Thursday September 4
After another bad coffee house a few blocks from my hotel (there seems to be a theme here- bad coffee houses are usually located in downtown areas) I took the drive "across the border"
After crossing the bridge from Huron MI into Canada, I was greeted by a Canadian Customs agent who looked like he was all of but 14 years old. I gave him my license, he asked for my passport or birth certificate. I didn't bring one. I explained I got in/out of Mexico just 2 years ago with my drivers license. I explained that I was going to a Blue Jays game in Toronto, he asked me 20 questions including who the Blue Jays were playing, I apparently answered them all correctly and he let me in. As I left I thought to myself, I'm gonna have a real fun time trying to get back into the States.
A few hours later I arrived in Toronto, I was staying at the Travelodge in the Downsview section of North York, about 12-15 miles north west of Toronto. I had a helluva time trying to find a place downtown, and kept getting rejected by priceline, as it turns out, the Toronto Film Festival was in town that weekend, so that explains it.
First stop was the bank to exchange US for Canadian currency
Toronto and Ontario in general have a "traditionally" large Anglo-Scottish population, so logically, my first stop was High Street Fish and Chips
a Scottish Fish and Chips joint located in the Don Mills section of North York.
although I didn't come for the Fish and Chips, I came for the meat pies.
High Street offers a fairly diverse Scottish Themed menu
and they even have Haggis on the menu
and of course Fish and Chips as well
They even have offer bottled brown sauce at each table
Apparently they are famous for Melton Mowbray Pork Pies
But I opted for the Steak Pie with a side of Tattie Scones
here's a close up
The Steak Pie was densely packed inside a warm flaky crust. The tattie scones are actually potato pancakes,hot n crispy on the outside. My only complaint was the gravy served on the side should have been inside the pie. I would love to return to High Street one day and try their fish and chips as well as their other menu items as well.
After lunch, I drove over to one of the local malls, parked my car there and walked across the street to the subway station to downtown Toronto..
I arrived at Union Station and marveled at the big city. I noticed "chip trucks" everywhere selling Fresh cut chips (fries) as well as hot dogs, burgers etc. there are also dozens of hot dog carts everywhere selling plump dogs, Polish, German Sausage. They looked really good, only if I had enough time to try them..
I walked over the the CN Center, the tallest structure in the world which just happenned to be right next to the Rogers Center aka the Sky Dome. I intended to see the game that evening since the weather was much more promising than it would be the next day.
I then walked over to Chinatown Geonit
previously sent a link for a Toronto Chinatown Food blog. And I decided to check out one of the recommendations Kom Jug Yuen
apparently has been around for decades, there is a sign at the door which touts that they serve the "best roast pork in North America"
Their menu is huge, and I really wanted something "exotic" however the waiter of course recommended the Roast Pork and Rice, I got that along with a aide of fried dumplings..
Although I can't say that the Roast Pork was the best in North America, I will say that along with the steamed dumplingswere very good. One day I do have to go back and try some other more interesting items on the menu as well.
I walked back towards the Ballpark and got a ticket for that evenings game against the Minnesota Twins from a Scalper...
One thing I can say about the Skydome- It's a Monstrosity!
it's so big that it's connected to a Hotel. I know this was state of the art when it first opened nearly 20 years ago- but what were they thinking??!!
Inside it didn't get any better...
I felt like I was walking into a shopping mall and even though the roof was open, it still felt like I was in a dome- a feeling that I also shared when I went to Miller Park in Milwaukee
I even found the scoreboard to be unimaginative
The game itself was no contest, the Blue Jays pounded the Twins that evening...
I have now been to every major league ballpark, sadly this was a dissapointment.
After the game, I walked back to the Subway, took the train back to my car and returned to my hotel. Friday September 5
Today was going to be my day to explore Toronto
I drove back to the mall to park my car and take the subway back to downtown.
