Tag Archives: Toronto

And Even More Pics

On Canada Day, I intended to visit one of the Harbor Front Festivals, but as it turned out, nearly all of Toronto had had the same idea, and me + crowds + heat = not goodz. So I decided to take the ferry to the islands — not that this did me any good: What I had not realised was that the islands are basically a small-scale (and charmingly quaint) amusement park. Instead of nature, I encountered even more crowds. But after I had bought some candy and had done some brisk walking, I eventually found some spots where the crowds had thinned (yay!). As you can see from the pictures, it was a beautiful day with a lot of sunshine and a deep blue sky, and I immensely enjoyed walking along the lakeshore.

There were seagulls …

And swan boats …

And dreamy canals …

And some kind of farm / mini-zoo thingie with loads and loads of peacocks …

And lovely views …

And even more lovely views …

Indeed, there’s even a small colony of people living on the islands in wonderfully old-fashioned houses (see the flag? It’s Canada Day!) …

But in the end, the crowds and the sunshine did get to me and I developed a monstrous headache. Stopping at one of the restaurants, drinking a bit pot of Earl Grey and eating a slice of cheesecake helped (pouring half of the tea into my lap didn’t, though). Tea and sugar always helps! (Well, quite often anyway.)

Pictures from Toronto

Here are a few more pictures I took in Toronto.

Before the G20 madness started and Downtown was closed off, I went to the Black Creek Pioneer Village, a lovely open air museum. I’m not really used to the amount of concrete that I encountered in Toronto, so visiting the museum became a rather enchanting mini-holiday.

Signs of Life

Given my lengthy absence, I’m sure that you must have thought that I had either been devoured by a grizzly bear or mauled by a racoon. I’m happy to report that neither happened. Instead my mini-me netbook caught a virus while I was still in Toronto. Though I managed to get rid of said virus, nearly all programmes suffered (aka wouldn’t work properly) and I simply couldn’t risk to go online with the mini-me again when I still needed it to show films in class (which turned out to be a bit of a challenge because the mini-me’s volume adjustment was one of the things that no longer worked …).

So what did I do these past few weeks (apart from torturing a bunch of Canadian students, that is)? Obviously, I managed to survive the G20 and all encounters with Canadian wildlife (I only ever saw a grizzly bear bum — and that was at the Toronto Zoo) and returned home safe and sound at the beginning of August (all my Canadian students survived their encounter with the German visiting professor, too!!!).

After only two days I was off to the IASPR conference in Brussels, where I found out that romance readers do indeed make better scholars. šŸ˜‰ For this was one of the best academic conferences I’ve ever attended: not only were most of the papers very good (and Pam Regis’s keynote was utterly fantastic AND funny), but a spirit of community also permeated the conference. We chatted, we bounced ideas off each other, and we went to dinner together (and the food in Belgium? oooh, yum!!!). It was intense and absolutely lovely. An Goris, Sarah Frantz and Eric Selinger did an awesome job with organising this conference!

One thing I like so much about this new generation of romance scholars is that we’re all (well, most of us, anyway) widely read in the genre. As a result, the discussions on our various subjects are very fruitful. And because most of us like reading romance and are fluent in “romance lingo”, you can get some very strong reactions from your audience when you present a paper. A nice example for this was Sarah’s paper on the history of the alpha male. You could feel several ripples going through the audience, for example when she mentioned the AAR polls and several all-time favourite books. And when she analysed one of the sex scenes in Loretta Chases “Lord of Scoundrels” (woohooo!) as an inverted bodice ripper scene (she’s ripping his shirt), well, that was one of my favourite moments at this conference. We didn’t exactly shout “woohooo!”, but I tell you, it was a near thing. šŸ™‚

Then back home I went to battle against monster dust bunnies in my flat and to catch up with grading. Now I’m busy doing some more research on Dicky Doyle for a conference paper I am to give at Yale University (v. cool, isn’t it? obviously, I’m thrilled to pieces that I’ve been invited!) next week. Doing any kind of research on Punch magazine can be very disconcerting — especially for the person sitting next to you in the library or standing next to you at the photocopying machine: you’re bound to laugh out aloud at one point or another. (Oh gosh, more laughter in academia, how very shocking!)

