"an elegant tapestry of quotations, musings, aphorisms, and autobiographical reflections" (James Atlas)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Toronto - the good, the bad , and the ugly...

Haven't blogged for a while, but I thought our trip might provide a good opportunity to get into the habit again. Well, we're happily in Canada again, one of our favourite holiday destinations. This time, we're starting in Toronto and exploring some of the east coast. After the wonderful weirdness of Los Angeles, coming here was almost a relief! After a relaxed flight on Air Canada - I watched 4 blissful hours non-stop of the latest "Downton Abbey" series - we arrived in a bit of a heat wave, it seems. Balmy mid-20s and going up to 33C tomorrow! The time difference meant we had a short-ish day, which I didn't mind, having woken at 5am to be at the airport at 8am! Enjoying a few quiet moments before bed, we were rudely jolted out of our jetlagged stupor by the hotel fire alarm. I knew we should have refused the room on the 22nd floor! So, down we trot, with a few likeminded zombies, into the lobby, which looked like a night club. Young folk in various state of undress and sobriety lolled about, madly texting, fire engines out the front, police on bikes cruising past. Nobody knew - or cared - if there really was a fire. Toronto's finest were present and seemed to be enjoying the party. After 20 minutes of aimless loitering, we were allowed back into our rooms. I still don't know if there was a fire, although I did smell something burning around the 11th floor, not that anybody seemed to be worried.
Today we made use of the hop-on, hop-off bus services and explored Toronto from a double-decker bus. Great way to see the city. I wasn't too sure what to expect from Toronto, so I was pleasantly surprised by the contrasts in neighbourhoods and architecture. All I saw from the bus into the city were skyscrapers and urban canyons. On today's excursion, it was gratifying to see some of the original architecture, the beautiful trees and parks, old churches, as well as the modern buildings, and the tranquil islands with swans, baby ducks, and people making the most of their weekend. And - I will have you know that we sampled Canada's national dish, poutine. I say sampled and mean it, a taste was quite enough, thank you. My arteries snapped shut upon entry. It was kind of the chef at the "Loose Moose" to let us try a bit, and I can see its potential as a comfort food. If you want to call poutine food, that is.
Our last stop was the Eaton Centre, where I wanted to see the flying geese sculpture. It's a nice, airy space, and I think I could spend a Canadian winter in there, only to emerge in spring, bear-like, but not with cubs.
Sadly, all the good impressions of this city came to an abrupt end at Dundas Place, a mad spot if I ever saw one. Some bloke, down in his luck, had decided to set himself up to make a buck, and had taken a small kitten along to serve as his way of generating income, by having people take photos and charging for it, presumably. Now, I have nothing against capitalist enterprise, and good luck to the fellow for dreaming up a way to raise revenue. However, I draw the line at animal cruelty, and making this poor little scap of a feline share his misery. In a forest of legs, assaulted by wayward children, and made a specatacle of by an uncaring owner, this traumatised creature's eyes will be what I remember about Toronto. I'm sure the kitten was not even 8 weeks old. Not being the sort to let such things pass, I looked for a police person, but of couse, when you need one, you dont see one. So I called the police department from the hotel, and guess what, they didn't want to know! They passed me on to the local SPCA. This being a Sunday, all one got was a recorded message. Very sad. Was it Gandhi who said that a civilisation is judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable members?
But tomorrow is another day, and we're getting outta town to see Niagara Falls. I do prefer nature to so-called civilisation, it is much less cruel. So I'm hoping for a good day on the "Maid of the Mist".

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