Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Toronto - an urban, cultural and cosmopolitan city

I took this trip with a friend and the first city we visited was Toronto. We arrived in Canada at 3.45pm after a 7 hour flight from London Heathrow. We travelled around Canada via Greyhound bus and armed with our trusty Lonely Planet Guide (which literally became our Bible on this trip!) we headed out to explore.

Toronto is the largest city in Canada and reminded me of New York. It was very drizzly and grey during our visit but this did not detract from our enjoyment at all. I have to say that we found the subway system very confusing and it took us a while to get our heads around it.

 I remember the first time we used it travelling from Pearson International Airport to Downtown Toronto, a very friendly Canadian lady could clearly see the confusion on our faces and pointed us in the right direction! This set the tone for the many friendly and helpful Canadians we would encounter along the way :-).

Our first sightseeing stop was the CN Tower. An iconic landmark looming over the skies of Toronto, the tower looked majestic and awe inspiring against the cloudy grey skies. We stood at the entrance, glanced up and took in all 1,815.4ft of it! The CN Tower is the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere and the initials ‘CN’ come from ‘Canadian National’, who were the railway company who built it.

Entering the lobby there were statues of moose dressed as Mounties which made for fantastic photo opportunities!  We headed up in the elevator and in 58 seconds we had arrived at the lookout point and despite it being a rainy, grey day; the views over downtown Toronto were still fantastic.

 As a person who is terrified of heights but is determined to conquer my fear, we descended one floor and stepped onto the glass floor which offered views all the way down to ground level! I closed my eyes, stepped on and then opened them and tried not to panic! The glass is 2 and a half inches thick and can withstand the weight of 14 large hippos so it is pretty sturdy :-).

After our morning at the CN Tower, we headed off to locate the Canadian Walk of Fame. On the way we passed many beautiful and interesting buildings and I loved the way old and new buildings coexisted side by side and seamlessly blended into the landscape.

 The Canadian Walk of Fame was created in 1998 and recognises successful Canadians. Included are celebrities such as Pamela Anderson, Celine Dion and Shania Twain. To be perfectly honest, and I hate to say this as it is run by a non-profit organisation, I found it to be quite disappointing. Whether it was the weather which had made the ground spotted with raindrops or maybe our expectations were too high, I don’t know. I think we were expecting it to be more like the Hollywood Walk of Fame and it just didn’t live up to this.

Next up was the Bata Shoe Museum. Now as two girls travelling together, a museum filled with shoes was a very attractive prospect for us! The founder of the museum, Mrs Sonja Bata held a fascination for shoes that saw her scouring the world for shoes of all descriptions, shapes and sizes. The museum was fascinating; showcasing Chinese bound foot shoes, Egyptian sandals and Elvis’s original Blue Suede Shoes! This proved to be a great fun stop amid the hustle and bustle of the downtown area. That evening we ate at a Koran BBQ restaurant where you cooked your own food on a hot plate at the table.

After exploring the city we decided to have a bit of rural escape and visit Black Creek Pioneer Village the next day. Situated in Vaughan, Ontario, the village offered a fascinating insight into the lifestyles and surroundings of early settlers in this area.

Strolling around the village was like stepping back in time and reminded me so much of movies I have seen in the past. I could almost see the early settlers going about their daily activities as they tried to make a new life for themselves in this unfamiliar place.

As we wandered around, we explored all of the buildings including the town hall, the carriage works, the mill and the schoolhouse complete with dunce’s hats! In almost every building was a costumed guide who informed us of the history and daily traditions of the early settlers. That evening we ate at The Old Spaghetti Factory  www.oldspaghettifactory.net. Our day was a lovely escape from the frenetic pace of the city before we headed to the beautiful Niagara Falls.

(During our time in Toronto we stayed at the Days Inn Downtown, 1684 Queen Street East, www.daysinn.com).

No comments:

Post a Comment