Thoughts, pictures and observations from my trip to Hamilton and tour of downtown today:
0. For the full collection of pictures, check the public album I posted on Facebook here.
1. You are not a true St. Catharines resident until you have sat and waited at the GO stop at Fairview Mall. It seems to be a rite of passage in these parts.
1a. You are not a true St. Catharines resident until you have left your car at the unofficial park and ride location at Fairview Mall.
1b. Why, pray tell, is there an official park and ride in Beamsville but not in Niagara’s largest city?
2. I was so relieved to see this sign when I got to Fairview. Here I was ready to jump on any old bus that came along.
3. You can always tell whether it is a weekday or on the weekend on the GO bus based on the percentage of people who pay with Presto. Weekday travelers mostly pay with Presto, while on the weekends, most pay with cash. Today, for example, I was the only one of a dozen who paid with Presto.
4. I shouldn’t have been surprised to see this dumping of salt in Grimsby, but I was. After all, this is Saltario and a light dusting of snow came down overnight. Call out the Army, for the love of Pete!™
5. Taking the Barton bus in Hamilton is an experience in itself. Low-income, shabby neighborhoods, strollers and cranky kids galore along with characters missing most of their teeth make for interesting writing fodder. If I lived in Hamilton, I might soon have enough material for a book.
5a. One of these days, I need to walk down Barton and get the full experience on the ground.
6. At a side-by-side storefront on Barton, one half was “Diapers 4 All” and the other half was a hair salon. Now there’s an interesting mix of competing smells.
7. One restaurant on Barton advertised their “feeding hours” out front.
8. One guy sitting near the back door used his loud, screeching voice to keep a running conversation going with a reluctant driver.
8a. Whatever those drivers get paid, I’m not sure it’s enough.
9. Once again, welcome to Saltario:
21. I toured Jackson Square and Hamilton City Center, indoor malls with many shops including a full-service grocery store. They were clean and I didn’t feel unsafe. For the benefit of those from the SPRM, the mirror opposite of Portage Place. It’s amazing the difference having fewer “ambassadors” can make. You know, the kind of “ambassadors” that keep trying to relieve you of even more of your money than they’ve already taken and flushed down the toilet.
22. Attached to Jackson Square is the Hamilton Public Library. It opens at 9:00 am on Saturdays. Unlike the downtown library in the Old Country that didn’t open until 10:00. Old gripes die hard.
22a. I have no doubt some staff at the Millennium Library still wonder what happened to me. To say the least, I was quite a fixture at the microfilm counter.
23. One store on James Street wrote their offerings on the sidewalk:
28. Soon after I boarded the eastbound Barton bus, the driver took off just as a would-be passenger running after the bus got to the back door. It was a classic moment so reminiscent of my days taking Winnipeg Transit.
29. It was just a light dusting of snow. Honest.