Advancing on Agra

Tuesday we left Delhi for Agra. We’d booked a car to drive us the three-four hours to Agra, rather than hassle with the train. I’m glad we did. The driver met us in the hotel lobby at 9. We checked out of our luxurious hotel and then hit the road…along with millions of other New Delhians.

The traffic was bad to start off with but once we got out of the city, it eased up a lot. Plus we used toll roads, some of which are took expensive for locals to use. We saw our first major car accident, a taxi that had spun to face the other way, slammed into the sidewall and was pretty much totalled. No ambulance was yet on the scene but there was no one in the car when we got there. I hope the people involved are ok.

The drive to Agra was easy and passed through the countryside where there were mustard seed and potato fields, as well as brickworks. I was struck by how the city suddenly ends and then we were into countryside. Cities are weird things.

We stopped for a snack and a toilet break but otherwise shot through to Agra, making what seemed like good time. Our driver, Mr Singh, drove us into Agra, a city that seems unfinished, or in a state of decay or perhaps its all fine and my Western sensibilities are too delicate. It looked like chaos to me.

He dropped us at our hotel – the Courtyard Marriott Agra – which was a lot nicer than I was expecting. The rooms are great. It’s another oasis. We checked in and rested for about an hour and a half before Mr Singh picked us up at three and drove us to Agra Fort.

Agra Fort

Don’t talk to anyone. Don’t even say no if they offer you something. Just ignore them and keep walking. If anyone offers you their services as a guide, don’t accept. They’re not guides. Any of them. Watch out for pickpockets.

These were Mr Singh’s words when we arrived at the fort. It’s the same for all the tourist places apparently but I suddenly felt I was going to be under seige. In the end, it wasn’t so bad. I ignored everyone, bought the tickets from the counter, and we went into the fort. No more hassles after that.

Agra Fort is huge, and stunning, and a treat for the eyes. It consists of many different buildings built out of different coloured stone used depending on function and age. The carvings in the walls are all unique and all beautiful. We could see the Taj Mahal in the distance too, as well as monkeys and parrots and squirrels. We wandered about, unfortunately unable to see all of it as part of it, the mosque I believe, is under repairs.

It was a beautiful place and well worth the visit.

Our Second Taj Mahal Experience

Having seen the Taj Mahal from a distance and with the sun beginning to set, we mentioned to Mr Singh that we’d like to see the Taj from a different viewpoint in the sunset.

He drove us to a garden which is on the other side of the river from the Taj Mahal. There were a few other people there, but not as many as that who were actually at the Taj Mahal across the way.

Unfortuantely the fog was still hanging around and the sun was setting not where I thought it would be (mistaking how the Taj was aligned) so the ‘look’ wasn’t what I expected, but hey, we saw the Taj-freaking-Mahal. I can’t wait to see it close up tomorrow.

We took our photos anyway, plenty of silly ones too, and then went back to the car. On the drive earlier we’d also seen the ‘Baby Taj’ across the way, and got to experience a bit of Agra-the-City outside the window. Lots and lots of monkeys. Squads of them all sitting in the ruins. Plenty of cows and goats, even pigs too!

We were glad to get back to the hotel. I realised I had no idea where we could get dinner if we weren’t going to eat at the hotel, but luckily, Glen had heard the word ‘buffet’ when we checked in so that was our dinner sorted.

The hotel also had a few bits of entertainment on around the place. A puppet show was set up near the pool – the ‘cobra’ scaring Christine half to death – as well as a musician in front of the fountain in the foyer, and a man with a magic act and shop.

We went to our rooms and to bed relatively early, the large amount of food we’d had at dinner added to our tiredness. Tomorrow will be another busy day.

Day Out in Delhi

With Sunday being almost a non-starter as far as fitting in much sight-seeing, Monday was our last chance in New Delhi to see some of the things other people talk about when they go here.

The four of us – Glen, Christine, Dipu and I – started the day with breakfast in the lounge, determined our plans and then set off for what was going to be a full day.

Endless Pashminas

Yes, I’ve said before that shopping is not one of my favourite things but Christine was keen to check out a market and Dilli Haat seemed like the nearest and best place to go. It also gave Glen and I some more time to hang out with Dipu.

We caught a car to the market, getting dropped off somewhere that was apparently near the markets but was not readily obvious. Nevertheless, we were in a fairly quiet street and we could walk up to the markets.

