2o14.o3.14 – Four Seasons Performance Art Center

I signed up for DanceBreak of the National Ballet of Canada a few years back out of pure curiosity. A promotional email came through on March-Snow-Day. Promo code for advance purchase of last minute tickets, priced at $33 from orchestra to level 5. How could I resist? In less than 5 minutes, I had picked some awesome seats in Orchestra 1.1 section. Normally priced at $184+.

Traffic was as expected for a Friday evening. Parking at the hotel just south of the venue for only $7! Better deal than parking directly at the venue which is priced at $20+. Arriving at approximately 20 minutes before start time of 7:30pm, the box office ticket pickup line was quick efficiently setup with less than 5 minutes of wait time. Giving ample time to purchase some snacks and a drink (alcoholic drinks are available; with drinks pre-ordering for intermission too!); prices are slightly hiked up. Half a gourmet sandwich and pop for $9. A look around the entire venue shows a combination of cocktail dresses to stylish office-wear to denim-wear. The warming weather allowed me to pull out my go to casual night out outfit; electric blue shirt dress with fitted black blazer, just smart enough without looking too casual.

An intercom announcement at 5 minutes prior to start time does help with getting all of the guests seated. The tickets tells you exactly which door to enter through and the seat was easily located. Tip to the ladies, beware of the steps, they may get slippery due to the shiny wood floors. For the price I paid for, I got an excellent view of the performance! Not too close that all I see are the legs of the dancers,and just far enough for me to catch the performance with a front row center type of feel.

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The performance was absolutely phenomenal! I can’t believe that I didn’t do this sooner. Plus the costumes displayed at the entrance of the center caught my eyes. If there weren’t other patrons lined up to take pictures, I would stand there for hours just to admire these works of art. I got a few shots to show all of you … I keep wondering during the performance. Am I an Odette or Odile?

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Definitely will need to plan for my next outing~!!!

2o14.o3.12

Today, I am feeling more emotionally driven in my post. Sorry to the readers who may have to suffer through my ranting but I have no other outlet to share these feelings.

In the recent months, I have broke up with my significant other. A three year relationship that fell apart over what is not even classified as a fight. The signs were there; emotional distance, lack of spending time together, etc. The final straw was … *drum roll* … money. I have been the one with the stable income over the last few years, and in support of his ambitions, I have been paying for a number of our expenses including leisure, shopping and business trips. His ambitions were one of the many things that have drawn me to him at the beginning. Lack of progress, bad string of luck and small gambling stints have finally forced me to pull the trigger. Doing the unspeakable act of breaking up with him.

It broke my heart to say the words at the time, but what hurts more now, after almost two months, was the fact that his refusal to communicate with me in regards of the money he owed me. He has chosen to ignore all forms of communication in this subject. I have been tolerant and understanding of his money situation all these years. His lack of response can only be seen as disrespect of what we had and of me.

I was raised to never owe people money. Even if I do, be it friends or family, pay it back ASAP. Set up an agreement in advance, so that neither parties can get upset over it. Never borrow more than what you have. Simple concepts … yet so few actually follow through with it. Case in point with what I am dealing with now.

I am just trying to put an end to all this, so that we can both move on with our lives. Why does it have to be so difficult? Why does the current generation of think that it is okay to owe people money and not paying back? Should I keep chasing at the risk of my emotions?

vivax’s Montreal trip – trip no. unknown – part o2

It was like an awesome girly dance party all weekend. Every moment was full of laughter and inside jokes that can never be understood by anyone but the participants of this weekend.

We started off the trip with an early evening train ride to Montreal. Just under six hours, where snacks cart comes down the aisles every hour to two hours. (And yes, they do serve alcohol.)

Tip: Make sure you purchase the train tickets as a group. This way they will assign you to one of the two group seats section.

We arrived into the city just prior to midnight. We were picked up promptly by our dear friend, M. She began telling us some of the events going on around the city that we may be interested in attending. One particular event strike out at all of us … IGLOOFEST!

Igloofest preparation went into part of our trip itinerary as we were not fully prepared for a full outdoor event. Let alone one in which we were going to be outside for more than 10 minutes.

Tip: Always check if advance ticket purchase online may be available.

Why do I say that? After an awesome super late brunch of M’s fresh butter croissant sandwich at 3pm, a trip to the local shops for extra winter gear & food, and sumptuous home cooked steak dinner, we bundled ourselves up to drive down to the Old Port of Montreal. It took us close to half an hour to locate the ticket booths and another half hour just to line up for the tickets.

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“This is the view of the gorgeous outdoor venue from the long cash-only ticket line up”

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“Once we finally got inside!”

It was one fun dance party with awesome mixes from several DJs. It is rare to find mixes that are consistently awesome throughout an evening. The event offered quite a lot of various alcohol beverage sponsors’ booths, as well as beverages like coffee and hot chocolate for the non-alcohol drinkers. (ME!!!)

