I have a lot to give thanks for – good health, access electricity and clean drinking water, the internet, but what tops my list is family..and friends who are like family. Keeping with our idea to travel to meet people, we picked Toronto as our destination this Thanksgiving. What better way to give thanks for friend who cares and has been there, than to go see her?
So despite the snow swirling outside and storm warnings, we packed our bags and valiantly set out for the Great White North. Lesson no.1 – Always check if you GPS device has maps for a different country. As we pulled out of the apartment complex we realized that ours did not know where Canada was. We figured we could drive down to the Niagara Falls on the American side and then switch over to Google maps on our phones. Lesson 2 would be always check cellular rates before leaving the country, but more on that later. The weather and Thanksgiving kept most people home, so we had the roads mostly to ourselves. We left home at around 4:30 pm on the day before Thanksgiving and reached the border close to 1:30 am the next morning. We had been warned of long immigration queues, but at that hour it was just us and the officials, who let us pass after a few cursory questions. There is a currency exchange facility at the border, use it and make sure you have sufficient local currency. Soon that would be Lesson 3.
The bestie stays at Mississauga. Mississauga was developed as a suburb of Toronto and is a 50 min drive away. A word of caution, the speed limits in Canada are lower than those in the United States, and there is a $10,000 fine for going 50 km* over speed limit. Buckle up – it’s the law! For those on the back seat too, and the fine for not doing so is, I believe, $240. New Yorkers visiting should remember that in Toronto pedestrians wait for their signal. American Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Canada, so the bestie and family were not going to be around during the day on Thursday and Friday. The husband and I decided we would do the city tours on those days. We had 3 options – the hop on/hop off which would take us around to 20 attractions, the city pass which provided discounted entry to the 5 main attractions or to take the hop on/ hop off to travel to the 5 main attractions and use the citypass to see them.
We were keen on option 3, but by the time we woke up, got to the city, parked and found the hop on/hop off office, the last bus had departed. Winter schedule! We walked down to the nearest main attraction – the Canada National Tower or the CN Tower. Here we bought the citypass. A few enquiries and some quick math proved that the pass is only economical if you do a minimum of 3 out of the 5 attractions it covers. We decided to wait until dark to go up the tower. There is something very romantic about seeing city lights twinkle below you. Perhaps dreamy would be a better word.
We had an hour or so till darkness enveloped the city, and with nothing better to do we went to the aquarium next door. My cousin gifted me a fish tank when I was an undergrad student. Aquariums always remind me of those days when we spent hours staring at our fish, and researching on the internet about home aquariums. We’ve had guppie fish, gold fish, angel fish, tetras and little suckers. We’ve fed them green peas with our hands when they wouldn’t eat fish food, because the internet said so! We even tried having a few water plants in our tank. The bestie had a fish tank too. When we got ours, she was inspired to restart hers.
The best way to experience the CN Tower would be to book a table at 360 – The Restaurant at the CN Tower. For the price of around $65 per person, you get a 3 course meal in the revolving restaurant, as well as access to the Lookout and the Glass Floor. Access to the Lookout and Glass Floor otherwise costs $32 per person.
*they use the metric system in Canada
** All $ amounts are in Canadian Dollars