Air Canada CentreMarch 16, 2017 in Canada
For a change a bit of ballin' at Air Canada Centre - unfortunately the Toronto Raptors lost against the Oklahoma City Thunder 102-123
For a change a bit of ballin' at Air Canada Centre - unfortunately the Toronto Raptors lost against the Oklahoma City Thunder 102-123
Wohnung aufräumen und putzen, restliche Reiseausrüstung besorgen und unsere Rücksäcke packen; das waren in etwa unsere Hauptbeschäftigungen während der letzten Tage vor unserer Abreise. Zwischendurch mal etwas essen und trinken und ein bisschen schlafen, für viel mehr reichte die Zeit aber nicht. Umso erleichterter waren wir dann, als wir am Freitag Vormittag endlich im Zug Richtung Zürich Flughafen sassen.
Nach rund 10 Stunden im Flugzeug mit Umsteigen in Kevlavík kamen wir am Freitagabend wohlauf aber ziemlich müde in Toronto an. Bequem erreichten wir vom Flughafen aus mit der Bahn das Stadtzentrum und mussten dort quasi nur noch zwei Mal stolpern, bis wir bei unserer Unterkunft angekommen sind. Für die nächsten paar Nächte wohnen wir im 49. Stockwerk eines Wolkenkratzers. Der Blick aus unserem Zimmer ist schlicht atemberaubend, sowohl bei Tag als auch bei Nacht.
Heute haben wir uns bereits ein bisschen mit Toronto vertraut gemacht und wir freuen uns sehr, diese Stadt in den nächsten Tagen genauer zu erkunden.
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Als ich dich vor 14 Jahren das erste Mal besuchte, konnte ich nichts mit Grossstädten anfangen. Folglich betrachtete ich dich von Anfang an mit einer gewissen Abneigung und es war dir daher kaum möglich, mein Herz zu gewinnen. Ich tat dir völlig unrecht.
Mit dem Wissen, dass sich meine Einstellung gegenüber Städten in der Zwischenzeit grundlegend geändert hat, habe ich mich die letzten Wochen sehr darauf gefreut, dir eine zweite Chance geben zu können. Anne-Claire und ich haben nun fast eine Woche in deinem pulsierenden Herzen verbracht und haben uns beide ein bisschen in dich verliebt. Es fällt uns schwer, dich morgen wieder zu verlassen, auch wenn wir uns sehr auf unser nächstes Ziel freuen.
Von der belebten Yonge Street über gemütliche Quartiere mit einladenden Restaurants bis hin zu ruhigen Stadtparks hast du uns alles geboten. Offen und tolerant wie du bist sind wir auf viele kulturelle Veranstaltungen aller Art gestossen, und auch Sportbegeisterte kommen bei dir voll auf ihre Kosten. Hoch oben auf dem CN Tower haben wir einen wunderbaren Ausblick auf deine Millionen von Lichtern genossen und auf den Toronto Islands in aller Ruhe die vielen Eindrücke in uns verarbeitet. Du hast mir zudem bewiesen, dass Kanada nicht nur Filterkaffee à la Tim Hortons kennt sondern auch einen ordentlichen Espresso hinbekommt. :-)
Natürlich hast du auch deine Ecken und Kanten, deine stinkenden und dunklen Orte. Aber wirklich unwohl haben wir uns in den vergangenen Tagen nie gefühlt. Das einzige, was wir ein bisschen bereuen, ist der Ausflug zu den Niagarafällen, was sich halt so anbietet, wenn man schon mal in der Nähe ist. Und so imposant und im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes berauschend diese gigantischen Fälle auch sind; der ganze Tourismus und die an Las Vegas anmutende Stadt Niagara Falls verderben die ganze Magie.
Morgen müssen wir dich wie gesagt vorerst verlassen. Es zieht uns gen Norden in den Algonquin Provincial Park, wo wir 10 Tage mit Wandern und Kanufahren verbringen werden. Nach diesem Abenteuer werden wir noch einmal kurz bei dir vorbeischauen, um uns auf die weitere Reise vorzubereiten. Wir freuen uns schon jetzt auf diesen kurzen Besuch, es wird sich bestimmt ein bisschen so anfühlen wie nach Hause zu kommen.
