A train, a plane and another train later, finally we arrived in Toronto. A journey of around ten hours finally came to an end as a very suave and modern designed UP train pulled into Union Station, Toronto. At first I had to decide what was top of my priotrioty list; A Tim Hortons coffee or the five-minute walk to the hotel. With the weather a surprising 25 degrees and not a cloud in the sky I felt the best idea would be to finally get a lay down so opted to check in.
Having left the booking of the hotel in my Dad’s capable hands I was unsure what to expect. I was happy with a budget booking, as all I was interested in was coming to watch the Ice Hockey. However I was very, very and still am surprised at the fine establishment we are stopping in. ‘Westin Harbour Castle’ the official title, highly recommended if our room is anything to go by. Two double beds, Air Con, a safe, sizeable tv, Iron, Hairdryer, you name it we’ve probably got it. Yet still Dean tries to convince me he got ‘a good deal’.
Anyway, what’s even more eye-opening is the fact we are stopping in the official World Cup of Hockey hotel. The same hotel that appears to host a large amount, if not all of the staff and players who will appear at the tournament. Already I have seen Barry Trotz and Patrice Bergeron two names most hockey fans will be familiar with.
The flight was good. Air Transat, my first appearance with the organisation and a good experience. A lovely pulled-beef sandwich (or two it is a holiday after all) and some good snacks along the way helped to calm my excitement. A few failed attempts of Family Fortunes with my dad and various films were also handy ways of passing the time on a flight that couldn’t have been much smoother.
With Canada being the other side of the Atlantic there isn’t much to see out the window, so the first sight of land is one of the most stunning of sights. Acres and Acres of untouched forest leaves you gobsmacked at how picturesque on country can be! Having not visited North America since I was 11 my memory of first impressions was very blurred, but it only took seconds for the memories to come flooding back leaving me speechless at what could be seen.
So as all the travelling was out the way, we arrived at the Hotel, an impressive structure positioned metres away from the Great Lake and a few minutes walk from downtown Toronto. It was an ideal place to be with so much going on around us. The ‘fan village’ where we will be spending a lot of time, is a pleasant 15 minute walk away, so a perfect excuse to squeeze in a little exercise. Situated in the Distillery District, its poses as a fan friendly zone with plenty of pubs and restaurants at your disposal.
Day one was obviously jam-packed with travelling, oh and also a two and half hour walk to find a shop!! So Thursday ended pretty early with us tucked in bed at half last nine. With an alarm set at nine the aim was to wake up early on Friday and head pack to the fan park to pick up our tickets for the opening show later that afternoon. Somehow i managed to be up at five then had a little nap till eight and went from there. A Tim Hortons breakfast was essential and again they did not disappoint (McDonalds take note)
Tickets collected, a nice chat with a Toronto native and then a brisk walk around the city in search of some shops and the pond on which we ice skated the last time we were here. Neither were found!!!
Then six miles and a couple of Team Canada jerseys tried on later, we decided on returning to base camp for a relaxing session before what the evening had in store. No better time to try out the indoor swimming facilities. An empty pool all to ourselves what a lovely way to kill a few hours. With not a cloud in the sky it was a difficult ask to keep moving the whole day so this was a welcomed stop, all be it only for two hours.
Showered and changed, the fan park and more importantly, the Killers were calling. YES I DID SAY THE KILLERS! An opportunity that would be too rude to miss so we had to make sure we got there early. The fan park showed just how much Hockey means to this country and the whole atmosphere was a great experience. Thousands of Hockey fans coming together to open this worldwide event was as memorable as you’ll find.
We treated ourselves to a pint of Molson Canadian (Maybe, just maybe the nicest pint ive had) and after getting signed up for our fan passports we made our way to the stage. Chart singer Daya was a pleasant surprise as she paved the way for the headline act. In between performers however we got our first taste of the Ice Hockey superstars, as all 180+ players took to the stage for the first time. At this point I really began pinching myself. Childhood heroes only metres from me, it was truly unbelievable.
Then for the main event. Brandon Flowers took to the stage and what was to come was as memorable as it gets. Having wanted to see the Killers live in England and not gotten the chance tonight was something i was really looking forward to, not that I wouldn’t have anyway but still…
Mr Brightside opened the act and from there you knew it was only getting better. They were incredible and surpassed all expectations. A night that will certainly live long in the memory and one that I’ll be sure to talk about over and over again.
It’s now just gone 11 o’clock here and with the first game of the tournament tomorrow afternoon, I don’t think ive ever been this excited in my life.
That’s my first little update complete so onto day three we go! Lets go Canada!! 🇨🇦