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Stop Five: Toronto

posted at 11:52 am
on Jan. 5, 2011

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Stop Four: Minneapolis / St. Paul

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Stop Six: Los Angeles

Dear Vancouver, after a quick visit to Toronto, I see you with new eyes… If I can ride my bike around your downtown and not get hungry or need to stop for a rest, you’re not quite a city now, are you?

My thoughts on spending a few days in Toronto were roughly: “My gosh, this is a big city. It goes on and on, and things are very tall. And boy, does my friend Jason like Vietnamese sandwiches.”

We were in Toronto to visit Jason and Noriko, and so Susie could see an Eastern Canadian place. What I didn’t expect was how much there is in Toronto to do, and how much I’d want to go back when it was 30 degrees warmer.

We ate amazing food the whole time we were there, from the cheapest of the cheap bowls of delicious ramen, to some snazzy French cuisine.

That latter was at a restaurant called Tati, which featured amazing antipasto, great pickerel, and actress Rachel McAdams at a nearby table.  Star sighting! Woot!

On our first night in TO, the four of us became five as Jason’s sister Kristi joined us for tasty tasty Italian served by what seemed to me to be a very drugged waiter—not that the service was bad, it was just oddly intense and distracted all at once. Anywho.. Kristi was doing well, and as always was a fun conversationalist.

The next day, we made a day trip to Niagra Falls. That is a place totally worth visiting, and not worth staying at. The falls themselves are a marvel, (Canada and the U.S. each have their own part of it) but around the area, the touristy-ness gets pale fast. I think the visit would be significantly better in the summer, but it also seems like a lot of people would think the same way; the facilities seemed ready to handle about 5 times the number of people that were there the day we visited.

We had lunch nearby at Niagra-on-the-Lake, which is interesting because it’s wine country, because it’s beautiful, and because it used to be the capital of Upper Canada.

On the drive back, Jason showed us a building he helped engineer; it was very much not falling down or exploding, and I think that speaks a lot to his professionalism.

Noriko was fun to hang out with. She seemed in fine spirits, and together Jason and her seemed very much in their element; there’s always some confidence that comes through when being a tour guide, but it was more than that, they seemed more at home than for some reason I’d thought they’d be, and their place is lovely and comfortable and modern.  Susie and I gave interior decorating advice, mostly along the lines of, “get a bigger bed!”

We stayed in the “guest room” of their condo building; it was clean and well set up with two peculiarities:

1) The light switch by the door turned on/off ALL the ceiling lights in the place, over the bed, the table, everywhere. Hard to go to bed.

2) There was a large EXIT sign glowing in the bedroom over the patio door. I kid you not.

Other touristy-ness: We visited Casa Loma, a 98-room mansion built in 1914 for Sir Henry Pellatt. It’s a big castle-looking thing, and the man who had it built was a pretty fascinating dude. (I’m paraphrasing a bit from the official tour.)

And last, but not least, we did a quick tour of the Art Gallery of Ontario, which was having a show about the maharajas of India, and how frinkin’ amazingly rich they were—the exposition had one of the world’s most famous cars on display, a Rolls-Royce Phantom II called the “Star of India” worth several million dollars.

All in all, it was a great vacation stop and we’ll have to go back soon.



Previous entry:
Stop Four: Minneapolis / St. Paul

Next entry:
Stop Six: Los Angeles


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