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The most important thing when arriving in America from Europe: staying awake 😁
The beautiful weather really made it easy for us to do so.. so we quickly checked in at our Hotel, Westin Toronto Harbour Castle, took a shower and went directly to the Harbour Front located directly at the hotel 😎
San Cristóbal de las Casas, Palenque, Aqua Azul were all part of our mini journey through Chiapas.
We took an overnight bus from Oaxaca to San Cristóbal de las Casas where we spent the day wandering the cobblestone streets. We experienced the more bohemian, hippy side all the way to full on local market complete with vendors selling chickens where we were the only non-Mexicans.
The high-altitude colonial city in the heart of indigenous Chiapas is an interesting mix of modern and Maya, with cosmopolitan cafes and traditional culture. For those not familiar with the struggles of the indigenous and their David vs. Goliath battles with the Mexican army, read up on the Zapatistas and their leader, Marcos. They managed to fight off the army and retain much of their independence. Zapatistas are much revered in the state of Chiapas.
Unfortunately we had but a day for San Cristobal De Las and it was time to get to the nearest airport, Tuxtla Gutierrez - normally about an hour and 15 minutes away - for our flight to Palenque. We had left our backpacks at the bus station when we arrived from our overnight bus trip from Oaxaca, easier and lighter to walk around the city. We walked back to the station to pick them up and then started looking for a taxi because there was no bus at that time that went to Tuxtla Gutierrez airport. They first driver wanted too much (we had asked around to know the normal price), the second didn't want to do the long drive but on the third did try we hit paydirt.... or so we thought.
He first stopped to pick up his wife and drop her off somewhere, it was quick so not a huge deal and it's not that uncommon in Mexico so we rolled with it. Then he said he had some sort of meeting to go to but it would be quick. At that point we said if he couldn't take us right now, that's fine but we'll get out and take another taxi because we had a flight to catch and there was no time. He said ok fine we'll go now. He then proceeded to drive like a fucking maniac, passing every thing in site and hitting 130 sometimes on the curvy one lane highway. We got to the airport in under an hour. I think he was getting his revenge. Gi was terrified and even I, who doesn't mind a little speed, was slightly unnerved.
It was a quick 25 minute flight on a Braer ERJ145 jet into the jungle of Palenque. Gi had booked a small hotel in the jungly, hotel zone area of the city of Palenque but since they were doing some construction on the hotel when we got there they put us up at their swanky sister hotel across the street. It was kind of resort-like but had a pool so that was cool.
This was our home base for a couple of days as we visited the amazing waterfalls and natural pools of Agua Azul on the first day and the magical ruins of Palenque the next. Enjoy the pics!Read more
After two wondrous days in Palenque it was time to hit the road for the last part of our journey, the Yucatán. I had chosen Valladolid and Holbox for our final two destinations.
Valladolid is the smaller, lesser known of the main Yucatán cities, Mérida being the larger, more well known and more beautiful. But Valladolid has cenotes my friend, and for those who have never had the experience of seeing and swimming in a cenote, it is truly a breath taking experience. They are underground caves with water, some have a large opening which are very visible from above, whereas others have small hidden entrances that you enter only to have this incredible world open up once you descend a few (or many) steps into the earth. The Yucatán is full of these as there are no rivers, all the water is below ground in cenotes, and underground tunnels and rivers linking them.
And the coolest thing is some of the best cenotes in are a mere bike ride away from Valladolid so we rented bikes from the lovely hostel we were staying at and spent the day biking and swimming in these incredible natural pools... it was a great day.
But the trip to Valladolid was not without its challenges. It was another overnight bus to get to Valladolid from Palenque with a change of bus in Mérida. The Palenque to Mérida stretch was the overnight part and I had placed my daypack in the overhead shelf when I got in the bus with the intention of taking it down after I got settled in but I was so tired I fell asleep before talking the daypack down. Those of you who have taken overnight buses in Mexico or anywhere else for that matter probably probably have an inkling of what's coming next and you're shaking your head thinking, oh oh rookie mistake.