As we walked around the event, it appear that this event is more like an outdoor dance party with plenty of games in between all of the beverage booths. We definitely took the opportunity to go down the igloo castle slide.

we finally had to call the end of the evening after being outside for close to 3 hours. Our end of the evening brings us back to M’s temporary place and then the rituals of girls’ weekend starts …

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“my new colours … like?”

Sunday morning brought on a mad dash to get ready to leave for the train station. A soft coat of snow has covered the buildings and roads, forecasting a possible mess in terms of driving into the city. Wine and Montreal bagels souvenirs were given up, we arrived at the train station just 10 minutes before boarding. Our return trip was full of naps and more naps. With only an incident of train restarting and 10 minute delay, we arrived back to the city with some of another set of awesome memories of Montreal.

P.S. The next trip is only 4 months away. I will be going to ride giant Ferris wheels and eating authentic croissants. The trip planning log will begin shortly …

vivax’s Montreal trip – trip no. unknown – Part o1

Montreal is known for its rich history, architecture and of course, lower legal age drinking limit. I have been to Montreal many a times since my teenage years, and went through the history part of it in a daze. In the last 5 years, Montreal has became the go-to rewind and party city for a few of my close friends. The city layout, vibe, and cheap, yet wide, wine selection is what draws us to this slightly colder city.

This trip was planned on one of those very spontaneous phone calls with my girlfriend, J, during the Christmas holidays, and it goes along like this …

J: We have a place to stay next time we go visit Montreal. Our friend has a place that can fit all of us.

V: So when are you thinking?

J: mid-January …

V: As long as it is not the end, I am okay. No car though. Need to look into transit.

J: Megabus is a torture. Check train.

V: Gimme a minute … it will be about $80 per person. No hotel this time so it evens out.

J: Done … let me tell the other two.

We manage to plan, book and informed our friend in less than 48 hours. Soon after that though, something happened in my life … I became single again after 3 years of committed relationship. The decision of ending it was rough and would have been rougher without my darling girls to hold me up. After a few days though, J reminded me that our spontaneously planned trip could not have came at a better time. A weekend with my girls is just what I needed. (As thankful as I am of their love and support, they were going to assign someone to 24-hour watch over me anyways. This will save their time and energies. *giggles*)

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**guess what … I even broke out the MEC backpack from my school days (purchased in 2001!!!)**

NEXT: What happens in Montreal really stays in Montreal??? Trip Reflections etc.

vivax’s Orlando trip 2.0 – Part o3

Trip Reflections etc.

This will be the first of many trip reflections … unlike Part o1 and o2, this will concentration mainly on how this trip changed me. It is one of my resolutions to learn to reflect on every experience and take account of success/lessons/memories.

Orlando trip 2.0 was an amazing memory. Overall great trip and everyone had fun, zero drama, and lots of lessons learned. Here is the condense list …

1. Go with Friends!
Good memories from trips are only enhanced by the company you travel with. Whether it is by yourself or with family and friends, and the great part to this trip had to be all of those quirky moments among friends which none of us can forget. From the Kodak moment at Tower of Terror to the exhaustion evident on our faces by the time we got off the plane, every moment of the trip was a precious memory. Good thing was my friend is super handy with the iPhone camera and managed to capture almost 1000+ pictures of the entire trip. Another plus of travelling with great friends, you can act like an idiot and no one cares!

2. How to travel with 20-something year old CHILDREN @ Disney?
This is a big one. My girlfriends were badgering me way ahead of the trip that they want to wear Mouse ears while running around in Disney, and I was terrify of losing them in the sea of Disney attendees. Considering their combine age has already exceed 50, their child like side didn’t seem to dampen one bit. On the 2nd day of our trip while browsing through the Disney outlet store, I found these adorable and sparkly headbands for only $3.99+tax. It was the perfect scenario, one in pink and one in turquoise, exactly my two girlfriends’ favorite colours. I just bought them and said, “Please wear them so I won’t lose the two of you inside the parks!” On the morning of, the two of them even did their hair so they could wear the headbands all day. As my 3rd friend and I walked from the Disney parking lot and through the parks, we noticed a lot of adult and children alike staring at the two of them. Apparently, many little girls wanted the exact same thing and couldn’t find them at gift stores. My girlfriends would wiggle their head to make the little foam mickeys bounce just to make little girls jealous. (Another fun memory … My 3rd friend and I were force to act like parents to two 20-somethings for one full day.)

3. Get true commitments (esp. with Trip Budget)
Not everyone around you can afford to go away on vacations 3-4 times per year. So when trip planning, make sure they have the money put aside before booking on behalf of your friends. Otherwise, you will be looking into one long wait to see that money go back into your bank account.

