Getting around the Big Smoke
A taxi from the airport to downtown will be about $55 and by law is a flat rate. Make sure you get it. Groups of three or less can save some money by taking the UP Express train that leaves Pearson and goes directly downtown. Staff will help you purchase the re-loadable “Presto” cards at the airport. I won’t bother you with the math but it should be the same price to buy the card as paying the cash fare ($12) for return a trip. Presto cards are also used to pay fares on the subway, or street cars (colloquially called the TTC).
All the downtown events are within walking distance of each other so ideally that’s where you’re staying. It takes 30 minutes to walk from the CN Tower to BMO field.
Taxis and Ubers should be ubiquitous. By law in Toronto taxis cannot refuse a fare so long as it’s within the city.
Autographs, pictures and Grey Cup rings
Over the years I’ve run into many present/retired players and never once came across anyone who wouldn’t sign an autograph or pose for a picture. Everyone is here to party. Be on the look out for:
- Players coming and going from hotels as you walk by.
- Roped off VIP areas in the parties. Many players are invited in free but sometimes are the only people inside, longing for interesting people like you to chat with. This seems to happen a lot in Vancouver and Toronto.
- Grey Cup rings on the fingers of the guy beside you. Every year I notice at least one and the owner usually lets me try it on.
- Linemen at all you can eat restaurants. I ran into the entire Bomber O-line in Vancouver at 99.
The Boozy Laws of Ontario
Thanks to some generous corporate and union donations to the Liberal Party of Ontario, buying take home booze or beer inside the City of Toronto is a logistical nightmare. Liquor can only be purchased from the LCBO, while you will find beer at both the LCBO and the Beer Store.
The problem is there aren’t enough of these stores downtown which means you’ll be waiting in line for quite a while after you’ve found one. They open at 11am and won’t stay open any later than 11pm.
Yes, it’s true, you can now theoretically buy beer, wine and cider at some Ontario grocery stores. However, in all of downtown Toronto there are only two permitted to do so and they are both at the shore of Lake Ontario.
Drinking age is 19 in Ontario and licensed establishments can be very hard about having proper photo ID despite (in-spite of?) your appearance. I have been removed from the Air Canada Center for having the balls to drink a beer with a driver’s license three days passed expiry, not because of my age.
You may see open containers on the streets of Toronto though I don’t recommend trying it yourself. Keep your roadies concealed. Any football fan this weekend is likely to draw the attention of Toronto’s finest and wind up making a forced beer sacrifice to the gods of asphalt.
Next: The Hoser’s Guide to the 104th Grey Cup Part 2: Parties, Ranked