Michael's Europe 2000 Tour - Week 1


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    Tue, 1-Aug-2000

Well, it's finally time to be off. The last few weeks just absolutely flew by, getting last minute stuff nearly done and whatnot. Packing got finished on the morning, with computers being shifted into the house for security.

Finally time to drive down to the airport, mum and dad both saw me off at the airport, which was nice. Check in proceeded quickly, then time for a cuppa and something to munch while waiting to board. Soon it's time to go through customs and board. As it turns out I've left it a little too late, there's a bit of a line up, and passengers are being called while I'm still in customs. No problem however, soon I'm through, grab some Canadian money (after my last adventures there was _no_ way that I would go to another country without some local currency in my pocket), and run to the boarding gate.

Not quite the last on board, but still late, I find my seat, and soon we're taxiing down to the runway (of course it's the furthest one away, we were already wondering if the pilot was planning to drive all the way to Canada!) but then we do finally get to the runway and take off.

Sitting next to me is a guy from Ontario, Stephan, and we chat a bit, which unfortunately prevented me from sleeping. Later on I was trying to stay awake during the Canadian day to minimise jetlag.

The flight was quite nice although long, Honolulu airport where we stopped for an hour (as it turned out, closer to 2 hours!) was not much to write home about though - we were all just shepherded into one room with seats to await our boarding again. In Vancouver we actually had to go through customs, and had to collect all of our luggage. Back in Brisbane I had been told I would get to collect my luggage at Toronto, but since Vancouver was the first port of call in Canada, we had to get luggage there after all. So, customs, luggage, find the other boarding gate, all in under an hour. Needless to say, esecially with 4 other planeloads of people trying to get through customs at the same time, the flight to Toronto got delayed by quite a bit.

Finally on the last leg of the journey, it's off to Toronto. I'm getting quite tired at this stage, having hardly slept so far. I did doze on and off, but stopped myself from sleeping because it was still daylight. Slowly the day faded to night, stars came out, and I recognise Scorpio, standing on it's tail in the twilight. Another hour or so before we make our final descent to Toronto. Another landing, another baggage claim, and it's out the exit. Now to find Candace.....

After a brief adventure involving running across the road to find a working internet terminal (which I didn't), I did end up finding Candace, (I'm still getting used to calling Van Candace... RL names are soooo confusing!!) and we headed back to her place where I had a nice hot shower, and started feeling human again. A bit of a chat later, and it's time to head to bed *yawn* Lights out, see you in the morning.

    Wed, 2-Aug-2000

Slept reasonably well, which I was expecting considering my lack of sleep over the past 24 hours or so. Candace woke me up around 8:30 or so because she had to go to work, and I wanted to come with her so that I could jump online and let people know that I had gotten here in 1 piece. So, quick shower, munch some cereal for breakfast, and a little later we're off.

I got shoved into a little office with a nice PC (17" monitor and all, this is luxury!) and Candace ran off to start her day. A few quick emails later, and the important part of the day is done. Now I've got time to start up this diary thingy of mine and, of course, getting onto Aurora... *grin*

Candace collected me to check up on her doggies, she works at the University of Toronto doing animal research, and looks after a dozen or so beagles. Cute.

Well, I'm just about finished here, so I'm about to head downstairs to grab myself a nice hot cuppa, and then have a poke around the university. Later on when Candace is finished with work she's going to start showing me around Toronto. Should be good!

Didn't end up looking around Toronto much - after Candace had finished working we picked up a friend of hers and went to Mr Greek (a Greek restaurant) for lunch, which was quite neat. Then we dropped Pria (I think that was her name) back home again, and headed back to Candace's place, where we chatted, listened to Monty Python tapes, and I .. uh.. ahem (cough) fell asleep on the couch...

After my nap we had a bit of a bbq, really good steaks they were too!, rushed inside when it started raining, and then went and watched 'The Patriot'. Great movie, I really recommend it if you haven't seen it already. Then we went walking Candace's dog, Van, at 1 in the morning, after which I crashed. Jetlag is not a nice thing.

    Thu, 3-Aug-2000

*yawn* Is it morning already??

