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On my trip to Toronto, Canda, I found that Americans know so little about Canadians. Americans arent sure how to figure out Canadian currency, they want to use their American currency instead. They struggle to figure out the temperature, because of being use to fahrenheit instead of celsius, or straining to remember the metric system from lack of use in the States. These are all of the things I would figure out after my trip to Toronto, Canada.
The decision to go to Canda was not an easy process.
My partner and I knew we wanted a vacation to get away, and to drag our best friend Shawta along to experience something new with us. The location had to be close enough to drive, within our price range, and a large enough city to keep us entertained. So we finally decided on Toronto, Canada with a stop off at Niagra Falls on the way. This would combine all the things we were looking for in our vist.
Now that the decision was final its time to pack for the trip, and once packed it would be off to Canada for vacation. The drive did not turn out exactly as we had anticipated!
At first we were overwhelmed with excitement thinking about how much fun we would have in Toronto, but as the hours passed so did the energy. There wasnt enough room to stretch, we were hungry, tired, and getting cranky with each other. Stopping at each rest area wasnt helping much at all by this time.
We passed Columbus seeing its patrotic display of red, white, and blue lights on the buildings tops, and now heading towards Cleveland, but still had along ways to go. The drive was broken up into segments to make it easier to endure the long trip. Concentrating on one city at a time as our destination.
Once reaching one of the Various points along the way (Columbus, Cleveland, Fort Erie, Buffalo, Toronto) There would be so much excitement in the car, making the drive some what tolerable. Upon reaching the New York state border we decided to stop and rest. The long trip had taken its toll on us all, some rest would be good. So we stopped at the first rest area once crossing the line; it was probably 9:30-10:00 oclock in the evening. All three of us tried to get comfortable enough to sleep. Shawta, was stretched out in the back seat, Joseph reclining in the passengers seat , and I was reclining it the drivers seat. They fell fast asleep and it just never happened for me, I was wide awake with my eyes closed. Sleeping in the car just didnt make me feel safe, plus the fact I was so excited about arriving in a new country in the morning kept me awake.
So I woke everyone up to let them know we were going to continue on. They agreed, cranky, and tired they fell fast to sleep once again. Our next stop would be Niagra Falls, I couldnt imagine what it would be like. The morning grew closer with each mile, it was like a race to get there before sunrise. The closer we got the faster I drove, not even noticing the traffic building in volume, something that usually makes me very nervous. We passed the first sign for Niagra Falls. We were almost there! I woke them up with excitement to tell them. After an entire night of driving, we were finally rewarded.
Once reaching Niagra Falls in the early morning, the sun was about to peek over the horizon. We pulled in the parking lot after a few detours on my part. There werent many cars in the lot. We all scrabbled to get our coats and cameras to see the beautiful sight. The air was full of a thick mist from the falls. As we walked down the path you could hear the waters sound as it crashed against the rocks below. The sound became bolder and more prevalent. There were hundreds of sea gulls flying overhead. They were soaring through the wet air, calling out to each other, it sounded as if we were at the ocean.
Then I saw it, Niagra Falls, it was much bigger than I imagined. The edge was a straight drop, as if the two edges of the Earth between Canda and The United States were torn from each other. The pictures did no justice to this magnificent sight. I felt so small compared to this great wonder. The three of us just stared into the falls, not speaking a word to each other, it was as if time had frozen. I thought of all the different people that had stood in this same spot, lovers holding hands and whispering in each others ears. It would be so easy to fall in love standing in front of this wonder of nature. We could have stood there for hours and not even noticed it, but we had a lot ahead of us.
Once we pulled ourselves away from the enchanting falls, it was time to cross the border into Canada. I was scared thinking about all the things my friends and family had told be about customs, especially after 9-11. I hoped our entrance into the country would be fast and easy. That was not the case it was long and nerve racking. They made you feel as though you were guilty for something that you were not. Why should I be nervous? I have done nothing wrong, but yet I still struggled with my words and nervous shakes. It took about an hour to cross. The border patrol searched my car, luggage, and various compartments in the car. Cross examing each of us as if we were on trial, not a fun experience at all.
After discovering that some of us had records to explain we were allowed to enter the country. We were finally closer than ever to our destination. Now it was time to exchange currencies. I had only seen the occasional Canadian penny or sliver coins, but not their paper money. It was colorful each bill was a different color, a vibrant change from the usual green.
We had a short drive to Toronto now it went by quickly discussing our experiences so far. Then the city was in sight, hoping that it was huge it slowly appeared, building after building lined up as if pins at a bowling alley. There was one that stood out most of all, it was metalic gold.
The building was so bright in the morning sun, reflecting sunlight off of every inch. This was the finicial district, we didnt know that at the time, but soon found out. Everything was going so fast, the traffic was making me very nervous, plus the fact that I had no clue where to go. We reached the edge of the inner city, where we found a parking lot to park in. So now we could walk around and figure out what to do from here. We needed a place to stay, and information on where everything was, we didnt know where to start. So we walked, and walked some more, it went on for ever, passing homeless people in sleeping bags lying on the side walk. Everyone was passing them as if they werent even there. It was very hard to deal with thats when we started thinking we had made a mistake, what have we got ourselves into. We were twelve hours from home and lost in a different country! So we pulled ourselves together and continued to walk, trying to find some kind of tou!
