Great Canadian Tour 2015: Toronto

In some ways, our trip to Toronto this summer was the start of our real vacation. Ottawa was a holiday, but it didn’t feel out of the ordinary. So when we got the chance to spend a few days in Toronto, followed by a few days in Washington, D.C., we figured we should try to do as many touristy things we could.

We set off on an early train ride and arrived in time for a nice Mexican lunch with my sister. We had tickets for a Blue Jays game later that night, so after lunch we stopped in at my friend’s house to drop off our stuff and headed out to meet her at the ballpark. The game was a lot of fun, and it was the start of the Jays’ winning streak (which just culminated in getting to playoffs this week). The kids were pretty tired and whiny by the end, which put a damper on the last half of the game. But we did manage to enjoy some incredibly overpriced stadium beer, pizza and popcorn.

A dude in our row got picked to do one of those commercial break contests, where he had to tie a tie faster than another contestant. So this guy spent a good 20 minutes practicing, getting other people in the stands to show him how, since he quite honestly looked like he had never tied one before. It was painful. But somehow that was enough practice, and he won – and all of us in his row got gift certificates to Tip Top. Cool.

We spent the next day at the Royal Ontario Museum, where there was an overpriced Pompeii exhibit going on. It was very dramatic, with real casts of the bodies on display. Also cool. We wandered around a bit, and the kids had fun pretending to be archaeologists, and I took giggled at all of the Roman penis decorations, because I have the sense of humor of a 10-year-old at heart.

The next day B took the kids to the Hockey Hall of Fame, since I was busy with some work things. Once again, I have trimmed down his hundreds of close-ups of jerseys to just these few artsy shots (you’re welcome):

And just to hammer home the idea that we like museums, we spent our last day visiting the Ontario Science Centre. Really we just went for the Mythbusters exhibit, because we seriously, seriously love Mythbusters. It was cool – we recognized all the machines and props on display, and they had a few try-it-yourself myths, like driving blind, flicking a playing card into a cork board, dodging a bullet and pulling a tablecloth off the table. We also sat through a presentation involving audience members getting hit by paintballs and a very much over-the-top pair of presenters, like, trying way too hard to be enthusiastic. It was cringey.

Of course we ended that outing with a huge temper tantrum on the lawn outside, because we’re classy like that. Then LittleB stepped out in front of the moving bus we were about to get on (because he doesn’t understand how North American traffic works, like, the fact that there is a separate place for people and one for cars, you know, the road) and we were all scolded for a while by the bus driver in front of the bus packed full of passengers. It’s going to take a few years for that shame to ebb from our memories… Ah, family vacations.

At least we had a great couple of evenings with good friends, and some playtime with the cousins, which is really the whole point of vacations. And we celebrated our friend’s 53rd birthday together (J put the candles on…). And the next day, we flew off to (very) sunny D.C. for a few days.

 

O Canada: part two – Toronto

The first stop on our trip back to Canada was Toronto, where we enjoyed a few nights with my sister and some friends.

The flight in from NYC was bumped by about an hour, but we saw Gina Torres on the plane, which personally, I think made up for the delay. She was just doing normal mom stuff, so we didn’t hound her for photos or anything, although I did go super stalkery in my head, watching and analyzing her every move. “Did she just notice me?” “Look, she plays Scrabble on her iPad too!” “OMG she accidentally glanced at me, I think we’re friends now!”

Our time in Toronto was short but lovely. The kids got to play with their cousins and we enjoyed the country chic hospitality at my sister’s house, hoedowns included.

On Sunday, we all ventured out High Park to do some fishing, see the zoo and play at the so-called “castle park.” My brother-in-law caught one measly little fish and B and I came up empty using the Barbie and Tinkerbell fishing rods, respectively. Well, we both caught some pond weeds, inexplicably named “water dogs” by the youngest cousin, but I don’t think they count since they were not, in fact, real fish or dogs for that matter.

The zoo, as it turns out, was a small selection of animals on display along a side street in the park. It was a little depressing, but they seemed to be well cared for. It’s always a little weird to gawk at animals. I’m always reminded of this poem (sorry, that was the best link I could find).

The castle park is a crazy kids’ play structure built to look like – you guessed it – a castle. Apparently part of it burned down a while ago and was rebuilt (or overbuilt) by local celebrity builder Mike Holmes. It was pretty cool. Before going in, my sister said “the kids just kind of disappear into it and you don’t see them again for 20 minutes.” She was right. At least three times, I was about 80% sure they had been abducted or wandered off, but no, they were just running around like madmen in the mazes and circuits. I guess that’s the point, anyway. Well done, Mike.

Other highlights of our visit included a great home-cooked meal with our friends, and I had a nice girls’ night out with my bff at a hilariously hipster bar in the neighbourhood. I had some kind of drink called an “elderberry mist” (I think). I admit, it was tasty, although I expected it to come with a moustache or ironic coaster, alas, it did not.

Our visit was over too soon, and we headed off on the train to Ottawa for our next adventure.

 

O Canada: photo highlights!

Our trip back to Canada is nearly over – other than a rather large airline hiccup that has stranded us in New York for a few days. Irony, thy name is air travel!

In the meantime, enjoy our photo highlights!