Hello friends,

This week we do Toronto. Since we were at Toronto for a month, there were lots of things we did and this blog is a sum total of this. Unlike in my previous blogs, here I narrate various visits and my regular readers may notice that it is not a continuous flow.

First thing that struck me was… as you alight from your flight and enter through the gates into the terminal….you see a large board…You are Welcome in Canada…this is something which I found unique….this board would surely have reassured many a foreigner stepping on Canadian soil with trepidation and uncertainty.This would apply more to potential immigrants who would like to chart a future in Canada. Very Immigrant friendly country!!!

We landed there at night and woke up after a long sleep overcoming jet lag.As I opened the front door and looked out, I wondered if I had landed in Canada or Punjab? Every person I saw was an Indian and most of them Sikhs…that’s how much this city has embraced our people and vice versa. Indian seniors sitting on garden benches and chitchatting while soaking in some sunshine to beat the biting cold, is a common sight.Travelling by public transport, you often hear telephonic conversations in Hindi and Punjabi. So if any of you travel to Canada…particularly Toronto, have no worries of feeling alien….you will feel very much at home.

OK…now let me get into specifics….

First let me introduce you to our friends in Toronto who were so kind to host us and also take us along sight seeing.

Our friends at their beautiful house in Brampton, Toronto

We did a lot of commuting in Toronto, partly by public transport and partly driven around by our friend. Here are some pictures of the local buses, trains etc…just to give a perspective…

The local city bus and bus stop

The double decker GO Train outer and inner view

For us Tim Horton’s is synonymous with Canada….where ever we traveled, we enjoyed their coffee and snacks. This restaurant chain kept us pepped up with energy during our long trips many times…So I decided to include a picture of one of their outlets for all of you to see. We sort of got addicted to their awesome coffee and I particularly enjoyed the pumpkin spice flavor which is associated with fall…the season we were there….

A Tim Horton’s Outlet

Let me start with our visit to Downtown Toronto .

We were dropped at the Toronto airport by our friend. From the airport, we took the Union Pearson Express train to downtown Toronto.

After getting down at Union Station, we explored the place on foot and decided to do a hop on hop off tour. Booked our tickets from the agent near the station and boarded the double decker bus with an open upper deck.

The Sightseeing bus

The bus wound its way through the streets of Toronto and we were in front of the

CN Tower… the iconic structure in Toronto.

We alighted there and wanted to go to the top of the tower to get a panoramic view, but unfortunately the queue was too long and we did not have time to wait for our turn . So we walked around, clicked some pictures.

The CN tower is a telecommunication tower and is the tallest free standing( not held by wires)tower in Canada. But it is the  fifth tallest free standing structure in the world.

The C N stands for Canada’s National tower.

It has an observation deck with floor to wall glass windows and a glass floor. Apart from that there is an observation point in the sky pod from where you may be able to see even Niagara falls or New York State in US on a clear day. One can also take a walk on the famous Edge walk…(a 1.5 mt wide ledge around the outer edge of the pod) attached to a safety harness. Apart from this there is a revolving restaurant in the tower which offers 360 degree views of the city and the landscape around.

The C N Tower

The entrance to the tower

Next to CN tower is the Ripley’s Aquarium and the Roger’s center.

The Roger’s center is a domed sports arena. Its unique design allows for the roof to be retracted under favourable conditions. Roger’s center is the home of Toronto Blue Jays… the baseball team….and that day we did get to see fans trooping in to the center to watch a match….most of them in Blue garb. The cutest thing was a poodle also dressed in a blue jersey hopping along with its master to cheer the Blue Jays!!!

After we finished with these views we boarded the bus again and hopped off at Casa Loma. Casa Loma in Spanish means” Hill House” It is a building resembling a medieval castle set in a garden. Due to its unique architecture, it is a popular filming destination. It houses a museum. It is also a popular destination for wedding ceremonies for which it can be rented out.

Casa Loma

Next we visited Lawrence Market which houses a variety of vendors selling food, flowers etc. We took a break here for lunch.

