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Chris Sayer’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 15 Jul 2014

Location: Toronto, USA

MapAnd so we returned to Toronto for one last week before heading home. We’ve been travelling for six weeks now. We had already spent a week in this fabulous city, and so had grown accustomed to its traffic and public transport system. We still had some Toronto icons to cross off the list – the Eaton Centre (one of the world’s biggest shopping centres), Dundas Square (Toronto’s answer to Times Square), the Toronto Islands, Niagara Falls about two hours south, and the CN Tower, one of the world’s tallest structures and so prominent on the Toronto skyline. For accommodation this week we rented an apartment downtown, with the Rogers Centre and CN Tower right across the road. The location allowed us to easily explore the city, and we were able to get a good feeling for what it’s like to be a Torontonian.

It seems that the badge for Toronto city membership is to have a coffee in hand, and the most common coffee is Tim Hortens. You’ll find a “Timmies” on every corner and in every shopping centre across Canada. Tim Horten was a famous hockey player (in Australia that should be elucidated as “ice hockey”, but there is no other form of hockey in Canada), and after retiring from the game he opened up a coffee shop. Fifty years later, his name is on thousands of shops across the country, where you can buy a coffee and a bagel. Tim Hortens is as Canadian as the Royal Mounted Police and maple syrup.

Public transport is provided by subway trains, streetcars and buses, all operating under the “T.T.C.” banner, and it is very easy to figure out where you are and what transport you need to take to get anywhere in the city. The “L.C.B.O.” are government-operated liquors stores where you buy beer, wine and spirits. The most common sports team (at least at this time of year) is the Toronto Blue Jays, whose home is the Rogers Centre. You see their logo on t-shirts, caps, car stickers, key rings, coffee mugs. You see social games of baseball in parks across the city, and we even watched Dayna play with her team for a nailbiting 19-18 win in the final innings. It’s obviously baseball in summer, hockey in winter.

We took a ferry out to the Toronto Islands and walked across them, crossing bridges to get from one island to another. It’s a beautiful and quiet part of Toronto, a long way from traffic and the rat race, with access to beaches, parks, gardens, cafes and lots of trees to find shade from the sun. It was difficult to imagine this area being subjected to harsh winters, heavy snowfalls and fierce ice storms. Our nice summer days of plus thirty degrees are matched with minus thirty degree days in midwinter. We got a good idea from locals just how much a Canadian winter can affect their lifestyle.