Spending ten hours in a city usually happens unexpectedly when your airplane connection is delayed. This wasn’t the case here; this was planned in advance.
I had a promotional plane ticket given for me, one that was going to expire this month. It had to be used, City of Toronto garbage collectors’ strike or not.
In my wanderings around downtown Toronto, it really wasn’t bad at all. I’d compare it to a clean day in New York City. A train that I took, however, passed by one of the city parks turned into a makeshift dump – a rather surreal mountain of plastic garbage bags.
There were hand sanitizing stations everywhere you could imagine. It seemed that someone was handing me a “moist towelette” wrapped in foil at every turn.
Garbage collectors’ strike or not, it really wasn’t too bad. At least downtown.
The Porter Airlines thing
I flew there and back on Porter Airlines – a “retro” airline that flies in and out of Toronto’s Island Airport. The stewardesses are decked out in pillbox hats and pencil skirts, they even offer passengers food and beverages – just like the old days. And they too handed out those ubiquitous moist towelettes in foil packages. Toronto must be the city with the world’s cleanest hands.
It’s a veritable who’s who that fly on Porter. At their gala reception in Chicago last February, I had a lengthy conversation with Mike Harris, former Premier of Ontario. Last March, who happened to take a seat opposite me in the departures lounge at the Island Airport but Paul Martin, former Prime Minister of Canada. This time, I had the pleasure of showing a reporter from the Toronto Sun how to take the El from Midway Airport into Chicago, and giving my “nickel n’ dime” tour of Chicago’s southwest side along the way.
The Island Airport is incredibly handy to fly in and out of, it’s only a couple blocks away from the Royal York Hotel and Union Station. At what other airport in the world is one required to take a ferry – across water – to the baggage check-in? Then, they drive you to the Royal York.
The Royal York Hotel (I’m not sure if it still is a Canadian Pacific owned property) is always a hoot – ever since they closed the Beehive Room and ended the perpetual Petula Clark show that was ongoing for years (I’m suspicious that she may not have had THAT many hit songs to sing), they still have Her Majesty’s portrait hanging in the lobby, looking quite excited at the prospect at camping out there once more. I could never understand.