Today started with a roaring belly that was quickly filled with an (included) pancake breakfast. We met some pretty interesting people including a girl from BC who claimed she had the idea to win the Nobel Prize. Amazingly, the day didn’t get less interesting.
We were met my two lovely people from McMaster, my mentor Amy and her friend Kelly. They took us on a guided tour of Toronto. We started by walking through Chinatown, the arts district and Little Italy. We had lunch at an amazing café called Fresh. It was completely vegetarian and I was almost as confused as Mark was looking at an all vego menu of my favourite burgers and wraps (for opposite reasons of course). I just didn’t know what to do with so much choice! I made a good one though and had a very delicious mushroom and onion burger with something called Kale Slaw on the side. Toronto seems like a pretty cool place, it is so culturally diverse and full of creative little gems… like this car filled with dirt, potted with plants and a blooming sunflower.
We then ventured down into the Toronto subway system (with the help of our guides) and were lucky enough get the brand new train. Amy and Kelly were telling us that it has been in development for about 10 years and it was their first ride on the new one too. It was pretty cool with red seats and connecting carriages so that if the need presented itself, you could race your friend from end to end.
Once exiting a very grand station with an amazingly high ceiling, we walked through the Distillery. It’s a really cool area with lots of arty little shops and galleries. One such shop was filled with artworks made from arrangements of different permutations of Rubik’s cubes. Mark and I were thoroughly impressed with the integration of geekiness and art.
Along the streets were lovely flowers everywhere, pouring out of gardens, streetlights and other box-like structures. The whole city was coloured with murals, bright paint and flowers. Looking at all the maple trees I could only imagine how vibrant it is in the Fall (yes, not Autumn, I think in Canada the season is most definitely the Fall).
A major discovery of today that milk does in fact come in bags. You read me right people… Not cartons or bottles but big plastic bags. Apparently there are 3 smaller bags inside the big one, and you just snip off the end and pour it out. I still cannot fathom how this does not get everyone crying over their spilt milk… but I will endeavour to find out.
While exploring the Distillery it started to bucket down rain… to the point that umbrella’s were overflowing. But after a short run through the rain and ducking into some very expensive furniture shops, the thick raindrops and cracking thunder (which I maintain does not sound like Aussie thunder) desisted. We made out way to Toronto Harbour which has some very interesting markets and architecture.
It is such a pretty place. I think a city really needs a harbour, adds a certain practicality, sense of connectedness and let’s just face it… it’s classy. Mark and I (especially Mark) thoroughly enjoyed our tourist poses and new-found accents (that one is my favourite). I mean seriously, we have accents! It is so fun. I never knew I had an accent. Apparently we sound British, which made me want to mention the word “Hoover”, but I refrained and instead taught our local friends some good old Aussie slang like “This arvo” and “Full as a goog”. Mark argued that the goog reference was specific to my family as opposed to Australia but I think it’s as Aussie as Vegemite.
Something quite different to what we are used to back home is an artificial beach (aka big sand pit near the water). It wasn’t quite a beach but it was quite cool. We also met some very graceful looking Canadian geese. There were surprisingly social with foreigners.
Anyway after much exploring and learning about Canadian culture we headed back to our hostel. Need to get to sleep at a reasonable hour tonight (which is not looking promising) as we head off on our big tour around eastern Canada tomorrow morning! I am currently trying to move enough clothes into a tiny little bag so I don’t have to lug around my big suitcase and ski boots on a backpackers tour (the lovely hostel is letting us leave our bags in lockers FOC).