Arriving at Union Station, Toronto, Canada, it took us a while to spot the red TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) subway sign.
Then we were taken by surprise that we had to buy our tickets with cash – fortunately having just enough coin in our pockets to get us out of trouble.
Coming up from Dundas subway station, we lost our bearings and took a wrong turn (or two!) but eventually found our way to the Grand Hotel and Suites.
The room was lovely and seemed so big after our little cabin on the train where we had spent the last 4 days travelling across from Vancouver.
Located in Jarvis Street, the Grand Hotel is out of the main centre of Toronto, but still easily walkable to everything, once we didn’t have luggage to worry about – and had a tourist map in hand!
And we came up with this little impromptu walking tour:
Headed through St James Park…
(right across from St. Lawrence Hall, where we returned the next day to check out the fresh food market.)
Then down past the Gooderham Building, on Wellington St E,
(don’t miss the back)
keep going – the end is in sight…
pass Union Station on the way to the icon of Toronto…
the CN Tower – which (according to Wikipedia) is the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere.
I had my reservations about going to their 360 revolving restaurant, suspecting it was just a tourist-trap, but at $36 each just to go up to the viewing deck, it was really only twice the price to have dinner there as well, and enjoy the slowly changing view of Toronto, 350m below, over the duration of the meal.
Their wines were pricey, but the food was superb. High quality, with thoughtful flavour combinations and careful presentation. (We can recommend the pork for main, and the chocolate delice for dessert.)
Our timing was perfect, having done one complete rotation by the time we finished, just as the sun was setting.
We headed down one level to experience standing on the glass floor – gazing down 342 metres felt surreal.
Out on the viewing platform it was cold and windy, and the mesh safety screen a photo-spoiler, so down one more level where we could walk around taking photos in comfort, to our hearts’ content, as the sky darkened and the city lights twinkled.
In stark contrast, the next morning we headed underground, meandering through the PATH: a maze of shops, cafes, and services – connecting major buildings in the city, protected from the elements.
Just like a never-ending Westfield – and (I’m not kidding) with a Starbucks at every turn!
Back up on street level, we made our way towards the historic Distillery District: 13 acres of restored heritage buildings which were once the Gooderham and Worts distillery, now housing shops, eateries and yes, even breweries.
We chose Mill St Brewery for lunch, which had great ambiance and many original features. The service was great – a tasting of beer before we ordered the same, and when I mentioned the chicken wings were a little dry, not only did they replace them, but didn’t charge for them either. Now that’s what I call service!
Thank you Toronto! It wasn’t our first visit, and I’m sure it won’t be our last.