Yep, rookie mistake indeed and one for which I paid. When we arrived at the Valladolid hostel and were asked how we wanted to pay, I said credit card as is my habit (gotta get those points!). I went into my daypack for my nifty little plastic credit card holder and dug around. A slight sense of dread spread through me...i couldn't find it. And then it hit me, my rookie mistake was about to complicate my life and cost me some serious time.
Gi and I had witnessed a commotion on the bus in the middle of the night which we were trying to figure out what it was about. We had both been Gi and I had been woken up by one man, a young, Mexican man seeming to be arguing or yelling at another and even pushed him at some point back into his seat. That other guy, defensive, saying something like, "I was just going to the washroom". We thought it strange and were wondering what all that was about. Now, as the realization that my wallet had been stolen, it all made sense. That guy was a thief who travels on night buses and waits for the passengers to fall asleep and then looks for bags he can steal from. I was angry at him of course but more ashamed and upset at myself for leaving my bag there - a goddamn rookie mistake. Now as some of you know, I can be pretty hard and unforgiving to myself for stupid mistakes but age, meditation and just working on trying to be a better version of me helped me get over the ordeal relatively quickly. Gi and I did end up having a mini quarrel later that day but hey, we are both on a journey and still have a bit of work to do.
Oh yeah, we also went to jail but fear not, we were not incarcerated. Very close to Valladolid, there's a prison in a village called Ebtun. The prisoners make beautiful, high quality hammocks and we biked over to buy a hammock.
See you in Holbox!Read more
After 2 hour road trip and 2 hour wait for room, we are finally here
So Tash and I were up and out aboyt 815 to walk across to the CN Tower to do our Edgwalk at 9am. Ed andf Sam went down for breakfast at the same time.
We arrived at the Tower abnout 840 amd filled in the disclaimers. Tash did one as we were told then were told by someone else she didn't need to and I just addered her name to mine. We went to the loo as were told next one was an houre and half away. Then taken through into the prep room where we had to do a breathaklyser, all passed, and remove all loose items from pockets etc - even my world cup wristband had to come off. Forgot to take off my St Christopoher but the ,etal detetctor check founf it. Tash had to remove earings, which was ok, getting them back on is the problem. Then got into red overalls and had locker key hooked on round my neck and sunglasses hooked on a lanyard too.
HArnesses, wrists and shoes were checked by 4 or 5 fifferent people, finally by Reed out guide. Six in our group the mac=ximum. Three folks from San Francisco, Eugene from New Jersye and Tash and me. San Franscison chap had to chnage his shoes as Reed was not happy with their tightness!
We then had a couple of hroup pictires including a confideny pose for after the event, interetsingly taken beforehand! Then walked though to the elevator, with a guard of honour of cheering employees. Not sure that made us feel better, made iot seem quite a big deal!
Up to the top at22km/h, the lift had a couple of glass floor panels, but they could be avoided if you wanted. At the top was about 116 storeys high, around 1500 feet, or 399 meteres. Quite high.
We went into quite a small control room at the top where our harnesses would be attached to the cables. These were explained to us, one at the front which was a fixed cable that we could hold onto, pull on etc if we wanted and one at the bag that was more like a seatbe;t that would kick in if we fell etc.
Reed assessed the order, I went first then Tash, then Eugene then the 3 others. Sliding doors wrere opened and Reed went out first to do an intro on his helmet camera then he waved me out. The walkway was about 5 or 6 feet wide I thinkand I walked round Reed giving him a high 6 and waited by the first camera that beamed libe footage to the monitors in the viewing gallery below. Throughout we were encouraged to wave and dance tec for these cameras!