As you can see, my summer has been very busy. All in all, the six weeks in Toronto were a great experience. As you might remember, I had been rather worried about the 72 hours of teaching, and so it was an enormous boost to my ego to find that I didn’t have any difficulties at all with the teaching load. I also realised that since I started teaching in 2003 I have rather mellowed and am much more relaxed in the classroom now. Instead of stressing and freaking out when my students didn’t manage to read all the texts, I managed to find a way to work around this. For the very first time I also fully realised that over the past few years I’ve gained a broad enough knowledge of British history and literature (especially of Victorian lit!) to improvise. The only thing I need to do is to improve my singing … *ggg*

P.S.: For some reason or other ALL of the postcards I wrote while in Toronto apparently never made it to their destinations. They’ve all disappeared! Duh!

Things I’ve Learnt This Week

  1. It’s entirely possible to spend an indecent amount of money on chocolate and feel guilty for only about one minute.
  2. It’s equally possible to spend an indecent amount of money on cake and feel very annoyed with yourself when it turns out that the cake isn’t even very good.
  3. Having a room on the 22nd floor has serious disadvantages. Especially when the elevators are not working….
  4. Generally speaking it’s not a very good idea to walk long distances in the heat when your are wearing a skirt. (Unless your legs are so skinny that your thighs don’t touch, that is.) (Hint: I am not skinny at the moment.) (Though that might change if the elevators at the hotel are not working on a regular basis.)

Week 1: The Weekend of the G20 Summit

As you know, last weekend the G20 took place in Toronto. In Downtown Toronto. With the western end of the security fence right next to my hotel. I kid you not.

Street view of the Fence during the week before the summit

As my room faces east, I had a clear, unobstructed view of The Fence down Wellington Street:

And a clear, unobstructed view of all the cops stationed at that part of The Fence:

Thus, through Saturday afternoon and evening (when I had finally managed to get back to the hotel), a mere look out of the window told me when it was time to switch on the TV (note that by then The Fence was closed):

When they started to close off all streets facing north, like this …

… I got a bit (uh-hm) worried and started packing my rucksack, just in case the hotel had to be evacuated. I already saw myself wandering through the streets of Toronto at night, on the run from a mob of rioters. (Hey, Iā€™m an author! And authors tend to have over-active imaginations. Sometimes this can be a bit of a disadvantage …)

For me, what was most surprising about the whole weekend was how little Toronto as a whole was prepared for the violence that erupted. On Saturday one of the protest marches attracted a bunch of people whose sole intention was to wreck havock, and they trashed several shops (most of them on Queen Street) and torched four police cars (despite the presence of 19,000 cops in Downtown Toronto). When this happened the city was a in a state of shock (as well as in a state of complete lockdown; public transport in the downtown core came to a standstill), and from the news coverage you might have thought that the whole of Toronto was going up in flames.
Though numerous, protest marches in Toronto seem to be typically rather peaceful, and everybody expected the same for the G20 protests, which, I guess, was a bit naive. But then I live near a city which has seen its fair number of violent protests and in which water cannons roll down the streets whenever there is to be a protest that might get out of hand.

First Week in Toronto

My first week in Toronto offered a lot of excitment: fire (possibly) (I’m pretty sure I smelt fire when I ran down the stairs in the hotel), an earthquake (a tiny little one), a severe thunderstorm (with flooding) and riots (more about that in the next post). And here are some of the things I discovered during Week 1:

Funny little creatures frolicking across the green, green grass

Old and new side by side:

Lovely pictures on buildings:

Beautiful decorations in a street full of pretty shops:

One large market hall, stuffed to the brim with people:

A birdie bath:

A church (which, strangely enough, doesn’t smell like European churches – none of the churches in Toronto smells like a European church, not even the Catholic one!) (most disconcerting to walk into a church and to realise that it doesn’t smell right)

A very nice shopping center (these are not real birds!) (but aren’t they pretty?):

More nice houses:

REFLECTIONS!!!!! (I am quite taken with them):

More beautiful decorations (is that supposed to be a squirrel or a beaver?):

Oh, oh, look: reflections ahead!

