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A Tale of Two Cities: Toronto – London UK

How does a high end companion who has headquarters in both these cities see life in them?  If you’re travel curious, here’s her limited account.  And I promise you, the reading will be much lighter than Dickens! lol

Here I am at my Toronto headquarters after having spent unfair but unforgettable amounts of time at my London [UK] one.  Nowadays I always add the UK after London, because there’s a London about 2 hours’ drive from Toronto and more Londons elsewhere in the world, so confusion may arise easily for those who are aware of this.  Since there’re also 4 Torontos in various states of the USA, strictly I should be adding Canada after Toronto, yet somehow know that my [Ontarian] Toronto rules, so feel there’s no need to do so.  What’s better about life in Canada than life in London UK?  Many people ask me this question, so I’m inspired to share my insights.  My answer starts here: there’s better and there’s worse in each country, so I’ll reframe this common question to what’s different about living in Canada from living in London UK.

The first diff is condo living.  If you live downtown anywhere in north America, you’re bound to live in a condo or in close proximity to those who live in condos.  Condo [short for condominium]  high-rise buildings remind somewhat of hotels with their long twisted corridors [that could at times do with convex mirrors to enable one to see round the corners] and many doors with unit numbers.   The hotel resemblance is completed by a lobby with a reception desk where there’s a concierge [also called a security guard] who is there to generally oversee the comings and goings of visitors as well as to perform many and varied functions in assistance to the building’s residents and staff.   The term condo and the term apartment are not interchangeable as are the terms flat and apartment in the UK.   The term flat is not used in Canada at all, while the term apartment in the Canadian sense denotes a unit in a building which, as against a condo building, does not have a recreation centre [usually at either the top or bottom of the building] with facilities to be enjoyed by the residents such as a gym, sauna, steam room, jacuzzi or hot tub, a room with tables, chairs, and a bar area that you can rent for a party, and in some buildings a swimming pool.  Another useful difference is resulting from this fact: condo living is more expensive – the maintenance of the facilities in the recreation centres is reflected in the condo fees [or service charge in the UK].

The second diff is that if you live in a condo, everyone will know your name AND unit number.  If you entertain guests at your unit, you must tell the concierge that you’re expecting someone called [guest’s name] at or around such’n’such time.  If your guest is arriving by car, you’ll need to inform your guest in advance that s/he will need to request a visitor’s parking permit from the concierge in order to be able to park [for free] at the parking lot under your building.   And then, of course, everything is on camera.  And if your guest gives the concierge the wrong name for your unit number, the concierge – if doing his/her job efficiently – will call the unit owner’s cell phone number and ask whether s/he is expecting [guest’s name].  So there goes part of discretion – and there certainly is no room for pseudonyms!  But to be fair, the concierge service does – again, if done efficiently – protect residents from the uninvited and indirectly keep the value of our properties high and easily sellable.

The next diff – did I tell you about the facilities contained in the recreation centers of condo buildings?  If you’re reading this in a country where, like in the UK, people have to pay hefty memberships for the privileges of attending the gym, sauna, jacuzzi or hot tub, you’ll know how awesomely you’d feel if all you had to do was to take the elevator / lift to the top or ground floor and have it all there from 6a.m. til 11p.m. for your mostly sole use 7 days a week!   These facilities are ones I [and my guests] generously help myself to in TO, but greatly miss in London.  There the hefty costs and added traveling time make attending heath and fitness facilities a less attractive prospect.  I find it striking how many fellow Torontonians take these facilities so much for granted that they don’t bother using them at all!  Ah well, that’s what happens when things are made too easy for some people!

And the next diff I’ll cover in this entry is in traveling.  Any Brit who has been to or lived in London will be gobsmacked to learn that s/he can get from any side of the city [city = downtown] of Toronto to the airport for as little as $2.50 if taking the public transit!   That diff will certainly be notable!   Just imagine how much it’d cost you to get from anywhere in London to Heathrow or Gatwick!  I’m sure I needn’t labor the point. Toronto’s public transit is run the same way as are public transits in many European cities – on transfer tickets and all forms of transit being run by one company rather than each means of transport being run by a different private company as is the case in London UK.

Well, I’ll write more later… there’s enough here to take in already.  Stay inspired.

 



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