Archive for August, 2011

Saint John Continued

August 29, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

Yesterday and Today have been pretty solid. Some highlights: First, I found this granola. Guess there aren’t really any questions about what it’s supposed to do for you.

Yesterday, Sunday, it was hurricane-ing. I had originally planned to go to the beach for my day off but quickly realised that was not my best option. Instead, I drove up to Fredericton, the capital of New Brunswick. It was about an hour north, but took me longer than that to drive there because of the heavy rains and winds.

When I got there, it was still pouring, so I wandered a little but it wasn’t the most enjoyable wandersperience, so I went back to Saint John. Glad I saw it at least!

I ate dinner at a place called Thandi’s where I watched Women’s Golf and where the server was very interested in me as he is obsessed with travelling and will be going to Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras for two and a half months on his own, Next Week!

I watched Confessions of A Shopaholic last night and found it increasingly stupid. But it was on. I watched The King’s Speech the night before. That was Awesome. I had never seen it before.

Today I worked for a while, and in the evening ate dinner back at Grannan’s where I got my salad even more garlicky than last time (mom, i think by the time you pick me up from the airport the smell will be gone…  at least I hope because im looking forward to a nice hug) and watched a nice performance of “So You Think You Can Dance Saint John” competition that was going on outside. I tried to capture the scene:

This was taken from my table at the restaurant but I am standing up to get a better angle. There were a lot of kids doing extremely sexy dances to what I thought were inappropriate songs for kids that age to dance to. They were very good dancers, but I was shocked when the announcer said, “… and Michaela is Ten years old and studies dance at such and such” TEN?? Damn. On the whole, it was all very entertaining.

Now I am getting ready to go to bed, preparing for my last full day of this month’s survey. Heading home on Wednesday 🙂

Love,
Anne

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Super Saint John Saturday

August 27, 2011

Ohh haaayyy Family and Friends,

Another great day in Saint John. I got up and got some “speedball” coffee from the local coffee shop. Nothing illegal, they say it just has extra caffeine. Pretty tasty. Then I went to check out the City Market. Thinking it was just a regular grocery store, I was surprised to find:

A cool farmer’s market of sorts! I spent the rest of the day working, and was able to get a lot done. By around 6:30, I had had enough, so I went back to the hotel and got ready for dinner.

For dinner, I went to a place called Grannan’s to get some seafood. I sat outside looking at the waterfront and listening to some live music … not bad. I got fish and chips and Caesar salad. When I ordered the salad, the server asked, “since we make it from scratch, what level of garlic hotness do you want?” One of the benefits of being alone is that I could say “super strong…the most garlicky you can make it!” :).

It was great. After dinner, I walked around and ended up in a funny candy store called Freak Lunchbox. They played dance music in there and have hilarious candy items. Now, I think i’m going to watch The Town. Hope everyone had a nice day.

Love,
Anne

Hello Saint John!

August 26, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

Tonight is my first night in Saint John, and today was awesome. After a fun flight where no one was sitting next to me, my bag arrived and I got my rental car with no fuss, and drove about fifteen minutes to the hotel, located on the water in the center of town. As soon as I arrived, I was hit in the face with some refreshing salty ocean breeze. This was certainly a nice change of pace from the larger, less-near-the-coast cities I had been in for the past week and a half.

I quickly made some new friends– here we are all together: 

After checking into the hotel, my mood was lifted even more when I saw that my room was big and cold, and that the bathroom was outfitted with amazing Crabtree and Evelyn shampoos and soaps, and that they have my favorite kind of shower drain!

After doing some work in the hotel, I went out on a walk to explore around Uptown Saint John. It’s small and pleasant, and the people here seem extraordinarily friendly.

Here’s a picture of what it looks like from outside the hotel:

The body of water that you see here is a harbor in the Bay of Fundy. The Bay of Fundy is very famous because it has the highest tides in the world. I knew about it from studying it in marine bio in high school. You can read all about it at http://bayoffundy.com/about/ . In the picture, the tide is low-ish.

At dinner, I sat next to a couple from the area, and we chatted about Boston sports teams, work, and family. I was surprised to hear that if they want to go skiing, they go to Vermont and Maine! Boston is approximately 7 hours away from here by car, and people from Saint John go there often, especially to watch the Patriots! Many of people I spoke to also go there to see BC football games because the Patriots are getting expensive.

