Planning a trip and taking it are two different things, and that’s good – to allow the serendipity in!
I have been to Toronto about 8 times, half of them for conferences. Everyone knows that in Toronto, you go up the CN Tower, you take your kids to Canada’s Wonderland and the Hockey Hall of Fame, and you go to a Leafs or a Blue Jays game. We’re not such a Sporty Family, though. On our first trip, when Link was 10, we went to the Eaton Centre, Casa Loma, and the Zoo. Last year, on Rom’s first trip to Toronto, we went to the Picasso exhibit at the AGO, a Janelle Monae concert, and a steampunk fair!
Link has been living in Toronto for two years now. We were planning 7 days and nights visiting and vacation. So many decisions! First of all, we booked direct flights. There were cheaper flights available to the downtown airport if we wanted to fly on a turbo-prop plane and incorporate a stopover in the middle of the 150-minute flight. We did not.
Next we decided where to stay. Link has recently moved into a new apartment with 3 roommates. Staying there wasn’t a possibility, and the chain hotel we used before has hiked its rates way up. Link lives 45 minutes from downtown, and there are no tourist accommodations nearby. We chose a B & B in Cabbagetown so we could have a leisurely breakfast in the mornings and meet up with Link for downtown activities each day. The B & B was a brisk 15 minute walk (1.5 km) from the nearest subway station, and about a 30-minute walk (3 km) from downtown. We also paid a bit extra for a room with a not-shared bathroom!
In retrospect, we could have rented a suite with a kitchenette and stayed together for the week, but realistically, we weren’t sure we wanted 24/7 togetherness…I would have been impatient if I had to watch Link sleep away the mornings and skip those good breakfasts!
We had planned a few activities in advance. Before we left, we bought tickets to two concerts. One was the alternative pop group Sparks doing a greatest-hits tour, and the other was Kate Nash, who has changed styles 3 times so far in her 6-year career, and is currently inspired by Riot Grrl. Our next two priorities were seeing the David Bowie exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario, and seeing the Mesopotamia exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum.
My other goals were to have a meal at a Fresh restaurant, and to do a round of record stores. Rom wanted to visit comic shops, and play games at Snakes and Lattes. And of course, we wanted to see Link’s new place, visit, and have it feel like a proper (relaxing) vacation.
We planned out some of the days – Rom pinned the major destinations on Google Maps, we found restaurants and shops nearby, and worked out the public transit routes. We hoped to have our main meals at lunch time, so we could enjoy good restaurants at lunch prices, and have lighter fare in the evenings.
Packing for the trip was a challenge. When we left, the weather was unseasonably warm both in Halifax and Toronto. We knew we’d be spending hours every day walking. I planned for the weather forecast of 3-12 degrees with 2 days of rain showers, so I brought two rain-resistant fall jackets and a couple of sweaters. I normally hold off wearing a winter jacket until it gets down to zero, otherwise when it gets really cold, I have no warmer coats in reserve. I was wary of bringing a wool or down coat in case it stayed wet all week. Oh, the perils of travelling in November!
Everyone says to pack layering clothes for travel, but I don’t dress that way at home and didn’t really have the appropriate layering garments, like a moisture-wicking long-sleeve T-shirt. I made do with layering tank tops, T-shirts, cardigans and pullover sweaters. I was happy I brought my short boots, rather than shoes or sneakers.
Finally, I set the budget for our 7-day, 7-night trip at $3100 which may have been optimistic for 3 adults. The basic expenses were:
- 2 airfares, $800
- 7 nights at the B & B, $1100
- Ground transportation (airport cabs and subway tokens), $300. We are 30 km from our home airport and our accommodations were 37 km from the Toronto airport.
So that left $900 for food, entertainment and shopping for 3 of us for a week. Do you think we came in on budget? 😉
Next time I’ll post about how the week went, because of and despite our plans!