Welcome to the other side of the world in Toronto

"I met this funny and cool Irish person..." this is the sentence my lovely Irish friend Edel would like that every of my stories begin :-). Yes, she is really funny and cool and I met her in Toronto in my hostel.
Toronto in Canada! Thanks to my agency I found my hostel very easily. But in Toronto I got quite a culture shock which was also caused through my impatience... If I had wait just 3 days for my agency, then some things were not that bad. I mean who reckoned that buying a SIM card is luxury in Canada...?
But I met in Toronto very nice people like mentioned Irish Edel, easy going Carlos a shop owner at Kensington Market from Chile and Roberto from Peru who connected me to his nice friends. I also met  a French guy who took me to a Yoga class but he had an attraction to fake things which was not helpful for me in sense of being open for Canada. But you attracted what you give out... 
By the way: In Toronto live 6 mio. people and guess what? In the subway on my way to the bus station I met a guy from my hometown Muenster. He also knew my former employer. No doubts anymore. The world IS a village!
Welcome to Toronto!
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I am a small small girl in a big big city...

There I was. Still nervous and I have to admit also closed for Canada... Of course for me was everything better in Spain...

When I came out of the subway I felt like a tiny mouse or rather like a squirrel between all the big buildings. The sun was burning between the buildings, the streets were full with taxis and cars and on the sidewalk lots of people in summer clothes like flip flops, bermudas and shorts.

I haven't reckon with that and wore still my red leggings and boots. By the way at every corner I could find a hot dog vendor. 
That was the first photo I took in Toronto when I came out of the subway station.
Quite big buildings...
Things to do in Toronto: having a hot dog. Check!
First I found them cute... Then I got just scared... Squirrels over all. Competition for me since I am a squirrel.
Discover the city
After I was quite overwhelmed from the size of Toronto I went for my "catwalk" and discovered the city by feet. The distances are quite long in comparison to Europe. If I thought Spain is big, then Canada is just vast... 

I found a very nice quarter which named Kensington Market and it is quite close to Chinatown. Kensington Market is a totally different world. 

There are lots of colorful houses, vintage shops, alternative people, organic food and Buddhism shops. The people sit on the sidewalk and just enjoy themselves. Very nice atmosphere where I felt immediately comfortable. Here are some impressions.
Some impressions at Kensington Market.
Kensington Market Hippie flair

What to do with a broken car? Planting flowers on it!
Easy going shop owner
I went in one of the shops which sold lots of different stuff like cool t-shirts and Buddhism things etc. I started talking to the owner about the weather. I mentioned that for me it feels cold because I came from Spanish. He said that he lived in Spain and also in Germany in Hamburg. 

He introduced himself as Carlos and was from Chile and lived for over 30 years in Canada. We talked quite long and when it was time to go he said that I could come back again and just hang around with him. That sounded good! I promised that I will come back in the next few days.

Meditation? New inspiration
I strolled to the next shop which was a kind of Buddhism shop, hence I asked the Asian looking sales assistant if he knew a meditation center here in Toronto. I told him that I volunteered in a Kadampa tradition meditation center. He said that he personal couldn't recommend Kadampa because it is just one tradition and quite strict. Therefore he named me another one which would be more open and modern: Shambhala.

Great! Two days later I went to this center but couldn't find it... But no problem. When I came back to my hostel I met Robert from Peru who I met already at breakfast. He took me than with him and his friends to a pub.

Talk about what you want to do and things will come to you
Roberto introduced me to his friends. There was a girl who's mum was German. She was very excited to meet a German person. I told her that I would like to work in a winter resort. Guess what? She said: "You know what! You're talking to the right girl! My sister has connection. I will give her a call." She took her phone, called her sister, told her what's going on and wrote for me some information down.

Wow! That was nice. The other girl has Irish heritage and connected me to her cousin on Facebook because he has lots of experience with working in a winter resort.

Well, the Canadians are very helpful and kind. Well, talking to people is the best way to get connection and get lead from one step to another. I experienced that already in Ireland and Spain.
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Culture shock

Well, Canada is not Europe that is for sure. Not even due to the distances.

When I went to the supermarket I was quite shocked that I should pay for a normal yogurt 6 CAD (Canadian Dollars; 1 CAD = 1,46 EUR). Without tax... Yes, the tax will be added later. Also a simple muesli should cost around 6 CAD. But sugared cereals cost just the half of the price...

Buying a SIM card - easy!
Then I thought "I will go and buy a SIM card! Must be easy...!" Well, that was actually my breakdown... I went into a shop and told them that I would like to buy a "pay as you go" SIM card. I mean in Spain and Ireland I paid 15 EUR per month depends on my data usage. Can't be that different to Canada, I thought...

The reality was that they offer "pay as you go" which I have to top up every month like a kind of contract. With data usage it would cost around 60 CAD per month...

Canada is not Europe
Oh man... I was baffled. I went disappointed out of the shop and realized that Canada is very expensive. I just thought "Shit! The healthy food is expensive, Toronto is just loud even in my hostel room I am not able to hear myself breathing and I can't get in contact with my friends! I want to go back to Spain..."

I started silently to cry. And here I should stay one year, I thought.

Then I took a deep breath and went home to my hostel through the loud city noises.

Silver lining and the results of my own impatience
Well, like I mentioned my nice friend Serena connected me with her friend Gaeltano who lives in Toronto since a couple of years. I caught up with him and it turned out that using a mobile phone is really something in Canada which is not that great in sense of costs.

