Most bloggers will tell you that the best part of blogging is the relationships. Well, maybe the few making tons of cash might have a different perspective but for the rest of us, those just trying to document life, find their voice and work it all out via the interwebs, the best part IS the relationships, hands-down.
I've been a part of the Blended Blog since it's inception and despite my chronic absenteeism, they keep me around (thank ladies!) and don't complain about my perpetual lack of posts.
Last April, I threw caution to the wind and hopped on a plane bound for Las Vegas to meet up with 6 "strangers". Everyone I told thought I was INSANE. If I'm being honest, there were times if I also thought I was crazy. Sure, I had gotten to "know" these ladies over the internet but real-life is a whole other ballgame. They could be catfish that turned out to be serial killers. Spoiler alert: they were not. Vegas was not only the break this momma needed, it was my first realization that you can form lasting relationships with people you've never met. It went so well, we decided, prior to even leaving Vegas, that a round 2 was an absolute necessity.
This year's meetup was just a 1 hour (2 with traffic) drive me and my travelling companion, Nicole.
I can't capture everything in one post so it's going to be a 3 part series because, why not drag this out as long as humanly possible? I am a blog-slacker afterall so I'll need to ride this wave as long as I can. First post, the details of the weekend...
Here's the recap:
I picked up Nicole around 4:30pm on Thursday. We both thought ahead and brought yummy treats for our friends. We grabbed some caffeinated beverages and headed on our way.
At 6:30pmish we arrived at the hotel (the Grand) which was beautiful and I have very few complaints minus the elevator which went so fast it made my stomach do backflips every time. On second thought, maybe that was baby #3 telling me she's going to be a rollercoaster junkie. I digress.
me and my travel buddy/roomie/photographer extraordinaire
Nicole and I dropped off our stuff in our beautiful (though poorly lit for makeup-doing) room, changed (because this momma was feeling frumpy) and headed downstairs to the bar/restaurant to wait for the rest of our crew and visit with Andrea and Lisa.
We ate, drank (and by 'drank', I mean I had delicious soda water and lemon - woohoo) and got to know each other while we waited. Don't worry, the other ladies beverages were oodles more exciting than mine.
Next to arrive was Whitney who made the 5 hour drive from her home in Michigan.
Then Sarah, Alison and Katie who literally made their way to us by plane, train and automobile (little did I know that I was part of the reason behind their adventure downtown Toronto - more on that later).
Deena was texted me from her plane wondering who was there and what we were doing. She doesn't like to miss a thing! She and Christy arrived shortly after.
Last but not least was Lana who had a delayed flight and who I didn't actually see until breakfast because she didn't arrive at the hotel until after midnight and this pregnant lady quickly turns into a pumpkin when the clock strikes 12.
Friday we headed to Niagara Falls via a bus tour (King Tours). Our tour guide (Jay) was great, informative and funny and he had our backs all day (let it be known he does not like if you cut the line in front of 'his girls'). It was a whirlwind day that went fast but felt really long (does that make sense?). There was a lot of sitting on a bus but we saw the sights, had some great laughs and took a ton of pics (obviously).
more matching shoes
ready for our boat ride... fashionable, no?
Friday night we headed to El Catrin in the distillery district. They were super accommodating and despite it being a fullhouse and us having two tables reserved, they were able to seat all 11 of us together. What I didn't know when we went out for dinner was that the ladies had all been talking and this dinner was sort of a baby shower for me! They all brought gifts for me a baby #3 (a few of the girls picked up a gift card on their way to the hotel, hence their crazy journey through downtown). I was surprised, overwhelmed and beyond grateful. I hadn't realized until then but I had yet to purchase anything for our little girl. So she officially received her first gifts (and a lot of them!).
pink converse for baby girl - adorable!
Dinner was unique and delicious and while I missed out on what were described as delicious margaritas and was nearly falling asleep by the time we left (near 11:30pm), it was one of the best girls nights I've had.
Saturday was a walking tour/shopping. We walked and walked and walked. At the end of the day my FitBit said I took nearly 24,000 steps... good thing because I think I ate as many calories. Despite living so close to Toronto, I'm embarrassed to say that it was my first time seeing a lot of the places on our 'list'. We checked out Kensington Market, Graffiti Alley, Nathan Phillips Square, the Lakeview restaurant (best club sandwich and pear salad) and rounded it out with a shopping excursion at the Eaton Centre and dinner at the Pickle Barrel (how have I never been to Pickle Barrel before?).
lol I'm not angry, just cold
Sarah has mad selfie skills - who else can get 11 people in one selfie (besides Ellen)
After dinner we headed back to the hotel where everyone checked out the rooftop hot tub. Everyone except me that is. Truthfully, I was exhausted and knew I couldn't go in the hot tub anyways, so I said goodnight and hung out in my pjs and watched a chick-flick and fell asleep early. Normally I like to be right in the mix but I knew my limit. Thankfully, no one held it against me.
Sunday morning was farewell breakfast as we had some early departures and the remaining 7 of us headed back to the mall (because, why not?). I used the gift card the ladies got me and bought baby girl some beyond adorable outfits and picked up some Blue Jays gear for my other littles. The ladies from the US made some last-minute purchases from some Canadian stores and we had quick lunch in the food court and headed back to the hotel.
our last day... more shopping
Just like that the weekend had come to a close and it was time to say ciao to our remaining travelers before they embarked on their respective journeys home.
I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about the weekend that was but I think I'll save that for another post and no, I won't make you wait a month for that. What I will say now is don't put off time with friends. Resist the urge to make excuses because there are always other things you could/should/would be doing. Time away from it all with good friends is invaluable, It's good for the soul and as busy the weekend was, I came back re-energized for my everyday life.
Thanks ladies, I cannot wait til the next time!
Stay turned for Toronto Recap Part 2: the ladies behind the blog