For our honeymoon (part1), Naomi and I went on our first adventure to Canada, specifically Toronto. Naturally, we had a great time seeing the sights and were impressed with the city, and Canada as a whole. I didn’t realize how multicultural Toronto is, (half its citizens are foreign born) and we both loved that aspect of the city. The weather was near-perfect, never above the 70’s, which made it difficult returning to the baking heat and drowning humidity of Houston. We did get the occasional shower, but like Houston, they never lasted more than a few minutes.
Sunday, Day 1:
We started the trip with a long walk through the city, into Chinatown (the 2nd largest in North America after LA), and finally to Kensington Market. We walked down the aptly named Church Street, which had several beautiful old churches. In Chinatown, we perused the curios and knock-offs, and I sampled some grilled cuttlefish balls. Eventually we made it to the Kensington Market and luckily for us, the last Sunday of each summer month, the Kensington area blocks the streets to create a pedestrian-only haven of street-meat vendors and local musicians. Just as we would wander out of range to hear one band, we’d begin to hear another different style just ahead. The food was delicious too. We had some chicken tikka masala, samosas, and some amazing ice cream. Naomi wandered in and out of vintage shops and even skipped rope with some locals who’d set up a “recess” area to release your inner kid. We ended the day at Big Smoke Burger, which was good, but the Boylan’s root beer was even better.
Monday, Day 2:
We continued our city exploring the second day. This time we checked out the old and new City Hall buildings; the old a beautiful Gothic structure with a massive clock-tower complete with gargoyles, and the new a sleek and modern building. In front of them was a fountain and pool with some spiffy sculptures by Ai Weiwei representing the Chinese zodiac. We lunched at Bannock, trying some seafood. (I loved my haddock-and-shrimp cake. Naomi wasn’t impressed with her halibut salad.) After a run through Graffiti Alley, we forced my worn feet back to our hotel. Dinner was at Paganelli’s, featuring excellent pizza served with scissors.
Tuesday, Day 3:
Easily our favorite day wasn’t even in Toronto. We took a tour bus out to Niagara Falls, and loved every minute we were there. The Canada side is definitely the best side, with amazing views of the falls. Not content with the beautiful views at the top, we took the Maid of the Mist, a boat that took us right up to the falls in the midst of the mist. You get a real sense of the power of the water as it roars all around you in 180 degrees forming a cloud of vapor that reaches high into the air. Our tour also included a stop at the small town Niagara-on-the-Lake, which offered a gorgeous view of a more serene part of Lake Ontario, with a tiny silhouetted skyline of Toronto barely visible on the horizon. After getting back to the city, we tried the most famous Canadian food, poutine, (french fries with cheese curds covered in gravy.) We weren’t impressed.
Wednesday, Day 4:
We decided to take a jump-on-jump-off double-decker bus tour for our remaining days. The tour was pretty interesting but the route was really long and we couldn’t quite use it as a taxi like I’d hoped. Our first jump-off point was Casa Loma, a Castle-style mansion built by the man who brought electricity to Toronto. It was quite impressive, but it had a depressing story, as its owner lost everything before its completion. My favorite part was the fact it was used as the school for the X-Men movies. We ended the day at a huge indoor food market, the St. Lawrence Market. All the fresh meats, seafood, and produce made us wish we lived there so that we could get some. Naomi had at least three different bowls of fruit which included juicy watermelon and the freshest peaches I’ve ever had. I mostly had dessert and birch beer, which is like root beer but even more awesome.
Thursday, Day 5:
Surprisingly for me, the only museum we visited on this trip was the Bata Shoe Museum, which sounds lame but was actually quite interesting. It had shoes from throughout history and a very well-done sneaker exhibit full of gaudy and hilarious shoes. We continued with another tourist attraction, the CN Tower. We’ve done a lot of tall-buildings-overlooking-the-city attractions in our travels and the CN Tower wasn’t among my favorites, despite being the tallest. (Chicago’s Willis Tower Skydeck is my recommendation, though the Top of the Rock in NYC is pretty awesome too.) We followed that with a jaunt on a ferry to the Toronto Islands, which is basically a giant park crossed with a fairground with beaches. After chasing the geese around and resting on the pier, we headed back, stopping at the park next to our hotel where a they were giving out roasted corn-on-the-cob and lemonade.
Friday, Day 6:
While watching TV one evening in the hotel, I saw a commercial for some food network show about burger places and one that flashed by was The Burger Priest, which I’d just seen the day before. So I allowed that bit of marketing to work on me and we started our final day in the city with lunch there. I had the Red Sea, which for some reason is a chili cheeseburger, and it was amazing. Thanks TV. The rest of the day was spent wandering around shopping, first back in Chinatown, then to the Eaton Center, which is just a big mall in the middle of downtown. We also made a stop at Tim Horton’s, a local doughnut-and-coffee franchise that was on every block. We had the timbits, which are just doughnut holes that they renamed and claim to have invented.Overall, we loved the markets and scenery, but weren’t terribly impressed with the touristy stuff. We usually vacation off-season, and this peak-summer trip reaffirmed that we should try and stick with our usual time frame.