05-Jul-2012 19:37, Canon Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, 8.0, 55.0mm, 0.013 sec, ISO 100
Not really!! It took us about 90 minutes to reach Toronto after the Jet rides, but traffic became extremely show as we reached the downtown. It took us another 30 minutes to get to our hotel. Thursday evening after 5 PM, more people were getting out of offices. The sky was still bright, so after checking in and freshening up, getting some snacks at the hotel, we headed out.
View of the Casa Luma from the back of the fountain06-Jul-2012 12:01, Canon Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, 8.0, 17.0mm, 0.01 sec, ISO 100
Our first stop was Dundas Square opposite the hotel. There were stalls setup, but all were empty – maybe they were planning something for the weekend. A bit of walking and we decided to turn back as it was getting time for dinner. The Eaton mall next to the hotel on Younge street is the largest mall in downtown Toronto with over 200 stores. This is a huge mall, with an equally huge ceiling. The made-up birds dangling from the ceiling add to the charm of the inside. However, there weren’t many or any restaurants within to our liking.
The conservatory from the inside; to beat Toronto's harsh winter, the inside had steam pipes to keep up the tropical weather in winter06-Jul-2012 12:24, Canon Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, 8.0, 17.0mm, 0.167 sec, ISO 100
I offered to take us to the Bay Center mall where we had more ethnic food stalls. It took me a while i.e., over 20 minutes to get there. Finally upon arrival, it was way past 8 PM and the stalls were all closed. Whew. Tired and hungry, we decided to find another restaurant that I had been recently to on a work trip – Kama, on King’s street. This time I had a more welcome experience, with someone actually greeting us. The food was good and too much on the buffet. I could have done with just some soup, a piece of bread and dal. Anyway, I wasn’t debating the pricy-ness of the buffet today. We then took a cab back to the hotel. We bought the City tour tickets on the sightseeing bus that would cover the next 36 hours.
06-Jul-2012 12:47, Canon Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, 2.8, 24.0mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 100
The next day, getting out leisurely again, our first stop on the sightseeing tour was Casa Loma. This is a castle built by Sir Henry Mill Pellatt, took three years to build and was completed in 1914. Sir Henry was an entrepreneur who had a monopoly on electricity at that time. Anyone switching on a light bulb and he would get a fee. No wonder he built this magnificent stone and glass home for his wife. Words cannot describe the grandeur and beauty of the home. It cost about 3.5M dollars at that time! Add to that the priceless collection of art items and an evaluation of the property itself can exceed $200M dollars in today’s money. It already included an elevator, three bowling alleys, central vacuum and an over large enough to cook an ox. The highlight of the house is a conservatory that had tropical plants growing. To keep up with the cold of Toronto, the conservatory had pipes leading steam to the insides. The glass stained central dome is another piece of art. The three huge bronze doors to the place each cost $150K at that time. Due to World war I and the city’s policy change on the business, Sir Henry died bankrupt having to sell many of his priceless pieces of art of throw away prices. He sold a Rembrandt for $25 as the story goes. After his death, the mansion went into a dilapidated state only to be later revived by the Kiwanis group. Today it is in impeccable condition. The gardens alone are a treat for the eyes, let alone the entire home.
Hazelton - the first Five star hotel in Toronto - rooms starting at $700 per night06-Jul-2012 11:28, Canon Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, 8.0, 55.0mm, 0.02 sec, ISO 100
On the way to Casa Loma, we rode the streets of Toronto and got much glimpses of its history. There was the Hazelton, which is the first five star hotel for the city, with rooms starting at $800, the first Four Seasons hotel which set the industry standards for service, the one of 20 libraries built by Sir Andrew Carnegie across North America and many more.
After Casa Loma, it was turning out to be past 1:30 PM. Our stop for lunch was Fresh on Spadina. The day was the hottest of the year with temperatures nearing 103. We took a 10 minute walk from the bus stop. Fresh is one of the best vegetarian, non-Indian restaurants that I have visited across North America, across the many cities I have been. The food was simply superb, each item was unique. Even the dosa that Rama had for a change was different than the routine run-of-the-mill ones at other restaurants. Otherwise, we settled for a bowl of soup, drinks that were refreshing and energetic. The entrees were way too much food, but hungry as we were we did justice to the well priced, fix priced course of four. We packed the desert – wonderful almond and chocolate cookies – for the road. It was nearing 4 PM when we reached our hotel