Saturday, August 01, 2015

Day 15 Canada, 05/07, Toronto

Our hotel looks mighty impressive viewed from down here. We had popped in to Union Station to buy our public transport Presto cards.

The shores of Lake Ontario are this way. Let's go. I want some breakfast. It is actually a harbour where we went. Down York Street we strolled. It was still cool enough on the streets.

It appeared three trams routes use this line.

Ah, older trams too. Strangely the old and the new are still using poles to connect to the electric wires, rather than pantographs. It is quite expensive to convert the trams and wires but with pantographs, there are fewer delays caused by the pole coming off the wire. As you can see, we found somewhere for a bite.

We wandered along the waterfront.

There are islands offshore before you reach the massive Lake Ontario. The far and not visible shore of the lake is in the United States.

I am not against phallicism.

The islands are for pleasure. Had we another day in Toronto.............

Why is the car on the tram track? One of two we saw. I am sure this is not right, but it happens here in Melbourne too.

Armed with our Presto cards, we boarded the 510 to get closer to the hub of town. We can't use our card on older trams and had to pay the uninterested driver, who I am sure would have been happier had we not put him to the bother of having cash paying customers.

The Gardiner Expressway is old and tired and a decision has to be made, demolish and invent new roads, or repair and reinstate the freeway. While it is very convenient to get out of the centre of town, I may slightly favour demolishing and reinvent the roads. The freeway is an ugly and dividing blight. I really do not like above ground roads and train lines, as practical as they can be at times.

We left the tram at the corner of Queens Street West and Spadina Avenue and wandered, east west and north south.

There are some great old buildings and gardens but it was getting hot and we becoming tired of wandering. R stopped someone on the street to ask them where 'the action is'? They too were tourists but told us go to a particular street corner. I should have planned this better but we had no idea of what we would do when we left our hotel. I saw one street with tram tracks that abruptly ended and I then looked up and there was no overhead wires.

We ended up at a square on the corner of Dundas and Yonge Streets. Plenty was happening and this rapper from Vancouver wasn't too bad as we refreshed ourselves at the Hard Rock Cafe.

We had look around the nearby mostly underground shopping centre, blah, just like at home, and then caught the subway back to Union Station. Lordy, finally our Presto cards get a job to do.

With not an expert eye, but an experienced one, the subway was pretty damn good. It was rest time for us, in the heat of the afternoon. All over Canada the weather had been unusually warm and I recall in one place we visited back in BC, it was 38 degrees.

This new pathway with an exit/entrance opposite our hotel had just opened. I should do the research, but I am not, so I will guess these pathways are underground passages to get around town by foot especially in really cold weather.

The CN Tower is omnipresent.

We walked up York Street to find somewhere to eat and I think where we dined was another Earl's place, popular and we had a nice meal.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Day 14 Canada, 04/07, Tour End, To Toronto

We had said our goodbyes to our group the night before and awoke too late for the early breakfast the group were having before they set off by ferry to Vancouver to join the sea cruise to Alaska. Later in the day we would catch a taxi to Victoria Airport with the supplied voucher and fly with Air Canada for about five hours to Toronto, Canada's largest city. The flight was without drama and we arrived on time.

This was probably at Toronto's Pearson Airport.

A new limited express train to the main railway station had only begun service last month. I looked around in vain for someone or a machine to buy a public transport card, called Presto and I could not find anything. Although we knew we would pay a premium price for buying a normal ticket, we did so from a machine. My one way fare was CA$27. With the Presto card, it would have been $19. I was a little annoyed but as we discovered later, the system has not been fully rolled out.

I think it was late afternoon when we caught the train. Being new, it was very clean and rather quiet in the number of users. Early days.

It felt uncomfortably warm in the train. At the first stop the train sat for five minutes and it was clear the timetable would not be met. I believe the train was shut down to reset the air conditioning as when we finally moved, lots of lovely cool air flooded in.

Pull tab? Is it a soft drink can?

Our destination was Union Station, the main Toronto railway station. Some of it, including the huge and wonderful ticket hall had been restored and as you can see, the exterior is in great shape. Other areas were a work in progress. Not sure that the banners add to its dignity.

Across the road was our hotel, the Fairmont Royal York, commonly called the Royal York.

This looks impressive, as a doorman called the bellboy to deal with our luggage. Here we go, we will have to tip. R dealt with it, bless, except he didn't.

Toronto's iconic CN tower was quite close.

We dined at a bar and grill called Jack Astor's on the corner opposite our hotel. It was nice enough, but the music was quite loud.

This wasn't the most complicated plumbing, but the diverter had to be correctly set, not to the bath, not to the hand held shower. The room was quite nice and furnished with antique and period furniture. I doubt there was a view from the window, and anyway it was covered over to screen hotel building works. The room did have air conditioning. Yay.

What follows are some photos of the public areas. Some photo panels covered over building works. This one was the Fairmont Chateau where we stayed in Lake Louise, without air conditioning.

Yes, still taking mail.

Our room was off the passage right where there is a pool of light on the floor. Quite a walk, but with eight lifts, not long to wait.

A lift interior.

Tomorrow we take a look at Toronto.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Day 13 Canada, 03/07, Victoria

Another hotel, another buffet breakfast. We then wandered down to the waterfront.

Victoria's gardens public gardens did not let down Canada. The building is a Fairmont Hotel.

British Columbia's very grand provincial parliament building, apparently stunningly lit at night.

Sea planes taxiing.

Little taxi boats buzzing around.

We walked quite a distance to Chinatown and had some lunch.

No rush to do anything. We meandered back towards the hotel.

Back at the hotel.

And mid afternoon back onto the Prevost to.......


about half an hour's drive from Victoria.

Most of the gardens are a riot of colour.

It was past its spring prime but was still quite wonderful.

Note the three windows in the main building.

But there are quieter and less bright areas too.

This garden was private for who, I do not know but we did get a history talk of how the gardens came about.

On the other side the earlier mentioned three windows we had a wonderful final group dinner.

Maybe wine was involved and responsible for the angle.

It was late night opening and at dusk there would be fireworks, way to late for us to be out. The Butchart Gardens are not to be missed if visiting Vancouver Island. There were a few old cars in the carpark.

This is known as a 'woody'. Woody might also be an euphemism for something else.

This post is not too long, so let me mention some movies and tv shows we saw during our long long flights. The in flight entertainment system with Cathay Pacific is pretty good with such a wide selection of things to watch and listen to. I watched several episodes of The Royle Family. I had forgotten how good it was. Also a few episodes of Modern Family. The excellent original English series of House of Cards and three movies, but I can only remember two. Woman in Gold was about a US Jewish woman reclaiming her family art in Vienna, taken during the WWII. Helen Mirren was good as the lead character, but to me the movie, while very watchable, seemed like it was cheaply made. A very easy watch was a movie set in England called Queen and Country. I've remembered one more, about a successful female linguist who developed early onset dementia, Still Alice.