23 October 2012

Totally Toronto!

Crossing the U.S/Canada border had to be done, making a weekend of it I took off to Toronto! I was still a thousand or something miles away from home, so I adored certain similarities during my trip. I was ready to experience a new country, a country that still has my Queen on their money! From the top of the CN Tower to the mighty Niagara Falls, I totally loved it!

Arriving in the heart of the Habourfront area set the tone for this adventure. As I gazed up at the formidable CN Tower I thought to myself what a opportunity this was, I felt like such a fortunate soul as I gazed at the Ontario Lake. I took the lift to the top of the tower to see Toronto from a higher platform, the view was still astonishingly high considering the dreary weather. More about the weather, Toronto was so cold and the rain only made things worst. I was out of the United States of America, might I add the Immigration Officer that cleared me into Canada actually wished me a pleasant stay and I asked another officer for directions and she was more than happy to tell me where I needed to head for. Toronto looked mighty fine!

Descending back down from the towering heights of the CN Tower I thought to myself how extremely lucky I was to be in Toronto at the time! To my peril I had woken up at the same time my original flight was scheduled to depart from Newark Airport, it was probably taxing down the runway as I scrambled for my 'Gold Lincoln' taxi?! Thankfully, Porter Airlines had their check-in desks close to Virgin Atlantic so I called a favour to help me out in my situational panic! Before I knew I was up in the air and on my way to Toronto's Billy Bishop City Airport on my way to my first Canadian experience! Regardless of what happened during that early morning hour I had made it to my destination in one piece, I even ticked something off my travel list! Toronto, I was only getting started C!

Everything happens for a reason so I knew that my trip to Toronto, Canada would be a success no doubt. I have a habit of not printing any maps unless its attached to my accommodation papers so my first steps around Toronto were completely unplanned and navigated simply by the slightest hint of a Wi-Fi connection. Moving away from the CN Tower after my meeting with the clouds I ventured towards Toronto's Downtown district, by mistake I ended up checking out the Chinatown and the University of Toronto, but only at a glance. I attempted to take the underground metro but decided that my morning didn't need any more disruption so walking in the rain seemed like something that would bring more randomness to my already crazy day! The architecture in places did remind me of England, with some of the older buildings and the townhouses representing something familiar! I was back on track B!

After checking-in to my Downtown Holiday Inn hotel I met with my friend Alexandra for some dinner with her and her flatmates, I had worked with Alexandra during my Walt Disney World internship during the summer of 2011. Jack Astor's was our dining choice and might I add it was lovely. I was beyond excited to find a can of Strongbow Cider on the menu, something that I had not found in America at all! With our stomachs satisfied I was introduced to the LCBO, for alcohol was only sold from there and let me say it was like walking into a sweet shop but for alcoholic drinks! Going back to Alex's we got our drink on and showed Toronto's Gay Village what we were made of! I remember going to several bars but we ended up at Fly for the rest of the night, I had an absolutely amazing night and whatever happened I know that it got down right scandalous for all the right reasons! Up until that point I honestly couldn't believe how totally crazy my day had been in TOR!

Toronto seriously kept me on my toes during my weekend away from the USA! After my monumental mishaps from the previous day I had another set of surprises. I had originally planned to land in Toronto and then go straight to see the Niagara Falls but fate led me along a different path! Booking another coach online for the next day I managed to miss that one too, but thankfully enough the representatives from Coach Canada were excellent and helped me get on the next departing coach to Niagara! I had finally had enough of the crazy and quite frankly I just wanted to see the epic Niagara Falls! Pulling into the coach-stand close to the Niagara Falls I found out I had to get a bus from there to the central area by the falls, was Toronto trying to trick me or was I still too messed up from the night before? I soon after met with the mighty Falls and it was all worth it, everything had been building up til that moment.

Watching the 'Maiden of the Mist' sail close to the falls made the power of the water look like nothing like I had ever seen before! The area near to the falls looked like Blackpool's Pleasure Beach with the many fast-food restaurants, casinos and entertainment arcades. I chose not to indulge in that area because it wasn't what I set out to visit. I did have to take a few moments whilst I was taking the photos of the Falls because it was a once in a lifetime moment, almost like going to Disney World for the first time? This trip was turning into a complete whirlwind, from that moment when I thought I wasn't even going to make my flight and the rest of the mayhem! Visiting the Falls was definitely worth it, as I mentioned before I didn't pay much attention to the brash entertainment complex that sat next to the Niagara Falls. What was I to do next? After catching a glimpse of the American side of the Falls it was time to get the coach back to Toronto for tea and to take it easy.

The Yonge-Dundas Square looked very modern and cutting edge throughout the morning and night, it was almost like a chilled out Times Square. Downtown Toronto was a pleasure to experience because the crowds of tourists didn't make any difference, I found that I could get on with my sightseeing quite nicely. My Holiday Inn Express was located right across from the action of this area, it was a premier choice for a budget price! Being such a short trip I wanted to get as much in as possible, I was fortunate meeting up with Alexandra because our meal was around the Yonge-Dundas Square area, within one of the flagship shopping centres. My shoes got wrecked from the weather after I landed into Toronto so I found some Toms from this Downtown centre, I was very thankful for Toronto having some chill! I loved that Queen Elizabeth remains a figure in Canada, she's still on their money! TOR felt homely!

Concluding my epic weekend in Toronto after checking-out of my hotel I stopped by the Historic Distellery District to see what remained of that former brewing site. A lively network of shops, restaurants and cultural venues fronted me as I walked through Toronto's Distillery District that dated back to 1832. Making my way closer to the airport for my flight back to Newark, NJ, I had a nice walk close to Lake Ontario that finished my manic Ontario weekend perfectly. As a precautionary measure I checked into my Porter Airlines flight early to avoid any of the mistakes that I made before. The dedicated terminal and departures lounge was really slick with personal power outlets in all directions, I enjoyed complimentary snacks and soft drinks whilst I waited for my flight to be called. Let's just say the return flight wasn't so smooth, bad weather contributed to that factor but I got back to NJ in one piece! Yes, my weekend in Toronto was sensational! It was all Toronto!

O' Canada! 

Joseph Harrison