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Before:

The long weekend of July 4th can be spent in the U.S, celebrating the independence day of our country or many take advantage of long weekend to travel “abroad” for the time off.

Thursday Friday Saturday and Sunday are four free days. That is twice as long as a typical weekend. Gonig to Canada is out of the country, an international trip, but yet so close by. Us family of 5 went, driving our Pathfinder with all our luggages for the two night stayin an apartment, planning our trip the day before.

I was proud of my planing efforts in booking uor stay through airbnb.com. We got an apartment that had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, kitchen and a balcony. Even better was that parknig was free. There was swimming pool and security too! The view from the balcony was amazing. For five of us, it was a very good price, much cheaper than if we got a hotel. The subway was within 5 minutes walk. My first time using airbnb after a year of haggling on the website trying to find an opportunity to finally use it. First time experience have proven to be a fivethumbs up for me (out of five thumbs total).

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After:

Toronto reminded me very much of other cities like Boston, especially. It felt familiar, nothing was too strange or out of place for me. There was subway available, trolley above the ground, tourist attractions in walking distance in downtown, museums…..

Subway: The subway lines only had a few main lines so the transportation is not as extensive as Boston’s metro system. Subway admission tickets are purchased through the booth or at a machine. The tiny coins (size of thumb nail) is easy to lose! The train are fast and fairly new. No squeeking like the old historic trains of Boston. I believe it was around 2CN per ride, but 11CN per person for unlimited daily pass.

Trolley: This is quite expensive in my opinion. It’s 3 CN per ride. We ended up walking or driving. It goes vertically or horizontally, fairly easy to comprehend. When the trolley stops and door opens, other vehicles have to stop as well!

Downtown Toronto:  Most tourist locations are nearby, all in the downtown area. Parking is not hard to find so I would recommend driving! Many places to see, including CN Tower, Steam Whistle Brewery, Art Gallery of Ontario, Royal Ontario Museum, Casa Loma, Chinatown, St.Lawrence Market, High Park, and more and more.

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Currency: Be sure to have some canadian at hand! Not all places accept credit cards and especially not U.S dollars. Exchange money at currency exchange, based around the 1.00 US = 1.05 CN, you’ll get a few more bills for your buck. I’d suggest estimating around how much you’ll need, and have around the right amount. We were left with 100 CN or so and did t want to exchange them back to U.S, we ended up spending a little more on dinner and checking out the duty free store on the way back before crossnig the Canadian border. No tax!

Poeple: it’s al about the people! My impression from a few ocassions are that people are much more friendlier and willing to help. A lady offered us help when we were looking for directions while staring at our map. You won’t find that at all the cities, since most people are in a hurry, going to somewhere they need to be. I’m quite surprised that there was more Asian population than I had expected, whether it’s working at the museum, bank, restaurant, or just walking around downtown. Not that it’s agood or bad thing, but that was something I did not expect. I wonder how diverse Toronto is compared to U.S cities counterparts, especially since Americans often take pride in our melting pot.

Weather: it wasn’t that big of a difference from the weather in U.S northeast coast. The wonder that I found was that during my stay there, I did not encuonter many bugs and insects at nighttime as I would in for instance, CT. Not sure if it’s because we stayed on the 20th floor of the building, or it was our luck, but most nights were very cool without the disturbance of any mosquitoes and bugs.

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