My First Canadian Layover

Nov 11, 2010

I've been working in the skies for nearly a year now, and in that time my job has brought me to nearly 30 countries. I'd circled the globe and yet somehow, until last week, completely missed the one place that I'd been dying to visit. I was thrilled when I checked my roster and discovered that I'd finally scored a layover in Toronto. After months of bidding and attempting to swap flights, I was finally going back to Canada!
The flight to Toronto is notorious for being one of the worst, but I wasn't going to let that affect my mood. It was a long and often challenging 14 hour flight, but I stayed optimistic. I can honestly say that I probably drove both the crew and passengers to insanity as I chattered on about how excited I was to go to Canada and see my family and drink Tim Horton's coffee.
I landed with a huge smile on my face, not even phased when the Captain announced that it was only 3 degrees outside. On the way to the hotel I stared out the windows, getting excited at the sight of Canadian flags and familiar brand names. I was still over 1,000 miles from home, but I felt as if I was almost there. We arrived at our hotel, which happened to be super nice and in the heart of the city. One of the advantages to our airline being relatively unknown in North America is that we get to stay in great locations to serve as walking billboards. As the crew made plans for the weekend, I shouted "See you on Monday!" and retreated to my room. I wasted no time, quickly changing and heading downstairs. I was exhausted but there was no way I was going to waste my first night in Toronto by sleeping through it! I headed to the concierge and asked where I could find the nearest Tim Horton's. She laughed, realizing that I was just a homesick Canadian happy to be back in my country. In typical Canada fashion, there was a Timmy's right around the corner. In fact, there were probably at least 10 in the 5 block radius. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the Tim Horton's phenomenon, let me try to enlighten you. Affectionately known as "Timmy's", it is a coffee shop known and loved by 99% of Canadians for reasons that even I can't explain. Personally I think Starbucks tastes better, but there is something so satisfying about Timmy's coffee. Perhaps they add some addictive substance. Maybe the fact that I'm overly patriotic makes me love it more, or maybe it reminds me of my boyfriend... after all, our first meeting was at a Tim Horton's in Red Deer. Whatever the case, I was ecstatic as I ordered a French Vanilla cappuccino and a turkey bacon club... with real bacon! I was picking up a wireless signal, so I stayed awhile, talking to Ryan. I'd really been hoping that he could make it to spend my layover with me, but the cost of flights combined with getting time off work made it a bit unrealistic. I was extremely sleep deprived and the caffeine hadn't hit me one bit. Throwing my healthy eating plan out the window for the weekend, I crossed the street and went to Starbucks to satisfy yet another craving that only North America can fix... Pumpkin spice latte! The cafe was in full Christmas mode and I sat blissfully sipping my festive latte.
Buzzed and happy, I headed back to my hotel room, where I spent a long time on the phone with Ryan... hooray for cheap phone calls! I'd finally reached the point of fighting to keep my eyes open, so I gave in and called it a night. I had a big day ahead of me and I needed to be well rested. My body missed the memo, and I woke up at 4 am even though I was still exhausted. Thanks, jet lag. After a couple hours of struggling to fall back asleep, I gave up. I showered, got ready, and headed out to grab another pumpkin spice latte to give me a much needed caffeine boost. I was meeting up with some of my family and I couldn't wait. My grandparents called to let me know that they were almost at the hotel, so I headed downstairs to meet them. Once they arrived I rushed to hug my grandma, who I hadn't seen since last December when she dropped me off at the airport to go to Dubai for the first time. She took photos and told me how great it was to see me, handing me a rose. I knew right away that it was from my sneaky boyfriend, and my suspicions were confirmed as I read the note attached. He'd asked my grandma to bring it to me. I was feeling like a pretty lucky girl as we drove off towards Hamilton.
I dropped off my bag in the familiar bedroom at my grandma's house and we hit the highway. We drove to Niagara, where we met up with some more family members... my uncle, his long-term love (they really should just get married, I like weddings!), and my younger cousin, Colton. We set out hiking down the beautiful trails at the Niagara gorge, down to the river. It was a beautiful autumn day and the sometimes steep climb back up kept me nice and warm despite the cool breeze. I took dozens of photos, commanding that my family stop and gather as I propped my camera on tree stumps and rocks for photos.
