We could call my four-month absence from the blog a hiatus, but I think it is more down to a total lack of time. Or at least a lack of time once the Netflix binges have been factored in because yes, they do occur in whatever country you are residing in. It hasn’t all been laziness though, I promise. I have been on some trips further afield, even venturing across the border into the lower 48 and have been doing my best to leave a mark on my fabulous host uni too.
In the period leading up to Christmas my relationship with Toronto city went from being like that intimidatingly chic person you always see in a bar but never quiet have the nerve to approach, to an older brother who takes you out to do cool things. My similes aren’t quite adding up here but what I am trying to say is that I became far more familiar with the city, I have been on my own, I’ve been with a couple of friends and I have tried to coordinate with a group of around twenty (I don’t think we ever ended up in the same place together.) I don’t want to be that one student, and I know that there are plenty of cities in the world that I simply haven’t been to, but I think Toronto currently has number one spot. I’m sorry Swansea, but at least you still have the beach. Toronto can offer you everything, it does flashy and gritty and tasty and homely and all within a ten-minute walk. I had the opportunity of going to see an NBA game there, then two weeks later Ezra Furman and then two weeks later again the poet Rupi Kaur. It is crazy how many avenues of your personality it can bring to the foreground. You can be whoever you need to be on any given night and it’s a pleasure.
Being there at Christmas was a different beast again. Like a kid in a Dickens novel I wondered around with my face tilted to the sky, getting snowflakes on my eyelashes and feeling like every city light was lit for my benefit. Well until your hands go numb and you can’t find your hostel, but all the same, it was a perfect spectacle. If you get the chance to go to the Christmas Market in the old Distillery District I would advise you think carefully about timings. Rocking up a week before Christmas at the 5 O’Clock rush is all well and good if you prepare for the wait with a flask of hot apple cider and some snacks because it will be quite the wait, think Eiffel Tower in July or Time Square at New Year. We were somewhat cut short in how much time we actually had to explore which was a regret simply because it was so spectacular. The wait means that the shops aren’t crowded and there is plenty of space to take picture and all in all it was a jolly civilized Christmas market.
Further a field again we went of a group trip to Algonquin National Park which is a must see for anyone in this area. By taking advantage of a few driving loopholes it isn’t hard to hire a couple of cars and gather enough people to make renting a lakeside cabin a feasible plan. This is exactly what we did, and it was such a worthwhile way to spend our first reading week. I can’t imagine how stunning it must be in Summer but being there is October was now real downfall. The leaves were all turning but the sun still shone enough everyday to tempt us all into t-shirts and out into the lake. If you loved those movies where the kids all troop off to camp and make smores and friends for life, then this is sort of essential because it’s just the same (except you decide your own bed time and there is beer). It’s a win win, just trust me on this.
Algonquin, it should be said, was about the last of that summer sun though and it has been absolutely freezing ever since.
Yes, it is snowing right now, no, I don’t think that it will ever stop.
To break up the ice and snow I had the luxury of going to Florida (I have relatives there) for a few days just before winter exams. It turned out to only be a three-hour flight, despite the distance, but more importantly it was a 35-degree leap in temperature. I don’t think there are many times in life you can step onto a plane in snow and step out into the sunshine state so that was also a real experience. I chose it because of the familial perks of free bed and board but plenty of people here went to Hawaii and the likes so this is worth bearing in mind if you are concerned about the Canadian winter.
There are plenty more travels planned but I think they may have to wait for a different post.