weekend in Toronto
weekend in Toronto Reviews
Johnnyk visits Toronto Mar 04, 2008
Headed off to a meeting on Bay Street in the financial district. A previous blog entry described my trials and tribulations with Canadian Customs and Immigration officials at the Niagara border crossing. I thought I might attempt to duck the Red Headed Grand Inquisitor by crossing at Fort Erie near Buffalo. Worked like a charm and I was soon motoring along the shores of Lake Ontario via the QEW.
Internet research suggested that the Days Inn at Yonge and Carlton was on the edge of the area not strongly recommended for naive tourists from south of the border. The Hotel was ok if not five star material. The bath in my room was so small that they extended the counter-top over the head in such a matter that the lid and seat would not stay in the raised position. Housekeeping will have to have a sense of humor and some sympathy for a fellow six foot two inches tall whose lid holding contortions made perfect marksmanship a challenging endeavour.
Are Canadian men expected to sit down. Just doesn't seem right?
The parking garage was notable in it's Maxwell Smart type security. You know, the old through one automatic door into a safe zone before another automatic garage door activated after the first closed behind. Avis can snooze like a baby while their speedy Maxima is tucked underground below street level.
Cautionary note to solo female drivers!
I mention this travel tidbit because I had mistakenly driven into the WRONG parking garage inhabited by assorted nefarious thugs who's presence caused me to seek the garage exit before I had even realized I was in the WRONG garage. The secured Days Inn parking garage may not have made sense without my mistaken entry into the unsecured garage.
Lessons from the Great East Coast Metropolis. Never stop, and never hesitate to run over a carjacker.
Do not let my description of downtown parking garages taint any one's perception of Toronto. It is a great city. Even though Yonge Street has fair smattering of seedy vibe mixed in with the pubs, shops, hotels and restaurants I never found myself in any unsafe or inhospitable situations on the city streets. Hell, compared to the City of Brotherly Love, the bums, beggars and prostitutes of Toronto were downright charming.
Dinner was just a trolley ride to China town on Spadina Street. An $8.00CAD day pass buys all the trolley and subway rides one can manage before 5:00am when prowlers not back in their hotel room poof into a pumpkin.
Some hippy cat asked where I was from, with my crazy accent. He wanted to know if English was my SECOND language.
Tell me Vances, do I have a Philly accent?
Was I really hungry for Chinese two nights in a row? Or had I succumbed to the mysterious yet irresistible lure of a street named Spadina?
Things that make you go hmmmm.
The menu had a few English captions over Chinese text but I tried to draw the waiter's attention to another patron's platter of spicy beef and vegetables. Fellow diners at my singles table spoke no English but seemed amused at my attempts to order dinner.
The waiter had me going pretty good saying, "you wan hot pot?" repeatedly while pointing at the steaming dish of yellow chicken feet and veggies on the next table.
"No hot pot, I'd like the beef dish like that guy over there"
"Ohh, you wan hot pot... ok"
"No no, not hot pot. Beef please."
"I bring you hot pot"
I did enjoy a delicious dinner of spicy beef and Heineken but failed to muster enough Chinese to chat with the young woman on my right. I tried to get the woman on my left to translate but she would only offer critique on my chopstick technique.
One difference between Toronto and Philadelphia. When running for a trolley ready to pull away in Toronto, more times than most the driver will wait for you and open the door so you may jump in.
In Philly they will ALWAYS slam the door in your face and smirk at you while they pull away.
One of the interesting things about the city is despite, or maybe because of all the multiculturalism, there exists a civility among citizens that you might wish to see emulated on the East Coast.
Another interesting observation was the wide range of currency exchange rates offered while the Buck and Looney were trading at par.(2/28/08) Some businesses accepted the US Dollar at equal exchange while others (the Chinese businesses that I patronized) would only accept Georgie at a 10% discount.
I liked the city and it's people as well as the cosmopolitan feel of the place. I would like to see more parts of the city such as the Kensington Market, Distillery District and the CN Tower. I soon hope to return to the city, but will make every effort to not schedule the visit during February.
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