Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Toronto: An almost foreign city

In Grade 7 I visited Alberta on a choir trip. Until recently, that was the only time I had ventured past the borders of British Columbia to explore Canada.

Beyond Canada’s border, I’ve done a fair bit of exploring including visits to four different continents and at least 13 states within America, but it’s shameful that I’ve seen so little of the country that issues me my passport.

A few weeks ago though, I accepted an invitation to visit a friend and bought a plane ticket to the big city of Toronto. It felt strange flying domestic. They didn’t even check my ID until I was through security and boarding the plane.

After a four and a half hour flight, I got my first view of Toronto from above. It looked strangely similar to my first view of view of Russia eight years ago. Snow covered the ground and the rooftops and the city appeared cold and foreign.

This subway station only looks good because
someone (not me) took a cool photo.
My first task in this new city was to navigate the transit system from the airport to reach Robin’s home near downtown Toronto. He had given me clear instructions beforehand and reminded me that in Canada people speak English and it would be easy to ask for directions. (This boosted my confidence considering I had managed for a month in Central America with no Spanish.) I found the right bus, paid my fare, and managed to take the necessary subway transfers to reach his part of town.

Even though people accepted my Canadian currency, and looked and sounded Canadian, I still felt like I was in a foreign country for a few days. The subway stations seemed kind of old and dirty — they were built in the 50s and 60s and seem like they haven’t been re-decorated since then — which also reminded me of Russia.
This fancy old house is now a Mac's
Convenience store

However, as I explored the city, passed many Tim Hortons franchises, and even visited a T&T Supermarket, the city began to grow on me and feel much more Canadian.

For one thing, Canada is a cultural mosaic and I explored that aspect of Toronto through food. I ate Thai food, Indian food, Somalian food, Peruvian food, and even good ol’ North American food with a steak dinner at the Keg Mansion.

Toronto felt much older than Vancouver, because of course it is, but I loved that it was able to maintain a flavour of history in a bustling city. Brick buildings stand shoulder to shoulder with modern high-rises downtown and converted brick row homes house people and businesses.
More old houses lining Toronto streets.
I even grew to like the transit system despite it’s 60s d├ęcor. Three dollars got me from the airport to Robin’s place (no zones!) and one day pass worked for two people on the weekends.

Finally, the people seemed pretty nice too. Though that could just be because my interactions were limited to Robin’s friends and Mormon missionaries.

Coming Soon: Highlights of Toronto


The Keg Steakhouse & Bar said...

Thank you for making a stop at our Keg Mansion during your trip! We appreciate the mention and hope it was memorable for all the right reasons. Thank you Jade!

Eleanor said...

Jade, I always love reading your blog. Your style is just so fantabulous!!!

Becca Bingham said...

How fun! It is always so fun to explore new place and looks like you are doing it a lot!