I waited while everyone came out, legs did feel a little bit wopbbly, The walkway was a metal mesh so see through but below most of it was the top of the revolving restaurant rather than ground level. Reed gave us some facys about the view then introduced the first activity. Toes over Toronto!. We had to walk forward to the edge and put our toes over the edge then spread arms wide and shout Hello Toronot or similar. The far end of the line went first and everyone did it ok. The Californians were fairly confient, they were rock climbers, Euegen loess so like me/, Tassh was fine. I approached fairly tentatively and got both feet over the edge. Reed said stand up a bit straighter, think I must have been leaning forward a bit too much and I let go of the rope flung arms wide and shouted hello Toronto. Hled the pose for a few seconds then grabbed back on and came back in. Round of applause from everyone as was the custom for all and legs felt a bit wobbly but first task fone. Looking back this was the hardest as the other tasks you felt support still from the rope, but not on this one and also it was the first thing so you will still getting used to the height.
We moved round another quarter of the circle and got some more facts about this view, then the second activity - leaning backwards. The technique was to sit down in the harness then walk backwards until feet were on the edge, then lock the knees, shoulders back and arms of the rope flung wide. Same order as last time, so I was last. Tash did fine again and I found this easier than the lastb one. Stillscary but having the rope pulling on you gave me confidence more than just standing up. I was bit worried the harness was going to slip up from my bottom, but it never did. Coming back in was a grab of the rope and a swing forward and that was done. Applause for all again and all videoed. We moved another 90 degrees.
More facts then activity three - we knew what was coming the lean foprwards. Techniique was to push the rope out in front of you, keep hold og it them lean your shoulder in to it until weight was suported with tope wedged in you neck/shoulder, then let go and arms wide. A surpise reverse order this time so i was first. Walked to feet about 2 or 3 inches from the edge, then pushed rope forward and leaned in. It was surprising further in fron than you wnated it ti be, but goit there and it felt secure so pulled hands away, a little hard as they were stick behind the rope. Did it and arms wide, then threw in a superman armso out pose for the vamers then back hold of the rope and swing back in. Seemed easier than the toes one, though the backward was easiest. The others all completed and we moved on again.
The last side was above the Rogers Centre and was where we had seen people yesterday hanging over. It is where the phtotos are taken by Reed. We all lined up in the backward lean and then did some full group shots, then stayed out for individual ones then in our family groups so me and Tash. The latter involved some sidewys crabbing across to be next to each other which didn't seem an odd thing at all by now and everyone confidently dangled out, though part of my confidence was knowing this was the last thing before we were back.
Swung back in and walked back intpo the little room, high fiving Reed on the way in again. We were dereoped and back down in the lift to get harness etc off then stuff out of lockers. Applause again as we exited the lift at the bottom.
We got two free ohotos and the video plus a certificate with our number on showing how many have done it before us/ We bought the USB with all the other pics on too.
All done before 1030. Hadn;t been windy up there and was warm ans sunny (contrast the storms later in the day). Sam and Ed messaged to say they qwere t the Harbour Centre coffee place we had been to the previopus day so we met them there. It did very good coffee. Ed then wanted to go the famous Beasvertails shop a little way back towards the hotel so we went and had the sickly fried churros like beavertail. Tasty but n ot healthy! Then we went back to get on the tour bus to take us to St James Market, where the guide yesterday had said the Peameal bacon sandwicjes were amawzing from Carousel bakery. We had siome for lunch, was OK, but bacon not crispy enough for my tastes.
Walked 10 minutes oir so the distillery district. The old distilery buildings been conmverted into a carless area of boutique Canmadian shopos. Got few clothes and went for another drink then baqck onto the tour bus towards the Eaton Centre Shopping Mall at the Times Square of Toronto, with ,ots of billboards and advertising. Tash in her element, Bath and Beyond, Sephore, Victorias Secret and Pink all visisted. Ed and I went to the Disney shop and got some Bige HEro 6 figures (he had watched it on the plane out) and some hand made choclalates on a 12 for 12 deal. Also an ice cream which was diped in white and dark choclate and buts in front of us. Had a paper frill tocatch buts but was still very messy to eat, last bits fell of our stciks and went everywhere.
Finally they had finished shopping and we got back on the tour vbus to take us the long way home. Always interesting to hear a different operson dpoing toe commentary. Clouds started to thicken as were up at the north part opf the tour near Castle Lomo and the Irish guide made some jokes about weather like home and outruning the storm. Alas as we got near the arts building, held up by struts designed as pencils the heavens opened. No room downstairs so we got off and shjelktered under the pencil building and called an Uber. It stopped by the time he cvame, was a very friendly driver.
