Episode 404 – Transiting Through Toronto

We landed in Toronto on April 25th for a quick 4 night stay. We’ll be boarding a plane for Vancouver on the 29th, and another to Dublin Ireland on May 25th – exactly one month after returning to Canada.

It’s spring! The snow is finally gone, and the early flowers are blooming in son #1’s Toronto neighbourhood. It’s not bougainvillea and palm trees, but it’s not winter!

Arriving in Toronto, we were immediately hit by culture shock; not only the 30°C drop in temperature, but the lack of people! Where we’d once thought Toronto was crowded, the downtown streets seem positively empty compared Mérida, or Berlin, or Vienna, or London… or, honestly, anywhere else we’ve been in the past 18 months. And then there were all the new skyscrapers that have sprung up since we were last in T.O. ! We’ve become quite used to “low rise” cities, where the cathedral spires are the tallest point, so we walked around downtown looking up in wonder, made easier because there was no need to look down for sidewalk hazards.

We had quite a list of “must do’s” in our short Toronto window, including getting our expiring Ontario health cards extended to cover our 3-month waiting period for new British Columbia ones, Ted’s eye exam, and quick visits with some Ontario friends.

Day 1. Priorities.

Renewing our Ontario health cards, which were intentionally dated to expire at the end of April to match our anticipated return date after almost 2 years out of the country, meant an appointment at the downtown Toronto ServiceOntario office. Normally, we would have to affirm that we are making Ontario our full time home, but in our case we’re just looking for 3 month extension to cover us during the British Columbia waiting period. Back in 2021, we believed in good faith that we’d be returning to live in Ontario, but while we were on our out-of-province travel permit, son #2 and his family were transferred to BC by the Canadian Armed Forces. We were hopeful that the fact that we could not have predicted that would be a point in our favour toward getting our 3 month extension.

Ted realized just before we left Mérida that his driver’s license expires in 3 weeks, and we hadn’t included doing that in our appointment.

Uh oh.

It turns out we had nothing to worry about. Although our appointment time was delayed by half an hour (we’re retired; waiting and people-watching is rarely a problem), the young man we worked with extended all our documents efficiently, showing Ontario as our temporary residence. We’re ready for our move!

More importantly, Ted was ready for his OHIP-covered eye exam.

Over our months in Mexico, Ted’s vision mysteriously deteriorated. He described it as “looking through a Coke bottle”. Since he had new high-tech lenses put in both eyes (pre-emptive cataract surgery) in 2018, we were concerned. Like everyone these days, I’ve been Google-diagnosing his problem, and positing posterior capsule opacification (PCO), something which apparently affects 30-50% of people 2-5 years after cataract surgery.

Son #1, who is legally blind without his funky glasses, really likes Dresden Optometry in Toronto, so Ted set up an appointment while we were still in Mexico. After a stroll through the Eaton Centre to gawk at the glass roof reconstruction happening there, AND doing a quick tour of the Toronto Courthouse (aka “Old City Hall”), off we went.

Photo credit: BlogTO.
Pictures are not allowed inside the courthouse on weekdays when court is in session, but you can find wonderful ones of both the exterior detail and interior here: https://www.torontojourney416.com/torontos-old-city-hall/

At Dresden Optometry, the young (every professional we interact with these days is “young”) optician was personable and VERY thorough, eliminating scary possibilities like glaucoma and macular degeneration, before verifying “secondary cataracts”, officially called … PCO! This may be one of the very rare cases where Googling came up with the right diagnosis. Fortunately, it’s fixable: a laser or needle used to pierce the “capsule”, which should restore Ted’s vision to its post-cataract-surgery 20/30. We also got the good news that PCO does not recur. We left with the diagnosis and the promise of a letter to give to an ophthalmologist in BC.

The laser surgery to fix PCO is a quick outpatient process, but is not considered “urgent” surgery; we expect to be able to get it done at some point over our summer/fall time in Coquitlam, but perhaps not before our trip to Ireland. That would be disappointing for Ted and his photography. Of course, his camera can auto-focus and make up for some of what his eyes currently cannot do, but it would be so much more fun for him to see the glories of Ireland clearly.

Ted was also prescribed this “eye bra” (not its clinical name) which gets heated and worn for 10 minutes 3 times per day, followed by a gentle eye massage, to help unblock his tear ducts and relieve his dry eyes.

