Saturday, August 2, 2008

It's Like This Whole Other Country

I spent most of last week in Toronto, Ontario. I'll post a few real travel stories up here once I get my laundry done and open my mail, but here are a few things that stick out in my mind.

  • Canadians care about the environment. Not in the "Oh let's have a story about green vacations in our newspaper" way. They really care, and it shows in their lifestyle. You see bikes everywhere, and the bus and subway systems are efficient. It was totally normal to see people carrying water bottles into restaurants and getting them filled rather than using another glass at their meal. And recycling bins are as common as trash cans; in fact the waste receptacles have separate slots for glass, cans, and litter. No excuses.
  • Toronto residents love art. Nearly half of my photographs depict some cool sculpture or building design, and while some of them are installed in high-profile places, plenty of them are on side streets and in residential areas.
  • Canadians take their beer seriously. If you're a real beer drinker, Toronto has some outstanding beer bars and even more authentic pubs. I will not be happy until I can find some St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout down here in Florida, it's one of the nicest brews I've had in a while.
  • The people are fabulous. I can be somewhat shy, especially when I'm in a new place and a little less sure of myself. But the friendly faces and warmth, people who seemed genuinely interested in having a conversation...they killed that shyness immediately. I had so many great experiences with the locals, and I know part of that is because I worked a little harder to put myself out there, but most of it is because Toronto is just full of outstanding people. I can't wait to go back.

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