Sunday, June 10, 2012

Travels With Yui: Sightseeing in Toronto in Less Than 30 Pictures

  

Warning:  Breaking my 10 pictures rule since it was my first visit to this foreign country...but I guess it is less than 10 pictures per day of this trip, so maybe I'm not breaking my rule...

It took three flights to get from SoCal to Anime North in Toronto...seeing Niagara Falls on the last leg made me really excited.  I should make time to make a side trip there next time I'm in Toronto...

I wanted to make some time to do a little sightseeing in Toronto during my Anime North weekend.  Considering that my time would be limited, I limited my must-do list from my typical 10 + 10 backup items I do for week-long trips to two must do places only for Toronto, the CN Tower and Hard Rock Cafe Toronto (I collect magnets, and the soon-to-expire VIP points I collected from Hard Rock Cafe Waikiki were burning a hole in my pocket).

I didn't plan for any sightseeing on the night of day 1 of AN because I needed to get my bearings and badge, shower, and food (most of the weekend's fare was airport/hotel food or Subway, so I didn't take pics of most of my meals...and I should've taken a pic of my Tim Hortons dinner) after such a long travel time.  But the next morning, I definitely wanted to go to the CN Tower.

I wasn't familiar with the freeways of Toronto, so I had to make a little pit stop in Sunnyside Beach along Lake Ontario on the way there...


Seeing the tower and a giant wind turbine in the distance made me realize that I was going the right direction...Along the way, I passed what looked like a hockey festival in Ontario Place on the way to the CN Tower...When I got out of the parking garage near the CN Tower, I learned quickly that there would be another place to visit next time I go to Toronto, the Toronto Railway Heritage Centre...(I guess I should visit train museums closer to home first, like the museum featuring Walt Disney's barn run by the Carolwood Pacific Historical Society at Griffith Park in Los Angeles).


After taking the glass bottomed elevator to the observation deck of the CN Tower (1136 ft), I realized quickly that I can have a fear of heights when I walked to The Glass Floor on the lower level (1122 ft)...


It will be probably a couple more years before I try the EdgeWalk.  After closing my eyes, I did manage to walk over the floor to get a souvenir picture.

Being this was a special visit for me, I also went up to the Sky Pod (1465 ft)...


When I got back to ground level, I went to eat in the cafe for a quick lunch before heading out...


If the lack of dollar bills and the ubiquitous maple leaf flags weren't reminders, food labels definitely told me that I was in a foreign country despite the common language...


I also realized how big Anime North was when I went to the gift shop to check out pre-elevator souvenir pictures.  The cashier asked why I was visiting Toronto...when I said "a convention," the cashier immediately asked if it was Anime North (the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent at the airport before I boarded the return flight also knew AN).

I didn't notice on any guidebooks, but the CN Tower was also next to Rogers Centre, home of the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team.  Besides Hard Rock Cafe magnets, I like to collect magnets from major sports venues, so I did stop inside the team store...


After this little sightseeing, I went back to the Toronto Congress Centre to experience day 2 of Anime North...

On the morning of the last day of Anime North, it was a Sunday.  I was trying to look for a breakfast place recommended by one of the butlers at Cafe Nocturne the night before, The Golden Griddle, but I got lost...I parked at a parking garage near the first coffee shop I saw...


After checking the maps, I learned that I was at the Harbourfront.  Since I didn't have much planned for Anime North until about noon (when I missed my chance to get Monica Rial and J. Michael Tatum to sign my Ouran DVD), I decided to walk down Queens Quay to see what I can find.  As I was walking down, I asked an elderly gentleman passing by what is there to see down the street.  In addition to the old warehouses representing a bygone era, he mentioned something about sidewalks made to look like the waves found on Lake Ontario...


There are several different types of these WaveDecks along the Harbourfront.  Too bad there are signs saying no skateboards are allowed...

Further walking led to a wetland...


It was neat to see a little house built at the wetland that attracted the birds...


I continued walking until I came across the Toronto Music Garden, a collaboration between famed cellist Yo Yo Ma and landscape architect Julie Moir Messervy that was inspired by Bach's Suite for Unaccompanied Cello.  I wish I had the music to listen to to really appreciate the winding path around this green space...


Walking back to my car, it was getting hot, and I was tempted to rent a bicycle to get back, but I didn't know where to park it once I got to my car...


I wish they had these in downtown L.A. so I wouldn't have to wait for shuttles during Anime Expo...I was also surprised by seeing a pay toilet (only 25 Canadian cents)...Unfortunately, I didn't really understand the instructions and was in and out in about 15 seconds...


On the walk back, I was able to finally able to get a good picture of the CN Tower with Rogers Centre...


After taking more pictures and saying my goodbyes to all the friends I made at Anime North, I went back to downtown Toronto to finally do the other must-do thing on my list...


All Hard Rock Cafes have signature dishes if not signature burgers...at the Hard Rock Cafe at Universal CityWalk Osaka, Japan, I had fish and chips.  At the now gone Hard Rock Cafe Waikiki, I had a teriyaki burger with pineapple.  At the Toronto location, they had a German burger with sauerkraut on a pretzel roll...


This location was interesting because there was a church service being held in a reserved area when I was having dinner...The Hard Rock Cafe in Toronto is located at Yonge-Dundas Square.



And across the street from Eaton Centre, which according to my guidebook, was named after retail legend Timothy Eaton.  Unfortunately, the stores were already closed for the day...I so wanted to visit this store...


Does the maple leaf indicate that this Sears had different merchandise than the ones I see at home?  Considering that I was near a Greyhound station, it made sense to see some advertising for American tourism...


I dunno, but the use of dots to represent all the possibilities in America is pretty clever, though some have criticized the design.

On the way back to my car after my final dinner in Toronto, I saw 3D sidewalk art for the first time, the Pit of Doom...


Okay, during this weekend, I discovered Tim Hortons with donuts that pretty much come with everything.  I had to try out Canada's Pizza Pizza.  It was nice to see it offered at the airport...


I'm still wondering why this pizza with pepperoni, (what looks like American) bacon, mushrooms, and mozzarella the Canadian Eh!

Except for going on a little shopping spree at the duty free shop and watching Master of Martial Hearts on my netbook, the journey back wasn't really dramatic (except for trading seats with someone who took my spot on the second leg, where I ended up sitting next to who said he was diabetic and wasn't prepared by having his own food with him just in case, and he ended up bleeding after he pulled a hangnail during the flight...Sorry, but times have changed.  If you really wanted peanuts, fly Southwest.  You can get what you want on a flight when you cough up the $55 million to get your own plane...).

The final leg of the flight was just interesting to me since the domestic flight was departing out of a gate next to a gate where a flight to London Heathrow was departing...


I hope someone without a passport didn't make the mistake of going to the wrong gate...without a passport, he or she wouldn't be able to get back into the U.S!  I slept for most of the final leg, but I was sitting next to a woman dressed as a Buddhist monk who had an iPad...It was interesting.

I hope to come back to Toronto to check out the city, maybe kayak on Lake Ontario, see where the movies are filmed.  It is just an amazing city.

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