Day 2 was better planned. After the parking debacle on Day 1, we decided to use public transit. If public transit is available, I think it’s a great way to experience a city. The plan went like this –
Drive down to Islington station- pick up breakfast at a Tim Horton’s drive through window on the way – park the car at the free parking lot – buy a day pass, supposedly valid for upto 2 people on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays – take a train from the Eastbound platform to Spadina Station
Take M1 from Spadina Southbound platform to Saint George Station ( 1 stop) – walk to Royal Ontario museum (300m) – grab lunch -spend some time at the museum
From Saint George Station Northbound platform take a train to Dupont Station ( 2 stops) – walk to Casa Loma (650m) – wander around the castle
Take bus no. 127, Davenport Towards Spadina Station from Casa Loma to Spadina (6 stops)
What happened was a slightly different story. After staying up talking till past 2 am the night before, I don’t know how the bestie and family managed to be up and out early that morning, we had a hard time rolling out of bed. We left home a little later than planned, so we skipped breakfast. The parking lot is adjacent to the station. It is not free, but the charges are quite nominal – $ 4-$ 5 (Canadian) for the day. The day pass can be used on both the trains and buses. On weekends (Saturday and Sunday), a single day pass can be used by upto two people. The train from Islington goes all the way to Saint George. We did get down at Spadina, but we took the next train from the same platform, after confirming with the driver that it would stop at St. George. We grabbed a quick lunch at a small diner opposite the museum and went in.
The husband lost me in the museum. When I turn around and don’t see the people I came with, I panic. I know I shouldn’t, but I do. My heart starts racing. My stomach starts sinking. I get anxious. When the husband did the disappearing act, I tried to keep calm and enjoy the exhibits. I looked at the displays and attempted to read the description under each glass case, only to realize that words were registering but without any meaning. An active part of my mind was trying to figure out how to find someone in a vast museum building. Every few steps I had to pause, take a deep breath and tell myself – if I didn’t find him wandering around, every building has a public announcement system. Believe me, I have announced for him in the past. I had too. I found him an hour and a half later in the lobby, coolly observing an exhibit. He says he looked for me all over the place, going back and forth through sections, up and down 3 levels before finally deciding to wait in the lobby. Next time I’m going to tie us together with a bit of string.
Casa Loma – The Castle on the (small) Hill, is a wonderful place to take fairytale wedding photographs.
Once upon a time, this castle was the private residence of pioneering Canadian financier, Sir Henry Pellatt and his wife Lady Mary Pellatt. Sir Henry Pellet was nothing short of a business visionary. In addition, when he retired from the Queen’s own Rifles, he was a Major-General and was made a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order. You can read more about him here. Lady Pellatt was accomplished in her own right. She played an active role in the growth of the Girl Guides of Canada. She was appointed the first Commissioner of the Girl Guides of Canada and later awarded the Silver Fish, the Girl Guides highest award. Canadian architect E. J. Lennox designed Casa Loma in the Gothic Revival style. It is touted to be North America’s only full size castle today. Sir Pellatt built it with the hope of entertaining royalty. Unfortunately after World War I, the Canadian economy went into a slump and the Pellatt’s went bankrupt. They had to sell their possessions for a fraction of what they were worth and move out of Casa Loma. Years later the castle was converted into a tourist attraction. Self guided audio tours allow visitors to explore the castle, complete with its secret passages and an 800m long tunnel leading to the stables across the street. There is a short film on the life of Sir Pellatt that is shown every 20 minutes or so. It would be a good idea to watch it before taking the caste tour as it sets the stage for it. One can easily spend a few hours to half a day at the castle.