Taking in Toronto

Toronto Travel Blog

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View from hotel.

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 bought some ice wine here :)
.. to get out of Pearson airport! LOL

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.
50 CAN. Every ticket is round trip, so you don't have to buy another one once you get to the island). We basically just explored the Centre Island, walking through the empty Centreville Amusement park (for kids) and heading south toward the beach and pier. We hung out there until dark and called it a night. Well, almost LOL. We went back out around 11 p.m., looking to see if we can find some late night grub. A few blocks away, Pizza Pizza, a Canadian chain, was still open. My friend and I split a chicken, onion and extra cheese pizza. It was pretty damn good.

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 toured the mall and ended up going into Indigo, which is a huge bookstore similar to Barnes and Noble. I bought a book from there.

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.
I'll give Honest Ed's credit for one thing: They know how to advertise. They have a huge, neon sign on the outside. You can't miss it!

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.
For those who aren't familiar, Niagara Falls consists of two falls - the American, in New York across the water, and the Canadian. These are the American falls...


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.
Toronto Transit Commission, here we come!
I got a bacon cheese burger and some fries. The food was okay.

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.
...and these are the Canadian falls.
Our big mistake was not eating any food before we embarked on this trip. My energy level was hovering near zero, and I was miserable, trying to avoid mud and big piles of bird shit. Yuck!

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.
View of the bird statues in Eaton Centre mall.
A bus picked us up for the hour-and-a-half-long ride. We stopped at a winery at Niagara College on the way, where we engaged in some wine tasting. I had my very first taste of ice wine - and I was hooked! It's so deliciously sweet, and despite the cost ($55 CAN per bottle), I bought two of them.

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.
After that, we visited a souvenir shop (one of several since our trip began) and then headed back to the falls for the nightly fireworks show, which was great! We hopped back on the bus and went back to the hotel. We made on last stop to a convenience store to buy some Canadian goodies, went up to our rooms and slept for maybe 3 hours before we had to get up Saturday morning and head to the airport to fly back to the states.

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.
Three of the four shopping levels in one shot!
In Canada, English and French are the national languages, and all school children must take French in school.

- 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!




joehobo says:
Very useful insight.
Posted on: Feb 20, 2012
Jamal1280 says:
Thanks everyone! Yeah Stacey, the bluffs were rough! Lol what a trek that was, I was so unprepared :P
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012
sweetsummerdaiz says:
Your blog was helpful. I, too, ditch a rental car when I travel so your info about getting around was useful, thanks!
Posted on: Jun 23, 2011
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View from hotel.
View from hotel.
I bought some ice wine here :)
I bought some ice wine here :)
For those who arent familiar, Nia…
For those who aren't familiar, Ni…
Toronto Transit Commission, here w…
Toronto Transit Commission, here …
...and these are the Canadian fall…
...and these are the Canadian fal…
View of the bird statues in Eaton …
View of the bird statues in Eaton…
Three of the four shopping levels …
Three of the four shopping levels…
The Rainbow Bridge, connecting Can…
The Rainbow Bridge, connecting Ca…
Entrance to Eaton Centre
Entrance to Eaton Centre
Taste the rainbow...
Taste the rainbow...
CBC headquarters. Missed the tour …
CBC headquarters. Missed the tour…
West view of Toronto, from the obs…
West view of Toronto, from the ob…
One of my three iPhone photos that…
One of my three iPhone photos tha…
Whoa, thats a looong way down! I …
Whoa, that's a looong way down! I…
North view of the city from the CN…
North view of the city from the C…
A close up shot of the Canadian fa…
A close up shot of the Canadian f…
A view of Toronto Island, from the…
A view of Toronto Island, from th…
Ground level view of the CN Tower.
Ground level view of the CN Tower.
Fireworks over the falls :)
Fireworks over the falls :)
I just liked how the building refl…
I just liked how the building ref…
Outside the Royal Ontario Museum (…
Outside the Royal Ontario Museum …
Another ROM view. The architecture…
Another ROM view. The architectur…
Sitting Bulls clothes at the ROM
Sitting Bull's clothes at the ROM
Technically, this is in Scarboroug…
Technically, this is in Scarborou…
One of the photos I took while exp…
One of the photos I took while ex…
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photo by: yasuyo