The snoring last night from my dorm was dire. I saw people had actually moved into the common room to escape it. I hated having to get up so early and quickly stuffed the last of my belongings into my backpacks. Everyone in the room was still sleeping and I realised I had been the only woman in there last night. I ordered an uber and sat outside on the bench. The air was cool whilst I reflected on my time in the city on the drive to the Greyhound. I would’ve liked to explore more, go further out of the city and meet more locals.
It wasn’t long till I was on the bus and on my way to Toronto. I had just started to settle into a nap when the bus suddenly stopped. I sat up confused. The driver told everyone to get off and go through border control. When I had checked online I didn’t see anything about bag searches and although I had nothing to hide I was still worried. It turns out that it was incredibly quick and laidback to go through the border check. There were only a few of us on the bus so I got to see an agent quickly who asked a couple of basic questions like why are you coming to Canada? Did you pack your own luggage? I answered the sufficiently and my passport was stamped. It was way simpler than TSA checks when flying into the states. We were ushered back onto the bus and as far as I’m aware the luggage in the bus wasn’t checked. We were all in and out too quickly for it to be scanned.
The rest of the bus journey was fine, I sat and read or napped. The Wi-Fi was intermittent which made contacting Shaun difficult but I’d sent through my expected arrival time and that it was the main bus station. A couple of months before I left Newcastle I’d mentioned to Shaun that I’d be in Toronto at the same time he and Toni would be and how cool it’d be if we could meet up over there. They were so kind and offered me their spare room to use whilst I was in the city. I was excited to see them and have friends who knew the city show me around.
Shaun was waiting for me at the bus station and offered to carry one of my bags as he showed me some cool sights. It felt slightly surreal to hear the Northern accent after six weeks of nothing. The city centre was so clean and though the streets were busy they weren’t overwhelming. Shaun suggested we go to a Tim Horton’s to use the Wi-Fi and grab some food. Their coffee was good and I wolfed down a doughnut and a nutella stuffed cookie. That cookie was a game changer in how tasty it was, so much melting nutella. It was far cheaper than the equivalent items in a Starbucks. Shaun ordered a box of Timbits partly because of their name and they it was a reasonable price for some tasty doughnut holes. Or doughnut balls might be more appropriate?
We got the train out of the city centre, Shaun explaining how there were only two lines and how the entire cities public transport ran either up & down or left to right. It was more logical and simpler to navigate than any underground station I’d used before. It didn’t take long to get to their stop, and reach their neighbourhood which was apparently Greek. I put my bags down in my room and marvelled at how much space I’d have whilst here and how I wouldn’t need to worry about locking up my belongings to be safe. Shaun rolled us a joint to smoke at a local park. They’d been to a dispensary and got a bit of Indica, Sativa and some hybrid. It was sunny and warm in the park, we could see the skyscrapers of the city in the distance and it was a beautiful view. We watched people playing sports down the hill as we smoked.
We then travelled back into the city to meet Toni who had spent the day writing at a library.
The library was amazing; it was wonderfull and giant decorated. There was a palpable taste of the knowledge and worked that was contained within its walls. I was really happy to see Toni again and just be amongst friends. She suggested we go to a boardgame bar they’d wanted to try called Snakes and Lattes. It sounded like a perfect place to chill out and catch up. They didn’t have any tables free so Shaun put his number down and we decided to have a look around Honest Ed’s. It was a Toronto landmark and is a huge store filled with curios, oddities and knick knacks. We walked around pointing out the weird items on sale to one another.
Shaun’s phone buzzed and we walked back across the road to the bar. I ordered a pint and grabbed Dreamphone for us to play. We went through the instructions carefully to ensure we actually understood how the game worked. My nanna used to have it but I think I just pretended I was on the phone to boys! It was hilarious to play and even though we’d played it correctly none of our guesses were right and we ended up picking the boys at random. I somehow won and was pretty glad my dream date didn’t look like a creep.
After the game ended we went to Apiecalypse Now after and ordered a vegan big mac pizza on our friend Lucy’s recommendation. We peered inside the box once it was ready and I was taken aback by the sheer amount of iceberg lettuce there was on the pizza. We took it back on the train with us to their flat to eat it. It was a giant pizza and I ate maybe a slice and a half. It did taste just like how I remembered big macs but as a pizza. Toni and Shaun both thought it tasted pretty similar to the real deal too. The bland, crisp lettuce still felt like an odd choice but maybe combined with the vegan cheese, the ‘ground not beef’ and, the big mac sauce it was a delicious experience. We sat and watched an episode of Rupaul’s Drag Race together – Toni and I had spoke about it non stop – before calling it a night. It felt strange to sleep in a double bed with my belongings not squirreled away in a locker.