Wednesday, July 9, 2008

5 days in Ontario

After my little border situation I spent 4 1/2 days in Toronto, or more precisely on a former farm about 100km west of Toronto. Even though I had really planned to spend some quality time relaxing and just chilling the productive part of my mind quickly took control so I actually got quite a number of things done. Nevertheless I still managed to at least spend most of my Thursday just sitting in the sun, alternating between reading, internet surfing and sleeping. I also accompanied A.H.'s mother on a tour through the sprawling city of Fergus to get somewhat of an impression of life in the area.

proof that we're in the heart of Mennonite country

On Friday A.H. and I officially decided to go for a productive day so we went to the University of Waterloo where we had access to the facilities and especially the internet. I got quite a bit of work done, especially in terms of catching up with my e-mail. It's really quite insane how many messages start piling up these days when I'm not online for 48h.

pretending to work on my XO in the summer sun

On Saturday we drove to Toronto where we spent most the day walking through the city. I had really had no idea just how big (>2 million inhabitants) and interesting the city was. Even though the weather would have been perfect and probably offered a great view across Lake Ontario we decided not skip going up the CN Tower since the queue was simply too long. Instead we explored Chinatown and Queen Street. I certainly didn't know that Toronto's Chinatown was that huge, for some reason I only think of New York and San Francisco when I hear the term "Chinatown". Of course having been to both China and Taiwan the place didn't impress me as much compared to the first time when I set foot in New York's Chinatown back in 2000. However the street signs, the people, the shops all brought back vivid memories to previous days spent in Asia.

When it comes to the above mentioned Queen Street I have to say that it's not often that you come across an area that embodies the concept of 'hip' as well as that street does. Don't get me wrong, places such as Soho and Greenwich Village in New York obviously ooze hip every step of the way, however I would argue there the hipness is already too institutionalized. Queen Street on the other hand is still full of the tiny niche stores that really make an area exciting.

We spent most of our day walking along that street and I certainly enjoyed every minute of it. Especially Queen Street East between Leslie Street and Broadview Avenue was amazing since it had a very different vibe going than Queen Street West. The east side is full of (wannabe) posh and a few really cool restaurants and bars while the west side is really more about galleries and shops offering everything from clothes to vinyl. Again, the west side seemed so lively and experimental whereas the east side was certainly nice but already on the border of being too hip. Overall I was certainly impressed by Toronto and I have to say that I really liked the city!

Sunday was mostly spent being productive, again with catching up on e-mails that had piled up on Saturday and also on arranging some things when it comes to documentation for the upcoming OLPC G1G1 2008. In the evening we spontaneously decided to watch Wall-E in the cinema. I hope to have a more detailed review up soon but let me tell you that I really liked the movie quite a lot.

Monday morning went by quickly as I had to do some re-packing in order to meet WestJet's carry-on and checked baggage requirements but ultimately I got done with time to spare. One thing I noticed in the hours leading up to my jolly-arrival in Vancouver is that I'm still very much thrilled about traveling. I certainly consider this excitement a good sign and there's few things in live that make me as happy as knowing that I'm back on-the-road and on my way to explore more previously undiscovered places.

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