Jim was the first person I shared a flat with on moving to Birmingham and we got on well from the start. Despite this only being for 18 months in the mid 90’s we have stayed in touch. Since then Jim moved on to University in Glasgow, before dropping out and running most of the small comedy clubs in that city for a while. He then moved to Canada to look for new opportunities and join his parents and sister. Since arriving he has met Cari and they share a great apartment in Hamilton. Cari is great fun and has grown up locally with a huge extended family.
I decided to explore Toronto for the first couple of days of the trip, catching the local bus / train service from Hamilton. In doing so I noticed that the express train in the evening takes longer than the midday bus to do the same journey. On catching the train back I found this is because the train moves at walking pace, but it is modern, clean and comfortable.
A noticeable feature of Toronto is that you can move through most of the commercial district of town without ever emerging outdoors, the whole area is linked with a series of pedestrian and train subways. Not something I used whilst the weather is so good but I assume the winters must be harsh for this level of investment, either that or Canadians have picked up mole genes along the way.
The weekend saw a trip to Niagara Falls, one of the features of the world that you know of from an early age. It is a gorgeous and powerful sight, especially from the edge of the Horseshoe falls where you can look down on the water as it throws itself over the edge. The falls and the gorge look wonderful and it is possible to find fairly unspoilt views, however there has been rampant development all round in the form of tall hotels with a “Fall View” and Clifton Hill with its tacky attractions and snack joints (so tacky it almost goes out the otherside to become a feature in itself).
There have also been opportunities to meat a fun bunch of people, Cari’s Aunt Lynne and her best friend Shaun dropped round the night I arrived with chilled beers. Then on friday it was Jim’s sisters birthday (Sue) so I got to meet her family and Jim’s parents who I had not seen for over 6 years. I hadn’t realised that Canada produced much wine, but it does and of high quality, particularly those marked with a VQA label.
Today’s plan was to head to Montreal on the train but the price (226 Canadian dollars!!!) and journey time have put me off. Think I’ll get better acquainted with Toronto and will spend part of my savings in Chinatown.