Sunday, March 20, 2016

Toronto - Part 1

So, way back in August last year, after our road trip to Niagara Falls (on the Canadian side), we continued on to Toronto.  

Toronto is a diverse city, with a huge amount of development and construction taking place.  It kind of feels like it's still working out what it wants to be when it grows up, although the area has existed for a long, long time.  It's the provincial capital of Ontario, and the most populous city in Canada (over 2.5 million people).  In a weird deja-vu twist, when British troops purchased the land from the native Mississaugas, they established it as the "Town of York" (bit of a recurring theme for the British?).  It was renamed Toronto in 1834.

Our first views of the Toronto skyline were dominated by the CN Tower, and that was one of our first sight-seeing stops for amazingly clear views of the sprawling city.  

The Tower also has a glass floor so that you can really appreciate how high you are.  At 553.33m, it was the world's tallest "free-standing structure", up until 2007 when it was eclipsed by the Burj Khalifa.

In fact, there were many architectural surprises in Toronto, with a significant mix of old and new, which made it all the more interesting.  

From the kooky sculptures on the Rogers Centre Stadium...


To a local news studio literally "breaking news"... its very own Flatiron building... the the Hockey Hall of Fame (now situated in a former bank building),

to the controversial Royal Ontario Museum - there was so much to see!

Having safely descended the Tower, we obviously had to visit the Aquarium, helpfully located at the bottom, and we spent a contented few hours watching beautifully surreal jellyfish, weirdly happy-looking rays and lots and lots of sharks swimming just overhead.

From there, in need of refreshment by this time, Hubby conveniently spotted the Steam Whistle Brewery just next door, in part of a former locomotive repair site, now also a railway museum and restaurant.  But back to the beer - or rather, lager - reportedly a "premium pilsner lager" (bleuughhh).  We took a guided tour of the brewery, where they explained the brewing process which utilises only four natural ingredients - Canadian spring water, hops from the Czech Republic and Germany, barley and yeast.  The lager has won many awards.  Needless to say, Hubby happily drank all my free samples as well as his own...

Afterwards, needing some "fresh air", we took a long walk (admittedly a little further than we'd perhaps intended), all the way to the other side of the city, to the Distillery District.  This is (unsurprisingly) a former whisky distillery site, whose buildings now house cafes, restaurants, galleries and boutique shops.  And also, actual black squirrels.  Who knew?