The sound of a trumpet pierces the early morning hour. Wait a minute! A trumpet! I open my eyes and hit the button on the side of my Fitbit - 4:30. Seriously! Who plays a trumpet at four-thirty in the morning? Knowing that sleep is now lost, I slip out of bed and tip-toe off to the bathroom. Too early to get up, I return to bed, settle myself on my wedge pillow, arrange the soft white sheet carefully over me, knowing I will be pushing the button on my Fitbit every fifteen minutes for the next hour and a half. Six o'clock a slightly more reasonable hour to get up when on vacation.
I love to travel, but I am a terrible sleeper away from home. Who am I kidding! I am a terrible sleeper, even at home. Too often on vacation, the beds are too hard, the room too hot, the fan too loud, or the neighbors next door decide to have an alcohol induced discussion at midnight. None of those things are a problem here in our studio suite on the sixteen floor of our historic hotel. One King West situated on the base of an old bank building is located on the corner of King and Yonge Street, on the edge of the Financial and Old Town districts in the heart of downtown Toronto. No, the problem here seems to be an early morning trumpet player. This might, slightly, be my own fault. When my husband noticed that one of the windows was ajar and wanted to close it, I told him to leave it open, I love hearing the street sounds. Sometimes you get more than you bargain for.
My husband and I are here to celebrate our 30th Anniversary. Toronto is quite the departure from our usual relaxing country vacation. I decided as we embarked on our thirty-first year together, we should push ourselves out of our comfort zone, see some new sights and work on discovering places together. He loves to do research on places, and know where he is going. I prefer to lace up my shoes, walk out the front door, and set off down the sidewalk, seeing what catches my eye as I wander along.
Already pushing us out of his comfort zone and knowing that I wanted to be able to celebrate our thirty-first anniversary together next year, I did do some research before the trip. There were a couple of places that I wanted us to visit, just as we had when we did a brief stay in Toronto twenty-seven years earlier. Casa Loma was at the top of the list, me being the lover of old, unique buildings. When I did some internet searching I found the City Pass which included entry to Casa Loma, CN Tower, Royal Ontario Museum, Ripley's Aquarium, and the Toronto Zoo, all these places for $58 US dollars per person. Even if we only made it to four out of the five, we had already saved quite a bit of money. I printed a map of downtown Toronto that I could easily fold up and put in my pocket, not entirely trusting that the Travel Pass plan that I had signed up for on my iPhone with Verizon would actually work, and then there would be no Google Maps. I also printed a map of the subway lines, although in the end we walked everywhere we went, Toronto being an easily walkable city.
We arrived in Toronto on Sunday afternoon, a smooth drive into the city and located our hotel quickly, thanks to Google Maps. The one dilemma we had was finding the valet parking for the hotel, not knowing it was behind the hotel, on a side street. So we first parked in a public parking garage and walked to the hotel, instead of driving around endlessly. After registering, we walked back to the garage, drove the car to the proper area and handed it off to the valet, always a weird feeling to hand someone you don't know your car keys and walk away.
Once unpacked, clothes stowed in drawers and hung on hangers, no living out of a suitcase for the next five days for this girl, I was excited to get out and explore. Neatly folded downtown street map shoved into my pocket, camera slung across my body, we were off to the waterfront. I grabbed our City Pass paperwork before we walked out the door, just in case we happened to wander down to the CN Tower.
Coming from Michigan and living within a mile of Lake Michigan, it takes a lot for a body of water to impress me, and honestly Toronto's waterfront felt lacking. So many people wandering around, all looking at the screens on their phones. I think my husband and I were the only ones without our phones in hand. It was also kind of dirty. We hurried along. Sighting the CN Tower, we made that our new destination.
CN TOWERThe City Pass helped us skip some of the line, but we were still eventually herded into lines like cattle. Having been to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the differences in the structures were quite apparent. Less space on the enclosed viewing platform, a much smaller open air viewing platform. A small section of glass floor at the CN Tower than people felt compelled to sprawl out on for lengthy periods of time.
Still, a delightful view of the city of Toronto, although looking back we probably should have done the CN Tower later in the trip so we could look at all the places we had been, as opposed to not knowing the places we were yet to go. I recommend visiting the tower once, but once is probably enough.
What caught my photographer's eye and history lover's heart was Roundhouse Park across the street from the tower. A 17-acre park that contains a preserved locomotive roundhouse which now houses the Toronto Railway Museum. We never made it to the museum, that leaves something for next time.
Also located in Roundhouse Park is Steam Whistle Brewing, a brewery that sells only one beer, which is hard to fathom for somebody that comes from Beer City USA where the average is 40 different brews on tap. We did make it to the brewery the next day, at least I didn't have to ponder what to order.
By this time it was getting late, and we still had to eat supper. We wandered back to the hotel amid the traffic and horn honking...
**The rest of our wanderings of Toronto coming soon...