• Day24

    Towers of Toronto

    September 21, 2017 in Canada ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    At 6.30am we were kindly greeted by Sharlene and Eric from the station and given a dawn tour of the city. Eric drove us past Casa Loma, a turreted castle overlooking the suburbs. Back at their place we took a nap until midday and then continued the tour of Toronto by zipping along the highways to get our bearings. Eric was just the man to show us the sights - being an architect he informed us of the history of the buildings. We stopped for a browse of the shops and a drink in the distillery district, a trendy red brick ex-industrial area. Next stop was the waterfront looking out over the Toronto skyline - there appeared to be a booze cruise setting off from the bay! We passed the HTO artificial beach and the ferry harbour. Back at the house Sharlene cooked up a delicious ragu - so nice to have proper home cooked food!  Homemade margaritas in hand we sat out on the porch in our muskoka chairs like true Canadians.

    Next morning Eric gave us a lift to the ferry terminal where we cruised across to the Toronto islands. Lots of nice open park areas and family activities for the Summer. After a quick walk around we took the ferry back over and went to purchase our baseball tickets for the following evening. We strolled along the boardwalk path and after yummy lunch at the pet cafe (minus any pets) we decided to explore the PATH, the underground walkway that connects most buildings in downtown. Easier said than done - the place is a bit of a maze and after about an hour of walking we surfaced to realise we were only a few streets from where we had started! We succumbed to take the streetcar (tram) back to the house. With the ticket machine not working we boarded and pulled in to the subway before asking a local how we needed to go about purchasing our subway ticket. Looking slightly bemused she said to go up the stairs which we did and through the barrier. We purchased two tokens and then went back through the same barrier, realising our unnecessary transaction - at least we were honest! We alighted on the outskirts of Chinatown and went in search of 'graffiti alley'. There were a few young people taking photos in the sunlit alley against some colourful artwork. With aching legs we went back to the house and tucked in to homemade Chinese chicken.

    A spontaneous decision was made to go in search of the planes landing at Toronto international airport, an activity that many Canadians enjoy doing according to Sharlene and Eric. What an evening adventure! Eric drove round the roads surrounding the airport under instruction from Sharlene to locate the ILS (instrument landing system) - total madness ensued! After about 2 hours of racing around, asking a random guy at a gas station where was the best viewing spot (and he knew!), and sweet talking a security guy at the Toyota showroom to allow us down the path so that we would be directly under the planes as they passed overhead, we pulled over and sneakily consumed a beer and g&t from a drinks bottle. Not quite satisfied that we were seeing the largest planes we double backed and went back to the spot we had initially tried. Success! Now that is not an experience you would get if on an organised tour!  

    The following day we walked through Kensington market, admiring the varieties of kettle crisps for sale (maple bacon etc), and stopping in a cafe for a well-overdue first maple pancake. We then walked through china town, chuckling at the bad English translations on some of the knock-off printed kids' clothing. Then for the aquarium and CN tower. Construction of the impressive landmark began in 1973 and was completed in 1976. It remained the tallest freestanding structure for over three decades. As we ascended the tower in the lift, rising 346m in 58 seconds, my stomach was left behind and palms and feet started to clam up! After posing for pictures next to the panoramic window we went down a level to the glass floor. Hugo bravely stepped on to it and I admired from a distance. The floor can hold the weight of 3 orcas apparently - one guy sure did test it by jumping about! With some time to kill before the baseball we headed to the Eaton centre in hope of getting Hugo some new jeans (remind me never to shop with him again).

    After an unsuccessful mission we walked over to the Rogers Centre to see the Blue Jays. As we neared the stadium an ocean of blue shirts appeared. We met with Sharlene and Eric and found our seats in the top tier. Sharlene had made burgers for tea and the boys purchased a beer for $11 each!! Before we knew it we were on our feet as the national anthem rang out. Eric gave us a quick explanation of the game (basically rounders but more dramatic) and the game began. We quickly became accustomed to the very short jingles played between each innings. It was difficult to focus on the baseball as there was so much entertainment on the jumbotron. Prizes were given for designated driver, row of seats, getting your hand in the glove on the screen, identifying a player from a photo etc - hilarious! We even had a few seconds of fame appearing on the screen. One group even lit a birthday cake to get an appearance. After a slow start we finally got a home run, signalled by a huge fog horn and cheers from the crowd. End result 5-2 and some entertained Brits! As we left the stadium we entered the CBC (equivalent of BBC) studio - surprisingly no security - even saw someone sleeping on one of the benches facing the studio set. We also passed a memorial to workers who had died from occupational hazards - some unfortunate endings!

    Our final day in Toronto was of course a visit to Niagara Falls. Eric gave us the full tour, first to see the escarpment, then to the whirlpool, Niagara on the Lake and the falls. Niagara on the Lake was very quaint with beautiful flower beds. At the falls we walked through the spray of the horseshoe (Canadian) falls and looked across to the American falls. We sat across from the falls and devoured a yummy picnic before taking photos. There is a constant mist that hides part of the falls, with a rainbow spreading from one side of the chasm to the other. A great finale to an enjoyable few days with the very generous and hospitable Sharlene and Eric. They kindly dropped us at our airbnb in Hamilton, ready for our flight the next morning, although the initial postcode took us to a cemetery - hopefully not an omen! Luckily we arrived at the real destination just as the host pulled in to the drive. I had received a message earlier that day saying where the keys would be kept, however the message had cut off after 'I left the key to the front door inside...'! Gabriella kindly invited us to join her for burgers on the bbq! Hugo successfully managed to sign up to uber to organise a lift to the airport for 5am,  and with it being our first ride it was only $3 -woo!  

    Unfortunately the airport only had two security lanes, meaning we had to queue for 50 minutes whilst letting all passengers with an urgent flight go ahead of us - very frustrating. Once on the plane we unexpectedly received complimentary drinks and snacks - cheesy sticks for breakfast! Destination - Edmonton, the start of our Canadian Rockies experience...
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