Once we'd made it back up, we got back into the car and drove into the city. I've been to Niagara Falls many times, but it doesn't make each visit any less exciting than the first. I could hear the rush of the falls as we walked towards massive crowds of tourists. I joined in, snapping my own photos. We stood for awhile, just standing at the amazing power of the rushing water. Once we were finally content that we'd taken enough photos, we headed inside to warm up, with yet another Tim Horton's coffee. Yes, I have an addiction and I'm not afraid to admit it. Our next stop was an outlet mall that I'd shopped at with my mom a few years back. I spent my meal allowance money on cozy sweaters and a super soft scarf that I just couldn't put down.
It had been a long day and we were all feeling quite hungry as we headed to a restaurant called "The Lake House", where we had reservations. It was a nice place right on the lake, and the food was amazing. I opted for grilled salmon... fresh, delicious, Canadian salmon! After we'd stuffed ourselves full, it was time for dessert! I could barely move, but that didn't stop me from sharing a bowl of gelato with my grandma.
After dinner we stopped at my uncle's house, to meet the baby of their family... Stella, an adorably playful boxer/bulldog cross. Lately I've had extreme puppy fever, wanting few things more than to have my very own cuddly fuzzy friend... this visit did not help. We stayed there for awhile chatting and catching up, until it was time to go back to my grandparent's house for the night. Jet lag combined with the fact that I'd been awake since 4 am made for one very tired Krysta. I said goodnight and quickly fell asleep, content with a great day.
The next morning I slept in, finally crawling out of bed and dragging myself to shower. I slowly got ready for the day, even doing my hair to look nice... a very rare event these days. I spent the afternoon visiting with my family, including my great-grandma, who hadn't made it to Niagara Falls the day prior. It was great to see her and to relax with everyone until it was time for dinner. My grandma had made a delicious roast and I could hardly wait for my first home cooked meal in months. I loaded up my plate, enjoying every bite. I nearly died of happiness when my grandma brought out dessert. Homemade pumpkin pie!!! Anyone who spoke to me last month probably was well aware of how upset I was about missing my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner. I indulged in a delicious slice, and although I was full, I wanted more. I stopped myself until Colton went for seconds, which automatically justified that I should do the same. It was amazing, and for awhile I thought that perhaps they'd have to carry me back to my hotel room in Toronto. The evening was coming to an end as I said my goodbyes. It was back to the hotel for me, as I had to fly out the next day. I knew that I'd be back again in the not-so-distant future and that thought kept me from getting too upset.
I relaxed in my hotel room, chatting to Ryan before settling in for a nice, long sleep.
The next morning I woke up bright and early on a mission to shop. I headed towards Eaton Centre, realizing halfway there that it probably would be at least an hour until it was open. I killed time by grabbing a coffee and a muffin, patiently waiting for the shops to open. When they finally did, I frantically rushed from store to store, not even sure what I was looking for. Some stores played Christmas music, much to my delight. I spent a large chunk of cash at Bath & Body Works, loading up on yummy smelling soaps and multiple bottles of hand sanitizers in every scent imaginable. They come in handy with my job. I bought a few other essential Canadian amenities before returning to my hotel to catch a few hours of sleep before the long torturous trip back to Dubai.
I was feeling pretty miserable as I got ready for my flight. I contemplated faking sickness, or conveniently forgetting that the departure was that day. The thing about going home, is that you never want to leave. Fortunately, I had the thought of vacation only 2 weeks later to keep me optimistic.
I flew back to Dubai, sad to leave, but happy to have had such a great weekend. Perhaps my opinion is biased, but I think that I'm from one pretty darn amazing country!!


Tleppihs Nayr said...

:D yay toronto....

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