Despite all of Patrick’s ominous warnings (see my last post), Justin and I really enjoyed our trip to Toronto. It’s a much bigger city than Pittsburgh, with almost too many tourist attractions to choose from. In fact, the biggest mistake we made was looking at different destinations on the map and thinking, “We can definitely walk to that!” and spending forty exhausting minutes realizing that it was really a much longer walk than we thought it would be. So by the end of the trip, our legs were broken, but our thirst for adventure was satisfied.
Here are a few of the highlights:
Somehow, our GPS immediately knew when we crossed the border into Canada, because it turned very Canadian all of the sudden and started directing us in meters. It would have been extra exciting if the GPS robot voice adopted a Canadian accent as well. “Bear right at the next roundABOOT.”
Toronto’s official city motto is, “We’ve been expecting you,” which is a little creepy. But thankfully, nothing creepy happened at this (much larger) hostel where we stayed for the next two nights. It’s across from a city college, so it’s a hostel by summer, and a college dorm during the school year.
The CN Tower is the tallest free-standing structure in the western hemisphere (over 1800 feet). We didn’t cough up the cash to go inside, but it was still cool to look at from the bottom.
Speaking of shopping, Toronto is host to the world’s largest underground shopping center–it’s basically a series of labyrinth-like tunnels that connect to subway stations all under the city. This is another one of those times when we said, “We can walk it!” and we didn’t even get a quarter of the way through it before our feet started hurting. It is HUGE! This regular, above-ground shopping mall marks the beginning of the tunnel.
One of the places I was most excited about visiting was Casa Loma. Aside from the fact that it’s basically a castle in the middle of Toronto (originally built as a private residence), it houses a lot of interesting secrets. A bunch of movies have been filmed here, including X-Men, The Skulls (an older one starring teenage Joshua Jackson), Chicago, and even strangely, The Pacifier (with Vin Diesel). As I wandered around the house, I felt like I was navigating a life-sized version of the board game Clue.
The coolest thing was that the Study actually did have a fake bookcase panel that hid a secret passageway down to the basement and the wine cellar. It also held a passage way to the upstairs rooms. So Sir Henry Pellatt (the original builder/owner) could just pretend to be taking an important phone call in his study during dinner, and actually sneak away somewhere. They allowed us to use the secret passageways, which I also thought was exciting, though a little bit claustrophobic. Casa Loma also has an underground tunnel that leads to the garage and the horse stables! At one point, Sir Pellatt used his horse stables and tunnel to house government agents working on top secret research on a sonar device that would help them defeat the Nazis! He was able to carry on a normal social life, having lavish dinner parties and overnight guests without anyone realizing what was going on below. I can’t even begin to explain how excited I get about stuff like this…secret passages, hidden tunnels! This is basically my dream house.
Overall, we really enjoyed Toronto, and we hope to go back there again someday! There is so much more to see and do, it would probably take three trips to cover everything! 😀