A 4am alarm. A 5am pick-up. A dark drive through a relatively quiet New York City, we arrived at La Guardia airport at 05:45 and boy were we early. Checked in, baggage dropped, security negotiated (no extra searches today) and omelettes finished we still had over 2 hours to wait. Fortunately the stone’s throw over to Toronto was quick (ahead of schedule) and we headed downtown on the Union-Pearson (UP) train, after some misadventure on the internal rail transfer system of course.
Checking in to our private room at the Clarence Park Hostel we grabbed a bite to eat at the far too convenient Eighteen30 bar next door before heading to an old haunt. For those that are thinking of visiting Toronto we can’t recommend Steam Whistle Brewery enough. We had been on the tour before and this time we were taken around with Kenny who, despite only being with the company for 3 months, was an absolutely fantastic tour guide. He spoke with great passion for the company and clearly enjoyed his job as well as the product he so brilliantly represented. Having sampled 3 beers (filtered pilsner, IPA (new), unfiltered pilsner) each on the $12 tour we headed back to the bar area for a little more pilsner and then on to the new biergarten for some German fare and more pilsner. Our fantastic bartender Alex encouraged us to embrace the ‘little is good so more must be better’ philosophy and a little worse for wear we headed back to our room at around 21:00.
This early bedtime was a great decision as the next day was Niagara Falls day and despite the 06:00 alarm we couldn’t wait to go. For those that don’t know, when we visited Toronto on our honeymoon we didn’t make it to the falls because the tour company changed the pick-up location but the email went into Katy’s junk box and we didn’t notice until it was too late. This time though, we made it and we joined our tour guide Charles from Niagara Day Tours and headed down to the falls. We took a meandering route down to the falls with the first stop being Niagara on the Lake which was a very picturesque town full of lovely boutiques and cafes. We had a Maple Bomb and a Peanut Butter Cup from Rocky Mountain Chocolate (we liked the irony) before heading back to the bus.
We then headed down to the world’s smallest chapel. A sweet if totally impractical building that still holds weddings, although we decided Katy’s dress would have taken up most of the space.
Next stop was the Reif Estate Winery where we sampled the riesling, a red wine and an ice wine, with the ice wine being the definite favourite for us both. On to the flower clock next that has 18,000 flowers surrounding a clock face on a small hill. The flowers are replaced twice a year. The clock chime sounds like Big Ben and we both made a wish at the wishing well.
Finally, we arrived at the falls, and what a sight it was. The volume of water cascading is truly phenomenal, and descriptive words really can’t do it justice. We headed out onto the river on the Hornblower taking in the American Falls (bit narcissistic) and the Bridal Falls (it looks like a bride’s veil) before heading to the main event - the Horseshoe Falls. To say we got soaked is a massive understatement, we were beside the falls for approximately 5 minutes and even our big red ponchos didn’t help us. After our shower for the day we took the funny peculiar (funicular) train back up and then enjoyed some lunch, ice cream, and great views of the falls from the boardwalk. Once we got back to Toronto we headed back to the room and chilled out - it had been a long day!
A later start on Thursday before heading out to the beautiful Toronto Islands. We enjoyed walking around the parks and taking in the fantastic views of lake Ontario and back across to downtown Toronto. We spent a couple of hours here before getting the ferry back across to sadly pack up again and get ready for this evenings entertainment.
Tonight was game time. Last minute tickets bought by Katy in the nosebleeds, we headed to the Roger’s Centre to watch the Toronto Blue Jay’s against the Cleveland Indians. Sadly the Jay’s lost 4-0 although we had a great experience at the game as it was something we had never done before. Craig is still adamant however it’s just a game of professional rounders!
With that our Toronto adventure was over all too quickly and we were on the VIA Rail train heading East.
Ottawa, here we come!