Can a city with over 5 million residents seem open and uncrowded?
It can if it’s Toronto. Canada’s largest metropolitan area is without a doubt urban, yet the feel is neither hectic nor claustrophobic.
Toronto’s city planners were careful to include open and green spaces in the waterfront and surrounding business district, lending the city it’s unique feel.
A big part of that atmosphere are the urban living spaces incorporated into the city. Many have chosen to take advantage of all the city has to offer by choosing to live in condos rather than houses in the suburbs.
In keeping with this unfettered spirit, Toronto is remarkably bicycle friendly. The city has about three hundred miles of bike paths and by 2011 that amount will more than double.
Lake Ontario’s Waterfront Trail makes up a part of these. Running all the way from Niagara-on-the-Lake to the Quebec border, the trail passes directly through Toronto’s downtown.
Toronto is very much an international city with a huge variety of cultures represented. About half of the residents were not born in Canada — creating a culinary jackpot and we couldn’t resist eating our way through.
An appy crawl had to be done.
We began our savoring and cycling adventure by picking up The Waterfront Trail at The Beaches Park just east of downtown.
For the first few miles, we pedaled along the water on a wildflower strewn trail before entering the bustle of the city’s main waterfront.
Ferries and tourist boats line the docks while incredible apartments that look like the decks of cruise ships mix with shops and restaurants overlooking the lake.
We chose a perfect spot for a brief rest, a spot of refreshment and a relaxing nibble. Wallymagoo’s has cornered THE prime location in Toronto’s waterfront.
Even though the Great Lakes are fresh water, something certainly seemed right about having oysters and shrimp while sitting on the dock of the bay. We were careful not to fill up, as there was more appy crawling to be done.
There are several parks along the the waterfront, our favorite being The Music Garden conceived by celebrated cellist Yo Yo Ma and landscape designer Julie Moir Messervy.
The landscaped interpretation of Bach’s First Suite for Unaccompanied Cello is a journey through the music with dances from Spain, Germany, France and England represented in the gardens.
In the evenings, The Summer Music in the Garden Series hosts performers from all over the world.
After riding through the park, it was time for the second leg of our appy crawl. Sticking with our seafood theme, we choose Oyshi Sushi, nestled in the heart of downtown.
Sitting at the sushi bar, we marveled at the beauty of the chef’s creations.
No detail was missed. Our fare was just as delicious as it looked, some of the best sushi we’ve had. The salmon was melt-in-your-mouth and buttery, the roe in the roll exquisite…oh yeah, and a seafood soup with life changing properties.
Toronto was turning into quite a town for us Foodies.
The Toronto skyline is completely dominated by the CN Tower, billed as Canada’s Wonder of the World. All day it had been looming over us, taunting us, perhaps even challenging us. We had to scale it.
Built to serve as a radio and TV communication platform in 1975, at just over 1,815 feet to the top of its antenna, it was the world’s tallest free standing structure. The Tower held this title for over 30 years.
It has since been dethroned but this is of little consequence as you are zooming up in an elevator with a glass floor. Who thinks up these things?
Next stop, 113 stories up. The Tower is fully surrounded by windows offering a full panoramic aerial view of the Toronto and Lake Ontario. Stunning.
We leisurely finished our appy crawl at 360, the Tower’s restaurant, home of the world’s highest wine cellar (changing the definition of “cellar,” perhaps?).
We indulged in the Bruschetta Three Ways, the first olive, second artichoke tapenade with pesto, and last an eggplant, caper and rosemary oil. Delicious –gives new meaning to getting high and getting the munchies.
Properly fortified, we felt strong enough to gaze down through another glass floor.
Tween-aged boys were showing their bravado racing around, performing gymnastics and mugging for their nauseous parents’ cameras while an infant crawled across the two inch thick glass without a care in the world.
We found it harder to be so cavalier stepping out on to a transparent floor a quarter mile up in the air. It goes directly contrary to all of the signals that the eyes are sending to the brain. It also makes the stomach feel somewhat unhappy.
We made our way gingerly out on to the glass. It was worth the experience but even now, we get a little queasy just thinking about it. Still, we obviously hadn’t had enough since we continued our journey up another 33 floors to the Sky Pod.
The Pod does not feature see-through floors (praise God!) but the windows face downward enough to bring on the vertigo.
They also bring on a truly spectacular view. We were graced with a beautiful sunny day so we could see all of the way across Lake Ontario, over a hundred miles.
While we were taking in the entire panorama, some water rolled off of the roof and ran past the windows.
Luckily neither of us are acrophobic because I have to say, there was something really, really freaky about watching the drops fall 1,500 feet. We decided it was time to get our feet back on the ground.
On our way back into The United States the customs agent asked
us why we had stopped in Toronto. Caught a little off guard and being a sarcastic bastard at heart, David replied because it was there.
That earned us a quick shake down and search. Those zany customs folks just don’t have any sense of humor, do they?
Maybe we should have told him the real best reason to stop in Toronto is because IT ROCKS!
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com