Toronto – How cool is this city?

I’ve got to come back and spend more time in Toronto.

Our Amtrak train from NYC arrived in Toronto about 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept 3rd. The Via (Canada’s version of Amtrak) train taking us across Canada left at 10 p.m. on Saturday, September 4th. That meant we had 26 hours to see Toronto, take away 8 hours for sleeping, we only had 18 hours in Canada’s largest city. If I could redo some of our trip planning, we should have planned to get off the train from NYC at Niagara Falls and spend the night and take in the falls. My second change would be to spend at least three days in Toronto.

Holly had arranged tickets to see the 10 p.m. show at Second City Toronto. Second City is famous for shows featuring sketch comedy and improvisation. Many Second City performers like Gilda Radner, John Candy, Dan Ackroyd and many others have “graduated” from Second City to become famous movie stars and TV performers. Having arrived at the train station at 8 p.m., we didn’t have much time to get to our hotel, check in, eat something and get to the Second City theatre for the 10 p.m. show.

Because we didn’t know the city, we took a cab ride from the train station to our hotel. Our cab driver was a very talkative gentleman from Morocco. When we asked him where he was from and how long he’d been in Canada (18 years), he asked where we were from and we answered California. He then informed us that he had been to 36 of the states of America and proceeded to name the states he had visited. This recitation of states visited took almost the entire cab ride. (And no, he has not been to California nor to most of the Canadian provinces.)

With no time to have a proper dinner, we had a meal of hamburgers at a nearby Wendy’s. Then we took the subway back downtown to head over to the Second City theatre. As we walked from the subway station to the theatre, we were greeted by throngs to people, barriers, police officers, it was a real mob scene. We happened to arrive in Toronto on the first night of the Toronto International Film Festival.

The Second City show was a hoot. A group of six very talented performers put on a very fun show. Comedy sketches with some singing and dancing. I highly recommend anyone visiting Toronto pay a visit to Second City. We arrived at the theatre with a little time to spare so we went over to the bar where we met Eugene Luo from Singapore. Eugene has just arrived in Toronto to earn a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Toronto. Like our daughter Kate, Eugene is an elementary school teacher and a very interesting person. Eugene was by himself since he had just arrived in Toronto and hadn’t yet made many friends since U of T’s Fall Semester was to begin the next week. Eugene sat with us when we went into the theatre to continue our discussion.

Tim Horton’s – The next morning, we slept in a little later than we anticipated and by the time we made ready and checked out of the hotel, we were really past breakfast. We decided that since we only had one day in Toronto, we didn’t have any more time to waste, so stopped in at a Tim Horton’s donut shop for a quick breakfast. Tim Horton’s is a major Canadian institution, I bought breakfast sandwiches for Holly and myself, plus a small donut for me. After I went to the counter to collect our breakfast sandwiches, I returned to our table, we began to eat our breakfast. I retrieved my donut from the bag. When I saw that a bite had been taken out of my donut, I remarked to Holly, “I can’t believe Tim Horton’s sold me a donut with a bite taken out of it.” She smiled slyly, but did not admit her crime.

Hop on, Hop off tour – With only one day get around Toronto, we decided to take the Hop On, Hop Off city tour. The tour company operates red double decker buses. If it hadn’t been raining, the open top deck would have been wonderful, but we preferred to stay dry and kept to the bottom of the bus. At stop 10 the tour dropped us at the Royal Ontario museum.

Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) – There was a special exhibition on Mesopotamia featuring artifacts from the British Museum at the ROM. For an extra five Canadian dollars, there was a guided tour of the exhibit which we found interesting and kept us moving along. We spent a little time in the Canadian section of the museum and looking at dinosaur bones near the entrance. Holly spent a little time in the museum shop and we had lunch in the café in the basement of the museum.

After the museum, we hopped back on the double decker tour bus and continued the Toronto city tour. We hopped off again at Union Station to get our tickets for trans-Canadian train from Toronto to Vancouver. After we collected our train tickets, we had just enough time to take the subway back to our hotel to collect our bags and have dinner.

Holly & Friend Royal Ontario Museum 1

4 replies

  1. Hi Mark,
    I lived in Toronto from 1986-1994 (that’s dating me!). I loved the city! So much to do, transportation was wonderful, lots of culture, great food etc. Glad to see you got to experience a little bit of it. Sorry you couldn’t stop in Niagara Falls. I was born there! Beautiful little city. – Meriann

  2. I hope you don’t mind, Rebecca gave me your link. This sounds like an incredible trip! I want to do this when our last one leaves for college!

  3. Nice. Kristi went to Second City in Chicago last year. She said it was great. So you’ve been gone about a week and you’ve already come up with 2 itinerary changes, huh? I imagine by the time you get back you’d make for an excellent seasoned travel agent.
    Enjoy and thanks for sharing.

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