So: travel light

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Over the past 6 and a bit years, I’ve learned that traveling light is truly the way to go. Thanks to my former neighbor and friend Jeanette, I learned about a wonderful carry on suitcase that can hold up to 10 days stuff for me.

My Heys X case is turquoise, one of my favorite colors. (Bruce’s is orange, his favorite color.) It makes people in airports smile and it’s an instant conversation starter. Business travelers always want to know how much I can cram in it.

I always answer: “enough to go to Spain for 10 days and still have room for souvenirs.” And usually it’s not crammed full. Bruce and I have gone to Hawaii for a week, Barcelona and Madrid for 10 days, and made countless personal trips between Dallas and Toronto, all with these tiny bags.

Bruce and I use them whenever we travel. For work I usually put clothes and personal stuff in one side and then use the other for work paraphernalia that I don’t want to schlep in my computer bag.

Today, I have multiple costume changes in one half and a metal cookie box filled with alfajores (delicious lemon sandwich cookies with dulce de leche in the middle and sprinkled with coconut–our contribution to tonight’s dinner party), an umbrella, and two hardback books (gifts). It will either be empty on the way home or filled with Canadian delicacies. Although not Kraft Peanut Butter because you know what happened the last time I tried to import a jar into the US. Maybe one of my dear Canadian friends will mail me some (hint, hint).

My X Case looks a little dirty. That’s because I take a lot of regional jets where they gate check your bag. The conveyer belts get the hard plastic shell dirty. But a Magic Eraser or even a paper towel and some kind of cleaner gets everything off. I was just lazy last night.

My carry on bag is a backpack. Right now it’s holding birthday presents for my lovely friend Reesa. They are all from Brazil, a place she really wants to visit. I’ve also got my purse in there, the required quart ziploc bag of tiny toiletries, a sweater, a convertable scarf (it can turn into a poncho, a bolero jacket, a shrug), and my trusty iPad. I will probably fold the backpack up and put it in my suitcase on the way back. Unless shopping happens.

It’s almost time to board. And start plowing through that humongous pile of magazines Bruce is hauling in his backpack. It too may be empty on the way home. Unless shopping happens…

So: oh Canada

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Bienvenue au Canada!

Last night I was so happy to finally arrive at Toronto’s Pearson Airport (YYZ), that I actually got a bit misty. Customs and Immigration only took minutes since being a Canadian passport holder let me skip to the automated machines. Whoooohoooo! The super nice officer said, “Welcome home, ma’am”  as he barely glanced at my passport. The taxi driver who drove me to my hotel was happy to tell me all about what has been built, torn down or is currently under construction since I’ve been here last. And when I got to my hotel, I received an upgrade to a nicer room. There was room service to be had and it was delicious. A fine welcome back all around.

After a great night’s sleep, a productive breakfast meeting with my colleagues, and a successful (and fun) work meeting, I headed out to meet up with Fransi Weinstein from Three Hundred Sixty-Five (seems to be a week for bloggers to meet up with each other). It was just a short walk down Bloor Street to meet at her favorite Starbucks, one with big windows, bright light, and lots of academic energy from all the University of Toronto students filling the cafe.

view from the Starbucks where I met Fransi

view from the Starbucks where I met up with Fransi—yes, that is the CN Tower

A couple of details that might help our meeting make more sense: Fransi and I were introduced to each other years ago, but when I lived in Toronto, we never met or worked together. We do know a lot of people in common. And we both work in the same business. We had a lovely chat, filled each other in on a lot of stories, shared details (like which hotel I stayed at in NYC), answered each other’s questions, and made a pact to meet up when Bruce and I come back to town at the end of May for a wedding. I even managed to get a bit of excellent advice. It’s pretty darn cool that I’ve made a friend who I’ve admired from a far for a long time.

After that I went back to my hotel to collect my stored bag and went to the nearest TTC (Toronto’s subway) station to head out to the western edge of Toronto and get picked up by my favorite five year old, my godson Ben, and his wonderful momma.

Bay station in Toronto's Yorkville neighborhood

Bay station in Toronto’s Yorkville neighborhood (I also love the Hays X-Case with all the Canadiana on it)

It’s pretty sweet  to hold hands with a five year old, especially when you know that someday soon he will be too cool show much affection to his old Auntie Julie. (Well, until he turns 19 when his momma says I can take him out for his first beer in a bar.) Once we reached his momma’s car, we zoomed to their house and he decorated my sunglasses case with stickers of fancy fish and characters from the movie Cars. It is now a one-of-a-kind work of art and a very special souvenir of my trip to Toronto.

I’m lucky to be working from their house tomorrow. I have reviews to write and conference calls to do, a meeting on Monday to prep for, as well as whatever else comes my way in the course of the day. I’m lucky to have a job that allows me to be able to work from pretty much anywhere, even a friend’s dining room table in another country. And I am thankful for wifi, cell phones, and many other modern conveniences that allow me to set up shop and be productive.

Being here until Sunday (and then leaving directly for a meeting in NC) will give me the opportunity to catch up with old friends, visit places that I love to go, and have a proper girls’ day on Saturday with a ladies’ lunch and shopping. As grueling and chaotic as business travel can be sometimes, it’s opportunities like these that make me very grateful to do it. And as nice as staying in a hotel can sometimes be, give me a guest room or sofa in a friend’s home any day. Especially if their five year old promises to provide a personal Rooster-style (can’t wait to hear it) wake up call in the morning.

 

PS: Bruce assures me that the Gs and the urban farm are doing fine despite none of the Gs really wanting to go outside in the rain this morning and the temperatures dipping to 38° F tonight (whole farm operation is covered). He tells me that he is writing the blog on Saturday so please stay tuned.