After I left Cleveland I immediately started driving towards Toronto. I had a day for travel so I was in no rush. I decided to stop in Niagara Falls for the night and see the falls in the morning. I used my hotels.com app and found a cheap place to stay. I booked it and went to check in. When I arrived the man at the front desk informed me that because I ordered the room after midnight I wasn’t due to check in until the following evening. Oops. I guess that makes sense though. I paid for a room and decided I would deal with cancelling with hotels.com the following day.
I woke up and headed over the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. I sort of remember being there as a child. At the very least I’ve seen pictures of me being there as a child. Do you know what I realized? They’re not as big as I remembered. I mean yea, they’re still pretty monstrous but I thought they were bigger. The thing about the falls themselves is they’re only good for a few minutes of entertainment. I walked over to the touristy area of Niagara and sat down at a Tim Horton’s to attempt to catch up on some of my writing. After a while I started to get hungry so I walked across the courtyard to Boston Pizza. I had heard a ton about Boston Pizza before so I had to try it. I had the tropical chicken pizza Stromboli with cactus cut potatoes. The Stromboli was excellent and the cactus cut potatoes just meant fresh potato chips. The potatoes were rather spicy but still delicious and I ate them all. I asked for the bill and handed the bar tender my debit card. He came back with a hand held machine and told me to enter my pin number. As I was looking at it, it read declined. Oh crap, did I forget to tell my bank I was going to be doing a ton of traveling. Rookie mistake. Luckily I had some cash on me and paid the bartender after apologizing. I called my bank and after a few moments got everything taken care of. Now that I was handeling issues I decided to call hotels.com and cancel my room. After a long and very painful conversation I was informed that there was nothing I could do. The room was booked and whether I stay there or not I was getting charged for it. I was planning on calling the hotel and telling them to just give the room to somebody but my phone started roaming because I was in Canada.
Once I hit the Canadian border my GPS no longer wanted to give me directions. As much as people like to joke Canada is a real country with roads and my GPS should be informed of that. At least I still had my iPhone. Siri would never let me down, she loves me, I’ve asked! Siri let me down. Apparently my phone doesn’t want to do anything in Canada except allow text messages. I kept getting a message that said if I wanted to enable my phone to do more I would be charged. No thank you, I think I can handle a few hours without my phone. Luckily Toronto wasn’t that far away so the highway signs pointed me in the right direction. My next issue: Speed Limit. Kilometers per hour. I don’t think they realize how slow driving not in miles per hour is. The speed limit on the highway was roughly 50MPH. I’m not familiar with Canadian traffic laws so I decided to obey the speed limit the best that I could. AS I approached the city of Toronto I was instantly turned off. I like cities. I like old buildings. I like old. Toronto was too new, too modern for my blood. All the building were all glass and there were a million of them. Not an attractive looking city by any means. I either didn’t see a sign for, or they didn’t have a sign for the Rogers Centre. Either way I saw it from the highway and went for an exit after I had passed. I arrived right at the heart of rush hour. Traffic was awful and I just really wanted out of this country already. Getting to Rogers Centre was pretty easy and parking was not a problem.
I didn’t plan on going to the game that night but I wasn’t comfortable being in a place where I couldn’t use my phone. Last time that happened to me I was in Afghanistan. I went to ticket sales and bought a $16 ticket for the upper deck. It started to rain so I was glad that Rogers Centre had its retractable roof closed. I found my gate and went in. To get to the 500 deck I had to walk up a huge ramp that was steep and seemed to take forever to navigate. I reached my level and walked right in to get a look at the field. I picked out a random seat and watched the Boston Red Sox take batting practice. It was well before game time so I walked around getting a feel for the park. There were two unique features that I love about this place. They have a phone charging station. I know in some parks my phone is always searching for a signal so it seems to die rather quickly. It would be awesome if more parks had this. The next thing that was so cool to me was a vending machine. However, this was no ordinary vending machine. Instead of candy or pop this machine dispensed baseball cards. I want one of these in my house.
I walked down a ramp to attempt to explore the rest of the arena. I got to the 200 level and was told that I needed to turn around and go back up to my level. The Blue Jays don’t want people who bought the cheap seats to have access to other areas. I tried getting through by explaining my trip but the usher was not having any of that. He informed me once again that I had a ticket to the 500 level and I could only be on the 500 level. After returning to the unworthy patrons who also buy cheap seats I found a guest services counter. I talked to the gentleman and told him why I would like to see other areas of the park and he gave me the same answer. The man did give me a phone number just in case I would like to schedule a tour of the park at a later date and get to see the park that way. I was getting really frustrated with the way the Jays fans get treated by the organization when I found another customer services representative. This woman told me that I could see the 100 level to go to the shop or grab food but they would probably ask me to return to my seats. Are you kidding me? I went down to the 100 level and walked around.
I stopped walking for the American National Anthem and paid my respects. I did notice that few people took of their caps or even stopped talking. That’s ok it’s not my country so I can’t complain. After the anthem they sang O’ Canada and I noticed that people were still talking and wearing hats. The only time anybody seemed to pay attention was at the end when people started singing along. I walked around for a while and stopped towards the outfield where unruly fans were heckling the players. I didn’t really expect that in Toronto but I guess everybody has their crazy fans.
I made my way back to the 500s and decided to get some food and a beer. I saw signs for Pizza Pizza and assumed it was an affiliate of Little Caesars. I remember that being Little Caesars slogan as a kid so I wanted to see for myself. It was not Little Caesars pizza. It was by far the worst ballpark pizza I’ve ever had. It was a thin slice of crust and really hard cheese. I can’t believe I just paid for this. Next stop beer line. I needed a beer after this ordeal. The beer line was insanely long. They were moving at a crazy slow pace and people were incredibly agitated. I talked to some people in the line and at least they were friendly. Reaching the front of the line I was informed that their credit card machine was down and I needed to pay in cash. Thank God they accepted my American cash because I didn’t want to show the Canadians an angry American.
I sat down in my seat and started to have some fun. The crowd was really into the game and the group around me was really fun. The two guys next to me were a couple of pot heads who spent more time looking at the girls in the crowd then watching the game. They were pretty funny. There were two gentlemen behind me who really seemed to know their baseball. I kept overhearing their conversation and they were clearly intelligent baseball fans. I heard them reference a few things in Michigan so I finally asked them where they were from. They are from Toronto but apparently go on shopping trips to the United States. I’ve heard of Canadians doing this but I didn’t realize they came from so far away. The game seemed to take forever. The only time the Red Sox showed any sign of life was in the top of the 9th and I was ready to get back to the states.
I was so glad to have accidently booked a hotel the night before. It was only an hour drive back to Niagara Falls and I didn’t have to look for a place to sleep. On the way back I was slightly confused on where to go by I accidently took all the right roads and saw found the United States. Apparently my Army training paid off. Going through customs the agent started asking me the routine questions. Come to find out me and him were deployed to the same place in Afghanistan at the same time. I thought that was pretty cool. Even cooler, I was back in the US.
Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Canada. I actually wear an I love Canada bracelet on my wrist every day. That’s a fact. I just did not have a good experience on the way to, from and at a ballpark I did not enjoy. From Niagara my next game was Boston Opening Day for the 100th year so I was pretty excited to continue my journey.
See pictures here
See pictures here
Keep On Smilin- It’s baseball season!!