Day 2 — Monday January 23rd
5:45pm — Slept a little later this morning. No alarm. No schedule set in stone. Nobody expecting us to turn up anywhere. But rest needed for the concert this evening. Stacy’s feet blistered from yesterday’s walking. Decided to breakfast upstairs in the hotel restaurant. Sunshine in my eyes. Another beautiful morning. We’ve been so lucky with this weather, it’s more like late fall or early spring than mid-winter here. Food was good, nothing spectacular, just breakfast, though we’re liking the potatoe patties (how very Mickey D’s!). We went to the Business Centre and searched for Robin Williams sightings. Found nothing. Our celebrity stalking doesn’t seem to be going that well. Oh well, one thing is for sure, we will see Jon Bon live in-person.
We caught the streetcar to Union Station and took the Yonge line up to Queen Street. We probably should’ve took the streetcar over to Gladstone and then walked back to University or even Yonge so we could take in the Art and Design District. That’s really what I wanted to see. But instead we starting walking West on the south side of Queen Street, planning to return to Yonge on the north side, and see what we could see. This too was okay.
Stacy took pics of the usual suspects City Hall etc. We went into some shops. Again not on the same shopping page but browsed some interesting places — vintage designer clothes that I loved, all-natural make-up that smelled so strong it couldn’t possibly be what they claimed, a candy store stocked with things I haven’t seen since I was six years old like boxes of Elephant pink popcorn, a great formalwear/goth/punk type shop that drew us in with all the pink tulle in the window. Some really great shoes and hats and jewellery in there. Crowded though. Something to see everywhere. A girl who came in behind us said, “This store makes my face hurt.” I could see how that could happen. Stacy bought AJ a set for doing practical jokes. I bought a couple of tops (on sale!) at Le Chateau. Yes, I know, all the way to Toronto to shop at Le Chateau, could’ve just went into Moncton for that one, but hey, I was desperate for something to wear to Jon Bon.
At one point a whack of police raced by us, not sure what was going on or where. Crime really seems to be a problem here these days. We walked west as far as Bathurst (or was it Dufferin? my feet think it was too far whichever) and then crossed the street and headed back. We stopped at a KFC so Stacy could use the bathroom and then went into a food court type place to see about something called Bubble Tea. I ended up buying a Strawberry-Kiwi smoothie from Ben & Jerry’s, Stacy got a cone of ice cream. My drink cost nearly 10 bucks! Which seemed totally insane. But it was very refreshing and filling even. It lasted all the way to the Bay. We went into the Bay so Stacy could look for Deanna’s Princess doll and price towels. None of the colours really suited and there were no dolls. We’ll try Sears and the Disney Store tomorrow.
And now we’re back in the hotel, getting ready to see the boys. Freaky! I’m in complete shock about this whole experience so far. Can only imagine it will get worse. I bought a royal blue coloured top today that I’ll wear under my black jacket I think. The whole purpose of the rock concert is cleavage, isn’t it?
Night 3 — Monday January 23rd
Going to bed without any dinner, unless a few chips count (and I do mean a few, like three). Immediate observations — 1) I don’t like stadium concerts as much as I like outdoor ones 2) heels and concrete don’t mix, EVER! 3) looking up at the Rock Gods is really the only way to worship them properly 4) it’s better not to know anything about a concert before you go and 5) Pizza Pizza sucks! Yeah, I’m a little cranky. We’ve been trying since 11:30pm to get some food, asking the concierge to point us in the right direction, thinking surely to god someplace around here somewhere is open until 2 or 3 serving food, maybe drinks, a little atmosphere . . . apparently even in the centre of the universe this is too much to ask after 11pm on a Monday night. The concierge keeps telling us to call Pizza Pizza, blech! I’d sooner just go to bed. And so we shall.