We thought it opened at 10 but it didn’t open until 11 at this time of the year so we hung around and attempted to get cash out of the ATM. India is currently in the midst of a bit of a cash problem following the demonetisation of the 500 and 1000 rupee notes last year. They’ve been replaced with a new 500 and 2000 rupee note but there haven’t been enough put into circulation so ATMs frequently run out. Such as the case at these two ATMs. I figured the chances that I’d actually buy anything that needed more than the 300 rupees I had in my wallet were slim.

Guess again.

When the markets opened we wandered in, strolling past shops that were just getting ready for the visitors. Some were already displaying their wares and were calling out for us to come and look at their items, which for the most part were shawls and scarfs. I didn’t need any scarfs so why would I stop?

But then I took a look and was caught in the net. Perhaps I could get a few for presents back home. So then I looked at one, and then two, and then he offered a price which he lowered because of Dipu, and then stools came out and we were invited to sit while he showed us yet more pashminas and we oohed and aahed over all the colours and the designs, and added more and more to the pile of the ones we would like to buy. In the end we selected ten. Then the bartering happened.

I sat it out but Dipu did most of it for us and by the time we were finished and had probably driven a decent bargain, we walked away with our ten scarves and everyone was happy. After that splurge, Glen and I left Christine and Dipu to it so we could do some sightseeing. They stayed until 3pm!

Entering Old Delhi

Dilli Haat was near a metro station so we bought our all-day tourist travel cards for 150 rupee each (great value for giving you unlimited travel on the metro all day) and caught the train up to Chandi Chowk station in Old Delhi. Glen and I were the only non-Indians on the train so we drew attention but no hassle.

Up at Chandi Chowk  we joined the crush of people getting out of the station and onto the busy, busy streets. Auto-rickshaws, people selling spices and balloons, fruit vendors, bicycles and carts, not to mention some cows…all happening in Old Delhi. Despite it being a very busy place and so many things being sold, Glen and I were not approached. While we weren’t invisible, we may as well have been.

We walked down the street, past ATMs with queues out the front of them or else with ‘No Cash’ signs stuck on them, and headed towards the Red Fort. We knew it was going to be closed as it was a Monday but we wanted to get a look at it – and Old Delhi.

The Red Fort is huge and it would have been something to explore inside. Outside its walls, a celebration was taking place, either for Republic Day or Gandhi’s Death Day or maybe both, so we couldn’t get close, and we chose not to attend the celebrations.

Instead we walked back towards the station, seeing the bird hospital in the Jain Temple, at least from the outside. The sudden appearance of a large and grumpy macaque was a good deterrent from exploring further. We walked down an alley street that ran parallel to the main road. Again, no hassles. I don’t even think anyone looked at us. It was a good place to walk too as it was much quieter than being near all the horn-blowing on the roads.

We eventually cut down another alley to get to the Metro and walked past a hole-in-the-wall restaurant where two men sat out the front, one making chapatis, the other cooking them on coals. I beckoned to Glen – who’d run ahead as usual – that there were some delicious looking chapattis there and before we knew it we had gone inside and squeezed ourselves onto a shared table with a large man wearing a turban.

The other patrons must have thought we were some kind of joke, or that the tone of the place had dropped. We didn’t speak their language, and then waiter didn’t speak English. He brought a menu that was written in script, not English, so the only thing we could read was the prices. The man sitting next to us said something to the waiter and then food appeared.

We were given a small bowl of chickpea and potato curry, the name of which I can’t remember, as well as a yoghurt thing, and some delicious chapatis. I really liked the curry too but the yoghurt thing not so much. We finished off our food, endured the funny and bewildered looks, paid our $2 for the privilege and left. We were both giddy from eating like locals. What they must have thought of us!

The Hunt for Cash

As I wrote in Sunday’s post, the metro in Delhi is really convenient, clean, safe and useful. What I’m not quite used to is the long distances between stations. I guess I’d never really considered how large Delhi is – and with a population of 19 million I’m not sure why I thought it would be huge – so the time taken between stations felt like quite a while.

We changed lines at Central Secretariat to get down to JLN Stadium where we would walk to see Humayun’s Tomb. As we left the platform, we spotted an ATM and decided to chance it, thinking it would be empty. An Indian mate waited outside to see if I would hit the jackpot. Lo! Cash appeared! Hurrah!

Talk about post-apocalyptic. The panic at just the idea of not being able to get cash when cash is needed was unsettling. Chaos is not far away.

