Toronto: First Impressions

My first impression of Toronto was, “Oh, yeah. It’s another country and stuff.” My second impression was, “It’s just like Chicago.”

Those wretched storms delayed my flight by about 90 minutes, which is not a tragedy. When we finally arrive, I followed the nice signage to the customs agent. He eyed me suspiciously when I said I was traveling alone and would not be visiting friends or family. I picked up my bag and went to the ATM.

It is against my programming to use a strange ATM. I can’t stand the fees. And since I just learned that both of my credit cards have something called a “foreign service fee”, I really had to use it. Around that time, it occurred to me that my phone might have international fees attached. I e-mailed my mother to look. Sure enough:

Calls are 79 cents a minute. Texts are 50 cents each. Emails are a dollar if they are short enough. Thankfully, the hotel room wi-fi is free.

I had made a reservation with an airport shuttle service. $20 for a lift into town, but the nearest shuttle stop is three blocks from my hotel. It is raining. Then I started looking out the window. Home Depot. Wal-Mart. Best Buy. (rolls eyes).

I checked in, soaking wet. Guy at the desk asked what I planned to do that day. I don’t want to be an Ugly American, but. Really? It is 3:30 pm and I am soaking wet. I am going to dry off and do nothing. So that’s what I told him. But nicely. He upgraded me to a corner room with a balcony. It is a tiny room with a tiny balcony, but still. The view (from a 90 degree angle off the balcony):

There is a 24-hour drugstore down the street so I picked up a case of Coke Diete and some snacks for the week.  Going down the snack aisle I saw all the different Canadian things and got all excited.  I settled on organic gummy cola bottles (apparently, “organic” in French is “biologique” and a Nestle candy called Coffee Crisp.  It seems to be like a Kit Kat, but chubbier and coffee flavored.  Awesome.  And then I found a little diner around the corner.  I was going to get a simple grilled cheese sandwich and a cup of soup, but the guy next to me wouldn’t shut up about the mac and cheese.  Then the jerk went and ordered lasagna.  But I think I might eat there every single day.

So.  I couldn’t seem to book a Niagara Falls trip online, but I will look into that tomorrow.  And the weather will be better, so I will try one of the walking tours in my little Frommer’s book.  But for now?  Reading novels and eating gummy cola bottles.  That say “Bio Cola” on them.

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