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Visiting Canada? - helen-louise
Visiting Canada?
If Richard & I were to theoretically come to Toronto sometime in February (let's say, Wednesday 12th until Sunday 16th or so), do we:

a) have friends available who can meet us for dinner and/or weekend wandering

b) know anyone with a spare room (that isn't more than one flight of stairs above the entrance floor)?

He just got back from Montreal today and he has to go back out there in a couple of weeks, and we're thinking I should tag along for some of it and have a holiday afterwards.

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the_siobhan From: the_siobhan Date: 17th January 2014 17:12 (UTC) (Link)
I have a spare room, however any place we put you would be either up or down a flight of stairs. There are also steps to get into the house.

Meeting you would depend on what time you get in. If it's after work, definitely.
baratron From: baratron Date: 17th January 2014 17:18 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I meant "meeting" as in going out for dinner, that sort of thing. We're pretty capable of getting ourselves from airports into city centres by public transport :)

How many steps are there to get into the house? My wheelchair weighs approximately 1 ton. (Okay, about 120 kg).
the_siobhan From: the_siobhan Date: 17th January 2014 20:27 (UTC) (Link)
Ah, I thought you meant you would need a lift. I am definitely available for dinner.

Four steps up to the porch, or four steps down to the basement door. And a lip to step over at the door itself.
the_siobhan From: the_siobhan Date: 18th January 2014 16:05 (UTC) (Link)
Oh pictures! What a great idea. I'll get some photos up for you.
From: pir Date: 17th January 2014 18:13 (UTC) (Link)
Toronto is a nice city, I had fun wandering around there, but rented a flat and didn't meet up with any non-work local.

There is a decent connection to the main airport by bus/subway into central Toronto though you have to change a couple of times. There's a second smaller airport that's much more central.

Also spent a day at Niagara Falls, which was actually kinda cool. Better from the Canadian side than from the American side though the town seems to try and turn into a small version of Vegas at night.
baratron From: baratron Date: 17th January 2014 18:38 (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, we've been to Toronto twice. My 2007 visit is tagged. The earlier one would have been whichever year alt.polycon 6 was, 1999 or 2000, and pre-livejournal.

Don't think I knew there were two airports, although that makes sense.

I've seen Niagara Falls. It's a big waterfall. It didn't really do as much for me as the waterfall I saw in Iceland. We saw both the upper and lower Gullfoss waterfalls, and they were ridiculously impressive in person. Though they don't look like much at all in photos.
the_siobhan From: the_siobhan Date: 17th January 2014 20:28 (UTC) (Link)
The smaller airport is Porter and does local flights - Montreal, Boston etc. Coming from the UK you'd have to fly into Pearson.
baratron From: baratron Date: 17th January 2014 20:31 (UTC) (Link)
We'd be coming from Montreal, and going back to London.
the_siobhan From: the_siobhan Date: 18th January 2014 16:04 (UTC) (Link)
Porter would be perfect for you, then - cheaper and drops you off right downtown. Although it would probably mean traveling back through Montreal as well.

Edited at 2014-01-18 16:05 (UTC)
hobbitbabe From: hobbitbabe Date: 20th January 2014 22:07 (UTC) (Link)
APC6 was the summer of 2000, yes.
veryfineredwine From: veryfineredwine Date: 17th January 2014 21:33 (UTC) (Link)
Ry and I probably wouldn't be able to meet up with you. It's tax season and I think he's planning to be out of town elsewhere that weekend.

If I'm unemployed by that time I might be able to come mid-week.
baratron From: baratron Date: 20th January 2014 20:55 (UTC) (Link)
I wasn't really thinking of you two travelling to Toronto, but thank you for the offer. It'd be lovely to catch up with you again, but don't worry too much.

