Expat Diary: I went on my First Solo Adventure

It was a sunny Thursday morning and I decided it was time to be brave and explore Toronto beyond the areas that were merely walking distance.

I left the house and told dear husband to memorise what I was wearing in case he needed to send search and rescue out after me, if I don’t find my way home.

Armed with my map and a few tokens (public transport currency in Toronto) I walked myself to our closest streetcar station. Having never lived in a country with any semblance of a public transport system this was a very new and very daunting experience.


After waiting a few moments the streetcar arrived, I stepped on, clutching my token I looked around for where to insert it, having no idea, I just sat down and hoped someone else would board and I could follow their lead. No on else boarded and we set off, still nervously clutching my token I sat down and warily looked about knowing I was now travelling illegally as I hadn’t yet paid.

At the next station a few passengers got on and after very closely inspecting the ATM looking machine they all congregated around I meandered up and confidently placed my token into the allocated slot and retrieved my receipt – first challenge successfully completed.

For my next challenge I had to ensure I got off at the correct station, so like a complete tourist I was counting down the stations and closely examining the map to make sure I didn’t miss my stop. Once again challenge successfully completed as I stepped off the car onto Bloor Street.

Bloor Street

I had read that Bloor Street was made up of a maze of cute alleyways lined with shops and cafes and it was a major shopping district, what I had failed to read was that it was like walking down 5th Avenue in New York City. The streets are lined with all the high-end brands like Cartier, Tiffany & Co, Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton. Even if I sold all my organs, my assets and our cat I still couldn’t afford to shop in any of those stores.

Bloor StreetBloor streetI did manage to purchase myself and dear husband a chocolate chip cookie from a gourmet grocer, as that was all I could actually afford.

After walking the many streets and side alleys, my feet started aching and the sky was threatening rain, I decided it was time to head back to the station.

It is at this point I should inform you all: I have a horrid sense of direction, I am a proper girl with a map. 

During my adventure I had wondered off the main street and made a few too many turns in all my excitement so needless to say I was was now lost. With my aching feet, clutching my map, I trudged along, (in what seemed like the right direction) but the road started to become a lot more suburban and less city like as I trudged along. Bloor Street

So it was time to do a U-turn.

“Getting lost is a good way to find yourself” – Anonymous 

I finally found the station and now it was time to figure out which streetcar took me home. I walked into the one I thought was correct, thinking I will ask the driver if I am on the right streetcar – there was no driver.

So now in the streetcar, I looked down the aisle and shouted out “which direction is this going in?”

A kind woman replied “South” s%*#, what direction am I supposed to be headed

To which I replied “is that towards the harbour?”

“Yes” whoop, whoop, internal happy dance, I’m on the right streetcar.


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Tracey Pictor

Tracey is a South African expat living, travelling and working her way around the world with my dear husband and cat.

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