Am I gonna throw up? I wondered. How much extra will that cost? I thought. And that was just on the cab ride to O’hare to begin my first solo trip to someplace I’d never been before.

And it wasn’t the last time those two thoughts occurred to me.

I’m not much of a traveler. I enjoy ritual. Habits. I like paths well-traveled. My own, in particular. Familiarity is something that makes me happy deep down in my bones. But for my 49th birthday and for a promotion I’d worked hard this past year to get, I figured it was time to do something a little different to celebrate.

So, Toronto was a first of its kind trip. Going somewhere alone, internationally (it counts!) that I’ve never been before. Toronto met all the requirements. I’d been to Montreal a couple of years ago and really liked it, so figured I’d give Canada another shot to dazzle me.

I made a list of things to do while I was there, but once I arrived I felt more like winging it. It was vacation and more than anything I didn’t want to have a schedule I had to adhere to. The most important part of the trip was a) that I was on it, and b) to unplug from work and my day-to-day life.

But there one thing I planned on doing: having lunch on my birthday at Toronto’s CN Tower. It’s to Toronto what the Sears Tower (FOREVER SEARS TOWER!) is to Chicago. The two cities even had a similar vibe. If you like Chicago, you’ll like Toronto. Trust me.

I’d taken a hop-on/hop-off bus tour of the day before in order to get a better lay of the land and figure out how to get to the tower from my hotel–plus check out what else there was to see. I got hooked up with a boat tour of the harbor and the then-closed Toronto Islands (because of massive flooding). It provided a beautiful view of the city.

The next day as I sat at the window in Restaurant 360 on the CN Tower, I texted my teammate Jess to wish her a happy birthday. (We are birthday twins.)

I sent her a pic of the view:










Followed by a startling re-realization on my part:







Well played, CN Tower. Well played.

Other than my near-death experience, Canada is two-for-two in delighting me.

Also published on Medium.



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