After a busy day, it was really great to reconnect with son #1 and his family. After a lovely dinner (they made us chicken paprikash!) and visit, and retrieving the 2 suitcases we’d stored at their place after our November river cruise, we headed back to our nearby Airbnb for the night. For anyone keeping track, this means we now have 4 suitcases – 2 large and 2 carryon – to take to BC with us. With the exception of Ted’s technology bag, and winter boots and coats stored with son #2 in BC (and which we truly hoped never to need again, but since we’re booked to tour Germany’s Christmas markets in December it’s a good thing we kept them) this is the sum total of all our worldly possessions.

Day 2. Reconnecting.

But first, while Ted had lunch with a former colleague from Penguin Random House, I did some suitcase culling. There’s a Value Village donation drop-off spot just around the corner at Danforth and Woodbine (pictured below), so if there are things in our suitcases that no longer give us joy (thanks for that concept, Marie Kondo), they might as well go to people who can use them.

Then it was Greek food and Greek Fix beer at Mezes in GreekTown on the Danforth. GreekTown is the largest Greek neighbourhood in North America (Google it), and there are dozens and dozens of eateries here specializing in Greek food. We enjoyed kalamari (the Greek spelling), lamb chops, moussaka, Greek sausages, and of course saganaki (flaming kasseri cheese). Opa! Interestingly, the restaurant was the busiest and noisiest place we’ve been in in over a year, belying Toronto’s quiet streets.

It was great to see friends and family here. Who knows when we’ll get back to Ontario again?

Day 3. Relax, Regroup, Refresh.

We laid low for a day, doing a load of laundry in the wonderful Airbnb we’d rented (Danforth Village Airbnb), the same one we stayed in last fall), making phone calls to friends we couldn’t see in person, eating burgers for lunch at a tiny restaurant on the Danforth, and drinking lattes at Poured Coffee, a wonderful little independent coffee shop. Then it was pizza slices, a few episodes of The Diplomat on Netflix, and plans for early to bed.

Tomorrow we’re on to our 5 hour cross-country (almost) flight to Vancouver. Grandson hugs here we come!


  1. As always I’ve enjoyed following your travels, detailed annotations, and positive outlook. Hope all goes as planned as you prepare for your next adventure. I write this while sitting with a glass of wine in Kinsale Ireland. We’re doing a 17 day self directed, self driving tour and I’m sure you’ll enjoy every minute! Sláinte!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Rose:
    We’re continuing to enjoy following you and Ted on your travels! Your recent post about your love for Vienna has inspired Glenn and me to visit the city in 2024. We had planned to take a special anniversary trip in 2020, but Covid happened. We hope to travel in April or May for about 3 weeks. I wondered if you could tell me which countries/cities you would choose if you were only travelling to Europe for a few weeks. After avidly reading your blog posts, I suspect our tastes for travel are very similar to yours! We’d probably want to stay a few days in each place, so have to be realistic about how many places we can comfortably visit. Any suggestions you have for me would be greatly appreciated.
    Hope you’re thoroughly enjoying your visit with family in BC, and wishing you all the best for your next adventure in Ireland!


    • Exciting!! One of our favourite trips was 2 weeks spent in Munich (3 days), Salzburg (3 days) and Vienna (4 days) in that order, with a day for leisurely train travel between each, after a week with my cousins in the north of Germany. If I were extending that, based on places we’ve enjoyed, I’d add 3 days in each of Budapest and Prague. If those are places you’ve already been to, my current European wish list is Cascais in Portugal, Valencia & Sevilla in Spain, Florence, Puglia and the Cinque Terre in Italy, and Pula in Croatia – all of which would be new to us.


      • Thanks so much, Rose! I appreciate your recommendations. We’ve never travelled before, so this will give us a good start on planning!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Welcome home(?)!  So glad you and Karin talked today.  She’s still weakened, but so much better than a couple of weeks ago.  As you heard, we are finally moving on Monday.  Too bad Ted won’t get his procedure before your trip.  When you told me about his condition, I thought it was something rare.  30-50% makes it common, not rare.  I had never heard of it before.  Hope it gets fixed soon. Al

    Liked by 1 person

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