Yes, still in Cowtown. I mean Hogtown. Whatever.

Toronto (Sightseeing). June 30: DAY: 21.74km. ODO: 4,015km. AVS: 19.2km/h. MXS: 37.0km/h. ATM: 1:07:41.

Toronto (Sightseeing). July 01: DAY: 35.80km. ODO: 4,051km. AVS: 15.5km/h. MXS: 33.0km/h. ATM: 2:18:05.

Toronto (Sightseeing). July 02: DAY: 9.28km. ODO: 4,060km. AVS: 16.6km/h. MXS: 30.0km/h. ATM: 0:33:23.

Toronto (Sightseeing). July 03: DAY: 26.70km. ODO: 4,087km. AVS: 23.1km/h. MXS: 43.0km/h. ATM: 1:09:15.

Toronto (Sightseeing). July 04: DAY: 34.6km. ODO: 4,121km. AVS: 18.9km/h. MXS: 39.0km/h. ATM: 1:49:41.

Well, I’ve now been in Toronto for ten days – and how quickly they passed! I guess it’s about time I summarised the visit.

I spent the first five nights at the hostel, which is conveniently located at Church & King. It wasn’t a bad place to stay – I had very quiet dorm-mates. The only drawbacks were the excessive squeaking. The door to the room creaked like a haunted house prop, and all the beds were made of metal, so anytime someone went out to pee during the night, there was a lot of drawn out squeaking.

My first full day, the Saturday the 25th, I spent pretty much just sitting around in Timothy’s, an air conditioned coffee shop on Queen, reading the Globe & Mail. I had forgotten what real humidity is like, and this is all I could dredge up the energy for. The only physical thing I did was to ride my bike out to Duke’s bike shop to get the damn rear brakes looked at. They didn’t have any time to look at it until Wednesday, but I left it anyway, as I could just walk around town.

Despite my loathing for parades of any kind, I decided to go to the Pride Parade on Sunday. For some reason, there is nowhere on Earth that I feel as lonely as a Pride parade, whether at home or away. And besides, rather than the politically charged affair of activist angst of days of old, these days Pride Day is generally more of a deviants’ trade fair. Think of the home shopping channel dressing all their presenters in leather, spandex, and rainbow boas for a day. Oh well, just because I’m a boring curmudgeon doesn’t mean everyone else shouldn’t enjoy themselves. Except for the little puke that hit me with one of those water pistols that hold eighty litres of water.

He’s just lucky I didn’t catch him.

I spend a lot of time just wandering around, checking out various neighbourhoods, having tea, and reading. In between, I find something more touristy to do. On Monday the 27th, I went to the Royal Ontario Museum, which is currently under renovation, so only some of the galleries are open. I viewed the current “Feathered Dinosaurs and the Origin of Flight” exhibit, as well as the “Biodiversity” and “Islam” sections. In the evening, I went to a reading at the Harbourfront, where Michael Cunningham read from and discussed his new book “Specimen Days”.

On Tuesday, I had the fun chore of taking public transportation to suburbia get the “E” key on my laptop repaired, as it was not functioning properly and was driving me nuts (oddly, I use the letter “E” a great deal). After calling the TTC for directions, I bought a daypass at King subway station, and took the subway north to Eglinton. Then I got on the number 32A bus, which was not unlike sitting inside a barbecue for 55 long blocks. It took for-bloody-ever to get there, it seemed. The Sony repair depot is right on Eglinton. One and a half blocks before it, the bus turned right, and I immediately rang the bell to get off. Before stopping, the bus turned left, which put me about a block north of my destination. However, what I didn’t know is that when the bus turned off of Eglinton, it entered Mississauga or some such burgh, Eglinton being the boundary between two suburban nightmares. And, as I discovered, the TTC considers Mississauga a whole different transit system, though it’s the same bus, same driver, and same sweaty passengers. The bus driver would not let me off until I forked over another $2.75. He wouldn’t even look at my day pass, nor would he engage in any helpful dialogue to help me understand why I had to pay more. Each question I asked elicited only “We’re in Mississauga now” as a response. Stifling a number of vulgar expressions, I paid him the money to get the door open.

I often rave about the transit system here, and I still do. It really is great, at least compared to Vancouver’s toy trains and non-existent buses. However, the transit employees are the worst I’ve seen anywhere. Trying to get a subway attendant to even acknowledge you, let alone speak or look you in the eye, is near to impossible. A fine case for union busting if ever there was one.

