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Family Travels: Niagara Falls + Toronto in 5 days. Part 2

On Monday I covered the first leg of our trip with a stop in Niagara Falls.  Today I want to cover my favourites and my least favourites from the second portion of our trip to Toronto.

Day one: On Monday morning we hopped in the car and drove 1.5ish hours to Toronto- it was a lovely drive and the only stressful part was the small portion of downtown Toronto that we had to navigate.   Thankfully they had a room available for us- travelling becomes a little tricky when Lucia's meds have to be refrigerated.  We stayed at the Renaissance hotel that is part of the Rogers Centre complex, where the Blue Jays play.  As a side note, some day in my life I would like to stay in a room that overlooks the diamond so you can watch from your room.  But I also want to sit front row by the Jays' dugout behind home plate some day too. #lifegoals.

Anywayyyy....shortly after arriving, Shaunacey and her little family arrived in downtown Toronto and we had our first meeting.  The kids were all kinda shy but the adults hit it off right away.  We decided to have lunch in the hotel restaurant with views of the field so we could watch them diligently water the shale.  I hadn't seen Shaunacey since our meet up in April and man, did it ever feel wonderful having her back in my life.  I could have hugged her all day.  But that's borderline creepy...

After our lunch, which was delicious, by the way, we walked over to the Ripley's Aquarium which is next door to the stadium, by the CN Tower.  We were anticipating long lines so we had purchased tickets beforehand, and thankfully we did because the lineup to get tickets was giant sized and it was a scorcher out on that pavement.  So we breezed right in, like the royalty and away we went.  It was crazy busy inside but definitely worth it.  I would do this one again just for the really cool conveyor belt that brings you through the aquarium portion with the sharks and sting rays and other creepy, slimy fish.  You are in the aquarium and don't have to walk or worry about crowds and it goes for a good 30 minutes.  That was an awesome experience.

[caption id="attachment_7828" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Yes, that's me doing a back bend for optimal selfie pose. And yes, Annabelle is rocking a crown. Royalty, I tell ya.[/caption]

After the aquarium, my kids were spent and Lucia was actually requesting a nap. So we figured some quiet time wouldn't be a bad thing and headed back to our room after saying good-bye to our new friends.  I wish we could have had more time with the big group together to see some friendships blossom, Oliver was totally loving Dan.  Must be because they bonded at lunch over cheerios.



Once the kids enjoyed the cozy hotel room for a bit (one of their highlights for a reason), Willis and I headed out on our pre-ball game adventure, while Dan and Lucia went swimming.  Our seats were right on the field, 3rd base line and we wanted to be early so that if any ball player came by, we could get autographs.  Lucia and Dan would join us when the game started.  So Willis and I enjoyed the sights and had our ballpark supper (pizza for him and hotdog for me) and then it was time to watch the Jays warm up.  Willis also made friends with the guys behind us and did some Pokétalking.  Cute how a simple game can make him drop the inhibitions and talk to anyone.  You should see how close he stuck to Brent and Shaunacey once he learned they were gamers too. Man, he could have talked to them forever.



It was a great ball game- the Jays won and we got to see Edwin do the Edwing with his homerun.  Sadly, not even one foul ball was hit in our direction and all Willis wanted was a ball from a ball game.  Lucia and Dan lasted until the 7th inning, and that's one of the benefits of staying at the hotel that is in the diamond.

Day two: The kids slept in until 10!!!!! Okay, that's only 8:00 hometime but still...man, it felt good to have a lazy morning.  Once we got ready, we met Shaunacey and Brent for a stroll in search of food.  It was really hot out so our stroll didn't last too long and we luckily we found a great burger joint- The Burger's Priest (which is on Skipthedishes, FYI and is scrumptious)  We then decided to try the CN tower as we had time to kill before batting practice.  Luckily we had great company and made it fun, but that was a long 90 minute line just to get up. And then once we were up, most of us were nauseated and scared, so we stayed up for maybe 10 minutes.  Also, we didn't want to be late for the most exciting experience ever : the Jays batting practice.

