Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Vacation 2003, Part Two: Of PDQ's, Nosebleeds, and Ticket Stubs

The Toronto deal was amazing. A ritzy hotel room, a fine meal, a baseball game and The Lion King, all at the price of the hotel room alone. But after all was said and done, we were a little nervous about The Lion King. I mean, what we'd seen on commercials looked a little hokey. Carved lion's heads perched on top of the actors? Disney songs? A Broadway show based on a cartoon? It all sounded like something aimed at two-years olds, not fully-grown adults with a modicum of taste.

The other option for the deal, Mamma Mia, looked a little more up our alley; but it was sold out, so we decided to check out The Lion King, give it a whirl and see if it worked for us. Because, hey, even if we didn't like it, we'd still be ahead of the game with the other three things, right? I'm not usually one to go for shows with big dance numbers and unreasonable amounts of glitter, either. After telling Mike our plans for the next day, he told us that the "prancing and dancing quotient" was very high, but we'd enjoy the show anyway. I assured him that I'd pay close attention to its relative PDQ and report back.

We woke up the next morning and headed for some breakfast at a little place on Bathurst that Mike likes to take his guests to, had a nice meal, and then parted ways with our host for a while. Unfortunately, by then, we were cutting things a bit tight. We still had to check into our hotel, go to the SkyDome box office to pick up some Jays tickets, and get to the show in time for the curtain. The Crown Plaza wasn't hard to find, but parking in the labyrinthine parking garage behind the convention centre sure as hell was. It took us almost 15 minutes just to find the section of the garage that connected to the hotel, which for whatever reason they seem to want to hide from traveling tourists.

Another 15 minutes later, we were checked in and headed to the SkyDome. We took the SkyWay, which may not have been the best way to go considering the elevators were all messed up. Reaching the base of the CN Tower, we searched in vain for a box office, found none, asked at the Tower information desk and were told we were looking on the wrong side of the dome. Looking at our watches, we decided there just wasn't time anymore. We took our chances with getting tickets after the show and sprinted off to King Street.

When Stacey called to book the show, she was assured that we'd have some of the best seats in the house. "Wow!" said the phone operator, "There's actually a BOX SEAT left! I'm surprised they're still available!" So, of course, Stacey leapt at the idea of seeing the show from box seats. Who wouldn't? What she didn't tell Stacey (or didn't know) was that the box that she gave us was literally right next to the edge of the stage. It was stage, width of curtain, and then our box. Apparently the phone operator was a MORON. Our angle was pretty much ideal for seeing into the "wings" of the backstage areas while actors and technicians were getting ready for the show and we had a bird's eye view of the pit, where the musicians were prepping. Immediately, we saw that the magical illusion of theatre would have its work cut out for itself to “wow” us from where we were sitting. If we could see the rest of the stage, that is.

As it turned out, the seats weren't as bad as we had thought at first. Not to spoil the experience or anything (for those of you who still want to see it), there are actually portions of the show where actors in costumes come marching down the aisles of the theatre, and we had a great view of that. We even had an actor singing from our box at one point. And we were close enough to the stage that we could really see the expressions on the actor's faces. A few things were lost in the back corner of the stage that we couldn't see and a few of the special effects were spoiled, but all in all, it was a great show. The costumes were ingenious, the acting from a few of the supporting roles (Timone, Pumbaa, and the bird) was truly superb, and it was far less cheesy than we were prepared for. The PDQ was also acceptably low.

I think one highpoint of the show for Stacey was that we were sharing the box with a mother and her two-year-old son. Stacey commented that the little boy and I had the same look of wonder on our faces at one point. I still contest that, however. One thing I should mention was that, at one point, one of the actors in a jackal suit actually waved to this little boy and he waved back, absolutely delighted. Great kid. He restored our faith in young children, who as a generation seem to be going all to hell, lately.

We got talking with the lady with the little boy. She’d heard that instead of going to the baseball game, we could trade in our tickets for a trip up the CN Tower instead, if we preferred. This surprised me, of course. I mean, despite their close proximity, the Toronto Blue Jays association and the CN Tower management surely weren't affiliated in any way, were they?