I made the mistake of wearing my dress boots tonight. I forgot about everything being concrete, including the floors in the stadium itself. I forgot about stairs and I really forgot about dancing. Initially it seemed like a good idea. When we got back from walking Queen Street West today my feet were toast, done, dead. The thought of putting those shoes back on for this evening was sickening, so I tried my running shoes and they were equally pathetic. On a whim I tried on the dress boots and oddly my feet felt a little revived, better on the high-heel angle than flat. Interesting, I thought, and decided to wear them around the room for the hour or so before we left and see if they stood up over time. And they did! The ACC is not so far away from the hotel and I’ve worn these boots quite a bit, on walking excursions, they’re not usually foot crushers so I decided to keep them on. But yeah I forgot about the concrete, forgot that I’d actually be standing all evening and dancing and screaming like a crazy person . . . no boots could’ve stood up to that kind of punishment. So now my feet are dead for real, I’ve got bleeding blisters. Lesson learned. Hopefully it won’t be so long in between this concert and the next one that I’ll remember the lesson for next time.
The boys look exactly like they do in all the photos and in all the footage I’ve seen. Beautiful creatures! The insanity of this whole night. So surreal. I’m still in shock. I may be in shock for always. I knew entirely too much about what they’ve been doing so far on this tour. I knew where Jon was going to pop up in the audience next and when he was going to sing You Give Love a Bad Name. Next time, there will be no reading of any of this stuff. I can only imagine how much more insane this night would’ve been had I known nothing of what to expect. So the lights went down and the band came onstage and soft blue stage lights came up as they started to play and the crowd went nuts in darkness, just the soft blue of the stage, no Jon to be seen, but I knew where he was . . . and then full lights and Jon in a spotlight on a platform at the rear of the stadium singing to the guys in the back. First song was Last Man Standing followed by You Give Love a Bad Name and then Complicated and Wild In The Streets. I don’t know when exactly but at some point he made his way right up through the side aisle (surrounded by bodyguards) singing and touching people all the way, came onstage on Richie’s side (our seats were on Hugh & David’s side). And then it was ON! Oh my God! He was wearing his black army jacket with all the silver buttons, but it didn’t last long before he shed it. Changed his clothes a lot tonight. Richie too. Though I got to see my favourite leopard print hat and purple velvet jacket. At one point Richie just had his jacket with bare chest. He didn’t seem well or something though. Maybe tired or under the weather.
We called everyone we could remember numbers to on Stacy’s cellphone — Sherry, Jenn, Mom, Janice, Joy and Stacy’s mom — screaming WE’RE AT BON JOVI!!! as loud as we could. What a rush! During The Story of My Life Jon came over to our side of the stage and stopped the song, taking the hands of a couple with seats there, the boyfriend had arranged to ask her to marry him, and Jon held their hands while he did, she said yes, and he pronounced them to be married someday by the power vested in him in Jonny’s church. And then he finished the song. Awesome! What a crazy moment that must’ve been for that girl.
Next up was I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, Runaway and Born to Be My Baby. I loved that they did The Radio Saved My Life Tonight! One of my favourites! And Living in Sin was an awesome surprise! Election night of course so Jon mentioned that he hoped we did the right thing and then he noticed a sign in the audience that he got a kick out of — Tico Torres for PM! He didn’t see the one that said Bon Jovi for PM though, they showed that one on the big screen behind him. They did a Tom Petty cover, I Won’t Back Down and then some off the new album, Have a Nice Day and Who Says You Can’t Go Home. When It’s My Life started I wanted to call my mom again! I just knew she would’ve loved to have been there with us. Next time I’m taking her. I loved the acoustic set starting with I’ll Be There for You. Just him and Richie and guitars. Richie sang some verses solo in Blaze of Glory, which was really nice. And though I kinda freaked out and Stacy even left our seats to try to get closer (she held the hand of a girl holding his hand) I think he appeared on the platform in our section while he sang Always. It’s a blur though, I’m not really sure. He stayed for a song or maybe two and then made his way through the crowd back to the stage. But he was just to my left maybe six rows down from me and THAT was close enough for me. I think I would’ve fainted had he or I gotten any closer. No, I know I would’ve. And fainting would’ve been a bad thing.
