CHEAP TRICK ROCKS THE NIAGARA FALLS EH? - MAY 2005
Ah the magnificent Niagara Falls a plush new casino and two nights of Cheap Trick! Well, you can't ask for a better holiday weekend than that, and it seems quite a few CT fans agreed with me! Three weeks after driving in the desolate prairie country of South Dakota, I was on my way for a long weekend at one of North America's most famous destinations. I just hoped I wouldn't end up being talked into taking a wet barrel ride!
So please join me as I rewind time, back to a Saturday morning in Leeds England
Saturday 28 May
I was tired when I woke up before 6am, and I had to force myself out of bed. After a heavy duty training course all week, a lay-in would have been nice! However, this was the start of a long and busy day which would see me both travel and attend (hopefully!) CT's first night of their two night stand at the Fallsview Casino at the Canadian Niagara Falls. Today's schedule was full, with several opportunities for delay or disaster, so I started out from home with fingers crossed that all went well. Oh, and in case you wonder, I couldn't take the last day (Friday) of the course off to travel as it was an exam day. Hence, a busy travelling schedule on the day of the show.
It was a bright and sunny morning in Leeds as I left home at 7.20am and caught a bus into Leeds city centre. From there I caught the airport bus to my local Leeds/Bradford Airport, getting there at 8.35am. What would normally be a quick check-in using the priority line turned out to be a long wait, as the ground handling staff only had one check-in desk open. That one was indicating "Business and Elite Card holders" but it was a free for all with three lines of people funnelling to the one counter. Eventually another agent came along, but my line continued to move slowly and I was "lucky" enough to get the group of 4 Chinese men in front of me, who spoke very little English and whilst checking-in seemed to want to know everything about KLM's entire worldwide schedule <sigh> I eventually got to the desk and took two minutes to check-in. That was after about 45 minutes in line. Great.
My flight was due to leave at 10.35am and give me a 90 minute window at Amsterdam. Plenty of time to get from gate to gate. Well, the Travel Gods were conspiring to create havoc with my stomach acid - it used to be with lost and delayed luggage, but more recently it's been flight delays and/or cancellations and today was no exception. The inbound plane from Amsterdam was late in, so a delay was on the cards. However, I boarded at the time we were due to take off, so I hoped the lost time would be no more than half an hour. We sat. And sat. And it got cloudier and breezier outside. At 11.10am the Captain told us that the ground staff had the wrong paperwork and no luggage had yet been loaded. <big sigh> Well, if we were going to be much later, I'd miss the Toronto connection, leave those people I was meeting at Toronto Airport stranded for some time, plus miss tonight's show. As you can guess, by now I was getting a bit anxious.
We finally took off 65 minutes late, with the Captain promising to make a formal complaint about the mornings events. That would be little comfort to me if I missed my connection! 50 minutes later we approached Amsterdam's Schipol Airport from the north, an unusual approach which confused a couple of the cabin staff as well as me. Anyway, we landed with 40 minutes to go before my next flight left, and luckily we had landed on a runway near the terminal rather than the new one 3 miles away (really, there is a new runway which takes 10 minutes to taxi to/from). We eventually parked on the tarmac and disembarked onto a bus to take us to the terminal. Despite being one of the first off, I had to wait 5-10 minutes until the bus was full until we got moving. We got dropped off at the D pier and I had to run to Gate E22 at the end of the E pier. Phew!
I was hot, damp, breathless and somewhat anxious as I reached the Gate with only 15 minutes to take off, as a schedule board has shown en-route showed the gate as "Closing" for the flight. Luckily there were 3-4 others ahead of me so I wasn't the only late passenger, though I was the last one on board. As I went through the ticket check, the agent smiled and said I'd been upgraded, and wrote a high number on my boarding pass stub. Well, that was a bonus, considering I didn't think I'd even make the flight! So I was happy to find my seat up in the upstairs part of the KLM 747 and settle down in the knowledge that I'd make it to Toronto even if my bag didn't. Yes, I'd had to check in my small roller-case at Leeds, so I had to sweat for the whole flight, wondering if it made the flight. Not only did it have my clothes in it but also some stuff for people I'd be seeing at the shows. Oh well, nothing I can do about it now. We actually took off 25 minutes late so I hoped that had given my case enough time to get across the airport. Bye Amsterdam, back in 4 days.
