Tuesday, June 22, 2010

City Chase 2010- Toronto COMPLETE!

On Saturday, June 19, 2010 I competed in the 2010 Mitsubishi City Chase.  Dubbed 'the world's largest urban adventure', this event saw 600 teams run in a massive scavenger hunt through the city, completing challenges, answering trivia questions, and having a wonderfully exciting day.

For those who are looking for advice, I have 3 main points to touch on:

1. Have a competent HQ: Most teams have at least one person available to contact by phone to google clues and do some problem solving. Make sure they know a) the city well, b) how to use the internet, c) how to use cell phones (send text messages, receive picture messages). Ryan (my partner) and I simply took a picture of our clue sheet, emailed it to HQ, and had them send back the answers and directions.

2. Get a big map: We naively thought City Chase would only occupy the downtown core. WRONG. Far corners of the city were used... unfortunately we didn't have a map to capture that. Our downfall may have been because of this. By seeing where Chase Points clustered, we could have avoided isolated points in favor of better, strategic locations.

3. Pack light: It appeared that the more experienced the City Chaser, the lighter the knapsack. A team who had won the year before only had fanny packs to hold their things. The backpack became seriously heavy as the day went on. Pin your bus pass to your shirt to avoid hassle. Have water, ID, cell phone, map, pens, and extra paper.

Our Route
Ran from Nathan Phillips square to Spadina, where we took a street car south to Queen's Quay. Chase Point #1 (Breakdancing) and #2 (Kayaking) were down here. Caught a streetcar east to Union Station, and then ran to #3 St. Lawrence Market (Walkie-Talkie mini hunt). Ran up to Church and Adelaide to #4 (Hair Salon Braiding), then made our way over to Queen Station to go north. Got off at Bloor and visited #5 (FIFA trivia), then took the subway east to the Danforth. Got off at Pape and went to the park for #6 (Strip Jenga) and #7 (Lacross Skills). Ran back onto the Danforth for Chase Point #8 (Tie a Bow-Tie) and #9 (Unchain Combination Lock). Got back on the Subway heading west and got off at Bloor. Previously busy Jack Astors was now empty so we completed #10 (Bartending Pour) and Went into Yorkville for #11 (Shed a tear). Ran back to Bloor subway and headed north to St. Clair. At Goodlife we completed #12 (Burn off your favourite chocolate bar) and ran a shortcut to the park to do #13 (Boot Camp) and #14 (Ball in head-bucket). Ran back to the subway and went north to Davisville to complete #15 (Video scavenger hunt). Ran back to subway and went north to Eglinton to complete #16 (Comedy Club). Hopped back on to the subway with an hour left in the race, went south to Bloor and west to Dufferin, where we completed #17 (Push a car in neutral). With 25 minutes left in the race we ran back to the subway, headed east to St. George, and south to Osgoode. Ran to the finish line with a time of 5:53:00. At this time they told us we had the most Chase Points of anyone (YAY). Unfortunately, with 2 minutes left to spare, a couple of guys crossed the finish line with 21 Chase Points. That was a bit of a bummer.

Overall it was a great race, and I recommend it to all! I will be doing it again next time I am in Toronto. Only next time, I plan on winning. YEEHAAAW

Itinerary for France

Day 1: Welcome! arrived and had Mom come pick me up at the airport. I was groggy and grumpy. Had a late lunch in the vieux ville of Nice. I spent the rest of the day trying to force myself to stay awake to avoid jet lag. First time in the hilly farmhouse we would be staying in for the rest of the trip.

Day 2: Went to Cannes to catch a glimpse of the film festival! I immediately went into paparazzi mode and tried to look for any celebrities who might have been hiding in the crowd. There were none. Spotted coming out of hotel: Misha Barton, Cheryl Cole, some French singer named 'Celine'.

Day 3: Drove to Grasse, the perfume capital of the world! (or so they say) Went on a tour of a local perfumerie and bought myself some premium scents... for a premium price. Took the long route home and stopped in several small medieval towns on hilltops.

Day 4: Monaco. In Monte Carlo I discovered this little nation-state is basically a casino, many large yachts, and lots of government castles, statues, and monuments dedicated to Prince Albert, Ranier, and Grace Kelly. I had a nasty, overpriced lunch. Remnants of the Grand Prix, such as scaffolding and tire skids on the roads, left evidence of the massive event that had taken place about a week earlier. I was not super impressed. Back to France!!!

Day 5: Today we visited St. Jean Cap Ferrat .. Specifically the annual rose festival held on the Ephrussi - Rothschild estate. Lots of gardens to walk through and roses to marvel at. I obviously took as many free samples of sugar coated rose petals and rose flavoured candy as I could. 

Day 6: My sister arrived!!! Before that, we went to St. Pauls de Vence to see the modern art museum. Wasn't really my thing. Then we went to Vence to see the markets. We had delicious crepes and saw a 500. Then we picked up Karen and had a massive dinner!!

Day 7: Antibes. Favourite place by far. Included delicious lunch, nap on a beach, and a sunny visit to a Picasso museum. 

Day 8: Var (WINE country!!!) toured through the different vineyards, sampling rose, reds and whites at each place. I bought three of my favourite bottles of wine. My sister had been taking a 'wine and spirits' course at school and was able to inform us a bit about what we were sampling. Yum!

Day 9: Ventimiglia, Italy. Famous for its outdoor markets. When we got there, the town was literally littered in dog poop and a bit run-down. It became clear that the money maker in the town was the massively confusing market. Most stuff being sold was mass produced and cheap. Not impressed. Back to France!

Day 10: Time to go home, so sad! It was a wonderful trip to the south of France. Can't wait to do it again!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Provence, France

Just got back from touring the South of France! Unfortunately the internet connection was lacking in the farmhouse we rented just outside of Nice, so I will be talking about my adventure post-trip.

We stayed in Nice, and spend over 10 days traveling through the region on day trips. I visited everything from ritzy Casino's and racetracks in Monaco to hilltop perfumeries in Grasse, medieval castles in Tourrettes-Sur-Loup, and Sandy beaches in Antibes.

Full itinerary of my trip soon. Stay Tuned!