Day 67. Friday, 5th July. From Niagara to Toronto

Yesterday was one of those days when everything went well. Today was rather different. I came back from my shower to find Dennis looking very perturbed. ‘She’ won’t start.’ The battery is as flat as a proverbial pancake. Perhaps the red light on the control panel did mean something was wrong? With the assistance of a lovely Iraqi family, who were camped opposite us and towed her down the road for us, we got her started.

Our destination was Toronto. It is a large city of over 6 million inhabitants. Apparently the 5th largest city in North America. We decided the best way to tackle it would be to book into a motel on the outskirts and go in to the centre by public transport. We drove straight there, after a minor hold up on the motorway, due to a small accident. The route is built up all the way. One town/city after another. St. Catherines, Lincoln, Grimsby, Hamilton Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga. We bypassed them all.

Arriving at about 1pm we didn’t expect to be able to check-in, but our room was ready and we decided to take advantage of the cool, air-conditioning to catch up with some admin. matters and correspondence. About 2 hours later, we thought we ought to make a move and go and see something of the city.

I had asked the motel receptionist the best way to get into the city. She advised me the number 80 bus went from just across the road and would take us to the centre. When I asked her to repeat the name of the bus terminus, she wrote it down on a card. ‘Kill’ Station. I thought it was an odd name and couldn’t find it on the map. No problem, we will find out where we are when we get there! 

So, by the time we left the motel it was after 3 pm and we were hungry. On the way to find the bus stop we found a pizza restaurant and stopped there for lunch. It didn’t look much, but it was actually a good pizza. On to the bus stop. There was supposed to be a bus in 8 minutes. At least half an hour later, one turned up. By this time traffic was getting busy and the bus was stopping every hundred yards or so. We asked a lady sitting next to us if this bus was taking us to downtown and how much further it was. She said was a long way  and we would have to get the metro from the bus station.. She was a lovely, Iranian lady, Betty, and wanted to spend some time showing us around Toronto. We thanked her and explained we were sadly just passing through. She was fascinated by the fact that Dennis had visited Iran almost 50 years ago.

While we were chatting the bus pulled into Keele Station – so much for the motel receptionist’s spelling! We jumped on 2 metro trains and arrived at Union Station around 6pm. The surrounding streets were really buzzing. Toronto is a very cosmopolitan city. I think we saw representatives of just about every race on earth. Many tourists, but more residents of Toronto enjoying the end of the working week. It was a very warm evening and the pavement cafes were full of people socialising and enjoying themselves. 

We started to head for our destination the CN Tower, which is supposed to be the main attraction in Toronto (similar to Auckland’s Sky Tower). The pavements were busy with people walking in the same direction as us wearing blue ‘Blue Jays’ T shirts. At a pedestrian crossing we asked a guy standing next to us, whom we had presumed to be a local, what the game was tonight. Who was playing who? In a broad English accent, he was from Windsor, he said he didn’t have a clue, but it was the thing to do as a visitor to Toronto. A way to feel the local atmosphere and enthusiasm for their team. The stadium was right next to the CN Tower.

As we approached the tower, we saw signs saying those with tickets go one way and those wanting to buy tickets should queue here. There were swarms of people. Once we had our tickets we entered an area of fish tanks. We thought it was just a display at the base of the Tower and asked where we went to ascend the tower. Would you believe it, we are in the aquarium. The Tower entrance is next door!!!!!!! We got a refund and some black looks for being such stupid old people and fought our way through the crowds to the correct entrance. More queueing and when we got to the desk we were advised there is an hour and three quarters wait to go up the Tower. Or, we can pay an additional amount for a timed slot and go up at 7 pm. It was 6.30 at this stage. We decided to pay the extra and went to get a beer while we were waiting. 

The tower was built in the 1970’s as a communications tower. However, that function has long become secondary to it’s ability to relieve tourists of as many dollars as possible. The cafeteria in the waiting area provided us with 2 tins of lager for the princely sum of $27. I thought beers at Niagara, in the restaurant overlooking the falls, would be expensive. There we only paid $10 for a pint of nice draft beer.

At just before 7 pm we joined the queue for the lift and our reserved slot.  It was 7.15 before we made it into the lift. A bored female lift operator mumbled a few words about the speed at which we were travelling and the glass floor panels we were standing on. She had obviously repeated it 100 times before and had totally given up trying to make it sound of interest. The tower stands at 553 meters and was once the tallest free standing structure in the world. Sadly there was no information brochure provided and no signs anywhere to say what you were looking down on. In fact all the signage was rather poor and confusing. We watched a couple of planes taking off from the city airport below us and looked out over the harbour and financial districts but it was quite hazy from smog so the view was not as spectacular as we had hoped. Then yet another queue for a lift to go back down.

Once back on terra firma we had a quick look around an outdoor railway museum then made our way back to Union Station to get the metro and bus back to our motel. This worked better than on the journey into downtown and we were back by 10 pm after a long, hot, tiring day.  We aren’t really big city fans!

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