Street music in Cabbagetown (Toronto)!
My first festival day and I already have a blister!
Film screenings began Thursday evening so I spent the day getting to know downtown Toronto and wore a blister on my foot in the process. Although it was hot and humid it was uncomfortable only because I was hurrying. Now that I must dash between venue areas (the festival locations are in three general areas), it will be quicker to use the streetcars and subway. Utahns aren’t used to having convenient mass transit so this requires a planning shift. I could get used to this very easily, however!
Can I say that Toronto is great?! I haven’t seen very much yet but what I have seen is just plain cool. Oh yeah, it’s a big city, noisy and all that, but so far I’m loving it. I got to see a bit more than I planned because I took a wrong turn and ended up walking about a mile and a half when I only needed to go about a quarter mile. Trying to orient myself as far as place and compass direction, this morning I asked which direction looking at the street outside was west, left or right, and Geoffrey’s (the keeper of the Albert Pimblett where I’m staying) reply was “right, the lake is always to the right.” Now, I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m not sure about that logic, even if you could see the lake (Lake Ontario that is) which you can’t because it’s a ways away and things here are pretty dang flat with lots of city between here and there. Besides, on MY map, Lake Ontario is to the south, not the west! Anyway, that wasn’t where I took the wrong turn, it was later when, instead of following my trusty map, I headed out on my own. It was fine though, I saw several churches that I want to check out later since I didn’t take the camera this morning (I know, I know…) and want to stop in and visit with anyone there — maybe Sunday they’ll be open, d’ya think? This locking people away from worship during the week is always an interesting conflict with the professed word to come unto Christ (just my opinion).
Here is a brief explanation of my interest in churches and the people who are there. I want to find out how people associate spiritual experience with “place.” Most people usually say something like, “Oh no, there is no specific place where I feel closer to God; He is, after all, everywhere and anywhere.” When we continue conversing, however, more specific details rise to the surface where I pluck them off and file them away. For example, an Episcopalian pastor in New Hampshire told me that she could feel close to God anywhere. She went on, saying that when she is able to convince her drifting son to come to church with her she makes sure he visits the choir loft because “it is so beautiful and one always feels such a wonderful spirit there.” This is what I do in my spare time as I travel– go into different churches and speak with anyone I can there.
Back to Toronto and more on the Albert Pimblett’s Inn: I wasn’t kidding when I said it was the stereotypical mystery novel house. The look, feel and smell, with all the beasts on the walls, books and creakiness make it feel like something nasty is going to fall out of a closet at any moment! You would love this too! I am glad that there are other visitors who want to pay the high prices for the “theater deal” hotels and leave this little gem for the true believers. Geoffrey has a great cook, has a Jamie Oliver book up there along with thousands of old china teapots and miniature silver spoon collections. This could be the house from Psycho though, there is a picture on the wall of a woman that looks just like Geoffrey — Must be mom. By the way, Gerta is really Bertie. Don’t know how I missed that last night, must have been the exhaustion. I should’ve known though because of the way he/she kept sniffing me. (don’t you just love dogs?)
I’m here and the “here” where I am is straight from a mystery novel. I’ll get to that in a minute, but first, a rundown on the day’s events. This is what I would put in my journal if I were a journal writer:
Started the day at 3:38 a.m. after finally getting to bed just 3 hours and 32 minutes earlier. Made it to the airport with Tiff and Jonathan’s help with no microburst events or power outages and the flights were uneventful as well. Although I am ever the child needing to glue my nose to the scenes from the window, I did manage to meet my next seat neighbors on both the Salt Lake/Chicago and the Chicago/Toronto flights: the first was an Indian lady who immigrated about fifty years ago and is living now in Knoxville TN (next door to those beautiful Great Smoky Mts.) and the second was a tiny lady from Ethiopia whose only English was “no speak English”. Lest you think I’m being politically uncorrect as well as insensitive, that is an exact quote and so we mostly communicated with smiles, pats on the arm, nodding and wagging heads, I’m sure you can visualize it all. Delightful. I did figure out that her feet were bothering her though which, I felt, was tremendous progress.
Arrived in Toronto at 3:45 EDT, made it through Customs (yes, they did actually check my passport this time and even asked if I was going to return home to the States– hm…..), caught the bus and after circling the airport for about 45 minutes as buses seem to do wherever you are, finally got to the subway connection. I think bus drivers are an interesting lot, most must have had childhood dreams of being race car drivers. On second thought, it might be a national security strategy to so directionally confuse newly arrived travelers that when they do finally get out on their own they just end up going back the way they came! That would explain why I, being a geographer, on coming out of the subway tunnel, ended up getting on a streetcar going in the exact opposite of the direction I thought I was going! Good Grief. Why don’t these people set up some mountains so we know which way is East! Maybe Brigham was a tour guide of sorts — “this is the place.”
I finally made it to the bed and breakfast and read on the front door that I was supposed to call beforehand so that someone could be here to let me in. Uh oh. Oh well, I guess I’m not the only weakminded tourist that has come to town because Geoffrey was right here, on the spot to assign me keys and give me a tour. Yes, his name is Geoffrey and yes, he’s a Brit hailing from Lancashire. The Bed and Breakfast I found here for a very reasonable price for Toronto is Albert Pimblett’s Guesthouse and it is wonderful! There are old books everywhere, antique cameras and radios, steep narrow stairs, Potter closets and creaky wood floors. Geoffrey, it seems however, like our man Dick, is a hunter judging from the number of beasts hanging on the walls. At least we can hope that he doesn’t go around shooting his lawyer friends. Or maybe he does! I’ll probably not get close enough to him in my brief stay to ask that type of personal question!
My room is “The Agatha Christie Room” so who knows what will happen during the night! One thing is for sure — Geoffrey’s huge doberman (I didn’t know they got that big!), has been wandering around ever since I get here, her claws scratching on the wood floor. She’s definitely for real — spikes on her collar and everything. I don’t take her very seriously though because her name is Gerta and that sounds too much like either a fairy tale or an elderly German cook. Gerta reminds me of our cats because she stands right in your way then wonders why you are asking her to move. The narrow hallways and stairs don’t allow for more than one person let alone a huge dog and a person. If I’m staying here for ten days we’ll just need to work things out, she and I.
I wondered before I came why this place is priced so reasonably and was afraid that it would be in a not very attractive (at least for me!) district. As it turns out, it is in a district called “Cabbagetown.” Those of you who really know these things will be able to explain where that name comes from. My own personal reasoning for it say that perhaps it was originally the “working people” area and they lived on cabbages because they were poor. It’s not so poor now though; it is a fascinating section of town with late 1800′s gothic architecture row homes, most of which have been renovated and are absolutely lovely. I’m having trouble uploading my photos so hopefully I can sort that all out so you can see.
Although I haven’t seen a single Costco I have to give you a food update as well. I found a little Chinese take-out and the General Tso’s Chicken was fabulous! It was very hard to talk to the assortment of cooks because only one of the five spoke English. Where’s a Chinese speaker when you need him, anyway???!! The lady was able to communicate to me that she doesn’t get to eat until 10:00 at night and then only rice. This was while she was standing there watching me eat (yes, I was the only one in the place and yes, I felt pretty uncomfortable).
The Festival begins tomorrow so I will be telling you all about what I’m seeing (or not seeing and the reasons).