I kind of like the This Left Feels Right version of Bad Medicine better than the original, but it’s only ever been performed live the one time they did it in Atlantic City for the DVD so we got the original tonight. Raise Your Hands has got to be one of the most fun songs, everyone in the place was doing it. I wonder what it must feel like to have so much influence over so many people, to be the puppeteer like that. They finished with Living on a Prayer before coming back for encores. The crowd went insane with the screaming and clapping to get them back onstage. I was hoarse. I am hoarse. And deaf. But they came back. I knew they would. And Stacy and I both cried during Welcome to Wherever You Are, bawled my friggin’ eyes out. Especially after such an emotional day yesterday, the whole thing was just too much. I always cry anyway when I hear it on the cd, in person it was just WAY overwhelming. And this was followed by the only song I really, really, really wanted them to do, Captain Crash and the Beauty Queen from Mars and I finally got to do the swing I’ve seen done so many times.
I don’t know when but at some time they stopped and Jon said good night and the band came to centre stage, held hands and bowed, then exited to the rear. But the crowd went nuts. Insane with the clapping and whistling and screaming. Everyone was offstage and Jon was halfway down the steps when he stopped, turned about halfway back around, put his hand to his ear like he was listening, which turned the volume on the place to a pitch I would never have thought possible. LOUD!! I lost my voice. And then he called the boys back and they came out and finished with Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night, Just Older, and Wanted Dead or Alive.
My feet hurt so bad, I didn’t know how I was ever going to make it back to the hotel. Stacy bought a t-shirt, but I’ve never been one for over-priced concert loot. I guess because it’s not functional for me, I’d never use it or wear it and if I’m not going to display it or seriously collect it, there seems to be no point. Most people think that’s weird about me. That I’d spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to get to a concert but walk away with nothing, no souvenirs, no pictures even, just my memories. Though I did snap pictures tonight. No idea whether I got anything or not, but unless they are just black with nothing at all, no matter how distant and fuzzy, it’ll have a bit of the essence, enough for me.
I went and sat on a bench outside while Stacy went to the hot dog vendor to try and buy some water. All these girls kept standing in front of me and smiling and waving. When Stacy came back, I stood up and turned around and only then noticed the three buses with the smirks on them. All the windows were tinted of course but there was a guy with the window open right behind me, smoking. I mean I was literally sitting right beside this thing. I could’ve reached up and shook his hand. And yet, I hadn’t noticed it! He looked like the guy playing guitar beside Hugh, the guy from the Ashbury Dukes that’s on tour with them, but not part of their band. It was then we noticed people climbing into all these buses. Just what did I miss as I sat there like a ninny nursing my aching feet?! When we were walking back to the hotel, there was the standard white SUV type vehicle exiting the area that I’ve seen Jon and Richie get transported in after concerts before and a bunch of people including Stacy and I thought there was a good chance our boys were in there. Overall, it was a great time. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
See some pics and watch video of the marriage proposal at the concert or here are some pics from Richie’s side of the stage. We didn’t take any digital equipment in with us, so this is the best I can do (and it’s pretty good, though just not personal to me per say.)
The Last Day — Tuesday January 24th
Eggs Benedict are ruined forever after breakfasting at Azure in the Intercontinental. Yes, I’ve had less expensive three course dinners, but the best breakfast I’ve ever had was certainly worth every penny. And I don’t think it was just because I hadn’t really eaten anything since breakfast on Monday. It’s just THAT good!
After breakfast we walked on Front Street east to Yonge and then north on Yonge to King. Our goal was to hit Arts on King first, but after we walked past where Stacy thought it used to be, she went into a Starbucks and asked the counter girl for directions. It moved, current whereabouts unknown. No harm, no foul, we headed south to the St. Lawrence Market. Stacy found the sundried tomatoe spread she’s been craving and unable to find anywhere for the past 10 years. The man was so impressed with this tidbit that he gave her the jar for free. I was delighted to pick up a jar of what is touted as Toronto’s Best Jerk. Stacy got one of those too, mild for her, HOT for me! Yummy! No doubt.
