Brass monkeys

Trip Start Oct 05, 2005
1
23
25
Trip End Apr 06, 2006


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Flag of Canada  , Ontario,
Sunday, March 12, 2006

I'd had enough of the States. Aside from bran muffins and great shopping, the rest actually wasn't much cop and had begun to really hack me off. I had to leave to preserve what sanity I had left, which was already dwindling rapidly. Going home did not appeal, nor did Mexico, so it was left to Canada to take up the reins. I booked a flight to Toronto and left the next morning.

It proved a good move. Canada was enough like America for me to know the ropes, but different enough to provide a spot of respite. I was surprised to see little touches of England about the place - they have a picture of the Queen on banknotes - and I liked the way they call dollars "loonies". I even appreciated the cold weather, having been in the sun for nigh on ten months. There wasn't much to see or do in Toronto, except go up the CN Tower, so I just bumbled about exploring the underground malls (there's a whole heated city going on underneath that snow) and hanging out with the guys from the hostel. There was a really good crowd and a home-from-home vibe, so I enjoyed being part of a surrogate family for a week.

Was a little vexed to see that Niagara Falls was nearby. After visiting Iguassu, I kind of knew it would be a disappointment, but the tourist in me couldn't pass up a sneaky butchers. Niagara Falls is actually a town. Well, two towns. One in Canada and one in America. And the three waterfalls are called Niagara Falls collectively. I think the confusion is part of the PR. Niagara Falls the town was horrible. Full of chip shops, fairground rides and casinos - not too many nappies away from a Vegas. It's like people actually sat down and planned how to ruin an otherwise pleasant natural phenomenon, which is, of course, what they must have done. "Yes, Mr President, they're really beautiful, blah blah blah, but there's not quite enough neon. And where are people supposed to get a burger and a whore?"

I never thought I'd see the day I'd be scraping the barrel for a Starbucks, but it was so flippin' cold (the river had frozen over) and so dire that I nearly cried with happiness to see the little green sign and smiley teenage face. I spent the next two hours holed up inside reading the paper, catching up on six months' worth of world news while waiting for the bus. We left at dusk, just as the falls were being lit up in red, white and blue.
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