Monday, January 31, 2011

Day 28 - Toronto to Niagara - Kurtz Farm, Floral Clock and Helicopter Ride

Sunshine and blue skies what a perfect day to be heading to see one of Canada’s busiest tourist attractions.
Toronto at 6am 
We headed out towards Hamilton on our way to Niagara. I was really looking forward to today despite the 8am take off. Just one day of 8.30am would be great.
Toronto at 7am 
I only had some fruit for Breakfast today since I was feeling a bit nervous about the helicopter ride but I was really excited about it.
Bye bye CN tower 
As we headed out of the Toronto city limits Christina pointed out Toronto’s answer to environmentally advertising with lawn advertising. It was kind of unique and cool. 
Eco Friendly Advertising Toronto Style 
We headed along the shores of Lake Ontario and enjoyed the very pretty bus ride. We even passed the Pirates of Caribbean ship that they used in the movies.
Pirates of Caribbean Ship 
I have to admit I snoozed for a bit this morning because I knew that we were in for a busy day and I would be tired. Even though I actually slept quite well the night before; so I just needed to catch up on the 4 nights previous of bad sleep.
At the Entrance to Kurtz Farm
It was a pretty drive and I woke up again when Christina announced that we were making a stop at a little place called Kurtz Farm which was a really cute little produce and meal pick up stop.
And they think us Aussies are Bad!!! 
It was really quaint but I made the mistake of ordering a custom made sandwich which cost me most of the stop. We have 20 mins here and 18 of that was spent waiting for the sandwich.
Fall colours along the best sunday drive according to
Norman Rockwell
But it gave me time to wander and I picked up some yummy stuff for my dad, twinny and work colleagues (which I kind of regret now – well the work people especially one of them).
the Floral Clock 
While I was waiting Steve was trying to plug me from information because apparently it had been under debate on the bus what my real age was. I just retorted I am younger than you and that is the important thing.  He told me I am not as old as you think…  It turns out he wasn’t …  haha whoopssss… but he says he gets all the time because of the gray hair and it turns out he is a independence day baby. 
The Floral Clock
Because of the delay in getting my food I didn’t get a chance to wander the property and take awesome photos L but I did get one or two.
up and up we go 
We headed out along the drive that Norman Rockwell once called the prettiest Sunday drive ever. It was nice but I preferred the Berkshires it was prettier to me. Still the colours were beautiful. 
Near the Whirlpools 
Our next stop was the Floral clock which was pretty cool but it was a good toilet stop. The only thing about the floral clock is that they need a small viewing platform it is too hard to understand the prettiness of the clock from ground level. Underneath the clock we were about to see the previous years clocks along with the workings of it. Also a chance to find out who was coming on the helicopter flight with me because I was getting really excited. So I worked out that Christina and Allan, Neil and Heather, Me!!!  But still hadn't worked out who the last couple was.
The beautiful Niagara River
But when I got back on the bus after exploring the floral clock I found who it was…  It was the Rif Raf…  I just realised how awesome these ladies were in that moment and later that night I would get to know them better.  But how awesome in your late 70’s to be brave enough to do this.. 
oohhh what is that mist... 
I did a quick download and back up of the photos as we drove towards the helicopter ride and swapped out cards. I wasn’t going to miss any of this. As it turned out some of the photos didn’t copy or I lost some of the files not sure what happened. But luckily I never delete anything from my memory cards haha
the Dam that helps to control the amount of water
that flows out of the area 
As we got there we all got off with me very excited but feeling nervous. Quick brush of the hair (god knows why) and reapplication of the lip gloss and I was good to go.
Ohhh Getting Closer 
I was determined to sit in the front seat since Sarah suggested it because of the experience and I think it was going to help with the fear factor.
I did ask the girls if that was ok if went in the front but forgot to check with Christina not realising that she was coming with us at the last minute.
American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls 
I was trying to calm other Christina because she is actually scared of heights and as I found out that night so was Hilda but they do everything together. I always thought I was scared of heights but I think it depends on the situations especially after going up the mountains on cable cars and CN tower etc.  I was in AWE more than anything else especially on the mountains.
Canadian Horseshoe falls 
But this was very different this was a helicopter and I was putting my life in their hands which was pretty scary especially for the first time. They ended up putting Christina at the front and I asked nicely if I could sit at the front but if I had known that this was her first time I never would have asked because she is like me in a lot of ways and it is a control thing. Being older and wise.. haha I would have happily sat in the back. 
Lake Eerie 
We took off on a slant to the ground which had my tummy turning a fair bit. But once I got used to it is was amazing..  The view was breath taking although he kept on slanting it over which was making me feel blah. When we were flying straight I was ok but on the slant ewww
Canadian Falls 
Then we came up on it … the falls finally our first view. The one thing that strikes you about the falls is the sheer volume of water. Simply mind blowing and we hovered over them which was soooo cool. 
Canadian Falls 
We flew out over the lake and got our commentary as we went but I was too interested in the amazing scenery. It gives you an idea on how awesome Mother Nature really is. Although I did try and get Christina’s attention so she could take a photo of me in the chopper but she couldn’t hear.
Edge of the American Falls 
The quirky fact even though the lake Eerie freezes over it does not freeze the falls due to the sheer volume of water flowing over the 3 falls.
Canadian Falls Sooo Cool 
Yes peoples there are 3 Falls… the American Falls and to the right of the American falls there is a smaller Bridal Veil Falls which if you look at them it can look like it is part of the main American falls.  Then the Horseshoe Canadian falls are the biggest of the 3. 
How awesome is this view 
We headed back which it was getting the point where I was starting to feel ill from all the slanting but still enjoying every second. …
Canadian vs American Soil
We came into land and ushered into the building to buy our photos! Mine was awful but I brought it anyway because it is a good memory. 
Coming into Land 
We waited for the bus to arrive back and waited for the toilet hogs. Other Christina had an enjoyable time as well. Like me thought it was a once in a lifetime experience and glad they did it. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Day 27 - Toronto - Afternoon Exploring and CN Tower Dinner

