Thursday 16th October. Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Toronto doesn't like me, so it seems. Yesterday morning, wrapped in a fluffy white towel, I surveyed the view from my eleventh floor room at the Downtown Marriott *a treat from a friend who is in town for a couple of days* The previous night had been rainy, but the new day was looking fine. A few fluffy clouds dotted the sky, but all in all it looked bright and warm. I packed my sweatshirt and fleecy jacket deep in my backpack, and left all my luggage with the bellboy when I checked out. I'd be back and collect it in the evening. At five-thirty my Toronto host, Nicole would pick me up at the Marriott. I set off down Yonge Street in a pair of jeans and a tshirt. It was then that I realized, if only I'd spent another few seconds at the window of my hotel room, I might've noticed the people below all rugged up in big bulky jackets. For sure I would've seen women's dresses blowing up almost over their heads *woo hoo* from the blustery winds. But no, I was striding down the shaded streets, being blown sideways by the sudden gusts, the only person within sight stupid enough to think they could survive in a tshirt.
I struggled by for an hour or so, wandering past the huge university campus, through Chinatown, and down towards the CN tower and the skydome. By then, I was actually in severe discomfort, and people were really starting to stare at me. They were staring, so I discovered, because I'd gotten so cold that my nipples had torn through the flimsy material of my tshirt. Oops. How rude. I'd heard about an 'underground city' where locals flee the hostile winter to shop and dine in comfort. After a couple of sets of directions, I discovered a portal to this subterranean world, and retreated under the surface of the city. There's a maze of corridors down there, packed with people hurrying to get from one place to another. Rushing to make an appointment? Late back from lunch? I was the only person attempting to keep to a leisurely pace, and so was quickly swept to the side of the corridor. On either side were boutique stores; fashion houses, florists, designer stationers, upmarket bookstores and business offices. I wanted a big department store, where I could buy a cheap sweatshirt.
The shoe shine lady gave me directions to the Eaton Centre, back on Yonge Street, just a few blocks from where I'd started at the Marriott. I could travel along the underground corridors to within one block of the Eaton Centre, she said. Generally, I don't get real excited shopping for clothes, but there were quite a few things in the storefronts that took my interest. Finally, I settled on a two tone khaki and cream *I know it sounds gross, but it looks great* sweatshirt, and haggled the manager down from $14.99 to $12.99. When I left the comfort of the Eaton Centre, Yonge Street was like a ticker tape parade, with the fallen leaves being swept up into the air several storeys high, and swirling their way down the block.
My friend was spending the day lined up at the Skydome to ensure she has the best seats in the house for the Radiohead concert tonight. When I got to the Skydome, she was proud to show me the number '3' on her wrist. That means that she was third in line, and will presumably be so close to the band that she can smell the lead singer's breath. I spent some time keeping her company in the lineup, and listening to the fans discussing how many Radiohead concerts they'd been to, and which songs they hoped the band would play tonight. The excitement was almost getting too much for me *yawn* so I found a nice warm bar where I stayed warm for the next hour or so until it was time to meet Nicole.