I meant to stop at a local coffee house on the fringes of downtown,
however it was somewhat out of the way and I wanted to take advantage of the day exploring the city. It was overcast and they were expecting rain for most of the day. I found a coffee house called Second Cup, I walked in and thought- ah, this must be the Starbucks of Canada- sure enough it was- Predictable in a Starbucks kinda way.
First stop was the St Lawrence Market
An indoor market similar to the Reading Terminal Market in Philly or the Lexington Market in Baltimore..
And I was ready for another "real breakfast"
Toronto's unique contribution to regional cuisine is The Pea Meal Bacon Sandwich
Apparently The Carousel Bakery
inside the market is well known for this unique treat.
Served on a "soft country bun" I ordered mine with egg and cheese. The best way I can describe pea meal bacon is that its like "Canadian Bacon on Steroids" thick-substanstial- and full of "oink" but not quite as salty as say country ham.
I enjoyed it.
After breakfast, I strolled around the market.
Afterwards I headed back towards the CN Tower
, but stopped at the visitors center first to get recommendations of what to check out with only one day in town..
Here's a really cool garden and church I stumbled upon as I headed towards the tower.
And here is the CN Tower itself
This is what greeted me when I entered the CN Tower
Apparently there are 2 observation decks I chose the $28 (yes you read correctly) tour for both observation decks.
Here are some photos of the view. Unfortunately due to inclement weather the view was limited to Toronto itself. Apparently you can see Rochester NY on clear days.
Yes that's the Skydome.
What was really cool was looking down from the glass floor!
After leaving the CN Tower, my curiousity over the Chip Trucks finally got the best of me- I had the choice of ordering a large, medium, small or mini- I ordered a mini and doused them with white vinegar.
Bar-none these were the best fries of the trip!
My next destination was Dundas Square
as recommended by the visitors center guide..
Ok, I've already been to Times Square in New York [|)][|)][|)]
I walked around for a bit and thought that these are 20 minutes I'll never be able to get back...
It was now time for lunch, I thought a return to Chinatown was in order. I thought about returning to Kom Jung Yuen, but decided against, it, I wanted to try something different- how's about Vietnamese?- Bun Saigon
was also recommended on the Chinatown Blog
I decided go with the Pho and the Spring Rolls
The Pho was good, again its reminiscent of the Japanese Noodle Parlors I would frequent in NYC back in the 80's, however the star of the meal was definetely the spring rolls- probably some of the best I've ever had.
By the way, just a little off topic, as I was heading back to Chinatown from Dundas Square, I came across this place- I didn't go in, but does this place scream roadfood or what??
My last tourist destination was the Royal Ontario Museum
located on Bloor Street. I took the subway here. I walked around Bloor Street itself, it reminds me of 5th Avenue in NYC.
I entered the museum, one thing I discovered about Toronto is that its quite expensive. The fee for the Museum was $22 however I got a AAA discount bringing it town to $20. apparently there is a 50% discount after 4:30, but I didn't want to wait 90 minutes.
This was a helluva museum, incorporating all aspects of Natural History, World History, Culture and Art on several floors.
I spent over 3 hours here and easily could have spent another couple of hours or more....
The first floor was strictly devoted to Japanese, Chinese and Korean History on one side and Canadian/Native History and Culture on the other..
The 2nd floor was devoted to nature and animals both pre-historic and present.
I only made it up to half of the third floor and saw the European History exhibit, the other half of the floor was devoted to Sub Saharan, Egyptian, Latin American, Indian and Middle Eastern History..
When I left the museum it was well after 6pm.
Knowing I was about 100 miles from Buffalo NY, I thought that the wings in Toronto must be good..
in Buffalo has a restaurant here- (there are 3 altogether- 2 in toronto and one in Amherst NY)
Would the wings be just as good as they are in Buffalo?
I ordered 10hot
wings along with a local brew
They did not dissapoint and were just as good as I remembered them from a trip to Buffalo 8 years earlier.
$20 for an order of wings and a beer- wow!
I was now ready to go back to my hotel as I would have a big drive the next day..
Stay tuned for the finale- Buffetbuster
in Buffalo and the ride home...