Part 2: Toronto
2hrs+ bus journey up to Toronto. Not quite as bustling & crowded as Tokyo or New York City (or rather, Manhattan) … Toronto reminds me of Singapore. Skyscrapers, Financial District, Shopping Malls, Restaurants, and crowds of people hitting its streets … yet at the same time, it’s not too overwhelming to the extent that you are always banging into someone within a 20cm radius range. Met up with some family friends and they treated us to a sumptuous lunch of dim sum. The best Chinese food I had since arriving in the USA. So much to the extent that I complained that MK’s breath smelled of dim sum! lol.
When the sun sets… Walked along the wealthy street of Bloor-Yorkville. Home to all luxury brands – LV, Prada, Chanel, Gucci, Burberry, Tiffany & co, etc. Having stayed in Buffalo for the past 4mths, it was indeed refreshing to hit to a city where its people are decked in fashionable and stylish winter-wear. I marveled at the sights of the young and beautiful. That, plus the gorgeous Christmas decoration displays of the many departmental stores.
Impressive architecture of the ROM – nope, not the Registry Of Marriage but the famous Royal Ontario Museum.
Drinks at Paranoma Bar, Manulife (51st storey). One place that offers you the opportunity to sip a drink or two while basking in the spectacular views of the city and lights. Another alternative is of course, the CN Tower (that’s the CN Tower in purple in the background) which Im sure boost even more marvelous 360 degrees views … but hey, that comes with a heftier price too. Wasn’t able to take clear pictures due to the reflective nature of the windows.
With only 1 day left to visit the sights and attractions of Toronto, you can be sure that it was hell of a packed day for us.
First stop – Casa Loma. Once, the biggest mansion ever built in North America. To some, it resembled a castle. In any case, it was home to 98 rooms, secret passageways, a stable, and even an 800-foot long underground tunnel. Like all grandeur homes, this house was located at the top of a hill (think: good feng shui) which thus offered its residents an amazing aerial view of downtown Toronto. A life-long dream of its owner, Sir Henry Pellatt. Though less than a century years old, there was however much history behind this remarkable building … enjoyed learning a bit more about it through our headphone guides. In the spirit of celebration with the coming Christmas, Casa Loma held a kids-oriented musical rendition of “Sleepy Beauty”. Think hi-5. It wasn’t too bad, got us in a chirpy mood though it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. I honestly believe that we saw about 300 or so kids right at Casa Loma. Kids watching the musical … running along the tunnel … exploring each and every inch of the historic mansion. Would you want to stay in a historical mansion like this?
School buses = time for excursion now, kids!
Allen Garden Conservatory
Well, visiting a conservatory is usually not on a typical tourist’s must-see list. However, being in a city can sometimes be rather overwhelming and so … this calls for a time to seek some sense of tranquility in a peaceful environment. And, there you go …
The popular Poinsettia flowers, also known as the “Fire Flowers of the Holy Night”. Did you know that the “Poinsettia has a built-in tome switch that causes the top leaves to change colour at the right time of the year- Christmas”? That’s the reason why it is fully embraced by many during the Christmas season!
Finally, last agenda of the day. Walked along Yonge Street – said to be the longest street in the entire world. Of course, the distance covered by us was only but a small fraction of the entire stretch. There’s Eaton Centre (an extremely huge shopping complex) , the world-famous Toronto Downtown Walkway (27km of underground shopping. Dont worry, u didn’t miss much. Quite similar to Citylink) and other smaller stores. Probably equivalent to our Orchard Road. Mainly just a time for us to people-watch ( well, it’s the holiday season so there’s plenty of people in a mad rush to shop for gifts for their significant others) and to enjoy the cold or rather, very cold climate together. Unfortunately, due to a shortage of time .. we weren’t able to do all that we planned. Had to miss out on Downsview Park Christmas lightings and Black Creek Pioneer Village. 😦 Visiting Toronto was a good break, but boy were we all hyped about visiting Horseshoe Valley, Barrie next … time for some fun in the snow – ski, snowboard, snow-tub. But who would have expected that sometimes, not all goes well according to the plans..
Part 3: Barrie, Oh Barrie! Whatever happened in Barrie, baby?