Recently I got a new work assignment, I will be traveling to train how to make information technology usable for people with disabilities. So, you can imagine. It is not just a job or an assignment, this is something I am passionate about. Both the travel and the work aspect of it. I started in Toronto last week. And there’s no better way to spend free time than experiencing the area, and of course, adding to my collection.
My trip was just a few days before the coin expo in Toronto. I wish I could have made it, but let’s be honest, four weeks ago I didn’t even know I will ever be in Toronto again, so it wasn’t that bad.
Before I get into collecting, you might wonder, how does the blind guy go sightseeing. Because we do with Baldwin. So let’s take a moment to talk about that. Primarily, it is quite a bit of planning. One thing that doesn’t work is to pick a random hotel and a random road to explore. Before I travel, there is so much that goes in to selecting the right hotel. It has to be a safe environment to walk outside, so I can take Baldwin out any time I want to. Preferably, it needs to be close to the purpose of my trip, usually work. There has to be an easy way to find food, either to walk to a restaurant, eat at the hotel, or order. Ordering is the last option, once I travel, I’d rather experience something local. This is a must. Anything above this is an experience. But since I love traveling, food and work and safety is not enough for my free time. Let’s face it, outside of work, I
have 16 hours a day to explore. So, when I select the hotel, in addition to the basic needs, I ask about things to do nearby, ability to walk to places, etc. The more walkable the place is, the less I have to plan ahead.
If there isn’t much to do, I can call museums or concert halls, and get a sense of what I can do after work. Ok, this is assuming I won’t just sit in the hotel room. If it is a very walkable place, I can just walk around, experience the feeling of the place. Often, it is more exciting than what it sounds like.
This time, I didn’t have much time to spend, I got to Toronto on a Sunday afternoon, and I didn’t have free time after that. So, fortunately my work location was downtown, which was a busy place, good enough to experience the area, some food and live music. One thing I like to do is to split up my meal into small portions. Start somewhere with a drink and appetizer, keep going for a main course, pick a third place for a dessert, and maybe a bar after that for a few drinks to talk with the locals or tourists.
Ever since I’ve been traveling for business, which is almost 20 years now, my goal at each place is to do at least one thing that is offered by the place I’m visiting. Sometimes it has been very hard, for example when I was in Alabama, miles away from anything I could walk to, or in Sao Paulo where I had a busy schedule and all I could experience was the hotel where I attended a conference. However, from other aspects, those trips were some of the most memorable ones.
You might ask, how do I walk around. This has changed over the years. Previously, it took quite a bit of planning. I had to make sure I know my way around, so I either had to get great directions, or not venture too far so I am able to get back. These days, all I need to worry about is that a place is walkable, preferably drivable, and there are some people around, in case I really need directions. Baldwin will make sure I don’t get into an accident, and the rest is exploration. If I can find my way around that’s great. If I can’t, I can always use my phone and GPS location to get a taxi or an Uber to get back to the hotel, which wasn’t an option before. I can either decide where I’m going to eat, or I can just pick a place randomly that smells good. I usually can’t go wrong.
Ok, but after this sidetrack, back to numismatics. I wasn’t sure what I was going to collect in Toronto. I have a good number of coins from Canada, at least the ones I can get from circulation. It was too late to visit any coin stores or flea markets. I was still missing some quarters, so at one of the places, I asked for a handful of change, and when the waiters were wondering why, they liked the idea and they helped me to find different quarters. It was very nice of them.
But the real reason, why in the first place I decided to write this post: I was very amazed by the banknotes. In the last few years, I was in Canada at least five times either for business, or just switching flights. I always collected a few coins from circulation, and never cared about the notes. Bad idea. I have touched tactile markings on different countries’ notes, but to me the Canadian Dollar felt the most unique, and the most tactile. In most cases, the problem is that the marking is hard to find or feel. I had no idea before that the Canadian Dollar has batches of six dots at different places to indicate the value of the note. This is a very simplistic description, but let’s leave the details for another post, it would be interesting to compare braille notes of the world. For a moment I was tempted to add braille notes to my collection, because it would be an interesting area to collect, but the problem with notes is that it can get quite expensive if you want to collect all of them. And let’s face it, it is hard to collect a series that you will never complete. So with a heartache, I gave up the idea, but I still brought home a few notes, I gave them to my daughter and sent the rest to my friends whom I thought would be interested in it.
But here is the ten Dollar for an example, and on the top you can find the five.
Next week I’m going to Chicago, for a real numismatic treat after work. If you bookmark this site and come back after October 15th, you can read about it.