Okay, so where was I. Toronto. Oh yeah...
So after our adventure up to the tippy top of the CN Tower, we hopped back on the subway and made our way up to what was supposed to be an awesome H&M. I was so psyched about this little journey to clothing nirvana that I'd literally brought a suitcase that was 3 times larger than what I needed so that I could carry all my loot back with me. But we got there, and...meh. Wasn't really loving the spring stuff, and although the coats/jackets were awesome, I couldn't really convince myself to shell out $69 (Canadian) for something that I wouldn't be able to enjoy for at least another 10 mos. And also? The prices weren't as "reasonable" as I remember them being in past H&M shopping experiences. And they're doing that thing that The Gap did a few years ago when they decided to make all their size 10 thru 14 sizes fit like size 6 thru 10 sizes. So H&M? Before you decide to conquer America? You'd better figure shit out so you don't end up in the crap heap like The Gap.
After the disappointing trip to H&M, we went back to the hotel to refresh and try and figure out what we wanted to do for dinner. Toronto is an AMAZING city for all types of ethnic cuisine: Greek, Italian, Chinese, Portuguese, etc., so we wanted to try out something that would be memorable. We went to China Town and were not disappointed. I wish I could remember the name of the place we went to (Jaye? Help me?), but it had been recommended to us, and suffice it to say, we were the only Anglos in the joint. We ordered the best salt and pepper shrimp I've ever had, some AWESOME Chinese broccoli in garlic sauce, and this great sliced chicken with ginger and green onion. Accompanied by a couple of Tsing Taos and the unbelievably cute 5 month old Asian baby sitting next to us, it was a fine experience.
Of course, when you're in Chinatown, you have to endure scenes like this, but hey...when in Rome.
Next day, woke up and it was cloudy, colder, and looking like it would snow at any moment. After an early morning pre-presentation work session in my hotel room, Jaye and I headed north, back to the H&M so I could return 3/4 of the stuff that I'd purchased but failed to try on the day before, then we headed to the area where we were going to be doing our presentation, near the University of Toronto.
It was lunch time, so we looked for a place to grab a quick bite. A block away from the university building we were presenting in, we found Bar Mercurio. Wow. What a pleasant surprise THAT was. They had counter service (order at the counter, you're served at the table...but apparently at night they have table service), but this lovely and bustling eatery is what Enoteca in Austin is trying to be. Tons of character, great food, and (what Enoteca and Cippolina lack), utterly authentic. I had a smoked salmon/portabella/goat cheese pizza and Jaye had this mixed seafood linguine. They were both wonderful and hearty.
We scooted to our presentation space and did our thing. During the presentation, it started snowing outside. Lightly at first, then like crazy. By the time we wrapped it up, the locals were telling us to haul ass so we would be able to catch our 6pm flight (it was 3pm). So we hopped on the subway (the wrong line, which we figured out and corrected within one stop), went back to the hotel where our luggage was waiting, and hopped in a car we'd reserved for our trip to the airport.
Now, it was REALLY snowing. Hard. Big, wet snow. Traffic was screwed. We got to the airport after about 1.25 hour in the car. Found out our flight was delayed. Breezed through customs, and finally boarded our plane close to 7pm, EST. Got to Atlanta and found out our flight to Austin was delayed by about an hour. Had dinner in a "Chili's for Desperate Air Travelers" restaurant, and boarded the plane. Jaye watched her Battlestar Gallactica DVD while I tried desperately to get some shut eye. But of course there was this DRUNK chick who thought she was way cuter than she actually was, walking the aisle, and loudly hitting on anything that had a penis. I swear, I was about to CLOCK her. But it was kind of worth the pain when she walked off, and we got to watch the guys near us make fun of her and talk about how bad her breath smelled.
Got back to Austin and had to wait an unusually long time for our luggage. Dropped Jaye off and rolled into my garage at like 12:40am. Took a shower and collapsed in bed at about 1:20. Woke the next day to muggy temperatures that eventually hit the mid-80s.
Toronto: Great city. Deserves more than a 36 hour visit.
Me: Thrown back in to work. Sort of zombie-like. Future stepson and in-laws visiting this weekend. Heading back out of town on Tuesday.
But you know what? My puny azalea bush--that has NEVER done anything that produce more than a couple of pitiful blooms in the previous 2 springs that I've lived in this house--is exploding with blooms. If you grow up behind the Pine Curtain, spring to you means blooming dogwoods and azaleas--two things that aren't really found here in Central Texas. So having this little slice of east Texas right outside my front door is a really nice treat.