Toronto – The Three Of Us

Its 6 am.

Its very 6 am.

Its all of the 6 am, and I am very aware of it.

We get it in the car with my Uncle Drew, who takes us to the train station. Were standing at the station and theres a sombre mood across the station that reminds everyone that the sun hasn’t kissed the horizon, yet they’ve had to kiss goodbye to their tender loving bed all too early.

As the train pulls up, all the passengers assimilate into order, almost with a pre-planned knowledge of where to stand, how to stand, how fast to shuffle into the carriage. Theres no ploughing through the train doors, like I am used to. Everyone is even in two lines just queued up and patiently waiting for their turn to board, and when the train comes to a halt, its exactly where the line is queued.

Its awesome, but very foreign to me. I’m used to seeing people just hovering on the platform, waiting for when the train will pull up, to then hustle to the nearest door and crowd around the opening, as people disembark, waiting for them to finish leaving the train, so that everybody can pour into the carriage.

We’re meeting my cousin, Ben at the other end. He’s been living the Toronto city for a couple years, so he’s going to show us around the traps. Luckily for us, he’s taken up an apprenticeship as a chef, so we have this mutual understanding that the less we can spend, the better we’ll collectively be.

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My Mate Tim’s

We jump off the train and make our way down town (cue ratty song which will be stuck in your head for the remainder of the day). First stop. Have a guess… Our mate Tim’s place. We hook up the wifi on the phone and work out where we need to go. Luckily, were only about 2-3 blocks away from where we need to be. Were off for a walk, and BAM! We come across none other than Toronto’s infamous ice rink.

Bec took the initiative only the other day to swing into an op shop and pick up a pair of skates for $8. She was already carrying them with her. Without any second thought, she’s sitting on the cement block, strapping her skates on. I kinda want her to wait for me, but I know she is mad pumped, so let her do her thing, and she’s loving life.

Surprisingly for her first time on ice skates, she’s killing it. Admittedly, there really isn’t anyone else on the ice, which is a good thing, but she is nailed this whole ice thing already. She skates for about 20 mins or so, and picks me up a hockey puck, which I decide is worth keeping.

We pick up our gear and make our way toward Ben. Naturally, being a Chef, he is working obscene hours, so we tuck into another… TIM HORTONS!

We wait.

And wait.

And wait more.

And then were sick of waiting, and decide to see a bit of the immediate city surrounding us. Were sitting in the heart of china town in Toronto. Its very Chinese, unsurprisingly. A couple hours pass as we explore the Chinese suburbs of Toronto.

And thats all I have to say about that.

Ben takes his time trying to find us, and we’ve already been warned that Ben is a bit of a freak for Ramen. So we’ve prepared our mind, hearts and bodies for Ramen. And it does
not disappoint.

Post Ramen, we decide to stroll our way through the city. Ben takes us to Younge and Dundas square. It kinda feels like a smaller version of Time Square. There are screens and billboards like I’ve not seen yet. Its awesome.

There is this awesome drummer chilling on the path.

He’s kinda amazing, and not only is he jamming away, but he is keeping the beat incredibly well, instead of just showing off how quick he can drum. Its a sight to see.

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Beats in for the passers-by

From what I hear, he’s a bit of a regular too.

We continue to the ice rink and hire our skates. I’m not really gonna leave my laptop in a bag on the edge of the ice with my camera, so I decide to hire a locker. They only require a quarter. Perfect. I’ve only got a tenner. Not perfect.

I ask the hire guy where I can get change, and he is clean out of coins, so directs me to the burger stall-thing next door. I head to the window and say something to the tune of “Hey Mate. Can you break a tenner? I need a quater for a locker”. He replies “Oh yes, I can”. I stand there, with my wallet wide open, holding my note, and waiting for the next step. He is staring straight back at me.

Neither of us are sure of what to do next. I dont know wether it is company protocol to just open the till and change a note, but judging from the blankness of his expression, I am assuming he doesnt know either.

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Twinning

“So… Can I buy a water or something? Or if there is something cheaper, I’ll buy that”. The guy starts to get my water. Its water in a cup, from a drink dispenser, and I know its just tap water, but I just pay the $1, cos I need the change. The guy drops a fiver in my hand a heap of coins. “Thanks mate”.

We get to the locker, and nothing fits. Ben has a look through, and the wanker didnt give me any coins at all. Ben takes the liberty of taking the coin back to the guy, and comes back empty handed. “Dude… He didnt even have any quarters”.

“You have got to be taking the piss?”
“Nah bro”
“You’re kidding me? Who does that?”

I thought the guy looked a bit special, but I didnt think that he was that slow. I’m ranting, and this lady turns around and hands me a quarter. Lifesaver. We skate, and our feet hurt earlier than I anticipated, so we call it a day.

We get on our way and walk past this board game cafe and tuck in for a few hours. We introduce Ben to Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride. Games we both enjoy. We kinda flog ben in all the games we played, but unlike myself, he isnt a tosser if he loses. Its all laughs from his end.

This place really is just a game library more than a cafe though. The bloke serving us is so proud of his coffees, but after living in Melbourne for 3 years, its a tall order to meet the standard of coffee Bec and I are familiar with. He’s nice enough, and wearing a Buzz Lightyear shirt. Legend.

We make our way to our accommodation and check in.

We get there, and its just a town house, but very asian-ified. Hand written notes everywhere, a bucket hanging on a string to return the key to. Its like a really basic and ratty version on a backpackers hostel. Actually… You get charged more if you check in before 1pm, and the earlier you want to check in, the more you get charged.

There was a hispanic couple waiting out the front before us trying to find someone to check in with, and the wifi password was “youarewelcome”. Like, settle down guys, you arent really doing us that many favours. Lets be real now.

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The houses are the shops, and the shops are the houses.

We walk up to our room, which on the third level, so we cant hear the renos being done, which start at 11pm… Wtf? And The room is probably 8sqm. Which isnt that bad, I mean a single room is usually 10.5 sqm, according to google. BUT! It doesnt have a shower and toilet in it too does it?! No. This one does. Its ridiculous. You cant have the bedroom door, and the bathroom door open at the same time, and you cant have anyone in the corridor when you try to open either of the doors.

You have to be on your tip toes to get your knees in the right angle, so that you can actually close the toilet door. Its unreal. But, it was $49, so… you get what you pay for.

We tuck in for the night, and other than a couple doing the midnight shuffle next door, we slept pretty well.

Come back later,

Billy

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