6 months ago, I switched from the main fleet to the A380 flight primarily for the chance to fly to Toronto. If I had to live on the other side of the world, the opportunity to visit my own country from time to time would make it far more bearable.
Unfortunately, my company missed the memo and up until the end of January I'd only been lucky enough to score one flight to Toronto. As you can imagine, I was over the moon to see "YYZ" when my roster for February came out. After a homesick month it was just what I needed. I immediately shared my good news with my fiance, who immediately booked a flight from Calgary to meet me. Things were working out perfectly, and we were going to have a great weekend away together!
It was a nerve-wracking few days leading up to my flight, as I was still on reserve. We both were well aware of the fact that I could be pulled out of standby for any flight and potentially miss my Toronto flight. Luck was on our side, and on Friday morning I boarded the aircraft bound for the Western hemisphere. I chatted excitedly to the crew and passengers about how great my weekend would be for 14 hours. I'm sure they were all relieved to finally land and escape my non-stop conversation. On the bus to the hotel, I was giddy and couldn't stop smiling. Ryan would be there waiting for me in the lobby!
I was practically shaking with excitement as we pulled up in front of the hotel. I grabbed my bag and rushed inside. There he was! I gave him a great big happy hug as he handed me a pretty blue rose. All in life was perfect again! I didn't mind waiting patiently to get my room key, but one of the crew members insisted that the rest clear the way to let me go through. "Let her go first, it's her country!!" He insisted. I didn't want to be rude, but everyone insisted that I hurry up and go enjoy my time with my love.
Key in hand, we headed up to our room. We relaxed for a few minutes, but I knew that if I stayed in the room too long I'd fall asleep. We bundled up in our warm clothing and headed to (where else) Tim Horton's. I'd spent the last week looking forward to this meal, and it didn't disappoint me. We sat in the warm restaurant eating warm chilli, drinking cold iced caps, and spoiling ourselves with a Boston Cream donut.
I was going on 24 hours with no sleep, so it was time to call it a night. We went back to our hotel room, cuddled up in bed, and went to sleep. It was so nice falling asleep with him lying there beside me! For some reason jet lag only seems to really affect me when I go back to Canada. Despite my extreme fatigue, I found myself waking up throughout the night. Poor Ryan endured my tired chatter as I rolled around unable to fall back asleep every hour. Morning finally arrived, and after a sleepless night I was in need of caffeine. We headed back to Tim Horton's to grab some coffee and then went back to the hotel to get ready for a day of adventure! My grandparents were taking the train from Hamilton to meet us in Toronto, so we organized our cameras and waited for them to arrive. They showed up at our room, hugged us, and we headed on our way! We decided to check out St. Lawrence Market, and were overwhelmed with the amazing food choices. We had lunch reservations so we had to use our willpower not to eat everything in sight.
As recommended by my mom, we decided to dine at Wayne Gretzky's Restaurant. For those of you non-Canadians, Wayne Gretzky is the most famous of all hockey players... known as "The Great One". The menu was full of amazing options. Ryan and I opted to share appetizers, feasting on yummy foods that I can only ever find at home... hot wings, perogies, and of course... poutine. It was all amazing and delicious, and we left the restaurant so full that it hurt to walk. It was well worth it!
Our next stop was the tourist essential of Toronto...the CN Tower. With the exception of Ryan, we'd all been many times before, but it's always fun to go to the top of what was the tallest building in the world before Dubai got greedy with the Burj Khalifa. We rode the glass elevator to the top... a bit of a nervous ride for me despite spending so much of my life in the sky. It was a cloudy day, but we could still see far out across the big city. We spent a long time just taking in the view, taking photos, and braving the glass floor. It's always scared me. I somehow worked up the courage and even looked down at the city below my feet!
We finally decided to head back down to the ground and out into the snow! It was a chilly afternoon, so we decided that a cup of tea would be a great idea. I introduced my grandma to Starbucks! We sipped our tea (chai lattes for Ryan and I) and talked as the snow fell outside. Evening was fast approaching and it was time to say goodbye to my grandparents as they caught their train back home. It had been great to catch up with them. It has been a privilege that this job has granted me. Before flying around the world I rarely made it to the other side of Canada for visits. We hugged goodbye and they went on their way as Ryan and I headed to Eaton Centre for some nighttime shopping. I picked up a few new items of clothing... oh how I miss simple Canadian fashion! We had intended to go for a romantic dinner, but after our huge lunch we still didn't have much of an appetite. Instead we grabbed some frozen yogurt and decided to skip dinner in favour of dessert. The mall was closing so it was time to head back to the hotel. We'd walked underground on the way, and left our jackets in the room. We had anticipated returning the same way, until we realized that the doors were locked. "You've got to be kidding me", I thought, as we headed outside into the cold. Giant snowflakes were falling from the sky and although it was beautiful, I wasn't looking forward to the trek back to the hotel. We power-walked down the street shivering, but we survived. I was the one complaining, but I also insisted that we stop for a photo.
