Friday, October 19, 2007

Canada, oh Canada!

Self Portrait #1
Originally uploaded by Miss Gab.

We have returned safely from our few days in Canada and we had an amazing time. I've already added the pics to my online photo album right here.

The trip up there was very smooth, and having scheduled an early-ish departure from Chicago, we had most of the rest of the day to play with when we arrived in Toronto.

Quite by accident, I had booked us into one of the most historical and certainly one of the most celebrity-frequented hotels in Toronto, Le Royal Meridien King Edward. John Lennon and Yoko Ono had staged one of their lie-ins for peace there, and David Beckham stayed there only a few weeks before we did. Nice one. I don't think any celebrities were there while we were though. But above all things, the hotel is centrally-located in Toronto's Financial District, so we were in close proximity to just about everything.

We spent the rest of our first day walking around, first to Union Station to buy our tickets to Niagara Falls, then just wandering. We went to the huge Eaton Centre shopping precinct on Yonge Street, and ended the day with a delicious dinner at The Beer Bistro across the road from our Hotel, where beer is used as an ingredient in all the cooking, just as wine can be.

Our concierge arranged our tickets for the sightseeing bus tour and we rode around on that for most of Tuesday. One of the first places we stopped was Casa Loma (which translates to "house on a hill"), a HUGE house/castle that was built by Sir Henry Pellatt, the man who - among other things - brought electric power to Toronto.

We then picked up the bus again and went to the St Lawrence Market, which is a smaller version of Adelaide's Central Market, with some flea market-style trinkets on sale besides. We walked back to our Hotel and, like a trio of grandmothers, we enjoyed a very early night.

The next day, we made it to Union Station in plenty of time for our morning train to Niagara Falls. The trip was beautiful, as the train wound through lovely scenery and we saw the leaves on the trees changing to their beautiful autumn colours. It was a very different scene when Kate & I went through there at Easter last year, when all the trees were pretty much bare.

We caught a cab to the Falls and then bought ourselves a day-long, hop on and hop off Niagara Falls and Great Gorge Adventure Pass that is organised by the Niagara Falls Parks Commission. We didn't have time to see all the sights included with our pass, but we DID go Behind the Falls, on the Maid of the Mist, to the Butterfly Conservatory, and then we had tickets to go up on the Sky Wheel (a ferris wheel in the touristy Clifton Hill area of the Falls district). It was all amazing and the weather held out for us too - in fact it was unseasonably mild at the Falls - the only thing we really had to contend with was the mist. Oh, and the might and majesty of the Niagara River rapids of you think you could boogie board down this?!

And though our time in Canada was predominantly spent on hop-on, hop-off bus and trolley tours, we really did do a lot of walking. Our legs were sore but our smiles were big; we had a great time. Even when we got delayed for 3 hours to come back to Chicago - it seems they don't call it The Windy City for nothing!

You can check out all my holiday photos, including the Canada ones, right here.

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