Are you tired of reading this yet? I'm tired from writing it and I haven't even left European airspace! :-)
The flight passed comfortably, and I got to watch "Meet the Fokkers" on the video. I had to be careful what I drank though as I'd be driving once I got to Toronto.
Arriving at Toronto was another potential area of delay, as I'd heard that several charter and international flights arrive in Toronto mid afternoon, so it could take 1-2 hours to get through Immigration and Customs. Well, there were queues at the immigration desks but only about 10 people deep so not too bad. As I was standing in line, I spotted a CT tour shirt at an immigration desk 3 lines across. I finally realised that the person wearing it was one of my girlfriend Pat's friends, with whom we'd be sharing the trip to Niagara. They'd all flown in from Chicago and landed a little before I had, so at least we'd all got here at roughly the same time. It took me maybe 15 minutes in line before I got processed, and I then met Pat, plus Greg and Stacey in the baggage claim hall. They'd all brought just carry-on, so were waiting for me to get my case. Some baggage was already off the Amsterdam flight, but not mine <sigh>. I waited and waited, and then the conveyor stopped. For several minutes it looked liked as if all the baggage had been unloaded, but there were still a lot of people waiting, and thankfully more cases finally started coming down. And eventually mine showed up! Phew! Though since it was probably last on, why wasn't it first off? Hmmm Anyway, we exited into the crowded arrivals hall (aren't they just the same wherever you go? Jostling crowds who are oblivious to anyone else, and it's like going through an assault course trying to get through all those people!) and went to the rental car counter.
We got the rental car I'd booked and left Toronto Airport at 5pm. We had over 3 hours to get to Niagara Falls, so hopefully we'd make it in good time. We almost managed to get lost within a mile of leaving the airport - we had the choice of (I think) 401, 407, 409, 410, 427 pick a number, any number <sigh>. Well, luckily we chose correctly and headed south. It was almost as confusing as trying to get away from Miami Airport but somewhat less manic and scary. Anyway, we were soon on QEW which goes straight down to Niagara. Traffic was slow in the south western suburbs of Toronto and we made poor progress. But eventually we broke clear of the congestion and headed on down, passing quite a few vineyards on the way. Canadian wine? Eh?
We reached Niagara Falls by 6.30pm, checked into our modest but clean motel (Diplomat Inn - all the counter staff I saw were very friendly and helpful!), I had a quick shower and then we drove the 1/2 mile to the Fallsview Casino. We headed to the theatre venue inside the casino complex, and saw a number of friends mingling as they waited for the doors to open. Now, I know I'm going to miss off names so sincere apologies in advance for those I forget to include! It's just due to my failing memory rather than any deliberate omission! But old and new friends I saw during these two shows included Adam B from New York and his wife Stacey; Grace and her sister from Buffalo; CeCe; Cara and boyfriend (it couldn't really be Donald Sutherland could it?) from NY; Allie and Dave from New Jersey; Dawn, Deanna and Tammy who'd driven from Chicago; Darren, Jocelyn, Amy and Rick from South Wales; the unique and irrepressible Jimmy (the Carolina Man); Buckwheat from Leeds' sister city in Kentucky; Lily from Phoenix; Pam the Cookie Lady from Ohio (please bring some of those wonderful cookies next time Pam!); Brad from Boston, Bill and Steve from Kentucky, Lisa J from Texas, Junko all the way from Yokohama, Roger and Mandy from London and a few others I'm sure I've forgotten to name. It was certainly a big fan-fest!
In the lobby to the theatre venue I saw Jon, the merch guy as he was setting up. He told me that the venue had a dress policy for merchandise sellers, with definitely no jeans and preferably a tux! <LOL> Are they kidding?? Well, my Levi's sadly took me out of merch duty for the shows, and I think Jon was standing on the edge, fashion-wise too!
The venue was a nice theatre with plush, maroon seats. There were about 25 rows of seating on the flat floor, with a few rows of slightly banked seating to both sides and rear. Above were 5 rows of banked balcony seating to both sides and the rear. The ceiling was high and the décor was predominantly black and deep pink. It was a classy joint indeed, which unfortunately worked against the fans as you'll read later. Before the show there was a large video screen above the stage, advertising coming events.
