Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Vacation Stories Continued- Party Train & Toronto

(This is a continuation of my tales of my summer spent stalking U2 around Canada! See the archives for our shenanigans in Montreal!)

You may think a 6 hour train ride through middle-of-nowhere Canada doesn't exactly sound like a laugh a minute kind of trip. You'd be wrong.

The morning after the epic 2nd show in Montreal, we all drug ourselves out of bed painfully early to make the train to Toronto. We were all basically in Zombie mode at the point, totally hungover from rocking out with 80,000 other people the night before, and the night before that. All I wanted in the whole world was coffee, but all I had time to do was throw on clothes, stuff the last of my belongings into my bulging suitcase and stumble down to the lobby to meet our taxis.

I can't even remember how many of us had planned to leave for the train station together, but I think it was 7? We had called for 2 taxis, since even a van couldn't fit all of us PLUS our luggage. When we got downstairs they were there, but as four of us were loading our bags into the first van, the other driver said "I don't have enough room" and drove off. We all stood there kind of staring at each other in "WTF?" mode. Our driver said that if the other one didn't have room, he'd be glad to put some of our friends' bags in our van, but the guy was already gone. Our friends ran back into the hotel to call ANOTHER taxi, now more than a little worried about making it to the train station on time!

With another van on the way, our half of the group set off for the train station somewhere in downtown Montreal. After around ten or fifteen minutes, our driver stopped in front of... the bus station. We had to tell him that nooo, we needed the *train*. Our transportation situation was not going well so far today!

Eventually, we *ALL* made it to the train station, and the second I had checked my suitcase I set off for Tim Horton's with Jem, who being British was ready to kill if she didn't get a cup of tea, stat. Caffeine addicts unite!

On a semi-tangent, one thing I miss about Montreal is that any time you go into a business (say, stepping up to order your coffee at Timmy's) they greet you with "Bonjour, hello" or the reverse, "Hello, bonjour." Then you just pick which language to speak. It's kind of fun.

We all huddled up for a group pic before getting in line for the train:

(Why do I appear to weigh like 200 lbs in this pic? Also note Jem and I clutching our beverages of choice as if we will die without them.)

After a super long line (which was ok, we're pretty used to waiting in line by now!) we got to the train, where one of the train people (What is the train equivalent of a flight attendant?) said we could have our own car since there were a bunch of us. Sadly, some normal people made the unwise choice to join us in there. They're probably still in therapy. Sorry, normal people.

This is a slightly edited pic of our train trip. Someone decide to edit in a few friends that weren't there. Note that The Edge is pretty much in my lap, and Bono really IS in Val's lap:

We flew through the first couple of hours sharing stories from the 2 shows in Montreal, since we'd all been pretty spread out from each other. The absolute funniest moment of the trip came when I said something about Edge playing Vertigo, and RIGHT after I said "Vertigo", a random woman at the back of the car loudly answered her cell phone with "Hello? Hello?" We all laughed so hard we cried at the perfect timing.

If you have no idea why this is funny, listen to the first minute or so of Vertigo:

At some point one of the train people came through with a cart of snacks. It made me feel very Harry Potter, even though he had no chocolate frogs. Someone in our group finally decided to get a Kit-Kat, which made like three other people decide that sounded good, too. The Kit-Kats were selling like hotcakes!

When the poor train guy passed back by, someone else decided *they* wanted a Kit-Kat. Long story short, we soon had him trained to offer Kit-Kats every time he passed. And then he had none left and we were sad.

Most of us napped at some point, Ingrid asked if we were there yet every few minutes, and at some point we saw some Great Lake or another. (Ontario, probably? Who knows. There was water.)

Thankfully I was traveling with a hilarious bunch of perverts, so the trip went by way faster than you would expect 6 hours to go.

Jem was the first to be brave enough to use the restroom on the train, and came back to report about the hilarious step-by-step hand washing sign. Our favorite step was "friction".

We finally made it to Toronto, arriving at Union Station, which excited me because they used it as the film location for several scenes in Wonderfalls. (Best short-lived series ever!)

One member of our group, Drea, lives just outside of Toronto, so she became our tour guide. The train station was a short distance from our hotel, so we just set out on foot. However, a short walk under normal circumstances becomes REALLY LONG when you're all already exhausted from the previous week AND carrying lots and lots of pounds of luggage. Most of us nearly died on the way, and once we finally reached the hotel, we collapsed in a big heap of people and luggage in the lobby. Until someone told us you could see The Claw through the bar windows, which was enough to get us up and running to the bar! (Our hotel was actually PART OF Rogers Centre, where the show was, so the windows looked out onto the stadium!)

I wish I had words for my reaction when I saw the Claw through that window. I almost fell over laughing- it looked SO TINY! I knew that Toronto was going to be a MUCH smaller show than Montreal (12,000 people in the GA section instead of 40,000+) but actually seeing it almost knocked me over. This was gonna be AWESOME. (Click Here for a reminder of what the field in Montreal looked like!!)

Oh! I forgot to mention the moment of PANIC that happened on the train! As we were choo-chooing along, someone in the group got a text that the people Amy & I were supposed to share a hotel room with had car trouble and probably weren't going to make it. Suddenly, a few hours outside of Toronto, we had no roommates. And given that the hotel had jacked up the prices quite a bit for the concert (and isn't exactly cheap to begin with!) there was NO FREAKING WAY we could afford to split a room between just the two of us. Luckily there were two sets of people in our group that only each had 3 people in their rooms, so each set adopted one of us. WHEW, not homeless!

Ingrid came back from checking us in to report that we weren't by our friends as we had requested, but we did get a room upgrade! Score!

Compared to the tiny room we'd spent the last several nights in (the past 2 with it smelling strongly like wet dog) this felt like a palace!

The hotel had a super-weird layout, since it was built around the stadium. The hallways on our floor were CRAZY! Here's a little peek:

The first thing everyone did (before checking in) was go get a number for tomorrow's line. I was #128 (I think?) but I was still pretty uncertain about if I'd even get up for the line. Seeing the teeny tiny stadium had been pretty reassuring.

Kristin had arrived before everyone else since she decided to fly, so she had already scouted out the area and reported back that there was a 24 hr grocery store a couple of blocks away. After
our time in Montreal where you had to walk a mile to get food or supplies, a nearby grocery store was HEAVEN! (I seriously felt like we were the Beverly Hillbillies arriving in the big city, all of the comforts seemed unfathomable!) We hit up the grocery store for supplies, and were totally overwhelmed. You guys, this was the BEST. GROCERY STORE. EVER. They had *everything* from amazing fresh cut fruit to like 20 different kinds of hummus to the biggest jar of Nutella I've ever seen in my life:

Those are regular sized Nutellas above and the AMAZING jar below!

There was a super cute moment where Ingrid and Anji (from Netherlands and UK respectively) freaked out over the size of the 2-liter sodas. Then Ingrid got incredibly excited over Jell-o, which apparently only comes in lime back home. I was on a super limited budget, so I had to pass the ginormous Nutella (one day I will buy you!) and just pick up some necessary rehydration supplies (ie snazzy juice!). I don't think I've mentioned it, but attempting to stay hydrated was a big challenge on this trip, so I was almost always carrying around some form of beverage!

After settling in, everyone else went off to have dinner, but I was pretty broke by this point so I had one of the granola bars I'd brought, watched Family Guy to chill out, and then decided to go out and explore the city a bit.

I'd actually intended to make all of the train trip/Toronto one post, but this is already quite long, so I'll save my Toronto explorations for next time!

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