The Canadian Melbourne

11 07 2010

AKA Toronto.

CN Tower...and smoke!

It's not every day you get to see this!

Yes, Toronto is very much like Melbourne – perhaps lacking in all the great side lanes that Melbourne is so famous for, but in the general ‘feel’ of things, there were many similarities.

Queen St West (which I liken to Bridge Rd, sorta)  is a dangerous, dangerous place for people like me (i.e. prone to spend money I don’t have on things I don’t need), home to many wonderful and unique shops – quality shopping for many hours, no problems whatsoever. Chinatown is GREAT, and so are the Kensington Markets (again, many opportunities to spend aforementioned no money).

David and Anne VERY kindly put us up while we were here, which was an enormous sigh of relief for both Mark and me. Having stayed mostly in hostels and hotels, with varying degrees of home ‘comforts’ (things that most people consider basic necessities, such as towels, hot water, a place to cook/store food), it was all kinds of wonderful to be staying in an actual home. Yes, we could cook, watch tv, use the internet without paying $5 for 20 minutes (I’m not pointing any fingers…VEGAS), and more importantly just veg out without feeling like we were ‘wasting’ the day in a hostel dorm. Bliss.

<commence rant to justify doing nothing for a week>

People often underestimate how difficult travelling can be. It’s not like going on holiday. At. All.

When you go on holiday, you generally plan everything, and plan to be in one or two places for a specific length of time. You plan some activities perhaps, or just sit on a beach and relax (unless you’re the kind of holidaymaker who likes to go trekking or other such ridiculously strenuous activities). Travelling, on the other hand, involves arriving in a place you’ve most likely never been to, finding your way to a hostel, then trying to cram as much of that place in as you can in the limited time you’ll be there. Then you pack (a huge feat in itself), get on a bus/train/plane, and do it all again with another place. It’s wonderful, yet exhausting. It’s exhilerating and you see some completely unique sights, yet it can be incredibly repetitive. You need to give yourself a break, but every break you have feels like a wasted opportunity. You end up fighting ‘travellers guilt’ – a term I invented (perhaps I didn’t invent it but I’ve never seen the term before so I’m claiming it as my own) to describe how you feel when you take some time off to do nothing. Oh, the guilt! Think of all the sights we could have seen today! We might never come back here, then we’ll regret not having done this! Your feelings are generally made worse when you meet other travellers who say ‘Oh, you’ve just been to <insert place of travel>? I loved it there! Did you see <insert sight you chose not to see in favour of resting>? It was INCREDIBLE.’

The ferocious 'Monster'

The cutest Monster I've ever seen...

I can feel your disdain from here. Oh, you poor thing. Travelling around the world sounds SO stressful and horrible in comparison to my everyday work life. OH you poor little cherub, shall I peel you a grape? Or something to that effect. Yes, I get it. I’m not saying it’s a bad lifestyle by any stretch of the imagination. I am saying it’s not quite the palm trees and beaches experience that everyone envisions it to be. We see amazing places, people, things every day – but damn, we had to work hard to see them. There’s only so much culture a person can take in before they start suffering from another travel affliction I like to call ‘travellers apathy’. Or to put it another way, ‘Yes, I can see the church. Yes, it’s beautiful. I just don’t give a damn any more. Oh, what’s that? Another goddamn museum? Wonderful.’ 

</rant to justify doing nothing for a week>

Travelling involves a certain amount of planning, then throwing yourself out there and seeing what happens. You have to. You just can’t plan everything, and if you do, it can end up costing you more than just money – you miss out on some amazing opportunities. So you really do need to leave yourself open to the possibilities.

HOWEVER. 

Things we have learned:

  • Don’t ‘wing it’ in a big city on a Saturday night. There’s a very good chance you MAY end up sleeping in a crackhouse
  • You really don’t need as much as you have packed. Really. And you’ll hate yourself for packing that much later
  • Travel towels can be a godsend – particularly when you get to a hostel, ask them about towels, and see their eyes glaze over
  • Megabus in the USA/Canada is amazing – cheap tickets, power outlets for your laptop and free wireless on board the bus
  • Greyhound, while insanely cheap, should be avoided at all costs. It’s cheap for a reason, people
  • Yes, it CAN be 6 degrees one day and 20 the next. Plan accordingly!

So yes, back to Toronto. We didn’t do a lot, but had a wonderful time nonetheless, and recharged our very low batteries.

Thanks again Dave and Anne, VERY much appreciated.

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One response

31 07 2010
David

Ahh no worries Chloe, you’re most welcome!

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