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Chris Sayer’s Travel Diary

Friday, 19 Oct 2007

Location: Toronto, Canada

MapIn contrast to the previous 7 weeks, we are familiar with this part of our journey, Toronto, having spent two weeks here in 2000 when we brought our children here to stay with our dear friends Jill and Walter, Steffa and Helena. Our daughter Dayna now calls this city her home, and it will be so nice to see her again and spend some time with her, and to meet her friends. We plan to relax here for this week, and catch up with Dayna, and Jill and Walter, before heading home next weekend.

Dayna picked us up at the airport, in a cheaply rented hire car, courtesy of her current employer, and we headed for Jill and Walter’s home where we would stay for the next week. On the way, however, Dayna received a call from a “damsel in distress” – her friend Madison had a flat tyre, somewhere in the city, and needed help to change it. After quite some time finding Madison in the dark – of course, she had to be down a dark alley – I found myself getting my hands dirty changing someone’s tyre. We’d only been in Toronto an hour.
The welcome we received from Jill, Walter and daughters Steffa and Helena was so wonderful, it was like coming home. Certainly the next best thing, after being 7 weeks away from home.

Day 58, 19th October – We enjoyed a very pleasant week in this lovely, huge, metropolitan city. Being able to call Jill and Walter’s house as “home” made it even more enjoyable. Dayna had some days off and has been able to take us around, and meet with some of her friends. Some of these friends are actually ex-pat Tasmanians, who have met up in Toronto. We met them at an Irish bar, and discovered that three of them had appeared in recent Uni Revues onstage, which we only saw a few months ago. I recognised them as they walked into the pub. It was such a strange coincidence.
We can see why Dayna likes living here - this is a very livable city, even though it’s one of the largest cities in the world. For us, after recently seeing London, Paris and Dublin, Toronto is a much more modern city, with glass towers that form canyons downtown as the highrise buildings reach skyward. Public transport makes it easy to get around, while the people are so friendly, and fun.

Perhaps the three defining icons for Toronto are the Rogers Centre (a huge baseball stadium with a retractable roof), the CN Tower (which gives a fantastic view of the city from one of the highest lookouts in the world) and Lake Ontario, on the shores of which the city is built. Lake Ontario is fed from Lake Erie via Niagara Falls, and is the final lake in the Great Lakes series before going out to sea. You can stand on a beach just minutes from the city and look out over an open sea. There is no land in sight to the horizon. Waves come crashing ashore like they would on any other open sea beach, but then you realise that this expanse of water is a fresh water, and even then it is the smallest (in area) of all the five Great Lakes. It’s hard to imagine just how much fresh water the whole Great Lakes system contains. Indeed, it is the world’s largest freshwater lake system. Lake Ontario is so large that it affects the weather here, just as an ocean would, for example causing Toronto snowfalls in winter.

A highlight for me was the Bruce Springsteen concert on Monday night, with Jill, Walter and their friend Mary Lou (Dayna paid for my ticket – ain’t she sweet?) while Dayna and her mum went shopping (have a guess which cost more – the concert or the shopping?). The concert was held in the Air Canada Centre, which is the main ice hockey stadium in Toronto, seating capacity about 20,000. The ice was completely covered for the show, as it is frequently for basketball as well. A great concert, too. I actually sat behind the stage, which was a tad strange but gave a unique perspective.