[caption id="attachment_7832" align="aligncenter" width="450"] Guess what they were doing in the long line up?[/caption]



So this next bit was by far the highlight of the trip for me.  Brent has a friend who works marketing for the Jays and was so gracious to get us in to batting practice...talk about the VIP experience.  We had special wristbands and went in with a small group of people to stand right behind the batting cage at home plate.  The turf is surprisingly soft and the Jays were just hanging out, hitting some balls and having fun.  All of the reporters were down there too...Buck Martinez, Pat Tabler, Mike Wilner, Jerry Howard...and the coaching staff was there too. I may have waved at John Gibbons and blown him a kiss.  We got to see Tulo, Martin, Saunders, Smoak, Thole & Donaldson bat.  I loved hearing the echo in the diamond after the hit.  At one point, Josh looked over at Willis and tossed him a ball. Holy cow, that kid hasn't smile that much in ages.  He also caught one of Cecciliani's foul balls and gave it to Shaunacey.  Kevin Pillar came around and did autographs (without cracking a smile or saying more than yes or no)...but Willis got his autograph on his glove.  This was one hour of pure paradise and it made my trip.  Thanks, Brent!!!!



Shaunacey and Brent were able to get seats right behind us in right field, over the Rays' bullpen so we got even more quality time with them.  The food was great, the beers were fantastic and the game was mediocre (Jays lost) but it went down as one of my favourite days in the history of time.

Day three: our last day and day we flew home.  We slept in (again) and headed to the zoo for a speed visit.  We only had 2 hours and managed to cover good ground and not melt.  I liked stretching my legs before the 3 hour flight home and also the giraffes were cute.



When I look back at this trip in years to come, I know that a few things will stick out as memorable for me and they all include the people that we spent time with.  Sometimes you don't have to spend money to have a good time (well, I guess we had to travel across the country for this trip, but you get my point).  Throw me in a botanical garden, or put me on a park bench to people watch- I'm easy to please.  I'm grateful we had a chance to spend more time with Shaunacey and her family and I look forward to seeing her again in May.  As for the kids, I'm certain that they made some great memories from the summer of 2016 and I look forward to enjoying the last couple weeks of summer with them at home.

Comments

  1. So fun!!! I need to get to Toronto, it's not even that far from me in metro Detroit!
    Jaymie

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  2. Aww! This sounds like so much fun! What a cool baseball experience!

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  3. I've been looking forward to this post all week! So happy to hear about your adventures. And knowing you and willis I can imagine that will be a life highlight for a long time. What a great experience!

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  4. Wow, this was truly an amazing vacation. So glad you got to spend time with Shaunacey and fam. Such cool baseball experiences!

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  5. What a fantastic trip! Makes me super excited for May, also that aquarium fun! And not creepy at all, I might just have to hug you guys a thousand times!

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  6. it was so so so great spending time with you and your family!! I'm so glad we got two days together and got to share our batting practice experience!!! Visit with me and mine aside, I'm so happy you guys had such a wonderful trip. Loved hanging out with your kiddos, they're seriously a blast and both so super sweet. Plus, Willis sure knows his Pokemon.

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  7. You have the prettiest (and whitest) smile!!

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  8. Wow!! What an incredible trip for your family and even better to be able to share with friends. I am not a huge ball fan, like it but didn't grow up with it, but I can feel your energy, excitement, and passion through your writing.

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  9. You managed to fit so much in! It looks like you had a lot of fun, and it's great you got to spend time with your friend too. Your kids must be so excited with the autograph and meeting the player, great memories! :)


    Away From The Blue Blog

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  10. Such fun to be a fly on the wall on your vacation. You and Shaunacey look like life-long friends. I am in awe at how seamlessly your families meshed and how smoothly the trip went. I am such a nervous Nellie that I would bobble everything. Thank you for sharing your fun.

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  11. I could have hugged her all day long, Baha ha! I totally get that. I think we are all a little creepy in our own ways. It looks like y'all had the best time ever.

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  12. Gah, this just sounds like such an awesome trip! What a great friendship, that you can spend family time together like this! And I'm sure this was a trip the kids will never forget!

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  13. I didn't realize that's where you are- that's a vineyard in all your Snaps, right?

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  14. I will not stop hugging you. Muahahah

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  15. It was super..can't wait to travel to TO with you someday!

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  16. Can't wait to see you again in May. Also- Willis was talking about Brent yesterday and some weird Pokémon.

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  17. It was really neat how we got along so well with no awkwardness

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  18. It was a little busy for my liking, but wonderful nonetheless

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  19. bahahahah..totally agree..we're all a little creepy

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  20. Sounds amazing. Love that you had one of the most amazing days of your whole life. What a great trip!

    I LOVE that picture of Willis with his glove. That. Smile.

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Have a lovely day!