Before I went off to explore in the harbour area, I wandered trying to find the toilet which some of the group pointed me in the direction of … thanks guys for always looking after me.
Lake Ontario
I decided to take some time to relax and enjoy the beautiful sunshine so laid on one of the benches soaking in the warm Toronto sunshine. This is where I took this photo. Short sleeves with just a woollen espirt cardi vest on and my fav dkny black shirt. I was soaking up that VitD … and good for the soul!!!!
Toronto Sunshine
I wandered off to the st Lawrence’s market area past the beautiful historic Union Station and the Royal Oak…  Not sure why I didn’t go into this one I think because it was a little intimidating and would have had to cross a busy street so being lazy really.
CN Tower 
I made to the market and wandered until I found a little piece of heaven which had a whole swack of rogers chocolate… so a perfect little spot..  Even got some for mum and dad and See I can be generous with my chocolate. 
Getting ready for the Hockey Season and the FACE off celebrations 
Found a starbucks, sat and enjoyed some lunch rested my weary feet and caught up on emails. Along with what is happening in the world courtesy of the free wireless at starbucks. 
In a building near the Rogers Centre..  a bit cool the shower of lights 
Headed back through the downtown area past all the historic buildings it was quite pretty. Wandered past the Bay dept store and saw the tissue created dress.
The Tissue paper dresses 
Made my way to the Eaton centre hoping to buy something cute for tonight …  ohhh Roots …so easily distracted  haha looked in a number of stores but nothing was really inspiring me or I was just too fat which just depressed me. 
Union Station 
So I headed back to hotel but because of the hockey face off the access to where I needed I had to take a different route so I headed along Queen Street which was soooooo dodgy it was a little scary actually. I almost caught a cab back but it was the opposite side to where I was.
Royal York Fairmont - Toronto 
Got to the hotel dying of thirst and needing a foot rub but Tim Hortons was shut. Steve was in the foyer and directed me to the drink machine but there wasn’t any water L also wasn't forthcoming with the foot rub. With a reminder from Steve as I headed upstairs not to be late and I retorted with it takes time to look this good… LMFAO
Gooderham Building 
Eventually went to the business centre and there was a machine up there filled with water… Thank god. Then got into the slowest lift in the world and got ready to head out.
St Lawrence Market Area 
Curled up the hair and got ready. Forgot the tripod after I have summounded the lift which I have already waited 5 – 8 mins for but went back for the tripod and Christina rang as I was leaving the room.  Where are you!!! Sheesshhh I was only a few seconds late!!!
Gooderham Building 
Forgot my jacket but didn’t dare go back for it. Made it down after waiting ages again for the lift… to cheers on the bus… so embarrassed .. Bloody lifts!!! Went and hid my very embarrassed red face down the back of the bus. 
CN Tower 
We made it to CN tower in plenty of time and headed on up but the ones at the front of the bus went too far ahead and the slow pokes went up the wrong escalator because it wasn’t well signed.
Foyer of CN Tower 
But we found it in the end and headed on up in the very fast lift. It was pretty cool.  The restaurant was so cool with an amazing view just on twilight before sunset.  It was moving slowly enough that you can enjoy it and not feel sick. The CN tower is the Canadian National Railway tower and with the city scape 351 FT below us. It was built in 1974 as a communication tower and is now classed as a 7th wonder of the modern world.
Sunset from the CN Tower 
Enjoyed dinner with the Welsh crew and Marie with the amazing dinner rolls hehehe. Also with me getting up constantly to take photos and enjoy the sunset.
Sunset from the CN Tower 
After dinner we were able to go down to the observation deck and enjoy the amazing view. While they have the lights dim it was not enough to block behind the photos. So it ruined some pretty awesome shots. But glad I had brought along my tripod. 
Sunset from the CN Tower and I love this shot... I waiting for about 10mins for it 

