When I first visited Toronto

When I first visited Toronto, it was many years before I started living in Ottawa. I was a young college exchange student from Japan. One early October, my friend and I decided to make a weekend trip to Toronto. We took a night bus from Montreal, excited for our very first trip in Canada.

Our ticket said the journey was from Montreal to Toronto, but the bus made an unexpected stop in Ottawa. Around 1 am, there was an announcement and we were told to get off the bus to change to the next one. As we stood in a queue and shivered in the cold night air of Ottawa, I realized that it was going to be a rough journey, in the sense that our sleep could be disrupted like this.

I was right about that. From Ottawa to Toronto, the bus made several more stops, and each time, the bright ceiling light and the announcement woke us up. When the bus finally reached Toronto downtown at 6 am, I was actually relieved.

When my friend and I got off the bus, it was still completely dark, and we could not see much around us. Since it was very cold, my friend suggested that we should walk around the block. I agreed.

As we walked around the block, we saw many Halloween decorations in the shopfronts. My friend, who deeply cared for her Celtic heritage, explained to me in detail the history and tradition of this celebration. My brain was not working well from lack of sleep, and I don’t recall the exact story she told me that morning, but her enthusiasm stuck in my memory.

On the way back to the bus terminal, we dropped by at a Starbucks and took our breakfast planning for the day. As we sat in the warmth sipping coffee, the sun came up, and slowly, the city started to emerge behind the glass window.

When we stepped out of the Starbucks half an hour later, something made us halt. There was a brief pause before we both exclaimed at the same time. “It looks so different!”

In the darkness, we had not realized how tall the surrounding buildings were. Now in the daylight, we found ourselves in the midst of towering skyscrapers as if we had entered a totally new world. “We’re in Toronto!” My friend and I jumped in excitement.