Well, we did not get off to a good start, Canada. I didn’t know that there were two airports in Toronto, with the airport codes (YYZ and YTZ). I thought my flight from Pittsburgh to Toronto was into the International airport, YYZ. As we approached Toronto, the captain announced that we were almost there—to Toronto City Airport. So I got out my phone and looked at my emails. Sure enough, I was booked to fly into YTZ. That’s not funny, Toronto. Do they have to be such similar codes??? The car I had booked was out at the international airport.
So once we landed I received the text message from Verizon asking if I wanted the travel pass to use my phone in Canada. I said yes, but still did not have internet. So I got into the terminal and hopped on the wifi to rent a car from this airport. But it’s so small (the runway is literally on an island and you have to take a ferry or go underground to get to the mainland), there isn’t even a rental car counter. A guy working traffic said that I had to call them and they would send a shuttle. It took me a long time to find a phone number and get ahold of someone, but eventually they picked me up. The app would only allow me to rent and return at the same location, though, and I needed to be able to drop off out at the international airport, but forgot to talk about that when I picked up the car.
I got in and tried to get my maps to work, but had to park outside of a Starbucks (of which there are about 4000 in a 4 block radius) to get wifi. After spending more money than I think I needed to, I was prompted that my data roaming was off. So instead of paying $15, I could’ve paid $2/day. But it wasn’t until I agreed to add the $15 service that my phone told me why it wasn’t working. Of course. Even then, by evening I received a text that I had incurred $10 in international fees. Um, what the H was I paying $15 for?? So I stopped using roaming for the most part.
After I got the internet figured out, I proceeded to the St. Lawrence Market, where I was looking forward to having a Peameal Bacon Sandwich, which Toronto is famous for. But the market was closed on Sundays. Guess I should’ve checked that. At this point, I was so frustrated, and couldn’t yet get into the condo I had rented, so I drove directly to Tiffany! I purchased an infinity necklace, because they had 18-inch chains. I had wanted a necklace in Japan, but all their chains were 16 inches. Too short. The woman helping me was awesome. She suggested I start a blog. I told her I already had one and she asked if it was all about baseball. I said no, it was a travel blog, but there is some baseball in it. She told me she wanted to know what it was called so she could read it, but I forgot to tell her before I left. We also realized that I am in the “system” for Tiffany international. Score!
It was then late enough that I could check in to my condo, which was very conveniently located. At this point I was starving, as I hadn’t eaten since breakfast of Starbucks at the Pittsburgh airport over 7 hours earlier. I had noticed Wahlburgers, which was next to the car rental place, and was so excited to eat there. I had forgotten that they had one here, even though I’ve seen the episode of the show about it! I had Donnie’s pick of a burger, which was ok. I should’ve just picked the usual…this is why I don’t try new things. If I just get what I know I like, I’m good. When I try new things, I end up disappointed. Most of the time. I also realized that ketchup tastes different in Canada. But I thought that couldn’t be right…
I then rested for a bit before heading across the street to the CN Tower (have I mentioned how conveniently located this place is?). I had wanted to go up just before sunset so I could see the city in the light and then in the dark. But that plan was foiled because I was told when I purchased my ticket that the wait was an hour to go up. It was a long hour wait, but I stuck it out. It was a beautiful view of this large city, but it was hard to take photos because of the reflections due to the lights inside. I didn’t want to just go to bed afterward, but it was 10pm on a Sunday night, so as I walked around, I didn’t find much open. Until I came across Fionn MacCool’s pub. I went in for a cider, but they didn’t have an Irish cider. I always think that’s strange. So I tried a new one, Somersby, and it was really good. I accidentally paid for my cider with my debit card, which will become important.
This morning I got up and got ready to go to Niagara Falls. I first hit up Tim Horton’s, as you do. I only went for donuts because I don’t drink coffee. I will try it again tomorrow, but what I had wasn’t great. Maybe my expectations were too high? Anyway, there was an ATM in the building, so I tried to get cash out with my debit card so I could have Canadian money and cash in case there were tolls. I realized that the ATMs weren’t working (I had tried the night before at a different one) because they only read chip cards and my debit card is not a chip card.
I set out for Niagara Falls, which was super easy to get to. I got nervous crossing the border, thinking it was strange for an American to enter Canada one day, rent a car, and drive back into America the next day. The border agent asked me where I live, whose car it was, what I did for a living, and why I was coming into the US. For that question, I said: I’m going to Niagara Falls. Then he asked me WHY? I literally thought he was kidding, and then I realized he wasn’t, so I said, “to see them?” I mean how else do you answer that question?
The falls were breathtaking. I love water and being on the water is always a happy place for me, but this water was incredible. The power is has is awe-inspiring. And I’ve never seen so much water like that before in my life! I took some photos from the observation deck, high above the gorge/river. The water was a pretty teal greenish. Then I made my way down, donned my supercute blue Maid of the Mist poncho, and got on board! It was a great boat trip. Seeing the falls from below is amazing. You get fairly wet, obviously, but it was still awesome. I got photos, but I couldn’t see very well due to the sun, mist, and being afraid that my phone was getting too wet! I think a lot of them turned out well. Being inside the horseshoe one was incredible. It was just a beautiful sight to behold. But I think anyone who wants to go over them in a barrel needs their head checked!
I was going to go to Buffalo to see Lake Erie up close, but decided that my trip had been overly ambitious at this point, I was trying to do too many things, and I was exhausted. So I ate lunch there and sought out an ATM. It wouldn’t give me any money. Even though I was in the US. I then realized that by paying for my cider in Canada the night before, my bank shut off my debit card. I had forgotten to notify my cards that I was going to be out of the country. I think I have a hard time thinking of Canada as a foreign country! And it was only a couple days of the trip that were out of the country, so it just slipped my mind. Of course, they don’t call to confirm whether I made the purchases, they just make you realized that the card is deactivated and call them to straight it out. This happened to me as I traveled to Edinburgh on my sabbatical. I had withdrawn X amount of euros that morning, because I was supposed to be in Greece for another day, but due to the strike, I had to leave that day. And my next stop was Scotland. I had a layover in London and was only able to withdraw a small amount of pounds. When I got to Scotland I couldn’t withdraw any money and it was Thanksgiving. I had to call them more than once to get it cleared up. So I haven’t even bothered to try to deal with it now because I can’t withdraw money with it in Canada anyway. They’ll be hearing from me, though.
I returned to Toronto and went straight to Casa Loma, which is a castle that was the largest private residence in Canada. It was a cool mansion, but I think I was so tired and just kind of over Canada, that I buzzed through it in like 30-35 mins. I promptly returned to my condo and slept for an hour and a half. I didn’t think I would need an alarm to get up at 6, but I did! I figured out where I was going to go for dinner. I decided on The Burger’s Priest, which is supposed to be one of the best burger places in Canada. Here again, the ketchup tasted funny. So now I know it just tastes different here and it wasn’t in my head! After dinner I walked to the stadium for the Blue Jays game. I realized that it’s hard for me to care about a game that does not involve the Cardinals (and I’m not playing fantasy baseball anymore, so I really had no dog in that fight). The people around were super obnoxious, so I walked around the stadium, had an ice cream cone, and left in the top of 7.
I’m glad I came, but Canada did not do enough to redeem itself for me. Sure, parts of it were my own fault, but it’s still just not my fave.