By William Markiewicz

A person who doesn't know Toronto and knows Geneva asked me to compare them. Geneva and Toronto are at antipodes, and not only geographically. Toronto, spreading out on unlimited flatland, is an immense city typical to an immense country. Geneva is geopolitically squeezed, like a bonsai tree. Geneva exhales history while Toronto lives in the present and turns toward the future. Still, there is one thing that distinguishes Toronto from most American cities and brings it closer somehow to Geneva; there is a saying: 'Toronto is New York governed by the Swiss' and that is so largely due to its cleanliness and safety. If you enjoy nocturnal walks, Geneva offers a quiet elegant environment of streets that invite a contemplative stroll. Toronto has interesting Italian neighbourhoods, full of life, a fascinating Greek neighbourhood, comfortable mundane neighbourhoods, but in order to enjoy them you have to go into one of the countless locals; the streets remain cold. Culture flourishes in Geneva. You are always within walking distance of a pleasant setting. Toronto is very cultural, but those distances!... You take either the unpleasant (for me) subway or drive toward the expensive and not always available parking.

In Toronto everything opens late in the morning and stays open until late at night while you have to know Geneva well if you want to lunch or dine at odd hours. The morningbird hours make up for this inconvenience; you can drink and eat every kind of food from dawn on and I like it.

In Geneva there are coffee houses where writers and musicians meet or create undisturbed by their neighbours. In Toronto, you do these things at home or in a studio. Personally, I like to write outside but there is no tradition for this in Toronto: I once went to write at a press club and a lady approached to ask me if I was doing my tax return!


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