The band came on at 8.36pm to a warm welcome from the sellout crowd.
RN - black suit, black Fallsview Casino t-shirt
Hello There, Big Eyes, If You Want My Love, Southern Girls, Best Friend, I Want You to Want Me, I Know What I Want, Voices, Never Had a Lot to Lose, Flame, 70's Song, Surrender // Dream Police, RN bluesy solo intro to California Man, Goodnight Now
After "Big Eyes", Rick announced "Welcome to Niagara Falls in case you're not sure, we are not Howie Mandell!" (a coming attraction). He then asked "Does everybody feel like singing?" though omitted mentioning that great, great movie that the following song was from! He did however remind the crowd that "We'll be here again tomorrow" before the band went into "If You Want My Love".
After "Southern Girls", Rick joked "Here it is, 2005, and here we are out on the road again imagine that!" He mentioned some people in crowd before spotting newlyweds Adam B and Stacey in the front row centre, and Rick teased "He says they're gonna have some great sex tonight well, she won't have with him!" Poor couple, they got a few more joking comments like that over the two shows, but it was all said in good humour! And I won't quote any more of it!
"Best Friend" was introduced as "having three chords - E minor, C and A", and as usual it rocked. Whilst the majority of people who go to shows are wanting to hear the "Big 3", I think this is without doubt the highlight of the current setlist. Its a monster of a song played live, with Robin screaming his lungs out, and Rick, Tom and Bun providing a dark and intense musical background which leads up to the long, climactic jam-ending. I get lost in this song every time I hear it.
At this point I should mention that the sound was fantastic, very clear and well balanced. In addition, Larry the lighting guy had more and manouverable lights to play with and so the lighting was impressive too. Great jobs by both Larry and Bill, but of course the other crew guys (Colin, Jim, Steve and Matt) all made it happen smoothly too. To steal a phrase from some other band, if the crew doesn't roll, the Trick doesn't rock! Fine work by them all, as ever.
"I Want You to Want Me" was the usual crowd pleaser, and Robin did the "pick teardrop" on his face during the song. But it was this song that highlighted one downside of this classy casino venue - they wouldn't let people stand up. If you were on your feet for more than 3.7 seconds, one of the security/usher ladies came over and told you to sit down. So whilst the atmosphere was good, it also felt very restrained, with the crowd seated throughout the show (except for those who stood up to applaud between songs). That must have felt somewhat odd for the band too, as they play off the energy of any crowd.
After "I Want You to Want Me" Rick introduced Bun, then mentioned that Andy Babiuk (who wrote an excellent book about the Beatles gear) was here. "Hey Andy, how about a book on Cheap Trick gear" he asked, looking sidestage. "Oh a comic book?" he added, hearing some reply from Andy. "Just a pamphlet?" "a baseball card? The final verdict was "Oh, a comic book?" Rick then introduced Tom as "the inventor of the 12 string bass, which was invented in both the USA and Canada. It was first used on tour with KISS in Canada in 77 - which most of you won't remember except for a few old farts!" A few old farts in the crowd cheered. They have long memories here in Canada.
After Tom sang a rousing "I Know What I Want", someone came to stage front and handed Rick a Toronto Police patch, which prompted Rick to jokingly comment "we met these people yesterday! No we met the Customs people yesterday. They searched our bags for drugs, though said they smelled more like Burger King! They had the dogs out sniffing us yesterday too but we didn't stay in jail long did we?" He added "But we didn't need to bring anything to Canada as everything is here". Rick, ever the diplomat winning over people wherever he goes! He then mentioned someone who'd brought some Jeff Beck CD's for Bun before the show, which prompted Rick to play a few quick bars of some Jeff Beck song (sorry, I'm not that familiar to have identified it) before the band joined him in playing a different Jeff Beck riff. "Sorry Jeff" Rick noted afterwards, "we haven't played that one in awhile". He then introduced Robin for "Voices".
