Paul & Tracey's Travels
13th May 2012 - Toronto and Vancouver, Canada
Chinatown, markets, street art, a ferry to Toronto Island, and a meeting with an ex pat
After watching the F1 first thing in the morning, we set off out for a walking tour of Toronto. Once again the weather was hot and sunny as we headed back the couple of blocks to see the street we went to last night. Queen Street West was quiet at 10am in the morning and did not have quite the atmosphere it had last night. Several roads around the area were closed off by police as there was some kind if city run going on.
Chinatown and fascinating market
From there we headed north up Spadina Street to Chinatown where again things were only just beginning to open up. Loads of fruit and veg shops selling exotic looking fare. I did spot some shops selling cheap Chinese DVDs but resisted the temptation.
A block over from Chinatown is Kensington Market which is a small block of streets with some great independent shops and cafes, and loads of street art. We spent a bit of time soaking up the atmosphere and had a snack and a drink in the Grilled Cheese cafe, which serves every type of toasted cheese sandwich.
We decided we would head across Downtown to the east and the Distillery Historic District. Our route there took us past the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Eaton Centre shopping complex, through Dundas Square (a small version of NYs Times Square), down part of the longest street in the world (Yonge Street - 1900 km), past St James Cathedral (very English looking), through the St Lawrence District (where youths played basketball in front of large blocks of flats and security guards wandered around, unnerving Barry), and finally to our destination.
This area was an old Distillery where the buildings have been preserved and now house art shops and cafes. A family atmosphere pervaded as we wandered around the cobbled streets it is Mother's Day in Canada today. There were a couple of great pieces of sci fi style street art there.
Across the lake to an island retreat
We decided to complete a circuit back to the hotel by walking along the banks of Lake Ontario. This is not always easy as there is a lot of re-development going on. At one point we came across a man made beach in front of an office block. Basically a small triangle of land had been laid with sand, a couple of trees planted, and liberally sprinkled with deck chairs. To complete the surreal picture, a huge rusty ship was being loaded right next door.
Continuing back west we arrived at Harbour Square Park where we decided to pay the 7 dollars each to take a return ferry trip over to Toronto Island. lake Ontario is so huge it is more like a sea, however the trip over to the island only takes about 10 minutes. The island is a large park with a small area of beach, a marina, and a couple of beaches. It is a popular place to go walking and cycling. we had already walked a lot today, so we headed for the secluded marina cafe where we had a beer/cider. It was a really lovely spot, very quite and with great views over the lake back to the city.
Finally we did the final 20 minute walk back to the hotel from the ferry terminal.
At 6.30pm we walked back round the corner to Queen Street West to find somewhere to eat and settled on an Indian. Just as we had finished our meal, I got a call from Sean to say he and Sarah were on their way downtown to meet us - we therefore retired to the nearest bar to await their arrival - Rex's which has live Jazz and blues every night.
It is 3 months since Sean left England, and he and Sarah live in the north of the city. They arrived about 30 minutes later following their 8 or 9 stop trip on the subway. Sean had asked us to bring a few things over with us which he was missing since being in Canada including Marmite Crisps, Heinz baked beans, and Weston's Cider - he was very pleased to receive his bag of goodies from dear old' blighty!
We quickly realised we could not easily have a conversation over the live jazz, so we retired to an ex biker's bar just up the road. We had a drink there, but when they started setting up the karaoke, we decided it was time to leave.
Next stop was Fionn McCools bar where Barry and I had been last night. Turns out that this is Sarah's regular when she is in the city as she works right opposite. We had a nice evening, but all of us had to get up early next morning - Sean and Sarah to go to a conference and us to catch a flight to Vancouver. We therefore said our goodbyes at about 11pm, with a promise that if we had time when we returned to Toronto in a week's time, we would meet up again.
Tomorrow we have a cab booked for 5.30am to take us to the airport for the 2000 mile flight west to Vancouver.
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