Since Candace doesn't have internet at home, I was obliged to come in to Uni with her again this morning, which meant getting up at 8am. Ridiculous, but that's the price you pay for being an internet addict like me...

So here I am until Candace is finished with work, and get to play with a nice very fast internet connection in the meantime, yayy! Plans for this afternoon include going down to the lakeside of Lake Ontario after lunch, and the already-mentioned cruise tonight. Sounds good, but until it happens I can't write about it.

Candace parked me in an office with computers and popped off to get some work done with her rats. After a while Sarna (Connie) got online, which I was hoping for since I hadn't managed to get her on her phone yet. We chatted a bit and agreed to meet up the next day. In the meantime Candace had come back up, and finally got sick of us trying to work things out via ICQ, so rang her up and settled everything via the phone. Impatient! *grin* But it did get things sorted out which was good.

Candace and I then went back to her place to eat some lunch and then headed out to pick up her sister Bonnie with baby Nolan. Unfortunately Bonnie's husbands rollerblades didn't fit me - the original plan was for us to go rollerblading today, but oh well. From where we headed down to The Beaches - a section of beach on Lake Ontario. It was just the most beautiful day out, if slightly chilly due to the wind. We stopped in a Cafe where I ordered a muggaccino and confused all the waitresses - they had never heard of a cappuccino in a mug before.. From there we walked through a park to the actual waterfront where I skipped some rocks on the water, learned that even though the water looked perfectly clear that I did not want to go swimming there unless I wanted to come out half-dissolved, and then we stopped at a little playground where Nolan could have a run. We sat down for ice-creams, and then slowly headed back to the car. Back at Bonnie's place Nolan crashed on a blanket, I crashed on the hardwood floor, and the girls took to chatting.

After that Candace and I headed home to get ready for a cruise which her friend Pria had managed to organise for us. After worrying about being late and getting stuck in traffic and slightly lost, we got to the boat with plenty of time and stood around slowly freezing while people arrived. We got introduced to hundreds of Pria's uncles and nephews and whatnot.. Finally we boarded the boat, the River Gambler, a paddle-wheeler look-alike. The boat cruised out past Toronto Island in the dusk, and then slowed down to lay out on the Lake with a great view of the Toronto Waterfront, CN Tower, and the Skydome. Dinner was served in shifts, ours being last, and while it wasn't spectacular was still very nice. The main event of the cruise was the dancing which was on the upper deck to deafening Reggae. Even I had a go, and we all had a great time - Pria even won some sort of prize in a dance competition.

By the time the boat got back to harbour, Pria was freezing, so we ran into the car, where she turned the heater on full blast. A stop at a burger place was all that separated us from home, and bed. All up a very nice day.

    Fri, 4-Aug-2000

Woke up at 10:30, due to Van's incessant barking. Got up, and discovered Connie (Sarna) had been knocking on the front door for ages. Would you believe, like, oops?

Anyways, a quick shower later, some indecisive decision making later, and we were headed for the CN Tower via bus and subway. I was very impressed by the public transport system here in Toronto, for $2 you can get from anywhere to anywhere, switching buses and subways as necessary. Hopping off the subway at last at ?? station we started walking towards the Tower, and stopped at a pub for lunch. Was quite nice and reasonably priced, but we skipped dessert, nothing tickled our fancy. Onwards towards the Tower we marched, and eventually got there. Far too much walking for lazy people like us! The ticket queue wasn't too bad, but their credit card system broke down while I was trying to pay - so the good old manual swiper thingy came out. Funnily enough every queue was full except the one behind us... good start *grin*

We had bought the entire package which included some rides and stuff as well as just going up on the Tower. The 'rides' were first (unfortunately), and consisted of motion-videos, ie, you sat in a capsule sorta thingy which moved with the film to give the impression you were really there. There were 4 all up, but Connie only got on 2 of them - even I was feeling a little queasy after the second one, which was pretty full-on. It wasn't even the motion, but the films that were a bit nauseating in the way the camera swoops around. Anyways...

