Returning to the ‘meeting place’ (Toronto) after 14 years.
As part of my degree, many moons ago, I spent 1 year in industry and was fortunate enough to have that year, based just outside Toronto in Mississauga by the airport.
What I loved about Toronto, which takes it’s name from the Iroquoian language and translates as, the place where the rivers meet, was the people! They were so friendly and couldn’t do enough for you. There were 5 of us all from the UK, and all it took was for us to speak to each other in a bar, restaurant on on the street, and we would be approached by people that were genuinely interested in us and in showing us the delights of their city and country. That year had a profound effect on me, I have been fortunate enough to travel extensively, and it was the first country I really didn’t want to leave when my year was up.
I guess it had much more of an effect than I thought, as my wonderful other half Thera, is from Canada and we were heading back this time to attend her brother wedding. It was also my first time to meet the WHOLE family – which was actually a delight, as they are all lovely, welcoming and genuine.
Our trip this time was going to be a monster. With Emirates only having 3 flights a week into Toronto and us having to wait to see what was happening with various bits and pieces, we missed any chance of a direct flight. In the event, we had a 2 stopper, through London and Chicago on the way out, a mix of Virgin and American Airlines and then New York JFK and London on the way back, American Airlines again and then BA from London to Dubai – just writing that all out gives an indication of how long it took! I had forgotten how spoilt we were with Emirates airlines! The Virgin trip to London was very good. Then the issues started! First of all, the USA is the only country in the world that you need a visa to transit through. Of course, when we booked the trip and when we checked in at Dubai airport, nobody volunteered that information. We were incorrectly told that we didn’t have to pick our bags up in Chicago and re check them – but we did!
So we landed in London and at that point, I was told I needed an ESTA visa, even though all I was doing was walking through the airport to get onto another plane! Also I was already half way through my trip. Luckily this must happen a lot, the transit guys sent me to the gate and outside the gate, there is a computer where I was able to log on and pay $14 for the pleasure! Never again will I
transit through the States! Lucky I have a British passport and it was as simple as applying on line there and then. Just be aware of this, even if you are not staying in the States and just in transit.
We then got on to the American Airlines flight, sat down and noticed something quite strange. Any one tell me what’s wrong with this picture in this day and age for a 7 hour flight? Luckily the plane wasn’t full and actually Thera got a row of three seats to lay down on, whilst I then had 2 seats for me. It was a real throwback to try and watch a movie on the tiny little TV screen over the middle rows. As I said, I am so spoilt these days!
The flight was actually not too bad with the extra space and I also managed to get a good cloud shot out the window 🙂
Touching down in Chicago wasn’t too bad, although I still don’t understand why everywhere else in the world, your bags can be checked all the way through on a trip, but in the States, you have to physically pick your bag up, exit, and then drop it off again on another conveyor belt. As I said, never again!
Landing in Toronto, we were through and out in quick fashion, Thera’s brother Michael and dad, Steve, were there to pick us up and we were on our way to Burlington – Thera’s hometown – In doing so, it was quite surreal as we drove past my old apartment building at Eva Road and under the overpass that we walked every day to get to Good Life Fitness on the other side of the highway. Good times and good memories – then we had A few days in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area