Monday, April 6, 2015

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"Clueless" In Toronto

One of my goals for 2015 and beyond is to start traveling a lot more. I've traveled out of the country before but I didn't keep it going. I let my passport expire and something called life just got in the way. Now I'm on a clueless travel journey to see the world. Join me!

My trip to Toronto started with a layover in Chicago. While I was waiting, I visited the urban garden. It gave me some inspiration to start my own but I know the space I have now won't let me be great. Sometime in the future I plan on starting my gardening adventure. After that, I went to exchange some currency and quickly noticed the colorful uniquely designed Canadian currency.  I also saw comedian Bill Belamy as I was walking through the terminals.

Finally! I'm in Toronto. Before arriving I thought about renting a car but I'm one of those people if I'm not familiar with the area, I do the city a favor and won't drive. So I took other modes of transportation and I'm glad I did. I sure would have gotten lost with all the construction going on in the area. Anyways, here's how my clueless trip went.

DAY 1 @ Entertainment District

Brrr! Trying to give some outfit of the day action. I'm still in awe with how much I paid for this comfy tunic. It was a cold first day and it kept me comfortably warm. Before heading out to see the attractions, I had breakfast.

Eggs Benedict

Now I'm ready to have some fun

I've been to a few aquariums but none gave me the oohing and ahhing experience like I was a kid again. I saw tons of marine life and beautiful anemones. The aquarium features an underwater viewing tunnel. I really loved it and I would highly recommend visiting the aquarium while in Toronto.  

The CN Tower (Canadian National Tower) is Toronto's signature icon and one of the Seven Wonders of The Modern World by The American Society of Civil Engineers. It only took 58 seconds to get to the top. Thanks to the high speed elevators traveling at 15 miles an hour. The views was a breathtaking experience I will never forget. Next was the world famous glass floor. 

I'm normally not afraid of heights but it took me awhile to put my other foot on the glass floor. My mind was playing tricks on me that day. However, I finally made it through and "walked on air". Now I can scratch that of my bucket list. :)

Lunch at the Horizons Restaurant (Prix Fixe) inside the tower

-Watercress and Radicchio Salad with Grilled Bose Pears: Crumbled blue cheese, toasted walnuts, sherry walnut vinaigrette

-Herb Almond and Pistachio Crusted Atlantic Salmon: Potato and cauliflower gratin, carrot and red onion salad

-Whtie Chocolate Cheesecake: Raspberry coulis, pistachio bark

DAY 2 @ The Annex, Downtown Yonge, and Financial District
Another OOTD.

Before heading to Casa Loma, I made a stop at Toronto Archives. Admission was FREE so why not.

The tour of the castle is self-guided with the aid of a hand held audio device . You press the number of the room/area you're in and enjoy the story of that time. This place is huge. The observatory and being outside on the balcony looking at the city was my favorite part. There was also a tunnel that lead to the stables and antique car exhibit. 

Lunch at Ethiopiques

I always wanted to try Ethiopian food and I finally got a chance to do so. I tried a meat and vegetarian sampler. There was tons of flavor and spices, I'm a huge fan of that. I do have a complaint though, the wait time was unacceptable. I can understand if it was peak season and they were swamped but…. 

Toronto's mega mall. I'm not a shop till you drop kind of person but I did check it out to see what I can find. I browsed up and down the mall and was able to walk out with an item that was on sale. This place is not to be missed. The area around the mall reminded me so much of NYC Times Square.

Day 3 @ Niagara Falls and surrounding areas
A warmer and sunnier day

A trip to Toronto is not complete without visiting Niagara Falls. When I saw the falls, this song popped into my head. Truly an amazing experience. It's another one that I won't forget. 

Hip Hip Hooray!! I completed another bucket list item. 

A historic town where the Battle of 1812 was fought. I loved the look of the period restored homes. Rumor has it that this place is Canada's most haunted ghost town. I didn't see any because I will not be bothered by them. However, I will be bothered by the wineries for some wine tasting. 

Niagara Black History

I tried to find as much info as I could but I didn't have much luck. I even went on the net to see what I can dig up and I was left empty. 

Wine Tasting at Strewn Winery

The tasting of reds, whites, and ice wine. I was so intrigued by the ice wine I purchased a bottle as my introduction to it. I'll have a review coming soon.

