Monday, March 7, 2011

My Ten Days in Toronto

First, a little disclaimer.  I actually spent my days in a suburb of Toronto... Mississauga... so not actually Toronto, but if I told you I was going to Mississauga nobody in the US would know where I was talkin' about!  I've been home for just over a week now... so I thought it was time I got this post that I had planned done!

One of the first things I was surprised about on this trip was how flat everything is.  I'm not really sure exactly what to compare it to... maybe Phoenix, AZ?  Certainly not the Pacific Northwest!  I think the only hills or inclines were the on ramps to the freeway.

Thursday, the day I arrived the temperatures had gone from extremely cold to the 40's.  The next day, Friday,  was a record setting temperature of 58 degrees!  What a welcome... much of the snow actually had melted.  Since Friday was virtually balmy by most people's standards, we ventured out for a walk to Starbucks (of course) and a local market.

We spent most of the rest of the day relaxing and watching "Sarah's Cottage" on HGTV Canada online!  This isn't available in the US and I being the big Sarah Richardson fan I am really wanted to see this!

By Saturday, it was windy and cold again.  We had plans to spend lunch with some fellow bloggers from the Greater Toronto Area.  It ended up being a small group since it didn't work out for a couple of folks.  I was disappointed but I know how these things can be... We had a fabulous time and spent over 3 hours at the restaurant!  After lunch we had a waiter take our photo... so from left to right is me, my daughter Krysta of Dropped Stitch Knitter, her boyfriend Sten (not a blogger yet) and Lisa from Suburban Retreat (and from the GTA or Greater Toronto Area).

After lunch we did a few errands and headed down toward Lake Ontario and Port Credit for dinner at a local pub.

Sunday we headed down to Niagara Falls, my one real must see for the trip, and spent the night.  You can read more about Niagara Falls, here.

On the return trip on Monday we stopped in Niagara on the Lake.  We drove through the town and turned around at Lake Ontario.  It was windy and the waves were coming in and this ice and snow (nope, that's not a beach) was floating up and down as each wave came in under it.  I still can't get over the fact that a lake that large can freeze!

What a charming old town it is!  I would love to see it in the summer months but it was still beautiful covered in snow!

After checking out some shops in Niagara on the Lake, we spent the afternoon at a couple of wineries taking their tours.  I'm not a wine drinker but it certainly was interesting to hear all about the growing of grapes and making them into wines.  First up was Jackson-Triggs Winery.  Their tour focused on the actual process of making wine.

The Niagara region produces a great deal of wine and also produces the extremely expensive ice wines.  Our second tour was at Peller Estates Winery.  It had more of the feel you expect at a winery, old and elegant.  Their tour took us outside to look at the vines and talk a little more about the history of that particular winery as well as the grapes from growing them to harvest.  Both of the tours we went on were very different in content and information.

Tuesday was a day relaxing at my daughter's home.. actually I was relaxing, she was working on a project for school.  I also got to finish watching the episodes of Sarah's Cottage that I hadn't seen yet!  They have that great little market in their neighborhood and we took advantage of the cold, yet sunny, day to walk to the store to pick up supplies for dinner.  And I couldn't resist a photo opportunity of these fabulous, locally produced bottles of pop!

Wednesday we headed north to the city of Brampton.  I had read about Brampton and a little store called Not Too Shabby on Lisa's blog, Suburban Retreat.  It was quite a store and I just wish I could have brought some of that fabulous vintage furniture home with me, but of course, it wasn't going to fit into my suitcase!

It is a beautiful old city with a fabulous park, complete with ice skating trail!

The homes and stores in Brampton's downtown were fantastic.  We walked down a couple of side streets to get a closer look.

And the old brick homes reminded me what you might see around an old University or hospital.  We stopped for a latte and a chai tea at a coffee shop.

After picking up Freyja from home, we headed down to Lake Ontario so I could see the lake on a beautiful cold but clear day.

I of course thought we should walk down on the beach to get the best pictures... until my daughter informed me that wasn't the beach... if you look closely you will see holes in the snow... it is ice with snow on top.  I would have been in for a very unwelcome surprise!

As I looked to the east... there is Toronto!  And the CN Tower!

Let's move over and get a better shot.  It is a beautiful setting for a large city.

Thursday was our day trip to Ikea in Etobicoke, a suburb of Toronto....  We went early and had the dollar breakfast!  Eggs, sausage and potatoes for just a dollar.  We visited a couple of other stores including HomeSense which I've read about on a lot of blogs.  We don't have a HomeSense and I must say I was impressed!  We also stopped in at a local fabric store.  It reminded me of the fabric stores from when I was young, very unlike the fabric stores we currently have here.  Not a lot of selection and it was kind of, well, rundown to put it nicely.

Friday was another relaxing day at my daughter's home.  Her boyfriend obtained free tickets to a Raptor vs. Suns basketball game for Friday evening.  Steve Nash plays for the Suns, he's a "local" boy from Victoria, BC.  He kind of  looked a little small there on the court, when we looked up his stats, well he is 6 ft. 2 in.  Not too short in real life but many of the other players TOWERED over him!

It was quite a bit of fun and my first trip to actual downtown Toronto.

All the skyscrapers and of course, CN Tower, were lit up and it looked gorgeous.  The above photo is the front of the Hockey Hall of Fame, it's housed in an old bank.

Saturday... the final day of my stay.  I purposely had booked my return flight for the evening so that I could have an "extra day" here plus early morning flights always mean no sleep for me the night before.  For some reason I'm always panicked that I will sleep through my alarm or something.... pretty silly since I've never slept through my alarm in my life!  It actually worked out well since now we had almost an entire day to spend together.... We once again headed to downtown Toronto.  CN Tower in the daylight.

