Canada and in particular Toronto has been near the top of my list of places to go for a long time. I don’t really know why Canada has always appealed to me. Maybe because it seems like America’s better, more liberal cousin but regardless, I’ve always dreamed of going there. Last year, my husband and I were discussing what we’d like to do for our 30th birthdays in 2017 and we decided that we’d like to go away for both. And what better way to celebrate my husband turning 30 than finally taking a trip to the beautiful country that is Canada! Here is the first part of My Canadian Adventure.
The downside to travelling somewhere like Canada is the flying. I really don’t like flying. I never have and I never will. The thought of being stuck on a plane always panics me. We flew with Air Transat and the flight out was actually alright. It was one of the older planes but the plane was pretty quiet and I didn’t get that claustrophic feeling that I sometimes get on planes. We landed at about 3pm in Canada and once we got through security, we were finally on our way into the city. For those of you looking to visit Toronto, I thoroughly recommend using the UP Express to get you into the city. It’s cheap, comfortable and only takes 20 minutes or so to get you to Union Station in the heart of Toronto.
The bright lights of Dundas Square and Eaton Centre
We stayed at the Bond Place Hotel which is just off Dundas Square, the Canadian equivalent of Times Square. With it being my husbands birthday, I had contacted the hotel beforehand to see if I could blag anything out of it. The staff very kindly upgraded us to a bigger room and placed a bottle of champagne and a birthday card in the room for Steven. I managed to keep this secret from Steven for over a month which must be a record for me. It was a nice surprise from him. The hotel also gave us complimentary Wi-Fi and a free breakfast. The staff at Bond Place Hotel were so helpful and welcoming so if you’re ever in Toronto, I would highly recommend staying here.
Old City Hill
As we were pretty jet lagged, we decided to just explore the nearby area which included Dundas Square and the Eaton Centre. First of all, what is with Canadians and their heating? It was pretty cold during our time in Toronto but everywhere we went, they had the heating up to ridiculously high! The Eaton Centre was no different, I was literally dripping with sweat as it was so warm. It was not a cute look. Shop wise, it’s a good mix of high fashion retailers and more affordable stores. I didn’t really do much shopping while I was in Canada but I did buy a cute pullover hoodie from H&M. We had our first meal in Canada in the Eaton Centre at a pizza place in the Richtree Natural Market Resources. There was a hockey match on the TV so it was full of people with their baseball caps on (super popular in Canada so obviously I bought one) and weirdly, I felt super comfortable in this setting. Like it was my home.
Having a drink in Church and Wellesley, Toronto’s LGBT Neighbourhood.
The Saturday was our first full day in Canada and we thought it would be best to use this day to just wander the city and get our bearings. We loved just wandering around the streets absorbing the beauty of this wonderful city. In typical Liam/Steven fashion, we accidentally stumbled into the CN Tower so decided to just do it there and then. You can buy a City Pass here which gives you access to most of Toronto’s top attractions and it was around $80 to buy. You get some lovely views of the city, hang off the edge (which I didn’t cause I’m not crazy) and have a meal in the restaurant at the top. If you’ve ever been up the Eiffel Tower or Empire State Building then the CN Tower is very much the same sort of thing. I enjoyed it even if it was absolutely freezing. I loved looking out onto Ontario Lake. Looking out onto water like that always makes me feel calm and at peace. I could stare at a shoreline like that all day, it’s so beautiful.
Just next door is Ripley’s Aquarium, a huge aquarium full of a vast range of fish which was part of our City Pass. I quite enjoyed just chilling in the aquarium and looking at all the brightly coloured exotic fish as well as the huge sharks. There is a really long tunnel that you go through where the fish can swim above you and one of the swordfish kept swimming and sitting directly above us. It was weird seeing it’s face like that! At the end of the aquarium there is a huge pool filled with manta rays which you can pet. Usually, I would be against this (haven’t you seen Finding Dory) but the manta rays actually kept coming up and bobbing their heads out of the water so you could pet them. It was quite funny seeing my husband petting a little manta ray on the head like a dog.
A swordfish having a nap in Ripley’s Aquarium
The following day, we decided to take one of the City Sightseeing Bus Tours and see more of the city farther out from our hotel. Most of this day was spent at Casa Loma, a huge castle built in 1911 by Sir Henry Mill Pellatt. I love exploring these sort of old buildings and it’s also been the location for lots of huge movies such as X-Men and Scott Pilgrim vs The World. As soon as we walked into the main room, I instantly recognised it as the main lobby in Xaviers Mansion in the X-Men movies! Casa Loma is so big that it took up most of our day but it’s such a beautiful place and the weather was great so we didn’t mind.
The exterior of Casa Loma
There are so many different rooms in the castle with their own unique style. You can also go to the very top of the castle although it does require going up a lot of narrow spiral staircases. They’ve kept the castle in great condition and a lot of private events still take place here. There was actually an event on when we were there, it was like a ladies luncheon or something. You can also go right under the castle into these long tunnels which connect to another part of the castle across the street. It was so bizarre coming out the other side and being so far away from the main castle! It was really interesting learning about the history of the castle and of Toronto.
Looking out into the garden of Casa Loma
One of the many stunning rooms in Casa Loma
This concludes the first part of My Canadian Adventure. Stay tuned for part two where we take on Niagra Falls, a haunted house and getting stuck in the middle of nowhere!