We spent our summer vacation in Toronto this year. It was a 6 day trip for the purpose of taking Mathew to Toronto Fanexpo convention at the end of August. According to their website, “FAN EXPO Canada™ boasts the largest comics, sci-fi, horror, anime, and gaming event in Canada, the third largest in North America”. This was a treat for Mathew after the brutal year of chemotherapy and radiation. He is a huge fan of Comicons and Fanexpos and this one lined up nicely in time for him to recover from the last treatment. We also wanted to stay in Canada in case any problems (ie, medical) occurred during the trip.
When we booked the travel and accommodations in May Mathew was still too sick to care much about anything but once treatment came to a close and he felt better his interest and excitement picked up. He started reviewing the schedule of exhibitions and events. He pored over the website for news of guest appearances and panels he wanted to attend. By the time we left for Toronto we had a daily itinerary laid out.
So at the end of August the dogs were packed off to the kennel and family agreed to look after the cat. On August 25th we drove to our local airport and flew off to Toronto on a very noisy turbo prop airplane, one of Air Canada’s finest I’m sure. Mathew had a great flight and probably didn’t need the ativan, although his behaviour earlier at home indicated otherwise. John and Mathew watched shows on one side of the aisle while Kristen and I relaxed in the seats on the other side. Those seats are small and squished together; it was so tight it went beyond cozy. I barely got my seatbelt on (yes, I got the hint to lighten the load a little…) and there is no way in hell Mathew and I could have squeezed together comfortably.
On our 2 hour flight free snacks consisted of a non-alcoholic beverage and a tiny bag of peanuts or almonds or something. A chocolate bar or chips could be purchased in-flight and that was about it. On our return flight we brought our own snacks (some healthier than others).
Toronto’s Pearson International Airport overwhelmed me. Apparently living in New Brunswick the last 7 years shrunk my world considerably as I’ve travelled through large airports over the years without being bothered. Saint John could easily fit in that airport it is so big. Not to worry though, our little plane had its own little spot at the very end of the Air Canada Terminal. All we had to do was disembark, enter the building and walk forever to collect our luggage and exit at the other end (how many kilometres alone was that little jaunt?).
Once outside we hired a taxi minivan to drive us to the Sheraton Centre Hotel in Downtown Toronto. The $90 charge is about the same as the hotel shuttle but it didn’t have to stop at various hotels along its route. I definitely felt small-town while we drove through Toronto traffic to the hotel. Even though it was a Monday afternoon and not during rush hour it was still absolutely nuts! Multiple lanes backed up both ways, hideous detours from major construction going on and everywhere you looked, traffic, traffic and more traffic. If I had to drive to Toronto I would park on the outskirts and take some other mode of transportation within city limits; with a couple of million people all trying to get around there are serious headaches out there! Our preferred method of getting around was by foot, subway and cab if absolutely necessary.
On the way to the hotel our driver told us about the lights on top of this building. It serves as a weather beacon! Rather than paraphrase the cab driver, I’m quoting Wikipedia below the photo:
“The building is perhaps best known for its weather beacon, whose colour codes provide summarized weather forecasts at a glance. The information is updated four times every day by Environment Canada’s Weather Centre at Toronto Pearson International Airport. The top light shows:
Steady green = clear
Steady red = cloudy
Flashing red = rain
Flashing white = snow
The white lights along the support tower show:
Lights running up = warmer
Lights running down = cooler
Steady = steady temperature”
How cool is that?
The Sheraton Centre Hotel has a classy exterior and lobby. The doormen are crisply dressed and very friendly. This atmosphere didn’t extend to the rooms which we expected given the price we paid. Other floors are probably just as upscale as the lobby but our adjoining rooms were standard two double beds and a decent bathroom each. Our rooms overlooked the hotel pool and downtown Toronto including the CN Tower. We had window seating to the CN Tower’s nightly spectacular light show. The adjoining doors stayed open during our visit; sometimes just a smidgeon when one side was napping and at other times wide open when everyone was awake. The night owls had one room and the early birds the other. Mathew and I conked out early every night and usually beat the other two to breakfast; Kristen spent a lot of time catching up on summer reading while John wandered out late at night in search of a new pub to try out and they both liked to sleep in.
Did you know downtown Toronto is connected underground by extensive corridors and shops? The underground passages are wonderful in bad weather or the winter and it bypasses all the street crossings and corners for pedestrians. Our hotel connected with this underground system and we used it at first to access the Eaton Shopping Centre. The hotel adjoins a half-block of shops and mini eating areas then the passage goes through the Hudson’s Bay Company which brings you to the subway system or the shopping centre. It seemed a long walk when tired and before the week’s end we mostly walked above ground. The path through the Hudson’s Bay Company wasn’t marked at all and was confusing until you got used to it. We got lost a few times when using the underground trail in other areas and had to surface at street level to get our bearings.
The lower level food court in the Eaton Shopping Centre was located at the far end of the mall. Our feet hurt by the end of that first day! We ate our afternoon meal in the food court, each of us choosing something we fancied. John raved about his Oriental meal; both the size and taste were delicious. Kristen’s meal was as big and tasty as her father’s. I know Mathew and I enjoyed our meals but none of us can remember what we had! Neither do we recall what dinner was that night so I think we just snacked.
After lunch John and Mathew went off to check out technological-type stores while Kristen and I perused everything else. The Disney Store was fun to visit with its sparkly floor and bright costumes and toys. Kristen and I both lamented that those beautiful costumes weren’t made for adults.
Shopping was short and sweet ~ weariness set in. Once back at the hotel I face-planted in exhaustion on my bed, John and Kristen went swimming in the pool and Mathew relaxed with his iPad.
So ended the first day of our Toronto vacation.