Now we’d loaded ourselves with money we walked out of the station, down Lodhi Road, towards Humayun’s Tomb. But not being I asked a couple of police or army officers the way, getting the name wrong or talking to people who had never heard of Human’s Tomb. In the end Glen and I decided to just call it Yum-Yum’s – cultural insensitive, yes, but it’s also funny.

The walk was along busy streets littered with rubbish. People everywhere. Buildings in disrepair. But we managed it and arrived at the tomb.

Yum-Yum’s

Humayun’s Tomb is apparently a model for the Taj Mahal. Either way it’s a beautiful complex with walls, monuments and gardens. Once we were through the gates and into the crowds, the bustle of Delhi faded away and we were able to enjoy a bit of respite and looking at some old buildings. I took photos of more squirrels and some beautiful green parrots, as well as the buildings. Check out the pictures for a bit of an idea of what it was like.

We were there for about an hour or so. Our legs were killing us by the end and we opted to not go to Qutb Minar or any other bit of sightseeing. We had museum fatigue and all other fatigues as well. So you’d think that would mean we’d pay whatever to just get home, right?

Wrong. Instead, when we walked outside the tomb’s entrance and were greeted by auto-rickshaw drivers, we were given a price of 300 rupees to drive us the 20 minutes to our hotel, rather than to just the metro. Glen baulked at the price and then we haggled over a price to get us to the metro, which we still didn’t agree to. What the hell? So we walked.

Two women followed us because they weren’t sure how to get to the metro but as we walked we realised how far it actually was. Again, what were we thinking? So we walked and then we took the metro and then another train and it probably took us an hour to get home.

When we saw Christine and Dipu later we found they’d paid 300 rupees to go about a ten minute journey so we all had a big laugh. That was after Glen and I had rested for a while and I went to the gym.

Two Dinners

We went up the lounge for our last evening in Delhi and had some snacks. Glen and I ate too much, especially considering we were going to Dipu’s daughter’s house for dinner. After about an hour we went downstairs to catch an Uber, which took a ridiculously long time to sort out, made harder because we don’t have roaming so can’t call the driver, and in the end took a taxi through horrible, horrible rush hour traffic to Anavinda’s house.

There we had dinner with Anavinda, Titus and Dipu, enjoying a traditional Indian meal with dahl, paneer, parathas and curry. Great food and lots of chats about politics, family history and the like.

After dinner Titus took us to the nearby cash machine because we’d been warned that it wouldn’t be easy to get cash in Agra. Fortunately these cash machines out in what seemed the middle of nowhere were ripe with cash so we were sorted.

We said our farewells and then went back to the hotel, collapsing into bed sometime around 11pm. Thanks, Delhi for an interesting few days.

Haneda, Shinjuku and the Robot Restaurant

We flew Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong and then on to Tokyo (Haneda). The flight to Hong Kong was packed. Because I couldn’t check us in until about 2:30pm we were stuck right at the back of the plane. While a little cramped, we downed a sleeping pill and slept for about six hours, waking up for food, of course.

When we landed in Hong Kong we had about 50 minutes until our next flight. Transfer information flashed up on our screens and I took photos of it and read it about five times, anticipating a fast run through Hong Kong airport. Fortunately, when we disembarked, an airline representative was waiting for us and the three other people on the flight to Haneda.

He led us on a brisk walk through the airport, through the crew security line and then to our flight, which we boarded almost immediately. I’d asked whether he thought our luggage would make the transfer (Bec had a similar short transfer and her luggage didn’t make it in time) and he said yes – famous last words.

The flight was only three hours but felt a whole lot longer. I dozed, feeling worse with each passing minute, and vowing never to take overnight flights again. They’re just not worth it. You arrive feeling like crap, even if you do manage to get some sleep.

We disembarked at Haneda, went through customs, with me breaking out a few very rusty Japanese words. I learnt a bit of Japanese in year 7. Only a few words have stuck but luckily they’re the important ones. Also, Swee at work had been reminding me of a few in the lead up to my trip. We got through passport control and waited for our luggage.

‘Oh look, that’s us,’ Glen said, pointing to the sign that one of the staff was holding up. You guessed it. Our luggage was still in Hong Kong and they needed to take down our details. It would arrive sometime that morning (between 2am and 5am). This didn’t seem to faze us much.

We were staying in Tokyo for a few days, we had enough clothes on and some things in our luggage, we’d be fine. In actual fact, it worked out really well as it meant we didn’t have to lug 20kg suitcases through the Tokyo subway (something we were very grateful for later).

