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July 13th 2017
Published: July 13th 2017
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On the morning we left Montreal, I found a five cent coin on the footpath. A little later I found another five cent coin. When we got to Toronto later that day, after an absolutely beautiful train ride, I found two more five cent coins (at two different locations).

I’m not sure if that means anything.

I figure that, if this keeps happening, I am making money on this trip!

Having said that, after 10 weeks of travelling, I have lost all sense of just what it is I actually do in life.

It seems that every day it is my lot to walk, a lot (I have been averaging about 20000 steps a day). Usually we go to visit famous, strange or exotic locations. When we get there, we look at things, find out information about these locations, take photos. We decide that it was really, really, worth coming, or, occasionally that it was not.

Then, we plan to do it all over again somewhere else.

I never really know what day it is, or, what month it is.

I walk, I eat, I see things, and, I photograph these things.

This then was my frame of mind when I encountered the city of Toronto.

The first building I saw, as we exited the railway station, was both golden and shiny.

This is a city that obviously wants to make a statement about what it is, and, what it represents.

Toronto’s skyline is impressive.

It is striking and gleaming. There are lots of tall, imposing and glittery buildings.

It seems to me that these vast structures, which soar to the heavens, are the modern equivalent of cathedrals which were built in the days when the power of the Church was all-pervasive. In the Old World, it was those cathedrals which sought to reach up to God.

In the New World, it is the skyscrapers that say, we don’t need God anymore - look what we can do with all the power of money and commerce.

At the beginning of our stay, Mark and I concentrated on downtown where all these modern “cathedrals” are concentrated.

We climbed the CN tower on Sunday night and saw all the pretty lights. That made us “ooh and aah” the way pretty lights at night always do.

On Monday, we did a walk which included various well known downtown spots like the Fairmont Royal York hotel, Brookfield Place, the TD Centre, City Hall, The Bay (Canada’s oldest department store) and the Eaton Centre. I found Brookfield Place particularly breathtaking. It is an office complex which features a six storey high pedestrian thoroughfare resembling the inside of a cathedral, or, a forest canopy. It was designed by Santiago Calatrava who also designed the City of Arts and Sciences buildings in Valencia which we saw earlier on this trip.

There appear to be thousands of shops concentrated in kilometres of underground malls in Toronto. According to our Lonely Planet guide, this is because, during those long snowy winters, there is little else to do but prowl all the subterranean malls and shop.

Later that day, because we were tired, we caught a hop on hop off bus and included in our tickets was a boat ride to the islands of Toronto. There are almost two dozen of these islands and the number of birds which abound in this natural environment is impressive.

Tuesday morning the sun was shining. The day was perfect for outdoor activities. We caught a tram to the Kensington market. These markets are really a series of shops in various streets such as Augusta and Nassau. It is a mixed bag here: I would describe this place as
“grungy”. There are lots of eateries as well as clothes shops, fruit and veg shops, cafes galore, and, a few places where consumers of cannabis could have their needs met. (There is a lot of talk here about legalising cannabis.) Oh, and yes, there was a yarn shop too.

After that, a very slow bus ride down Queen Street East on bus 501 got us to the beaches of Lake Ontario. Lake Ontario is the 14th largest in the world. Twenty one percent of the worlds’ fresh water is in the group of lakes of which it is a part! First, we went to take photos of the RC Harris Filtration Plant which borders the lake. It is a huge art-deco construction that commands a perfect spot on a rise with stunning views of the lake. It is a functioning plant supplying Toronto with 45% of its water supply. Being a most arresting building, it has apparently featured in movies and TV programs. Although, I don’t think I have seen any of them.

I found the lake a strangely eerie place. For all intents and purposes my eyes seemed to be looking at the sea. Except, there was no sea smell and no surf. The strange silence of the place was somehow disquieting. While we had brought our bathers, the water was freezing, so, no swimming took place. We wandered along the shore where we found people walking their dogs, or, just soaking up the sun in the deck chairs which pepper the shore. We then retreated to the shades of the beautiful Kew gardens which flanked the lakeside. They were just gorgeous. Heading back to Queen Street, we lunched at The Green Eggplant and thought it was very good.

We decided to head back to the city. We stopped at the Distillery District which was on the way. This is a refurbished 5 hectare site which now houses galleries, artists studios, design boutiques, and, the usual cafes and eateries.

Our last stop on Tuesday was the St Lawrence market. This is a more familiar sort of covered market place with about 50 stalls. We got supplies for a picnic which Mark had to enjoy on his own because I had eaten too much at lunch time! He told me all the nibbles were very yummy.

Toronto has a castle and it is called Casa Loma (House on a Hill). It was an extraordinarily expensive building started in 1911 for Sir Henry Pellatt - a self-made man whose life story is worthy of a movie (has there been one I wonder?). He, and his wife, only got to enjoy their 93 roomed “folly” for about 10 years before they lost it, and, all its contents, to financial misfortune. I quite liked the place even though it is a mish-mash of styles with odd and modern (for the time) inventions. It too has been used in many movies such as the X Men franchise, Chicago and a re-make of the Rocky Horror Picture Show (to name but a few). The gardens are also lovely. As is the elaborate stable and associated buildings on the other side of the road. To reach the stables, garage and glasshouse it is necessary to traverse a 250 metres long underground tunnel built just for that purpose from Casa Loma. On a particularly muggy and humid day, that tunnel was the coolest place we found.

After lunching on Sir Henry’s lovely terrace, we visited the Bata Shoe museum. Sonia Bata, of the Bata shoe empire, had spent a lifetime collecting shoes. No, not shoes for herself. She collected all sorts of shoes. This is a unique museum which houses some of that collection. There is an overview of how footwear developed; there is specialist footwear; celebrity footwear (Elton, how did you perform in those platforms?); and, there are temporary exhibitions too. We saw two of those on the evolution of men’s shoes and the shoes of the Victorian era. I absolutely loved this museum. It was not too big. It was awfully interesting. Highly recommended!

I have to also recommend the eateries we have found in Toronto via a craft beer app called Untappd (sic). We dined at three gastro pubs recommended on Untappd: The Elm Tree, Pearl Diver and Provo. They were all very good indeed.

We have half a day left in Toronto. Then our long odyssey will end. Tomorrow we leave the Northern Hemisphere to return to our home.

I am ready to leave and return to a more orderly and predictable life. We can’t keep travelling forever!
It has been a huge experience. There have been good days, and, a few bad days too. We saw amazing things and we saw ordinary things. We made fleeting friendships along the way. People took the time to share conversations with us here and there. We caught up with friends old and new at the start of our travels, and, at the end. There has been laughter, and, I cried once when I had a big tantrum (I was tired, alright?). And so, we pack our bags, again. We count our lucky stars that we live where we do, and, we have the extreme good fortune to be able to come on these wonderful trips to discover the world. The big, strange, familiar, exciting, mundane, orderly, mixed up, and rich world in all its wondrous glory. I am sure I will be plotting where to go next in no time at all.

Additional photos below
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13th July 2017

Thank You
Hi Rosemary. Thanks for your wonderfully informative blog during your epic journey. It's been great read all the way through, interspersed with some excellent pictorial evidence also. Safe travels. Look forward to seeing you both soon. Regards Steve.
13th July 2017

Thank you Steve!
13th July 2017

Beautifully written, Rosemary.....I look forward to seeing you soon, and hearing about it all from you in person.....XXX
14th July 2017

Cara Lisa, we will hace a coffee soon x
14th July 2017

Thank you!
Rosemary, you write so beautifully! You could become a permanent travel writer I think!
14th July 2017

Jo, you are kind!

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