The Perfect Whirlwind

It wasn’t supposed to be a whirlwind. It really wasn’t. It was supposed to be a leisurely road trip between Halifax and Toronto that allowed us to visit some other places, like Quebec City for a couple of days on the way there and perhaps the 1000 Island area of Kingston on the way back. The plan originally was to detour a lot to allow us to visit some Ontario friends in the Peterborough and the Lake Simcoe areas. We were also planning to visit some close family and perhaps some extended family while on route.

Then we went online to try to book hotels. With little or no availability, the prices were through the roof. Who can afford to spend literally hundreds of dollars a single night in a hotel room that may have cost two hundred or less a couple of years ago? Really, who can afford that? Certainly not us. At this point, between the cost of gas and the cost of accommodations, it looked like we may never visit Ontario again. It had been a couple of years since we saw number-two son and his lovely wife and two grandchildren, and ten months since we had seen JT.

After telling our sons that we probably wouldn’t see them this fall, I decided to check out SWOOP, our favourite discount airline to see what they had to offer. Everything looked pretty cheap. Cheaper than I had ever seen their prices before. I went through the process thinking that all the add-ons and taxes would bring the price up to what I thought it should be. Holy crap… they didn’t.

We could fly out of Halifax on Saturday morning, the weekend after Canadian Thanksgiving, at 9:00 AM and arrive in Toronto at 11:45 AM. Then depart Toronto on Monday at 6:00 PM and arrive home in Halifax at 9:15 PM. And we could do it cheaper than we have ever done it before. AND, and this is a BIG AND, we didn’t have to get to the airport at some ungodly hour in the morning. People who are not morning people, will be able to relate to this BIG AND.

A very condensed version of our trip was back on. 

We packed light, arrived on time and walked directly out of Terminal 3 to see JT in his car there to pick us up. Right outside the door. How’s that for timing. JT was our chauffeur for the weekend. From the Airport we headed north for a couple of hours before arriving in Huntsville, a beautiful and favourite Ontario spot, which is home to number-two son and his lovely wife and two grandchildren.

Family time, a post-Thanksgiving turkey dinner, blueberry pie more family time then accommodations at Hidden Valley. A little resort not far from their home, where number-two son procured us a room at his corporate rate. We were very lucky to get that room. The fall colours in Northern Ontario are fabulous. They take your breath away and attract tourists from all over the world. Sorry I was so busy enjoying the colours that I didn’t take any photos. You will just have to take my word for it.

Sunday morning, we returned to the home of number-two son and his lovely wife and two grandchildren for pancake brunch, including fruit salad, bacon and sausage and loads more family time. It was so wonderful to be there with them all.

Early that afternoon, we headed back down highway 400 to Toronto where we checked out JT’s basement apartment in the Parkdale area. It is big, but is shared with two other guys so there is no room for parents to sleep.

For this night, we booked an Airbnb, which we checked into at 4:00. What can I say about this place. Let’s see, it was clean and quiet so I guess that was a plus. It looked like it would have made a great student apartment. It was equipped like one. However, the bed clothes were there but the bed wasn’t made. And there were no facecloths. If I pay over $200 for a room, I expect facecloths and a made bed! Also, there was no bed table or bedside light. The overhead light switches were across the room from the uncomfortable Ikea-style bed. The accommodation was in the basement level of the house so when the lights were out, it was pitch black. I did mention earlier something to the effect that the pickings were slim.

Here are the questions that were going through my mind at the time:

How did they expect us to make it back to the bed in the pitch dark after turning off these lights?

How do they expect older people with worn bladders to see in order to make it to the bathroom a few times a night?

Where do we put our glasses? Eye glasses not wine glasses.

Where can we put our phones because we will need to use them to light our pee trips?

Don’t they realize that many people like to read in bed at night?

What is wrong with these people?

OK enough said, you can tell that I wasn’t feeling warm and fuzzy about my very first Airbnb experience. But that’s ok, we had better things to do than hang out there. By the way, we left the bathroom light on with the door closed providing a crack of light to assist on those pee trips.

Our time with JT, often revolves around food, and this trip was no different. For dinner we went to Ramen Raijin on Wellesley Street West, not far from Yonge Street. This was our first ramen experience. JT has been wanting us to try it for ages, so try it we did. Except no chopsticks for me. I am challenged enough with a spoon and fork. I needed both to eat the ramen because it has plenty of broth and noodles. Not to mention meat, bean sprouts and a soft boiled egg. I looked like a tourist, but what the heck.

Monday morning, we left our above-ranted-about accommodations by 9:00 AM and headed out for breakfast. JT’s choice was Easy Restaurant on Queen Street West. It offered Mexican-inspired fare and was decorated with old movie posters and LP albums. The restaurant has been in the Parkdale area for 20 years. Mexican-inspired breakfast…. yes please! All served with home fries and a salad. It was delicious and filling.

JT’s new home is close, as in walking distance, to Lake Ontario. This part of the lakeshore is park like, with bike and jogging trails, and a boardwalk. It is close to the CNE grounds and you can walk and wonder onto the island. JT often walks for hours in his new hood. Either by the lake or to take in all the interesting shops, restaurants and bars in the area. I can see the appeal of living here. In my Toronto days, quite a few years ago now, I loved to explore various neighbourhoods on foot.

Once our exploring was done, it was time for more food because, like I said, we bond over food. This time we were having Tibetan dumplings from a place not far from JT’s new apartment. We ordered thirty, ten of each, beef, pork and potato; and we ate them all. I actually stopped at six so you can guess where the rest of them went. If I had to choose between ramen and dumplings, I will take the dumplings. They were delicious and I loved them. I will try both again, but dumplings could end up being something I crave in the future.

Finally it was off to the airport to catch our flight home. Personally, I was looking forward to sleeping in my own bed.

It may have been a bit of a whirlwind but it was easy and relaxing and perfect. Actually, it was just what we needed.

Thank you for reading.

Photos:  Jenn Stone & JT

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14 thoughts on “The Perfect Whirlwind

  1. That is a whirlwind of a tour, but sounds like it was so worth it! That B&B had me scratching my head as well, what were they thinking? I loved wandering through Toronto’s neighbourhood when we lived there, they are like villages and small towns stringed together. Maybe next time you can find an excuse to come 2.5 hours west to Sarnia.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That sounds great. Any vacay that revolves around good food is alright by me. I hear you about expensive hotels. I just want to sleep and shower, not invest in real estate. It’s why we love our timeshare, every condo is fully outfitted and comfortable . We did VRBO a few times and were disappointed with all of them. Glad you were able to enjoy some family time.
    👍

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never tried an Air BnB either – when I do, I hope it’s better than that one. The lights situation and lack of bedside table are ridiculous!

    The potato dumplings sound nice – I don’t eat meat so couldn’t have the others. Not heard of Ramen before…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not sure I will do Airbnb again. I am very particular about beds. Comfort is important as well as as proper lighting and facecloths.
      Ramen is a Japanese noodle dish. You can get vegetarian versions if you’re interested.

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      1. I always take my own facecloth but I’m extremely particular about beds as I can’t sleep on hard beds – they give me backache. If a bed is hard, I sleep on top of the doubled quilt/duvet and bring my own blanket (I tend to carry a blanket in each car)

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I love your summary sentence: “It may have been a bit of a whirlwind but it was easy and relaxing and perfect.” I get that and am glad you got to visit your kids. That being said, wt[absolute]f about your AirBnB? Sounds like they need to up their game, at the least. 🤨

    Liked by 1 person

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