But the notion was tempting. The game was already half-over by the time we got out of the show, and I'd decided that looking down on the game from the highest "nosebleeds" in Toronto might be kinda cool. As a result, we wasted twenty minutes waiting at the information booth at the Tower only to find out that the lady had misguided us, proving once again that most of the people you meet in a day are morons.

We found ourselves sprinting again, this time for the box office on the other side of the Dome. When Stacey called to book the deal, she was assured that we'd be able to get tickets in the 100 section, field level, on the day of the game. "Don't worry!" said the moron phone operator, "the Dome's been pretty empty all season!" Nor was there any other option, really. The only way to secure your seats was to go in person to the box office, and it just wasn't possible before game day.

Of course, we happened to be there for the two-game series of the Jays vs. the Montreal Expos, and for the first time that season, the Dome was nearly packed. The best we could get was up in the 500-level which, next to watching the game from the top of the tower, were the most nosebleeds-y seats we could get. Mike was also at the game and we had hoped to work out a way to sit together. No chance of that when we got down there since the 100 level was completely sold out. After a hurried conversation in the aisle while an entire section of people yelled at me to get out of the way, Stacey and I found our lofty seats, some food, and a cup of beer for me. The second half of the game was a great time, nonetheless. Expos took it 3-2. We finished the game without needing any oxygen tanks to combat the thin atmosphere.

Fighting crowds the whole way, we made it back to our hotel room and collapsed after a busy, busy day. I made a few calls, found out our plans for the evening were cancelled because a friend had previous plans, and then set out again for our restaurant.

After some deliberation and a recommendation from a co-worker, Stacey made reservations at a place called the Kit Kat 2, and it didn't disappoint. The restaurant is a suave little Italian place on John Street with a lot of friendly charm and atmosphere. We were all set to eat or pre-paid meal when I shuffled around in pocket and realized my ticket stub was gone. And, of course, they couldn't give me the deal if I didn't have the ticket stub.

After a frenzied search of my pockets, my wallet, and my shoes, practically turning my clothing inside out on the spot, just in case, I had to admit that it was gone. It must have fallen out of my pocket when I was paying for something earlier. Despite the change in plans (paying now vs. not having to pay a dime), the food was excellent and the service was even better. They were so nice about the missing stub. They still didn't give me the meal for free, but they said that if I found the stub later, I could mail it to them and they'd refund my money. What nice, nice people.

We capped off the evening with a walk down part of Queen Street West and back to King Street to check out the Canada's Walk of Fame. It was kind of neat. We went back to the hotel early to enjoy our palatial room with a view of the SkyDome and brief glimpses of fireworks along the shorefront.

We spent the next day at the Metro Toronto Zoo. As you may remember, Stacey made a donation in my name and "adopted" a Golden Lion Tamarin at the zoo. It was the first chance I got to meet the little fella. Herberto, my little monkey, appears to only have three legs, further stressing the importance of conservation money for these beautiful creatures. If you haven't been to zoo lately and love animals, please go and visit soon. The zoo needs your help. The Americas exhibit where Herberto was living is literally falling apart. Despite the disappointment of seeing the dilapidated condition of certain areas of the zoo (some of which hadn't been renovated since the mid-70's, by the looks of things), we had an excellent time, took lots of pictures, and managed to time a brief bit of rain concurrently with a stay under some shelter.

We finished up the day with a trip to Stacey's cousin's place and met his new baby. Josh and his wife Karen are awesome, and the baby's pretty cute too. While we were there, Toronto got hit with the craziest rain and hail storm I've seen in years. After our visit, we met up with Mike, his girlfriend Dolly, our friend Ryan, and his girlfriend Nancy at The Green Room, one of Toronto's swankiest little clubs. Check it out some time.

After an equally-short overnight stay at Mike's, we were back on the road back to Ottawa. And thank-our-lucky-stars, it was a lot less eventful than our last trip between the two cities.

Be sure to check back soon for Part 3: Canaba Day, Poorly-Timed Nightmares, and Lobster-Serving Biker Bars!


Post a Comment

<< Home