The weather kinda sucked today for the first time since we’ve been here, snow, freezing rain, blahness. But we were hopeful and determined so we braved the elements and walked from the market to The Distillery District, holing up in a coffee shop first thing. Coffee for warmth, a cool drink for dehydration, a half hour later with no weather improvement and pretty much any enthusiasm we had for the place had been washed out. We went into a few galleries and shops (pricey!) but then high-tailed it for the bus stop. Taking the Pape bus (same one I used to take to work at Queen and Carlaw I think) to Union Station and the Yonge line to Dundas. It was Eaton Centre time. But first we exited onto the street and took a look around in the rain. This corner is completely changed. Nothing is the same. You could’ve plopped me down on this corner and I would never have known I’d ever been there before, let alone everyday for three years. Intense. Even Eaton’s doesn’t exist anymore, it’s a Sears, though the mall kept the name. We didn’t stay long on the street. At Sears Stacy priced towels and looked for Princess dolls. We both bought purses and I got a new wallet. I bought a new top and a sweater for the train.
Then we ventured out into the mall. I don’t know if it’s just always rush hour when we’re at these places or if there were always this many people around or if I’ve truly just lost any taste I ever had for malls, but I absolutely detested every moment spent in the Eaton Centre. I could not get out of there quick enough. There appeared to be skanky kids everywhere you wanted to look. Gang-like cliques sneering at one another. We watched as one girl child (maybe 12) was wrestled to the ground, handcuffed and drug away by three burly security guards. Too many people, too much stuff, it made MY face hurt. We went to Old Navy so Stacy could get Janice’s baby an outfit. Tank tops were on sale, so I tried one on and bought four (purple, green, blue and pink). Then we went to Black’s so Stacy could get her concert pics developed. And turns out she did get at least one good one of him from close up. We went to the Disney Store and discovered this Princess we were looking for was not going to be found, so we bought another one instead and then went back to the Bay to look at those towels again. Ended up we didn’t get any towels. Back to Black’s to pick up the pics. Then onto the subway and back to the hotel where we dropped our stuff, freshened up and then headed out for dinner.
Well, not exactly right away. We had to wait for the concierge to come and take Stacy’s sundried tomatoe paste to a refrigerator. It needed to be frozen if it hoped to make the trip back to NB without spoiling. We waited and we waited and by the time we got out it was pretty late and by the time we got to the restaurant on Front Street that we’d decided we wanted to eat at . . . the hostess wasn’t going to let us in. Ten minutes until the kitchen closed or something like that. All day I had dreamed of steak! We’d seen ads. We were sucked into this place. And there’d be no other opportunity. Tonight was our last chance. Oh boy! She went to check and came back with menus. We’d just made it! . . . Though I noticed they seated other people after us, so I don’t know what was up with that anyway.
One of our best finds was probably the most economical place we visited. What made the Canyon Creek Chophouse on Front Street so great? Oy! Where to even begin? With Kenny, our server, who was by far the most efficient and knowledgable waitor I’ve had in years and maybe forever. With the garlic bread, which was the absolute best I’ve ever had including the stuff me and MB used to get at the Bridgeport on Lakeshore, which has held the best garlic bread honours for at least the last 15 years . . . until now. I got the three peppercorn steak with stuffed baked potatoe and it was the best. The wine was Wolf Blass and a steal at $9/glass. Stacy’s sirloin was two-inches thick and tender and juicy. Even though I was stuffed and Stacy couldn’t help me in the least, when the time came, just based on how well everything had been so far and the fact that we’d never had dessert anywhere in Toronto yet and this was the last night . . . I ordered the pecan pie (on Kenny’s suggestion) . . . It was like a giant buttertart! Only better. I loved it, even if I only ate a couple of bites and sent most of it back because I was too stuffed. What a perfect dining experience to cap a perfect trip! This is a chain, like The Lone Star, like The Keg . . . man! I wish they’d open some of these in NB. Maybe we just lucked out, maybe we were just that hungry, I dunno, but it was a really great meal.
We walked back to the hotel the long way, walking west on Front and around the Skydome. All the street cleaners at work. Not many people around. Peaceful. Content. Finished. Glad to be heading back to NB in the morning.