"After "Lot to Lose", Rick announced that there were "more guests in the audience, but we can't tell you who they are!" He then mentioned they'd be playing different songs tomorrow, before saying that they'd had a request for the next song "because its the romantic Viagra Falls!" He quickly added "My room would be romantic, except I'm in it!" He then briefly mentioned the Michael Jackson trial before returning to the song intro and saying "Would Cheap Trick let you down? Well, yes we would but not tonight". They then went into "The Flame", but no lighters in the crowd this evening... guess it was a classy crowd after all? <LOL>
After "The Flame" Rick said "How about that Robin Zander guy?" He then started introducing the next song before noticing a sudden mist of dry ice swirling onto the stage and asked "Where is that smoke coming from? Am I on fire? No, it must be from the Niagara Falls! No, it's me, I'm so hot!"
The "70's Song" saw Rick end it with the line "Alright Niagara Falls Ontario".
There was the usual big cheer when Rick came on after the encore to ask if the crowd wanted to hear more, and during "Dream Police" Robin had to run back to the mic to make his first line after Rick's piece. Finally, "Goodnight Now" saw a long Bun ending, and then four more. A cool way of closing the show. The show ended just before 10pm, and the band had certainly looked relaxed and having fun up on stage. They all performed well, and had given a really nice show.
After milling around outside the venue for awhile, some of us fans decided to go to the Hard Rock Café for a late meal or drink. I had 5 passengers squeezed into my car, and they weren't helped by heavy, slow traffic for the mile or so drive down to the busy, tourist area of Clifton Hill (now I realised why people had warned me about some of Niagara Falls being garish, tacky and touristy!) We finally parked up and met some of the others and had a large table for the dozen of us. After about 20 minutes the observant Lisa J noticed we were in the Elvis Presley alcove! I think all the Elvis memorabilia was a slight giveaway though :-) Cool to find three CT items in the Café plus a star out on the sidewalk nearby (Hollywood Blvd style). Pictures can be seen here hardrock.htm
Pat, Stacey, Greg and I got back to our motel room at 1am, and I was very happy to fall into bed after a long but good day.
Sunday 29 May
Well, after such a long day (and late night) yesterday you'd have thought I'd have slept deep and late, right? Wrong. I was awake around 5.45am, everyone else was asleep. I couldn't get back to sleep, so tried to have a quiet shower and slipped out around 6.30am to the bright but cool morning. I had decided to walk down to see the Falls which I had barely seen last night, so naturally I ended up going to the Fallsview Casino. Well, as the name suggests, it overlooks the Canadian Horseshoe Falls so it seemed a good starting point. The roads were quiet and it was a beautiful morning, and as I was walking towards the entrance to the Casino, who should I see coming out but long-time friend Lisa J! She too had woken early and decided to take a walk. So we decided to wander together. On the Falls side of the Casino we headed off along the road to the right, thinking it must allow an easy way down to the Falls, right? Wrong! We eventually had to double back, on the way viewing an extremely thin Radisson Hotel building surely it couldn't be real? See the picture and you decide!
We eventually got down to the main road alongside the Falls, and we had magnificent views of both the Canadian and American Falls, and barely another tourist in sight. The beautiful early morning light made the views even more spectacular, and at the head of the Falls the mist seemed to spot us and decided to come visit and swirl around where we were stood! Brrrrr! Both Falls were amazing to see, and I could have stayed to stare at them for hours. We ended up back at the Starbucks near the Fallsview around 8.30am and had a quick coffee sitting outside before heading back towards our respective hotels. A group of us were meeting up to do the Maid of the Mist boat ride at 10am, so we both needed to pop into our hotels quickly en route. But it was a nice surprise to have bumped into Lisa, and always good to spend time and catch up with her!
A little after 10am, about 10 of us met up at the busy entrance to the Maid of the Mist rides, paid our money and went down to the riverside. There we got given our fetching blue plastic poncho's, and we didn't have too long a wait before boarding our boat and setting off. The ride is about 30 minutes long? I'm not sure, I didn't time it, but it was certainly a wonderful experience. The view of the American Falls was wonderful, but it was the ride into the spray and turbulent water at the bottom of the Horseshoe Falls that was really amazing. Definitely recommended.
