Superman’s Pet Snake and Maple Ice Cream

Toronto passed in a whirlwind of mild panic attacks and giddy tourism.

Canada Day was celebrated with a festival and fireworks, although we did manage to lose the firework display.

Niagara Falls followed a few days later on Independence Day, with a chatterbox of a tour guide. He gave us helpful tips, such as how to sound more local by pronouncing “Toronto” as “Toronno”, which sounded great in my British-West Country accent.

The Falls were incredible, especially when you go into the mist (i.e. violent spray to the face) via boat, while wearing a flattering fluorescent pink poncho. The tour also included a trip to the quaint village, Niagara-On-The-Lake, with the chance to taste maple-walnut ice cream and to a vineyard to try ice wine. Ending such an epic day was a drum ‘n’ bass night at the Round venue, where we met some interesting characters, such as the man dressed as superman taking his pet snake for a walk.

All was not fun and games, however, since I had to organise my social insurance number (SIN) and open a bank account.

My SIN was given to me by a man I can only describe as beige. Found in the City Hall, beige man gave me the necessary forms for my SIN after checking my passport and work visa. Receiving a number, I lingered in the waiting room and thirty minutes later, I walked out with my SIN.

In contrast, Gloria, the woman who helped open a bank account for me, was a colourful character. An excerpt of our conversation:

Gloria, after asking me for my date of birth, “You’re here alone on your birthday?”

“Yeah.”

“If you don’t make friends, you’ll be all on your own.” A pause. “That’ll be so lonely.”

“Yeah…”

“But you can come visit us!”

“…Yeaaah.”

Toronto had its fair share of shiny skyscrapers and snooze-inducing districts, such as the Financial District, but it did have some lovely architecture. Church Street, the heart of the gay village, was great, as well as Kensington Market, an imitation of Camden Market in London squeezed into one street, and China Town. Toronto Island is fun on a summer’s day, with it’s “clothes optional” beach and roaming peacocks.

My original plan was to spend half a year in Toronto and the other in Vancouver. So, when I left Toronto after only a week, I had no idea what will be in store for me. What I did know, however, was that I wouldn’t be stuck in a bank on my birthday. Thanks, but no thanks Gloria.

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