Carnivals and camper vans

August 2nd turned out to be a good day in the life of Cheese and Bickies…well, mostly. It started off with a successful trip by Sarah to buy a bike, before we headed off to Toronto Carnival (otherwise known as Caribana). Turns out this is the biggest cultural event in North America, and over a million tourists were expected to be in town to celebrate and samba their way through town. Staying just up the road from the parade, we made our way down in the sunshine, and got lucky when somebody next to us broke through the fence onto the actual parade route and people started sneaking in (almost the entire route was surrounded by full height fencing, a total contrast from London’s Notting Hill carnival)…so of course we couldn’t pass up the opportunity for some close up photos and followed suit. The fencing wasn’t the only contrast with Notting Hill. We definitely missed London’s ‘one stop shop’ of cheap Lucky Strike cans and jerk chicken sold from somebody’s front yard, while their mother lets you pee in her toilet for just £1. In Toronto you have to be inside a fenced off tent to buy tickets to get beers to be consumed only within the fences. We missed London’s freedom and street sound systems, however the colours, costumes and enthusiasm of the people taking part more than made up for it.

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Wrapping up in time to get the bus across town to check out one of only two camper vans we’d found in the whole two weeks, we were kicked off one bus that was going out of service to wait for another. Which is when Matts iphone took a walk out of his pocket never to be seen again.

Arriving at Walmart we got our first look at ‘Betty’, a blue 1980 Dodge Ram and soon to be our new home. After a face off with another Aussie couple who’d arrived to check her out, we won the showdown when it was our turn to take her for a spin and she conked out at the lights. Matt, her German owner, along with a 50 year old woman who stopped to put her back into it (don’t ask where all the blokes were!), pushed her back to Walmart in time for the other Aussie’s to wish us good luck and walk away, leaving us bargaining room to get Betty at half price (stay tuned for an update on the money spend later). Betty, welcome to the family!

With Betty safely parked up at the mechanics, we stopped off at local Roncy bar ‘Gabby’s, where we met Joe,  who felt compelled to tell us he’d just got back from touring with Michael Buble in the UK. He then proceeded to tell us he was originally from Cape Breton and despite being here for 20 years, he hated Toronto. Next up was Maxwell with his black Labrador and small little white fluffy terrior. But it wasn’t the dogs that drew your attention to Maxwell, it was the huge wire wrapped crystals hanging around his neck and from his hair. He seemed like your average trippy hippy, talking about crop circles and crystals and telling us we had a great aura about us. It was when he proceeded to ask us if we knew about the Peladians that Sarah had to stop herself from laughing out loud. This dude was seriously on another planet! Peladians for those of you who don’t know, are aliens born into human bodies. Yep, exactly.

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Having said goodbye to Maxwelll, next up was Sean, who actually was pretty much normal. We had a good chat about London (he’d spent time studying in Oxford and visiting London often), Canada (he was originally from Vancouver) and the proposed Northern Gateway oil pipeline (an amazing example of corporate BS when oil company Enbridge was caught out deleting a whole group of islands from a map of their proposed tanker route to demonstrate the safety of the new pipeline, what a joke!). Sean soon got ‘the call’ from his wife and had to head home, leaving us wide open for the next streetside weirdo to stop by.

The Lakeview - Toronto

And so he did. We never asked his name because we weren’t interested, but can tell you he was Polish, had a dog, and gave off a pretty nasty vibe, particularly when he told us a dirty joke, then asked if we liked racists jokes, to which we both said no before he could even get started, and then he started one anyway. We then got a random spiel about Mac, Windows, binary codes and how he could hack our computer if we needed him to. Again we said no. Eventually we finished our beers (quicker than we would of if computer hacker guy wasn’t hanging around) which gave us an excuse to leave, as obviously he wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon!

Further celebrating our purchase, we made our first Diners, Drive-In’s and Dives stop at the Lakeview Restaurant, serving up the most dessert crunching craving apple pie milkshake you could ever dream of. And yes, it was made with real parts of apple pie so you know it’s good.

Apple pie milkshake

So here are some things we’ve learnt about Toronto during our lucky two weeks here;

1. There are more people here with tattoos than we’ve seen anywhere else in the world. Especially girls with visible tattoos, so guys if that’s your thing, you should definitely pay Toronto a visit

2.  The squirrels are black and cute. Not the psycho grey, cocaine-digging-up savage things you find in London

3. It’s easy to ride a bike around Toronto without feeling like everybody operating a motor vehicle is out to kill you. In fact, they almost act like they’re afraid of you and avoid you at all costs.

4. In a residential neighbourhood, it is apparently acceptable to begin noisy construction works at 7am…or 6:50am. Everyday. Thanks guys.

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