Our journey from the Czech Republic (Europe) to Canada
For just over three months now, we were recovering ourselves in the Czech Republic from an extensive half-year trip to Asia, ending with a two-month exhaustive (physically and mentally) stay in India. We've had a good rest, have eaten many dumplings with sauce, have enjoyed the Czech culture thoroughly, have seen many friends with whom we have drank many beers. Now we have completely regained the strength to go on another adventure. This time we are going to work in Canada for a year on a Working Holiday visa.
We started our traveling on Wednesday evening at the railway station in Olomouc, from where we headed on the train to Prague. At the Florenc bus station in Prague, I got into a fight with a local, cocky and relentless security guy at retirement age. This grumpy elderly person started yelling at me right from the start because I allowed myself to sit on the floor in his yard. Following a quick word shootout, and after I wanted to know his name, the discussion escalated even further, and he verbally attacked me with comments of an even harder caliber. The man called me a loser and wanted to beat the shit out of me. Well, traveling is not always easy.
A night bus Flixbus took us within 5 hours from Florence directly to Munich Airport (10 Eur). This was a comfy double-decker bus with Wifi and toilet. The only issue we had was a sweat-like stinking, constantly wheezing, fat guy sitting right in front of us, who, on top of that, had to take his smelly shoes off. We might have traveled all over Asia and India, but paradoxically haven't come across such horrific smell until now.
We arrived in Munich at 5 AM. We were bored at the airport as always. There is an unlimited free Wifi, and you can use showers at the exorbitant 15 Eur and 20 Eur refundable deposit.
Nine hours of waiting at the airport went by surprisingly fast, and suddenly we were sitting on an Icelandair's plane to Icelandic Reykjavik (3.5h). Initially, we had only an hour to change the flights. Even though our flight from Munich had half an hour delay, we had absolutely no problem to catch the second flight, and in a short while, we were already sitting on a plane to Toronto (5.5 hours).
Aboard the plane to Toronto, again some youngster sitting behind us surprised us with rotting smell of his socks. Icelandair offers free coffee or non-alcoholic beverages on board. Read more about how we managed to get a flight ticket from Europe to Toronto for 5,000 CZK (223 USD) per person.
At 7 PM Toronto local time, we reached the counter of Canadian immigration officials. No drama wasn't happening. The first clerk behind the desk asked us if we were going to work and let us go straight ahead. We proceeded to another section of the immigration office. Here, another friendly clerk at the desk asked me once again whether I was going to work in Canada. All he cared about was a printed document showing the approval of my Working Holiday visa. He did not even look at the travel insurance nor bank account statement. The clerk did not ask me anything else, and in a moment he printed out an A4 page with working visa details on it that he skillfully folded into my passport. He told me that the visa is valid for one year, starting the day of arrival and if I'd be interested in getting a SIN number (social insurance number) that I could get a few meters away.
That's what I did. Down the hall next to the Canada Service counter, I have requested a personal SIN number and received mine within 5 minutes. You must provide a valid passport, mother's and father's name, address in Canada (hotel address is sufficient). A Canadian phone number is not required.
If you do not want to apply for a SIN directly at the airport, SIN can be issued in the city center of Toronto at the Service Canada Center at 25 St Clair Avenue East. SIN number is received immediately and free of charge. You need the SIN to open a bank account and for your future employer.
Airport shuttle to Downtown (Chinatown)
For the overnight stay, we chose the cheapest hotel online in Toronto for almost 50 CAD a night.
What is the local and cheap way from the airport to Downtown?
In front of Terminal 3, find the bus stop of bus number 192 (Airport Rocket), located between pillars C8 and C12. Have ready the exact amount in cash (3.25 CAD per person). Drivers do not usually have change. We hopped on the bus n. 192, and the sympathetic driver talked to us right away. He explained how to get to our destination and eventually mentioned he was originally from Germany. We paid only 6 CAD for both, and he also gave us a couple of free extra tickets for the streetcar in the city center. Unreal. While traveling around Toronto, ask for transfer tickets so you can get to your destination at the cost of one fare.
The bus stopped after a few minutes at Kipling Metro Station, where we took the metro to Spadina Station. Look for a streetcar stop around here. Tram No. 510 takes you south to Dundas Street West. Our booked Toronto Travelers Home guesthouse was waiting for us at 588 Dundas Street West.
Spare an hour out of your time for your travels from the airport to Downtown. See here for more information about Toronto's public transport:
Check In to Travelers Home
This low-scored, yet cheap guesthouse is located in the heart of Chinatown. We had a feeling we discovered second Hanoi, not believing that this was the center of Toronto. All around us were flashing cheap kitsch neon advertisements, street names and restaurant descriptions were solely in Chinese, and we got immediately hungry when smelling all the good aromas of Asian cuisine.
We arrived at the hotel. The entrance of a non-signed ordinary family house was covered with codes and phone numbers. I'm picking up the outdoor auto dialer phone, and I'm waiting. On the other end of the line, I hear a dude who is with an unmistakable Asian accent trying to explain that I have been contacting a different hotel. We are dialing the second number from the list, which appears to be the correct number. The landlord tells us the code combination from the entrance door and politely encourages us to wait for him inside. Within 5 minutes he walks into the house. First, we are offered a room with a private toilet for an extra 10 CAD per day. We politely refuse.
Upon entering the house, we were invited by the Chinese man to take off our shoes. He should not have said that. In a short while, that the Chinese needed to make a call to verify what room was ready for us, the smell coming from our feet took over the whole entrance hall. It was embarrassing, but what the hell, the sock stench chased us all day.
The owner brought us into the basement of the house, where he had two rooms. We entered the first, then the second and finally the first again (he didn't have a key to the second room). In each room, however, we have left our peculiar odor. Finally, we got the room, and Magduš went off to solve the seeming formality, to pay the rent. To her surprise, the card terminal did not work at that moment. We were immediately advised to withdraw cash from ATM somewhere in the neighborhood. So we headed off in the freezing night (2 degrees) and soon got back with 100 CAD.
These two days of traveling were really demanding. However, in the end, we were happy with our room in China Downtown Toronto.
Chilling at the airport in Munich
Views of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.