Thursday, 11 June 2009

Toronto and taxi drivers.

Tuesday night was another long journey, this time at least being all in one mode of transport, the lovely Greyhound Bus. We only have two more journeys with Greyhound (nice short journeys) and then we never have to use them again! Unless we come back to North America one day. Greyhound may be cheap, but the staff are always rude and unhelpful, the depots are generally seedy, and the toilets never flush or have soap/sanitiser. And sometimes, people have their heads cut off whilst travelling. By comparison, travelling with Amtrak was fantastic. Anyway, our journey from Chicago to Toronto was twelve hours overnight, and not too awful (and the Canadian border people let us straight through, of course!). I was still pretty cranky by the time we got to Toronto bus depot though.

And this is where we had the worst taxi driver of all time. The second we approached the taxi queue, a large gruff man (some kind of taxi pimp) asked us where we needed to go, and then ushered us towards a taxi. The driver of our taxi spoke little english, and obviously had no idea where our hostel was. The taxi pimp and taxi driver had a lengthy discussion, mainly involving these lines:

Taxi driver: I don't know where that it! Can't someone else take them?
Taxi pimp: No! You'll never learn if I keep letting someone else take your customers! I TOLD you, just turn left on this road, go past the Sheraton etc etc
Taxi driver: But I don't know where those are...

We should have just got out of the taxi then and there, and asked for a driver who did know where he was going. This journey was 2km (I know, we could've walked it, but we'd just had a twelve hour coach journey, remember?), and I had been told by the hostel it would cost "no more than $10". Due to taxi driver's complete failure to DO HIS JOB, it cost $20. That's a 100% increase on the quoted price. That's a lot to two people who lived on a combined budget of $100 a day. Seamus had a map, and knew exactly where we were going, but unfortunately taxi driver could not understand him. And drove us in the wrong direction for $12-worth of taxi fare.

But because we were tired (me) and non-confrontational (Seamus), we said nothing. But we did not tip. In the end, he didn't even get us to the hostel. When the metre reached $20, Seamus just told him to stop, and we walked the rest of the way (only 5 minutes or so).

I will not take a taxi in Toronto again.

Anyway, I had mixed reviews of Toronto from friends who've visited, and after one day, I remain exactly mixed. It is by no means beautiful (so far, anyway), but there are some amazing neighbourhoods with wonderful cafes, pubs, shops and galleries. Lots of areas are very bohemian and fun, and I haven't been to any cities in Canada until now that are so eclectic. However, as I said, there is really nothing pretty here, apart from some "old" buildings (as in, old for Canada, and thus not really that spectacular to someone who lives in Canterbury). There's no real green space, and the waterfront is outright ugly. There's not even enough skyscrapers to have a good skyline, like Chicago does.

But I have only been here a day and I am probably judging too soon. Tomorrow morning we're going to Algonquin Park, a couple of hours away, until Sunday night, when we get back to Toronto for five days. So we'll have more time to explore next week. We are lucky, and the Worldwide Short Film Festival is in Toronto next week, and we are going to go to a few screenings of that. I'm really excited about it, I love short films, and there is such a lot of cool things showing. Seamus is heartbroken because he knew the museum here has the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition, but we just found out it doesn't start until June 27th, so we'll miss it. And we wanted to go to a Blue Jays game, but they're just playing this weekend, and we already booked to go to Algonquin Park. And we're refusing to go up the CN Tower because it is disgustingly expensive, and taxes in eastern Canada are TOO HIGH (12% in Ontario, compared to 5% in Alberta!) so we're sulking about that too. I miss the mountains too. Maybe we should go back to Waterton...

1 comment:

SaraSmith said...

Greyhound journey trip story is impressing you travel from Chicago to Toronto city that,s great that you share your trip with us as soon you make a plan for North America tour again then you must try to travel by airport taxi toronto you will like ground transportation by that company.