Finally it's time to go up the Tower, and line up yet again for the elevators. The first section of the Tower is about 114 stories high, and contains a viewing platform with glass floor, a Cafe, and a restaurant. The elevator itself has a glass front, which is pretty cool, and goes up at about 22km/h, so pretty fast. We had a bit of a look around Toronto, dared the glass floor - even Connie tried it! - and then sat down in the Cafe for waffles with ice-cream and strawberries, yum-o!

Then we decided to go up to the 'Skypod', which is the highest lookout platform on a freestanding man-made structure in the world at 447m or 147 stories high. From here we spent a good half hour or more looking out over Toronto and me taking heaps of pictures. Some of the buildings and stuff in Toronto are pretty weird, hopefully the pics have turned out. Finally we decide to head down and out again. I buy a few souvenir thingies, and take another couple of pics of the CN Tower from the base, and then it's time to meet Candance and her friends at a pool hall.

On the way, a guy tried to convince us to take a Rickshaw, and we very nearly caved in under his salesmanship, but I had spent enough money for one day so we walked. It wasn't all that far, and we even managed to find it eventually.

Pool was fun, Candace taught us to play 'Cutthroat' which is a 3-player game you can play on a pool table. Only one problem: I was playing with 2 girls, and for some strange reason they ganged up on poor lil' ol' me. *boohoosniff* But I made a come-back in the final game and won a game!! Woohoo!!

After that Connie wanted to go home, because she had to get up early the next morning again, and Candace and her friends wanted to go dancing. I was pretty tired by then, and decided to walk Connie to the subway, and then go home myself. I ended up taking Connie all the way home, and then catching buses back, which took me quite a while, so I had only time to take Van for a walk and start scribbling on paper to get my diary down when Candace came home. We stayed up chatting for quite a while longer, and then crashed.

    Sat, 5-Aug-2000

Got up at 12:00 or so, wow, late sleep-in, but that's ok because we stayed up until 4am, silly people.

Shower, breakfast, and now we're about to head to the Downtown campus, and then Caribana. Should be fun, especially since apparently it's quite warm today - 31C out!

We headed out to the Downtown campus of the University of Toronto and had a bit of a poke around after checking email in the library. The campus is absolutely great, with most buildings well over 100 years old, and looking it. Not as in decrepit, but as in architecture and stuff. The grounds were also kept very nice with shrubberies and flowerbeds.

From there we caught a subway further in to town, and then a connecting bus to the Caribana parade site. The parade itself was pretty cool, especially the steel-drum bands and costumes. Hopefully some of the pictures I took have turned out. We actually became part of the parade after we squeezed through the fence, and got some great close-up views of things. It was loads of fun, even while getting squished by the crowds!

We stayed until the last float, and then made our way home again. Candace and I were invited around to her sister Bonnie's place afterwards for movies, but I wasn't really feeling up to it. So I stayed home watching Alien (which I hadn't seen before, shock horror gasp) on TV, and then made it an early night while Candace went out visiting.

    Sun, 6-Aug-2000

Woke up earlyish (8:30), and so far, having a very lazy day, lounging in front of the TV and chatting. Candace's mum popped over to say hi and to talk to the tenants downstairs, and Candace made us a great breakfast of omelettes with toast.

Doesn't look as if we'll be doing much today - it's overcast and I'm ready for a day off! Curling up with my book (Eye of the World, Robert Jordan) and watching TV sounds perfect :)

Well, looks like we changed our minds after all. Candace and I went downtown today to have a poke around the Eaton's Centre, the largest mall in Ontario, and possibly Canada, spanning 3 blocks.

Running alongside the mall is Yonge Street, the worlds longest street making up part of Ontario Highway #11, running from Hudson's Bay to the border of Canada and the USA. All the young hoons hang out there with their hot cars, trying to pick up chicks, and playing their car stereos to the point where passers-by need earmuffs.

I sent off some mail, and bought some postcards, then we sat in a cafe to recuperate a little before heading home again.

On the way home we picked up a video, Scream 3, and after a very nice dinner we crashed on the couch to watch it.

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Last updated: 13-Aug-2000