We then breezed through Customs and then went in search of Suica cards to use on the trains. Many people have told me over the years that Japan is very confusing because ‘everything’ is written in Japanese characters. It’s not really true, not now anyway. While everything is (and should) be written in Japanese, there’s also a lot written in English. All the important stuff, at least.

Catching the train to Godzilla

So we found the JR East office, muddled through purchasing our Suica cards, and then went off to pick up the portable wi-fi device we’d ordered prior to our departure and got reconnected to the internet. We probably could have survived without it as there’s free wi-fi in the hotel, subways, department stores and probably most other places but it helped with Google Maps and stopped those annoying ‘do they have wifi?’ and ‘what’s the password?’ questions. (Yes, we could just not be connected but it’s not that kind of holiday.) Sadly for us, this wifi device has a faster connection speed than our internet back home, about three times as fast. On ya, Australia.

Armed with our Suica cards, internet connection and a couple of directions, we caught one train line and then another to emerge at Shinjuku Station. The trains weren’t too crowded but they’re a hundred times busier than the Midland line in the middle of the day.

When we got off the train at Shinjuku and got underground to where all the platforms meet, we both went ‘wow’ at seeing the mass of people swarming to catch their trains. I think the large number of coloured signs suspended from the ceiling also added to the overwhelming nature of the place. We found the exit we needed and then walked through Shinjuku to find our hotel (Hotel Gracery), helpfully topped with Godzilla’s head.

We happened to check-in at the exact same time as Bec. I heard her, in her Australian accent, telling the receptionist that she was staying there with some friends, and I turned to see that it was her. Perfect timing! We checked into our rooms at the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku.

The room is small but that’s to be expected (I’m sure there are whole apartments in Tokyo which aren’t much bigger than our room for two). Either way, it was clean, nicely decorated, in a great location and had one of those Japanese toilet seats that has a warm seat and bidet. Tempted to get one at home. Oh, and the shower is its own room where you can either wash Japanese-style over the floor or shower/bath in the bath like a Westerner. It’s all pretty cool and different.

The hunt for sustenance

We didn’t stay put for long. We went outside to look at Godzilla’s head, which roars (screams, in the words of the receptionist) four times a day – though we’ve yet to be around at the right time to hear it. We wandered the brightly light and crowded streets of Shinjuku, trying to find somewhere to get some food. This is, unfortunately, where Tokyo has been a bit of a trial for me.

As I don’t eat red meat or pork, and I’m not super adventurous with things like skin and gizzards, my food options are pretty limited. That is, if I want to eat Japanese. There are quite a few Italian restaurants around but that seems a bit sacrilegious. Ramen is pretty much out as it’s mostly made and topped with pork. There is, of course, plenty of fish to eat but if we’re not going for sushi, then it’s not all the prominent.

Either way, we found a place, encouraged inside by one of the touts on the street. One thing to remember about Tokyo is that because everything is so cramped, you also need to look up. We tend to only look at what’s visible from the street but a four storey building will have about five restaurants in it (basement being one).

The first restaurant we went to we had chicken yakitori. Glen bravely tried the deep brown one, which turned out to be gizzards – but what gizzards we’re not sure. He thinks it might have been heart. Another stick was just skin which I couldn’t eat (oh, how precious I am), and there was one that was meat-like. There were also some vegetable ones and some kara-age. We got through most of it, and then people nearby started smoking so we left.

Smoking in restaurants and bars is A-OK here. Smoking on the street, however, is not the done thing. There are cordoned off areas outside where people go to smoke but you won’t see people wandering the streets with a cigarette in their hand. We’ve also noticed that some restaurants won’t allow smoking over the lunch period. It’s made us realise how deconditioned we’ve become to smoking in Australia over such a short space of time.

From this restaurant we then wandered the streets looking at various shops and generally taking in the brightly-light atmosphere. It’s all a bit crazy and full on, and creates quite a contrast to the mostly plain-clothed and straight-laced Japanese. We did go in search for another round of food but then stumbled across advertising for the Robot Restaurant.

Oh god, why?

Our fiends in Canada, Cam and Vince, had been to it when they were last in Japan. I assumed it was an actual restaurant where robots brought you food. That is most definitely not what happened.

We bought our tickets – ¥8000 (more than $100) – and went through with all the other tourists, a mix of Americans, Australians and some Japanese. Two robots were positioned out the front that we had our photos taken with, and then inside it’s all bright colours, different models of lizards and flowers and other psychedelic things, mirrors and general garishness.

