The Queen of Asian Drama is Back with more Irreverent Reviews and Snarky Commentary.

Monday, August 04, 2008

DEAR CANADA

I just returned from a WELCOME trip to Niagara Falls and Toronto.

The title of this blog will take you to my PICASA album of the trip.

As soon as we left the apartment, a storm rolled in, and we had to wait at the Marathon station near the I-69 entrance until it passed.

A definite sign of things to come.

I don't know why, but Canada is so, much more beautiful than Michigan or other parts of the USA that I've visited. Perhaps its the sense of OTHER COUNTRY that makes it seem better to me, or maybe it's because they do things differently over there that has me so intrigued.

The air seems cleaner, the roads are better, and there are no billboards along their highways. What seemed even more incredible to me is that everyone drives a CAR as opposed to pick-up trucks, SUV's, and mini-vans.

HURRAY FOR CANADA!

Their native populations are not hidden on reservations, but I think as a general rule, Natives tend to hide anyway. The diversity in Canada is the same throughout that country as it is in the major cities in the United States. They tend to be kind to tourists, too.

Now, for the down side to visiting a foreign country, and even one as close as Canada.

WHY THE HELL CAN'T I GO SWIMMING IN LAKE ONTARIO??? It's the only great lake that I have yet to dip my toes into, and even when we found places on the maps that said PUBLIC BEACH ... there was no way to get to the water! Private subdivisions occupied a majority of the waterway, which made it impossible to get close enough even for pictures.

There were two public beaches in Toronto, but I think that the rest of the world decided to go there the day that we arrived in the city. It was a major let-down for me, and I still hold out hope of being PERMITTED the opportunity to swim in Lake Ontario before I die.

You guys are a bunch of RIP-OFF artists!! Do you think that because we are from the USA and don't use the metric system, that we can't figure out the difference between currency rates??? How can the menu posted on the outside of your restaurant say $6.95 for Fried Rice, $8.95 for Fried Pork Dumplings, and $1.99 for Spring Rolls, and the bill comes to $22.00???

And you, Mr. CD/DVD/VCD Man! The neon-pink sign read $4.00 CD, and there was no indication of the price of the posters, but I handed you $20 Canadian for 1 CD and a poster, and you hand me back $10? SIX frickin' bucks for a poster? I don't think so, and yes, I saw the look on your face when you handed me my change. You were just WAITING for me to say something, weren't you?

GAS was $1.24 a litre, which is approximately $5 US. The man at the ESSO insisted that Canadian gas takes you farther, though. Hmm. Is this a scientific fact, or a boastful hint of Canadian pride? Gas is gas is gas, and if you're farming it in Alberta, why the HELL is it that, damn expensive? You're not even in the frickin' war!!!!

In the USA, there is a difference between a HOTEL and a MOTEL, but apparently that isn't the case in Canada. We didn't want to spend our money on a two-bed room for sleeping purposes only, so we checked in at what would be termed a TRUCKER/HOOKER dive to an American, hoping to save some $$$.

HA!!!!

We could have booked a room at the MARRIOTT in downtown Niagara Falls for what we paid at the Q-Way MOTEL in St. Catharine's. Give me a frickin' BREAK, you rip-off losers you! How dare you attempt to charge ANYONE the exorbitant fee of $119 Canadian for that piece of sh*t hole in the wall???? SHAME on you, and thanks, too for telling us that the PUBLIC BEACH is "...right down the road! Bars everywhere down there!" You were right about the bars, sir ... but, I asked about a public BEACH, and guess what? THERE WERE NONE!!!!

$12 for a pack of cigarettes.

YES, it was a nice trip, and YES I had a good time. I don't think that anyone likes being taken advantage of, though, do you?

LESSONS LEARNED

Spur-of-the-moment trips have always turned out to be the best times for me. Having enough $$$ to properly ENJOY the trip takes precedent, though.

I'm still not convinced that booking a room online AHEAD OF TIME is better than pulling up to a seedy motel at 10:30pm to sleep. When we arrived in Niagara Falls, we saw two places that advertised rooms for as little as $39 CAD. Of course, this was AFTER we booked in St. Catharine's. Online, I could not find anything under $100CAD, which was why I thought that we should take our chances of finding a place at the last second. We should have kept driving, but I figured Niagara Falls would not be the place to find a bargain-basement price on a hotel/motel.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO!

Now that I've been there, and know what to expect, I think that my next trip will be much, more rewarding. CASH ONLY, and exact change to be more precise. No one can rip you off if you do the math before you hand over your hard-earned $$ to a stranger hell-bent on taking advantage of your residency.

I think that there was a festival of some sort taking place in Toronto when we were there, or else it's ALWAYS that hectic on the weekends? Too many cars, too many people, and too much going on all at once to really appreciate anything about that visit.

BUY A MAP AND READ IT!!!!

I relied on one of them brochure's from a truck-stop to get us through Toronto, and by the time that we purchased a TORONTO map, it was too late to doing anything other than make our way out of the city in one piece. We became hopelessly lost THREE TIMES, and once while on foot! So much for taking pride in direction skills, because they failed me miserably in Toronto. Everything started to look the same to us in Chinatown, including the names of the streets.

It was a fun and memorable trip, and I hope to go again some day.
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