Evening we were booked into the 360 restaurant in CN Tower. Walked there and passed through secuirty smoothly. Had to wait few minute for restauirmat lift and to get seated at table. Restaurant rotates once every 72 minutes. We had window table and ggo views all round. Food was nice and after meal we headed one floor down to viewing gallery, which had a part glass floor looking down to the glass floor one level down that looked all the way to groiund. We went down to that level and all but Sam stood on the glass, Could see the ahrks mural on the aquariuym roof which we had seen from walk that morning too. This level has outside vieifng gal;lery, Ed and I went out but was quite windy and cold so not for long. Then headed back down and walked to hotel tired but good day.Read more
Friday morning we went to the aquarium. No queues getting in but it was busy inside, lots of smal kids on camop excursions etc. There were lots of campls happening on the harbourt front, with kids brouight in on school buses eaxh day.
Aquarium was well done and though crowded you could always get to the displays bty waiting a few seconds for people to oce on. The moving walkway through the shark tank was the longest we have seen and some impressive saw fish, sharks and rays in there. Ray bay also had some very big rays. You could touch some crabs and some small sharks in tanks.
In the grioft shop Ed got a large dhark called Sgeridan and Tash was very excited with her POuffer Fish!. Once out Ed and I popped to Blur Jays shop next door and got a baseball, then we wnet back into the CN Tower to the gift shop so I could get a ftidge magnet. We still has two unused tickets for the CN Tower that Tash and I got as part of ourt Edgewalk, Noit sure when the expoire, maybe we can use them some time in the distant furture!
After this we braved the streetcar (trams) to get to Kensignton market. We had jerk meatball pasta and jerk chicken panini from Rasta Pasta. The owner was aJamaican character and came out to cokplain about the shopkeeper couple of doors down who was painting somehting oin his shopefront and the smell was blowing down to us suitting outside Ratsa Pasta eating and also affecting the folkjs in the hot kitvhen. He was very jovial and funny.
We then walked twen minutes or so to Graffiti Alley. The market was like the LOndon version in termsop f the type of unusual out there clothes shops, but was in streets rather thn undercover, some shops just seemed to be peoples front gardens and front rooms.
Taco Bell stop fro drinks and loo (the mab struggkled with my accent) then the Alleyt, which was very impressive, The graffitti was peoper art work rather than just tages etc. Not sure how they decide who paints what and when it gets painted over.
From here abnother streetcar back to Union Station to go see the original Banksy in Church Street. I got coins from a bank in chnage to be able to pay the gare (no notes accepted and my cards not here on these macjine3s). Turned out the machines werent working so we got a free ride. Ed and Sam got off and went back to hotel as they were tired. Tash and I stayed on. At Union Station tehre were barriers but we spkke to a man and said we couldnt buy a ticket and when we said we just wanted to leave the station he waved us through and gave us diorectiosn.
The Banksy was easy to find and preserved behond a glass frame. Quite small (sixe of our TV). We walked back to the hotel about 10 m,imutyes and relaxed before theatre.
The hoitel restauarmat wasnt open at 530 so we chatted to the concierge and decided just to head to the Eaton Mall food court and get somehting quick. We got a quick cab up there and Sam decided to have a KFC burger, the rest of us had a Subway meal deal. Then there was time for Tash to hit the shops again, Victorias Secret this time., Ed and I did the disney shop and he got a littyle duddly of the guy from Big Hero 6.
Then across to the theatre which was grand inside, despitre the small dorrwy to the street. We were up front row of the circle, decent seats. Gort givena small prgramme on way in, unlike London. Show was good - Wicked - Sam and I saw it in London maybe 17 ot 18 uears ago so couldnbt really remember it. KIds enjoued it though Ed was pretty tired. Half time ice creams werre same as UK, though only 1 chaop for whole of balcony.
When it finished we grabbed an Uber easily outside theatre and got bacl to hotel.Read more
You might also know this place by the following names:
Air Canada Center