Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Tourist in Toronto

Don't you just love being a tourist in your own town or city? I think this is something of which we don't do enough. For me, it's usually only when I have people visiting that I take the guide books off the shelf and have a look through for recommendations of where to go and what to do that would best represent the best of Toronto, when I could and should be doing it more often.

I took yesterday off work to tour about the city with a friend of mine who had grown up in Ontario and was visiting with a friend of hers who had never been to Toronto before. We started off at Casa Loma, the mansion in the middle of the city that was built to look like a castle. I hadn't been there since I was a kid, one of those places I had always meant to go to in recent years only I never seemed to get there, until yesterday.

The house was built by Sir Henry Pellatt, completed in 1914 at a cost of $3.5 million (which, you can imagine, was a staggering amount back then. Okay, it is today too!) It is still lovely, although not as beautiful as it would have been in its heyday, as it has been owned by the City for many years now and set up for visits by tourists and school children (many of whom have left their mark by writing their name on the brick on the walls of the turret tower) but a lot of the original beauty of the "bones of the house" remains and several rooms are decorated with either the original furniture or pieces similar to those that would have been present at the time. Sadly, Sir Henry and his wife Lady Mary only lived there for 10 years before a number of unfortunate circumstances (such as the stock market crash of '29) culminating in financial ruin forced them to leave their 98 room home.

After lunch in the small cafe set up in the basement of the house and a trip through the tunnel to see the stables, garage and potting shed, we jumped back on the subway and headed to the Royal Ontario Museum. We spent a couple of hours zipping through there, checking out the dinosaurs, the new bat cave (I was brave enough to go in with my two companions - even though they aren't real bats, it still kind of creeps me out), the biodiversity section with all the stuffed animals, both the First Nations and Canadiana exhibits and a little bit of Greek history for good measure.

By then, we were exhausted and needed a visit to that iconic Canadian institution, Tim Horton's, to refuel our energy with a drink and a donut, after which we took the subway down to the CN Tower. Luckily, we had decided to go up before dinner instead of after, because visibility was already reduced because it had been raining all day and fog was moving in quite quickly. It was still enjoyable and we had fun having our picture taken on the glass floor. We knew it was time to leave when the last of our 3 cameras advised that its battery was completely depleted.

Dinner at a Mexican restaurant and then home to recharge our batteries, both for our cameras and our bodies!! Boy, did my feet and back ache by the end of the day, it felt sooo good to sit down.

All in all, it was a fun day and I really enjoyed playing tourist with my guests around the beautiful and fascinating city that is Toronto.

No comments: