I finally got to pull out my passport again (first time since coming home from London, 2 years ago) this past weekend, as Tim and I crossed the boarder from New York into Canada. Tim was on business in Niagara, New York, and I finally got to tag along on one of his trips again! After a long red eye from LAX, to Chicago, to Buffalo, New York, we rented a car and headed North on our way to Toronto. Along the way, we saw dozens of wineries and beautiful views of Lake Ontario. We arrived at our hotel in Toronto’s entertainment district downtown, parked the car and explored the city for two days entirely on foot. The entire weekend we lucked out with absolutely perfect sunny weather. Ironically we found out it was Toronto’s only 3rd consecutive day of sun all summer! The first day we explored the city streets and headed to Eaton Shopping Center. We had drinks and lunch at a trendy restaurant (well at least I thought it was trendy because of the men were wearing short shorts!!) above the city’s famous center, and watched an international festival of Turkey going on below us. The city was packed, and there was so much going on that weekend! The Turkey Festival and an other famous festival called Caribana were just two of many events going on, plus it was Canada’s “Long Weekend” so all the bars and restaurants were all full of people celebrating the long weekend… and great weather! A pretty wild time to be there! That night we headed to a restaurant called The 5th Grill and Terrance, which was voted Toronto’s best rooftop restaurant. It was a perfectly balmy night to be sitting atop the city, with the CN Tower glowing in the distance with the city views all around us. The restaurant also had an interesting elevator to get up to the rooftop, think Disney’s Tower of Terror, without the fall at the end. It was a “room” you enter, full with a with a carpet, table with a candle, old creepy pictures hanging up and a sly elevator operator, honestly I was expecting a jolting drop at any second! The night ended at the Horseshoe Tavern over Canadian beers, watching the A’s lose to the Toronto Jays, and waaay too loud music.
The second day after breakfast at the hotel (there was a waffle breakfast bar!!) we walked over to Lake Ontario, and walked along the newly revived harbor front named Queen’s Quay Harbor. We watched a bride and groom taking their wedding pictures by the water, and the many sailboats in the lake as we sat at a cute mini beach along the water front. Then we headed to Toronto’s own CN Tower, one of the “Wonders of the World” it’s an observation tower that looks a bit like Seattle’s space needle, but is 3 times taller! I believe it’s held the record for the tallest structure in the world for over three decades. Again, expecting a drop zone type drop, we headed up to the top in a glass elevator which only takes 58 seconds. Atop the CN tower we had spectacular views of Lake Ontario, and the entire city, dotted with parks all around the city, and even dared to stand on the famous and freaky glass floor. Of course the tower is a clear a tourist trap, having to wait in a painful line to get up AND back down in the massive crowd of people, and I love how they shoot you out in the cheesy gift center, while you desperately try to find any sort of exit sign…but nonetheless, it’s just one of those things you do, just to do… (hopefully just once in your life) and it’s a nice way to get a big picture view of the cityscape. Lunch was spent over cold beers in a quant garden patio off Queen’s Street, in an eclectic café that was recommended by on of Tim’s coworkers. I did a little antique shopping that afternoon as we headed into Old Town’s St Lawrence Market in the Distillery District, which had the most beautiful little gardens, full of secret pathways, public herb gardens, and beautiful flowers and fountains. Since the city was full of ethnic food, we decided on Indian for dinner, and after dinner headed to a bar called Sneaky Dee’s near the University of Toronto for some more live music. We watched three bands, and I felt it was a good warm up for Bumbershoot coming up. We ended up running out of time for the Ontario Art Museum (in our 1,001 Things to See Before you Die book) but we were having too much fun soaking in the amazing weather, beautiful neighborhoods, good food and drinks, and the fun nightlife… plus it leaves a reason to return!