Big Question Marks

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Being home

Last weekend we got to revisit something we're pretty good at but haven't done in ages: be tourists. And in our own town, no less. We'd been looking forward to a visit from our friends Megan & Justin for ages — and suddenly there they were, collapsed on our front porch with their backpacks, after 20 or so hours of airport-hopping and flying from Melbourne. We were their first stop on a four-week whirl of cities around North America.

In the weeks leading up to their visit, we'd been trying to brainstorm what was cool about Toronto (Ontario, even), but I guess when you've lived in a place for ages, the tourist attractions all seem cheesy, and your own city can definitely seem a bit dull ("Yeah, one day I should go up the CN Tower..." is a familiar refrain). But maybe we all just need some out-of-town friends to visit once in a while, to shed our snobbery and our "I'll do it someday" attitudes for a bit and to see things in a new way.

And that's what we did. On M & J's first night in, we finally got around to having dinner at Fresh, a great little veggie establishment on our street (where we hadn't yet eaten in the 8 months we've been on Crawford Street), and it was delicious. The next day we embarked on a little road trip... all the way to Niagara Falls! We tried to warn our friends how cheesy the town was, since that was what truly stuck out in our memories — I don't think any of us were actually prepared for how terrible it actually was — and rediscovered that the falls themselves are pretty impressive, despite the countless waterfalls we'd visited across Australia and Asia over the past few years. I guess all the fuss about Niagara is sort of justified — though I don't know about it being the "honeymoon capital"! After ooh-ing and aah-ing at the falls for a while, we did the usual obligatory walk up Clifton Hill, and promptly forgot about the stunning waterfall behind us. Giant rooftop burger-eating Frankenstein, roaming Reese Peanut Butter Cup and Spongebob mascots, and haunted houses galore will do that to you. It wasn't long before we decided to flee the circus on the hill for another few years. That night we headed to Toronto staple Sneaky Dee's to watch some bands and drink beer (definitely a main attraction, in our opinions!). But by then, we realized our friends still hadn't seen anything of Toronto.

Sunday morning — er, afternoon, thanks jetlag! — we moseyed down to Kensington Market for the lively Pedestrian Sundays fest which happens every week in the summer. Browsing vintage shops and watching street performers: that's more the Toronto we love. It was a scorcher of a day — bit of a shock to Megan and Justin, who in Melbourne were getting into winter about now — but easily fixed with a giant, tooth-dissolving frozen Slurpee from 7-11. (One thing you don't notice when you've lived in North America most of your life is the massive food portions everywhere. It was kind of fun watching our friends' eyes bug out at the serving sizes! Though we did keep telling them: just you wait 'til you get to the States!)

We spent the rest of Sunday meandering the streets of Toronto, and came to the realization that, in downtown Toronto, everything is just "a little bit further". We're in Chinatown — hey, let's check out Queen Street! Just a bit further south. And hey — there's the Skydome! Well, it's only a few blocks that way. I guess we could have kept walking for days in this manner...

On Monday, Justin & Megan's last day in Toronto, we decided to meander a little bit less and instead, hit some prime destinations. Mission #1: Find those two crazy kids a pancake-and-maple-syrup breakfast! Not the easiest thing to find for vegans, but we totally lucked out. Having read about a place called Sadie's Diner, we eventually found it at Adelaide and Portland Streets, and all had the most amazing and animal-friendly breakfast feast (I think we're all still dreaming about it). Even Adrian begrudgingly loved his fake bacon and sausage! Lesson #1 for us: Toronto is a pretty awesome place for vegans and vegetarians to hang out (though now maybe not as much, since M&J bought the city's entire stock of soy ice cream).

Mission #2: Do the most touristy thing possible in Toronto — ascend the CN Tower. I was surprised to learn Adrian had never been up the tower in his entire life; I myself had avoided the place since the first time I went up at 5 years old and a very confusing space 'game' at the base of the tower printed off a ticket for me with my "alien name" and a fictitious space-age health condition- "Martian Dropsy". I've grown spots in fear every time I near the tower since then. But this time, no dropsy for anyone (phew) and it was fun! Though I still don't think Toronto is anything that special to look at from above. Lesson #2: The glass floor in the CN Tower gives even the bravest of us vertigo after enough jumping around on it.

Mission #3: Take in the all-American sport of baseball... in Canada. Yes, we hit a Jays game — M&J spoiled us with some great tickets and it was great beer- and heckler-filled fun for nine innings vs. Tampa Bay! (And poor old Carl Crawford — still getting heckled at the Dome) Lesson #3: Some of us were born to heckle, some born to be heckled. Sorry, Crawford.

Anyway, the moral of our long-winded tale is that being a tourist is always fun — but sometimes you just need the right people around to put on those knee-high socks and sandals with. Stay tuned for part 2 of our tourist adventures- our weekend in NYC with Megan & Justin...


Paula said...

Hahaha rainbow from Adrian's butt!

D.A. Questionmark said...

That's where rainbows come from!

Megan said...

Hey, we didn't buy ALL the soy ice cream stocks! We at least waited until NY for that!