Having just returned from two multi-week trips to Europe, I was in full-on wanderlust mode and ready for more. I was binging some travel channels on YouTube one day when I stumbled across a few solo travel videos. I had never traveled alone before, mostly because of my innate introverted personality. Looking back at this trip, I have to say that solo trips are some of the most important ones you can take.
I took off a Friday at the end of September and already had the weekend off. Living in Maryland, I had a few places in mind to travel to but I wanted to make it an international trip, so Canada was the only realistic option (read as: cheaper). I woke up at the crack of dawn, around 6:45, got ready and set off. My GPS took me the length of the Maryland pan handle until I turned north towards Pittsburgh and beyond. I was about an hour into my trip when I realized I was still tired. Like really tired. My eyes got to the point where they were so heavy I started fighting to keep them open so I pulled off the highway into a lot where contractors met in the morning before going off to a job site. I tilted my seat back and nodded off to get some more sleep before I continued the drive.
The drive through Pennsylvania was tough. I was signed into a friend’s Spotify account at the time, but it could only be used by one device at a time and they were using it all day. I was left with radio music, which in western PA is country music, bible talk, or static. Static it is.
Eventually, I made it to Niagara Falls and stopped on the American side. It was Friday around 5pm and the place was dead. I had parked in a little mall lot, found the nearest restroom, and walked down to the falls. They are epic! The power is awesome and the views are great. I recently purchased an external lens from Olloclip for my iPhone and found it made a decent improvement in my photos of the falls. One restaurant was prepping for live music later and provided a good burger. Across the street on the way back to the car was a little alley way covered in really cool graffiti art. Onward to Canada.
As I approached the border, the traffic looked busy, but it was incredibly efficient. I was asked the standard “What are you doing?” “Why are you here?” “How long are you staying?” questions in fourteen different ways before getting the nod of approval. As soon as I got out of the traffic, there was a sign welcoming you to Ontario. I had just driven to a different country by myself. This was exciting.
You’re going to spend the next hour and a half finishing the drive to Toronto on one road – the Queen Elizabeth Way. It’s not a bad drive, and you pass a bunch of signs for wineries that might peak your interest. But it’s the evening at this point and I just want to be done driving.
My GPS navigates the streets easily and an email exchange with my hostel (the Hi Hostel Toronto) shared an easy to find, nearby parking garage. I walk up the block to where I’m staying, check in and lay down to settle down. I’m in an 8-person all guys dorm room and I’m top bunk on the bed at the end of the room. Shortly after I gather my things and lay down, my bunk mate walks in – slightly taller, my age, red hair, normal looking. We exchange acknowledgments and I fall asleep pretty quickly.