Trip Start May 06, 2010
79Trip End Dec 17, 2010
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I have survived my first experience of being in a Youth Hostel! It's actually been a lot better than I thought it would be
I was knackered on Sunday after travelling all day Saturday and also due to lack of sleep because of the air con unit in our dorm. (It needs to be on due to temp, but is sooo noisy!) I am getting used to it now. The weather wasn't so good that day so I went to the Natural History Museum. I have bought a tourist visitor pass that gives me entry to 5 places for $59. To be honest I was so tired I didn't take much in and skipped the top floor as I was practically falling asleep going around it
I got some sleep on Monday night at long last and visited the CN Tower. It is really good, the views are spectacular and I got the sky pod to the top. They also have a simulation ride thing which was quite good too. After visiting the tower I walked around the harbour and took a boat trip out to the surrounding islands. They were really nice to walk along, (my favourite part of Toronto so far), and I had a chance to sit on the beach for while in the sun. All in all good day!
Didn't do much on Tuesday, had a bit of an admin day. I posted home the things I bought from S Africa and booked my flight to Calgary and a trip to Niagara Falls. The Post offices are really good here. They had boxes already made up so you could just pick up the size you wanted and fill it up. They also sold bubble wrap and they had sellotape guns on the counters so you could box, wrap and tape everything up in 2 minutes flat without having to take it home and bring it back
I went to Niagara Falls on Wednesday which I booked through Moose Tours. It was really good. I went on a day trip which included the Maid of Mist boat tour, a visit to Niagara On the Lake and a Vineyard for wine tasting. It was raining and cloudy that day which was a bit of a shame but it certainly doesn't spoil the sight of the falls. They are amazing. The boat tour was so cool. They give you these hideous blue macs to wear but they do keep you mainly dry so it is worth being a crime against fashion temporarily for comfort. The boat goes near the epicentre of the falls so you get spray coming at you from 360 degrees and get totally soaked!! It was wicked, it's so funny just looking at how soaked everyone is and laughing at everyone else. If you do a longer trip you can do a walk behind the falls. It would have been nice to do but in terms of budget I'm more than happy with the day trip I had. I have seen Niagara Falls - how cool is that?! The area around the falls is bizarre, it's a mini Las Vegas, all a bit random really but good fun to walk around for a short time.
Niagara on The lake is the town near the Falls and it is so pretty. It is protected so no fast food chains are allowed and no tacky signage or facades on buildings either. Everything looks like it did hundreds of years ago and it is beautiful. All the gardens are really well kept as well so it is just perfect.
The wine tasting was quite quick (damn it!). We went to Bees Nursery who do award winning Ice Wine. Wine was OK but I didn't buy anything
On Thursday I went to Casa Loma. It is a beautiful Castle at the other end of the City, a bit of a walk to get there ( I could have taken the subway but chose to get some exercise!) It's a really nice place, glad I went. Again, I will add photos at later point in time.
This morning the World Cup kicked off so there was a special breakfast here- muffins and dougnuts! Watching it made me miss Cape Town loads and of course I wished I stayed there longer now. I knew I would feel like that though so just have to focus on the tour ahead. Unfortunately RSA drew rather than won their first game but it's better than a loss!
I've had a wander around St Lawrence Markets today. They're just beside the hostel and they are fab. I've never seen such cheap, brilliantly fresh produce. There are also loads of bakery and deli counters with really lovely cakes and stuffed olives- not fair when you are on a budget and can't buy them! the supermarkets here are much nicer than the UK as well. They are all really clean and tidy, well stocked and everything looks really fresh, not a rotten piece of fruit in sight. The UK could learn a lot here
I also had a walk through China Town and Kensington Market. I loved both. I've got a really cute T shirt for my 2 year old nephew in a shopping centre in China Town which I will post in due course. There are loads of fruit & veg stalls, clothes stalls and little shops spread over a few streets. There is a really good lively atmosphere there and everything on the stalls is really cheap. It's worth a walk out of town for fresh fruit (cheaper than St Lawrence market and equally good quality!) and there are some nice tops and summer dresses there too. Kensington Market is equally lively and has a mish mash of shops representing loads of different cultures. We went into a retro shop which has loads of old stuff from the UK and USA, I think it was called Funky Junky, it is worth a look in just to see the collection of stuff in there. I also had a look in a few clothes shops as I am missing my summer dresses but I was a good girl and didn't buy anything. I really can't afford it!
When I first got to Toronto I instantly liked it. I did however think it was a bit shiny new looking and thought that due to the grid like street system lacked a bit of character. (I'm used to the old style architecture and make up of Edinburgh!) However, now that I've been here a few days I appreciate the modern architecture and quirky glass buildings. The city vibe is fantastic and the place is constantly buzzing. What do I think about Toronto now? I LOVE it, I could move here tomorrow very easily. Just as well I can't, I've got a whole lot more places to see.....
Top picks of Toronto:
China Town - there is a really good vibe there and loads to look at and lots of cheap food
Lawrence Market -3 floor fab indoor market with a vast array of stalls selling every kind of food. Bakery stalls to die for. Really fresh produce and loads of eating places.
Kensington Market- really eclectic mix of shops and stalls with a fantastic atmosphere. Funk Junky is a must look. You can easily dally away a couple of hours nosing in and out of the shops and there are a huge amount of cafe's and restaurants selling food from around the globe at very reasonable prices. As mentioned even cheaper produce than St Lawrence and brilliantly fresh.
Just walking around- costs nothing and it's great to soak up the city vibes.
Casa Loma- really pretty building and lovely but small gardens. There are picnic benches there so you can have your lunch after your tour around the castle!
Niagara Falls- don't think I need to say anymore. And if you go there you're practically at New York so you can choose to hop over the border and visit that too if you wish!
Finally for backpackers: Don't spend 20 quid or more getting to and from the airport, you can do it for 3. From the Airport take a bus to Kipling Station. Your ticket will transfer you onto the Metro where you can choose your route depending on where you are staying in the City Centre.