We went downstairs to the basement and took our seats in rows which lined the room, leaving a space in the middle for the ‘robots’ to come in and entertain us. We could order snack type food like fries, popcorn and crisps, as well as drinks. This was definitely not going to be a fine-dining experience. Our 90 minutes of entertainment then began.

The evening consisted of a number of shows with live dancers moving about on the floor, either on their own legs or some mechanised mode of transport. There was a drumming segment at the start (the beat was pretty cool actually), then something else, followed by dancers dressed in black and covered in glow in the dark tubes (also cool), before a robot-like battle began between the creatures of the forest and alien invaders, before the final song and dance of robots moving around the space. The whole thing was one long, confused ‘where are we?’ moment and it was definitely not what we expected.

Some people really enjoyed it, including one guy across the way who was standing for most of it and filmed the whole thing on his camera phone. Don’t really think it was worth it for us and not sure I’d recommend it to anyone, but to each their own.

Afterwards we went to find food, going into the basement for a ridiculously expensive and not very nice meal. This was after about 30 minutes (if not more) of trying to find somewhere that I could eat. Glen was about ready to bite me I think, he was so hangry. After dinner we headed back to the hotel, definitely ready for a sleep after our first few hours in Tokyo.

Apparently autumn (or fall) isn’t when I think it is

The other day I was given a question which said, “Which season is it?” I needed the answer to access some money a friend had sent me. Well, thought I, it’s September so that must make it autumn (being an Australian we say autumn rather than fall). However, the friend who sent me the money is Canadian so I typed in fall. 

DENIED!

Not wanting to try again with ‘autumn’ in case it was also wrong and I got locked out, I messaged my friend and asked what the answer was, whether he had put autumn because he knows I’m Australian.

The response: summer.

He then went on to explain that over here summer lasts until the autumn equinox, around the 21st of September. I vaguely remembered something from earlier in the year when everyone was saying summer hadn’t started at the beginning of June but at the summer solstice.

Back home, seasons don’t really mean much. It’s either hot or not-so-hot. We count the seasons based on the month, so summer is December, January and February. Autumn is March, April and May. Winter is June, July and August. And Spring is September, October and November.

Of course, they have little bearing on what’s actually going on with the weather. Autumn is largely consumed by summer so you’d be lucky to get a bit of cooler weather by the end of April. The leaves don’t turn red or brown or orange so there’s not much to see.

Spring is a mix of wet and dry, November picking up some horrible heat every now and then, but also mixed with a few downpours. In that respect, it’s a bit like spring in the northern hemisphere. 

It’s a bit of a mind shift when you’re so used to doing everything by calendar months to have to switch to remembering when solstices and equinoxes take place. I prefer our system, but I suppose it’s because it’s the one I’ve grown up with. Either way, the dates are largely arbitrary. The essence of winter here lasted for about six months, spring for three weeks, and summer is just buggering around. One minute you think it’s gone, the next minute it’s blazing. 

Oh the joys of weather.

Fall colours.
Fall colours.

 

So that’s what skating in –24°C feels like

Tonight’s ice skating lesson wasn’t cancelled. This was a bit of a surprise. The temperature was forecast to be –13°C in the afternoon and –16°C in the evening and the lessons are cancelled if it’s going to be –15. Looks like they decided to risk it.

As a result there were only about four other people on the main rink and there were only five of us in the lesson. There were also four instructors to help us out, which was great (though there were only three on the ice at one time as they kept cycling in and out of the cold to keep warm).

We covered gliding and stopping and a bit of going backwards. Despite the extra instruction, I felt even more unconfident than the last time. However, this time we were doing “harder” things so I naturally felt a bit uneasy. Nevertheless, I was able to stop (somewhat), almost getting up to that cool hockey stop thing, and was able to glide for a bit.

Glen had a good time too and came away feeling much more confident. I think he even had fun.

The cold was something else. The ice rink is on the harbour front so there’s plenty of wind – and really cold wind at that, which is why it felt like –24. There were times when we forgot about it, mostly because we were trying to stay upright, but when we standing still, my face felt…well, I couldn’t feel my face.

Still, we were only there for a bit over an hour and because everyone else got frightened away, we had a really good lesson. Hopefully our make-up lesson on Monday isn’t cancelled and we must make some time this week to get some practise in.

