Friday, May 27, 2016


So happy to finally add another city to my passport!  Toronto.  Probably would not have picked it, but work picked it for me so here I am.  Got a few chuckles on the airplane when I asked how many people were coming here because of Donald Trump!

First impression is the city is the most integrated city I have been in - including NYC.  The people are from everywhere with languages abound.  The translators at the airport were from India, Korea, China, Brazil and Mexico. Most of the Canadian folks speak or understand French as well.   It is not just that they are here, it is that they are seemingly comfortable here.  I wait in the lines as the border folks decide that I need to have four interviews and three different passport verifications.  This afforded me the opportunity to hear the people from other country's have a translator for their answering the border questions.  I must answer my own questions as the lady speaks perfect English.  My French is not sufficient to try to communicate in a place where they REALLY speak French.  One day.

I finally shake free of the border people and and picked up by my fabulous UBER driver, Tradic.  He is prompt, has a nice clean car and tells me the highlights of my temporary home, Toronto.  He says the walk the edge of the CN Tower is a must for those with a bucket list.  He says it is the scary thrilling sensation of a high roller coaster, with the breathtaking experience of a jump out of one.  Except you don't really jump.  Sounds perfect for my daughter, not I.

We arrive at the AirBnb town-home that I have leased for the week.  It is a two bedroom flat on the fifth floor of a tall building near the Toronto Blue Jays store and the main tourist entertainment district.  The building is full of tourists and the sassy skateboard kids wheel up and down the sidewalk outside.  The day is full of families on the street enjoying the temperate day.  Strollers are everywhere.  There are women in every imaginable garb, covered head to toe or the tight mini skirts of the youth.  There are women of every color and size, dawning the look of their preference, but truly wearing the outfit for the outing.  The views reminded me of a Monet promenade.  They all seem so proud to be walking.

After I am in my building and unpacked, I walk to the grocery.  For my first night, I have decided to cook and stay in.  I have events for the next three nights, so this is my time to adjust.  I find the grocery on the map and head out.  It is only a mile and the walk will be good after all he plane rides and sitting.  Knowing that I am in a country that has green values, I have brought my cool NPR canvas bag for the shopping.  As usual, I am hungry, which means I buy more than I can eat.  I do however, keep it healthy by picking asparagus, fish and garlic.  I also pick yogurt and eggs for the morning.

On my way back, the sun starts to head to another part of the world.  I notice the street traffic turn from families to couples and groups of young people.  I am grateful to be an older person with a place to go.  Interesting aside, I have seen no obvious homeless persons.  At least not in the style of Tallahassee.  I hope that means that they have better options.  There are lots of people who may fit the bill, but no one is holding a sign asking for money.  Back to the streets, older couples walk together.  A few young females saunter alone with their backpacks firmly in place.  People aren't seemingly as concerned as I am, but it could be their city!

 After touring Italy and seeing so many people displaced, I am a tad sensitive to the homeless.  But again, that does not appear to be an issue here.

I open my windows to absorb the cool air and the noise and hustle of the city.  Young people are now moving quickly and yelling in tandem as they move down the street.  The sidewalks are a series of floating tattoos and fun and interest and laughter.  Cars honk as people respond to the noise. Sidewalks seem to shift like the ground covered with ants.  All together in fish school, then scattered as if danger lurked near.

I will probably not sleep well this first night.  But it is terribly exciting to be in a new place adding one more stamp tot my passport.  And I look forward to rising to the occasion of the meeting in Toronto.

Days past, and the conference is behind me.  Great speakers, especially Richard Florida and the CFO of the City of Portland, Ken Rust.  Truly inspiring speakers and leaders of their communities and professions. It was great to be able to walk to the convention center every morning with a Starbucks in hand and a nice breeze in my face.  The weather could not have been more kind. That night, we decided to grocery shop and eat in and rest for the next day.

Finally, it was time to see some of the City of Toronto.  Many attending the conference had come the week prior and had already seen the sights.  They were full of funny tourist stories, so I had a relative understanding of the normal tourist routes.  Thursday morning however, is dedicated to the CN Tower. Second highest tower in the world after Dubai. I was to  see the tower from the inside.  Morgan however, wanted to walk the edge.  And so she did.  Up way above where nose bleeds start, she edged to the edge.

In the afternoon, we first headed out to walk the area near the University of Toronto, or so I thought.  What we found was Kensington, the Haight Ashbury of Toronto.  Many shops, medicinal and otherwise.  The aura was one of the hippy freaky grad student, with coffee shops and gelato every block.  The people were attentive and their wares were exotic as the people. We particularly enjoyed the Blue Banana, where I ended up buying a special pair of socks for my HR Manager.  The sort of gift only one who tries to please all would appreciate.

We had a heavy lunch of Ontario pork, so we wanted to be a little lighter with the fare of the evening.  It was perfect.  We walked back to our flat and relished the lovely day and time in a new place.  Eight miles said the iPhone.  Not bad for one day!  The evening proved very fruitful with a walk to the restaurant Westlodge.  It is a quaint and funky bar and restaurant.  We opted to sit at the bar and chit chat with the bar tenders who were great.  They recommended a whiskey drink, which was very tasty.  We then ordered ala carte with Brussels' sprouts, beet salad and roasted cauliflower.  We walked back to the flat and went upstairs to look at the pool and look at the lake.  The Toronto Blue Jays stadium is our view and Beyonce concert is in full force.  The people move in big waves, as if the subway openings allowed the flow to happen downstream, which I am sure contributes just a tad.  The ladies are all in finery and the men seem to be far and few between.  The night promises to be late for them and over for me.

The next day,  we were off to explore a new area.  The Saint Lawrence Market promised to be fun with artists of food and of paint.  Almost every trinket or device you might want is here, in addition to rabbit, chicken, cow and pork.  The seafood comes with faces and without.  The building is obviously the old trade building re purposed to a fun inviting new age trade space.  Of course we bought chicken, pork belly, pastry, bread, cheese and sausage.  We also found olives and artichoke and of course the sun dried tomato with mozzarella cheese.  A feast of kings and queens had we.

We take our groceries home and then go out for a cocktail on the lake.  A big lake.  I am guessing it is Lake Ontario.

Once again, we are cooking dinner.  The basted chicken, asparagus and the  okra are divine.  The cheese is great and we have wine and beer.  Tired legs never felt so well fed.

We plan what to do on Friday and after I answer a plethora of work emails,  I wanted to see the distillery district and then find the top of the City at Casa Loma.  But this will wait till tomorrow.

 Au revoir for now. Isle of Lesbos