I headed out to the wind deck which was amazing but soooo cold. 

It was so awesome. It was like you were being lift off your feet and blown away.
Follow the fishy as we moved around 
Also went a stood on the glass floor which Mum was grateful that she didn't know I was doing stuff like that or she really would have worried about me.  It was freaky standing on all that glass and looking straight down but still felt perfectly safe.  
Night time in Toronto
The queue was so long for the elevator so I headed back up to the restaurant and got a lift straight away .. hehe then went shopping in the gift store when I got stuff for the kids and kell Belle.
Night time in Toronto
We headed back to the hotel about 9.30pm and I headed to the business centre so I could return some emails and had to queue for a machine. Which mind you were the slowest machines in the world. 
CN Tower with the blue of the restaurant moving around 
I finally headed off to bed about 10.30pm after checking out my rogers chocolate haul… soooo yummy and looking forward to Niagara tomorrow. 
The yummmy Rogers Chocolate haul...  Alison this is ur fault!!! 

Day 27 - Toronto - Morning city Tour

After a decent 11 hours asleep I was feeling so much better. The beds were at least comfortable while the facilities like bathroom weren’t really fantastic but still no internet.
The Toronto Wall on the history of the city Mural 
I got ready with my vegemite in hand so I could head straight off to Shari’s as soon as we finished the city tour. I decided to check my email before heading down to the bus so I headed off to the business centre and there was an email from Shari…  Cancelling … Tragically she had lost a family member.  I was so very sad for her loss as well as the fact we would no longer get to meet.
Old and New Toronto City 
I was so sad.  I really wanted to meet this wonderful person and this was one of the primary reasons for me coming to Toronto…  So I am hoping next time. 
Crystal Cathedral in the Toronto Dominion Centre 
So I let Christina know that I wouldn’t be taking off on my own this afternoon. I was now at a loss on what do to with my afternoon as I hadn’t really researched Toronto that much considering that I knew that I wouldn’t be able to spend any real time in the city because I was going to driving a 1 hour west of the city to meet with my wonderful FB friend.
Crystal Cathedral in the Toronto Dominion Centre
Christina suggested I join the others in the CN tower excursion..  but first I had to cancel the hire car.  Needed to get the number from the front desk and she was so rude, it was almost like I was pulling teeth. Luckily I had my Canadian mobile or I would have been I trouble asking to use a phone.  They ended up giving me the wrong number. 
The Gold Paned Royal Bank  Plaza 
I am bit over this rude service it is like the 3rd time I had been spoken to like that at this hotel.  It has a really bad rating on Trip advisor which I understand why now. Looks good on the outside but underneath… with the slow elevators, no wireless, 3 very slow computers in the business centre and the bathroom not cleaned properly and then the bad service.
Union Station Toronto shadowed by CN Tower 
Got it all sorted and headed out to the bus.  I said my usual good morning to steve and he responded with … “it is a good morning now that I have seen you”  Awww you ole smoothy was my reply and I said I would pay that one and got a high five. It was the first time I really had seen him that animated and it was kind of fun.  I had been missing the flirt from my life and here it was in southern charm with a drawl J
Fairmont Royal York
I actually had breakfast this morning because there was a Tim Hortons next to the hotel so one hot chocolate and orange poppyseed muffin (only time I ever saw these overseas) later I was set to go.
Fairmont Royal York
