Wednesday, February 29, 2012

And then it got busy

Trees We had to get up quite early to catch the train for Rochester but given the time difference it wasn't a problem, just a very brisk walk for a couple of blocks - we really didn't see much of Toronto at all. This was to be our last day of leisure for a few weeks and we had the foresight to make it count. The train had big seats (we had gone business class) and it was nice to spend a few hours reading and occasionally looking out of the window to see the mostly white countryside.

The border crossing was another round of intense questioning, but again proof of departure made the process easier. Welcome to America, enjoy your visit, but don't stay.

CakeAfter that we got to Rochester and the hotel and the rest is a bit of a blur. Despite months of planning there were still a few last minute wedding details to sort out. There were some typical best man duties to attend to but one of the more tense moments was on the night before the wedding - the veil had been taken out of its packet and was severely creased so I took it back to the hotel for some ironing. It didn't help that it was nylon and there was next to no chance of getting a replacement if necessary so I was somewhat nervous, but a few litters of kittens later and it was looking a lot better and had not melted, success!

Saturday morning was more relaxed until it became apparent that the little detail of getting the wedding dress to the bride had been overlooked. With that delivered I could attend to getting the groom to church which we managed a little behind schedule but before the service started so that was a relief.

The rest of the day went very well, and I am very glad we were there to share in the celebrations. It was still all a bit hazy, but with food, Shirley Temples and excellent company late into the night.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


After a year of working hard and doing various other things including buying a house, we've put our (well, actually somebody else's) backpacks back on and headed off in search of more delicious foreign food and non-wintry sunshine. Well, eventually anyway.

We were planning on getting away for a winter holiday anyway but when our friends invited us to their wedding in New York State we decided to combine the trips and also to pay a long overdue visit to an old friend in Chicago who we haven't seen in over a decade. After that we'll be heading south for some sunshine!

River The flight to Toronto was pretty awesome - we left at 4pm and were chased across the Atlantic by the world's longest sunset. We were above a blanket of fluffy cloud for most of the way but as we met land again over the northeastern tip of Canada it became more patchy and we started to realise that some of the white patches were snowy areas on deserted black mountains.

We saw icy frozen rivers winding off into the distance and eventually tiny isolated settlements as it slowly got darker and we got further south. My favourite was a tiny town at the end of a long inlet - a narrow dark line led out of the town and cut down the middle of the water , presumably where icebreakers had cut through. (I think the town was La Baie, near Chicoutimi)

The flight was pretty good, a little delayed but Air Canada give you individual screens with lots of TV and movies to choose from, and power and USB sockets for laptops and so on, so there wasn't too much chance of boredom.

We faced quite a questioning by the border guards when we landed - Canada likes to keep Canada tidy and not have scruffy English people loitering around for too long so we were quizzed quite intensively about our travel plans - the guy seemed suspicious that we'd choose to fly into Toronto and get the train to Rochester when we could just catch a connecting flight, but eventually seemed happy that we had booked our eventual return flights off the continent.

It turned out there was a very good reason to fly into Toronto airport, and that is the express walkway, which is the first (and so far the only, I think) of its kind - a moving pallet system which starts you off at 2km/h and expands to take you up to 7km/h. There are various videos of it out there but it has to be experienced to be truly appreciated - my legs were a bit shaky after we stepped off it. Who needs roller coasters?

Toronto was fortunately not too cold, a little below zero at night, a little above zero in the day, at least a bit warmer than it was at home last week. Our hotel was nice and we had some good dinner at a nearby steakhouse.