Over Memorial Day weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to Toronto with Thad and my in-laws. My sister-in-law is a ballet dancer and had her final performance of the year and since we hadn’t been up to see her yet this season, we decided to make the trip. Toronto is a great city with so much to see and do that we only got a fraction of it in, but I thought I’d share the highlights and some of my photos.
Friday morning we hit the road early. In addition to making the drive to Toronto, we also planned to spend a little time at Niagara Falls. Since Thad had never been there before, and the last time I had gone I was also little enough to get blown around by strong winds near the falls, it seemed like we were both overdue for a visit.
The drive up was uneventful, except for a poor bird that died a somewhat violent death on our hood. Kind of put a damper on things, but fortunately we (okay, I) was feeling better by the time we crossed the border.
One thing about Niagara Falls is that it’s actually a little tricky to just stop by and see the falls. If you’re staying at a nearby hotel, you will be able to park in their lot, but if you’re just stopping by, it’s significantly more difficult to find a place to stop and get out. After about a half hour of driving in circles, we found parking in a large lot behind the Imax show for $1/hr. The only other open lot we saw was $20, so I think we got the better of the two deals. Between rain that fell for most of the time we were there and the mist from the falls, it was more dampness, less view, but it was still an experience to see such an impressive natural wonder up close. After a quick bite to eat, we headed off to Toronto.
We were in the city for a long time before we saw the city. The suburbs we drove through I would have classified as “downtown” due to their high rises and offices for major companies, but once we got to the city, we could tell. We finally arrived safely at our residence for the weekend: Victoria’s Mansion. At the recommendation of my in-laws and because of its convenient location, we stayed here for the weekend. An old-fashioned house turned into a hotel, the building is quaint but has comfortable rooms. We only stayed in a room with a double bed, so rooms with other size beds may be larger, and although the room was a little small, we slept soundly in the bed and enjoyed a sparkling clean bathroom. For an affordable place to stay in “The Village,” a well-kept, bustling, and very diverse area of the city, you really can’t beat it.
After driving and touring for most of the day, everyone was happy for a low-key evening. We went to a restaurant at the end of Church Street called the Brownstone Bistro and Bar, a place my sister-in-law recommended. We may have been influenced by a long day of driving, but we all thought the food was absolutely delicious. I ordered a pasta dish with chicken and cooked vegetables – it came in a slightly-creamy red sauce with a breadstick on the side. The vegetables in the meal were (as far as I could guess) peppers, broccoli, and carrots, all of which were cooked perfectly. Thad got a burger with mushrooms that he really enjoyed. It was served with great presentation and some delicious fries, which I tried. Along with the food we enjoyed some really good Riesling from the Niagara-on-the-lake region which was very crisp and refreshing. (I believe those are the technical fancy wine terms.)
After dinner, we took a stroll through the streets around where we were staying. We ended up at Loblaws, a market located in the old Maple Leaf Gardens. Part grocery store and part butcher, baker, candlestick maker, etc, it has a huge variety of all kinds of food. The cheese cooler stood about 10 feet high and included some large, Skyrim-esque wheels.I was also very tempted by the assortment of fresh cakes, pastries, and petit-fours, but stuck with a lavender rooibos latte. Thad enjoyed some of the hockey-themed decor – a giant mural takes up one wall near the front and tables feature a photo timeline of sorts that details famous players or musicians who had been there.
Back at the room as I sipped my latte and we watched a little TV before bed, we looked forward to a day of exploring the city and seeing the ballet performance.