Posted by: TomA | 16 June 2007

Days 47 & 48: Toronto, Ontario

We left Montreal a day early to head to the last destination in our North American road trip, Toronto. When we initially booked our flights home, Toronto seemed the natural choice – a big, Canadian city with lots to see and do. However, having spent 8 months in Vancouver, the desire to see Toronto diminished, partly due to the rivalry to two cities have with one another (particularly on a hockey rink). But having done everything we’d wanted in Montreal, it was time to move on.

And as it turned out, there was plenty to enjoy about Toronto. Not just the expected big city feel (being the largest Canadian and 5th largest North American city) with a downtown core chock full of gleaming, shiny glass skyscrapers of a size to rival Chicago’s.

We spent our first evening in the city, having taken a train from Montreal (which this time really was a train, though hideously expensive, not very comfortable but at least on schedule) exploring the entertainment district (the usual mix of clubs, bars and quick restaurants) and then the fashion district (which turned out to be a thoroughly enjoyable mix of boutiques and quaint arts & crafts stores). I hadn’t expected to find so easily an area as enjoyable as this, similar to Main and Commercial back in Vancouver.

The following day called for some serious touristy stuff (having whiled away the afternoon in the Bank of Montreal closing bank accounts and signing countless things in order to get the rest of my cash out) – namely the CN Tower.

I’m not quite sure what to make of it. While undoubtedly being the tallest building in the world, it isn’t really much of a building – not in the sense of the Sears Tower (only marginally shorter if you ignore the decorative spike on top of Toronto’s finest) or the John Hancock Center in Chicago, which are skyscrapers in the true sense. That said, the CN Tower gives an amazing view of Toronto. We paid the extra couple of dollars for the higher skypod, which didn’t dramatically improve the view, but was rather fun in the slower, darkened elevator. Having said that, the maintenance guy on the way down from the very very top said the view for the point of the antenna was spectacular (if not terrorfying). Changing lightbulbs half a kilometre from the ground must be a scary thing…

The evening brought an early gig from locals The Hidden Cameras, one of two small gigs they were playing in the Greater Toronto region before embarking on a horde of international festival dates. The show itself was good fun, though the surreality was increased by the number of under age kids there and the fact it was all being filmed, presumably for a DVD release. THC haven’t disappointed me live yet and with even more members than usual (around a dozen, excluding the 10 member choir that joined them onstage) they always present something fun to look at – be it the two girls stage right trying to outdance and out keyboard one another, or the cellists getting totally into it.

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