Yay, I’m home! My trip was so short, though, you probably didn’t even notice I was gone. 😛
It was a very busy trip, but MAN I was glad to be away from everything at home, you know? Yes, I guess I include the boys in that, but really what it means is that I needed a break from taking care of them all by myself while George was sick. And they were sick. Very stressful week I had last week. So of course, it goes without saying that I missed them terribly, and was sooo happy to see them this afternoon when we went to pick them up. Best part is, I think they missed me too! 😀
So, the recap…it’s not without drama!
First, let me explain the trip. I was going to Toronto to help with the preliminary planning of a conference (the one I go to every May, the one I took the boys to in San Antonio, the one I went to Monterey for last May, etc, etc) that will be held there in 2010. We were going to be visiting several Marriott properties so that we could make the decision and sign a contract for the conference. We also needed to see the city so we could get some ideas for things to do for the conference. I was meeting Mike and Eva, other board members (who also came down here earlier this month, and we did the swamp tour, remember?) and Ralph and Fiona, a couple who live in Toronto and will be hosting the conference.
Up bright ‘n’ early at 4 am to get on my flight at 6 am. I was lucky enough to get a row to myself, quite rare nowadays. I didn’t sleep (I never do) but at least I was able to relax with a book. My connecting flight in Atlanta was an hour late leaving, but no biggie, really, as our schedule on Saturday was pretty flexible. No appointments or anything. I arrive in Toronto and have no issues going through customs.
So I go to get some cash out of an ATM. Whenever I travel to a foreign country (okay, only England so far), I never bring money to exchange, I always just use my ATM card there and withdraw it that way. I’ve never had a problem, and I have no reason to think I will now. But I do. It just doesn’t work. Later, I figure out that my ATM card is on a network that I don’t see on any Canadian ATMs. Oh well, it doesn’t end up being that big of a deal. Everyone takes credit cards (fortunately, my CC worked) but it’s nice to have a little cash on hand. No biggie. I panic a bit, though, thinking I’m not going to be able to get on the airport shuttle to the hotel, but they take CC (of course.)
The half-hour ride to the hotel ends up taking closer to 90 minutes because of unexpected traffic, so instead of arriving at 1, I get to the hotel at 2:30. Everyone else is there, and I try to check in. Half an hour early, no biggie. Eva had already checked that I had a room, and I did. It just wasn’t clean yet, so I wasn’t able to check in. We head off to Niagara Falls.
Ralph, me, Eva on the Maid of the Mist:
In a nutshell…fun! We walked around, took a boat ride on the Maid of the Mist, got soaked, walked some more, had dinner at the Marriott there (very nice dinner.) We head back to the city at around 10:00, after a comical search for the car. There is a LOT of traffic due to construction, and I am beyond exhausted. We finally make it back to the hotel close to 1 am.
I go up to the front desk to check in, and wouldn’t you know? The night manager, who is checking me in, says the hotel is 100% occupied, and he is very sorry, but there is no room for me.
Nice. Everyone is irate but me, I’m just tired. I’ll just sleep on a sofa in the lobby, whatever. I’m exhausted. He says the only room available is one at the Marriott at the airport. No freaking way. I go off to the restroom and let everyone else deal with it. I come back, and I am told that I will be staying up the street at the Four Seasons.
Now THAT’s more like it. Heh.
They stick me in a cab and off I go to sleep for the night at the fanciest hotel I’m likely ever to stay at.
(Truth be told, the rooms aren’t THAT nice, kind of dated. But they had L’Occitane toiletries in the bathroom and a very comfortable bed.)
Not that fancy room:
The next morning, I wake up, have my $40 breakfast and get picked up by everyone so we can tour the city.
My $40 breakfast: (but a real rose in the vase!)
So we tour the city, blah blah blah. Love the city. Decide I want to live there.
Then we go to lunch at a restaurant near the hotel called Baton Rouge. Love that. They feature “Louisiana Spinach Dip” and “Louisiana Chicken Sandwich” and “Baton Rouge Hurricane” on the menu. Kills me. Good food, but absolutely NO connection to my fair hometown. Funny.
After that, we have a meeting at a hotel.
Then we go to the top of the CN tower. Fun!
Then to dinner at a Moroccan restaurant called the Sultan’s Tent, where you get to see belly dancers perform. It was fun. Food was delish.
Back to the hotel (where I had a room this time, and a fruit basket because they felt bad) and off to sleep.
View from my room:
Up bright ‘n’ early on Monday for a breakfast meeting at the hotel we were staying at. The sales rep felt so bad about how I was treated on Saturday night. After the meeting, there was a tiny bottle of ice wine (some Canadian special wine that I have a feeling I’ll like a lot) and three tiny Roots t-shirts for the boys! Aw! Too bad I’d already bought them three tiny Roots t-shirts. I may sell three of them. We’ll see. Maybe not.
Now I have the Toronto bug. It’s such a beautiful city. Perfect size, clean, safe, lots of stuff to do, great shopping. And I didn’t know you get a WHOLE YEAR OFF after having a baby. I know, I know, Canadians pay higher taxes for this and for their socialized medicine, but damn. I’ll pay higher taxes to live in such a place! To raise the boys in such a place…sigh…where the Coke has real sugar in it, not high fructose corn syrup…
And because I can’t post without ONE picture of the boys, here’s one my mom took this weekend:
Can’t wait to go back in Fall 2009. Woot!
In non-travel news, we may be evacuating this weekend for Gustav. Keep your fingers crossed that it doesn’t head this way. Sigh.