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Welcome to Ali's blog. A blog that has absolutely nothing to do with juggling monkeys. It doesn't really have anything to do with much, just me rambling on about random things.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Holidays are here again. I'm blogging from my parent's house in America where Matt and I are staying at the moment, if I can find a camera lead I'll try popping some photos up too, but at the moment there's no one around to ask, so I'll just do a text diary of what we've been up to. I apologise in advance, that it's quite detailed and probably boring.

Thursday 5th March
Made a futile attempt to check in online, knowing that it didn't let me last time as we're travelling on my Dad's points. Matt booked a taxi for 2:15 AM. I tried and failed to get some sleep in the afternoon as I knew I wouldn't at night, instead panicked about whether we had everything we needed, checked passports and tickets approximately 497 times. Played a few LAN games of Dawn of War while waiting until it was time to get the taxi to the airport.

Friday 6th March
2:10am - Stood outside waiting for the taxi, paranoid that it wouldn't arrive.
2:15am - Taxi didn't arrive!
2:17am - Phoned them, heard a noise further up the road, I went to investigate while Matt was ringing the taxi company.
2:18am - I found taxi, lost, trying to find us, waved it down to where Matt was waiting with the bags.
2:19am - Got in taxi
2:30am - Arrived at the bus station. To find police parked in bus stop, arresting someone.
2:40am - Boarded coach
2:50am - Coach tried to leave, missing 2 passengers. Man who had been sat on the bench next to the coach for last 5 mins suddenly chased us down, banging on the side. It was his coach, he hadn't realised.
3:00am - Stopped at Leicester Forest East service station to change coach drivers, but no sign of new driver.
3:05am - New driver turned up. He'd parked on the other side of the motorway and had to walk over the bridge.
5:15am - Arrived at Heathrow after a fairly uneventful journey, during which I managed to get about 45 minutes sleep.
5:30am - Arrived after a short walk and toilet stop at Terminal 3. Wandered around where it said Air Canada, finding only bag drops for people who had checked in online. Figured that maybe checkin doesn't open till 6.
5:45am - Staff began laying out the Air Canada checkin queuing ropes.
5:50am - We wandered over to join the other few customers hanging around the Air Canada check-in.
5:55am - Check-in staff started arriving over at executive first desk, but nothing yet for economy.
6:05am - Check-in, woman at desk not terribly helpful, seemed to expect us to know what we were doing, but we got our tickets and got rid of our luggage and headed up to security.
6:15am - Through security without any problems.
6:30am - Got some breakfast rolls and probably our last decent cup of tea from EAT.
8:00am - Our gate opened, so we headed through ready to board.
8:30am - Boarding began, the plane was pleasantly only about half full, but even better than that there was plenty of leg-room! I made a decision that if Air Canada planes are like this we should visit Canada instead of my parents everytime. My Dad later said that they'd probably upgraded the whole plane to Economy plus, something they do sometimes, so I guess you can't guarantee that you'll always get the nice legroom with them.
8:45am - Announcement that plane would be leaving a little bit later than planned and also taking a slightly longer route due to the weather.
9:10am - Plane began moving. It seemed to be about 10 minutes from this point until we finally took off, but it probably wasn't.

8 hours of flying later, during which Matt got a little sleep, I got none, just read and watched bits of films:
Move our watches back 5 hours
12:30pm - Plane lands at Toronto airport. Very easy pass through customs and to collect bags.
12:50pm - Met by my parents, pile into car to head to hotel where we're stopping for 2 nights. Stopped on the way at an Italian place for lunch.
Will stop with the boring timings now and just write:
My first impression of Canada was sadly that it was no different than America, but it was a fairly industrial bit to be fair. The hotel we were staying at was in Hamilton, we checked in and unpacked, had showers etc. before heading out for a walk along Lake Ontario. Then we drove to Brentford which is where Matt and I were going to be watching an Arrogant Worms gig. We found the Sanderson Centre, then left again to go and eat at a Wendy's. Wendy's food was really nice, good quality burgers, though the medium portions are definitely what we would call a large in the UK. My parents dropped us back at the centre and we wandered around for a bit as it was a bit early to go in. Matt ventured out onto an ice rink, which I'm not sure was all that safe as it looked like a frozen pond which could be beginning to thaw. Then we headed up to a shoe shop, which was handy as Matt needed some new boots, I tried not to show my pleasure when both shop assistants said eh at the end of a sentence. Hooray, we are in Canada after all.

