Tu-high, tu-right, tu-left… Tulo!

‘Too right… too left… too high… Tulo!’ This the crowd chanted as Troy Tulowitzki of the Toronto Blue Jays stepped up to the plate. Bases were loaded as the Red Sox pitcher wound up. He threw a fast ball (I think. It could have been a ‘slider’ or a ‘changeup’. It’s hard to tell from the top deck) which whizzed through the air at close to a hundred miles an hour. Tulo rotated at the hips, shoulders following as he heaved his bat.

Moments later an ever so pleasing ‘tock’ raced up to greet the ears of 47,000 Blue Jays fans. The ball arched forwards and upwards, sailing clear over the head of left outfield and clearing the fence. Anthony and Jill (Emma’s cousin and her husband) and Emma and I leapt to our feet screaming in delight. So did the rest of the stadium with the exception of Amy and Oliver who were I think still trying to work this baseball thing out. The players below jogged their victory lap and the game lurched on, the Jays once again in the lead.

Anthony explaining what just happened

The commotion died down and Anthony brought me another beer. Amy and Oliver were counting them as they kept coming. Maybe it was the beer talking, but live baseball was fantastic fun. Especially when the game mattered and the whole city had come out to show its support.

From our seats high above the field (the only ones we could get for less than a king’s ransom) the view was awesome. The field of the Toronto Skydome (aka the Rogers Stadium) was laid out right at the foot of the 457-metre-high CN Tower. It was a cultural experience, right down the to the yellow food groups on which we dined.

Perfect day for a ballgame
The CN Tower from our seats (the crowd is still arriving)
The Blue Jay
We wondered why most of the Red Sox didn’t have red socks…
Culturally appropriate yellow food – alas there were no crackerjacks
Toronto Subway all the way to the ground and back

The Jays lost in the end which disappointed me greatly. I expected a similar reaction from Anthony who surprised me by shrugging with an, ‘eh, it’s just a game’. I expected the loyalties of a city resident would be stronger than my own brand of temporary ‘blowin through’ support.

For ‘blowin through’ is what we were doing in Toronto. We always intended to visit but according to our original schedule, not until the end of the year when we hoped for a white Christmas with our Canadian relatives. The Canadian Department of Immigration and Citizenship however gave us cause to reconsider our plans.

One fine day back in Europe somewhere Emma had been researching the visa requirements for Australians visiting Canada and discovered that they had changed the entry requirements for dual citizens such as herself. The upshot of this was that when we planned to return to Canada later in the year they would not let Emma in on an Australian passport. Emma had to renew her Canadian passport or risk being stopped at the border.

I find this hilarious. Let the Aussies in no worries but don’t let in the Aussie who is also Canadian! Of course getting a passport is never a straightforward business, especially when you don’t have an address in the relevant country. With Jill and Anthony’s assistance however and documentation sent out from home Emma had soon dotted the ‘i’s and crossed the ‘t’s.

She took the paperwork in on a Thursday morning and picked up her new passport on Friday afternoon. Remarkable turnaround time – almost enough to forgive the fact that they had made rules which would have let us in and kept her out. I am now afflicted by a serious case of passport jealousy. I feel just as Canadian as Emma. I want one too!

Feeling relieved

As a result of the politics of international travel we spent five days all up in Toronto, but it was so much more fun than passports. Jill and Anthony are wonderful hosts. You can’t stay at their place without having a good time and feeling totally relaxed and at home. When they weren’t at work they were taking us out for flaming cheese on ‘the Danforth’, or hanging out with us in their cosy basement watching CNN coverage of the US presidential race, the Blue Jays or the Fantastic Mr Fox, or sitting around helping us plot a passage through the USA and the remainder of our year.

Harry the cat was such a great help
He eliminated whole parts of the country for us

Oliver and Jackson (Jill and Anthony’s son) could mostly be found up on the third floor playing the Playstation or in the back yard attempting to master the ‘rip stick’ – a skateboard like contraption, but there was also chess and ping pong on the dining room table. Emma’s Aunt and Uncle also dropped by for a long lunch and it was great to see them.

So much better to photograph than Playstation games
Note the ball boy
Strawberry shortcake

While Jill and Anthony worked we explored the Canadian big smoke, including spending exorbitant amounts of money summiting that iconic Toronto building the CN Tower. It is a big tower. For many years, and right up until sometime in the 90s, it was the tallest building in the world. The glass elevator whizzed us to the top in exactly 58 seconds. I know this because they told us multiple times. The views from the top overlooked the massive Lake Ontario and entire Toronto city area. It was summery and green and quite a contrast from the winter view I remembered from when Emma and I were last here many years ago.

View from the CN Tower

Still better than all this was the new addition to Jill and Anthony’s household. Rosco the dog. I’ve never met a more instantly lovable beastie. We’d already been discussing the possibility of getting another dog when we eventually make it home. Now it’s more a question of where can we find a breeder that makes dogs like Rosco?

Rosco and Amy at the market

So Toronto turned out to be so much more than a bureaucratically driven stopover. We had a ball and are really looking forward to returning for Christmas. A huge thanks to Jill, Anthony and Jackson for their hospitality, generosity and for showing us a great time.

Cheers! Great photo by Jackson!


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