Like I promised in Part 1 of my NY-Toronto Trip Recaps and Highlights, here's Part 2. And in this entry, I start with my Toronto welcome...
- Stayed at the Delta Chelsea. Great, central location. Good customer service. No WiFi, but High Speed Internet Access is available in some rooms, I got one of those rooms. The bathroom was a bit of a disappointment (in need of renovation, as far as I'm concerned), but the room itself was quite spacious and nice. I was told that the hotel had a great pool, but unfortunately, I didn't have the time, energy and inclination to check it out.
- My fabulous "Welcome to Toronto Party" that almost never ended. After checking in the hotel at around 4.30, I was already on my way out to see and experience Toronto by around 5.30 pm. Although I've never met any of them before, I went to see Junnie Arreza, Robin Yap, and Che Diego. Junnie is this smart, talented photographer whom I know through blogging from 5+ years ago. Incredibly enough, we've never met in person until then! The intelligent and outgoing Robin is someone I met just a few months ago, also through blogging. I think MyBlogLog even had a hand in it. And, sweet interesting Che... well, Che was the only non-blogger of the bunch (well, shortly after, she started her own blog too!). I knew her through my good friend and FreshWave co-blogger Berns. She 'introduced' us via Facebook a few days before I left for my trip. Junnie, Robin and Che didn't know each other either even though they lived in the same city. So yep, we were bunch of virtual strangers/acquaintances meeting up. But, if you saw us that night, you would've thought we hanged out for years. For some reason, we all just clicked. Loved the lame jokes, the silly banters, the stories, the subway ride, the trip up and down the CN Tower, the view from the 360 restaurant (and the food, of course!), the weird feeling of walking on a glass floor from "the tallest building in the world" (115 stories high, right?), the incessant photo-taking, the light show... and everything else in-between. It was nearly 11pm when we all parted. Needless to say, we met as strangers and parted as friends. Thanks again for the treat (the guys wouldn't let me pay for anything - not even my subway tokens!)... and for an amazing welcome.
- Meeting the b5media Crew. No, not everyone. But, it was an almost surreal experience to finally meet Jeremy Wright (my co-founder and our CEO), after knowing each other online for a couple of years and working together. We didn't get to hang out a lot, but the few hours we managed to get together were definitely good and worthwhile. His most memorable line to me was, "I thought you'd be a lot shorter." Well, he said a few other memorable things but I probably shouldn't be blogging about them. Heh. It was also great to be able to meet Mark Evans, who was obviously Mr. Popularity. 🙂 Everywhere we went in downtown Toronto, he seemed to be bumping to someone who knew him. I managed to hang out with Mark the most while I was there. And, it was great for productivity, brainstorming, and such. I also had the pleasure of meeting his lovely wife Pam on my last evening there. One of Mark's memorable lines to me: "You should definitely change your profile picture. You look different in person." I was a bit taken aback so I never got the chance to ask, "Different, how?" Meh. Anyhoo, other than Jeremy and Mark, I also met our two new interns then - Duncan Cairns-Brennan and Janet Tieu. It was cool. And yeah, I caught up a couple of times with Chad Randall again. And, amazingly, the three guys (Jeremy, Mark and Chad) managed to show bits and pieces of Toronto to me during and in-between business meetings... Kensington Markets, Eaton Centre, Mills Pub, etc. Yay. Just a shame I didn't get to meet our fab Office Manager (Darcie), who was then on vacation. Ah, maybe next time.
- Meeting Some Great Folks from JLA Ventures. Other than fellow b5ers, I also had the fantastic opportunity to meet part of our VC team. Rick Segal, John Albright (whom I ended sitting right next to during dinner), etc. were all fascinating . Seriously, some of the people I met there (from the VC company and some of the business folks that they work with) just had such great energy and passion. It was incredible even just to watch them all in action.
- Hanging out at the brand new b5 Office. Well, 'hanging out' doesn't sound quite right as we were working. But, boy, that was one cool office space to work in. Ah. Well, I won't go on about it. I already blogged about how fantastic it is. 🙂
Toronto - LA - Sydney - Adelaide Journey
- This is by far the longest trip I made in one straight journey. About 35+ hours in total and roughly 22 hours of that spent inside an aircraft. Yikes. There were delays, missed flights, annoying seatmate and an even more annoying Qantas flight attendant (on hindsight, I probably should've reported him to Qantas for bad behaviour - he was very condescending, among other things) -- for the LA-Sydney route, and all sorts of grief. But hey, that's business travel for ya. 😉
- While in a queue to leave Toronto, a guy behind me said, "So, do you also work for FedEx?" Uh, no. Didn't get the connection until later on. But, he just kept on trying to chat. Asking me if I've been to Boston and if I wanted to see it, since he was from there. OK. I decided there and then that all those chat-up stuff must be due to the crazy, hectic feelings we get when we've been travelling. Ergh.
- Was just absolutely thrilled to be back Home.
So, there you go. Now, to move on and make new memories...