After getting back on dry land, our group eventually split up, with Greg, Stacey, Pat and I deciding to head across the Rainbow Bridge (on foot) to see the American Falls close up. By now the sky had clouded over and there were some heavy grey clouds blowing in. We paid our 50c to leave Canada and walked the few hundreds yards to the USA, getting more great views of both Falls as we went. As American citizens, the other three were quickly allowed over the border. Me, I was given my longest and most detailed question session ever, lasting some 15 minutes. Why do I visit the US so often, how can I afford it, who do I work for, what is my occupation, what's the longest I stayed in the US last year, show me your airline ticket, show me your hotel key, why are you wanting to enter America The Immigration Official finally and grudgingly allowed me in, but charged me $6 for the privilege. Hmmm, maybe I'm no longer becoming welcome in the United States?
Anyway, we first popped into the Hard Rock Café on the American side, had a drink, looked for CT stuff (none) and shopped. Whilst in there, the threatened rain started coming down, harder and harder until it was a full thunderstorm. Great, we only had our thin blue poncho's for protection! Well, it eventually died down a bit so we walked over to the head of the American Falls, but it started raining heavily again. The other three took shelter in the tourism building, I decided to get wetter and go take a look at the Falls, who knows when I'll come here again? As with the head of the Horseshoe Falls, it's breathtaking to stand a few feet away and watch the sheer volume and power of the water as it flows over the edge and drops. It was definitely worth getting wetter to get this closer view.
When the rain eased off, we set off back across the Rainbow Bridge again, and Canada was happy to welcome us back. Well, it had only been about an hour and a half or so, I don't think it had actually noticed that we'd gone. We walked back up Clifton Hill, and again it started raining heavily by now it was getting old! After a brief shelter in some shops, we set off walking back the mile to our hotel in the rain, as it showed no sign of letting up. By the time we got back, we all had wet shoes which needed drying on the AC unit or using a hairdryer. And within 5 minutes of getting back to the room, it stopped raining and the sun started to shine. <sigh> Well, at least we'd managed to time our walking in the last 2 hours so that we caught the heaviest of the rain!
We headed back to the Fallsview around 4pm, and my shoes and the bottom 12 inches of my jeans were only still slightly damp! I gather the band had soundchecked yesterday, but today it was the crew who did that.
The venue was mostly full by the time the band were due on at 8.30pm, with most of the hardcore fans having been able to get closer tickets tonight than they had for last night. There were some gaps up in the balcony by the time the band came on at 8.36pm.
RN - black Joe Perry t-shirt, peppermint green Versace
jacket, black pants, wide checkerboard belt
Drone intro to On Top of the World, He's a Whore, I Can't Take It, Taxman Mr Thief, Pop Drone, I Want You to Want Me, High Roller, Tonight Its You, Fan Club, California Man, Flame, 70's Song, Surrender ?? Dream Police, Goodnight Now
Right away it was evident that the venue staff were enforcing the "no-standing" rule, so no sooner had we stood up to welcome the band on stage than we had to sit down again. Hmmm, it doesn't feel very rock'nroll to be sitting through the show. Anyway, the sound was again excellent as the band launched into the opener "On Top of the World", and then into "He's a Whore".
After "I Can't Take It" Rick reminded the crowd that "Just in case you're not sure we are the same band who were here last night!" He played a bar of "Gonna Raise Hell" on his GRH guitar, then explained "that guitar makes me do that every time". As ever, "Taxman" sounded fantastic, and was one of the two highlights of the set for me.
After "I Want You to Want Me" Rick mentioned places where people were from, then pointed out his "Mom and Dad" in about the 6th row in the centre. They were in fact an older, African American couple, but they smiled at being pointed out! Rick then mentioned a woman who had been here last night (I didn't get the name) and said "we failed Canadian Idol!" He also said that the she "Abdul-ed me!" He then started picking on a high roller sitting in the centre of the front row, pointing out the mans D&G designer leather jacket and mentioning that he (Rick) was wearing Dolce and Gabbana shades! He then intimated that the guy had got his jacket at a pawn shop, adding "pawn shops in Canada are great where do you think we got all of our instruments?" and held up his guitar! The next song was introduced as having been written for the Fallsview Casino, with the band going into "High Roller".
At the end of that song Rick passed his guitar to Allie in the front row, which was nice of him and a thrill for her! He then announced "So far, only one song from last night, but guess what?" At that point he spotted D&G man on the cellphone, and said "Who is he talking to now? If you want an escort service, you only have to ask outside!" Not sure if the man used his cellphone again during the show after that!
