Winter Warmer in Toronto

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Brrrr! Welcome to a chilly blog post from the frigid land up north. We’ve been suffering through a bit of a cold spell up here, wth windchills close to -40 degrees celsius. Of course, a little cold weather can never keep ActiveSteve down. Although I’ve tried to stay indoors a touch more, I’ve still been getting outside for some running and snowshoeing. I’ve also vowed that I have to get out on the cross country skis soon. After all, I haven’t used them since 2007, as a result of being in NZ last year! The cold weather is giving me a chance to catch up on a post I’ve been meaning to write about last weekend. You see, Matt, Rob, and I spent the weekend in Toronto doing what guys do best. Not a whole lot other than drinking beers and trying not to be too obnoxious to those around us. I’ll let you judge whether or not we succeeded. Before you read the whole post, you can click on over to flickr to see the set of pictures from the weekend (mainly Super Saturday shots).

So why exactly did we make the journey to Toronto you ask? Well, for starters, I wasn’t actually supposed to go. Matt and Rob had bought tickets to go see AC / DC at the Air Canada Center a couple months back, and at the time, I decided I didn’t need to spend $150 to see them. However, those two decided they’d just stay for the weekend anyway, and booked a room on priceline. It occurred to me that it might be worth tagging along, as it sounded like it could be a fun boys’ weekend. After all, I get the feeling that in the not-too-distant future, those guys may also be family men, so they wouldn’t be doing so much of these going forward!

The plan that eventually came together was that those two guys would be taking the day off on Friday, since the show started in the early evening. I opted to stay and work for the day, and take the train to Toronto after work in order to meet up with them after the show. Of course, I realized that it might be a touch difficult to hook up with them, and I also realized that there was a good chance they will have had a few drinks at the show. Soooo, in order not to be too far behind, I smuggled a bit of rye onto the train with me, and had a few drinks myself while blogging. Upon arriving in Toronto, I made my way to the Delta Chelsea and checked in, only to discover we only had one bed for the 3 of us! Oops. Well, a quick call to the front desk, and I arranged for a cot for myself. I did manage to meet up with them later on that night, but it wasn’t very successful. We wandered around downtown Toronto, frozen and tipsy, eventually making our way to the Esplanade. We were turned away from the first establishment, where they informed us they didn’t think they could let us in! Imagine that. We ended up at ‘Scotland Yard’, where we each enjoyed a final pint for the night before catching a cab back to the hotel for the night. The lads had had quite a night at the concert, and were pretty, umm, let’s just say ‘tired’.

The next morning, I was eager to get moving, and was awake by 9am, but it was clear they were going nowhere fast. I ended up showering, getting dressed, and heading out on a shopping trip alone. My goal was to find a netbook for my sister, which I did near Spadina and College. Within an hour an 15 minutes, I was back at the hotel, to find Rob was up, but Matt was still in bed. We pushed him to get up, as the adventures had to start. The day’s activities revolved around a series of brewery tours and wandering the city. Rob called a friend of his (Andrew Vincent), who was going to meet us for breakfast and join us for the fun.

What a day it was! We started off going to Sneaky D’s for breakfast. This place was exactly what I was looking for. They specialize in Tex-Mex fare, including their breakfast menu. I ordered a Texas egg, which is a taco-bowl like base filled with chili, topped with melted cheese and a fried egg, served with a side salad. This was a breakfast that was large and in charge! Rob and AV had similarly delicious meals, but Matt opted for a basic eggs and potatoes breakfast, and barely touched it. He announced that he was thinking of just heading back to the hotel to nap. Problem was, it was already well after noon, and we were having none of that. We got back outside, and the fresh air seemed to perk him up a bit on the way to the first beer house, Amsterdam!

