Today I went to drop off an application to rent an apartment. The apartment itself is near to where I am staying now, but the rental-management company’s office is closer to downtown; it is, according to Google maps, 6.3 kilometres from here. It was a lovely day for a walk and I decided that I could use the exercise — and that by walking, I would gain a better sense of at least a small portion of my new city. There was no way I could get lost (even if I hadn’t had the Maps app on my iPhone, which I do): from the house where I’ve been staying, a few blocks north of Eglinton, I simply needed to walk straight down Yonge Street to a few blocks south of Bloor, then turn east for three blocks. Simple.
I planned that after I dropped off my application, I would stop for a coffee, Google some information about the transit system, and return home either by bus or subway.
I enjoyed my stroll, which took just over an hour. I noticed lots of stores and restaurants and a library I intend to investigate more fully when I have more time—not to mention the scenic expanses of Mount Pleasant Cemetery (“We have lots of vacancies!” the sign outside announces) which clearly merits an investigation of its own some day.
When I got to Yonge and Bloor, however, I began to suspect that my return trip might be more complicated than I’d hoped. I could barely get past the subway station there because hundreds and hundreds of people were standing on the sidewalk and more were pouring out of the station (thousands, I learned later), being herded into line by TTC security and police. The streets out front were jammed with cars, buses, taxis, and television news trucks.
After I dropped off my application, I went to a Second Cup, where I checked the Toronto Star website. The lead story told me that a private contractor had somehow damaged a tunnel near Bloor and Yonge and the subway line had been closed.
So I walked home again. I had lots and lots of company on the return trip – although most of the other pedestrians were on their cell phones trying to find someone they knew to come and save them from the enforced hike. The special “subway express” buses that had been pressed into service to help relieve the commuter congestion were packed, and cab drivers were taking on three or four fares with different destinations at a time. The happiest looking person I saw was a man with an electric scooter. Next happiest was a woman who was telling someone on her cell phone that she had decided she was “just going to walk. It’s a good day for a walk.” I agree with that approach under normal circumstances, but after 12.6 kilometres (most of the return trip of which was uphill) today, I am planning no expeditions for tomorrow.
Welcome to the big city, Mary.
The cultural/social differences between prairie Canada and Toronto continue to present themselves: albeit subtly. Yesterday, after I’d had Part One of an emergency root canal, I decided to get a frappuccino for a late lunch. I was hungry. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and I knew it was going to be hours before the freezing came out of my face enough that I could eat anything that required chewing. But when I placed my order at Starbucks, the barista looked astonished. She said to me, “You do know you have ordered a frozen coffee, right?” I assured her that I did know what I’d ordered. It wasn’t until I heard a few people complaining about the cold weather (I think it had gone all the way down to zero, but it was sunny) that I realized why she had asked me: I guess Torontonians don’t often order frozen coffees in November. I’ll have to be careful not to make myself stand out from the crowd in future.
Also in Toronto, as compared to Edmonton and Saskatoon, there are:
- Many many more tailors, which makes sense because there are also
- Many many more people who are perfectly tailored!
There are also
- Fewer people who are overweight
- More people who honk their horns at other drivers and
- Many more people carrying cases containing violins, cellos and other musical instruments (unless they contain machine guns, of course. I didn’t think to ask).