Happy Friday everybody!!! Good night.

Anne

Goodbye Toronto

August 25, 2011

Hi Family and Friends,

Here’s that picture I mentioned yesterday:

Pretty cool eh? Tomorrow I leave for Saint John, New Brunswick and I’m very excited. Today I had a long working day with some highly frustrating moments, so im pretty glad it’s over. Of course, I ate well.

My favorite meal today was lunch, which I ate at a Japanese restaurant called Ginza in the Yorkville neighborhood. I had the lunch special Bento box and it included a little bit of everything. Salad with gingerey dressing, miso soup, some sushi, some tempura shrimps, a potato pancake (that was very different than the potato pancakes I am used to) and even green tea ice cream. Of course I spilled salad dressing on myself because I ate the salad with chop sticks. Fortunately, nobody was looking. Overall, the meal was Excellent and very well portioned for lunch so that I was satisfied but not stuffed afterwards.

I have to get up very early for a flight, so good night!

Love,

Anne

Wednesday in Toronto

August 24, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

Another great day in Toronto. I’m sitting now at the restaurant in the hotel eating some tomato and dill soup. It’s storming like crazy outside and there’s supposed to be a tornado! I went out earlier to a bar and for a walk, but clearly came back at the right time (when it started to pour)!

Earlier this evening at the bar, I sat next to a girl that lives in Baltimore. She is up in Toronto on business as well. She came to the US from India for college, and this surprised me because she didn’t have even the slightest accent! She said that her first language was English, even though she grew up in Calcutta and her parents are from India. Apparently, there are many families in India that speak English at home. I did not know that! We were both happy to have learned something new. She learned that there are people that do what I do. Also, she had gone to business school in Boston so that was something nice and common. Not the business school part, obviously.

I was jealous that she felt the earthquake that occurred a few days ago. She was on the 7th floor of a building, and in contact with her colleagues in Baltimore that apparently Really felt it. She said that she all of a sudden felt dizzy like she was drunk and the curtains were shaking! I think I was in a supermarket that was below ground level when it occurred. I’ve never experienced an earthquake before and have always been fascinated by them (please note I’m not asking to be in one and realize that it’s important to be careful what you wish for).  I had no idea about the earthquake until a friend from home asked if I had felt it. He hadn’t either! I’m wondering if anyone around Boston felt it? What was it like?

On my walk, I went up to the 51st floor of the Manulife Centre, where there’s a restaurant with a fantastic view. I took a picture but it’s not loading onto my email, so I may have to wait until tomorrow to post it.  I had originally gone up there to eat dinner, but they were playing some love-y music like they play in CVS, the kind that easily induces crying (at least for me) so I left because I didn’t want to feel too lonely. I’m glad I went up there for the pictures though.

During the daytime, I did lots of work, and when it was time to do some online work I did laundry. The laundry experience at this hotel was extremely pleasant. Tomorrow is my last day in Toronto! The week went by so quickly.

Love,

Anne

Toronto Continued

August 24, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope everyone is well. I’m having a great time in Toronto, continuing to use the Bixi bike system and my feet to get around, and a streetcar once. This is the first city I’ve been to this month without a rental car, and it’s fantastic to not be stressed about parking.

Speaking of parking, I didn’t mention an interesting system they have in Calgary (I haven’t checked it out yet here because there has been no need). There, if you park downtown, you pay at an electronic station. There aren’t physical meters, only signs that mark off each parking area with a number. You can pay by credit card in a nearby electronic kiosk using the number for the area and your license plate. Although you can only put in money for two hours, you can refill the “meter” from any electronic kiosk in the city. Sweet!

The past few days have been awesome. I have been working hard and eating well and definitely enjoying my time here. Today, I had sushi for lunch, and ate caprese salad for dinner on the waterfront. Here’s a picture of some of the waterfront. 

Even though it’s a big and bustling city, I haven’t been meeting as many people as I have in other cities. I’ve done a ton of observing though, but have been too tired and focused on working these past few days to get out on the town. I’m sure I’ll make it to a hopping bar at some point.

I wish this post were more exciting but I’m kind of in a zone (and I’ve yet to go to any of the Amsterdam-like coffee shops that they have here in Toronto)!

