Tourist

Christmas in NYC (Or, Kevin Lost in New York!)

I’m currently writing from the stunning Ace Hotel in midtown Manhattan. We are enjoying an upgraded hotel room with a view of the Empire State Building. Did Megan and I recently come into a large sum of money? Good question. Actually no. Credit card miles have covered the whole trip. And as a bonus, we originally booked a small room with no view and (hopefully) a toilet. To our wonderful surprise, the first room’s heater was stuck on high-heat, full blast, so the manager offered us a king size room on a higher floor with a better view. I like this place.

Also, a Stumptown cafe is located in the building (one of two in NYC), which is a wonderful surprise. In case you’re unaware, Stumptown is a Pacific Northwest coffee, so it’s great to have a taste of home on Christmas, even so far away.

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As a child, I watched Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, and I’ve been dreaming of Christmas in the Big Apple ever since. Walking through snowy Central Park, eating a cheese pizza in a limousine, throwing a well-intentioned brick through the window of Duncan’s Toy Shop.

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Okay, so maybe it’s not really snowing. And I won’t be getting into a limousine anytime soon. And Duncan’s Toy Shop doesn’t really exist.

But here’s what does exist.

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Weekend (Ultimate) Warriors: Toronto, Canada

Oh my sweet. I sure do love Canada. You know, for a neighboring country to the north, we sure lucked out. They could’ve been jerks. Maybe they would’ve thought maple syrup was dumb; maybe they would’ve specialized primarily in stick figures. I don’t know, I’m spitballing. Luckily, Canadians are incredible.

Megan and I have a rich history with Canada. We honeymooned in Vancouver and White Rock, and we find the memories fond. The vibrant and varying terrain. The food. The traffic ticket mailed to us three weeks later. Well, that wasn’t so great. But that’s another story for another time.

SIDE NOTE: We still don’t know who was driving during the red light ticket. But let’s just say it wasn’t me.

After we moved to Rochester, I looked up a map of the Upstate area and discovered we lived right underneath Toronto, opposite Lake Ontario. Pretty neat. We initially didn’t have time nor the funds to visit. Thankfully, we finally made the time, if only 36 hours.

So, without further adieu, here’s the next edition of Weekend (Ultimate) Warriors: Toronto.

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Without traffic, Toronto is about 2.5 hours from Rochester. After passing through Niagara Falls, we headed onto a highway called “Queen Elizabeth Way,” which is about as Canadian a highway name as I could’ve hoped for.

While driving on the Queen E, after shutting off our cell phone data, we remembered our Garmin GPS is a hyper-patriotic robot who refuses to work outside the States. Further, we forgot to withdraw cash, and we were also without tourist maps and city books. After I suffered a thirty-second mini-freakout in my head, chest, and elbows, I discovered the predicament quite refreshing! Unlike New York City, Cleveland, Ithaca, and anywhere in Rochester (where we use Yelp and mobile apps to tell us how to breathe), Megan and I had to rely on our flesh-harddrives (our brains) and our good ol’ fashioned sense of direction to get us around town. Thankfully, Toronto is one of the best laid-out metropolitan cities I’ve ever explored. (more…)