Days: 403-404 (2 August 2015 – 3 August 2015)
Total distance travelled: 107,037.6 kilometres (66,482.96 miles)
Odd sentiments indeed considering that Toronto is most certainly not home.
In fact, we have never lived there at all.
Our Toronto experience to date could be counted in hours, after our initial plans to spend a couple of nights here in the company of a travel buddy Eli was ruined thanks to our two day delay in Buenos Aires.
As such, this was where we hoped to resume those plans, and through some dumb luck, Eli and his family happened to again have room to accommodate us and after our couple of days were done, we did indeed feel like we were home.
This is partly due to the incredibly warm welcome we received, but also down to the simple fact that Toronto felt so very much like Melbourne, like home.
Now if someone asked what there is to do in Toronto, I’d have no easy answer, as other than maybe taking in the CN Tower, or catching a Blue Jays (Baseball) or Maple Leafs (Ice Hockey) game depending on the time year, not much immediately jumps out.
So what then did we do?
Eat, drink and be merry (often all at once)!
Let’s go in the same order as above just for the hell of it, so let’s eat!
Food is one of the first things we noticed in Toronto, as there is such a vast array of it.
Like Melbourne, it is a very multicultural city, in fact statistically I believe Toronto has the most languages spoken of any city in the world (and when speakers come, so too do their stomachs, hence their foods as well)!
Around the corner from our Eli’s place, we found the perfect tonic to cure any homesickness for the flavours of Melbourne.
An authentic, cash only, Chinese dumpling house.
If this wasn’t enough, we got our teeth into what is apparently Toronto’s best Poutine, sampled our first BeaverTails (a deep fried dough made us pine for cinnamon toast) and relived one of our favourite meals from Colombia with a plate of Lechona at a neighbourhood Latin festival.
Then there was the chocolate.
To be honest, when I think of Canada and I think of sweet, Maple Syrup now comes to mind (after tasting the real stuff, and not the cheap shit that is generally served back home), chocolate does not.
That didn’t prevent us from sampling some the better chocolates that have ever had the privilege to melt on our tongues (our privilege, although perhaps the chocolate was not as chuffed by the experience).
If you want a locals opinion, check out http://chocolatour.net/
Next comes the drink, as after all, we needed something to wash all that food down…
And what better beverage to do that with, than beer!
Canada, like the United States (that whacky place just south of the border), has a blooming craft beer scene and with the sun shining, and with no real plans, we could hardly sit idle when there was research to be done.
That’s how we managed to check-in at two separate brew-houses over consecutive days.
First up was Amsterdam Brewery which gave us the chance to not only escape the heat and wet the whistle, but also the chance to watch some baseball, North American style.
At the bar and beer in hand.
In truth, their beers were only average… which is why it was fortunate we had that second afternoon in hand!
Cue the Mill St Brewery, a name we were already familiar with after sampling their ginger flavoured beer back in Edmonton a couple of weeks earlier.
We were keen to explore the area where it was to be found anyway, a place known as the ‘Distillery District’ as originally the whole place was home to just that.
Now the area has been gentrified and re-energised, home to boutique shops, restaurants and artisanal produce vendors.
A pretty cool place to indulge in some more beers, that’s for sure!
We couldn’t pass on the chance to sample another of their Ginger Cat Witbiers, however they were right on the mark again with quite a bit of their product, their Lemon Tea infused number, another surprise standout.
With our boozing fun, you can understand how it would have been an easy transition to ‘be merry’ (in truth we were probably already quite merry as it was).
Toronto is a ridiculously flat city, so to walk or cycle it (we did all of our adventuring on foot) is a dream.
There was one location that I was dead set on visiting, and it wasn’t so much a location, as it was simply a street.
If like me, your school day afternoons were spent with a bit of time in front of the television, you may be familiar with it, Degrassi St.
To my disappointment, Sarah didn’t watch Degrassi Junior High, or its successor, Degrassi High as I did, so my poor renditions of the theme song were met with blank stares.
Still, it was a nice little walk out into the Toronto burbs…
Things got a little musical in Toronto as well, as whilst walking back to Eli’s place we made a slight detour into the Toronto University grounds.
We wandered the beautiful lawns, then ventured a little deeper to investigate a beautiful looking church steeple.
The closer we got, the more clearly what we initially took for bell ringing could be heard.
This was no ordinary church steeple, but rather Soldiers Tower, Toronto University’s memorial to the Great War (World War One) and home to a large Carillon.
I’ll be honest, I’d never heard of a Carillon, let alone heard what one sounds like, so it was a novel experience, and purely by chance that we stumbled upon this summer session.
It was unexpected, but it was one of those random travel moments we’ll certainly remember, as we lay on the college lawn listening to the towers fifty one bells being played in concert.
There was one bigger ticket item that shouldn’t be forgotten, and that was a day excursion to those rather famous of waterfalls that straddle the Canadian-US border, Niagara.
It happened to be our last morning in Toronto, before we continued our travels that same night, but things weren’t looking all that promising for a memorable experience after a wet and miserable bus ride down to Niagara.
The closer we got, the weather began to slowly improve, however the next obstacle we realised upon arrival, we didn’t actually know the way to the falls themselves.
Finally we got our bearings, then began the walk which promised to be a couple of kilometres, give or take a few hundred metres.
Eventually, as we neared the area in which we expected to find the falls, the area became quite horrible, chock full of tacky casinos and cheap bars.
Suddenly, we emerged and were pleasantly surprised to find this…
Having only weeks ago visited Argentina’s Iguazu Falls, Sarah especially had low expectations of the falls here (I knew what they looked like, so secretly hoped that she wouldn’t), so the vista before us came as something of a surprise, even for me!
Not so surprising were the crowds.
There were people everywhere, most standing around in the ridiculously lengthy queues to purchase tickets for a ferry ticket that would take them even closer to the thundering falls.
This was something we didn’t really consider, having just recently had the thrill of an up close boat encounter with falls, at the aforementioned Iguazu.
We wandered along the rim for a little while, before having had our fill, slowly wandering back towards our starting point.
At times the spray seemed to float hundreds of metres from the falls themselves, although there was one instance where we’re not convinced it wasn’t a little drizzle from above.
And like that we were done, although with the sun emerging yet again, we took the opportunity to climb an observation platform for one last view of our last Canadian sight, on our last Canadian day…
* The Carillon performance within the Toronto University Soldiers Tower, was FREE!
* Our bus from Toronto to Niagara cost us $36.30 CAN return, per person.