We picked up our city guide and first up I noticed he looked very similar to the guide that we had in Ottawa and he seemed really knowledgeable on the mic. So much better than most of them so far. 
One of the Theatres in the Cultural Precinct 
We drove around the streets and got to know Toronto. We stopped at this wall that told the history of Toronto as told through the eyes of guy who was about 20.  Can’t quite remember the story on that one, But the mural was simply amazing with the detail and expressions. 
City Hall Plaza with the old City Hall 
As we drove past most of the residential areas we got a run down on the pretty town called Toronto. With over 25 different languages spoken in the GTA while still maintaining a lot of the British heritage, it is a city of diverse cultures.  The city limits population is around 2.5 million with the Greater Toronto Area population at 5.5 million with the overall population of Canada at 34 million so it gives you a idea on how big Toronto really is.   
the Metropolis Mural 
All of the Canadian banks HQ are in Toronto with major satellite offices in Montreal and Vancouver. In the GTA there are 2500 public parks and gardens.  It is a massive hockey town… like crazy hockey town. The Toronto maple leaves are the major hockey team and also the most successful financially but yet haven’t won the Stanley cup since 1967.
the Metropolis Mural
Our first stop was at the Toronto Dominion centre which has an awesome steel structure built into the building with the facade of the first bank in the Toronto still built into it. We also headed off to the underground city.
Diorama of the GTA 
The underground city aka the PATH connects all the shopping precincts with the CBD and the subway network. It is made up of 28kms of shopping and transport stops. It is pretty massive but they need to help get around the city when it is snowing because it is so cold in the city during the winter. 
Beautiful Toronto Sunshine over city Plaza 
We then made our way through the cultural precinct with many theatres and you realize how culturally diverse Toronto is in this area. Many of the Broadway shows are being shown here and with shows like Wicked just finishing it brings in some big name shows. We made our way to the City Hall area which has normally a massive fountain but it was under renovation and it was overlooked by the old city hall.
City Hall - Eye of the city 
The current city hall was made of a central lower level complex and then two semi-circle buildings to represent the eye of the government.
Casa Loma 
Inside was the metropolis of the city built from nails as the the centre point of the main entry in the foyer of the building.  With also a large diorama of the GTA which was really well done. It was also morning tea break with a toilet stop thrown in so perfect time for a hot chocolate and piece of fruit with a yummy crossiant..  mmmmmm yummmyyy
Chinatown Toronto
After we finished in here we headed back for the last part of the tour. I was beginning to feel a bit weary by this stage there was a lot of information to take in and my bad nights sleep kept on catching up on me despite the 11 hour sleep. 
Toronto Fashion District 
We headed out back Kensington Market area, Fashion district and Chinatown past the cat on the chair the huge thimbles. We drove to Casa Loma which a castle in the middle of the city. It was built from 1911 -1914 by George Pellett. It is a majestic paradise in the city.
CN Towers at the Rogers Centre 
As we headed back to the harbour area we went past the Rogers centre where we got to see the bronze statues of the hockey fans. These guys are definitely big hockey nuts!!!!  Although I would have loved to have gone to one game. 
Hockey Fans at the Rogers Centre 
We finished at the harbour region and we could wait the 2 hours for the bus or go off to explore while the others went on a harbour tour.  I voted for the exploring …