Drag Queens and Flak Jackets

28 December / 30 December 2015

Sadly, no white Christmas in Toronto. Just like an Aussie Christmas really, minus the heat wave, budgie smugglers and blowflies.

It’s our last night in Toronto. My last meal of white wine, gluten free pizza and ice cream cake is not resting easily.

I should explain.

Our last meal with our very patient hosts, the Chester family, was an easy and delicious meal of pizza, and as it is our niece’s 5th birthday in a couple of days, the ice cream cake was her selection for dessert. The white wine needs no explanation, nor justification.

However, the combination of pepperoni, ice cream and Ontario Chardonnay is perhaps not a wise mix.

So I suppose after my last blog about tropical paradise you may be wondering what happened next. Well at least I’m hoping you may be mildly interested …

The 12 hour SriLankan Airlines flight from Colombo to Paris that I was dreading, was comfortable and quite enjoyable.

The 4 hours in Charles De Gaulle airport was cold and dark, but bearable.

The 8 hour flight from Paris to Toronto on Air Canada? Well, as I love my Canadian friends and family, and all things Canadian, I will refrain from comment …!

Our two weeks in Toronto has been a whirlwind of tinsel, kinky boots, bagels, ice hockey, subways, drag queens, Children’s Pantomime, Santa, Toronto Police, ice skating, the spirit of Christmas, and even a flurry of snow.

Tinsel. It’s Christmas and Canadians are definitely not afraid of fairy lights, hosting giant hot air inflated Christmas-related characters in their front garden, candy and all things sweet. However, the ubiquitous greeting of “Happy Holidays” (yes, the statement is inclusive to people of all religions and creeds) just isn’t as festive as “Merry Christmas”.

Kinky Boots/Drag Queens. It was a Christmas present of a musical show about a shoe company going into bankruptcy that was saved through the production of “Kinky Boots” designed by a drag queen. I know. Out-there plot line, but great music written by Cyndi Lauper, beautiful old theatre, and what Drag Queen doesn’t perform well under a spotlight with big hair, excessive makeup and perched upon ridiculous high heels?

Ice Hockey. We were lucky enough to watch a live game of this vicious, lightning fast and blood-letting sport on ice. Our nephew and the under-nines York Mills team put up a brave fight.

Children’s Pantomime. Santa was joined by a new friend, Krumpas, the forgotten grumpy spirit of Christmas. Krumpas doesn’t leave presents; instead, he leaves a hunk of coal, messes up Christmas decorations and generally creates a bad vibe. Santa’s arch nemesis. The kids loved him. Oh by the way, it was all a misunderstanding; Santa and Krumpas are “besties” now.

Ice Skating. Who doesn’t love ice skating with good friends in the open air? Downtown Toronto has a free open-air ice rink. An hour and a half and I successfully wobbled off the rink having proudly succeeded in my lofty ambition to maintain a dry bum.

Snow Flurry. We ventured out of Toronto to the country for a fantastic night with friends. Toronto has had unseasonably warm temperatures. In fact, my dream of a white Christmas Day was dashed. Fortunately our friends organised a light flurry of the white stuff (yes snow), enough to satisfy my imagined winter wonderland.


Toronto Police. A dinner we had downtown with very dear friends resulted in tequila, nachos and a purse being pick-pocketed. [Disclaimer. I have never felt in danger whilst in Canada, and I have always found Canada and Toronto quite safe.]

Unfortunately on this night, when arriving at our second destination for cocktails, one of our party was sans purse. In fact, her credit card company was the first to provide the heads-up. We had Sherlock on the case immediately. Our friend “Matthew” located the credit card in use a couple of blocks away. Intrigued, we followed in hot pursuit, to be greeted by two police cars, numerous flak-jacket attired cops, and a handcuffed “Perp”.

Perpetrator. Of crime. Sorry, I was channeling the whole “Law and Order” evening.

I mean, what man stealthily steals a wallet full of credit cards, and then settles in for an evening of fine dining and wine only four blocks away from the crime scene, expecting to get away with using a credit card under the name of “Janice”. I’m no criminal mastermind, but really, if you’re going to spend big on Buffalo Wings and  Pinot Gris after racking up $2800 at Hudson Bay, perhaps use that little rectangle of the bank’s best plastic and move to another suburb. Sorry, this has to be said: “You had access to several credit cards, you’ve already shopped in Canada’s best department store and you couldn’t buy a decent hat or outfit. If the Toronto police didn’t get you, the fashion police certainly would have.”

(PS > Although the story is real, all names have been substituted to protect the innocent.)

Christmas Spirit. Our Canadian family were overflowing with it. Turkey, roast veggies, homemade apple pie, great Niagara wine and three beautiful children. Christmas isn’t the same without children screaming with excitement as they disappear under a flurry of wrapping paper.

The last three weeks has been a pleasant blur of curry, elephants, snow and reindeer.

Stay tuned. Next year is South America. Arriba! Arriba! Epa! Epa! Yeehaw!

About Freoroamers

Richard has worked in hospitality and travel for almost three decades and has been a regular traveller since childhood. He now travels for both work and pleasure, and is a Senior Contributor to Trip Advisor and other digital media travel platforms.
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