Toronto (first visit) - Tornado?.

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
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Trip End Dec 31, 2018


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Flag of Canada  , Ontario,
Thursday, June 16, 2005

A Sunday afternoon bus trip took us to Toronto, the largest city in Canada. Toronto has a bustling, cosmopolitan feel and large ethnic communities from many countries. It also claims to have the longest "street" in the world running some 2,000 klms across Ontario. On the 2nd day of our visit a tornado dropped into a neighboring community and Toronto was on full alert. It is not common and the last tornado in this area was 20 years ago. So we were rather excited but it turned away and became just a bit of a storm with some wet weather.

As our plans are to come back to Toronto after visiting Niagara Falls we left some of the sights for our return but we did go to the Art Gallery (found out they had a free day!) and took in a bit of culture. We also did lots of walking around orientating ourselves for our return visit. Our accommodation (an old guest house) is very handy to the downtown area, and is in the process of being renovated and turned into a hostel. Our room had been pretty much updated and included its own tiny fridge and microwave, which makes life so much easier for avoiding expensive eating out.

One of the difficulties of Canada is not knowing what the tax will be as it varies from province to province and from item to item. All prices are quoted are before tax. First there is GST which is a national tax then there is PST (Provincial Sales Tax) which varies between provinces and there is sometimes another tax for specific items, like for instance accommodation. A fair amount of arithmetic is required just to work out how much lunch will cost. Then of course there is the tip! Like the USA tipping is absolutely assumed and expected. We have found a way around being required to tip the housemaid in a motel/hotel - ask not to have the room serviced, as it is a bit of a nuisance anyway and we are quite happy to use the same sheets and towels for our stay. This is not an issue in hostels as there is no room service anyway, which again suits us. At the end of our time in Canada it seems that we will be able to get a refund on the GST component only of the taxes and only those which we have spent on accommodation, but that will amount to quite a bit and will be great fully received.
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