Keep to the right

One of the things that’s really impressed me being in Toronto is the relative orderliness of pedestrians. I used to think people standing on the right of the escalators in the London Underground was the absolute peak of humanity’s capacity for order and politeness (ignoring the rest of London streets which are a mess) but coming here is something else.

A typical escalator tube on the London UndergroundOf course, there are the escalators in the subways. People stand on the right to allow people to run up the left but it doesn’t stop at subway escalators. People even walk up the right side of the stairs, rather than advancing as one amorphous mass that eventually meets another amorphous mass coming the other way.

People walk on the ride side of the footpath and on the right side of pedestrian crossings. And if you happen to find yourself on the left, you quickly know you’re in the wrong, that you’re somehow going against the natural order of things.

Compared to London, Perth, and New York, it’s a dream come true.

But when you add tourists to the mix, it all falls apart.

Which is probably why London and New York are just a mess. People coming from all over the world, bringing their own idea of order (or lack thereof) and just wandering aimlessly over footpaths, stairwells and hallways. Madness!

Though, to be honest, I’m probably giving people too much credit. I doubt many people are as orderly as the Canadians, or as considerate, so it probably comes down to, “Bugger off, this is my space and I’ll do whatever the hell I like with it.”

And as Satre said, “Hell is other people.”

From LA to Toronto and then some

The flight from LA to Toronto wasn’t bad, shorter than I was expecting (about four and a half hours), which was a relief. We flew Air Canada and despite what I’d heard it was a good service. Downside was the entertainment system not working for half the plane but we had an iPad and laptop with videos on them so we were entertained. I think I might have even slept.

The fun side of the flight was hearing from the air hostess that she was on about ten days leave after that flight and she was off to Scotland to see her boyfriend. She quite happily told me, and the 15 or so other people seated around us, that it was a serious trip and he was basically going to be told off. She might come back single. I liked her. She added some colour to the trip.

Waiting for luggage at the airport. Too tired to stand.
Waiting for luggage at the airport. Too tired to stand.

Easy going through customs at Toronto Pearson then around to get work permits. Not much hassle. Apparently I can’t work in businesses related to the sex trade such as strip clubs, massage parlours or escort services. Talk about career limiting.

Once we were through customs we saw a whole contingent of giggling teenagers swarming over a couple of people I recognised from being on our flight. We have absolutely no idea who these “famous” people were. They wore hats, there was a guy and a girl, they were young. And I’m sure I wouldn’t recognise them if I ever saw them again.

Airport shuttle to a hotel that really wasn’t all that close to the airport, despite its name and proclamations. Room was fine though and it was nice to jump in a shower and brush my teeth (they were feeling furry). We hadn’t eaten for a while so we went downstairs to get some snacks from the lobby. On the way back to the elevator we walked past the bar/lounge area where there was a mixed group of people, Americans from the sound of their accents.

One of the men called us over and proceeded to tell us how it’s some women’s fantasy to go to bed with two guys and would we be interested in leaving our room key somewhere for the lovely lady seated opposite who was going bright red. We declined and ran away. Welcome to Canada.

Mmmm oatmeal for breakfast.
Mmmm oatmeal for breakfast.

We managed to sleep about seven hours before waking up and going in search of breakfast. Then it was back to bed. Glen managed to sleep but I couldn’t so lay in bed until the alarm went off at 11 and we had to get up. The hotel called us a taxi and we headed Downtown to our accommodation.

The taxi driver was from Pakistan (Glen thought he said Bankstown) and friendly. He talked to us about phone plans and pointed out places of interest like the lake, CN Tower and Rogers. He was also very helpful in saying that the neighbourhood we were going to be staying in is pretty dangerous at night so we should be careful.

Later when we met the owner of the apartment we’re staying in, we told her what the taxi driver said but she did her best to reassure us and say it was a really nice area. I’m still wary but it’s a new city so I’m wary of everything and everyone anyway. The owner came by to give us a wireless modem as the other one had broken, and also to replace the tv (though we can’t get the new one to work). Her and her partner were both really nice and helpful. She works in real estate (after working in research in UHN) and said she’d send us through some apartment options for where we want to live. How nice is that?

We’ve been for a couple of walks around the area and beyond. The weather turned nice after raining this morning. We’re close enough to various things and walking distance to most others. Because it’s summer it doesn’t get dark til 9:30, which is pretty cool, though I think that’s going to wreak havoc with our body clocks as they try to adjust.

Well, that’s about it for our first full day in Toronto. Tomorrow it’s off to get identity cards and whatever else is needed. Maybe some tracking devices and a gun.