The Arrogant Worms gig was highly entertaining. They sang some of my favourites, plus some songs I didn't know. It was actually only two thirds of the Arrogant Worms, being assisted by Mike Ford of Moxy Fruvous as the third Arrogant Wormser's wife had just had twins. I picked up 3 new CDs, plus one of Mike Ford's solo ones, and they were giving away The C album (Moxy Fruvous) if you bought anything, so Matt and I each got one of those.

My parents were picking us up at 11pm, but the gig finished around 10, so once we'd bought the albums and had a chance to meet the band we still had around half an hour to kill, so went to a "Traditional Irish Pub" across the road. It had nothing Irish about it, but never mind, we had a drink before heading back across the road to wait for my parents and then it was finally time to get some sleep after 44 hours of being awake. We got to the hotel about 11:45 and went straight to our rooms to sleep.

Saturday 7th March
Went into Toronto. Split up from my parents with arrangement to meet back up around 5. We had an idea to find a comic shop that was mentioned, but after walking for ages down Queen Street East and only getting to about number 600, we decided 2000 and something might not be doable. So we doubled back. Looked in various touristy shops, had a very nice lunch in Chinatown where they put you onto big round tables with other people, something you'd never see happen in England. Then we wandered to a few more shops, went up the CN tower, got engaged :-) wandered a bit more and went back to the hotel.

I should probably say more about getting engaged I guess, but I don't know what to say really, we'd been talking about getting married for a while and Matt decided to ask officially while we were there. Yes I do have a ring, no we haven't set a date.

We ate at the Golden Griddle restaurant which was attached to the hotel, got evacuated by a fire alarm just after ordering, the staff said it happens sometimes when kids staying in the hotel pull the alarm, they weren't very happy. The food was very nice, but far too much, Matt and I didn't finish ours.

Sunday 8th March
Clocks went forward 1 hour, just to cause added confusion, clocks in the UK don't go forward until the end of the month, so on the plus side there's now only a 4 hour difference, so it'll be easier to adjust back when we fly.

Matt's 21st birthday. We spent the morning at Niagra Falls, which was still partly frozen, very impressive, although nowhere near as loud as I was expecting. Very, very cold. Then we spent the rest of the day driving to New York, customs wasn't too bad, though we had to go inside to fill in the Visa Waiver form and get our prints taken. We stopped a couple of times on the way, had lunch at Arby's. Ended up arriving at the apartment in New York about 8:30pm. The apartment is on a 12 month lease by Dad's company, so we were able to stay free. We went out to a diner for food, so Matt could have the birthday pancakes we'd promised him before again collapsing to sleep.

Monday 9th March
New York - got a taxi to central park. Walked around it a bit before splitting from my parents again. We walked to the Empire State building, and found a fairly large Comic Books shop on the way. The view off the Empire State wasn't great because of the weather, much like CN tower had been, you could just see the local area. We ate at Burger King, to see if it was better than in the UK, which actually I think it was. Then walked to Broadway and Times Square, I wasn't overly impressed with it to be honest. It was distinctly lacking in taster. The police station was possibly the weirdest thing, or maybe the subway, those both seem to be odd things to advertise with neon hoardings. We used the Subway to get to South Ferry so that we could get a ferry out to the Statue of Liberty. The Subway was much more confusing than in London, no help as to which direction, we thought we'd got on the right one only to discover we were going the wrong way, so we had to wait till a station with a free change and swap lines.

We got to the ferry port for the Statue of Liberty at 3:50, thinking that there was bound to be a ferry fairly soon, but it turns out they don't run late afternoon, the next ferry was 9:30am, so we walked back along the river to the apartment.

Had some cheesecake for dinner :-) went to bed early.

Tuesday 10th March '09
While Dad had a conference call, Matt and I set off to the Statue of Liberty again. However, the sole of my boot started separating from the body of it and the blister I'd developed yesterday started hurting a lot. We had also discovered that you aren't allowed to go up the statue anymore anyway, so decided maybe we weren't that bothered and walked back to the apartment ready to leave.

Drove from New York to Hanover, PA. Stopped at the Railway Carriage diner just outside New York, where for dessert we had much nicer cheesecake than the one in New York. Possibly the nicest cheesecake I've had. We bought some to take back with us too.

Arrived at my parents' house late afternoon, unpacked and went to veg in front of the TV in the basement for the evening.

Wednesday 11th March '09
Today - I woke up at 5 and managed to doze a bit longer, but finally gave up at 7, so I came to sort out my Mum's computer for her as it was getting pop ups and figured I'd blog while I was here. Mum is at work this morning, then we're meeting her for lunch before Dad flies off the UK.

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