Maple Leaf Hunting

Day 1: I finally arrived in Toronto after an unscheduled overnighter in London. My flight from Dublin to Heathrow was delayed and the Aer Lingus lady who checked me in failed to actually check me right through to Toronto, so I missed my connection. No worries though, I was put up in a lovely Heathrow-area Novotel and given vouchers for a 3-course dinner, buffet breakfast and lunch. Plus there’s a pool and a sauna. I think we’re sorted! It does mean, however that I’ll now only get 2 nights in Toronto instead of 3, but since my life circumstances (and financial situation) have changed since I booked this trip, I can do with saving every penny I can, and this means three less meals for me to fork out for!

To be honest, I didn’t exactly have any grand plans for my three (now two) days in Canada’s pseudo-capital. I want to go up the CN tower and take a boat to the Islands, but other than that i’ll just be roaming about aimlessly drinking Tim Hortons’ coffee and looking for red maple leaves to take home as a souvenir.

Anyway, it’s 10pm, I just checked in to my B&B (update: this place is great. The rooms are beautifully simple, the couple who run it are really lovely, and breakfast in their art gallery is a nice touch). On the way here from the airport, I was given public transport tokens/tickets by two separate people, just for asking them if I was on the right bus/train, basically making my trip free! Canadians already living up to their international stereotype for niceness… now to go to bed to avoid the jet lag!

Day 2: My only full day in this town, and, thanks to my early night, I woke up bright and early at 7:30am ready for my complimentary breakfast at 8! I waited for about 30 seconds for a streetcar to take me downtown, before realising that I’d actually rather walk since it wasn’t far. the 30-minute stroll took me through the nice Art and Design District of the city… which is apparently the “trendy” area where all the hipsters dwell. Of course there’s lots of nice graffiti…


and, presumably for the sake of civic virtue, the trees are all surrounded by fake grass.


Arriving downtown, the first thing you see is the CN Tower poking its head up. you can’t really miss it, it’s bloody massive.


I gave in to its powers of attraction and headed straight for it, paid the $36 (!) admission and got the super-fast glass-doored elevator to the observation deck.

Some. View.


It’s round so you can walk all the way around getting an uninterrupted 360 degree view of the whole city.


…and take in all the different types of view on offer. Like this one of the financial district and beyond.


There’s also a glass floor, which is super fun to stand on for about 15 seconds. I also wasn’t going to spend extra money going up another 10 floors to the “even higher” observation deck, or strap myself to a harness and circumnavigate the outside of the tower.. I’m all for thrills but that just looked cold! So I went back down in the lift and that was that. was it worth the $36 entry? For the view… YES!

I grabbed a sandwich for lunch and ate it sitting under a big green water tank belonging to some Canadian craft brewery.


Then I headed towards the lake and the place where you get the boat to the island. I want to get me some views of that skyline! The ferry was cheap (like $7 return) and the ride was about 10 minutes. The boat comes and goes from both Centre Island and Ward Island, so I decided to get off at Centre Island, walk to Ward Island and get the ferry back. Everybody else who disembarked the ferry started heading towards the main centre of the island, not wanting to follow the crowd, I went the opposite direction, and was glad I was because I found a deserted rocky beach (deserted, no doubt, because you have to do a nice spot of rock-clambering to actually get there) with some epic views of the city.

Naturally, getting my socks out and becoming horizontal was the only reasonable way to demonstrate how chilled I was at that moment!

IMG_20140922_132730 (2)

I could have happily sat there all day. But there was more island to see yet! I met some geese. Canada geese obviously…


…And some flags. Canada flags obviously…


…Before arriving at the other side of the island. This side looks out on to Lake Ontario, and is very, very scenic!


I walked a few miles along the boardwalk that connects this Centre Island to Ward Island. Also very scenic.


I then sat under a maple tree and read my DK Top 10 Toronto guidebook like a real Canadian tourist whilst waiting for the boat to take me back to the mainland.

I’m feeling that this post is getting kinda long, so I’ll summarise the next part in as few words as possible. Got off the boat, walked around the financial district looking up at the skyscrapers, went to the Maple Leaf Centre where the Maple Leafs play hockey, grabbed a couple slices of pizza from some Italian place, jumped on a streetcar and went back to my hotel to eat said pizza.

Here’s a streetcar pic for kicks.


After pizza and an hour or so of trashy Canadian telly it was back on to the streetcar to take a gander about downtown after dark. Because everything is prettier when all lit up. Like the CN Tower.


And the in-motion public transportation.


And the CN Tower again.


So I wandered around a bit more, taking in the sights and sounds (and smells) and then… Yup. Streetcar >> hotel >> bed.

Day 3: In the morning I got a taxi to the Megabus station. My taxi driver was a hilarious womanising Pakistani dude that I tipped extra primarily for his flirting efforts, which included gems such as: “I wish you were going from the airport and not the bus station so I could drive you for longer” and “Do all girls in Scotland look like you? I can cook, you know”.

And I also saw this.


‘Till next time Toronto.


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