Pro Tip: Never Cross The Border Via Bus On A Holiday Weekend

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This past Saturday, I took a bus up to Toronto for the day to see One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer in concert. Unfortunately, Toronto was the closest the Where We Are Tour came to Buffalo (darn you), so I decided to buy a ticket on Stubhub, grab some bus tickets and make my way up. I decided all this last Tuesday, so it was a bit last-minute, but I decided I really just couldn’t pass it up.

The concert was great, it was an amazing experience; weather all day was fine. But it was a Canadian long weekend with a civic holiday on Monday, which meant the border was pretty awful.

For those who don’t know, it’s an hour and a half from Buffalo to Toronto, excluding the time it takes to get through the border. On a Greyhound, the schedule usually accounts for an hour spent at the border. Sometimes it’s less, sometimes it’s more…. this time, it was more, significantly, painfully more. The border patrol agents were spread out among the car lanes more, so there was only one agent working in the building to process all the bus passengers. We arrived at the border at 8 a.m. and there were three buses in front of us that had to go first. So we left the border at 11 – already an hour after I was scheduled to ARRIVE in Toronto. Originally scheduled to pull in at 10 a.m., we didn’t get to the city until 1 p.m. I’m not going to lie, it was pretty dreadful, but hey…. what can you do? All I can say is that I don’t think I’ll be crossing the border via bus on a long weekend again if I can help it.

Eventually though, I did make it to Toronto. My first stop was a quick breeze through the Eaton Centre. I don’t know why, but I still seem to always walk through there every trip to Toronto, even though I usually never buy anything. If nothing else, it’s a way to get to the subway line and that’s usually my intended target. Since I was already running late, my plan was to hop the subway, get off at Union Station, then take the Skywalk and go to the Ripley’s Aquarium for a few hours before getting in line for the concert.

Well, I did all that…. minus the aquarium. A friendly tip: if you plan on going to the Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto, buy your tickets ahead of time. There will probably still be a line to get in (there was) but it won’t be as long as the line to purchase tickets (it was horrendous). The line was wrapped around the building and I just couldn’t see myself waiting all that time; by the time I would’ve gotten in, it would’ve been time for the concert! I keep saying I’ll go up and do the aquarium and one of these days, I will, I swear, but just… not that day.

So here I am, and it’s only 2 p.m. and I’ve got three hours to kill before doors open for the concert. What the heck’s a girl to do?

I ended up walking along the waterfront/boardwalk and stumbled upon the booth for the Mariposa Cruises. I decided to fork over the ~$20 (which is actually really reasonable) for a one-hour sightseeing tour, and I’m glad I did. It killed an hour, gave me some great views of the Toronto skyline and was just an enjoyable way to relax and see the sights. I’d certainly recommend it if you get the chance. The views of the skyline were amazing, absolutely unbeatable. It was neat to see Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse on the Great Lakes, and it was nice to see the Toronto Islands. I did a boat tour a few years ago through a different company and it wasn’t nearly as nice; they stayed closer to the shore and focused more on the buildings along the waterfront, and I didn’t get those same views of the skyline. It was also a smaller boat with less room to move around and no open space; the boat I was on Saturday had a lower deck and an open main deck.

After the boat tour came the concert. This was my first time seeing 5 Seconds of Summer, an Australian-born boy band, and my second time seeing the British lads of One Direction – though the last time I saw them was in February 2012 when they were the opening act. It’s incredible to think of how that little span of time has changed so much, both in my life and theirs.

The concert was absolutely worth the trip, the pain of the border and everything else. I always think concerts are so amazing because for a few hours, you’re surrounded by strangers who have come from all walks of life and all different places, bonded together by this one band or artist. Age differences or anything else aside, you’re all here for the same reason, and it’s the music that brings you together. 5SOS played all sorts of songs I knew and a few that were new to me, and I’m glad I was able to see them. Hopefully I’ll be in attendance at one of their headlining shows next summer. One Direction was just as amazing as I knew they would be, playing a mix of old and new songs and bringing the energy at every moment, as expected.

Eventually, I made my way to the bus station to make the haul home — and boy, it was a haul. I was scheduled to arrive in Buffalo at 2 a.m. and ended up getting there at 4 thanks, once again, to buses at the border. But I’ll continue to insist that all that trouble was absolutely worth it, because I had an amazing day. There were people on my bus both ways that I could just tell they were getting so angry about the delays and all I could think was “What is getting angry going to help you?” It’s one of those things where radical acceptance comes into play. You just have to accept the situation. There’s nothing you can do about it; you can’t get off the bus, you can’t make the border patrol move any faster, and you can’t move the buses in front of us out of the way. You can’t control those things so you absolutely have to accept them and just try to be at peace with them. I understand it’s frustrating, but no one needs to hear you complaining about it. Just accept it and focus on something else in the meantime and eventually, the traffic/etc. will clear and you’ll be on your way.

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