To Travel To T.O.

MINI Cooper on the road

MINI Cooper on the road

As much as we Montrealers hate to admit it, T.O. really isn’t so bad. When you actually take the time to look past the Leafs and into the city streets and what they have to offer, Toronto offers a great weekend or holiday getaway location that’s really just a jump away from our own glorious city. Granted, Montreal is a great city to stay in and explore, but if you want a change of scenery and nightlife, let me recommend the business-oriented T.O.

Now, before you click away and promise never to read my articles again while simultaneously writing me angry Canadiens hate mail, hear me out. Just down the 401 is a great urban location with a dynamic different enough from Montreal that you actually feel a bit like a tourist when you’re there. From King St. to Yorkville to good old Yonge St., Toronto has so much to see and do, I defy you to explore all the city has to offer in a single weekend — you can’t, trust me.

So, why don’t more Montrealers jump over to T.O. for long weekends and vacations? Well, for starters we’re supposed to hate Toronto with a passion, plus the airfares are so ridiculously high only high-rolling business men and drug dealers can afford the flight. Even a midweek, odd-hour flight from Trudeau to Pearson will set you back in the $500-$700 range for a return ticket. That’s mighty steep when you consider everything that 1-hour flight entails. (And that 1 hour just the time in the air.)

When you break it down, your near-$1,000 flight to T.O. isn’t just an “hour” it works out to approximately 5 hours and 37 minutes when you factor in the time you spend getting to the airport in our lovely Montreal traffic and construction zones; the time it takes you to figure out the self check-in ticket machines; the hour or so you spend going through security even though you’ve clearly packed all of your liquids in a tiny Ziplock, have removed your laptop, keys, camera, cell phone, iPod, shoes, belt, sweater, change from your pockets, and your bladder only to have them pat you down and search your bags for their own amusement and your aggravation; the time you sit waiting restlessly at your gate ordering coffee after coffee at an overpriced airport Starbucks while you listen to RDS on the gate TV and the screaming child beside you; the time it takes to board the plane behind the slowest-moving and most confused person in the history of the world; and of course the time you’re in the air seated behind a personal entertainment system that no longer works with the screaming child seated directly in front of you; and finally the time it takes you to deplane, traverse the Pearson airport and emerge (victorious?) into Toronto’s possibly worse-than-Montreal traffic.

Now, why on earth would you pay close to a grand to do that? Are you mentally disturbed? I’m inclined to think so as I felt much like a mental patient myself after my one-day journey to Toronto. The best part of the entire trip was having the time to sit and write this piece at my gate. That’s it. And I could have done it just as happily and quickly at home. I didn’t need to be in an airport.

If you don’t fly to T.O., you ask, how on earth do you intend to get to said city? You drive my dear, you drive.

I don’t always hop on airplanes for my nights away from Montreal — and thankfully so. A few months ago I chose to go to Toronto of my own free will (I promise it was for a reputable event and well worth the journey), and instead of worrying about ticket prices, arrival times and bookings, I chose to pack up a cherry red MINI Cooper Convertible and hit the road.

Remember how long that one-hour flight actually took? Well, my drive to Toronto took me the same amount of time. And I didn’t have to get a full-body search by a gloved security guard; I didn’t have to keep my luggage in view at all times; I didn’t have to drink overpriced coffee (though I admit I did while on the road); and most of all I didn’t have to pay hundreds of dollars to torture myself. Instead I enjoyed the open road in a drop-top that’s a joy to drive. I took in the scenery, stopped for food and drink at my own leisure (and it wasn’t for miniature-sized bags of nasty chips and flat Ginger Ale), and I genuinely experienced my journey. I also made it to Toronto without having to fill the MINI so the only money I spent was on (overpriced) coffee and a bite to eat. Not bad.

And while Toronto has a great public transit system (surely not as good as Montreal’s though, how could T.O. be better than us?), you will regret not having a car at some point. Toronto is so expansive with so much to see in all directions you’re best to bring your own wheels to really experience and explore all aspects of the city including the teaming nightlife. While they might not have the sex industry that we do, T.O. still has an incredible number of clubs, most of them quite posh and high-end, and well worth the entry fee.

So, the next time you decide to swallow your pride and head south-west to Toronto, remember that while flying might be the “easier” choice, driving is ultimately smarter.

Drive on,
– M.

~ by drivingmsmiranda on March 29, 2010.

3 Responses to “To Travel To T.O.”

  1. Compelling argument for TO, but if you ‘go up 417’ to get there you’ll end up in the city that falls asleep at 4PM….

    So DOWN the 401 it is.

  2. Oh hai guis!

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