But first: sunshiny prettiness:

And now the reflections:

Pretty houses:

Other pretty houses

Giant creepy-crawlies climbing about a house:

Gargoyles on the tower of the Town Hall:

Some TV trucks (picture taken especially for Matze):

And here’s the sight from my window:

Safe & Sound in Toronto

Robinson and I have safely arrived in Toronto. Robinson wanted to take the ship, but I told him he had such an appalling track record where sea voyages were concerned that I would never EVER go on board on a ship with him. Never mind that he knows all kinds of nifty things, like to survive on a desert island for years on end.

I mean, really, would YOU like to spend several years on a desert island, with no internet access, no Twitter, no Facebook, no Blogger, and worst of all: no amazon deliveries!

Getting through immigration at Toronto airport was surprisingly easy, and in no time at all I was in possession of a work permit. Cool!

After collecting my very large and very heavy suitcase, I took a cab into town – it felt a bit like going to an RWA conference hotel. šŸ™‚ Alas, there were no other romance writers in sight when I arrived at the hotel – too bad! Yet despite the lack of romance writers, the hotel is lovely, my room is gorgeous and very spacious (with a small kitchen, a dining area and a sitting area), and the staff is super-friendly.

Spent ages unpacking my suitcases. Realised I had forgotten all my skirts. Duh. So, skirt-shopping is the order of the day today!

After having found a place to store all my belongings, I went food shopping and nearly dropped dead when I saw the prices for food. $ 2.49 for a litre of milk!?!?!? What’s up with that?!?!?! (I consoled myself that perhaps I had ended up in a very expensive grocery store…)

Bought something that looked and felt like a very large German Broetchen, was called “European bread” and was absolutely tasteless. Ah well. The blueberries more than made up for the roll desaster!

With the food shopping done, I went out again and walked towards Queen Street. Spotted a Chapters. The sight of all the lovely, lovely books lured me inside and I ended up spending an indecent amount of money on books and magazines. But how could I resist a book called “Jane Austen’s Sewing Box”? Or “Jane Austen: An Illustrated Treasury”? Or “Old Houses of Toronto”?

Lugging several kilos of books, I walked back to the hotel, ate my tasteless roll, checked out the TV channels (hu?), before my body decided that it had had enough and now wanted sleep.

Off to bed – until the sounds of the fire alarm woke me up around 2 a.m. Via the loudspeakers we were informed that the alarm had gone off on the seventh floor and that we would be informed shortly about what was going on. I debated whether I should leave my room or not, but being on the 22nd floor and thus probably the last person who would be saved in the case of a roaring fire, I decided that I should better. Leave my room, that is. So I did and had the chance to admire big Canadian fire trucks. And fire fighters wearing their full gear.

The hotel did NOT burn down, though.

Lucky me.

Packing for Toronto, Part 5

Started packing at ten this morning.

At around noon, I realised that I had chosen a suitcase that was much too small.

Fiddled with my cabin luggage.

Realised I had too much stuff to put into cabin luggage.

*head desk* *sob*

Fast reorganisation ensued aka I dragged one of our HUUUUUUGE suitcases down from the attic.

Put everything in the small suitcase back onto the bed. Kicked small suitcase. Then started packing all over again.

Finally: packing triumph at 3 p.m. Yay!

Packing for Toronto, Part 3


It’s 11 p.m. and the piles are still sitting on the bed, the suitcase is still in the attic, and I’m still not finished packing. *sob*

(See? I told you I would be reduced to tears before the end of the day!)