Monday 29th July 2013

We took our leave of Niagara Falls after a superb breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausage, hash browns, fruit, yoghurt, toast and crepes. Don’t think we’ll need lunch.
First stop was the whirl pool where the Niagara turns a corner and results in a swirling eddy that you can take a cable car over. We didn’t as you can get a good view of it from either side of the basin, which we did. The water was a deep aqua and white.

Then we paid a quick visit to the floral clock, near the hydro-electric plant, made to offset some of the ugliness of the industry there. There are also botanical gardens.

This is another wine region, famous for its ice wines. The grapes are frozen at some point during the process and I was eager to try a sample so we called in to one of the numerous vineyards for a tasting. We came away with a bottle of ice wine and another of Riesling-Gewerztraminer blend.

We had a brief look at Fort George – the 1812 war was a major factor in this area’s history – before continuing on to Niagara on the Lake. Very pretty town with flowers everywhere, a monument in the road and lots of boutique type shops. It was also very expensive, probably due to the fact that a lot of wealthy people own property here. The houses along Queen Street reek of wealth, large and opulent in extensive grounds, and you’d want to own one! We weren’t very impressed with the town. It seemed locked in time. Not the buildings so much as the goods for sale. There was a British shop there with, amongst other foodstuffs, Atora suet, Marmite and  Colemans mustard for $6 an item.

A canal unites Lake Erie with Lake Ontario and very large ships take 12 hours to pass along its length at a cost of approx. $40, 000. There are a series of locks the ships pass through and visitors can stand on a gantry overlooking these locks and watch the progress. We were hoping to be fortunate enough to see one in action so went to lock 3, near the town of St Catherines. But it was not to be. The next ship wasn’t due until 4.30pm.

Then we got a phone call from our last hotel to say we’d left all our US currency in our room. Luckily we hadn’t gone far and it only took us 20 minutes to go back and get it!

Finally we turned to Toronto, having lunch in a Tim Hortons, a chain of fast food restaurants doing sandwiches, soups and bagels. The main highway took us in along Lake Ontario and the hotel wasn’t far off the highway. After booking in we drove to Kipling station, left the car and caught the subway into the city.

There are only four subway lines, the main ones going north-south and east-west. We went to Union and walked to the CN Tower from there.
The CN Tower was the tallest free-standing structure for 34 years. For $32 each we rode straight up the tower to the observation deck. From there you get a view over most of the city and the bay including overlooking Toronto City airport. It is possible to go higher but it cost another $12 each so we didn’t bother.
One floor lower was an all-round platform and a glass floor to look straight down the tower. The only problem with the lower level is that it is outside and has mesh, not glass, to look through meaning photos were less than ideal.
There was the usual souvenir shop selling all things CN.  The themed photograph here cost $23 for two large photographs and $33 to add two small ones. You couldn’t buy just the small ones.

Toronto has an underground world. Below the streets, shops and towering office blocks is the Path. A subterranean walkway where the citizens of Toronto can reach their work places, shop and eat without going outside, especially in the long cold winters. It is very easy to navigate, has maps and signs for each block above and plenty of entrances and exits.
We walked from the CN Tower to China town underground and found a charming Japanese restaurant for dinner. Red dragon roll and tapas with a beer and wine for $35. Not bad for the largest city in Canada.
After China town was Kensington Market, recommended by our waitress, but it was mostly closed by the time we got there. Walking through the university area to the subway meant we had walked the equivalent of seven subway stops before getting on the train at Spadina back to Kipling.

Tags: