Every year Debbie and I lay out a household budget that is suppose to include what we expect to spend. It includes everything on tap for the entire year. New carpet, medical expenses, car repairs and gas, food and anything else mundane or exciting. Travel is one of the biggest expenses. Then out of left field an opportunity arises. An opportunity that has to be followed up. That’s why we are headed for Toronto. Toronto isn’t even on our list or in our budget. It’s a big city and there is probably loads of interesting stuff there but there are many places that hold far more interest to us.
This all started about two months ago. I was listening to CKUA http://www.ckua.com, my favorite radio station, and one of the announcers was talking about the band ‘Dead Can Dance.’ http://deadcandance.com A band headed by Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry from Australia. They were together in the 1990’s and disbanded. Debbie and I have been big fans for a long time, in fact when we visited Australia in 1998 we kept our eyes open for posters that might indicate an upcoming concert. We didn’t find any. So, when I heard the band’s name my interest was tweaked and I stopped computering and listened. After a 10 year hiatus Ms. Gerrard and Mr. Perry have a renewed interest in playing together and a world tour is in the offing. I thought ‘We’re going.’
When Debbie arrived home I told her what I had heard, the deal was sealed. Her first words… ‘We’re going.’
Now, this proposed trip is not accounted for in our budget so we may have to cut back on something (maybe I won’t have to paint the house this year) but this is an opportunity that will not come again and it must be acted upon.
The first step was to browse the internet and see what we could find. Not much except that on Brendon Perry’s web site it confirmed that a tour will take place and if we left our email address we would be kept informed about the progress of the arrangements. Debbie put her email on the list and we were indeed updated as information became available.
A month ago the dates for the European leg of the tour were announced and we talked about crazy stuff like going to Porto, Portugal or Berlin to take in the concert. Going to Europe would of course mean that not only would I not have to paint the house but I would also be spared the task of moving all the furniture because we would also have to forgo the new flooring. Debbie really wants new flooring so we opted to wait for the announcement of the North American tour dates.
The dates are finally announced and it requires some quick decision making. An email arrives on Wednesday outlining the days and places that the tour will hit. We are preparing to leave on a ski trip on Friday around noon. Tickets are to go on sale March 31. We think we will have a few days to let the information gel in our minds and book the concert tickets when we get back in Edmonton. Thursday morning an update email arrives telling us that because we are on the email list we get first kick at the prime seats for the concert. Both Debbie and I are busy Thursday morning so we do not act immediately. We get home about 2pm and checked the status of the ticket sales. The tickets are selling fast so decisions have to be made.
The Vancouver show dates conflict with the Edmonton Folk Music Festival http://www.edmontonfolkfest.org and since that is a mainstay in our lives that venue is out. We can make the Salt Lake City show and it might be less costly because we would drive and camp, but it would mean a minimum trip of 10 days and we do not know if that would work out. I want to go to New York but that would also be a longer trip. We have not visited NY so there would be a few days there and we would also want to spend some time with our NY friends in Syracuse which would involve at least a week and NY would be very expensive, again getting me clear of all that furniture moving. Montreal is our first choice but when we check out the venue for the concert we realize that it is to be held in a hockey arena. I am not traveling all the way across the continent to watch and listen to music being played in an arena no matter how good the sound system. Toronto arises as the obvious choice. In the time it took us to make that decision one whole pricing tier of tickets for the Toronto show sells out. We immediately put in our request for 2 tickets and that is how we end up with an unbudgeted trip to Toronto.
Before we left for the mountains we had a look at the price of the plane tickets. We left that purchase until we returned and had time to mull it over. The day we returned we brought up the AC website and the ticket price had increase $20 each way. Again we felt as though we need to decide fast. What day do we leave? What time of the day? Which airline? We leave it over night, think about it all day and book our ride.
Debbie looks at accommodation. The Bond Hotel has a room for $99 a night. We both think that is a good price for a hotel in the centre of downtown Toronto. We look the next day and the price is no longer available. Rats, snookered again a third time. We do a bit more research and book a room through a booking site for $76. The trick is, we book it blind. It’s a great rate but we have to book it without knowing what hotel it is we are booking. The only info offered is the ‘general area’ where the hotel is located. A bit of fun. After we commit, the name of the hotel is revealed. We are staying at the Metropolitan. http://www.metropolitan.com/toronto It looks fine. We’ll see when we get there.
Last piece to the puzzle. The transport from the airport to downtown. The Toronto Airport Express http://www.torontoairportexpress.com is a bus that takes about 1.5 hours and damned if it doesn’t stop at the Metropolitan Hotel. This one is a slam dunk and I book it right away. I’m sure the local bus is cheaper but I cannot imagine how long the ride would be and how many time we would have transfer. Sometimes the convenience is worth the money.
Toronto, not even on our radar, but we’re going and we expect to have a good time. Sometimes you have to follow your whimsies and see where they take you, regardless of the annual budget.
We saw this mention of CKUA (we monitor the web for these things) and it led to your blog. Great post -thanks for the mention – and sorry we helped blow your travel budget. Hope you have a good time in TO!