Despite flying into to Toronto I never actually made it into the city centre until the third day of my trip, the day after my visit to Niagara Falls. I caught a commuter train into the city from my relative's town and arrived in Union Station around 10:30am. The station itself was very grand and I could have easily spent a while just walking around it. Really puts Edinburgh Waverley Station to shame to say the least! Following some signs I actually managed to get myself to the CN Tower without having to leave the station. The CN Tower is the typical part of the Toronto skyline that we all think about and I couldn't wait to see the view from the top. The queue was tiny, especially in comparison to the queues I saw later in my trip at NYC attractions!
The general admission takes you up to 346m for a fantastic view of Toronto and Lake Ontario. It was so easy to just walk around here awestruck at how but everything seemed but also so small at the same time. I paid extra to go up another 100m to the SkyPod. Honestly this didn't really make much of a difference to the view so I wouldn't necessarily say it was worth it. However, it was a lot quieter up there and very light so it was a very peaceful place to enjoy the view. You can see so far. The size of the great lakes is really highlighted by the view from the CN Tower as even from the top you can't see the other side! The view was absolutely stunning but it got me itching to get down there and enjoy the view.
Chinese food is my absolute favourite so I'm jealous of any city that gets its own China Town. So I got down from the tower and headed north into the city in search of dumplings. Whilst there weren't any signs to distinctively say 'China Town' it was pretty easy to tell when all the street signs started being displayed in both English and Chinese. I popped into a little restaurant for lunch. Honestly it was a little disappointing as I had misinterpreted the menu and ended up ordering something that I hadn't meant to and it was considerably spicier than I had expected but hey, you can't always win! My next stop was the Toronto Islands so I walked back down to the ferry terminal through downtown Toronto, pictured above.
What I loved so much about Toronto was that whilst there are a lot of really tall buildings most of them are made with glass/reflective materials and as a result the city still feels really light and spacious. When there's a lot of skyscrapers around it's easy to feel really claustrophobic and boxed in but Toronto felt completely different. It was really enjoyable to just stroll through the city and take in the atmosphere.
There's a small set of islands just off the coast of Toronto and you can get a 15 minute ferry there for about $7 return. Whilst on the island I rented a bike and cycled around for a while. This was the highlight of my whole trip. The islands are absolutely gorgeous. There's lots of wooded areas and people have the cutest houses hidden in the woods with really colourful gardens and it was just amazing to cycle around as well. The islands also have a lot of seriously nice beaches. Although I decided to save the 'clothing optional' beach for another time...
But the best part? The view! You can see the Toronto skyline and it was absolutely gorgeous. Sometimes it's nice to take a step back from a city and see it from the outside.
I spent my last day in Toronto at Toronto Zoo. I'd gotten in before the school holidays had started so it was really quite which was nice. I went before the whole Harumbe thing happened which unfortunately has forced me to rethink my ideas about zoos. However, I did have a great day there. The zoo has lots of really interesting animals. I always thought that Edinburgh Zoo was massive but the Toronto Zoo makes it look tiny. They had a lot of babies as well, the pandas in particular were super cute!
After leaving the zoo I returned to the city centre and went 'shopping'. I'm putting that inside the '' because I never actually ended up buying anything because nothing really caught my eye apart from some postcards that I picked up for my gran and to decorate my uni room back home. I may have also stopped in Tim Hortons for some Timbits but come on, when in Canada right? Also on my way back out of Toronto I got stuck on the subway for about 2 hours because there was a fire investigation in another station. What a great time that was...