Sunday, September 15, 2013
Toronto Canada is the perfect place to start your international travels. If your an American and unsure if you would enjoy or be able to master international travel, Toronto is the perfect place to test yourself. I would say it is about a quarter international compared to travelling to a European country were they don't speak English.
Montreal too is a good place to test yourself except you are likely to run into quite a few people than only speak French, or just refuse to speak English to you. Montreal I would rate at about half European and half North American culture wise.
Toronto features a well developed public transportation system that includes a subway, buses and tram system. This is a perfect way to test yourself in a international setting.
Also proving more difficult is the currency conversion, which holds steady at about a 1 to 1 ration currently. Getting used to using foreign currency is easier in Canada than in European countries that may or may not use the Euro.
They also have different credit/debit cards, using the more secure ones with the micro chip in them. Yours will work at almost any stores but you may have to find international bank machines (like the green TD bank locations) in order to withdraw cash. Also I did have some problems paying at the pump at certain gas stations.
We enjoyed staying at Hilton Gardens downtown, the rate was over $200 a night but included valet parking and breakfast for the whole family. They also had a pool and a hot tub.
Staying downtown is more pricey but is worth it if location and convenience is important to you, driving 20-30 minutes a day to get downtown didn't sound like fun to us.
Toronto is a pricey city but still cheaper and way safer than a comparable US city like Chicago or New York.
Toronto offers a wide variety of fun thing to do for the entire family. A few of the highlights for me...
1. Go visit the CN tower, expensive venture but if you are adventurous you can do the sky ledge and on outside of the tower for a premium.
2.Tornto Islands take a ferry and enjoy the day, the amusement park is expensive and a bit overrated but overall a fun experience. You can pack a lunch and have a picnic if you choose. The beach is excellent and safe and you have wide open green spaces on the islands to explore.
3.Shop in Yorkville, very surprised by how nice they were at Prada and Hermes two of my favorite brands. They were very nice at both shops, a far cry from the usual reputation both establishments have. Holt Renfro is a great department store with many exclusive brands.
4.St. Lawrence Market is an excellent place to get food, snacks and desserts. We tried one of the specialty sweet shops in Toronto and the fare was no better than what you could find at the Market. The seafood restaurant is a must see attraction. On Sundays next to the market is an interesting Flea/Antique market.
5.Mr Fleas flea market, an interesting place to checkout they have a ton of bootlegs that are hard to come by in the US. Get 10 bootleg dvds for $20 if you are interested.
6. Check out the ethnic neighborhoods downtown. There are a bunch and they are all fun, even the non ethnic ones are great the gay neighborhoods and the gritty urban areas are fun as well.
Overall Toronto is a great international city and a great place to visit.