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  1. CilliersC

    The great trek - Part two

    My wife and I landed in Toronto four days ago, it's been a thrill of note and we absolutely (with rose coloured goggles) love this place! I decided to write down a small journal of what we've been up to in the hopes that it could help anyone in the slightest. Day One We arrived - it was the second leg of the 24 hour travel time and I won't lie, it's a long stretch from Dubai and it takes its toll on your body; Not on the flight itself, but a few days later the jet lag catches up to you... We were so relieved to have arrived, landing, customs, everything an absolute breeze - I cannot fathom how long it would take to sort everything out that we did in one afternoon, back in SA. The Service Canada systems were offline so we were given directions to the closest Service Canada to register for our SINs (Social insurance Number) Queue at the visitors side (on the right) when passing through immigration - your card will be marked with a pink border and the officials will use this as a cue to send you to a separate area where they welcome you as a new resident (the best words to hear: "Congratulations, you are now permanent residents!") Make sure your "goods to follow list" is completed and printed twice for Customs (which you queue at after going through Immigration) Taxis from the airport take credit cards, you really don't need cash at this point but there are multiple ATMs outside. Most taxis are on a flat rate varying between $50 - $70 if you're leaving the Mississauga boundry When booking accommodation, make sure you're in a good location, close to subway, bus routes, service ontario, service canada - check google maps for transit options. We are staying in North York - great area. We landed at 15:30 and we were out of the airport by 17:00 - right on time for the peak hour traffic - that evening we took a quick stroll in our neighbourhood, approximately three blocks from the Sheppard-Yonge station which would soon become our hub for getting anywhere. We couldn't believe how hot it was that day, approaching 35 degrees and humid, and that the sun only sets around 9PM; As if our senses hadn't taken enough pounding that day. :-) I can't believe this is where we live, this is our new home ... Had HERO CERTIFIED BURGERS for supper, our first meal in Canada, it cost CAD25 total eish! But they were massive... Day Two Woke up early so we can get our SINs sorted - without this you can't do anything else. We walked through the beautiful neighbourhood around the block to Service Canada. We could't believe it, but the cars actually WAIT for you to cross the road! Pedestrians have right of way, and everywhere we got to an intersection (stop street or not), the cars would actually stop and wait for us to cross :-) The streets are SUPER CLEAN, can't believe how clean everything is. Remember to take your PR landing papers with you everywhere you go. We were greeted by a friendly rep at Reception at Service Canada and sat in a queue for about 10 mins before our names were called. You give your PR landing papers and fill in a card and your details are captured and confirmed and viola, you have a SIN. Memorise your SIN and guard that SIN paper with your life :-) and have it wherever you go We then walked across the road to open bank accounts. We chose Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), simply because we compared the online banking services and it seems they have the most on offer online. The bank manager came to personally welcome us and we were assisted immediately. RBC went out of their way with friendly service and to explain everything to us so we can understand the differences in what we're used to with banks in SA. Again, you'll need your SIN and PR landing papers to open an account RBC has a 3 month period where new comers don't pay a monthly banking fee, after which your account is reviewed and you can change your banking plan to exactly what you need You'll also get a cheque book as Canada works with these a lot it seems (the book is ordered and you can collect/it's delivered) You get a temporary debit card for your cheque account and your credit card also gets delivered/you can collect We wanted to then go around the corner to register for the National Health Insurance scheme, but the lady at the bank advised that they need a proof of address per POST and that we could use our bank account that they would post to us, so when we get that per post we will go to Service Ontario for the health insurance cards. We headed to the nearest mall where we went directly to a Bell store to get Canadian SIM cards for our cell phones. Data is quite expensive here (about CAD20 per Gig) but at least you get family share plans where everyone shares the data You need your SINs and PR landing papers to get SIM cards/new cell phones We felt quite good that we managed to get so much done in only one day! Everything just works here. Day Three Explore explore explore like tourists! We walked about 15km in downtown just exploring and we haven't even seen a fraction of what is to see in this gorgeously amazing city! You can buy underground/subway train tokens at any subway. It's CAD2.90 per token which buys you one (one-way) ride There are only 4 lines in the subway - the main line is the yellow University Line that runs between Finch, Downtown, and Downsview areas. You can get a Subway Map anywhere The tokens you buy can also be used for any other TTC transport (Street car, busses) remember to take a transfer slip if you intend on hopping on a bus or streetcar after your subway ride or visa-versa Day Four In the morning of Day Four we headed to a local food festival at Dundas Square - The square reminded us of Times' Square in NY - very cool :-) We ate from a food truck called the Great Canadian Food Truck - we tried moose balls, Poutine and a peameal sandwhich - delicious! It cost CAD24 total Had amazing ice cream (massive sugar cone with a scoop of cherry cheesecake and cookies 'n cream) for CAD8 (so worth it! ;-) ) Pizza for supper was CAD30 eish! (two medium pizzas and two cold drinks) from Pizza Nova Day Five Did washing and cleaned our AirBnB apartment. Then decided to go buy groceries like we really live here; We took a bus to the nearest Carlo's No Frills after we compared prices and reviews on Yelp My wife bought all her cosmetics at Shoppers Drug Mart (she says it is exactly like a Clicks / Dischem and even got herself a loyalty card to build up shopper's points for discounts etc). She says the cosmetics are more expensive here than in SA example her Neutrogena face wash was on sale for CAD9.99 but back in SA normal price for this would be around R70 Carlo's No Frills is like a Pick 'n Pay - affordable and they very much look the same inside and offer the same groceries and fresh meats/fish/veg/fruit We bought four bags' worth of groceries for CAD100 (we thought it would be way more so we reckon it's good value for money, very much like Pick 'n Pay). Some things are a lot cheaper than in SA, for example spaghetti was on special for 79p and a pack of 16 x Nestle Still Waters was only CAD1.99 but other things are way more expensive All in all it's been an amazing week, we've seen a lot, explored a lot and we can't wait to see what else this city has in store for us!