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Daisy in Canada (4) – sightseeing (ENG)

The bureaucracy in Canada is a real pain in the ass. You’d think the Netherlands was a s**tshow—slow and cumbersome—well, welcome to Toronto. Where virtually nothing can be arranged online and in-person appointments are the norm. 

My parents had dragged me along to the next fiasco of waiting: getting health insurance.

“Why do I have to come? I might as well have been Netflixing,” I asked for an explanation.

“Because it’s good for you to see how things work here,” Dad replied.

“Why? I’m soon going to be living in the Netherlands again.”

“You never know if you’ll want to study abroad in the future.”

“I don’t want to.”

“You don’t know that.”

My mother interjected, “Maybe we’ll stay here longer than a year. Surely you want to know where to go to arrange things. Those who are independent take care of things themselves.”

“I hope you’re lying now,” I said.

My father smiled at me, “Your mother can’t see the future. So far, we’re staying for a year.”

As if that was supposed to reassure me. “I hope so.” I crossed my arms and went back to checking out all the clerks behind the counters. My new hobby these days.

2 hours later we were part of the healthcare system; OHIP. My parents thought it would be a good idea to celebrate it by renting some bikes and doing a city tour. A city with a lot of immigrant residents also means a lot of people with different perspectives on driving. I think I could have been dead ten times over if my dad didn’t maniacally ring his bell every time we were passed by cars—which was every second. It was clear that cyclists didn’t have the high status as they do in the Netherlands. 

After 20 minutes of cycling, my father threw the bike aside and opened a book. The sweat gushed from his head—no surprise after biking uphill on University Street in his thick winter coat when the weather had suddenly changed to 8 degrees and a bright sunny sky. We had arrived in a characteristic part of Toronto; the university grounds between College Street and Bloor Street, full of beautiful architecture. For me, it was a relief, because it reminded me a bit of Europe. 

Dad had really done his best to tick off some of the city’s attractions. We spent the rest of the afternoon cycling to Kensington Market and getting cheese that cost us an arm and a leg, continued to pricey Yorkville for lunch at Oxley, viewed Casa Loma Castle from the outside—which is not very impressive if you’re from Europe but it does give you a fantastic view of the city, stopped for a snack at Creeds, took a photo in busy Dundas Square, passed a mega cute dog fountain in Berczy Park, and ended the tour at El Kathrin in Distillery District—which I thought was one of the highlights. Distillery District is an industrial-looking neighborhood with a number of cute stores and eateries. 

As I sat under a heater on the patio, I looked around. The realization hit me like a bomb: I had actually had a good time today—except for the wait in the morning. I had noticed that Toronto is very good at keeping the city clean. There was very little garbage on the streets and everything looked extra beautiful because of the flowers in the planters. Even in the heart of “winter-spring”. I know that’s not a word but even though it’s spring, the temperature thinks otherwise.

“Are you still working on that?” the waiter pulled me from my thought. She pointed to the leftover tacos on my plate. 

“Um, no,” I replied after which she immediately took my plate away. I looked at my parents who were still eating. “That’s rude,” I said. 

My dad shrugged, “Must be normal.”

“But you guys are still eating!”

“They sure are quick with the service,” Dad remarked.

“Time will tell if it’s normal,” Mom said.

Time told that it was; every time we went out to eat somewhere, the service was always quick and your plate was taken away as soon as you had finished.I sighed deeply. Oh, Canada… Surely you’re much more different than Holland. More than I expected.

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