The Food, Fun, and Foibles of a First-Time Europe Traveler

Canada

Just Another Day at the Airport…

I guess that signing worked out pretty well.

I was pleased to find that Canadians, in their infinite politeness, offer free WiFi in the Toronto Pearson Airport, which allows me to kill some time with a quick post.

So we got to the Toronto airport today at 5 pm for a 9:55 pm flight. Why, you ask? A number of reasons:

  1. It’s an international flight.
  2. There are a number of terrorist threats supposedly aimed at the exact place we’re headed.
  3. We checked in online, but since we were on an iPhone we were unable to print our boarding passes. With both of us being airport veterans, Hanna and I knew this could cause some additional delays.
  4. Hanna has never gotten to the terminal less than 3 hours before scheduled departure. Ever.

So of course after arriving at 5:00 we were through security by 5:20…we had some time to kill. So Hanna got a replacement engagement ring since she left the real deal at home (because she didn’t want it stolen, not because she’s hoping to be whisked away by some smooth talking Italian pastry chef…at least that’s what she told me…).

Since we were getting a ring I decided to pick one up as well. I haven’t worn a ring since I turned an extra piece of copper from Ms. Mahoney’s metal enameling class into makeshift jewelry (yes, my finger turned green), so needless to say this is strange. It feels constrictive, but I figured I better get used to it for when we get married.

So after getting rings we hit up the elegant and classy Playwright Bar & Grill. It seemed appropriate since, in a few short hours, we’ll be in the land of Shakespeare. Side note: I learned at a culture concert at Buckley last year that this famous image of Shakespeare most likely looks nothing like the actual man. Makes you think if this is really Abraham Lincoln.

Anyway, there were several televisions with sporting events on, two of which featured the NLDS game between the Phillies and Reds. I looked up and saw it was the 7th inning and the Phillies were up 4-0; not a big surprise considering Roy Halladay was pitching to a team of playoff newbies.

When they go to the break, I take a closer look at the score and realize that Halladay is throwing a freaking no-hitter. Of course none of the friendly Canadians at the bar had any interest in the game, let alone realized that history was being made before their very eyes. They were more concerned with the Maple Leaves Leafs pre-season report on TSN. Each his own.

Anyway, of course Halladay finished the thing, Hanna and I cheered and everybody looked at us funny. Finally our bald server Robert helped us out by acknowledging the feat, even noting that it was Halladay’s 2nd no-hitter of the season. The fact that Halladay pitched for the Blue Jays for 11 seasons probably aided his familiarity, but I appreciated the gesture nonetheless. Another side note: I find it remarkable how much the Toronto sportscasters are rooting for Roy Halladay. They genuinely wish him well. Cleveland needs to take notes.

It was only the 2nd post-season no-hitter in baseball’s 150 years of existence. Not bad for a guy pitching in his first EVER playoff game.

The funny thing is, this might not even be the best sports moment I’ve witnessed in an airport. Last year I was in the Buffalo airport for the epic 5-set marathon between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, which has been described as ‘the greatest tennis match of all-time’.

Next time the Lakers play for the championship, I’m definitely heading to LAX.

Anyway, the next post will be from Jolly Old England. You sound like you’re from London!

 

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My European Adventure Actually Starts in Canada

Not a bad place to start, eh?

So I don’t leave for Europe until Oct. 6, but that doesn’t mean that my adventures haven’t started. I’ve been in Ontario, Canada for the past two weeks and since then I’ve gone to a heavy metal concert, seen a girl try to fight a man, worked 2 full days of construction (aka unloading trucks) at a Toys R Us in Bellville, and gone to a movie at the Toronto Film Festival.

Overall, I’m just happy that winter hasn’t set in yet (it’s going to be brutal when we get back in November). Here a few things I’ve noticed about Canada and/or Canadians:

  • They are incredibly polite, except when you ask them to sit down at rock concerts; then they enter “you leave me no choice but to yell at you” mode. Which brings me to…
  • Canadians curse quite a bit. It’s not like they’re vulgar, they just don’t consider cursing a bad thing. I mean, they’re just words after all. One of the first times my fiancee Hanna met my parents, during the course of conversation she used the word “shitty”. When I asked her why she cursed she said she didn’t. Apparently “shit” isn’t a bad word in Canada, a notion that was confirmed when I turned on television and saw that the word used liberally on basic cable. In some sort of trickle-down effect, the F-bomb is dropped continually in Canada without blinking an eye.
  • Canadian signs are much more exciting than American signs. I first noticed this a couple of years ago when I noticed how happy their walk signal man was compared to his American counterpart. Their guy has his head up, shoulders  back, enjoying life. The American is hunched over, reaching for some unattainable goal (probably more money). Am I reading too much into this? This notion was furthered when I saw their “don’t drink and drive sign” on the side of the highway. It’s the standard red circle with a line through it, but underneath is a martini glass with car keys where the olives should be. I don’t know why but I found this to be hilariously clever.
  • Canadians are a fan of the phrases, “these ones” and “those ones”. Observe the following conversation: “Shopkeep, how much are these shoes?” “Those ones? Those ones are $115.” And….scene. It’s not that I’ve never heard that said in America, but I certainly have heard it quite a bit since I’ve been in Canada. And of course once I started thinking about it, I notice it more and more.
  • Greeks are the Canadian version of guidos. If they were to create a Jersey Shore: Canada, it would definitely take place in Greektown of Danforth.

Well those are just a few things I’ve noticed in my two weeks in Canada. We leave for London on Wednesday, so hopefully I can find some WiFi and post my initial thoughts soon thereafter. Enjoy.

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