28 October – 01 November 2010
Having had a really fun few days with Laura it was time to move on and Dan and Calina had kindly responded to my couch request. I spent the 28th in Starbucks sipping coffee and meandering the internet before heading over to Dan’s in the evening. I had a bottle of wine and a wine sized bottle of Canadian Belgian style beer with me which I was hoping would lead the way towards a good night. On meeting Dan I instantly took a liking to him, people who know me know that I am not always the talkative type but I found I had things in common to share with Dan and that what he had to say interested me. So over a couple of glasses of beer we got to know each other and discussed plans for the night. Greg (a friend of Dan’s) had suggested a concert in which a friend of his played in the headlining band Wildlife. I was excited, live music always gets me excited.
Occasionally while travelling I’ve come across ‘things’ that have really appealed to me and I’ve thought that if I could implement ‘that’ in my life I could perhaps be content; well live music is one of those ‘things’, however a complicated one due to all its variations.
We met up with Calina, Dan’s girlfriend before we got to the bar where we were meeting Greg. Calina right away came across as a lovely person, interested and interesting. Soon after I met Greg at the bar; Greg was really nice and friendly, instantly you notice his charisma which no doubt makes him so valuable as a guide at GAP Travel Adventures.
After a few beers we headed next door to the bar where the bands were playing. The first act was an interesting all female band which seemed to play their own style of feminist rap; I quite enjoyed them for their unique style despite them not being the easiest on the ears. Up next was a decent enough rock band which played their set before giving up the stage for the main act, Wildlife, the band we had come to see. They played a pretty awesome show and I had a really good time, you can listen to some of their songs here: http://www.myspace.com/wildlifemusic1
Dan works from home for himself doing programming and design work, so the following day I left him to his stuff and went for a walk around the neighbourhood; I visited the local castle ‘Casa Loma’ built originally as a private residence for a local business tycoon but now kept as a historic house you can walk around.
That evening I joined Dan and Calina for dinner at a local vegan restaurant, I have to admit I was somewhat apprehensive about vegan (no meat is odd enough) but as it turned out I really enjoyed the food. I’m not saying it was as tasty for me as a big eye fillet placed on a stone hot plate with perfectly matched sides, but it was certainly very appetising and made me re-think the necessity of meat in my daily food consumption.
The following day, Saturday October 30th, my only plans revolved around finding a suitable Halloween costume for the Halloween party planned for that evening. I headed out on a hunt for second hand / thrift stores in search of inspiration. Ever since Washington it would seem I’d been on a constant hunt for the perfect thrift store, originally I was half looking for warm clothes in anticipation of the Canadian winter but more than that I believe I’d simply re-aroused a fascination with bargain hunting. God that sounds awful, fascination is the wrong word surely. Anyway Toronto has its fair share of thrift stores but once inside I did realise it wasn’t necessarily the best place to find the perfect Halloween costume. My first lucky find was a traditional Asian style shirt, I thought I could go as Bruce Lee, a ninja, or something Asian ish. However by the third time I’d tried it on I was really starting to second guess myself, did it look at all ‘ninja’ like? Was it actually a female shirt? My insecurities got the best of me and I moved on. Time was passing and pressure was mounting, a good Halloween costume was essential in order to make a decent impression at this party. I’d almost given up hope and found myself ambling around the sport section of a thrift store when I chanced across an old wooden tennis racket, perfect I thought, I’ll go as a retro tennis player; Bjorn Borg, John MacEnroe and Jimmy Connors came to mind. It’s funny how if you go to a dress up party in modern sporting equipment you just look like a douche, but if its old out of date equipment then you look ‘retro’ and it can pass as a costume. To complement my racket I found a pair of white shorts and something to make crazy coloured head and wrist bands from, I was set.
Dan dressed up as a Yoga Instructor, naturally also somewhat outrageously to ensure he achieved the costumed look and not the douche bag look. Calina went as an Eighties Prom Queen with a huge ribbon she made to emphasise the point. I believe we’d all done a pretty good job with our costumes; we took some photos before we left. [As a backup to my white shorts (since Toronto was pretty cold these days, it had snowed lightly the day before) I’d bought a pair of retro track pants, the ones with a zip all the way down the leg in a crazy bright colour. The funny thing is I didn’t wear them to the Halloween party deciding to tough it out in my shorts, but I’ve been wearing them on a daily basis here in Banff!]
The party was a really fun night, all the keg beer you can drink and plenty of people in crazy costumes to interact with. I made sure I got suitably drunk and bounced around the party meeting everyone I could.
Sunday morning I woke up with a craving for a nice breakfast, Eggs Benedict I thought. There was a fantastic bagel shop across the road from Dan & Calina’s place as well as a corner store where I could get the basics and salmon. A fresh bagel lightly toasted, layered with smoked salmon, a poached egg, Benedict sauce and topped with circles of red onion and capers – delicious.
Later that day I moved on to a downtown hostel so that I could go to another Halloween party with my previous host Laura. She’d won VIP tickets to a club which gave her and ‘her group’ entry tickets, a table, a couple of drinks and snacks – awesome. Again I made use of my Retro Tennis Player costume and I headed out and onto the subway to get to the venue. Funnily we all bumped into each other at the subway stop and made our way to the bar/club together. The night was fun, plenty of costumes, lots of silly photos and I made some cool new Spanish friends!