Small City Girl in Metro TO

I haven’t posted in a while, but that’s nothing new. What *is* new is that this post should actually have some substance. You see, I’ve embarked on an adventure outside the norm of my daily life. My employer was kind enough to send me on a week-long getaway. Well, it’s for training, but it’s out-of-the-norm and exciting nonetheless.

I’m attending a VMWare class in Toronto this week. Not too far from where I live, Kitchener, but too far to drive on a daily basis, so I’m staying in a hotel for the week. The hotel has complimentary internet access (wifi!), but what they fail to mention is that it’s intermittent. Maybe it has something to do with me being on the 21st floor of a 23 floor building and in a corner room. I certainly can’t complain about that.

The view:

toronto.JPG

I’m writing this in notepad until my connection comes back. Just loverly.

Anyway, I know you want to hear all about my adventures as a Small City girl in Metro TO. So here we go.

I was lucky enough to have friends, relatives really, that live in the Upper Beaches area of Toronto. I stayed with them last night because I was too shy (read: underconfident) to speak up to my boss and let him know that I needed to stay in a hotel the night before class too, because I couldn’t drive to TO early Tuesday morning. I was going to get a hotel for the nights he suggested anyway, just to keep my costs down, but he offered to have it paid for. I’d be dumb not to agree to it!

We arranged for a sitter for Bruce so he didn’t have to endure the 1.5 hour drive to their place and back, and Bruce knew something odd was going on when the sitter arrived. He wasn’t happy. He refused to say goodbye to me, likely thinking that if he didn’t say goodbye, then I wouldn’t go. Sadly, I had no choice.

Wayde drove me to their place and stayed for a bit before starting off on the trek back home. After a warm goodbye, and promises to keep in touch over MSN and email, he left. Rachel, Kevin, and I hung out and watched the rest of a movie before heading off to bed.

Rachel was nice enough to drop me off close to the building my training is in, even though it meant we had to leave early to beat the morning rush hour so she could get to work on time. I had lots of time to kill before class, about 2 hours, so I went to the underground shopping (what do they call it? is there a term for it?) area to look for an ATM and some coffee. The ATM was easy to find, it turns out I was actually under a Royal Bank office building, and that’s the bank I use. After hitting an ATM, I verified that I knew the location of the building the class is in, and then found a Starbucks close by.

I rarely go to Starbucks, but it was a great spot to sit with a coffee. I ordered my Cafe Mocha (or “milkshake” as Wayde likes to call it) and sat at a table near the front of the shop, so I could watch all the morning underground pedestrians. I was only sitting there for about 5 minutes or so when a man walked up and asked if he could sit with me. Of course, I obliged.

He was a man who looked to be in his late thirties, but was probably closer to mid- to late forties. He had a Scottish accent and asked me if I was pondering the world’s troubles as I sat there. I honestly replied that I was only thinking of where I was going next and what I needed to do today. He was really nice, but I never caught his name. He spoke of his “young beautiful bride” and how he doesn’t think of her as a wife, but as the person he is still in love with. He talked about losing his first wife to his ambition of building an empire — something that reminded me of someone I know. He talked about travelling a lot and being familiar with the nuances of travelling and perfecting the timing of events and chores during trips. It was then that I wondered if he made a habit of striking up conversations with strangers, quite likely if he spent lots of time waiting for flights and appointments. We talked about life, our ambitions, and our loved ones. It was certainly not something I expected to be doing on my first morning in Toronto, but it was a pleasant distraction while I waited for the time to pass.

We finished our coffee and went our separate ways.

I headed over to the CIBC building and went up to the 16th floor, only to get redirected to the 8th floor for my class. The class is awesome, I must say. The instructor is friendly and helpful, and has just the right tone to lead the class. He’s not too dry, but not over-the-top either. It certainly helps that I’m very interested in the product and want to know as much about it as I can. I’ve now decided that I’m going to go for the VCP certification. The class I’m taking is all that’s required, other than a test. I’ve heard the test is difficult, but with some practical knowledge and a lot of studying, I can do it.

When I walked into the class, the instructor said, “I don’t mean this in a bad way, but I’ve taught about 8 of these classes now, and you’re the first woman that’s walked through that door.” I was proud, and I told him so. It’s not a bad thing at all.

In addition to excellent training, we had free snacks, lunch, and drinks throughout the day. Man, I could get used to this.

The instructor gave us the choice of finishing the lab, or coming in and finishing it in the morning before class started. Of course, I finished mine, asked a few questions, and left to find the hotel.

After finding the hotel and checking in, I ventured out to find a beer and some food. I’ve been into wine lately, but I was in the mood for a good beer. I found a place not too far down that has Kilkenny on tap and some good spicy soup. I didn’t find any strangers to talk to, but eavesdropping on the trio next to me was quite entertaining.