Taking in Toronto
Toronto Travel Blog› entry 1 of 2 › view all entries
Okay, I realize I'm doing this wrong, because my trip ended last Saturday LOL. I just wanted to discuss some of the activities me and my friend did in this beautiful city and share some observations I made during my trip.
My friend and I flew up together from Fort Lauderdale (me via West Palm Beach, she via Atlanta) on Monday, June 7. The flight on Air Canada was crowded, but pretty nice. Air Canada offers free current movies for viewing at each seat; all you need is a pair of regular headphones and you're good to go. Just watch out for the plethora of commercials they air before the movie starts (you can't control the volume on them, and they can be really, really loud). And of course, any time there's an announcement from the cockpit, your film will be paused.
After answering about a dozen questions at customs, we retrieved our checked bags and got on a long line .
I chose not to rent a car for this trip (besides the daily rental fees, the parking fees at our hotel, the Westin Harbour Castle, were $25 a day! Thanks, but no thanks!), so we took a shuttle to our hotel (about $31 Canadian each for a round trip ticket). It took about a half our to make it to the hotel (see my separate review of the hotel).
After checking in, we walked a few blocks to the Queen's Quay Terminal to check out the eats. We ended up at this Chinese restaurant called the Pearl Harbourfront. The food was decent but overpriced. At least the wait staff was attentive. It was a little unnerving though, with our waiter hovering by our table waiting for us to want something LOL.
We walked back to the ferry area and caught one going over to the Toronto Islands (the ferry costs about $6.
The next day was much busier. We walked three blocks to Union Station, behind the Air Canada Centre (where the Toronto Raptors play) and took the subway train to Eaton Centre, a shopping mall. We ate in the food court. I had a sandwich from Druxy's, and my friend had some Mexican food (I can't remember the name of the place).
We left Eaton and walked all the way through the financial district to the CN Tower, where we went up to the top and got some great photos of the city. We also went to the glass floor area, but I was too chicken to actually get on the glass LOL. It's a terrifying view, trust me!
We left the CN Tower and caught a cab to Bloor Street to Honest Ed's, a huge, tacky discount store near Koreatown. My guidebook says it's one of the most famous stores in the city, so we checked it out. It basically features a lot of cheap clothes, incense, groceries, DVDs, electronics and more. My friend bought some scarves and a hoodie; all I bought were a couple of packs of batteries.
After the shopping trip, we ate at a Hungarian restaurant a few blocks down on Bloor. It was the first time in my life that I ever ate wiener schnitzel. It was pretty good :-) We then took the subway back to the hotel.
The next day, we took the subway to the Royal Ontario Museum, or ROM. They had special exhibits on dinosaurs and Asian artifacts. The highlight of the visit, to me, was the Sitting Bull exhibit that contained his real clothes.
After the ROM, we ate at this Mexican fast food place called Quesadas across the street. It's similar to Moe's in America, for those of you who are familiar. The quesadilla I had was pretty damn tasty; in fact, this is sad to say, but it was probably the best food I had the whole trip.
We tried to visit the St. Lawrence Farmer's market later that evening, only to learn that it closed at 6 p.m., about 15 minutes before we got there after figuring out the best route through the train/bus. The Queens Quay Market was a couple of blocks away, so we decided to check that out instead. This market consisted of a big grocery store called Koblaws. We walked around, looking at all the foods and drinks that Canadians have that we don't in America. We have mostly the same stuff, of course, but there are some differences in brands and/or flavors. :-) We bought some things and went back to the hotel for the night. We did venture out slightly for some late night grub. There was this gyro place right next door to the hotel that was open late, so we got some take out from there.
Thursday was the toughest day. Against my better judgment, we decided to visit the Scarborough Bluffs. I knew it would be difficult to get to, since no one seemed to be able to tell us how to get there at first. Finally, one of the transit people at the subway station gave us directions by train and bus. The bus dropped us off at the top of this hill, which we had to walk down to get to Bluffer's Park. Did I mention that there were no sidewalks on this road? We were pretty much walking on the street and had to stay alert for cars. Once we got down to the park, we had a lot more walking to do to get to the bluffs. There were bluffs on both sides of the park too, so we walked all the way to one side, then had to walk all the way back to the other side.
We went to a snack stand and got these massive hotdogs, two orders of fries and a drink. Then we walked all the way up that hill to the bus stop and went back to the hotel. I damn near pinched myself when we walked in the room door. I showered, lay down and passed out not too long afterward. The lesson: The bluffs were nice and scenic, but they're far from downtown and not an ideal place to visit if you don't have a car. We went back to the gyro place that night, and went to bed.
On our last full day in Canada, we joined a tour group to go to Niagara Falls.
Next stop: The falls! We got of the bus and onto the Maid of the Mist ship. I got a lot more wet than I thought, but fortunately, my souvenir poncho protected me (for the most part LOL). Afterward, we got off the ship and walked around to get some more photos for the next hour or so. Then we went to find food. We ended up at this place called Mr. Coco's, where the seafood I ate was rather mediocre, as was the cherry pie a la mode. My friend had beef ribs, which looked like they tasted much better than what I had.
So that, in a pretty big nutshell, was my trip! If you stuck with me this far, I have a few more observations to share:
- I thought that French was pretty much relegated to Quebec. I was surprised to see so many signs and food products in both English and French, no matter where I was.
- Toronto is very diverse in terms of race, but I have never been in a city with so many Asians! This was surprising and interesting. :-)
- Since the exchange rate is so close, in Toronto, most stores will accept American money, but they will give you Canadian money in change.
- The metric system stuff threw me off a bit. We obviously don't use Celsius or kilometers in the states LOL Fortunately, we didn't really have a problem.
- One more thing: It could be just me, but it seemed like it took a lot longer for the sun to set up there. On the Toronto Islands the first night, I swear the sun didn't set until about 9 p.m., which I thought was really weird.
Thanks for reading everybody!