In the second instalment of my unadvertised ‘visit all of the Canadian provinces and territories’ challenge (note: not actually a thing) I just spent a long weekend with my parents and Randi in Toronto. Canada’s largest city is a self-evidently wonderful place with friendly vibes, a self-confident multiculturalism and lots to see and do.
The only drawback, as everyone there will tell you, is that the weather alternates between hellishly cold winters and stiflingly hot summers… so much so that a chunk of the city is hidden underground within a network of pedestrian tunnels. We obviously hit a sweet spot for weather, however, with snow on Friday complementing our Niagara Falls tour without it getting too freezing, and then increasing sunshine as the weekend progressed!
Most people I spoke to were pretty down on Niagara Falls beforehand, so we were pleasantly surprised by our day tour. (Incidentally, Trump really has put rocket boosters on the standard tour guide repertoire of jokes about America: we got to a contrived but accurate slam on the US healthcare system within about 10 minutes of the bus setting off.)
Alongside seeing the Falls themselves, which were smaller than I’d imagined but very cool to get up near in a boat, we also got to sample Canadian ‘ice wine’ which is super sweet, like drinking a tasty dessert. Randi and I drank more later on at the top of the CN Tower, the ‘tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere’ (as a careful lawyer might write) which really shows off what a metropolis the city is – not just a cluster of skyscrapers in the centre, but spreading far and wide with many different clusters of development.
We also enjoyed a great dim sum lunch in Chinatown, drank beer in the famous Distillery District, went on a great walking tour (during which the guide claimed that Doctor Who was doing location filming in Toronto that day – sadly we could not verify this by spotting Capaldi anywhere) and had a unique guide to St. Lawrence Market with a thick French accent and a relaxed attitude to trespassing. (This person may or may not have been my mother.)
Finally, a shout out to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. Imagine an airport which is within walking distance of the city centre – like a train station – with no queues, tiny planes which are quick to board and (best of all) free refreshments in the waiting lounge! If you visit Toronto, such things can be mere imagination no longer. Magical.
Two quick pre-Toronto things to squeeze into this post. Firstly, we had a lovely night with Grace and her mother (both visiting from Wyoming) plus other friends in their fancy AirBnb. Grace’s mother is as cool as I would have expected Grace’s mother to me. Secondly, at Toggolyn’s we followed-through on our plan to watch The Godfather Part II together. I’m not sure I take the popular view that the sequel is better than the original, but it was certainly enjoyable to watch. The unanimous consensus is that Part III is not worth it.