Wednesday I picked my bike up. They had replaced (and charged me for) the cable, though I had told them that it had been replaced in Southampton. However, when I got outside, the brakes were no better. Back in I went, and they took it in the back to look at it some more. They said they would replace the cable this time, and would not believe me when I told them they already had. However, they also sprayed something called “Dr. Disk” on the brakes, and they work much better now. I don’t know what Dr. Disk is, but I’ll have to get some, if it means avoiding bike shops in future. After that, I took a bike ride up to Israel’s Judaica on Eglinton and bought a book that I had read a review of in the Globe.

I had been able to reach my friends Ben and Carol (formerly of Vancouver) by this time, to find that they had just bought a house in Leslieville (Queen East), and they invited me out to stay there, so I abandoned the hostel, thinking I would stay with them a day or two and then leave for Ottawa. Despite some peculiar paint choices by the former owner, it’s a pretty cool house, and the garden is a jungle of various plants (and a few weeds). I’d be tempted to stay for the summer just to work on the yard.

On Thursday, while Ben and Carol were at work, I went to the beach on Toronto Island. When I lived here (ten years ago), it cost about two bucks to take the ferry over, and you could sunbathe nude at Hanlon’s Point, as long as the cops weren’t around. Now, it’s six dollars for the ferry, and the beach is an official nude beach. It’s no Wreck Beach – just doesn’t have the same cachet, but on the other hand, it doesn’t have all the irritating vendors, nor the Beavis and Butthead wannabes, either. In the evening, Carol was off to visit a friend, so Ben and I went to “Batman Begins”. I had not thought much of the previous Batman films, but this one seemed a bit better, though still generally the same Hollywood formula.

On Friday (Dominion Day), Ben and Carol were going to the cottage for the long weekend, and asked me to stay and enjoy the house, as well as look after their three cats: Zeus, Tayo, and Chester. During the day, I cycled around town a lot, just looking around and getting exercise. Late in the afternoon, I decided to take a ride to The Beaches (the south-eastern part of Toronto before Scarborough), where there are beaches along the lakeshore. However, I had forgotten that there were fireworks, so the place was packed and I fled. I picked up some salad materials, grabbed a pizza, and went home to read.

In the mornings and evenings, I have to give Zeus medication (several pills) for his heart condition, which isn’t bad as I just have to mix them in some wet food. However, every evening, I have to give Tayo, who has colon cancer, three pills orally (through the mouth, thank god!). You know what Siamese cats are like – if you look at them the wrong way, they try to disembowel you with their claws. Well, I have to grab this cats’ head, pry it’s jaws apart, drop in a pill, and then sort of hold it’s jaw shut until it swallows. Then I have to do that two more times. Fortunately, this is a pretty easygoing cat, and he just wriggles a little and looks at me like I’m Satan, which is sort of how I feel.

Saturday, I spent much of the day hanging around the house, reading, working on some course planning for the fall, and organising Ben and Carol’s kitchen for them. I took a ride out east on Queen Street quite a ways and picked up some food, but otherwise hung around home.

Sunday morning I continued to be lazy, and sat out in the sun on the deck in the afternoon. Ben and Carol returned later and we went to Buddha’s Vegetarian Restaurant (Dundas West) for dinner, and then I went to a staging of “Much Ado About Nothing” in High Park.

Today, Monday, late in the afternoon (I am avoiding the peak UV periods) I went to the island again, so that I could get some sun and go for a swim again. However, after gettng all the way there, it got a little bit cloudy, some thunder was heard, I discovered that I had forgotten a towel to lay on, and when I went for a swim it seemed that the water temperature had dropped twenty degrees since my last visit. Nevertheless, it was a pleasant evening, didn’t rain, and I stayed there until about 7:30 before I headed back to the mainland.

I have been looking for a new pair of shorts, but it seems like all they sell in stores these days that they call shorts are what I call trousers for dwarves. The shorts all come right down past the knees, almost to mid-calf, and they have huge pockets all over them, enough that if you went grocery shopping, you wouldn’t need bags. May as well just wear pants! So, I went to Value Village and found a great pair of proper shorts, for only $4.99. Then I grabbed a Roti for dinner, and went home.

Sorry this blog entry is so boring… I should have taken the time to do it daily.

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