From Saskatchewan we flew straight to Toronto. The first big city we’ve spent time in since our arrival in Canada, it’s safe to say Alex and I were incredibly excited at this change in scenery. What’s more, Toronto is also Alex’s hometown, so we were pretty confident we knew exactly where to go to get some interesting shots.
We decided to begin our time in Toronto with a visit to the famous distillery district, an area on the eastern edge of the city. The distillery district is made up of a number of bars, restaurants, boutique shops, cafes and art galleries, all housed in the former buildings of the Gooderham & Worts Distillery. Once the largest whisky distillery in the world, these buildings now provide a trendy area for locals to hang out and shop. With its cobbled lanes and charming atmosphere, it almost felt as if we were in Europe, and the history of the area is easily identifiable. We spent our time here getting lost down the quiet side streets, reading the various signs detailing the history of any one particular building, and wandering through some of the bars and open distilleries.
Whilst it was hard to drag ourselves away, there was plenty more to see, so we moved on to Brookfield Place to check out the stunning architecture at the Allen Lambert Galleria. Designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the atrium of this six-story thoroughfare is truly breathtaking. The winning design of an international competition, Calatrava’s masterpiece uses a combination of light, glass and curved metal to create an astounding work of art that is reminiscent of a tree lined street or a canopy of branches. Well worth a look (and a photograph or two), this was just the beginning of our architectural and artistic discoveries in Toronto.Read more
Next, we moved on to the nearby CN Tower. A famous landmark for Toronto, we were eager to ascend this iconic structure to gain a birds eye view of the city. From the outside observation deck, it’s possible to see up to 75 miles away. The one thing that had us really excited, however, was the building’s famous glass floor. Standing on this clear surface and looking at the streets over 1000 ft. below us was enough to leave me feeling a bit dizzy. Still, despite a touch of vertigo, it was a unique and breathtaking experience that you just have to try when visiting the city.
With our feet firmly back on the ground we made our way to the beautiful Royal Ontario Museum for some more architectural delights. One of the largest museums in North America, we didn’t have enough time to explore much of this magnificent building. We did, however, get to appreciate its wonderful design. The new main entrance, in particular, left us both mesmerized. Named ‘The Crystal’ and designed by Daniel Libeskind, the structure is both natural and fluid. Its aim was to blur the lines between the limits of the museum and the city beyond in order to make the museum feel more accessible, and with the expert use of glass and aluminum, Libeskind’s effort is a resounding success.
By this time, darkness had begun to descend, so we hurried to get our last shots. The Eaton Centre, a huge shopping mall that’s famous in Toronto, is not only home to the usual high street stores; it’s a building that also boasts a famous sculpture called ‘Flight Stop’ by Michael Snow. We couldn’t help but take a detour to check it out and before we knew it we found ourselves gazing up at the fiberglass Canada Geese hanging from the ceiling in a lifelike and graceful arrangement. It was a nice stop-off on our way to the bright lights of Yonge-Dundas Square and secured Toronto in my mind as an artistic and forward-thinking city.
Having taken in the beautiful sight of Yonge-Dundas Square, we realized how hungry we were, so Alex suggested we head over to Guu Izakaya, a modern Japanese restaurant that has become highly popular with tourists and locals alike. The atmosphere here is incredible (as you walk in and when you leave, all of the waiters stop and cheer at you in Japanese) and the food was delicious. A must-try when in Toronto.
Ultimately, we didn’t have enough time in this beautiful city to do it justice, but we managed to fit in as much as we could. It was an intriguing taster for me, having never been there before, and I left knowing I would come back.
Today we had to drive to Ottawa, so we decided to stop off for a boat tour of the 1000 islands en route. Rockport Cruises, with their modern vessels and frequent tours, was our top choice, and we were boarding our 1000 Islands cruise by 2pm. It was a beautiful day and the boat ride was truly enchanting. We spent an hour cruising past breathtaking mansions on their private islands and even crossed into US waters (the shortest international boat ride I’ve ever experienced). We also passed by the famous heart shaped island. The brainchild of hotel magnate George C. Boldt, this island was sculpted into the shape of a heart and construction for a castle began in 1900. All of this was in the name of Boldt’s beloved wife Louise. Tragedy struck, however, when Louise passed away. Boldt never stepped foot on the island again and so the castle was never finished. A heart-rending story that makes the island and unfinished castle yet more beautiful and poignant.
The cruise was a great way to break up the journey between Toronto and Ottawa, and by the time we got back in the car, we were ready to discover what treats lay in store for us in Canada’s capital city.