No one has ever accused me of being a world traveler. I like being places but I generally hate getting there. You need to decide on how much to bring, what you can carry in your “personal item” allowed by the TSA and how much underwear you will need.
I recently went to Canada, my first time there. I went to Toronto. Let me begin by saying that the citizens of Canada that I met in Toronto were pleasant and courteous unlike many US cities but you need to get there first.
The flight arrangements were easy and it looked like my apprehension about the trip would be assuaged until, of course, I hit the Toronto airport. I had forgotten that Canada is another country, although I should have been tipped off by the need to show my passport. By the way, you are no longer allowed to smile on your passport photo and I think it makes me look older and more sinister and guilty of something. So, here I was traveling internationally and now in a foreign country. After deplaning all the passengers were herded down several long corridors and ushered in front of large computer- like devices where I had to declare a number of things including whether or not I was carrying any nuts. Yes nuts. We all are too aware of the need for airport safety because of crazy terrorists. How the infrastructure of Canada would be impacted by me carrying some nuts was not immediately clear. This was a real emotionally trying moment for me since I had placed a small bag of almonds in my carry on in case the plane went down and I needed to survive for days before being rescued. I made an executive decision and denied the presence or even the knowledge of any nuts in my luggage. I squeaked through but looked even more guilty than my passport photo.
Next on the things to do list was to get some Canadian money. I stopped at a currency exchange kiosk in the airport and got my first ever look at Canadian money. The paper bills really did not look official. The paper money had some type of plastic or aluminum strip on them and, quite frankly, it looked like the wrapper of a chocolate candy. Canadians do not have one or two dollar bills but rather have one and two dollar coins. I hate coins. Every day at home I put my change in a jar at the end of the day. In Canada I had a whole pocket of coins in my pocket every day but never seemed to have the ability to spend them. I finally unloaded them on a cab driver telling him to “keep the tip”, not exactly sure how much I gave him but he said I made his day.
Toronto is a clean and modern city where everybody walks. An unstable lumbar spine, plantar fasciitis and a poor sense of direction made cab riding essential for me. The cab drivers were courteous and seemed to know where they were going. There are a lot of restaurants in Toronto some are in their Chinatown. I went there the first night in town and was impressed by the great variety of cuisines and the lack of spoken English. The menus were usually written in two languages I assume one was the language of the restaurant’s owner and the second was English but the descriptions for some of the dishes were scary. I paid with some of that strange Canadian money and they seemed happy with that.
The trip back to the airport began early on a rainy morning. Remember I said the cab drivers were courteous, well that was true, unfortunately, they also are fearless on the highways and have no concern for their safety. Lack of concern for their safety is my second concern the first is concern for mine. We made the trip in record time and I got rid of more of the strange Canadian money when my white knuckles handed him a handsome tip, mostly to reward him for my survival.
Before leaving Toronto I needed to declare, again, that I was not carrying a variety of things including, once again, nuts. This time I was prepared. Even though I had a small packet of almonds in my bag I think I looked less guilty when I forgot to declare them. I had to change by Canadian money back to US currency and found out that the exchange rate which was in my favor coming in was somehow not in my favor going out, probably how they pay for their health care.
I arrived back home none the worse for wear. I ate some nuts had a drink and wondered if I really needed another international adventure.