On the way, we passed (and drooled) by a Lamborghini dealership, admiring the cars. They are insanely gorgeous, and insanely out of our reach, but made for a nice ‘guys’ window shopping experience. Once at the Amsterdam brewery, the thirst got the better of us, and we were in luck. There was only one guy working there, and he gave us sample cups, and advised us that the taps were all open, so we got to help ourselves. Sweet! We even got to take part in a blind taste test complete with scoring / rating cards for 3 ‘mystery’ beers. In the end, we didn’t take a tour. Next stop, Steamwhistle, where we once again got two half pint samples each, which was our reward from a very chilly walk between the two breweries. Again, we opted to skip the tour and focus on just chatting away at the bar and drinking.

The final stop on our mini brewery tour was in the distillery district, at the Mill Street brew pub. We hopped a cab after walking part way and deciding it was too cold for the long walk. This gave us a chance to poke around this chic area a bit. We somehow ended up in a high-end furniture store where we got to feast our eyes on a $70,000 bed! Yup, only 3 people in Canada own one, and 8 in the US. Crazy, isn’t it? We scooted out of their without making a purchase, opting to get busy whetting our whistles again. We settled in there for a nice long session with various tasty beers. We were offered a table in the middle, to which I insisted we get a wall table instead, since it was early and empty. This turned out to be a great move, as eventually, they wanted to move us to another table (1 away from our original) to make room for a large reservation. The bribe? Why, a free pitcher of beer of course 🙂 How cool is that. Eventually, we decided we should get back to the hotel for some quality time in the pool / sauna areas (and a stop at the LCBO on the way).

While this was a great general plan, the problem was AV had no swimsuit. However, we somehow decided he’d be fine in underpants (I think anyway, things are a bit fuzzy from here). First stop was the 27th floor, where the adults pool and hot tub are. No dice, this whole floor was closed for maintenance for a week. D’oh! Our only option was the family fun zone. Ha ha. You can imagine how that turned out. It was around 10pm by now, but there were still kids. We hung out in the sauna for a bit, before heading to the pool. Sadly, the waterslide was closed, and the ‘lifeguard’ (term used lightly) wouldn’t open it. I tried to bargain with him, which in the end got me in shit from a family nearby. The sign said adults only after 10, so I tried to get a deal that I’d just take one slide down the slide, instead of forcing him to kick out the kids. Instead, he called my bluff, and tried to kick out the kids, telling the parents it was my complaint. Not a very professional fellow, but what did I care. Of course it worked out fine, as I assured the parents it wasn’t about their kids, just me wanting to make a video using the slide. What can I say, you can’t please everyone all the time, right?

After our refreshing active time, we headed back to the room for a couple pops and got dressed to go out again. For some reason, that seemed like a good idea to us. We first went to one bar where we stayed for a little bit, but the music wasn’t that good, and the beer a bit too pricey. From there, we tried to get into a ‘private’ karaoke bar, where you get private rooms, but there was a 4 room wait already. Apparently you have to book a while in advance. Last roll of the dice was the hotel bar, where we bought yet another round, only to find out that place stopped serving at 1am. It was 12:55am. Of course, they let us stay to drink our beers, but Matt ducked out instead, opting to turn in. Rob, AV and I drank our beers and danced for a little while, but when there was basically no one left, I followed Matt’s lead, turning Rob and AV back out to the streets. I was in bed around 1:45am, and I think Rob got back about an hour later. All in all, a stellar day / night in the big city.

The next morning, we slept in till about 10:30am, even though checkout was 11am. Oops. However, since we’re a group of 3 guys, that was plenty of time for 2 of us to get fully showered and packed, while Matt slept a little longer, then through his stuff in a bag. We checked out by 10:55, and were back on the road. Driving around, we noticed how much snow had actually fallen the night before. It had been a veritable storm, but we hadn’t even really noticed 🙂 We stopped for a proper breakfast somewhere in Little Italy by fluke, then hit the 401 for a long, albeit uneventful ride back to Ottawa. Great time was had by all, and it was certainly a nice start to 2009 with the guys. I must remember to party a bit more this year, along with all the training. It’s quite enjoyable 🙂 Till next time, always remember to stash a $20 for cab fare on cold days!

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