4. Stick to Plan but be flexible too …
This was a key thing I learn over the last few years, vacations are meant to be relaxing. Plan at least one day or just an afternoon where you do absolutely nothing.
5. Plan for souvenirs and luggage space …

vivax’s Orlando trip 2.0 – Part o2

Lessons learned from trip 1.0:
1. Book rental car early. The earlier you book, the cheaper the price, and the better rental counter locations.
2. Hotels are everywhere near Disney and Universal. Even the big brand hotels are not expensive there. You can get a lot of amenities if you are willing to be slightly out of the way. 5 minutes drive is not much for a tourist area like Orlando.
3. Use your air-miles to book flights early! I blame this bit a lil more extravagant because I have silly friends who do not tell me they want to go too or have last minute flight plan changes. I really wish you three can see this post. Clearly you do not know how much it takes to coordinate all of your schedules! Especially the one overseas!
4. Restaurants @ Disney World – Choose where you want to have dinner and reserve restaurant approximately 1-2 months in advance. I ended up reserving two restaurants for us to choose from. The main point was to have dinner than watch the gorgeous fireworks at Epcot. Plan ahead!

Due to work hours, vacation times, and exam schedules, I decided another 4 days and 4 nights trip. To maximize our time spend in Orlando. I looked into flying in the evenings only and with no stopovers preferably. This limits our choices of flights dramatically. After searching for hours each day over a 3 week period, finally managed to locate enough spaces on flights for all of us. Little did I know that some of my
friends actually do not even know how to travel alone. It is very sad to hear that at my age. Really really sad.

We wanted to also maximize our activities in Orlando. This time we want to Shop, Disney and Universal. The final itinerary goes as follows:

Saturday – Day 1: Flight departure at 7pm … Arrive in MCO at 11pm.
Sunday – Day 2: Shopping at the Premium Outlet Malls (Vineland and International Drive).
Monday – Day 3: Disney World – Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot (One day ticket w/ Park Hopper; Reserve dinner restaurant early online!)
Tuesday – Day 4: Universal Studios – Both parks (Get the Fastpass; it is so worth it!)
Wednesday – Day 5:Shopping for last minute souvenirs @ Downtown Disney and @ Millenia Crossing, aka the Yorkville of Orlando. Flight departure from MCO at 8:30pm … Arrive at 11:50pm.

Total travel expenses: Flight/Hotel/Rental Car/Universal Studio Tickets = $700 per person.

NEXT – Trip Reflections etc.

vivax’s Orlando trip 2.0 – Part o1

Note: I had planned to write down this experience for months prior and months after the trip. Took me days to type up all of the info without dragging on and manage to capture the essence of the trip itself. This trip happened in mid-November of 2013.

Before I get into the details of this trip, let me show you a glimpse of how trip 1.0 came about …

Every child who had ever watched a Disney movie had the dream of going to the great Walt Disney World. Those who grew up in more fortunate circumstance would have probably went there at least once in their formative years. I didn’t have that. Although my parents had promise to bring me there before I turn 18, finances just did not allow it and frankly, I knew better than to ask.

It was years later after university graduation, after I started work, after some random crisis that I brought it up with my other half in the summer of 2012. “I have never been to Disney World. I want to go on my birthday!” To which his response was … “Really?!?! I have been there at least 4 times already.” My excitement over this brilliant idea completely took over his less enthusiast response. I begin pouring over
travel planning with my spare time: reading through numerous forums and ticket websites, trying to control our budget for this trip, etc. In the end I said concluded, “it is my birthday trip, why should I spend time planning my own birthday?” I brought it up with my other half in these exact words, “I will plan the flight, hotel and car rental. Please plan the actual trip itinerary.”

It was not an overly activity filled trip in itself. I was working unhealthy work hours. For a workaholic like myself that meant working til 2 hours before departure and arriving back at the office an hour after my flight had landed.

Back to the trip itself, I end up planning exactly a 4 days and 4 nights trip; with travelling taking up one evening and one day. Last minute flight plans can really mess your trip up sometimes. I never plan last minute anymore. I am too frugal for that. Here is the itinerary:

Saturday – Day 1: Flight departure at 3pm … Arrive in MCO at 8pm.
Sunday – Day 2: Shopping at the Premium Outlet Malls (Vineland and International Drive). Thank goodness for their late closing time of 9pm!!!
Monday – Day 3: Disney World – Magic Kingdom and Epcot
Tuesday – Day 4: Downtown Disney, Disney Boardwalk and Seafood Dinner
Wednesday – Day 5: Flight departure from MCO at 10am … Arrive at 3pm.

It was an overall fun trip, not overly exhausting, I got a chance to catch up on some sleep. I knew I did not have enough of Orlando yet. By the time I got back home, my best friend, who had to suffer through listening to my nauseating sweet couples trip, says/declare WE are going to Orlando for our birthdays next year.

This was how Orlando trip 2.0 came about …