We moved on to stay near Toronto in a very nice city run campsite at Rouge River Park. The pitches are spacious and, although there is only one shower/toilet block, the facilities are clean and there is lots of hot water. Our setup has caused a fair bit of interest and we have enjoyed chatting with the friendly Canadians. I am not to sure about the cheeky chipmunk that keeps trying to get into the tent
On Thursday we caught the subway into the centre of the city and had a wander around.
I didn’t like the feeling Toronto gave me; the car is very much in charge and the huge great sky scrapers seemed to be the result of a group of architects having a macho contest (polite version); my one’s taller than yours. It feels a very inhuman place.
We wandered down to the harbour side and it was a bit better,
but you couldn’t help feeling that their heart was not in the tourist trade. Where were the nice little bars and jolly kiosks? We nearly got back on the train to go back on the campsite, but we thought we would give the CN tower a shot. It took ages (about an hour or so) to get up to the top, but it was well worth it.
The tower used to be the tallest in the world (it still boasts the world’s highest wine cellar)(not quite as good as the world’s largest frying pan, but close) but it still allows you to see the whole city and right to the other side of Lake Ontario.
They have the world”s first glass floor and we managed to cross it (apparently only one in three people manage that). (We trained in the Spinnaker tower in Portsmouth and the Tower of London; I know the CN tower at 500m odd is way higher, but you would be just as dead if you fell from any of them). Apparently the glass is 6 inches thick and could support the weight of 14 large African hippos. Why hippos? Tim said it was because they couldn’t fit elephants in the lifts (which also have glass floors, just to make you feel confident).
and we saw several of the para athletes around and about enjoying the sights
This man was in the Puerto Rica team (I think). Out side was a rock from the Matterhorn, sent by friendly Swiss people. (All sorts of countries seem to love sending Canada stuff)
Which pleased this lady of Swiss extraction no end.
Having booked (and paid) for four nights in the campsite, we grudgingly decided to head back into the city centre on Friday. The transport is dead cheap at the moment; a whole family can travel all day on busses, trams and trains for £5.70, so that was not a problem. A whole day’s parking is only £20 by the station and we managed to find a spot on both days. We thought we might as well have a boat trip around the harbour and then go and buy some late lunch.
The tour itself only lasted for an hour, as there wasn’t much to see, but it was pretty interesting and the nice young man doing the commentary was pretty funny.
The islands around Toronto used to have a huge range of attractions on them, including a fun fair, a baseball park (where Babe Ruth scored his first professional home run and lost his ball in the water), hotels and restaurants. The Americans used to flock there during the prohibition years, despite the fact that Canada had prohibition as well. Apparently a local doctor thought that whiskey was the cure for all ills and he used to prescribe it for ‘colds, fevers, paper cuts…’. It’s all now been turned into nature reserves and parkland
The views of the city were much more impressive from the boat and we could see the airplanes taking off and landing at the airport (propeller driven as the runway is too short for jets).
Although these signs were a bit concerning
Apparently a boat got sunk a few years back when it got clipped by a plane.
The Rogers centre, next to the CN tower, is the all singing and dancing stadium with a clever opening and closing roof that is home to the local baseball team the Bluejays. The place was heaving with blue clad fans, as there was going to be a game that night. The stadium has hosted a range of world class events from the Stones to Nelson Mandela, but our tour guide had to admit that the top three events that had ever been there were Wrestlemania 6, Wreslemania 7 and Justin Bieber. He made us promise not to tell, oops!
After the trip we wandered along to the top brewpub in town and Tim, after trying the beers and screwing up his face at the über-hoppiness of them all, tried to make me promise not to bring him back to a brew house, but the food and wine were way too nice for that.
Our waitress was a pretty blond girl called Caitlyn, who actually lives and works in London as a teacher because she can’t get a teaching job in Canada and someone was willing to pay her airfares so she can teach in the UK. There is a large shortage of teachers in the UK (there is a shock then).
In the evening our nice neighbours Michel and Karine invited us over to share their campfire and, although it was raining we spent a lovely time under their umbrellas chatting about like in Canada and their various travels.
It was interesting to find out about who speaks which language and why. Their oldest son has been taught in a bilingual way and his English is very good, as are Michel and Karine but schools now tend to be either French or English and they decided that, as French is a harder language, the two younger children should be in French schools.