Written by Dindo Varona
In the back seat of the 8-seater Nissan Murano van, was where I patiently anticipated our next stop; it was a nice early July summer day as I see the tower high in the air. The distance from New York City to Toronto is 792.2km, a relatively long 8 hours-drive that flew by quickly. It was definitely worth the trip.
I found us leaving New York City, heading southwest merging on Hwy. I-81N for about 133 miles past Binghamton; then turn west to merge onto I-90 W towards Rochester, Buffalo and Hamilton and then turn north-east to merge onto Queen Elizabeth Way then eventually Bay St, Toronto.
We had to walk pass security, which had a bizarre nozzle-filled chamber that blew bursts of air at you, as if my body was being sucked out; once each of us got out we all paused and burst out into laughter; apparently the bursts of air coming out from these “puffers” are intended to release microscopic particles on your skin or clothing, which are then inspected for any residue that might indicate the presence of an explosive device in clothing and skin folds, in order to detect terrorists.
My excitement grew, as the tower elevator shot us up to the top level in only a few seconds! You can easily lose your group while walking around in the tower, so we made sure everyone stayed close. The “scary” glass floor: definitely check it out. Over one thousand four hundred feet high above the ground, it’s absolutely breathtaking to look down and see my own feet above the city of Toronto. I was surprised to see there were kids lying down on the glass, taking photos and even breakdancing on it!
The next day we visited Niagara Falls. The day was a fine sunny day at the Falls. By mid afternoon, it was beginning to get crowded with people surging toward the viewing platforms. As we walked along the amazing and mighty Niagara River, we passed so many people wearing bright clothing of different colors and large crowds of locals and tourists all together.
I couldn’t believe my eyes! I’m here! People travel from all over the world to marvel at this destination because of the large amount of water flowing non-stop, every day, all year long. The sights, the never ending loud roar of the waterfall and the mist are inspiring, and give energy to anyone close enough to feel it!
The ‘Maid of Mist Ride’, which takes you right up to the falls, is exciting and amazing. Large amounts of water and spray repeatedly hitting the boat was nothing compared to the feel of the ice-cold water and the chill of the surrounding air, while watching my parents and relatives going through the same adventure was an unforgettable experience. After the wild ride was done, we walked up to the lookout point, where everyone can see the rainbow rising up from the mist.
We visited a related family’s house later that day. I remember my related Auntie standing in the backyard of her own house waved me over to sit with her only son. Although I didn’t have a Canadian accent and he noticed my Australian accent, we instantly got along so well, engaging in a two-way conversation about his hard-working life in Canada and how hanging out at the local coffee shop with his best friends helped relieve his stress.
I still remember the two days spent in Canada like it was yesterday. My new friend would let me sit in his house to talk, to drink coffee, to go hang out with his Canadian best friends, to watch them play “Jix” (Americans call it “Foosball”) and pool, or to talk about his work. Despite our difference in accents, their warm welcome made me feel accepted into their group and (believe me or not) for those couple of days, loved by others. The evening before I left, I still remember standing in the local parking lot with his friends looking a bit sad that I was leaving Canada so soon. He smiled and responded, “Come back to Canada when you can” as I said goodbye.
It was just before midnight we prepared ourselves to leave a town that now felt so warm to me. As I looked out the back of the van, I took in the view of our host’s house for the last time. Our host family all stood outside by the front door; Mixed emotions welled up inside me as we all waved back. As the van drove further away, I couldn’t stop looking out the window, reminiscing about all the good people I will hold in my heart and memory forever, and said goodbye to Canada before the long drive back to New York.
About the Author: Dindo Varona: I was born in Sydney but moved cities at a young age and grew up in Adelaide, South Australia. I have an undergraduate degree in Psychology & postgraduate degree in Journalism and have been traveling around the world since 1997. I now write for a company in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA. So far I have made it to the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Europe, USA and Canada and spent two years studying Spanish. Find him at: au.linkedin.com/pub/dindo-varona/62/144/756, dinjvar.wordpress.com and https://twitter.com/dinjvar