Thursday 6th October 2005
Our last day in Toronto.
After another fine breakfast at the Cambridge Suites we headed out early, down Yonge to Front Street.
We cut through the hordes of tour-bus types clogging the pavement outside the Royal York and arrived at the CN Tower just after 9am.
There wasn't a queue in sight and in no time at all we were in the glass-fronted elevator, zipping up the World's Tallest Freestanding Structure.
We decided to check out the famous 'glass floor' first, whilst everywhere was so quiet. Wise move: we were the only ones there. This enabled us to walk on it, run on it, jump on it and lie on it, unimpeded and unobserved ;-)
We then went to the Observation Deck and took in the marvellous views. It was a perfect day for this: blue-skied and crystal-clear. Most enjoyable.
By 10am it was beginning to get crowded, so after my son had bought himself a 'real' Davy Crockett hat from one of the gift-shops, we left.
Back at ground-level it was incredible to look up from the base of the tower. Just beautiful.
We walked along Bremner Boulevard, past the Steam Whistle Brewery in its swervy, curvy roundhouse building. Sadly, no time to nip in ...
At York Street we turned down towards the waterfront, arriving at Harbour Square Park at 11.15am. Perfect timing: we were able to get straight on a ferry to the Islands. The ferry called at Centre and Ward's Islands, but we didn't get off. The 45 minute trip was purely for the fun of it and afforded amazing views of the city-skyline, which shimmered blue and silver in the sunlight.
Around noon we speed-marched along Front Street to St. Lawrence Market, passing the very attractive Gooderham Building (Flatiron Building) en route.
Despite the whole road being up in a heap, we loved this area. It was very vibrant, with its street-cafes and bars.
To be 'against the clock' here was unfortunate. Nonetheless, we eventually found the Carousel Bakery where my father had the obligatory peameal bacon on a kaiser bun. He liked it.
My son had two fluorescent-yellow Jamaican pasties, also from Carousel.
I went to Churrasco and had the slow-roasted Portuguese chicken on a bun. It was the size of a baby's head. Utterly delicious. I also got two custard-tarts 'to go'.
Reluctantly we left St. Lawrence Market after an all-too-brief visit. I could've grazed there for a month ...
Back at the hotel we quickly packed, had a coffee and our custard-tarts (which were much sweeter than anticipated), then on the dot of 2pm we checked out of the Cambridge Suites Hotel.
We walked down to Wellington Street and collected our hire-car from Avis. It was a pure white, brand spanking new Pontiac Grand Prix. We then successfully navigated back to the Cambridge Suites, picked up our luggage and headed for the Gardiner Expressway ...
Oh dear, somehow we missed the slip-road for the Expressway and ended up on Lakeshore Boulevard for a while. No matter: we got back on track fairly quickly and zoomed west. Traffic was quite heavy, which wasn't surprising as it was the eve of the holiday weekend.
We stayed on the QEW all the way to St. Catherine's and then headed towards Niagara-on-the-Lake. Around 3.30pm we pulled in at the tiny NOTL airport, just as two full-sized tour-buses were disgorging their contents. Grrrr.
After a quick chat with the nice fellow at National Helicopters, we were assured of a flight that evening, if we returned at 6pm.
So we headed down Niagara Stone Road into NOTL and parked up behind a shop called the Owl and the Pussycat. We then wandered in the sunshine for a couple of hours.
Dad took my picture outside the Angie Strauss gallery, where he'd taken a pic of my sister 8 years earlier. We have always referred to that building as the Gingerbread House, because it is so pretty.
We walked across to the park opposite, where I picked up several big, shiny conkers. One of them now sits on a shelf in my kitchen.
We ambled down Queen Street and admired the superb floral displays; we smiled at the window-display of the Scottish Loft: faded tins of Heinz Sponge Pudding and baked beans; we had a delicious Stoney Creek ice-cream, and generally enjoyed the olde worlde charm of this beautiful little town.
(On a more prosaic note, we also picked up beer for Dad and a Peller Estates Heritage Chardonnay for me at the little LCBO store. Yay.)
At 6pm we returned to the airfield. The tour-buses were just leaving - hoorah - and the helicopter was being re-fuelled. An old DC3 was also on the runway, which was of interest to my father.
6.20pm we set off on our 25 minute flight. Dad sat next to the pilot, with me and my son behind. It was the perfect evening and we had a superb view of the wine-region, the river, the rapids and the Falls. (The Horseshoe Falls were much more 'U' shaped than I had realised.) As the flight ended, the sun was setting and the sky was dappled pink and orange. Very memorable indeed.
We were very grateful to Lonnie and Joseph from National Helicopters for staying late so we could have our flight. They generally finish at 5.30pm. Thanks boys!
Dusk had fallen by the time we got to Niagara Falls. We followed the signs and eventually found Clifton Hill. I literally laughed out loud at the neon tackiness of it all. It was much more 'full on' than I had anticipated.
At 7.30pm we checked into our hotel, the Comfort Inn Clifton Hill. We had a family suite on the second-floor, overlooking the pool/spa area. We had a Queen bed each and bags of space. Best of all: we had a 'balcony' overlooking the pool, where we could sit and enjoy our sundowners ... perfect!
After leaving our beer/wine on ice, we walked down Clifton Hill to see the Falls. We came to the American and Bridal Veil Falls first, and then walked on to the Horseshoe Falls. It wasn't too crowded and we had a good view from all the vantage points. The coloured illuminations of the falls is interesting, but the Bridal Veil Falls highlighted white was my favourite. Stunning.
Around 9pm we picked up a pizza at the Pilgrim Family Restaurant on Clifton Hill and returned to the hotel. Dad and I enjoyed our adult beverages on the balcony and my son enjoyed his pizza.
It had been a long and tiring day, one full of great memories.