My agency SWAP told us exactly the same about the phone situation and some more helpful information like where to get good food for a small price etc. OK! I see... I had better relaxed the first days and get the information a few days later instead of getting a half breakdown... ;-) By the way I took a SIM card which is just for texting and calling... Thanks to Starbucks and free WIFI... Now I get the chance to get rid of the behavior to check all the time my phone :-)
Lake Ontario in Toronto. I went there after I came down and had some more information.
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Why I love the Irish people

That Toronto was loud I recognized when I was looking for a place for meditation outside. It was quite difficult to find a place where I could at least hear myself breathing. Even in a park the noise of the traffic was loud.

But I was lucky and found a quiet place which reminded me a bit of my hometown Muenster...
Reminded me a bit of my hometown in Muenster. It oculd be the Aasee and the Giant Balls.
After my meditation a French guy with shoulder long hair and metal t-shirt in Converse came to me and asked me about meditation. He said he would like to do it because "I am always very angry"... Well, that should warn me but I found it interesting because he didn't look angry at all and I found it funny that he said that to a girl he never met before... We talked quite long. He walked me to my hostel and we made an appointment for the next day.

For me it was nice to meet someone from Europe who obviously understand all my disappointment about Toronto... Well, in the end it was not really a helpful combination for my current mood.

Let's go to Yoga class
The French guy was also very funny and said that they offer free Yoga classes in his condominium and we went there. It was very funny because we came too late, had to do the exercises on the ground without a mat and it was quite tough.

Thanks to my former Pilates trainer in Muenster who also used Yoga elements I could follow very good. But my French friend who never did that before had some problems which was very funny and I couldn't stop laughing. I found it very brave of him to go to the class.

Everything is fake...?!
We caught up at the next day which was my last day before I went to Vancouver by bus. This time it was for me very difficult to listen to his "everything is fake" sentence. Maybe he wasn't aware about it how often he said it. I had still to get used to Canada and that was not helpful for me.

We went into a pub. Well, you attract what you give out and when you think everything is fake than you get it...

In the pub came suddenly very young girls in bikinis and hot pants on the dance floor, jumped around like naive young girls in a music video and let themselves shot with water pistols from fat guys around them...

Well it might sound like a paradise for men but actually I just thought: "Oh my god... I'm not a radical feminist but this girls show a picture of women which is really stupid and fucked up." The waitress came to us and asked us as if we were old friends: "Hey darling, what can I bring you today?" Well... everything is fake?!

I just said to French Yoga guy that I didn't like this kind of pub and that I wanted to go.

My French friend walked me to my hostel continued saying that everything was fake in Canada when I suddenly exploded: "Shout up! The world isn't that bad like you think!" "But also in Vancouver you will find..." "Please stop it!!!'" I just couldn't anymore.

We said Goodbye to each other and I thanked him for the funny moments. I went into my hostel and made myself ready for bed.

I was quite sad and disappointed. That was not what I expected of Canada. Or?... No, I did because I didn't want leave Spain and just feared that Canada would be like fake... Of course then I just saw fake.

You attract that what you give out...

Yes, I love the Irish people :-)
In my dorm room was also my Irish friend Edel. She smiled at me and asked me about my date. When I reached the passage with 'shout up' she just said: "Ok...Forgot this! I have some beer here. Let's have some because we haven't drink yet together and this is your last evening in Toronto. You cannot go like this."

So we went to the beer garden in the hostel where some other Irish people sat. I was already dressed in my sleeping clothes and ready for bed but I had the funniest evening so far in Toronto. Yes, I love the Irish people!

Time to say Goodbye to Toronto
On the next day Edel and I said Goodbye to Carlos the shop owner in Kensington Market. Carlos and I exchanged email addresses and wished good luck to each other.

Lovely Edel walked me to the subway station where I took the subway to the bus station. We said Goodbye to each other and I thanked her for everything and that she is such a great person. I was very happy that I met her and wished her well.

Well, I love the Irish people :-).
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Muenster is everywhere

After saying Goodbye and hugging Edel I went into the subway station which should bring me to the bus station for my trip to Vancouver.

At the station I checked my map for directions when suddenly two guys in suits were looking at me and smiling. One of them asked me friendly if he can help me "Thanks I'm fine." He pointed to his friend and said: "I wouldn't trust him anyway. He is from Germany..." "Oh cool! Me too. Where exactly?" "Ahhh, Muenster..."

Unbelievable! In a 6 mio. city I met someone from Muenster! We went into the subway and talked a bit. I told him my story. He knew my former employer because he worked for Provinzial. We also talked about the flooding in Muenster which caused lots of problems. Then I had to go and he gave me his business card. I promised that I will write him an email which I later did.

Really a nice guy and yes, the world IS a village :-).
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Three days bus tour to Vancouver

I left Toronto with a great feeling and was happy to meet very nice people like Edel and met someone from Muenster. Now it was time for my next adventure...

Read next time about my tour to Vancouver by bus. A three days bus tour from East to West through Canada. It is interesting what all can happen on a trip like this.

I was lucky and had a nice seat partner who's heritage was Belgium and brought some Belgium waffles with him.

It's also interesting for my how I opened up more and more on the bus tour and saw the people around me with other eyes. Positive eyes.

Obviously it didn't just happen to me on the 3 days bus tour when I listen to a heart melting story of a guy who turned out to be totally different than I expected him to be...
Free as a bird... Taken in Toronto at the place which reminded me on Muenster.

Write a comment

Comments: 2
  • #1

    f (Thursday, 06 November 2014 21:48)

    Anonymous 14 August 2014 16:49
    Du verrücktes Huhn.... nun steckst du in Kanada? Ich werde immer neidischer :)
    Viele Grüße,

  • #2

    f (Thursday, 06 November 2014 21:49)

    Jeanine 14 August 2014 23:15
    Hahaha :-D. Ja so schnell geht das! Komm doch einfach dazu :-). Hier kannst du jede Menge Sport machen. Das wird dir gefallen.
    Viele liebe Grüße