, etc.). When she moved to Mexico in February, she asked if I wanted to keep it, and I agreed. It was wonderful to have for the final 4/5 months when I was in Ottawa but not worthwhile to try and store or anything while I was away for a year. We looked at all of our options and decided the best for us would be to donate our car. We looked into various organizations and decided on Kidney Car (which I would highly recommend). It was a good experience all around! We simply submitted a form online with all of our information. They called us to confirm everything and we asked for them to pick it up in Newmarket. They called Monday morning and said they would be there within half an hour. The tow-truck showed up, asked for the keys and the ownership papers, and that’s it. Goodbye car! 😦 Was a bit sad to see it go, but happy to be supporting a great organization that helps to fund research, advocacy, and support for Kidney disease in Canada.
In the evening we went for dinner with some of Steve’s friends from high school – Megan, Monique and Katelyn. The place was a bit fancy and everyone got filet mignon and the like. It was really nice to hang out with them and say our goodbyes. We are still hoping that some of our friends will come visit us here and we won’t have to wait a whole year before we see them again. We have an extra bedroom and everything! 🙂 Afterwards, Megan was nice enough to drive us over to the pharmacy for some last minute supplies – Vaseline lip gloss (great for overnight in dry climates) and re-hydration salts/electrolytes (perfect for dehydration, and also hangovers, lol).
Goodbye Seabreez! It was a bit sad to see that old car go, but I’m glad it’s supporting a good cause!
Tuesday, August 9 – Our last day in Canada – what a strange feeling! You always know it’s coming but you never know how you’re going to feel. Will you be excited about the future, nervous about the travelling, or sad to leave people behind? Probably a bit of each. That morning we did our final re-packing and weighing before saying goodbye and leaving for the airport.
Stay tuned for my next blog about travelling from Canada to Bolivia.
Read the rest of this story in my previous/next few blog posts:
- Saying goodbye to Canada (2nd last week in Ottawa) – 1 of 3
- Saying goodbye to Canada (Last week in Ottawa) – 2 of 3
- Just a hop, skip, and a jump! – Travelling from Toronto, Canada to Sucre, Bolivia (coming soon)
- A hectic few days!: Arriving in Bolivia (coming soon)