Can you guess where this beautiful stained glass dome is?

The Hockey Hall of Fame!  Really!  Under this dome is the Stanley Cup.  Now I'm sure that my husband or son may have enjoyed this more than I, but it was pretty cool.  Seattle, WA had a team the Seattle Metropolitans, a professional hockey team from 1915 to 1924.  They actually won the Stanley Cup in 1917.   I love the old hockey sweaters.

And of course, our favored NHL team, the Vancouver Canucks.  They entered the league in 1970 and have never one the Stanley Cup... only made it to the finals twice in fact.  Maybe this year!

And of course, we had our picture taken with the Stanley Cup, however blogger wasn't cooperating and wouldn't upload the picture any way except sideways... so I give you the original Stanley Cup that is kept in what was originally the bank vault.

Lunch on that final day was at a pub and we had fantastic fish and chips.  Interestingly enough the fish was haddock, here in the Pacific Northwest our fish and chips are usually made out of cod or halibut.  They were very good and we also got to enjoy a rugby game on the big screen. 

After lunch we decided to walk up the street towards Eaton Center, a downtown mall.  It was interesting since some of the floors are below the main floor that you enter on.  For some reason I thought this was really strange.

We also passed by this HUGE store, The Bay. 

We went inside and just walked through the first floor.  Most of that floor was dedicated to cosmetics and perfumes.  It reminded me of department stores of my youth... nothing like the department stores you find in malls across America (and Canada obviously) today.

We headed back to home passing through many neighborhoods of downtown Toronto.  Church St. that had two the most amazing churches I'd ever seen, the "high end" area where the expensive stores are and even an Asian district or Chinatown.... there certainly were some interesting looking things for sale on the sidewalks in this neighborhood!  We also passed through the University of Toronto area, just what you expect with lots of coffee shops and young people out and about. Our final stop of the day was at store called Honest Ed's.  i was so overwhelmed I forgot to take any pictures.... I'm not even sure if I could describe it to you.  It was a maze of floors and rooms all full of cheap inexpensive items.  It reminded me of a Woolworth's of my youth only much, much bigger.
By now it was time to head to the airport and my trip home.  It started to snow and because of the snow my flight was delayed for about 1 1/2 hours.  By the time we landed in Vancouver (BC), it was 11:30 pm which of course meant I felt like it was 2:30 am!  It was snowing here when I got in so the trip home took a little longer than usual and I was so tired by the time I went to bed that I was a little out of sorts.

All in all, it was a trip to remember... but it does feel good to be home.


  1. Ahh the Pop Shoppe. It's not around as much as it used to be, but when I was a kid, that was our Saturday night treat when my parents went out. We loved all the flavours!

    So glad you had a great visit Chris. So disappointed that I was sick as a dog. : (

    Maybe on your next visit, you can come see the other Lynden. : )

    Love this post!

  2. Thank you Chris, for such a great report about Toronto. I love reading about other places and you've really describe the area to a T. It's such fun to travel to new places too, isn't it?
    Now I'm curious about Sarah's Cottage and Homesense. BTW, thanks for your help with my bathroom remodel. Love the idea for the shower curtain and window treatments. And if you want to see a nice sample of hex tiles for your future remodel; stop by Lynden Flooring and ask to look in their bathroom. I bet you'd love it!

  3. Sounds like you had a great trip. So sorry I couldn't meet up that day! It was fun seeing your visit in photos, the town I grew up in and many of our favourite places nearby. We love the Hockey Hall of Fame (ok, hubby more than me, too.) Hopefully you can visit Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Falls again in summer weather for a comparison.

  4. It is so funny that to see you highlighting stores that seem so normal to me...THE BAY, EATONS CENTRE. The Pop Shoppe is from my youth and as the above reader is only for Special occasions it was the highlight of every kid I knew.

    HomeSense is and awesome store.

    So glad you had fun and the weather did not freeze you out so much you could not enjoy the outdoors.

    How come your daughter is in Ontario? What kind of VISA does she have?

  5. You had a great time!
    I have to admit to being a little envious, as my trip to Toronto has had to be put off due to my husband's illness. I'm glad you liked Niagara-on-the-Lake. It's such a pretty town - I like to visit in summer, when the Shaw Festival is on.

  6. Glad you enjoyed your trip here in Ontario. Mississauga eh! cool.Went to Brampton wow that is were I was born, it once was a farming town ,what you saw was the original part of the farming town , but sadly now it has grown to a large city of over 400 thousand people and is deffinatly not the same quaint little farming town it once was. I am glad you enjoyed your tour . We have lots of small farming towns and villages here in South Western Ontario just off of lake Erie ! Lovely photos and thanks for sharing my Canadiana with all of us ! Have a great day !

  7. We were very glad to have you here! Hopefully, you can come out in the summer... Perhaps (and very hopefully) when we're moving home?

  8. What a fabulous post! Hopefully you will have the opportunity to visit again during the warmer weather. The GTA becomes a whole different world during the summer. I'm glad you made it up to "Not Too Shabby". Your skyline photos of Toronto turned out great!

  9. What a great trip! All your photos were great, but I especially enjoyed the stained glass! I love watching Sarah Richardson! I'm also your newest Follower! Stop by when you have a moment! I've enjoyed my visit today!

  10. Sounds like you had a terrific time! We visited Niagara-on-the-Lake years ago, but I still remember how charming it was. It was summer and they had the most beautiful, huge, hanging baskets of flowers in front of the shops. Makes me want to go back...thanks! -Mary

  11. Sounds like you had a great time. It's great to get away sometimes just to recharge ourselves. I've been to the city of Toronto before for a business trip for a week. I thought it was a great city. Glad you could see your daughter!

  12. What a fabulous trip!
    It is always great to be home though!


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