iPhone pic, but not too shabby!
So usually I have to wait until I get home to update about my business trips, because they tend to be fairly nonstop. But this current trip is a bit different. Instead of spending all day in meetings with various people, this trip is all about sitting around and mostly doing nothing. The job is basically to babysit a phone which is dialed into a conference bridge, which is silent unless there's an event happening or someone has an issue and/or needs the people here to check something. We're doing a big billing system migration, so it's important stuff, but really a lot of hurry-up-and-wait. And I get to do it until probably 3am or so tonight. HOORAY.
Anyway, today I didn't have to come into the office until early evening, so I had most of the day for exploring. And I figured since I'm about as close as I'll ever get, I might as well hit the road for Niagara Falls, so I did ad got there right around 10:30am. It was still cold, but that was neat--the cold and the ever-present mist had produced a layer of ice on all the exposed above-ground surfaces, including the railings and trees. It was a nice effect. The falls themselves defy description--suffice it to say that they're definitely one of the wonders of the natural world, and I was suitably impressed. It was also a little less commercialized than I'd expected. There was indeed a tourist-trap stretch of restaurants and shops and random attractions nearby, but all set back from the immediate area of the falls. I wonder if the American side is the same. I did spot a pretty awesome cantilevered observation deck on the other side, I wouldn't mind checking that out sometime. I didn't really do anything else on the Canadian side, though. I'd considered the Journey Behind the Falls, but I gathered that the lower observation deck was closed due to ice, and the whole experience looked a bit too wet for a chilly day, so I gave it a pass. I could see me coming back someday, but I doubt that will be anytime soon!
On the drive back I ventured into downtown Toronto, and kinda wished I hadn't. The traffic in that city seems to always be horrendous. I stopped at one neat park, but otherwise it was just a hassle to fight traffic in and out. Plus my GPS directed me through a very not-nice part of town, which didn't even help because that road was bumper-to-bumper the whole way too. I expect to go back to Toronto Monday night, but I think that's a different part of town. I do hope it's a bit easier to negotiate and has parking. We'll see!
Tomorrow I have a good chunk of the day free, though exactly how much depends on how late things go tonight (and hence how long I sleep in). I'm planning to just stick around Barrie, there's a waterfront area that looks nice, and maybe a few other local parks and things to check out. It might be the last above-freezing day, so I should try to enjoy it!
So let's see, since this is my first time visiting Canada, some random thoughts.
-I got used to speed limits and everything being in kilometers. What's weird to me is the fuel efficiency metric, which is displayed as liters per 100 kilometers. In the US it's miles per gallon, which is essentially an inverse of that metric--so at home, a higher MPG is better, but here a lower value for liters per 100 km is better. Took me a minute to get my head around that. And really, I still don't know what a value of 10.5 L/100 km translates to in MPG, so it doesn't mean much to me. Let me see what the conversion factor is.. let.s see, 3.8 Liters per gallon, 1.6 kilometers per mile, so the conversion is to divide the lp100km into 235.2 to get MPG. So if my car averages 30 MPG, that's 7.8 lp100km. I can't math anymore.
-Saw a sign for Bare Oaks Naturist Park. I lol'd.
-The Canadians I've dealt with have been pretty nice so far, as expected. But they aren't as considerate on the roads as I might like!
-Did I mention it's cold here? Because it's cold here. Still lots of snow and ice hanging around in patches and drifts. I see why they call it a thaw at this time of year, it clearly takes a while! We tropical sorts don't have that problem.
-My allergies haven't been much better here, surprisingly. I figured a break from the pollen would help! My eyes have been okay, but my sinuses and nose have been bad. I think it might actually be this office--it smells kinda funny.
-Haven't had to deal with any Canadian currency yet, been using credit card for everything. No issues except for when I got gas earlier today--the pump wouldn't accept the card because they needed a signature, apparently, so I had to go inside to pay like it's 1997 all over again.
-I'm not too versed on Canada-specific thing I need to try, any suggestions? There's a poutine place near the office that I hope to try sometime. I did have a sandwich from Tim Horton's for lunch, that was pretty good. Last night I ventured to a chain called Mr. Sub for dinner, it was not so good. Anything else I need to try? Any Canadian-favorite brands of soft drink or candy or any such thing?
Um.. that's all I can think of for now. Back to "work"!