The bus left at 8.30 and it was a 1.5 hour drive to Toronto. Our first stop was to see the Ontario Parliament Building. A vast pink sandstone edifice opened in 1893 that dominates the end of University Avenue. Finished in 1892, it's main facade is a panoply of towers, arches, and rose windows decorated with relief carvings and set beneath a series of high-pitched roofs.
We left the Parliament Buildings and arrived at the University of Toronto at about 10.30. The University of Toronto grew out of a Royal Charter granted in 1827 by King George IV to Toronto's King's College. Seen by the church as challenging its control of education, the new institution weathered accusations of godlessness and proceeded to swallow its rivals, becoming in the process one of Canada's most prestigious universities.
Here we saw the fine rotunda of the University's Convocation Hall and University College. We also saw the Meridian of Toronto. This line, in the true north-south direction through the site of the Toronto magnetic observatory, marks the meridian for Toronto that was recognised by scientists around the world until 1908.
Nearby was the Toronto Time Sundial. The gnomon of this sundial, being parallel to the earth's axis of rotation, point to the north celestial pole. It's angle above the horizontal is thus 43°40' (the latitude of Toronto). The shadow cast on this equatorial scale (roman numerals) shows the apparent solar time for this longitude (79°24' West of Greenwich), XII (noon) marking the sun's crossing of the meridian.
We left downtown Toronto and made our way to Casa Loma arriving at about 10.50. This unusual Gothic revival house was designed by E.J. Lennox, the man responsible for Toronto's Old City Hall.
With its combination of architectural elements, the house is a remarkable tribute to Sir Henry Pellatt (1859-1939), one of the most influential industrialists of early 20th century Canada. He made a fortune in hydroelectric power during the early 1900s, harnessing the strength of Niagara Falls for electricity. In 1906, Pellatt decided to build himself a castle. Three years and CAN$3.5 million later, construction was halted due to the outbreak of World War I.
We were given personal headsets and maps and were free to wander around the castle. There were lots of impressive rooms like the conservatory and Sir Pellatt's Suite which included a huge bathroom containing a free standing shower with 6 heads and featured lavish decoration.
My favorite room was Sir Pellet's study which contained 2 hidden staircases, one leading to the wine cellar and the other upstairs to the second floor. I also found the partially completed swimming pool to be very interesting. The plans called for the pool to be surrounded by cloisters, marble arches and gold swans around the edge. It reminded me of the excavated underground pools at Bath.
We were also able to climb to the top if the Scottish Tower. We had an hour and a half to spend at Casa Loma but we still managed to run out of time and were unable to check out the stables. We left Casa Loma at 12.20 and it was about a 30min drive to the Chinese restaurant.
We sat with Anne, Ludo, Matthieu, Johny and our Indian friends. The restaurant was quite nice and food was very fresh. The sushi was yummy and there were lots of options to choose. The guys from Reunion made us try some different desserts, which Trish and I both thought tasted like playdough! Needless to say I didn't mind them :) We had until about 2pm for lunch and then back on the bus to start our long journey back to Montreal.
After the first 2 hours we stopped at Colborne, the home of the "Big Apple", a tourist attraction located along Ontario Highway 401. With a height of 10.7 metres (35 ft) and diameter of 11.6 metres (38 ft), the Big Apple is billed as the largest apple in the world. There is an observation deck on top of the apple, a restaurant and souvenir shop. I had a wander around and checked out the big apple and there were some Llamas too and a gift shop. It wasn't very nice weather, very windy and a bit chilly, so back on the bus.
I was watching some of a movie on my iPad and went to listen to some music and change position with it on my lap and it fell off onto the floor, not a very big drop but just enough to break the headphones in the hole :( not very happy! It started raining as we were driving back to Montreal. Good timing as we had had great weather all weekend!
We stopped for the last time at a truck stop with Tim Hortins where I got a BLT and soup and hot chocolate for dinner. We didn't have long here before we were on the road again. The tour guide had been showing Mr Bean movies the whole trip, yuk, so I was pleasantly surprised that he put on "Shall we Dance" for the last part of the trip. Otherwise I would have been stuffed without my music to drown our Mr Bean!
We arrived in Montreal at about 8 and said goodbye to the friends we had made on the tour. We had the short walk up Rene Levesque and Bleury home, it was great to put my heavy bags down. Unpacked my bags and had a shower then ready for bed :) What a great trip!
Got woken up this morning at about 7.30 by a wake up call. Got ready then headed to breakfast at 8. Had the scrambled eggs, potato gems and pancakes and chatted with Kishore who sat with Trish and I for breakfast. I was surprised that I didn't have a bad hangover!