Childless in Toronto

We just got back from a two week trip to Canada. When I say we, I mean myself and my boyfriend V., and when I say Canada, I mean that crazy big place across the ocean where people are suspiciously polite and moose roam free whatever the season. Moose and nice people pretty much sums up all I knew about Canada. But that was about to change.

Now, seeing as we’re from dodgy Romania, the Canadian government has taken special precautions in case we decided to try and sneak into their country. I think it’s taken us about three months to get our tourist visas and it really was a time of fun and games. We trudged our way through the beautiful Canada Citizenship and Immigration website, where each and every click would explode into a million unexpected tragedies, we provided miles and miles of paperwork covering our travel-history-professional-history-bank-statements-family-backgrounds-letters-of-recommendation-and-other-things-I’ve-forgotten-about-as-they’ve-been-too-painful-I’m-sure, we survived a prolonged Canadian Immigration Office personnel strike and queueing in front of the Canadian Embassy on Canada’s National Holiday (Guess what. It was closed.), and then, countless episodes of despair later, our visas finally arrived.

In order for us to get these sexy visas, we also needed some Canadian residents to formally invite us over for a visit, and perhaps make sure they kicked us out of their Canadian home once our visas expired. In our case, it was a nice couple, friends of V’s parents, who invited us over and into their home on the outskirts of Toronto. We didn’t really know them so we were a bit worried we’d be stepping on each other’s toes, but as soon as we landed they pretty much adopted us. In fact, they then spent two weeks trying to convince us Canada was the place to move to, and now. Oh, and also that we needed to start having babies, pronto, or we’d end up like them, fifty and childless in this extraordinary child friendly country. (Moose? Child friendly? What do I know.) After a while I got used to my parenting prospects being discussed over diner, and decided one thing was certain. I wouldn’t be making babies then and there, so I might as well relax and have a look around me. It was my first time in Canada after all.

Toronto is a peculiar place. There’s not much heritage architecture to speak of, but there are more sky scrapers than I’ve seen in London’s Financial District. We had 30 degrees Celsius one day, then 10 degrees the next. The food is deep fried, chocolaty and maple syrupy, but people look annoyingly fit. You pretty much can’t get anywhere if you don’t drive.

We didn’t do much driving but we took the elevator to the top of CN Tower, we walked the parks, museums and shopping malls, we actually managed to get tickets for two TIFF movie premieres: Gravity (Sandra Bullock’s legs, über toned!!!) and Child’s Pose, a Romanian production previously awarded the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival. People were queuing to see the movie stars for 8 hours in a row, but I’ve never been so dedicated myself. I did run into Dakota Fanning in the street one afternoon, but I didn’t say anything to her and only pointed her out to V. once she’d passed us by, something he still hasn’t forgiven me for.

We went to Niagara Falls, which was absolutely stunning. That is, if you ignore the kitschiness of Niagara town, one of the glitziest, noisiest and stickiest places I’ve ever seen.

Oh, and we stuffed ourselves. Maple syrup pancakes, beaver tails (don’t ask), deep fried bananas. I think we must have put on 15 pounds each, and we’re not even pregnant! Guess who’ll be eating spinach leaves three times a day for the rest of the year.

I doubt we’ll be moving to Canada any time soon. Not because we didn’t like it or because we’ll never in a million years manage to get another visa, but since I for one am having enough trouble getting my life sorted in London, and there aren’t as many culinary temptations here. Nor is it a particularly child friendly place either, not that it makes any difference. It seems I’m already too old and cynical for kids.

One thing I can say about Canadians is this. They are nice. One day I was walking along and stopped to get a pebble out of my shoe. Within half a second, a stranger came up to ask if I needed any help. Freaky nice people, I tell you.

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