Luckily for you guys, I don’t have nearly as much time to go in-depth on every single conversation I have and where I go. Our time for blogging is much much less now, so we’ll have to go back to bunching the days up.
So Toronto proved to be a complete 180 from Iceland and absolutely smacked us in the face with culture and weather differences. The weather in Toronto was a good 15 degrees hotter and we went from one of the lesser populated areas in the world to one of the more populated areas. Don’t get me wrong, I felt ready for this and embraced it. The scenery of central Toronto is very similar to New York – apparently major film producers frequently use Toronto when making New York based films, as they look so similar, yet filming in Toronto is significantly cheaper.
Another thing that dawned on us, is we were also no longer in one of the most trusting places on the planet, where bnb owners happily leave their front door open for guests to walk in and out as they please. The place we were staying for the next two nights was in a slightly shady area, and is also apparently a hotspot for prostitution, but no we didn’t see any. True to form though, any time we looked remotely lost, we were asked if we needed help, and our airbnb host spent the better part of an hour showing us where to go in the whole of Canada on a map. We’ve been told a few times now to lessen the time we spend here as its not that exciting. Canada was actually one of the few places that both me and Dan agreed on, so we found it a surprise that the locals didn’t have as much faith in the place. We’ve decided to leave the plane tickets where they are for now and see how we go. If we get bored, then sure – we’ll go.
On our first day, we went to the Ripley’s Aquarium in the city centre – one of the top attractions in Toronto. It was beautiful, and as I’ve shared already, they had a crazily large tank full of fluorescent jelly fish. They also had those tiny fish that like to pick your fingernails for you and a tunnel that takes you through the middle of a shark tank. If ever you find yourself here, I’d highly recommend it! While we were on a roll, we decided to go to one of the best rated Chinese restaurants for dinner. We sat down and ordered, as you do, and only then did we look around and notice very large “CASH ONLY” signs everywhere. This made me panic a little as we didn’t have any Canadian dollars on us, so I decided to go and try a nearby ATM. Lo and behold is doesn’t accept my card, so back I go and try to explain to a more senior waitress that we didn’t, at that time, have any money to pay for our food. She then proceeded to find our original waitress and shout at her in the middle of the restaurant, who then grumpily told us that we’d have to pay somehow. Luckily Dan was a bit more level headed than me and told me to wait, while he tried a few more banks. Eventually he had success, but the shouting didn’t stop – this time it was a senior chef shouting at two younger chefs in the kitchen. We don’t know what they were saying, but the Chinese guests were looking away in embarrassment. Apparently you can expect that if you go to China town in Toronto!
Before we knew it, the skies were pitch black and it was time to make our way back to our room. Another big difference that we’ve noticed is that the sunsets are no longer never-ending, only for the sun to rise again before its over. The sun goes down quickly now and it almost seems like a light is being switched off.
Day 2 of Toronto was spent going to the Royal Ontario Museum. It was fascinating learning about a British fleet of ships that set sail over the top of Canada in the hope of finding a quicker passage to China for trade. They became stuck in the ice and the leader of the fleet soon died, leaving the crew to decide what to do amongst themselves. What happened to them was only found out through speaking to the native people of Canada. Whilst I’m vaguely in the topic of races speaking to races, I want to touch on what I’ve noticed about racism in Canada. From what I’ve seen, it’s basically non existent. And that is huge right now. At a time when police have ordered a Muslim woman to take off her clothes on a public beach, there seems to be no such prejudice here. They take is as a point of pride to accept people for who they are, and not the pigmentation of their skin or what religion they decide to follow. I hope they cling onto that because it’s been wonderful to see.
We spent the evening with the Canadians that we met in Iceland. One thing we’ve noticed that seems to only apply to Brits at the moment is making fake plans to see people again as a way of softening the goodbye. What I mean by this is we often say something like “Hey, maybe we’ll see you in California!”, when we don’t whole heartedly intend to actually seek them out once we’re in California. It’s just a polite expression we use to be polite and to give the impression that we did like them. Many people we’ve met both here and in Iceland don’t seem to work that way. Whenever it’s been mentioned that we should try to make plans, they actually intend to see it through. So when we heard from Aleksandra after touching down in Toronto, it was a lovely surprise. So we ate pizza with them this evening and tried to show them some British comedy. It may have been out of politeness, but they did laugh!