Sorry Coffee Co.

102 Bloor St. W. Toronto

Sorry Coffee Co. is located in the back portion of the Canadian retail store, Kit and Ace. This is Kit and Ace's second location in Toronto, but the only one with a coffee shop in the same space. The front doors off Bloor Street to the main clothing store are not wheelchair accessible. Only the doors around the back on Critchley Lane will allow access to the space. Thankfully the entrance here is wide and powered. 

Seating inside the smallish space is pretty standard stuff. Some small moveable tables and bar stools along the window facing into the park. I was able to navigate the space without any trouble. There is also a fully accessible washroom to the right of where you place your order. It's nice to find accessible washrooms in any coffee shop that isn't a Starbucks. 

The only trouble I think you might have is that the area for preparing your coffee if you take milk and sugar would be hard to reach if you're sitting in a wheelchair. Personally I take my coffee black so it wasn't a problem for me. However the Staff were extremely friendly bringing my order over to my table anyway so I think if you needed any other assistance they would be more than happy to help you. 

The closest subway station is Yonge and Bloor and then about a 10 min walk west from there. There is underground parking in the area though being downtown Toronto it will be expensive of course.

The Art of Packing

The other day I was thinking about packing. I know weird thing to randomly think about right. In the past when I’ve often traveled with my wife and our packing setup has been something like this. We each carry a backpack of some kind with things we need to keep handy. I swear by crumpler backpacks by the way. Then we have one large rolling suitcase that my wife pulls along with clothing and larger items. That’s the bag that get checked if we are doing a plane trip. You often have to pay to check bags at this point but we feel it's usually worth it. Sometimes I’ll also place another bag with handles on the back of my wheelchair over top of the backpack. I was thinking though what if I was traveling on my own or with someone I couldn’t share a suitcase with?

Packing is not going to be a one size fit all solution by any means. The fact that we all have different abilities and strengths means that some could push a rolling suitcase along while others may not be able to. I might be comfortable with a bunch of weight on the back of my wheelchair but for some that is a huge balance issue.

If you’re traveling and using a wheelchair I have a few basic tips.

  1. An under the seat pouch is great for things you need to be able to get right away and want to keep safe. Things like your passport or boarding pass are good to keep there. Maybe some allen keys for wheelchair repairs.

  2. If you’re traveling by plane or a train have a reasonable size carry on bag. For me this is a backpack that fits onto the back of my wheelchair. This is where I keep my camera gear, laptop or ipad. Maybe a change of clothes just incase and some snacks too.

  3. Regardless of the size or style of bag you use for you clothing make sure it's something you can maneuver without too much trouble. Perhaps this is less important if you’re just going to travel by car. But if you have to trek through the airport or from public transit to your hotel that bag is going to seem a lot heavier as time goes on.

  4. Consider if where you’re going to be has some kind of laundry facility. You can get away with packing light if you’re able to wash everything part way through you trip. Even if you have to pay it could be well worth it.

In all how you pack is going to be a very personal thing. If I was going on a long trip on my own I think I’d do something like this. A seat pouch bag which I always carry anyway. Next would be my backpack for carry on. Finally I'd take a four wheel rolling bag if it was a longer trip. If it was a short trip I'd take a bag I could strap to the front of my chair or put over my shoulder and rest above my feet.  

Packing is a pain, I don't enjoy it even though I enjoy planning a trip so much. However it's one of those things that has to get done. Take the time to think about what you really need and try and pack as light as you can. You'll thank yourself later. 

Let me know below what you do for packing. I'd love to hear some ideas.

The Places I would go - 2015 edition

Like most years 2014 had been a year of ups and downs. I didn't do a lot of traveling in 2014 but my wife and I did go to New York for a week which was great. This year won't hold a ton of travel either. In fact this post obviously was go up in January. However a new addition to the family came a bit early and I just never got the time to finishing writing this until now. That said I though I'd provide a list of some of the places I'd go in 2015 if time and money were no issue. That's okay I normally don't travel until the spring anyway.

Paris 
When we were starting to plan our trip to New York last year there was a bit of a debate. New York or Paris. Since clearly New York won out in the end I'd go to Paris this coming year. I went once when I was in my mid teens but that was quite a while ago now. It might be the most popular destination for tourists in the world but I think that's with good reason. Everyone goes to Paris for their own reasons. For me its the food and get culture institutions like the louvre.  Though I think that's going to be a trend with the rest of this list too. 

Chicago 
I've visited Chicago in the past. It remains on of my favourite American cities though and I'd love to go back there. The art galleries and museums are top notch of course and I'd probably visit them again even though i've been. But like visiting anyplace for a second time there are things missed the first time around that I'd like to get to. I wouldn't feel that pressure though and it would be a more relaxing trip.

Montreal
One of the oldest cities in Canada. The history, the culture and the food. Those are the reasons you visit Montreal I think. I made a brief visit to Montreal in early highschool. However visiting it at this point in my life would be vastly different of course. Like many large cities Montreal is build out of a number of distinct neighbourhoods. Getting around Montreal by wheelchair could bit a little bit of a challenge it seems. Just like Toronto all the buses are accessible but the subway system leaves a lot to be desired. 

Iceland
Iceland seems to be the photographers dream location these days. This is doubly true if you're into landscape photography. I'm more of a street photography but I'm not immune to just how outstanding gouges Iceland looks. If i'm honest I don't know a lot about the country but I that's part of why it's interesting to me. From what I've read Iceland also seems to be reasonably wheelchair friendly too.

