26 March 2011

Toronto

Playing Bocce on the PlayStation 3 

Yonge Street
From Los Angeles, we flew to Boston, slept in the airport (at least Pam managed to) then caught a flight to Toronto, where our friends Rob and Danielle, who have been living there for the last two years, greeted us with open arms. It was so good to see them and catch up over several beers!

Tucking into an Indian take away on our first night together
They were great hosts, striking a perfect balance between sightseeing and stress-free relaxation. On our first day, we quickly realised that shorts and t-shirts were not going to suit the freezing temperatures. We went to Kensington market and frantically searched for some warmer clothes. Browsing the shops was fun, especially trying on the craziest looking clothes we could find in a vintage clothing shop.

Toronto's skyline is famous for the 550 metre CN Tower. Doing the tourist thing, Pam, Rob and I went up to the viewing platform and realised just how sprawling Toronto is. Watching Pam nervously tip-toe across the glass floor was hilarious.

Hotdog stall
During our travels, we have sampled some unusual local specialities, but the classic street stall hotdog is up there with the best. Rob was very efficient at directing us to the best stalls - they were so good, we made several more visits!

At the Steam Whistle brewery
Another memorable moment was our trip to the Steam Whistle brewery. This restored brick building situated in the heart of downtown seemed like a really cool place to work and our suspicions were confirmed when we learned that the workers are entitled to three free bottles from a special beer dispenser - wow! Luckily for us, they extended their policy to customers and we were handed out free beer like there was no tomorrow. Now, that's what I call a good brewery tour!

Downtown Toronto
Toronto is a city which stands out for us on our travels. Walking around it, we saw so much diversity in its surroundings, from the high class shopping district of Yorkville to the bright lights of Dundas Square, Toronto's version of Times Square, and a remarkably safe feeling downtown.

On the way to Hooters - we were both rather excited...
Our fun-filled nights with Rob, Danielle and, of course, Martini (their cat) were filled with games, chat, movie nights and lots of good food and drink. Rob and I also enjoyed extending our nights into the early hours with some quality boy time. Just like when we were at school together, we would take every chance to play ultra-competitive games on the PlayStation 3. The game Move (which uses motion-sensor controls, like the Nintendo Wii) was a favourite for couples matches of Bocce (like French bowls) that usually led to the guys blaming the girls for defeats!

Master chef Danielle
We continued our boy time one afternoon by squeezing in a sneaky lunchtime visit to Hooters. We were like two giggling schoolboys, as we were served sub-standard food by rather pretty waitresses (I'm pretty sure that's the way it's supposed to be, anyway).

Unfortunately, Pam had to cut her time in Toronto a little short after hearing news from home that Maisie, her gran, had passed away. She was our number one blog fan and we loved calling home during our trip to share all our travelling stories with her. She was very much loved by Pam and her family and will be dearly missed.

The Falls on the Canadian side of the border
Flights were altered and plans rearranged, but I was under strict instruction from Miss Lawn (who insisted I didn't mess with her on this one) to enjoy the last few days until I was to follow her route back home to Scotland.

It would be strange to come all this way to Toronto and not make the short journey to see the famous Niagara Falls. So, on my final weekend, the three of us took a road trip there and were blown away by the natural beauty and the sheer scale of the two wateralls (one is in America, which we could see across the river, the other is on the Canadian side of the border).

Niagara Falls
The town of Niagara Falls, however, is as tacky and over-the-top as the waterfalls are beautiful. It felt like being in a bizarre version of Disneyland and was definitely not what I was expecting. The town's fudge shop was a highlight and we parted with a small fortune there.

A stop at Five Guys Burgers and Fries had been carefully planned by Rob weeks ago, following a recommendation from a friend. The old-school burger joint was packed out, and after trying the bacon cheese burger, it was easy to see why.

At the beer market
In Australia, Pam encouraged me to go on a wine tasting tour. In Toronto, Rob and Danielle's suggestion was the beer market. It was so much fun getting the generous samplers and using the guidebook to help pick out traces of flavours. My favourite was the Leffe Blond Ale.

And so ends our round-the-world trip! We hope you've enjoyed following our stories on the blog.

James & Pam

Toronto's CN Tower

6 comments:

  1. As you will have realized, I have been fascinated by your travels, and only sorry to discover now the reason why you have to come home early - so sorry. Hope to see you in the flesh some time soon!

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  2. It was brilliant to have you two here. Of course, you were fantastic guests!

    The flat seems far too quite now that you are both gone.

    Hope to see you soon.

    Rob.

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  3. When my wife told me she wanted to spend the weekends on a wine tasting tour, I was not very happy. Thought it was so boring. But when we arrived in Adelaide, I got excited since the view was amazing! The place was romantic, the food was great and the wine tingled my palate. We toured the wine region riding on a luxury mini-coach and visited 5 wineries. A perfect weekend for me and my lovely wife.

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  4. Nice Place.I got excited since the view was amazing! The place was soo romantic, the food was great.
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