Well today on paper I thought was very much a Simmo day. We had a visit to the BMO field to watch Toronto’s soccer side, Toronto FC play New York City and after that a short walk across the road to the Toronto Festival of Beer.
The day started the way it has done the last few days. My alarm going off, me getting up and studying whilst Claire enjoys the holiday time in bed. Claire calls it dedication and praises it, I think that there is a little bit of madness involved and it captures my compulsiveness to a degree and once I set my mind on something I’m completely one-tracked about things. In my own head, I’m not exactly sure this is so much of a good thing. My life has tended to go from me being very interested in things and then, not so interested in things. But I think this time it maybe quite different, although maybe this is just a hope.
Study though goes well. I still have these little panics, that Claire is growing very used to, when I just don’t think I’ve done enough and should in fact be studying 24 hours a day. Claire attempts to give me perspective but such is my way, I perhaps don’t listen too well the first time. But with a bit of reflection, I slowly come round. I mean it’s not the be all and end all is it? In my humble opinion your primary relationship with your partner is that.
In fact we both just lazed a little bit this morning. I headed out over the road to the Steam Whistle brewery to check out their merch, the place was full because the Blue Jays were playing today and their stadium is about 200m away.
After this we headed out on the 40-minute walk down to BMO field, along the waterside. We stopped momentarily to get some nitro coffee from a Starbucks stall on the way. The walk was nice although the temperatures today were particularly hot. I think the mercury hit 34c and it felt like that for the majority of the day.
As the stadium itself came into view, for any sports fan like me, it was a pretty monumental sight. The crowd was like a sea of red swarming towards their temple to celebrate their gods. Sport is like that eh? Everyone there for the sole purpose of supporting one team. All joined together in that support. I suppose really it’s nice being part of something lots of people believe in. That really is the attraction of sport. That’s what drives us to go along, week after week, a sense of belonging and a sense of us.
I thought the game might bore Claire a bit. Soccer is a game I grew up with in the UK and ever since I’ve arrived in Australia, I’ve heard people describe it as boring. And to a degree I get this. Being surrounded my games where 100 points are scored, and then going to watch soccer, which could well be a 0-0 draw, it’s easy to imagine this. But soccer is like chess, it’s in the build up. Goals don’t just happen, they are planned moves ahead.
We were certainly in for a treat. Four goals, two penalties, one missed, one scored. TFC (as they are known) win 4-0. For the first goal, as is my luck, I was out buying a souvenir TFC beaker, with no TV screens only audio commentary. The commentary was so bad, I was convinced New York has scored until I got back to my seat and checked out the score. What pleased me the most though was that Claire actually seemed to enjoy it. I understand sport is my passion and I get you bring people along with your own passion. But considering what I consider a popular opinion in Australia I thought Claire might not enjoy it. I wasn’t particularly ready for her when I got back to my seat, berating me for missing a goal and how good it was. She seemed to genuinely like that it wasn’t a game about brute force and there was a lot of skill involved. And I loved her passion for it, much as I love her passion for new things.
We both left the stadium jubilant after the victory of our adopted MLS team.
The beer festival is a funny story, I’d originally bought the tickets not realising the soccer was on. So in fact had early entry tickets, even though eventually we entered 5 hours after we could have got in. Everyone else queued and we entered the special, early entry line (with no-one in). The festival was in a park and the beer stalls I suppose were off every pathway. One thing that surprised me was the amount of big breweries there (Bud, Coors, Moosehead, Molson and lots of internationals). The smaller craft guys were probably about 10-15 in number and around a fixed spot.
There were 2 or 3 stages each with a different artist. We hung around the main stage, Claire commenting how the whole beer festival site smelled of cannabis. Having never tried it, I just had to take her word for that. The bands were good, the craft beers I’d never tried and we didn’t buy a single token past our 10 each we got with the ticket. We had a nice surprise when one band, played a cover of their favourite rock song ‘You shook me all night long’, which most Canadians didn’t seem to know. But if you’re from Down Under, AC/DC are a fixture eh? The main act was Alan Doyle, who seemed quite famous, and had a very Irish sound. His music got the crowd going which is always a good thing.
The three hours we got there were probably just perfect and we wandered the 40 minutes home along the sea front before heading for my second pizza in two days from the local supermarket (who double as a takeaway pizza shop).
Holidays require you to be ingenious, take yesterday. Toronto FC won’t let you print tickets until 2 days before. So what happens if you don’t have access to a printer? Well there is another option, you can send the tickets to your mobile, but guess what, it has to be a US or Canadian mobile. Arrgghhh. Well luckily enough we have some Canadian and American friends and we got this sorted by sending the tickets to them. And then they forwarded them to us.
Our penultimate day was one where we were again planning to divide and conquer. Claire’s plan was to revisit the St Lawrence Market and mine to hit up some sports shops and breweries. Unfortunately the market is closed on Monday so poor Claire was dragged on a brewery tour of Steamwhistle Brewery. They are interesting they do just one beer but try to do it well. We went on the brewery tour and actually got the honour of sounding the steam whistle, which you can hear all over the park. The tour was simplistic but good, at only $12 each and three free drinks, including a bottle that you walked around with on the tour (imagine that in Australia).
We then had to do a bit of admin, so I could study on the flight home to Australia. So into FedEx we went to do a bit of printing before hitting a backstreet gelato shop. My flavour today was Rum and Condensed milk! Can’t say it tasted anything like that but hey, maybe my tastebuds are completely screwed from all my eating and drinking escapades.
We then split up in different directions to commence our final(ish) shopping of the tour.
We met at our final nice restaurant destination, Richmond Station. The service was actually exceptional, in Canada we’ve experienced a lot of slow service from kitchen to table. We’ve never really been sure if this has been deliberate, but what you’d expect to be a quick one course meal has taken us upwards of an hour and a half. Tonight, three courses served in an hour and a half, nice service, drinks were fantastic and so was the food. I’ve found the more upmarket restaurants in Canada a bit less snobby than the ones in Australia. We’ve turned up in shorts and a t-shirt and nobody really looks down their noses at you because everyone is dressed the same. It’s quite refreshing really.
We’ve moved onto the Aquarium for our last stop of the day. It is literally five minutes walk from our apartment and a good way to finish the night. The aquarium was as okay as aquariums ever are. To be honest Claire had eaten most of the fish in the aquarium in the last couple of week, so it might explain the scared look on their faces as Claire peered into their enclosures. There were some fish and some jellyfish! You could touch things, and there was a big travelator through a giant underwater tunnel. I wanted to check whether they served any sort of fish in the café but I didn’t really get the chance.
We were both glad to get home and put our feet up. It’s been a flat out few weeks and I think we’re both looking forward to getting home. For me, I’ve loved being on holiday but I do crave routine! This obviously will be interesting because in a couple of weeks, the routine I’ve been following for the last 15 years is over and I have to establish a new one.
We fly tomorrow around 8pm and hence we do almost still have a full day here in Toronto, however I’m not sure how much we’ll get done. We have some plans but I’m very conscious these have to be fluid.