Sunday, May 16, 2010

Winnipeg to Toronto: Over 2000 KMs, 32 Hours

I had planned to wake up early this morning in order to find a Tim Horton's at which to buy breakfast, but even though I had set my alarm the night before I'd forgotten to turn it "on," and so I woke up with just enough time to shower, dry off with my tiny sports towel I received as a gift from Choi in Korea, and eat yesterday's left over dinner from the hostel's next-door hippie vegetarian pub. Eating supper for breakfast and drying off with a tiny towel made me feel like I was back in Korea again.

After my shower I cleared the sheets off my bed, and was in the process of taking them downstairs to be thrown in the "to be washed" bin, but an Aussie staffer (it's a hostel, so it has to have an Aussie working in it) told me that I could just leave them in the room because the hostel was "self-catering" (I'm not sure he knows what self-catering means).

The bus to the airport - where the Greyhound depot is - was packed, and so I felt a bit guilty for taking up two seats with all of my luggage, but I distracted myself from my shame by looking at the pretty, old houses along the way, and the stunning Manitoba Legislative Building. Along the way I also got to overhear a busker explaining to his mother (he must have been visiting her in Winnipeg) how to work the streets at the right time in order to make money more efficiently.

Up until now, the buses on which I had been travelling were relatively empty, and most of the passengers could take an entire row to themselves. However, the line-up for this bus to Toronto was so long that the security check before boarding took over over half an hour. (Yes, they have security checks on buses now.) It goes without saying that it was hard finding a free seat.

The trip to the Ontario border did not take too long, and shortly thereafter we entered the Canadian Shield and came to the stunning Lake of the Woods near Kenora - made even more stunning by having travelled past nothing but grass for the last two days. It was also in Kenora that I bought a hot chocolate at a Tim Horton's for the first time since leaving Alberta.

Later, in Dryden, I became sick of eating rest stop food, so I found a supermarket and bought a giant bag of apples. I noticed that people in Dryden eat the same fruit that we do in Alberta (BC fruit), but that their fruit comes from much further away. After eating a vegetarian meal the night before I must have caught "The Hippie", because I searched through the entire fruit stand until I finally came across the only Ontario grown piece of fruit there - some Ambrosia apples from Eastern Ontario.

(Tow Mater in Dryden.)

(Its comforting to know that this restroom is not running out of toilet paper any time soon.)

We travelled deeper into Ontario, and just as the sun was setting we came to Lake Superior. From here on we'd be travelling in the dark, but I was spared at least some boredom when my neighbour invited me to watch a movie with her on her laptop.

I thought I was on a long journey, but my neighbour, Angel, was travelling from Vancouver to Montreal on the Greyhound, and was currently on a three day stretch from Regina, Saskatchewan, to London, Ontario. Later, the person sitting behind me said he had hitch-hiked across Canada five times, and one time even made the journey in five days (faster than the Greyhound). He was also on a trip across the country.

At 11:30 PM, we pulled into Schreiber, and had a short rest at the Two Rooms Cafe (I can't remember the exact name, but it had Two Rooms in it somewhere). The elderly couple that owned the small restaurant had stayed up all night to cook a pizza for our bus, which I thought was exceptionally nice, but I was suffering fruit withdrawals, so just ate three of my apples instead.

After an awful, neck-breaking "sleep", I arose to see the sun just coming up over the horizon near Timberland. With the long, thin, wind-swept clouds radiating out from the red sun, it looked like the flag of old, Imperial Japan.

Five minutes later we reached Sault Ste. Marie, right on the U.S. border with Michigan, and I was dazzled by its charming three-storey red brick houses with white, painted wood "fire escape" ladders on the side. A roommate at the hostel in Toronto told me "that's why everyone says there's something about The Sault."

At Blind River, I jumped out of the bus to take a picture of Lake Huron. The busker I met on the Winnipeg city bus had apparently been travelling on the same Greyhound as me, and he told me that this was the place Neil Young wrote about in the song Long May You Run.

(The Mighty Huron, as viewed from Blind River.)

While I had been enamoured with the beauty and character of Sault Ste. Marie, the same cannot be said about Sudbury, where we passed through later. Angel used to live in this region, and told me that Sudbury was just a large work town. I know all about work towns, and so I vowed never to come back.

At this point, the "local bus" on which we had been travelling turned into an express bus, but we still had another five hours to travel in order to reach Toronto. Here I feel it must be said that Albertans tend to pride themselves on their ability to drive long distances of ten hours or more in a single day, but the sheer expanse of Ontario is nothing but humbling and will send even the most hardened of Albertan travellers home with his (or her) tail between his legs.

Finally, at 6:12 PM, on Thursday (we left on Wednesday), we pulled into the coach terminal in downtown Toronto.

Now, as an Albertan, I am trained from birth to be suspicious (jealous?) of Toronto and Torontonians in general, which is putting it perhaps too nicely. However, on the walk home I was helped by no less than three strangers, which left me to wonder if I had perhaps gotten off the bus in the wrong city.

After settling in at my hostel and greeting my roommates, I took my first shower in two days and tried to find a restaurant.

If I had been in Calgary now I could have walked around downtown for two hours without finding even so much as a coffee shop, but this is Toronto, and so two blocks from the hostel I walked in to a Greek restaurant, at which the owner gave me way too much delicious food for my money and urged me to sample all of his food before taking my order.

Tomorrow I will explore the city more, and perhaps attend a Toronto Blue Jays baseball game. For now though, I look forward to my first decent sleep in 48 hours.

No comments:

Post a Comment