Ecuador
I have a few friends who have family in and visit Ecuador each year. I've never been to South America myself and I'd love to make Ecuador the first visit. there The capitol city Quito is a designated UNESCO world heritage site. Ecuador also has one of the highest number of different species of animals for a county it's size. Because Ecuador had Lenin Moreno, a vice president who uses a wheelchair the country is more wheelchair accessible than most in South America. So the changes of being able to get around see what you want might be better than most places. 

Apps Vs Maps

Okay so this isn’t really so much app vs map as much as app vs paper I guess. I was recently asked what mapping applications I use when I’m on a trip. I thought about it a bit and honestly I don’t use many apps when I’m traveling. I really mostly just use google maps and a few paper based maps. Sometimes I’ll use a transit app specific to the place I’m traveling. They sometimes give you a bit better directions that google maps can. There are also apps you might want to look into depending on your specific needs. Some examples are things like topographic maps, nautical maps or ones that show hiking trails. There are of course advantages and disadvantages to each so lets look at each option a bit.

Transit Directions

This is the area where apps can really shine. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve used google maps to figure out what bus route to take to my destination. Not only which route but all the alternative routes too. Just punch in where you want to go and get directions from your current location. You can also pick which form of transportation you want to take. For example in New York I wanted to take the bus and not the dirty subway most of the time so I could just filter by bus. “Transit” is also a great dedicated transit app that currently works in 86 different cities. It shows you routes and travel times. It uses google for the maps but the transit information is pulled from a different place I believe. 

Paper transit maps can still be good. However in cities where there are a lot of options the maps can get just too confusing.

One thing paper maps have going for them is they often have the accessible transit stations or stops marked on them. I have yet to find an app that has the information embedded in it. If you find something please let me know in the comments and I will update the post going forward.

Offline

There are a few situations where you might be offline or off the grid so to speak. The two most common for me are being overseas without access to my cell service, and being in rural areas with no service whatsoever. There are of course ways to download maps ahead of time to your mobile device for offline viewing. However I’ve often found myself in an area I wasn’t planning to visit and didn’t plan ahead. Also depending on the app storage space on your phone could be a problem. This is where paper maps rule for me. No matter where I am they just work of course. I often try to carry at least two different paper maps with me. I find that there are different details sometimes on each printing and sometimes it helps if you’re really lost. 

Attractions

Another situation where I apps win out. There are often lots of attractions marked on paper maps, especially in large cities. On paper maps though they tend to be only major tourist destinations. This is fine if you're just looking to get to a major landmark or museum. If you're trying to find something more local or off the beaten path though it might not help. The sheer amount of details on google maps is amazing to me. There are even floor plans for some major shopping malls which I personally think is pretty cool. 


How to avoid stress and just enjoy your trip

A trip or vacation should be fun. However sometimes we get too stressed out to just enjoy it. I thought I’d try and give you a few tips to make things go a little more smoothly. Now I can’t honestly say that I obey all these suggestions myself but I try at least.

1. You don’t have to see everything

On my last trip to New York we had 6 days including travel days. We also had a huge list of possible things we wanted to see. We missed out on seeing a good chunk of them. While I’m sad that we didn’t make it to the High Line or the Chelsea Market I still think we tried to do too much. Also keep in mind that your travel partner or group might not want to see or walk as much as you. I’m not so good at the part if I’m honest. Don't worry if you don't get to see everything. It gives you a reason to visit again. 

2. Don’t worry if plans change

I often try to plan out what we are going to do day to day on a trip to maximize our travel time. However sometimes things come up where your plans have to change. Sometimes this is something as simple as a freak rain storm on the day you were planning on having a picnic in the park. Maybe a there is a transit problem preventing you from getting to an attraction. Or that special restaurant you wanted to go to is closed due to an emergency neighbourhood water outage. Sure you could plan backup activities but that’s not always realistic to do. The main thing to remember is you’re on vacation, just go with it and find something else in your area to see or do.

3. Buy Travel Insurance

I won’t get into suggesting which travel insurance to purchase here. That’s for another day and time. However I’ll just say it’s important to have. It’s easy to forget about sometimes if you’re like me and from Canada. Here going to emerg won’t cost you a thing other than a lot of time. However in a lot of countries that’s not the case. Not only could you end up with food poisoning but also a large medical bill to show for it. It might seem costly upfront but for piece of mind travel medical insurance is always worth it.

4. Do what you want to do, not what you think you have to do

Sometimes when you travel to a big name destination like New York or Paris you feel like there are things you really should see. When planning my New York trip I got asked by everyone if I was going to go see a Broadway show. It seemed like this is something everyone assumed you had to do when visiting New York. However it wasn't something that either of us were too interested in. While I do enjoy seeing a lot of major attractions on my first trip someplace I don’t want to make myself see things just because they are popular, or it's the thing to do. For example I wouldn’t recommend anyone go up the empire state building. The lines are just too crazy. Sure it’s a great view but you can get that are the top of the rock too.

Tomorrow We Fly

So tomorrow we are off to New York for 5 nights. I know this because I got the reminder from Porter Airways in my e-mail. Really, did they think I was going to forget something like this? Anyway the e-mail says I can check in online and print my own boarding passes. I'm going to be leaving the house with tons of extra time in the morning so I'm not too worried about that. I won't be reporting on the shuttle bus that Porter offers as we will just be taking a cab over. 

Day one the plan is to check into the hotel and relax a bit first. Find a decent place to have a bit of an early dinner then head for the Empire State Building. I've heard it's good to do it at the start of your trip to give you a good overview of the city. There really isn't any plans for the days after that. I have a list of things we want to try and see but as for how they will all fit in I'm not sure really. I'm bad for trying to pack too many activities so I'm trying to be realistic this time. 

Hopefully I'll be able to write and post photos here as we are on the trip. I'm just taking an iPad mini and not my whole laptop so we'll see how that goes. 

New York here I come.