After "Tonight Its You", Rick stated that it was a pleasure to be in Canada again. At this point someone suddenly appeared at front stage to show of the CT logo tattoo on his arm. "What do you want me to do" asked Rick, "kiss it?" As the man went back to his seat, Rick got the spotlight to be put on the man and noted "You'll be seeing him on America's Least Wanted soon!" He then mentioned the "From Tokyo to You" DVD by way of introducing the next song, except we could then hear Robin's guitar was not quite tuned. "Our guys have a lot of trouble getting over the border" joked Rick by way of explanation. He then asked Robin if he'd played golf that day and invited Robin to come and say something, which the singer declined. "Well" asked Rick to pass the time, "Are there any ladies who'd like to do some night putting with Robin?" Robin's guitar was still out of tune, which prompted a "Tuning fork" chant from a small group in the crowd. Actually, I can't remember the last time I've seen a tuning delay for either Tom or Robin's guitars. I think Robin actually switched to another guitar for the next song.
The band started up "Fan Club", and this was my other highlight of the evening. It sounded wonderful and I think its a very powerful song, particularly when played live. Especially cool was hearing Rick and Robin trading "thank you's" towards the end. Wonderful stuff, and for me, worth the ticket price alone. In the short break afterwards, Rick started up the guitar solo from "Fan Club" before going into a different riff and ending up with the intro to "California Man".
At this point I went and stood sidestage so didn't properly hear any more of Rick's chat from the stage, but I gather he again ragged on D&G man in front. During the early part of "Dream Police" Tom showed off his baby blue coloured bass to Rick, and "Goodnight Now" saw two extra endings before the show was over (at 9.56pm).
I went back to the front of the stage to join friends there, and took a quick look at one of the setlists that was still on the stage. "Auf Wiedersehen" and "Ain't that a Shame" were on there, so had unfortunately been dropped during the show. That was a particular shame as "Aufie" was apparently dropped for last nights show too.
Anyway, a large group of fans (25-30) milled about in the theatre lobby, and eventually the Cookie Lady managed to organise us into a group photo at which point several other camera's appeared and were passed out to the unlucky person/people taking the shots! About a dozen of us finally went into a nearby Chinese bar/restaurant to have a late drink, and Jimmy (the Carolina Man) came and found us a little later to announce he'd won several hundred Canadian dollars on Keno! He kindly bought a round of drinks, which at restaurant prices made quite a dent in his winnings, but Thanks Jimmy! Outside we could see a part of the Horseshoe Falls and cool how the floodlighting changed colour every so often, from purple to blue to other colours. And then at midnight they went off. Or they stopped the Falls. I dunno, we just couldn't see anything from midnight. Maybe they turn the water off at that time to conserve it? :-) We left about half an hour later and it was good to fall asleep soon after (in bed, not behind the wheel!)
Monday 30 May
I was again awake early but this time dozed off again so no early morning wandering. We checked out of the motel and had breakfast nearby with Lisa J before she had to get driving to catch her flights home to Texas. We drove down to the Falls so that Greg, Stacey and Pat could take a good look from the top. It was mid morning so quite a lot of tourists around, and the morning was bright and warm. We did the "Behind the Falls" tour too, which was cool, particularly the exposed viewing area below. This time we had yellow poncho's, but they had to work hard (and failed!) to keep us dry when standing in that spray.
After drying off we left Niagara Falls and drove back up to Toronto. Greg, Stacey and Pat's flight back to Chicago wasn't until early evening so we had a chance to have a little wander downtown and have a mid afternoon pub lunch/drink outside a Firkin bar near Church Street. It was very pleasant. I got them to the airport for 5pm to check in and clear US Customs, whilst I got snarled up in heavy rush-hour traffic driving the 3-4 miles to the hotel I'd booked for tonight on Islington St. After checking in and taking a quick shower, I drove back downtown, parking at the Eaton Centre. Had a little look there before popping over to the downtown Hard Rock Café, but no CT items on display. I then drove to the Skydome (now called the Rogers Centre). By now the sun was setting and the massive CN Tower close by was glowing in the sunset. I went into the Hard Rock Café in the Skydome, and cool to see two CT items on display in the entry walkway - a drumhead signed "To Jon" by all, plus a signed "Standing on the Edge" promo picture from 1985 (with Jon Brant). I had a look inside and there was a great view of the ballpark, though there was sadly no game tonight. Still, it was a cool Café and nicer than the downtown one I thought. Oh, and I bought some stuff from the friendly Sarah, who I think was happy to have a customer to talk to! I think it's quiet on evenings when there isn't a ballgame on! Back to the hotel, and spent some time repacking I really should have brought a bigger suitcase!
