I had some free time after Christmas and I decided to head to Canada. This blog will be the first of 4. I decided to drive from Detroit to Toronto, then on to Ottawa, Quebec, Montreal, Lake Placid and back home.
Below is the plan. I was to arrive in Toronto on the 27th, stay over night then continue on with each blue dot representing a sleep over. I stayed in Hi Hostels throughout and they were incredibly clean and friendly. I was the only person from the USA throughout my entire travels.
Here is a link to some of My Favorite Pictures.
I arrived in Toronto at 12:00pm and checked my bags at the Hostel, found a 24hour lot for the car and began to wander. Before I left I spent a great deal of time researching the options and attractions. I was not interested in museums or art exhibits, but rather architecture and street life. I created a map for each city and then searched trip advisor for cool spots, cross referencing that with pictures from google images to determine if they would make good photography sites. I then marked the map locations and created a rough itinerary. After leaving the hostel I walked over to a market seen below. Canada has a great deal of external markets with fresh produce, lunch and some novelty shops. Unfortunately it was Sunday and they were not open. The next picture shows a small thin red building that I thought was cool. I grabbed a beer in the basement before checking out a few more churches and heading back for check-in.
Below is a shot of the exterior of the Hostel. I bought a membership for this chain before I left (not necessary but provides discounts) and was very pleased with the place. It is my first time staying in a hostel and it is 10 times more clean then I would have thought. The had a common area for pool and socializing, then a basement with a restaurant and a kitchen where you can cook your own food. Upstairs there is a mixture of private and public bedrooms. I choose a bed in a dorm bunk setup for $20/night. Before leaving I went to store and packed apples, energy bars and packs of Ramen noodles. I rarely ate out.
I headed back out and started taking pictures. Below is a picture of Toronto's Time Square. It was packed with shoppers as Canada was celebrating Boxing Day, witch is like the USA Black Friday after Thanksgiving.
Canada is cold, but they seem embrace the weather as there are a number of ice rinks and cross country ski trails throughout the city.This park was right downtown and a great spot at night for pictures. The next picture is Queen St. This is the alternative area, filled with sex, bong, and tattoo shops. The final picture is the CN tower.
After checking out the Tower, I walked down to the riverfront. There is an old train station converted into a very cool brewery. They still have a bunch of trains sitting out front. Across from the waterfront is a group of islands that people visit via boat in the summer. It is loaded gardens, kayaks and walking trails.
Below are a couple shots from the basement of the hostel. It was a bit of a rough night as people were coming into the room at all hours and turning on the lights for 30 minutes at a time. I was concerned if this was going to be the trend, but Toronto was the only place I experienced this behavior.
The next morning I got up early, checked out and drove to the University of Toronto. It was a beautiful campus. The picture of the horse was interesting. In a spot called Queen's Park there was a statue of King George on a horse. Apparently the statue came over from India where it had celebrating his arrival back in the day. There was no reference as to why the horse's junk was rubbed clean, but maybe Indians (dots not feathers) have a fascination with that area of the horse's anatomy.
After visiting the University I stopped by a Arborterium and Castle Loma. The castle seemed cool inside, but did not want to shell out the $20 for admission. I should mention the exchange rate between US/Canada was even, and everything was about 30% more than the US.
Before heading to Ottawa I stopped by an old brewery which has been turning into an outdoor shopping area.
I enjoyed my time in Toronto, but did not find it very much different from any American city. I noticed that as I moved East on my journey, English began to change to French until reaching Quebec City where no English could be found.
All the best,