Published: October 17th 2007October 16th 2007
The horseshoe falls - biggest of the falls at Niagara
For most US citizens, going to Canada is no big deal. When it comes to people like us, it assumes slightly less ordinary proportions. We have to obtain a visa for starters. As Sanjit left for a business-trip to India, I decided to go on a little vacation of my own.
Canada seemed an inviting prospect - not too far and I have family there.
So finally, I found myself on a tiny aircraft (yeah what’s with that, if American Airlines is reading this - get over stupid tiny aircrafts which seem like capsules and with no food - ok that’s got nothing to do with the size of aircraft , just venting !!) browsing through Angelina jolie’s eyes and scarlett’s pout in trashy magazines.
I landed at Toronto and headed straight for downtown. At first look, it seems like another American city - Wal-Mart, Home Depot were one of the first signs that greeted me. Look closer and it’s not the same, though.
The first thing that hit me was the blasting cold air. I know its Canada we’re talking about; still I hadn’t expected it to be this cold in October. So I met
Isn't it spectacular?
Notice how high the mist rises
Devina a.k.a Ria (who is technically my niece-in-law). She immediately took me on a guided tour of the fanciest spots in Toronto - an activity that continued with little interruption throughout my stay.
Canada is the 2nd largest country in the world (more than 3 times the size of India) but with a population that is roughly just Mumbai and Kolkata put together. It is a socialist country which rewards manual labour highly (some would say even more than intellectual capital) and the economy riding mainly on rich natural resources, is doing rather well. The Canadian dollar is now stronger than the U.S. dollar - and of course it had to happen when I was traveling there
. Surprisingly, Toronto is an expensive city with high taxes to boot and a large number of people now head to Buffalo, NY to shop on weekends. Day 2
- we found ourselves in Downtown again, and with Johnny and Ria leading the way, I attempted to brave the cold. We had a nice walk in the old, University part of downtown which is quaint and colorful.
After a long, leisurely linner (my word for lunch and dinner) that ended at
6, we wound up at a hip movie theatre watching “Michael Clayton”. 20 minutes into the movie, both Ria and I were dozing off - even George Clooney’s velvet voice couldn’t save us!!!!! So we politely excused ourselves and headed home. Day 3
- the one must do of Canada - The mighty Niagara Falls. I had seen them from the air on my way to Toronto and it was a spectacular sight.
Up close, it takes your breath away.
I was staying with Didibhai and family who live in Mississauga on the outskirts of Toronto, about an hour away from Niagara. Though it was overcast the most time we were there - Niagara is still Niagara.
The falls straddle the Canadian-U.S. border and are both in the province of Ontario, Canada and state of New York, US. Almost 20% of the world’s fresh water flows over the Niagara Falls. Day 4
- Sightseeing on my own.
First stop - Bata Shoe museum.
Move over Carrie Bradshaw, some people love shoes so much they even built a museum! This is a little gem tucked in the heart of downtown Toronto that traces the
evolution of shoes across the world juxtaposing it with the evolution of civilizations across the world.
Like how buckles and high heels went out of fashion in France during the French revolution as the bourgeois gained ground and fashionable buckles and high heels were perceived as a sign of aristocracy.
Next up was the most famous icon of Toronto - an absolute star in the Toronto skyline - the CN tower
Until recently it was the tallest free standing structure in the world at 1815 ft. It is a bit of a thrill ride, starting with the partial-glass elevator which takes you from the ground to the observation deck on the 114th storey - in a space of 56 seconds!!
And all the time you can watch the world around you, a rather dizzying experience. To say that the observation deck offers panoramic views is like stating the obvious. Especially since Toronto is on the shores of Lake Ontario.
Then I walked to the glass floor on the 113th storey. This was a bit un-nerving; a glass floor is all that separates you from Mother Earth - 113 floors below.
I did sit
on it and got some pictures….
In the evening I met up with Ria and we had a great time exploring the best of restaurants and pubs in town. Details cannot be disclosed and can be provided on very, very special requests only.
All too soon it was time to say goodbye to Canada. I left with a heavy heart, five days really well-spent, chatting non-stop, exploring new places and partying.
Don't forget to see the video of the Niagara falls at the start left-corner of the blog Canada, je serai bientôt de retour
P.S. - French for Canada, I will be back soon.
P.S. - French is spoken very widely in Canada
P.S. - So what if I’ve used google to translate ???
There are more photos below