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6 posts from October 2014

pictures of my trip to Toronto, day four

The girls had to have a shopping day when the trip was planned, so Saturday morning we went to the Eaton Centre.  Kate's birthday was a couple of weeks prior to the trip, and her present was that I would buy her something fabulous on vacation, and I expected to get hit big.

We had breakfast in the food court, each of us picking a different ethnic restaurant (my husband's best memory of our trip to Toronto in 1988 is of the Eaton Centre's food court), then we went shopping, avoiding the stores we have in our own mall at home, only going into ones new to didn't take long.  I got a couple of new sweaters and some socks, neither of the girls bought anything (eye roll).


We had more fun walking around Chinatown....



The girls found a shop full of manga....their faces lit up, we spent quite a bit of time there (mine was mostly on the street outside, people watching) but again, I was the only one to buy anything....they had a few furniture kits for 1/12 figures.



Daisy and I each picked up a few trinkets, and Kate bought a key chain for her boss.  My trinkets were of the 'I can use this in a dollhouse' variety.


We had a late lunch at a Japanese restaurant.  It was the first time I'd had was wonderful.


The girls were exhausted and sore, so we skipped our plans to walk around Kensington Market and the Fashion District....we went back to the hotel and went to bed early.

I was not exhausted and sore...thank you, crossfit!

I still owe Kate a birthday present.


pictures of my trip to Toronto, day three, continued

Remember that it's Friday....the day it was supposed to thunderstorm all day....and the weather was gorgeous all morning, making for a beautiful trip to Casa Loma.

After we had a wonderfully yummy brunch at the cafe in Casa Loma's basement we took a quick subway ride to the Royal Ontario Museum (Museum Station is the coolest subway station).

The museum is spectacular!  Kate especially wanted to see the Asian galleries, Daisy the Egyptian gallery, and I wanted to see the dinosaurs (RAWR!)....we started with those, but did manage to see all the exhibits before we left.

The violent thunderstorms started not too long after we got there, and subsided to a moderate rain by the time we had an afternoon meal at the museum's cafeteria (yuck, but at least there were no peacocks).  The rain let up for our walk back to the subway station when we were done, it rained on the subway and bus rides back to the hotel, letting up again just before we got to our stop, giving us a dry walk back to the hotel, then resumed once we had changed into our bikinis and eased into the hotel's jacuzzi.  I couldn't have scripted that better myself.
















The most important thing learned during the day's trip....I need a second battery for my new died on me before we were halfway through the museum.


pictures of my trip to Toronto, day three

Friday....the day it was supposed to thunderstorm all day....

We left bright and early, umbrellas in our bags, to be at Casa Loma when it opened at 9:30, in hopes of beating the rain.  There was a short walk from the subway station to the castle, and it was a lovely autumn day for a walk, there was hardly a cloud in the sky.










The tile work in the stables and garage was amazing....








We had bruch at a wonderful cafe in the basement, then went to spend the afternoon at the Royal Ontario Museum....I'll post those pictures in another post, since this one is getting long.



pictures of my trip to Toronto, day two

Thursday had the best weather forecast so we went to the zoo, saving the indoor stuff for the days it was supposed to rain.  We took public transit during our stay in the was a two hour trip to the zoo via bus, subway, then's a interesting way to see the parts of the city people live in. 

Observations from the journey....Toronto has to be the most multicultural place I've ever been...also the cleanest...almost all the houses are made of brick...most of the city smells, faintly and pleasantly, of ethnic food...the bus drivers, as in most big cities, are the friendliest ambassadors.

I highly recommend sightseeing in the off-season.  Going to the zoo in the middle of the week, in October, when it was slightly chilly, meant we almost had the place to ourselves...the down side of that meant that the majority of the gift shops and food courts were closed, as was the camel ride, the little train, etc...but it was worth the trade-off.

Daisy was excited to see the pandas, so we started there...walking right past the lengthy, empty, sections of fences designed to queue a waiting crowd....


I wasn't impressed...I had expected the panda's habitat to be, I don't, I guess.

All in all I was disappointed.  The zoo feels antiquated, the animals were dirty and bored.  The enclosures seem either too big or too small, and in the opposite way than you'd expect...the polar bears seem to use one corner of a massive five acre habitat, while the big cats (except the lions) paced in laps around small pens.  It was depressing. 



The layout is poorly designed, with a lot of backtracking, dead-ends and wrong turns....the signage is vague.   The zoo is spread out, too spread out, over 710 acres.  Some pathways doubled as service drives, so we kept having to move out of the way of trucks...but some service drives didn't double as pathways and it was hard to tell the difference sometimes. The pavilions (indoor displays) are hot, poorly ventilated, stinky mazes...there is no single path through them that leads from an entrance to an exit.


The section of zoo labeled Canadian Domain is posted with two warnings at the top of the trail, one because it's such a steep grade (strollers and wheelchairs not recommended) and the other that it's an hour trek...we walked down to the end...saw moose, bison, a grizzly bear, a putrid smelling lynx, a couple of racoons, and a filthy waterfowl pond...then hiked, and I mean HIKED, back benches or water fountains along the way....I do crossfit and I thought it was excessive.



Some areas have a lot of places to stop and rest, other areas have none.  The toilets are dark, wet and dirty....we were mobbed by a muster of raggedy peacocks at the restaurant and lost some of our mediocre pizza to them grabbing it off the table then squabbling violently over it.





We got there when the zoo opened in the morning; it took all day to walk through it.  Around 3:00 or so all the animals retreated to the back corner of their enclosures waiting to be fed, while some, the gorillas for example, were removed from public display for feeding.



My recommendation?  If you go to Toronto, skip the (really expensive) zoo.  If you want to visit a really nice (and free!) zoo go to St. Louis, Missouri.

We stopped downtown on the way back fom the zoo, to give the CN Tower another try.  It was even foggier than the day before, we couldn't even see the top of the tower from the ground.  None of us were terribly excited about visiting the tower, we were going because it was included in the city passes we we went up anyway.  It was kind of neat standing among the clouds.


After we got a few souveniers in the gift shop we had dinner at a great Greek restaurant then turned in early, moaning about our tired feet.



pictures of my trip to Toronto, day one

My daughter Kate, her friend Daisy, and myself arrived in Toronto on Wednesday evening after an eight hour drive....the expressways are crazy busy and there aren't posted exit numbers, which is confusing because you can't tell how far you are from where you need to be, plus I was having to do mile/kilometer conversions in my was foggy, I'm nightblind...we drove past our exit because we couldn't get in the correct lane when the expressway split, had to get off and turn around, missed the exit entirely, got off and turned around again....finally made it to our hotel...parked the car then drug all the luggage into the lobby to find out we were at the wrong hotel, we needed to be at the Mariott next door to the Mariott....sigh....

We were going to go to the CN tower that evening, but the guy there recommended against it, since it was foggy, he said the visibility wasn't good.   We took a picture looking up at it from the ground, then went next door to the aquarium instead, since it's open late.


Ripley's Aquarium of Toronto was, unexpectedly, the highlight of our trip.