I’ve mostly been posting <140 character updates by way of twitter since we started seriously packing up in Halifax. It's long past time that I posted something that used adjectives.
I had no idea what was going to happen on the drive out - 1900km of mostly empty space filled up with moose, deer and porcupines, all desperately seeking suicide on the Trans Canada Highway. I don't drive long distances all that often, so I was sure that we'd lose a wheel, hit a moose, have the van stolen when we stopped at a hotel for the night, etc etc.
Short of getting a bit turned around in Montreal, the drive itself was pretty much uneventful. Thanks to an amazing amount of work on the TC that caused all sorts of diversions and detours in the city, we nearly ended up in New York when an unmarked exit popped up; I love those exit signs that are even with the actual exit ramp. "If you can see this sign, you just missed your exit!"
We got a super late start out of Halifax on the first day thanks to having about a cubic meter more things than we could accomodate. Oddly, VIA wouldn't accept shipping luggage, so we were stuck with a van stuffed full, a full luggage carrier on top and still four suitcases. We had to choose things to eliminate after weeks of choosing to eliminate things... some tough decisions were made, and we were able to shoe-horn the dog and ourselves in to the cab. Barely.
Did the last inspection of the apartment with the landlord's rep, only to find out that they have cleaners go through the suite regardless of how clean it is. Being Halifax workers, they'll likely take 3-4 hours between chatting and smoke breaks, at $25 per hour to make sure the suite is clean. Had we known, we'd just left the damn thing in the state most of the college kids left theirs and call it job creation.
I swear that both Nova Scotia's employment standards and tenant regulations were written by a sadistic bastard who hated both employees and tenants.
We only made it as far as Amherst before it was dark, we were tired, and we happened across a motel. The initial plan had us stopping the first night in Edmundston, but that was another five hours down the road, and that wasn't remotely likely.
Hit the road early the next day, and that's where we made up the time. We made it from Amherst, Nova Scotia all the way through New Brunswick and Quebec before stopping outside Cornwall, Ontario at some rundown (but surprisingly clean) motel sometime after midnight. 12 hours of driving, and plenty of dog-walking and human-stretching-and-feeding stops along the way. Had to answer basic questions from French children in NB and QC about Sera's name and age, and agree when they asked permission to pet her or proclaimed her a bon chien.
Started off from Cornwall relatively early, but with only 5 hours of driving ahead, we weren't in any big rush; listed check-in time at the hotel we reserved was 3:00pm, and we were well on our way to arriving by 1; well ahead of my original estimate, even with the move-out and packing cluster-fuck. While not the easiest move I've ever undertaken, it was definitely not in my top five bad moves.
We checked into the Chinatown Super 8 for three days (that turned into nine partly because we loved having all the Pho places, the Chinese bakery, and the fruit markets right there) and dropped off our bags before heading out to secure a storage space to keep our things in until we had an apartment to move them into.
Started work, explored a bit, ate plenty of Vietnamese food. Very nice to be in a city that doesn't shut down at 5:00pm. We're able to go to Canadian Tire and Sears and the like without undertaking huge treks across tundra. Book stores everywhere, 7-11, etc etc.
We've rented a one-bedroom apartment in St. James Town. It’s a short walk to the Sherbourne subway stop, and close to groceries and restaurants. It’s not what I’d call a pretty apartment building, but it’s on the 33rd floor with a decent view and a patio that’s about 150 square feet. It’s definitely better than the best basement suite I’ve lived in, without having upstairs neighbours to worry about.
The area is very densely populated, with 19 large apartment buildings, and is composed nearly completely from immigrant populations. The area is poor, but busy and vibrant with a strong presence of families. The elevators in the building are extremely slow and a bit dodgy, but every time the door opens, there’s the smell of another international cuisine cooking up. Philipine on 18, South Indian on 20, West African on 22, Bangladesh on 23, Chinese on 27, etc etc…
IKEA provides a shuttle to to get to on the subway, We spent all of $700 at IKEA and have some basic items along with a kitchen table, four chairs, and a pretty decent sofa bed. Sofa bed will more than suffice until we can fund a proper bed later in July or in August. Well, considering Dragon*Con is coming up in September, maybe after that…