We then stumbled upon a shopping mall in the bottom of one of these massive buildings. With our feet dragging we looked around for information, nothing just business men in suits standing around talking, it wasnt like any mall I have been to! I spotted a bookstore thinking we could get information on the locations of hotels in an area that we would be hanging out in. The book we were looking for was not there, so we flagged down an employee to ask about it. She told us that particular book store couldnt help us, but she knew where a tourist information station was. It was quite a walk though, but we had to do it. Shawta, was dragging behind her feet killing her, making the situaiton worse.
The three of us were exhausted and uncertain about what to do next. We reached the place the book store employee told us to go, what a relief, and they had information for us as well as a hotel to stay in. We immediately made reservations and with maps in hand our new goal was to get out of this mall and reach the hotel. Apparently, Shawta had been busy too. She had tracked down two young guys and asked them about the dance clubs we were interested in finding. I was surprised, but soon realized she was desperate. One of them was going to help, his name was Robert. He had a slight accent, and spoke very proper. It would turn out he would be our personal tour guide, what luck!
As we drove through the city to our hotel he showed us different places to eat and bars to hang out in. Once arriving at the hotel we hurried to our rooms to unpack and relax for awhile. We had made it finally, and with a new friend to help us enjoy our stay. Each of us told alittle bit about ourselves, and tried to get to know each other. He told us about Canada, from how to set our thermostat to knowing how to figure out how fast to drive. Americans dont know very much about Canada at all, but the Canadians sure know about us. We could name a city and Robert would know the location. Why is that I ask myself, are americans so self absorbed? I think the answer would have to be yes!
After resting up we were ready to go out to eat. Our new friend suggested a place called Zeldas. It was an up beat colorful restaurant, full of intersting and diverse people laughing and talking having a good time. Everywhere you looked there was something extraordinary to look at. I had never seen anything like it, and never will in Dayton. Daytonians just couldnt handle a place like this. Someone or some group would have to protest it and make us miss out. The food was great I had some kind of Chicken meal. It was hot off the grill, with its black stripes up and down the breast, over a bed of pasta covered in alfredo sauce. My salad was the regular lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, and tomatos, however no dressing. I thought this was unusual, but the restaurant didnt use any type of dressing. Zeldas turned out to be our favorite restaurant, we ate there everyday and loved it every time. After paying our bill and working our way through the crowd we decided we wo!
Robert, rattled off many different choices, but we couldnt decide. He finally just took us to a place, I dont recall the name for very good reasons. It was so boring everyone just stood around and talked. So after a few drinks it was off to a different bar. He took us to a place called Woodys, which just so happen to be a place of interest on Showtimes series Queer as Folk. Woodys was much better than the previous place we had been. The music and the crowd of people were more what we uere interested in. The four of us stayed there and had drinks for a while, talking about our crazy spur of the moment trip to Canada. Robert laughing and calling us silly American boys.
This trip was turning out to be a good thing for sure, we even found a new friend in Canada. We talked for awhile and decided to head to a dance club. He took us to this enourmous bar with three levels pack to to walls with people dancing. It was crazy everywhere you looked hundreds of people dancing and having a good time. The air was thick with smoke and the smell of sulfur from the smoke machines was prevalent throughout the complex.
The music was one notch away from being tolerable. I loved it, so many different people together dancing and having fun, it was great! The night was getting late and we still had no sleep from the drive up so we called in the night. Robert, told us he would call our room tomorrow to see how we were doing, and maybe hang out again. We all agreed and started heading back. Once back in the room, dead to the world and worn out we fell fast to sleep.
The next morning, all rested up, we sprung from the bed and fought over the shower. It was time to go check out this huge city during the day. We were staying in The Village district, which was close to many different boutique, that we would have to check out. There were so many shops everywhere we looked. I wasnt sure if our wallets could hold out. We went crazy buying just about everything. Not having a clue how much money we had spent in Canadian currency, we just new it was less than if it would have been in American money.
After we spent more than enough money we headed back to the hotel to check our messages to see if Robert had called, and to go get something to eat. He had called, and left a message to call him back. Joseph returned his call, and we then decided to meet for lunch. Robert, came up to our room and couldnt believe all the things we bought, laughing at us and again saying silly American boys. We had acted like kids in a candy store. We decided to eat at Zeldas once again. It was saturday and the staff all dressed up in crazy costumes at Zeldas. Our waiter was a jungle boy. He only had on a small cheetah print loin cloth, and some black makeup on his face, he was a jungle boy. He was alot of fun, so we asked him to take a picture with us. With his French accent he agreed with a little smile.
At this point we were getting loud from all the alcohol we had consumed so it was time to hit the bars. This night we were going to a new club called five, lots of dancing and people our age. The lighting was out of this world, as it flashed and moved with the music. This was my favorite bar! Everywhere you looked was beautiful people dancing and having fun. Robert, knew some of the guys there and introduced us as his new crazy American friends. We had a good time that night, but it would be our last. The next morning we would have to leave for home. It was sad thinking about leaving our new friend behind so far away, but there was nothing we could do. We sat and talked for awhile exchanging our numbers and email adresses. Then said our goodbyes, it was rough on the way back to the hotel no one spoke just soaked in their own thoughts.
The next morning we packed and loaded the car to head home. The twelve hour drive was rough. The weather was windy, with heavy rain. Once reaching the Ohio border, hours later, everyone felt better as if we were home. The sun had popped out with its rays bouncing from cloud to cloud, It was like a welcome back home. We finally made it, how nice it was to be back home.
The trip to Toronto was full of some many new experiences, and lots of fun. think about the time we had there quite often. Learning all about a different part of the world and how they lived, it changed my way of thinking forever, But most of all our new friend Robert was worth it all. The trip had its ups and downs, but when you look back the downs werent as bad as they seemed, just the beginning of the ups.
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