0138. Free Parking in Toronto (Can 03--revisit)

Toronto Travel Blog

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City Hall

Irked at five dollars a gallon for gas and $3.50 for a package of crackers, I'm determined not to spend any more money that I absolutely have to in Canada... I feel like I've visiting from a third world country! Luckily it stops raining when I reach Toronto, and I manage to find a free parking space only 20 miles or so away from downtown (slight exaggeration)... and I head off to explore this great city.

 I remember visiting Toronto once with my wife back on our Midwest tour in September, 2003.  I remember really enjoying the variety of the city… the fun indoor market where we tried the eggplant sandwiches… up Yunge Street with its bizarre shops and theaters catering to non-mainstream lifestyles… the beautiful university campus with beautiful old buildings and shady green areas… down into Chinatown, and Latino town with all kinds of funky shops and eateries… finally down to the imposing CN Tower which pierces high into the sky.

  I remember being impressed by the lack of urban decay you see in large American cities and how the whole city has a pretty safe feel to it and I wondered what secrets Canada holds that America lacks.

 Well, here I am again, hoping to get some more insights into this great city and country.  

 So I hurry towards downtown--hoping to take a couple of clips before it gets dark.  Just in time I arrive at THE Nathan Phillips Plaza--which is really the heart of Toronto--right in front of the cloud touching city hall. 

 Thank you, Toronto.  It's nice to finally feel appreciated...

 At one corner of the plaza is “Speaker’s Corner” a little podium where you can come and make a speech about anything you want.

  But I’m not really feeling the need to draw an audience, I just want to play my music and connect with this city—and I have a lot more exploring to do.  So I play my five songs and move on.

 I really enjoy Toronto’s urban landscape—like finding a tiny little old church sandwiched between towers of steel and glass… or the mysterious but unthreatening feel of the back alleyways.  Again, can’t seem to find any really run down neighborhoods.  As a matter of fact, I don't see a lot of poor people here... The homeless people I see, quite frankly, look homeless by choice—which must be a real challenge here in Canada! There's a lot of cultural and racial diversity—but not the stark economic inequalities that see among people of different races in American cities. 

I’m not saying Canada has always been a perfect country, but it’s a refreshing to see a North American city without the “baggage” of segregation and slavery still lingering from its past. 

 I continue wandering on through the various neighborhoods, late into the night, soaking in the subtle distinctions of Canadian culture.


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City Hall
City Hall
The University
The University
THE Nathan Phillips Square!
THE Nathan Phillips Square!
photo by: yasuyo