Toronto: Home of the Leafs

Toronto Travel Blog

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Toronto city buildings

After a forgettable night in a JFK airport hotel (late night arrival + 4am wake-up = poo) it was with much excitement when Anna and I landed in Toronto on a chilly and wet sunday morning. It had been over a year since I had last seen Mark (aka my brother, aka sparkplug) and Katie, and we were pumped to see where they are living now and also check out some of the major sights in Eastern Canada (and as it turns out we also got chaueffered around in a 2006 model Subaru WRX!! Not bad, not bad at all).

Toronto airport seemed like a ghost town, we pretty much had to wake the customs guy up so he could check us back into the country. Being a Sunday, Mark and Katie were both there to greet us which was awesome and after a quick catch up, we threw the board bags into the back of their truck (what else??) and made the 40 minute journey back to their place.

Katie, Mark, Me, Anna and Charles
When I say 40 minutes, it would have been that had we not taken a wrong turn somewhere and ending up having to go through the city (nice one guys), it was good to get an early impression of the city though, especially the size of the CN Tower. The highways in and out of Toronto are pretty impressive. Sometimes 8 lanes one way it dwarfs the good old southern outlet back home. Two major highways head North/South, out of and into the city, one a toll-highway and one toll-free. Apparently the toll-highway is so expensive that no one takes it unless absolutely necessary (or they are incredibly rich) meaning that the toll-free one is bumper to bumper for a good 40kms in the morning and afternoon rush hours....crazyily most cars only have one person in them. Cars carrying two or more people can go in a designated lane which makes the ride a bit quicker.
Charles
Apparently though, people have been buying blow up dolls and dressing them up to look like a passenger just to be able to get into the "taxi" lane!!

Mark and Katie live with Katies parents, Mike and Gay, 5 minutes out a town called Stouffville (dont pronounce the "ff"s though otherwise you get laughed at), north of Toronto. The house is a really nice double story family home, on 15 acres of fenced paddocks (awesome old style wooden fences), with a large dam and a large, protected forest over the back fence.

The town of Stouffville basically consists of one (long) main street which can be divided in two. On one end you have all the new shops and on the other end you have the old town. The area surrounding Stouffville is predominantly agricultural however if it goes the way of nearby towns, there will soon be 50 squillion double story houses, all looking the same with no thought for any sort of culture or style.

Storm brewing over Stauffville
 Its an absolute tradgedy, developers (and probably the local government) just looking for a quick buck basically give the farmers an offer to good to refuse and then mass develop houses, creating suburbs in a matter of months. Apparently their are a lot of Chinese Immigrants who are only two happy to pay the $350,000 for a piece of crap. A lot of the houses are already experiencing problems with walls shifting and floors sinking due to poor design. Luckily the area where Mike and Gay live is never allowed to be subdivided thus protecting the country feel of the area.

On our first night  there we got to meet Katies sister and her fiance, and were treated to a superb roast meal cooked by Gay. Having immigrated from England around 20 years ago also meant that she threw in a couple of those famous yorkshire puddings!!

Highlights of our stay in Toronto included:
- Niagra falls.

The buildings overlooking Niagra falls
1 hour south of Toronto, right on the border to America, it is one of the Natural Wonders of the World. There is actually two areas to the falls, an American side and a Canadian side. Fortunately for us the Canadian side is a lot better than its counterpart, as you can see the full extent of the falls. Its an awesome sight too, about 100m long and 50m hight, the amount of water and the power of the water is just unbelievable. Apparently, they actually redirect two-thirds of the water of a night time for use in the hydro electric station located nearby....and why wouldnt they, the amount of water is seriously enormous.
For the sheer beauty of the falls, the nearby city/town doesnt do it justice. A corny piece of crap, you expect better of Canada. We did have one of the best burgers of our trip so far in a restaurant called Ruby Tuesday.
Leafs fans
If you are heading to the falls, apparently it is jam packed in the summer time, a shoulder season trip will almost guarantee you a way of beating the crowds and getting prime time spots for photographs.
- Toronto City. Not as structured as Vancouver, the buildings are older and each with their own identity, in my opinion it gives the city a lot more character. Along with the big name department stores, their are smaller boutique shops, world class theatre venues, the very impressive ice hockey venue (home of the Maple Leafs) and the enourmous CN Tower that dwarfs everything else in the city. Anna and I took a trip up to the viewing platform, a staggering 340 metres above ground. I think the tower actually stands at over 500m but the top part is used for telecommunications, the towers original purpose.
The falls on the American side
In the viewing platform, you could actually walk on a glass floor. The freaky thing about it, even knowing it is 5 times stronger than the normal floor, its incredibly difficult to make yourself walk on it. We also met up with Jeff, our good mate from the hostel in Rossland, who showed us a small part of his home town which included lunch at an awesome sushi place called Sushi Time. In Queen Street I think, you dont get sushi any better!!
- Watching a Maple Leafs game at the local pub in Stouffville with several die-hard leafs fans including Katie and Mark. Ice-hockey is definitely a religion over here and watching the Leafs win an important game to keep them in the finals race, its hard to not find yourself screaming at the tele on occasions.
The theme park that is Niagra Falls city

Big thanks to Mark, Katie, Gay and Mike for putting up with us for 4 nights and making as feel like part of the family, we had a fantastic time!! Especially to Mark and Katie for acting as our tour guides the whole time...did I mention they had a WRX!! Also Katie, thanks for the ride to the airport, as stressful as it was (the day we left it dumped down with snow causing major chaos on the highways), I always kinda felt safe... in the end our plane was delayed an hour and a half anyway....such is life.

And so onto Quito....I am crapping my dacks.

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Toronto city buildings
Toronto city buildings
Katie, Mark, Me, Anna and Charles
Katie, Mark, Me, Anna and Charles
Charles
Charles
Storm brewing over Stauffville
Storm brewing over Stauffville
The buildings overlooking Niagra f…
The buildings overlooking Niagra …
Leafs fans
Leafs fans
The falls on the American side
The falls on the American side
The theme park that is Niagra Fall…
The theme park that is Niagra Fal…
Niagra falls in all their glory
Niagra falls in all their glory
And again
And again
See its not that bad Katie
See its not that bad Katie
One for the family scrap book
One for the family scrap book
3,744 km (2,326 miles) traveled
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Toronto
photo by: yasuyo