One exciting thing is that I’ve been watching The Simpsons! It’s on the Canadian comedy channel after Conan and I’ve been watching it because I’ve been having a hard time falling asleep. The TV in this hotel is very modern, unlike the TVs in the past hotels, so I’ve decided to take advantage of it. I had only seen one episode of The Simpsons before I got to Toronto and I’m enjoying the experience.

Anyway, more soon! I’m happy to have a few more days here, and also excited to be home in just over a week. Also, I wanted to say Thank you for reading this blog! I just checked out my stats (a cool feature of wordpress) and it looks like more than a handful of people are reading this! so Thanks for following.

Love,

Anne

Sleepy Sunday in Toronto

August 22, 2011

I say sleepy because I slept until noon. I didn’t go to bed until at least after 4:45. Napping doesn’t agree with me…

Hi Family and Friends,

This post will be short because it’s pretty late. I woke up today and got back on the rental bikes because I still had some time left in my 24 hour already-paid-for slot. I explored some areas I had not seen yet and then went to Chinatown for Brunch. I went to a place called Asian Legend for dim sum (the lady I met yesterday recommended it). It was great. I had broccoli and steamed Shumai. There was a screaming baby in the restaurant but it was still great! (Plus, I wasn’t trying to have a conversation with anyone). This baby was insane I can’t believe the parents took her out.

Anyway, Here is a picture of Chinatown: It’s more bustling than it looks in the picture.

After brunch I kept on exploring, and then I went shopping a little when it started to rain, and then continued to explore. I saw where the blue jays play and it looks like it’s indoors!

After that, I went back to the hotel and did lots of work.

That’s pretty much the whole day. I’m excited for work tomorrow and to see more of the city!

All the best,

Anne

Goodbye Calgary, Hello Toronto!

August 20, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

First things first: A HUGE smiley-faced Congratulations to my Great friends Alex and Suzanne because they just engaged to each other!! I really love you both, probably not as much as you love each other, but a whole lot.  Your happy news really made my day. Hoorrayayy!

Goodbye Calgary: My last day in Calgary was difficult, and busy. I worked for a long day and then went to dinner. I got frustrated with the traffic and from the moment I got to Calgary at one in the morning on Wednesday I was overtired so that didn’t help things feel so smooth. Dinner was great but then I got insulted by some guys on the street because I wouldn’t give them two dollars (I didn’t even have Canadian money with me). I don’t want to go into the details here. I would have liked to spend just one more day in Calgary in order to go to Banff, which is supposed to be Beautiful, but I figure I’ll go back sometime during Ski Season. Needless to say, I was excited to leave. Here’s a picture of the view from my hotel room in Calgary. 

Hello Toronto!: I woke up at 3:30 this morning because I had a 6am flight to Toronto. Fortunately, the flight from Calgary to Toronto was direct so I had a short overall traveling time. Now I’m back on eastern standard time. On the plane, I watched The Departed. What a cool movie. I had seen it before but forgot about it.  The flight was bumpy and scary! Probably the bumpiest/scariest plane ride I had ever had.

Arriving in Toronto, I was mentally and physically exhausted. I did not have a car rental booked which was good news because I was in no shape to drive. I fell asleep in the Taxi to the hotel.

After a two-hour, extremely necessary nap, I was ready to go explore. I decided to take the afternoon to relax and reset. I went for a long walk in order to see the city and to search of the perfect thing to eat and settled on some phở from small Vietnamese restaurant. I walked a little more and when I got tired of walking, rented a bike from the bike sharing things they have here called the Bixi system (they just opened one up in Boston, definitely worth a try) and finished exploring by bike. That was a great idea. It was at about this point when I got a happy call from Alex that made my day so much better. Toronto is a very busy, happening city.

I went into a store that had some funny things in the window (like a mini toilet plunger you can use to prop up your iPhone) and it turns out the girl at the counter went to Emerson! Of course. We chatted for a little about the food in Toronto and the multicultural-ness of the city and how that makes the food totally awesome. She gave me some great recommendations.

I walked and biked up until it was time for a late-ish dinner, so I went to a wine bar/Italian food place a little north of my hotel. I sat in the lounge and thoroughly enjoyed some fancy salad and wine. Unfortunately I dropped some olive oil on my shirt (and i don’t have any oxy-clean!!!), but fortunately, I was not wearing a fancy shirt.