How far is Montreal for you? Google claims somewhere in the order of 5-6 hours to drive, but I have no idea how realistic that is. That's where we'll be the previous weekend, and we could make sure to get a bedroom with two beds in (that's what Richard had when he was in the same hotel last week!).
epi_lj From: epi_lj Date: 18th January 2014 01:57 (UTC) (Link)
We have a spare bedroom on the main floor of the house that you're welcome to. However, getting into the house at all might be a challenge, especially in February.

Both entrances have a possibly problematic paved section and then four or five steps to a porch, then a bump to get into the mud room, then a half step to get from the mud room into the house proper.

The rear entrance throws into the mix a gate that needs to be unlatched by reaching over the top of the fence, and the front entrance throws into the mix two hedge shrub things where the opening between them may be too narrow.

I can take photographs tomorrow when it's light out if you want to form an opinion, though.

Depending on the weather, our whole property is pretty ice-locked and treacherous, too. :/

So... yeah. But on the plus side, there is a bus stop *literally* directly on our property for the return direction and diagonally across the intersection for the departing direction, if you wanted access to public transit, and once inside the house, the bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, shower, etc., are all to be had on the main floor.
baratron From: baratron Date: 18th January 2014 18:37 (UTC) (Link)
Awww... I am so happy that you replied to my post. I really miss talking to you! I read your Tumblr, but it's not the same - I'm not a fan of reblogged content unless the person doing the reblogging actually adds something new to it, and there doesn't seem to be a way to see original content only since that's going against the whole ethos of Tumblr :( I just like your voice.

How difficult it is really depends on the number of able-bodied people available to help as well. I can walk 20 metres or so outdoors if necessary, so it's a case of getting the wheelchair in and out of the house without me in it. It is genuinely very heavy, and a right pain to take apart (also each of the two batteries weighs about 40 kg anyway) - but if you happened to have a couple of spare planks of wood to form a makeshift ramp, that would do for the wheelchair without me in it.

Photos would be great! Mostly, I don't want to infringe on anyone's privacy for too long, especially as our house is too much of a tip to reciprocate. (There's really no way we could get it tidy enough to provide accommodation when you pop through London on your way to Paris, and the futon we have is bloody uncomfortable even when you put two duvets over it, and we can't really afford to replace it right now :( ).
epi_lj From: epi_lj Date: 20th January 2014 05:22 (UTC) (Link)
There's no need to reciprocate or worry about that; Our trip was a package deal that came with flights, accommodations, trains, even cabs to/from the airport, etc., all as part of the flat fee, so there really was never a point at which we were casting about for where we'd stay. It went from a completely unplanned, amorphous thing to the finished itinerary and arrangements in one click. I'm sure we could have saved money by piecing it out, looking for deals, and asking friends, but there was something really good about having that all taken care of. Also, I actually get really anxious about staying in people's homes, so often meeting up with them for a meal or an outing and then retreating to a hotel works better for me anyway.

As far as infringing on privacy, there's no real worry about that, so long as you don't mind that we might have engagements to keep or might disappear into our dens from time to time. We tend to do a lot of "doing our own thing in the same space" time at home, and I imagine you'll also want some time to catch up on the internet and so on, so that won't be too far out of our normal routine.

In terms of practical considerations, the distances involved are definitely less than 20 metres, but I'm not 100% sure of the getting the chair up the steps element. There should be at least one of us home at most times to help out, but I'm not sure how reliable more than one of us would be, and a lot might depend on when you'd expect to be coming and going.
baratron From: baratron Date: 20th January 2014 21:02 (UTC) (Link)
Well, mostly it's that I live with a massive introvert who gets over-peopled very easily, so it makes me extra considerate of other people who are introverted. If retreating into your den for a while is enough recharging time, that's fine.

I can show you a few awesome veggie/vegan restaurants in London :)
epi_lj From: epi_lj Date: 26th January 2014 22:18 (UTC) (Link)
Sorry it took so long to get these; I haven't been home during daylight since I initially said I could take photos! In any case, here's the essential "getting from public transit into our house" narrative:


Step 1: This is where the bus stops, and you turn right at the corner. It's only a couple of metres.

