my trip to Toronto Part I
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the scandal involving Toronto’s Mayor, Rob Ford. I’m not blogging about him today and lord knows, New York City has had its share of politician-related disgraces, but the subject of my post is Toronto.
I had the privilege of spending a few days in Toronto for the first time a couple of weeks ago. The reason for the trip was an author event called BookBuzz. You might remember that I co-founded the BookBuzz author event with fellow authors Samantha Stroh Bailey (“Sam”) and Francine LaSala at our inaugural event in New York City in May. The Toronto event was the second in what we hope will be a long tradition of author/reader mix and mingles. At the outset, this is not a blog about Toronto BookBuzz as much as a blog about my personal experience in Toronto. If you would like specific information on the event and the participating authors, I recommend checking out the following blogs:
Let’s start at the beginning.
If you’ve ever flown into the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, you know that it is on an island and there is a ferry that takes you into Toronto. I thought that was totally cool. Sam lives in Toronto and was kind enough to save me cab fare by meeting me at the airport and giving me a ride to my hotel. During the drive, she played tour guide pointing out the different neighborhoods we passed. (I tried not to laugh when she had to call her husband repeatedly for directions. Apparently, it was the first time she had ever driven to that airport. I didn’t even know the city had more than one.) One observation I made about Toronto is that parts of it remind me of Seattle, Washington, mostly the waterfront and a building that looks just like the Space Needle!
I stayed at the Eaton Chelsea Hotel (referred to by the locals as the “Delta Chelsea” for reasons unknown to me J ). The hotel was enormous and bustling with energy but the service was very friendly. I dropped my bag in my room and headed to one of the many restaurants for lunch where I was robbed blind—$20 for a turkey sandwich, an apple and a cup of coffee! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised considering I’m a New Yorker, but sheesh! After lunch, I took a brief nap and then showered and got ready for the party. I was meeting at Sam’s house and heading over to the party at The Crest from there. Another observation about Toronto is that the traffic is off the hook. In a really bad way! What I thought would be a twenty minute cab ride took close to an hour as we sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic. The cab driver told me that Toronto had the worst traffic of any city in North America. He wasn’t kidding. And the cab smelled bad to boot. I was so excited to finally arrive at Sam’s house that I literally fell out of the cab along with my bag of books.
After a tour of Sam’s house and a small glass of quality Scotch, we called a cab and set off to the party at The Crest.
Have you ever grown super fond of a person you’ve never actually met and finally been given a chance to meet face-to-face? If so, were you nervous? Well, then you can imagine how I was feeling. I’ve been in the situation before, but each time is unique since each “virtual” relationship I make is different. I was both excited and scared to death to meet my fellow BookBuzzers in person, especially, Samantha March, Kaley Stewart and Cat Lavoie, having gotten to know them so well online. I must confess that the initial introductions were awkward for me, but after drinking my first Pink Stiletto and taking a deep breath, I realized these women were the same people I had countless conversations with on Facebook, Twitter and via email and I had nothing to fear.
The party was beyond awesome! We had a great crowd and I got to talk to enthusiastic readers, sign some books, and get to know my fellow authors better. I was even interviewed by a couple of journalists who were reporting on the event. A slide show of all of the author’s bios and book covers ran continuously and every so often, I looked up and saw my picture on the wall. It was surreal (and a little embarrassing)! At the start of the party, there was discussion of an after party but by the time the event was over, we were all zapped of energy. With a promise to meet for brunch the next day, we all retired to our respective houses/hotel rooms, although most of us were so high on adrenaline that we couldn’t fall asleep.
Stay tuned for Part Two!
Great post, Meredith!! 🙂
That traffic was HORRIBLE! (Still not over how long it took to get to the venue!!) I was so nervous (and, I must admit, a bit scared) to meet everyone but it turned into the most amazing couple of days!! I’m so glad I finally got to meet you and the other ladies!! Looking forward to Part 2 of your recap!! 🙂
Thanks Cat. Writing it was like living it all over again!
So fun Meredith! I know the feeling about meeting everyone – I was so quiet (though not totally unusual) because I was just in awe to be meeting so many awesome women 🙂
It’s very comforting to hear that I wasn’t the only nervous one 🙂
I was so nervous, too! But so happy that once we all got over our first date anxiety, we loved each other as much in person as online. Meredith, I’m laughing about my horrible sense of direction and that you kindly neglected to mention my first words when I picked you up. Driving to that airport sucked! Seeing you was worth every annoying minute, though. 🙂 I loved this post because it brought back how amazing those few days were. I miss you.
Samantha Stroh Bailey
I miss you too Sam! Thanks for being such a great hostess/tour guide.
Whee! I totally agree about the nerves. Though, I think a lot of my nerves were event based! I was in heaven being able to meet everyone. Some of you are my favourite authors! It was definitely a bizarre but awesome experience meeting people in person but it really was like we had already all met in real life. Which was good as I had invited Samantha to stay at my house the next night…haha. I couldn’t believe the traffic, either! Even our cab driver was surprised at how ridiculous it was. I had thought about doing two posts, too…now I’m wishing I had! I can’t wait to read your second part. Oh, and the Eaton Chelsea used to be called the Delta Chelsea because it used to be part of the Delta chain. Now you know! 🙂
Thank you for solving the mystery of the Delta/Eaton Chelsea for me, Kaley! I’m way too long-winded to write one post for both days so Part II will be about Friday. Glad you are looking forward to reading it!
What a great post, Meredith! I totally agree about the nerves. The whole thing for me from the event going well, to talking to everyone who came out, to meeting you all was a nerve wracking experience for me. I think I loved Day Two even more! It was so much more casual. 🙂 Can’t wait to read your thoughts on it! And see you again in person some day soon!
I agree with you about Day Two! It was so special to me and that is one of the reasons I wanted to write a separate post for it. It was so great to meet you and I hope to see you again soon face-to-face as well!