I sat next to a couple that I found Extremely boring but highly amusing. They were both very very blond and wore J crewey clothing. They both got boring personal pizzas. One with pepperoni and the other with pepperoni + some vegetables. I thought they should have split a pizza and an appetizer because there were many many awesome things on the menu. They talked quietly about their pizza, the weather, their pizza again, getting suits tailored, and the wine (they both got a glass of the same thing.) and then how they should have split a pizza and an appetizer. Boooorrring. They didn’t even play any footsie.  I was hoping to be entertained by some top sider vs. canvas flip flop footsie but none occurred.

I walked back to my hotel (I forgot to say that the hotel is really nice!) after dinner in a very happy mood. It was a little rainy and windy but very pleasant and much less hot than it was during the day. Now im back at the hotel. I’m going to go get some tooth paste and soda water from the 24 hour convenient store down the block and call it a night. I’ll see about some Toronto pictures for tomorrow.

Love, Anne

Calgary Day 2

August 19, 2011

Hi Family and Friends,

Short post this evening, I’m exhausted. Here’s a picture of Calgary downtown coming in from the south.

Today was pretty uneventful. Calgary is really nice but honestly I am too busy to explore. I worked a long day and went to dinner at a place called The Keg. There, I met sat next to some men at the bar that were kind of interesting, but when they started to talk about their motorcycles and the motorcycle conventions they’ve gone to and their plans for going to more motorcycle conventions I got bored very fast.

I decided to take it easy tonight because I was up late last night and am very tired.

Hope all is well with everybody!!!

Anne

Calgary Day 1

August 18, 2011

Hi Family and Friends!

I arrived in Calgary, AB last night very late. The flight from Anchorage and then from Vancouver were uneventful, but I have to say that Air Canada planes are pretty nice. There were TV’s on the back of the seats even for just an hour-long domestic flight, and I got to watch a movie and a documentary. I got a little lost on the way to the hotel but eventually found my way.

Today, I worked a long day and then decided to try a place called Anju for dinner. I think that’s Korean for “small plate.”  Anju was totally sweet. I got lucky because there was live jazz tonight, and that only happens once or twice a month. Also, Anju has great food. It’s Korean-Inspired tapas. My favorite thing was the crispy tofu with kimchee. This place is definitely a must-go if you ever find yourself here. I tried to take a picture but it was just too dark for it to come out well. It didn’t feel that dark in the restaurant but the phone camera wasn’t having it.

While I was sitting at the bar, a girl sat next to me and we got to talking and what do you know she went to high school in New Hampshire at a school similar to the one I went to, and we have a mutual friend! The girl’s name is Britta (like the water filter) and she showed me an unbelievable night! As the night went on I noticed that she is extremely outgoing and super duper fun, but also responsible. What a cool girl I am so lucky to have met her!

We left Anju after enjoying the jazz, and took the “C” train (which is free downtown– Whhhaaaatttt!!) to another bar called West where we sat on the Rooftop bar. We got invited to sit with an oil businessman who said he is a “wolf in cheap clothing” -im not sure what that means- and two women that he had met earlier in the evening, and he bought us a bunch of drinks! We decided the night wasn’t over, so we took a cab to another bar called 4010. At 4010 we met one of the ladies’ husbands, but Britta and I decided to find fun elsewhere, in part because our new friends were getting a little too drunk on us.

Here is a picture of us having fun. Nice face on that guy in the background. (Eh?)

So we headed to another place next door called Morgan’s, which I’m told is a classic Calgary bar. They had live music that was really good, they played a lot of CCR and Tom Petty. Britta and I ended up playing pool with some guys that we met from other parts of Canada that were also on business in Calgary, and then we danced and drank and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves for a while. The atmosphere in the bar was fantastic, very chill.

It got to be about 1 am (i really partied it up tonight!!!) so although my new buddies were off to yet another bar, I decided to quit while I was ahead, so I took a cab back to the hotel and here I am now! I’m so happy to go to bed tonight having had an awesome night on the town.

By the way, Calgary is a nice city. Downtown is very clean and from my experience the people are pretty nice. Also, there’s more traffic than I’ve experienced yet on this trip. Pictures to come.

Love,

Anne