Step 2: It's again just a short few metres and then you turn right where you can see the big bushes on the right hand side.

Step 3: This was my first concern. The opening in our hedge is very narrow. Also, the walkway is sloped upward, and may be kind of treacherous in the snow.

Step 4: These are the front steps.

Step 5: Just a slight bump leading into the front mud room:

Step 6: The lip leading into the house proper. This is about 15 or 16cm tall.


Step 1: Other direction from the bus stop, to the rear of the house. I'm utterly terrible at estimating distances -- maybe 20 metres? You can see the rough condition of the sidewalks in winter here.

Step 1: Left turn and up the driveway -- this is okay now, but can get pretty treacherous if it's icy because of the way water pools on it. Also, again, the surface condition may not be great.

Step 3: There's a lip here, up onto the patio. The door *does* swing all the way open. There's a BBQ here. You have to make a left turn.

Step 4: These are the rear stairs. The back stair is a but buried in show, but there is a stair there. Right turn at the top.

Step 5: Unfortunately, you can't see the lip leading in to the rear mud room. It's not huge but it's there. Left turn once in the mud room.

Step 6: Rear mud room. Mostly taken to show available room. Stuff could be moved around if necessary. Left turn at the end.

Step 7: The lip into the kitchen. It's about the same height (around 15-16cm) as the front one.

Other possible issues:
  • The bedroom that's on the main floor is very cold -- if it's cold out like it is now, the thermostat in the room shows 13'C at the moment. There *is* an electric baseboard heater in the room, although we haven't tried it since the house was renovated, so I can't attest to its viability or how well it works at warming the room. Whether this is an issue or not depends on how cold it is, of course.
  • The condition of the sidewalks and the driveway is highly variable and weather-dependent.
  • The main floor bathroom is small, narrow, and awkwardly shaped. I doubt a chair could get into it, although it's *directly* across the hallway from the bedroom, so it's not a far trip from there, and there's a little hallway area in front of it as well. I can take a picture of necessary.
  • I can't remember what your cat stance is, but the cats are very used to having the run of the house.
  • While the bus stop is, as you can see, very close to our house, for touristing, we're right near the very end of the line, then a bus ride further from there. So it's not exactly centrally located.
  • Although we've made our kitchen various-things-free at various times, it's not generally anything-free if there are any serious issues there.

If you do stay elsewhere, we'll be more than happy to come up and visit, though!

Edited at 2014-01-26 22:24 (UTC)
baratron From: baratron Date: 28th January 2014 00:43 (UTC) (Link)
We feel both educated and informed!

I would have no problem getting the wheelchair through the gap in the hedge since it has two powerful motors, but I can't guarantee that the hedge would survive :D If you are at all attached to your hedges, I would suggest the back entrance as more practical. It also has one fewer stair.

Either way, getting the wheelchair up those stairs is going to be fun. It doesn't enjoy being dismantled, and even if you *do* take it apart, the lightest part weighs about 40 kg. I do not need to be in the wheelchair while it travels, so a couple of long sturdy planks of wood would make the whole thing more do-able. Hrm.

The kitchen does not need to be anything-free, as long as I know what I can eat.

Can I let you know in a few days? Bit disorganised right now. Also, Richard isn't sure when his job will finish, and there's no way I could manage travelling on my own with my stuff.
clawfoot From: clawfoot Date: 29th January 2014 19:18 (UTC) (Link)
I am in fact the opposite of attached to those hedges. If they happen to not survive your visit, I would count it as a blessing and a personal favour.

I hate those hedges. :)
epi_lj From: epi_lj Date: 20th January 2014 05:23 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, and I will try to make good on the photos today on my way home from work! I have been terrible at the internet lately. :) Even on services like Tumblr it's mostly broadcast with less reading time.
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