83. Toronto

Canada

The sole reason we were in Toronto was its proximity to Niagara Falls, figuring we may as well stop in while we were so close. There didn't seem to be too many touristy things to do, so we mostly wandered around the different neighbourhoods. Danny and I split up for the morning, knowing that I would want to rush around madly with our limited time here, while Danny would be happy with a slower pace.

 

First up for me was a trek to Casa Loma, a gothic-style castle on a hill. It was a steep walk up a set of steps, which had me thinking it would be a great place to do stair repeats. I considered coming back later to undertake this workout. The castle looked nice from the outside but I wasn't willing to shell out money to look at the interior, so I headed back down the stairs towards the city.

I caught the streetcar for free (possibly illegally) to the waterfront, which was almost devoid of any other people. It was a picturesque area, with tree-lined streets and views of skyscrapers along the lake. The wave deck was apparently a noteworthy sight, but to me it was just a series of bumps in the boardwalk. My explorations led me through a centre housing a variety of visual artists working in studios. The glass-walled rooms allowed me to observe them as they went about their day. I thought about how much I would hate it if someone watched me as I worked, while I continued to stare at them. 

My walk around downtown didn't achieve much. There were a few photogenic buildings, a street market with free food tastings, the famous CTV building with a car coming out of the side, the busy Yonge Street with its line of never-ending shops and restaurants, but nothing that was particularly exciting. 

I met Danny at the Lawrence Market for lunch, however there weren't as many stores with ready to eat foods as we were hoping. I ended up finding a falafel salad, which was 90% lettuce and not worth the price. We were excited about finding a wine tasting, until we were given margarita wine. That destroyed any desire for further tastings. The market itself would have been fantastic if we were after high quality ingredients or one of a kind gifts, but it didn't quite cater for backpackers who were after a quick, cheap feed. 

 

After lunch we walked over to the distillery district, a collection of old, industrial buildings that had been restored and turned into a dining/art/entertainment/shopping precinct. It was a great idea and I loved how they created a modern vibe while keeping the original architecture intact. Funky cafes, art studios, a brewery - if we lived in this city, we would be coming down here often. Danny was keen to hit the brewery but I had healthier thoughts in mind, so I left him to it and walked back to our car.

I awkwardly changed into my running gear in the front seat of the car, hoping no one was looking out the windows of the buildings surrounding the car park. It was a short run to the stairs leading up to Casa Loma - I hadn't forgotten about those stairs from earlier today. It turned out I wasn't the only one who thought this was an ideal place to get a workout in. Due to limited time I only managed a few repeats, but it was one of the tougher (and therefore better) training sessions I had accomplished on our trip. After the final descent I quickly ran back to the car where I found Danny (at the bar next to the car park), changed, ate and then started the trip back to the United States.

 

The internet told us the trip to Buffalo airport would take two hours. It lied. The peak hour traffic alone lasted an hour and a half, allowing us to move no faster than snail-pace. We were freaking out about missing our plane, so we improvised (and broke the law again). There was a free-flowing high occupancy lane you could drive in if you had three people in your car. Obviously there was only the two of us, but if you stick your backpack upright in the back seat and place a Panama hat on top, to the casual observer it would look like a third person. This is what we did. We were thankful there was no one looking too hard. We made it to Buffalo, dropped off the car, rushed back to the airport and arrived at the gate as the last passengers were boarding. It was a late night by the time we checked into our Upper West Side hotel in New York City.

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