Introduction: Why did I decide to visit Ontario? Mostly, I wanted to help an animal rescue affiliated with some of the rescues I was working with in Mexico by being a flight angel for wittle Cindy. Flying with her ended up being a mixed experience. I was the very last to board my connecting flight from Houston to Toronto and was “randomly” picked to be searched. My dog, her carrier, my bag, and my person. I made light of the situation. When we finally arrived to Toronto I told customs that I was transporting a dog for an animal rescue. They instantly responded that transporting a live animal, even if it’s a rescue, is considered a taxable import. What the rescue, with all their emails and text message of preparation and their huge following of nearly 70k followers on IG alone, failed to tell me was that I was supposed to lie and tell customs that this was my pet to avoid paying this tax fee. I ended up being stuck in customs for three hours waiting for a member of the rescue to arrive to pay the fee because I landed at 11pm and was not allowed to pay the fee myself because I was not an actual member of the rescue.
Days 1-2 in Toronto, Canada (4/23/22-4/24/22):
-Toronto is a very clean and dog friendly city.
-The city is so diverse and widespread. All walks of life, a variety of mentalities, yet crippled by homelessness and astounding inflation.
-It was weird going to an aquarium when I literally just went snorkeling in famous reefs in Mexico and Belize. In hindsight, it was kind of pointless.
-The subway here is super simple and clean.
-Always always visit the farmers markets when you travel. You’ll never regret it.
-The CN Tower is cool but nothing stands out about it in comparison to other observatory towers.
Days 3-7 in Toronto, Canada (4/25/22-4/29/22):
-The squirrels here look completely different from the ones in the US and it fascinates me for whatever reason.
-Kensington Market/Chinatown is everything here.
-Greektown is also an awesome spot.
-The National Gallery of Art has been the highlight of my trip here thus far.
-Toronto isn’t cold but the wind chill is an absolute nightmare.
-1 USD is .80 CAD, so just take 20% off of all prices to do the math.
-Mask wearing is all over the place here. Some people wear them in public, some businesses require them, and public transport requires them but it’s not really enforced.
-I would say Toronto is getting hit hard by gentrification, inflation, taxes, and political correctness. I think it’s important to understand that it doesn’t make you a bad person to not agree with every lifestyle. It’s okay to just tolerate someone different from you and that goes both ways.
-Legal cannabis shops are everywhere here.
-I could not live in Toronto. It’s too cold, expensive, and I don’t care enough to worry about offending people by not eating vegan, not wearing a mask, or mispronouncing their pronoun.
Days 8-10 in Ontario, Canada (4/30/22-5/2/22):
-London, Canada is a bit of a college town. Not a bad place and seems pretty livable.
-Windsor shares the border with Detroit and is full of nature, albeit it’s still a bit cold at the moment.
-I never knew A&W had actual burger joints in North America. Their root beer in a frosty mug is better than a beer.
-Point Pelee National Park is worth visiting for the nature, views, and bird watching alone, but it also boasts the southernmost part of Canada.
-First gym I’ve been to where I found 125lbs dumbbells. I actually think I could flat bench them because I do 90s for my incline working sets, but I rather not give myself a hernia.
-Recycling out here trumps the US in every way.
-I spent a glorious night here showing dog photos to a 150lb. Great Dane, who tried to scroll with his tongue, and translating discovered letters from a German Nazi pilot. The letters heavily imply he deserted and fled to North America.
Days 11-13 (5/3/22-5/5/22):
-Sometimes the best times are just getting on the road, having a beer and burger with old friends, and trying random things at a gas station.
-Turns out Ontario has a huge Mennonite and Amish community. They know how to cook.
Summary: Canada I have mixed feelings about. On one hand, a lot of Ontario seems gentrified. On the other, it seems like one of the dwindling regions where you can make a good and honest living being a blue-collar worker and I find that very pleasing. Would I say Canada is expensive? YES. I could not live there for that reason alone. I would say Canada is probably one of the most expensive countries I’ve visited.
Moreover, I had a bit of bad luck there weather-wise as it was supposed to be getting warm the month I arrived. Instead, it was absolutely bi-polar. Meaning one day would be absolute sunshine and clear skies, the next day it would be non-stop rain and ice-cold wind chill. This is why I always recommend people to do outdoor activities as soon as the weather permits, but I’m okay with not being able to see and do everything when I visit somewhere. Also, the older I get and the more I travel, the more I lose to jetlag and the more I value getting a good night’s sleep and feel energized when I wake up. Sometimes, just taking a stroll through a waterfront or having a beer at a pub and making some friends is equally satisfying in the weirdest but simplest of ways.
Would I recommend Ontario? Yes, but be prepared to spend and be as prepared as you can for unpredictable weather.