So aside from our fun excursion to Niagara Falls, Ariel, Jacob, and I, have been hanging out all around Toronto. This trip is actually a big step for our little family, because this is the first time the three of us are truly on an adventure on our own. When we went to Jamaica, the whole idea was that we would be utilizing the incredible personalized nanny service at the resort we stayed at. Our 2 week trip to Israel included reinforcements from my parents.
This was the first time it was all Jacob all the time.
The first thing I was a little nervous about was the flight. At only about 70 minutes from Newark Liberty to Toronto Pearson, this was a pretty low risk situation. Still, the thought of a screaming 18 month old refusing to sit still was not something I was looking forward to. But actually it was no big deal. We just played Jacob’s favorite Israeli cartoon videos for some of the flight and entertained him for the rest. Any flight around 2 hours is now open to us.
Then there was the adjustment to being in a new place/bed. When we first got to Israel, Jacob got so sick on the plane, that he passed out and actually had us worried when he wasn’t up by 10 am the following morning. On the other hand, in Jamaica, he was still adjusting to falling asleep on his own so he screamed for about an hour before adjusting for the rest of the trip. So really we had no idea what to expect. But actually, it was also no issue at all. He did his usual routine of babbling to himself for a bit before sleeping a full night (well, until 6 am, at least).
We also had two pretty long drives on the docket – back and forth to Niagara Falls, which was about two hours each way. On the way down, he was pretty good, eventually falling asleep for the last 30 minutes or so. On the way back though…oof. It was “Super Simple Songs” on Spotify for 2+ hours. It certainly wasn’t intolerable, but his inability lately to sleep for a long time in the car doesn’t bode well for longer road trips. Still, we got through it, so 2-3 hour drives seem pretty doable going forward now.
Finally there was the question of whether or not Toronto would cooperate with our plans. This was also something of a mixed bag. Make no mistake, Toronto is a GREAT city for kids. However, when you’re here for three days and driving to various places (remember no Uber because no child safety seats, and mass transit is also not ideal), it is decidedly un-great. The traffic is abominable and finding parking could be the subject of a Tolkien-penned novel. And when you do find parking it is SO expensive! Ariel can tell you that I looooaaaathe paying for parking. We have a running gag that like George Costanza, it’s a real sickness in my family. But paying for parking and then walking 10+ minutes to get to where you’re going, up/down multiple elevators (remember the goddamn stroller!!!!), across four lanes of traffic, inside, and then outside, and then finally back inside – man does it start to wear on you.
It also didn’t help that it was unseasonably hot and humid – which of course is currently breaking right as we’re shutting it down on our last night. We ended up spending a lot of time doing indoor activities at the Royal Ontario Museum and The Ontario Science Centre – something Ariel and I almost never do on adventures.
This is where having a history of adventure travel comes in handy. Long ago, we learned that adventures are not all pony rides in May-sunshine and that sometimes you need to overcome some challenges. Having a toddler means different challenges than getting across the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in one piece. But it also means being way more careful, and giving up on doing things you otherwise would want to do.
I think the real issue with traipsing around Toronto with a toddler is that everything is just so spread out. When we were in Tel Aviv, the first week, we didn’t even need a car because we just walked everywhere. In the neighborhood (or excuse me NEIGHBOURHOOD) we’re in, there are a TON of bars, clubs, and restaurants – which is awesome – but we were a ways away from kid-friendly things like the CN Tower or Toronto Island. And again, an 18 month old is way different from even a 4 year old because of that effing stroller, plus the need for a crib.
So like Niagara Falls, Toronto is definitely an excellent destination – just next time I’d love to explore the city with just Ariel – or when Jacob and any potential future sibling are old enough to walk unassisted.