For almost the past five years I have lived a tourist city. The bulk of this time was spent in Toronto. When I first moved to the city in 2008, I myself felt like a tourist and I can say that when I left the city to move to Ottawa in 2012 I still felt like a tourist, in a sense.
When I left Toronto, I left knowing some parts of it like the back of my hand. I could get around pretty much anywhere by public transit or walking and could manage to figure out where I was and how to get home even in the most inebriated states. At the same time there was still so much of the city I had yet to explore. Toronto is such a diverse city and there are tons of hidden gems just waiting to be found. That is what I loved about living there. Everytime I would venture out, even if it was locally, I would find a new place to fall in love with. Even living there for as long as I did, I know if I ever move back there will still be that touristy feeling and there is so much of Toronto that is still undiscovered by me.
Ottawa is also a tourist city, although it never felt like one to me until recently. I was thinking about this today when I saw two women taking pictures of Parliament Hill. This is a toursit destination, “our nation’s capital.” When I moved to Ottawa I didn’t feel like a tourist. Ottawa is often described as a big city with a small town feel and I think this is why I didn’t have the same feeling I had in Toronto.
To me, these cities are opposites. In Toronto, everything is big. Buildings are tall, restaurants are competing to be obscure, trendy, and different. Fashion is a huge player and you see people putting a lot of effort into their personal style. In Ottawa, everything is understated. The city is clean and quiet. There is tons of nature and people operate at a slower pace. I think in Ottawa less emphasis is placed on competition (whether that be career, fashion, status, etc.) and more is placed on experiencing and enjoying life.
I have learned so much in both of these cities and at the end of the day I can’t say which lifestyle works better for me. I am still very much into fashion and miss that component here, but I think living in Ottawa has taught me that there is more to life than the job and the LV handbag. It has taught me to put more emphasis on people, rather than things and I think that is an important lesson to learn.
Living in a tourist city makes you appreciate where you live even more. Seeing someone taking pictures of things you walk by everyday and don’t take a second glance at makes you realize you too should stop and admire the beauty that surrounds you. What I have learned is that you don’t know where you be a year from now, two years from now, you could be in a completely different city, province or even country and you need to enjoy your surroundings and take them in as much as you can while you have the chance.