Day 4 @ Garden District and Old Town Toronto 
Final OOTD

The #1 market in the world is St. Lawrence Market. Restaurants, deli's, bakeries, meats, and seafood shops can all be found here. They also have a Farmer's Market every Saturday. The old town area is surrounded by six distinct neighborhoods where I saw a lot of Victorian era buildings.  

I admit, I'm not a fan of classical music but the concert was free and that was my cue to try something new. As the pianist was playing he stopped and there was a long pause. I seriously thought he was going to elaborate on what he just played but what he did next was astonishing. He pulled out a napkin and wiped his forehead. I said a wayment?!?

Playing the piano is a workout? I'm always on the lookout for "lazy" workouts and I've been inspired. I just might be getting a new piano. See what happens when you try something new. :)

Lunch at Spring Rolls

I went for the $9.99 lunch special. I enjoyed it and I got better at eating with chop sticks. 

Randomness and Fun Facts

Overall this is a trip I will never forget and I plan on visiting again and again. There's just so much to see and do in Toronto. I see a few events that I want to experience. The weather wasn't as bad as I expected. Prior to my trip, I was researching that information and was concerned. 

The reason being is they use Celsius Scale. I was looking at the week of my trip and the low minus something degree numbers just didn't seem right for this Fahrenheit Scale girl. Thank goodness for the www, my nerves were calm after researching. Although it was cold, it wasn't the disrespectful bitter cold that have the Canadians visiting a state (Florida) I call home year round.  

The only thing I wish I could have done more was experience Toronto's nightlife. As I mention before it was cold and as nighttime fell it was even colder. My body temperature dared me to go out and see what happens. So I ain't scared, I took the dare. First taking a nap and woke up the next day in my PJ's wondering how'd that happen. Body Temperature: 1 Maggi: 0

What I found interesting was the tax. I noticed a HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) tax on my a few of my receipts. It was the one I saw the most of the other taxes. One of my receipts even had 3 sales tax. Anyways, I'm not gonna go into details because me and numbers don't get along. 

Oh! Another thing I noticed was that they don't give out pennies. One of my purchases had pennies amount in it. I gave the cashier what I had and she handed me my receipt along with the cent that I had just given her. I looked at my receipt and noticed "penny rounding". I later found out Canada started phasing out the pennies in 2013.  

The Loonie ($1 coin) and the Toonie ($2 coin). I just thought it was interesting at how they came up with the names. 

My cheat day turned into a cheat week. I had poutine, it's fries with a gravy like sauce and cheese curds. Followed by red velvet cupcake, washed it down with Italian soda(I normally don't drink soda but this was good and different), followed up again with cookies and creme cupcake. *hits the repeat button* :)

On my way back home, I have to say my experience wasn't so great. It all started when I went to the kiosk self check-in. I noticed the kiosk wasn't working like it should and asked the "friendly" agent for assistance and she told me to go over there. STRIKE ONE!

I went over there and was greeted by an agent who made me feel like I was a burden. I was taken by surprise when I was charged a fee for my carry on bag. It's a bag I had no problems with arriving into Toronto on another airline. I spoke up about it and she made it clear that she just didn't care. STRIKE TWO!

After that mini headache, there was delay with the flight due to maintenance issues. I normally wouldn't have a problem with it because safety first but after the first two incidents... STRIKE THREE! Congratulations!!! Air Canada it was my first and last time flying with you.  

-Toronto is Canada's largest city and also the capital of Ontario

-Toronto is home to some of the largest festivals in the world. There's Toronto International Film Festival, Pride Week, Caribana, and a host of other's.

-PATH is the largest underground pedestrian walkway in North America that links to restaurants, shops, services, subways, and more.

-Hockey is Canada's national winter sport, while Lacrosse is the national summer sport.

-Toronto is the most sustainable large city in Cananda. Ranked as one of the most cleanest, livable, and safest metropolitan areas.

-There are over 100+ languages spoken in the city making it one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world and that means food from all over the world is not hard to find.

-Hollywood use the city of Toronto and other Canadian cities to film famous and successful movies. A few of them include Mean Girls, Titanic, and Brokeback Mountain.


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