Happier Interlude

To scatter some of the doom and gloom, I decided to post about some happier travel moments I spent last week. With only 3 days, this was my goodbye trip of sorts. Imagine that – going on a trip to celebrate going on a trip. No, I don’t have travel mania. Or maybe I’m lying.

Striking Landscape

I visit Toronto, Canada a lot. It was a short trip, but it brought to mind ideas and observations I’ll later remember while exploring Asia. The weather, for example. Driving down the 401, the weather changed so many times, I’m surprised we didn’t see snow. There was a rainbow, amazing photographer’s-dream dark skies set off by illuminated autumn foliage (see above), and a near-tropical storm so bad we had to wait it out in an On-Route parking lot. For those unfamiliar with Canada, On-Route is the chain of rest areas along the 401 highway with full service food court, washrooms, Wi-fi and convenience store.

Rain at the On-Route

I had a pretty light show while my travel companion/driver napped. When the rain and lightning stopped, we were then able to get ourselves inside the On-Route for a change of scenery before continuing on our way.

Once in Toronto, we treated ourselves to a cushy seat and food and bevvie indulgence. We think we earned the nice meal after the harrowing experience driving in. But the hotel restaurant put a smile on our faces and YUM in our tums.

Humus and FriendsHummus, eggplant, roasted olives and pita

FlammeFlammekueche: double-smoked bacon, creme fraiche, caramelized onions

Whether it was my exhaustion from trying to stay awake on the road so my companion didn’t drive into a ditch – on top of very little sleep the whole week before due to frantically researching my “Japan Plan” – or the potency of Hibiscus vodka, this baby (below) got me a little tipsy. I generally hold my liquor well, and didn’t feel much effect all the way through dinner. However, I chugged the last 2 ounces or so at the end of the meal. In the hotel room after that, I was bending over the bathtub to level out the ice bucket for our leftovers. WOOSH, the dizzy spell! I felt fine but laughed myself to sleep because my alcohol tolerance is very high. What on earth was IN this little cocktail? I also had a minor hangover the next morning. I haven’t felt hungover in the past 10-15 years LOL.

BoozeHibiscus vodka, ginger beer, sour mix (and my companion’s black Sambuca)

 

The desserts were very interesting at this restaurant (Soco, inside the Delta Hotel), and although we were already stuffed and had to take out a doggie bag, we couldn’t resist filling our ‘second stomachs’. I chose the buttermilk and lemon panna cotta. It was weird yet refreshing. The “granita” was just stewed fresh strawberries. Though I took photos of it, they didn’t turn out particularly interesting. So, use your imagination 😉

Soco Menu

 

During my quick but sweet trip, I continued to stuff my face, but also wander around with my urban family members.

IMG_6360btbwKensington market graffiti alley

At Moonbean cafe, I  had mocha lattes with a friend I was hoping to meet up with in Japan, who now cannot go. The mood was bittersweet, just like our hot drinks. I know she was sad but tried to downplay it. But we shared a nice memory with these silly foam decorations and an impromptu Japanese alphabet and origami lesson. I promised to take my friend to Japan virtually through my blog and secretly hiding in my pocket 😉

Moonbeam Mochas

 

KekkouKekou Gelato: Hong Kong Milk Tea & Chinese 24 Herb

Kekou is possibly the most innovative gelato shop I’ve visited. I was eager to try their newer location on Queen Street. They serve tea as well, so sometimes the flavors find their way into the gelato. Though my previous favorite was the Thai Iced Tea, it has been debunked by the 24 Herb. Hard to describe it other than YUMMY, sweet, with a slight tickle at the back of the throat as it goes down.

The mini vacation was great, but had to end on a sour note when I got home to read the email from my German agent re: the sudden change to my ship itinerary. More on that in my next post. It’s bad, but I’ve been slaving away trying to make it better. I’m going to Japan, dammit – no stopping me allowed at this point! Hmph!

 

Wait. This was supposed to be a happier post, right? Let me leave on a more positive note.

View from my hotel window – I don’t know what building this is, but I suspect another hotel. I just thought it looked pretty against the cloudless sky. Below there was actually a great view of the Rogers Centre, Ripley’s Aquarium’s (who knew there were large fish painted on its roof?), the Gardiner Expressway, and the lake just beyond the downtown skyscrapers. The CN Tower was in the blind spot of my camera, but I could see it with the naked eye by pressing my face into the glass.

View

 

My farewell brunch – I wasn’t expecting much, but true to form, Soco was trustworthy yumminess. I ordered banana-walnut bread french toast with blackberry preserves (home-made, I believe). The bread was soaked in something to make it so moist and sweet that I didn’t even use the provided maple syrup. Fantastic french toast! Now there’s a good note to end this post on!

Soco French Toast

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