…but I gave up on the other 500.
OK, so I’ve arrived in Toronto. They let me in and after a long hard walk, I managed to buy the Trooper out of customs.
The flight was long and boring, but then 7 hour flights in economy class almost always are.
Last time, I got more grief getting into Canada than into the US. This time it couldn’t have been more different entering Canada. Straight through with no secondary screening. The very pleasant border officer even wished me a safe ride as I left. And I got let off for the extra litre of fine scotch whisky I brought over.
Unfortunately getting the Trooper out of customs was much more of an adventure than last time, and not in a good way. The routine for doing so is the same, but the location of the customs office has moved to literally the other side of the airport.
The procedure for getting your bike back should be quite straightforward. First, you need to go to the cargo office and identify yourself and prove your ownership of the bike. They then give you a bundle of papers to take to the customs office to be stamped on payment of “customs inspection” fee ($48). Last time I could walk a few hundred yards to customs office, and was directed to do so again. This time through, the lady in the nearby customs office said she couldn’t do “motor vehicles” and that I would have to go to the main customs office instead. She gave me directions which was basically turn left onto Airport Road, left on to Derry, left onto Dixie, etc. I asked how far it was and she said “about 20 minutes”. So off I set with a heavy tank-bag, leather jacket and lid. I had luckily booked a hotel just across the road from the Cargo terminal, so I had already dropped the rest of my luggage off.
I walked and walked and walked. After 20 minutes I reached the first left turn she’d mentioned. By now I’d realised she meant 20 minutes driving, not walking. But WTF, you’re not releasing my bike until I get these papers stamped, so of course, I’m going to be walking. Today in Toronto has been about 26C and humid. I’m not enjoying the walk, but have you ever noticed how not so many taxis hang out on the cargo side of an airport?
It turned out that the office I had to go to is literally on the opposite side of the airport. I don’t know if any of you have walked around a major airport but if you have then you’ll know they are HUGE! I managed to walk about 4 miles and it took well over an hour. Ever half mile I had to stop to change the side the bag and jacket were on. By the time I’d got to the first signs of civilisation along the road, a gas station and a coffee shop, I was hot, bothered, dehydrated and sunburnt. I had to stop. One iced lemonade and bottle of water later, I asked about taxis and the sweetheart in the coffee shop even called one for me. I’d only managed to make it half way and it nearly killed me.
My advice to anyone bringing a bike into Toronto now is to have a taxi on standby to take you from the cargo office to the customs office and back again. Mine cost me $52 and I’d already walked a quarter of the total distance. Allow $60-80 for it. Since we’re mentioning taxis, one other thing to be aware of is that the taxis operating from the airport charge a flat fee so I had another $20 taken off me for the 2 mile drive from airport arrivals to cargo. Just so you know, like.
After all that, I managed to bust the Trooper out of jail and he’s sitting outside the Comfort Inn while I drink a few cold ones. Tomorrow morning I re-pack the luggage more sensibly and then hit the road for the US of A.