The car ride from Niagara to Toronto along the shore of Lake Ontario was beautiful in spite of a heavy rain. We arrived safe and dry at the Marriott to find very comfortable, fancy, and expensive rooms.
The rain stopped and we ventured out to explore the entertainment district of the cosmopolitan city. There seemed to be people from dozens of different nations visiting, working, and living in Toronto. Perhaps many of them were there for the Toronto Film Festival. The lines to the theaters were around the block, but the tickets were either sold out or too expensive for me. I did, however, spot the top of Tommy Lee Jones’ head as he got into a car at the Ritz Carlton.
Toronto’s entertainment district was alive with activity. The Second City comedians’ Saturday Night-style skits made us laugh, though we didn’t understand several Canadian references. As we walked along the streets in a slightly buzzed condition, music emanated from many bars and taverns. Our destination was the Rex Club which offered blues and jazz. Fun, intimate atmosphere. Good evening.
Bright and early the next day we took a twenty-minute ferry ride to Toronto Island. The no-vehicle park boasted fabulous gardens, miles of walking paths, kiddie rides, a petting zoo, kayak rentals, beaches (including a clothing optional beach), and relative peace and quiet –– except for the Hong Kong students participating in team building activities. We wandered around to enjoy the sights and found a great old light house that the shifting sands left hundreds of yards inland.
Toronto’s commitment to the arts and the environment is evident on the island from the formal gardens, to the programs to teach children how to garden or create their own art. Interesting sculptures dot the walking paths and artists live on the island under a grant program. A few opened their studio doors to visitors.
Finding Toronto Island was a surprising treat, but good food was not to be found. So, we ferried back to the mainland for lunch dockside at The Watermark Irish Pub.
Toronto apparently didn’t want us to leave. They closed all the ramps on and off the expressway for construction. Side streets were jammed and took us through neighborhoods of every sort, but mostly clean and safe feeling. I enjoyed seeing the less-traveled roads of the city during the two-hour detour, but was glad when we broke free.
We crossed back into the United States via the Rainbow bridge with only two ornaments to declare. The customs agent believed us, and said, “Expensive up there, isn’t it?” We agreed and headed to Buffalo where street signs make sense.