In 1984, Peter, the kids and I took a train trip across Canada starting in Toronto, where we made a quick visit to the CN Tower, then the tallest structure in the world, before boarding the train.
I didn’t remember anything about Toronto. I didn’t even remember that it is on Lake Ontario. That was my first surprise about this vibrant, culture-filled, diverse city, now bigger than Chicago, with one hundred and fifty-five cranes hovering over downtown when we visited last weekend.
On Thursday night, we arrived on a double-decker bus from Buffalo (a trip that cost us $10 each) where we had visited my 102-year-old Aunt Ruth. We took a cab (for more than $10) to our perfectly restored Victorian B&B in Little Italy. Getting Canadian money and finding a cab at the bus station were our only challenges of the long weekend.
We spent most of Friday on a Hop-On-Hop-Off bus tour that included a one-hour boat trip to the islands in the harbor. It was a perfect day and a perfect city orientation.
We had dinner in the trendy Distillery District with Toronto friends. On Saturday they showed us everything they thought we had missed on the bus tour. Saturday night they gave a dinner party for us. On Sunday morning, we walked to nearby Kensington Market, a quirky collection of produce markets, restaurants, vintage clothing stores and old, oddly-painted, houses before we headed to the airport.
And even that was fun. The airport for Porter Airlines is in the city. It is a two-minute ferry ride from downtown. When I looked in the waiting lounge for some nuts to buy for the plane-ride home, the restaurant folks directed me to the free-food area where they offered an unlimited supply of warmed almonds, cookies, coffee, soft drinks and water, free for all. That’s unheard of in these days of airline austerity.
Would we return to Toronto? In a second.
And please note that the Toronto Visitor Information Services has not paid me for writing this blog entry.