Brrr! We were happy to reach the warmth of our room and curl up under our warm duvet. We'd had a fun day and we were sleepy! It was time for bed, and this time I managed to sleep through the night.
The best part of waking up on Sunday morning was knowing that we still had a full day together. We relaxed in our room and then decided to go for breakfast. I had my heart set on bacon and eggs... none of this turkey bacon stuff that they serve in Dubai... real, crispy bacon. We found ourselves at Marche, a cool market-style restaurant. Our breakfast was great, and we were full once again! We didn't have a plan for the day so we began walking down Yonge Street. When I spotted a movie theatre I suggested that we go for a movie date, since we'd been talking about it for months. There weren't many movies playing, but since it was cheap before 12 pm we decided to see "The Social Network". After all, we are both nerds and Facebook addicts. I'd heard some bad reviews, but I enjoyed the movie!
We continued walking down the street, looking for a good place to have lunch. When we came across a grocery store, we went inside and I squealed with excitement over all of the foods that I missed. A lady offering samples of guacamole was happy that we agreed to try it, insisting that nobody is adventurous enough to eat new foods. We asked her for restaurant recommendations and when she didn't have any, she stopped a family and asked them. They suggested a restaurant a few blocks away and we agreed to try it. We followed the directions and found the place. It looked nice, but much to our dismay it was closed!
We went back to Yonge Street and found a cozy little place that looked good, and most importantly... warm! The food was yummy and to make it more enjoyable we ordered drinks... a cocktail for me and a beer for him. It was a perfect lunch date!
We slowly made our way back to the hotel, stopping at Eaton Centre for a bit more shopping and caramel frappuchinos from Starbucks. Back at the hotel we relaxed, realizing that we were probably among very few people in Canada and the US who weren't watching the Superbowl.
For dinner we decided to return to Wayne Gretzky's, since the hot wings were just so delicious! Sadly, the weekend was ending. I was determined to stay awake as late as possible in able to enjoy the rest of my time with him before his early morning flight. Unfortunately my body didn't agree with that idea and as hard as I tried, my eyes could not stay open. We decided to switch off the TV and go to sleep.
The next morning we woke up at 4 am. Ryan packed his bag as I sadly tried to convince him to miss his flight and run away with me. We both knew that it wasn't a realistic option, so we walked downstairs to wait for the bus. It arrived too soon and I didn't want to say goodbye. I got a little bit choked up as I kissed him and watched him disappear onto the bus. Instead of waiting to wave as the bus drove away, I quickly rushed to the warmth of Tim Horton's. Tears were forming in my eyes and I wasn't about to start crying on the street. I ordered a coffee and went back to my room, feeling miserable. I managed to talk to Ryan online until he'd boarded the plane. It was still early, but I wasn't about to spend the day crying in my hotel room. I put on my jacket and headed out in search of breakfast. I returned to Marche and treated myself to a Belgian waffle. I sat down at the same table I'd ate at with Ryan the day before, and wondered why on Earth I live so far away when it makes me so sad.
I might have felt sad at the time, but I was overall quite happy that I'd been fortunate enough to spend the weekend with my amazing fiance. I didn't want to let my mood ruin my last day in Canada. I walked to the only place that I could think of.. Eaton Centre. I wandered the stores and the underground mall for a few hours until it was time to go back to the hotel to get some sleep for the flight back. I didn't have much luck. I tossed and turned for a couple of hours, missing Ryan and dreading leaving my country. I finally managed to sneak in a little bit of sleep, but I was very tired as I headed to meet the crew for the return flight.
I sat quietly on the bus, sad to see the layover end.
It had been amazing, and probably my favourite of all the many that I've experienced. I suppose that the fact that my favourite trip is one to my own country says a lot about how much I miss home. It won't be long until I'm back there with my amazing family and Ryan, and although I'll miss my globe-trotting life I'm ready to go home.