Our flight from Lisbon to Toronto yesterday was happily uneventful: no delays, no hassle, no turbulence! The flights take a northerly trajectory across the Arctic Circle, hence the relatively short flying time of seven and a half hours. Since Toronto is five hours behind Portugal (six hours behind Spain) we landed just an hour and a half after departure from Lisbon. I watched two good films to pass the time, Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star is Bornand then enjoyed watching the sun setting as we flew down towards Toronto on a SW heading, from our seats on the right-hand side of the plane. High above Lake Ontario, we were spellbound by the beauty of vibrant slashes of orange, gold and red, set against an almost translucent blue heaven, whilst below us lie a blanket of clumpy black cloud and misty cold Toronto city was below all of that!
Customs and baggage collection were tedious and a lengthy process but then a speedy taxi transfer brought us to our cheap Howard Johnson hotel (a bit jaded and worn but clean and OK) just west of downtown Toronto and close to the lake. A good location, however “cheap”
in Canadian dollars is expensive compared to prices back in Europe; Canada is very expensive, accommodation, food, drink, the lot. We knew this, however, so are budgeting accordingly. When one is on holiday for two months, such careful spending is a necessity, so outdated and well-worn Howard Johnson it is!
Today, Tuesday, was for serious full-on sightseeing, so now we have aching feet and feel very tired. It is only 10.30 p.m. but our bodies know that it is really 4.30 a.m. tomorrow morning! We started off by taking the tram to the CN Tower and eight hours later we took the tram back here again to our hotel. The trams are great! Fast and frequent, they are a great way to travel about town.
Toronto is a young city, only settled in 1750, the old historic districts being no older than early 19th
century “Georgian” and late 19th
Century “Victorian”. It is a lively cosmopolitan place; however, it took a while for us to appreciate it. This morning in drizzle and mist its tall dark concrete and glass skyscrapers looked cold and inhospitable. Having hot-footed it from sunny ancient Lisbon it appeared bleak and devoid of colour.
We didn’t pay to go to the top of the CN Tower, there were no lake and city views to enjoy through the damp mist! As the day wore on, however, and the skies cleared a little, we started to absorb the feel of the city and its easy pulse; Toronto is unpretentious, friendly, what you see is what you get! Yes, we like it now.
The harbour area, the historic distilleries district and the old 19th
Century St. Lawrence food market were three highlights of the day. This market proudly announces that it was hailed as “The Best Food Market in the World” by National Geographic. Well, it is pretty good but it isn’t Borough Market (for those who know London). It is along the lines of the latter, with food from many different cultures. We lunched on some pretty good Chicken Parmigiana with added hot chillies from a stall of food from “The Old World”. Powerful stuff those hot chillies! French baguettes, Spanish empanadillas and even Portuguese custard tarts! Home from home!
The Distilleries, set up in the early 19th
Century are fascinating; old industrial buildings juxtaposed against a backdrop of skyscrapers. The town was called
York back then, and this eastern end of downtown Toronto still has York as its neighbourhood name.
This evening we ate at a little Mexican Bistro across the road from our hotel and we also booked a tour tomorrow to Niagara. We saw the Falls many years ago, in 1981 and we just hope that their splendour hasn’t been diminished by the growth of hotels and “attractions” surrounding this famous natural wonder. We want to be blown away by the power and spectacle as we were thirty-eight years ago, so shall turn our backs on the tatty development that now exists there, according to ‘Lonely Planet” and focus on the water cascading down an enormous drop in the bed of the Niagara River, of over a hundred metres, from Lake Erie to the lake beside us here, Lake Ontario. Looking forward to that experience tomorrow but now, to bed!
Two nice quotes espied today, the first in the old distilleries, the second in the Mexican Restaurant over the road… “Let your smile change the world but don’t let the world change your smile! “ “Two wrongs do not
make it right, but two Margaritas usually do the trick!”
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