Post lunch, we took the cruise to the Toronto Islands.

These are a chain of 15 small islands in Lake Ontario south of mainland Toronto. These are just offshore from the city’s downtown area. It houses the Billy Bishop Toronto city airport, an amusement park, yacht clubs and a public marina. This is a car free community and access to the mainland is only via ferry. Bicycles can be carried on the ferry.

We took the ferry from the mainland and as we cruised along, got some great views of Toronto city.

View of Toronto city from the cruise

Yachts anchored at the Toronto islands

After the cruise, we returned back to the station and took the train back home.

Riverwood conservancy was one of the places we visited

We took the local bus to Riverwood conservancy ; the 150 acre urban oasis with accessible trails, creeks, wetlands and wildlife. The Credit River also flows by its borders. Children from the local schools often volunteer here for nature studies.Bird watching trails are also earmarked here.

It amazed me to see how such a serene and quiet place exists right in the middle of a buzzing metropolis! Also how the river water is so crystal clear and pristine….says a lot about the local people who refrain from maligning it!

The Credit River

Some views at Riverwood conservancy

Square one Mall is a high end shopping mall situated in downtown Mississauga. It is the second largest shopping center in Ontario. Needless to say, it houses many branded and high end shops and restaurants,Both the interior and exterior are beautifully designed.

At Square one Mall

Lakeshore Toronto

One morning ,we were dropped off at Lake shore by our friend and we spent a morning there. There are well landscaped gardens along the shores of Lake Ontario. Walking and cycling tracks draw the locals to this place. Being September, it was the start of fall and we did get a taste of fall colors on the maple trees.

Some pictures from our visit to Lakeshore

After a relaxing morning at Lake shore, we took a bus to downtown and visited Nathan Philips square; a plaza in front of the city hall . Here we saw the Toronto of the most photographed places in Toronto. It provides the backdrop to a  reflecting pool which is used as a skating rink in winter. This square is the site of concerts, art displays, the farmer’s market, the winter festival of lights, and other public events. There are kiosks selling variety of food items and appeared to me like a picnic spot for the locals.

Nathan Philips Square

During Christmas time, this square is decorated and lit up. This is called the Cavalcade of lights.This officially marks the beginning of Christmas celebrations. A huge Christmas tree is also lit up. A stage is set up and many high profile music programs are held here. These celebrations last for almost 2 months.

Cavalcade of Lights

We also had the opportunity of visiting the Sai Baba temple in Mississauga. This temple looks unique from outside. In fact it is housed in a commercial complex and externally looks like an office. Once inside, it resembles any typical Indian Temple.

The entrance to the temple

There was another unique tourist destination we visited The Cheltenham Badlands.

Badlands is a geologic term for an area of soft rock devoid of vegetation and soil cover that has become molded into a rolling landscape of rounded hills and gullies

An area of approximately 0.5 km, it features essentially clay that is easily eroded by water. The Queenstone shale has brick red to maroon color. Formed as a result of tectonic activity hundreds of years ago, this region was used extensively for cattle grazing. The unscientific agricultural and grazing practices over the years added to the erosion by nature and led to this formation.There are trails here where you can explore the badlands. But entry on to this fragile shale is prohibited.

The Cheltenham Badlands

Since we stayed at Toronto for a considerable period of time, and moved around and interacted with some locals , we really got to experience day to day life here…would like to share some pictures…a sneak peek into the life of immigrant Indians in Canada…take a look

There was a reasonably big park with lot of recreational activities that we used to visit ….close to where we stayed….. Sandalwood park. Some pictures…

At Sandalwood park

We had a small picnic with some Indians one evening at the park. Also attended a birthday party hosted by an Indian family…take a look

A picnic and a birthday party

Well, I hope I have conveyed the essence of Toronto to all of you…..

From Toronto, we also visited Ottawa,the capital of Canada, and Montreal and Quebec which are some important cities in Canada. My next blogs will cover my experiences in these cities…

Till then…goodbye

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