Canada is a developed economy and if you are an Indian or a resident of a developing country, you may end up spending at least a minimum of your one-month salary for a decent stay in the country.
Being a Punjabi and well, as they say- "Every Punjabi has a relative in Canada", even I have mine. Since my cousin's wedding date was announced, we have all been ready with our stunning
patialas and Bhangra moves to rock in Canada.
On our way to Canada, on the 21-hour flight from Mumbai to Toronto via Hong Kong, my father told me and my sister about the 'budget' he had set for us, which was 650 Canadian dollars each, i.e Rs 34,450 taking CAD 1 = Rs 53.
The wedding passed by in a flash which included my favourite part - elders handing over
shaguns (cash-in-kind) to the younger ones. My sister and I received CAD 200 each. Now our total budget was Rs 45,050 each.
Out of the 20-day schedule, more than a week was devoted to the wedding celebrations. We had five days to shop, eat and explore the city.
As soon as the wedding celebrations came to an end, my sister and I sat down and made an itinerary. Our cousins tutored us on the public transport system and we were good to go.
With the figures in my head, I was sure of saving a lot. But little did I know, Canada will not give me the same comfort as India.
Day 1: Shopping in Toronto Premium Outlets Note: Outlet malls are factory outlet stores of brands, in this case, premium or luxury brands such as Coach, Michael Kors, Fossil, Kate Spade etc.
Shopping is a must wherever you go and if you're into shopping sprees as much as I am, you can end up splurging so much that you might end up regretting it.
We stayed in Mississauga, a small town in Canada. Hence, we took a train to Lisgar, the closest station to the mall, paying CAD 12.80 for a day pass, each. From Lisgar, the mall was about 5 km, hence the cab cost us CAD 13.20 and split the fare by two.
When we reached the mall, we knew we had to check out the stores which aren't available in India. So, we headed to Coach - our personal favourite and I ended up spending CAD 220 for a bag and a wallet.
Total Budget: CAD 610.6, that is, Rs 32,361.80
Even though I could feel my wallet becoming lighter, my shopping did not stop here. Just how I gave a list to my friends everytime they went out of India, I received one too. Following the list, I bought a watch costing CAD 105 and two wallets costing CAD 45.
After shopping, we took the same route back spending CAD 13.20 again to go to Lisgar station.
On our way home, we stopped by Tim Hortons - a well-known coffee shop and fast food chain in Canada - to pick up coffee and bagels, costing CAD 2.20 each.
Total Budget: CAD 451.8, that is, Rs 23,945. Day 2: Exploring Downtown, Toronto
The next day was saved for sightseeing. We booked the tickets online for CAD 58 each.
Taking a train from Erin Mills, we headed to Union. Our destination was CN Tower in Downtown which is near Union. The ticket fare cost us CAD 18 each, for a day pass.
CN Tower was beautiful. We could see the whole of Toronto and Lake Ontario! Next was Ripley's Aquarium, the same that we watched on AXN -
Ripley's Believe it or Not.
We saw more than 20,000 different and majestic aquatic animals.
Soon enough, our stomachs were growling with hunger. We walked it down, having no idea where to grab lunch and ended up at Boston Pizza, where we spent CAD 38.70 in total and split the bills by half.
Right after, we took the train back to Erin Mills and walked it back home.
Total Budget: CAD 356.45, that is, Rs 18,910 Day 3: Exploring Scarborough Bluffs
The next day, we went to the scenic Scarborough Bluffs taking a train to Scarborough, which cost us CAD 11.35 each for a day pass. From the station, we took a cab to the Bluffs Cathedral Park costing CAD 8.20, split by two.
The Cathedral Park was breathtaking. We had an aerial view of the Lake Ontario.
From the Bluffs, we went straight to Tim Hortons for a cup of coffee and had lunch at Frederick's. The coffee cost us CAD 1.10 each and the lunch bill came to CAD 30, split by two.
Later, we booked a cab to the station costing us CAD 8.20 and headed back home using the same route.
Total Budget: CAD 320.8, that is, Rs 17,002.4 Day 4: Niagara Falls
The next day we went to one of the seven wonders of the land, Niagara Falls. As we went with two of our cousins, the fuel(gas) was split. The gas bill came around CAD 17 for a full tank.
We spent the first half of the day at Niagara and then headed straight to a winery, named Two Sisters.
To get into Two Sisters, one is required to have the Wine Club membership with the Two Sisters Vineyards, which our cousins sorted out for us.
At Two Sisters, each individual could taste three types of wines from their winery for CAD 10 with each glass serving one ounce of the wine one chooses to taste. Certainly, we tried the wine.
After the wine-tasting, we headed for lunch for which we spent CAD 100, split by four.
Soon after, we headed home and booked our tickets for Canada's Wonderland the next day.
Note: The GO Train to Niagara from Mississauga costs CAD 39.80 for a day pass. Total Budget: CAD 281.55, that is, Rs 14,922.15 Day 5: Trip to Canada's Wonderland
The last day in Canada, before we got on the flight to India, was spent in one of the best amusement parks- Canada's Wonderland. We went with our cousins but this time, we didn't have to pay for the gas.
We booked our tickets online, which cost us CAD 53 each for a day pass. Thanks to my aunt, we saved CAD 20 per ticket as she is a member with the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA).
With the pass, one was allowed to hop on to any ride - be it the water theme park, the kiddie rides, the rollercoasters, you name it. The pass, however, did not take care of the food.
After a while of jumping on to high-end rollercoasters, we were hungry. Canada's Wonderland is known for its Funnel Cake, Cookiewich, Chippery and pizzas. Sure enough, we ended up trying each and every must-eats and spent CAD 75 in total, split two.
Right after, we headed home and packed our bags to catch our flight back to India.
Note: The GO Train to Canada's Wonderland in Vaughan, from Mississauga costs CAD 22.40
Yes, I did end up saving - but not as much I thought I would. My father was happy and why wouldn't he? This was one of the rare times when I saved money and returned it to him.
Total Savings: CAD 191.05, that is, Rs 10,125.65.