Tuesday 31 May - Wednesday 1 June
Travel day again, though I had most of the day free as my flight wasn't until 6pm. I left the hotel around 9.30am in order to miss the morning rush hour, and went downtown. After a little shopping at the Harley dealership on Front St, I went and parked a mile along the road at a parking lot that was convenient for both the Skydome and CN Tower. I took the 11am Skydome tour, which was pretty cool. The Blue Jays weren't in town, but the field lighting was still on as work was being done to the field. The hour long tour was fun and interesting. I then went and bought a ticket for the CN Tower, just to do the observation deck. There was a bit of a line inside for the elevators, but I was only waiting for 10 minutes or so. At this point I should mention that I'm not keen on heights. I don't have a phobia, but I'm not keen, As long as I feel safe I'm OK, and I've been up structures like the Eiffel Tower and Space Needle, plus I seem to spend way too long in metal tubes at 35,000 ft! Anyway, the elevator came along, people got in, and I was the last person on. Hmmm, the elevator is on the outside of the structure, and has a glass door. And I'm standing right beside it. Not a great combination! Anyway, I managed the 50 second, 1100 ft ride OK though I made sure not to look down! Once up on the deck I enjoyed the panoramic view of the Toronto area. It was a bright and fairly clear day, so good views all around. But I did not like the section of glass floor. I was such a coward standing to the edge whilst children happily walked across and other adults stood and showed off to their friends. I finally took a deep breath and stepped onto the glass for about 3 seconds! And no, I didn't look down! If I had I'd have wished I was wearing brown trousers! But I got through it!
After taking the elevator down again, I popped into the Hard Rock in the Skydome err, Rogers Centre, to have a quick lunch. It was more convenient than walking and finding somewhere downtown, and I got a table overlooking the ballpark. Would love to come back one day and actually watch a game from here!
Mid afternoon I drove back out to Pearson Airport, handed in the rental car, managed to get a small Canadian shopping tax refund (hey, C$30 will be useful for next time I'm sure), and checked in for my flight to Amsterdam. KLM's check in was a bit disorganised as they oddly didn't have a separate line for Business/Elite passengers. Anyway, I got checked into my economy seat, through security and spent some time in the KLM lounge. Back at the gate it was a bonus to get called up shortly before boarding, to get another upgrade - boy I could get used to travelling this way, if only I could afford it!
The overnight flight was under 7 hours long, which, with having dinner and later woken up for breakfast only left about 3 hours or so to sleep. I normally find it hard to sleep, but I actually did doze quite heavily I think for most of that time I guess the 4 beers I had in the lounge might have contributed to that. We landed at sunny Amsterdam just before 7am local time, and I killed a good couple of hours in another lounge before getting my short flight back to Leeds/Bradford. Landed there at 9.40am, and it was a familiar welcome home since it was cool and raining. Well, it is summer in England Got my small case OK, caught a bus into Leeds and spent 4 hours in the office before getting a bus home to unpack and sleep.
And so ended my trip. Funny, it had felt like I'd been away ages, but I'd only been away from Leeds for 4 days. However, it had been a very busy, intense but fun 4 days. I got to see 2 nice shows, met up with a lot of good friends, saw a spectacular natural wonder, and spent a little time in the cool city of Toronto. I couldn't have asked for a better weekend than that!
As always there are thanks to give. First of all, to Pat, Stacey and Greg for their company for most of the trip, it was fun! To all the great people I met at the shows, it was a pleasure to see you as always :-) Thanks for Cheap Trick for two great shows and for putting up with seeing me again! To Carla, as ever. And to Jon and the crew guys, good to see you all again!
Kim Gisborne, Leeds, England. 4th June 2005
This Site and all material held within it are Copyright by Kim Gisborne