When we came back from Niagara Falls, we went to Chinatown. Since this is not the first Chinatown Ronald had seen, we just walked around a bit and went to Kensington Market after that. I took no pictures there. After Kensington Market, we walked North to "computer town" on College Street and walked East to the subway. We took the subway to the Eaton Centre where we did some shopping. After that, we went to a Greek restaurant on College Street to conclude his visit. The end of a memorable visit. Ronald left very early the next morning for New York.

Maid of the Mist

The high point of a first visit, is a trip aboard the Maid of the Mist. These boats take you to pretty close to the falls. In spite of the complimentary blue raincoat one is usually soaked after the approximately 10 minute trip. Ronald didn't feel like taking it, and I have taken it several times already, so I acquiesced, although I do feel a bit guilty about not pushing harder. After all, he is here only once, and will quite probably never come back to Niagara. This is for most people a once in a lifetime experience.

Canadian falls

This is part of the Canadian falls, also called the horseshoe falls because of their peculiar shape.

American falls

The falls of Niagara Falls consist of two main parts: the American falls and the Canadian falls. This picture is part of the American falls. In the foreground, people can be seen walking next to the falls. They are actually climbing a staircase.

Niagara Falls - A dream destination

Although it was first decided not to go to Niagara Falls, my incessant talking about it changed Ronald's mind. Except for the baseball game, Niagara Falls has just about the smallest influence on my life here, but it is important. After weighing some alternatives, we chose to go by bus. In this picture, one can see people looking at the falls, a beautiful sunny sky, and the white vapour coming from the falls. This vapour, which is more accurately compared to rain, is responsible for the water seen on the sidewalk. Standing there means getting wet. It is also this vapour that can be seen from the Toronto CN Tower on a clear day.


Ronald and Bart on the big screen

And yes there we are, in the bottom right corner of the big screen.

Let's play ball!

The actual game. Although unclear, it is actually possible to see the ball flying.

Preparations for the game

Rogers Centre with open roof

The big screen in the centre continuously displays information of all types. Around the screen are actual hotel rooms that belong to the Renaissance Hotel. This hotel is kind of wrapped around the Rogers Centre.

The Rogers Centre from Ward's Island

Thanks to the wonders of the 12x zoom of the Lumix, we could even see that the roof of the Rogers Centre was open, in spite of the fact that their website said it was closed. That prompted a desire to go back there, for another game. The building with the green top, just behind the large boat, is Queen's Quay Terminal.

North shore of Ward's Island

From the Rectory Cafe, we walked through the village to the North shore of Ward's Island. From there, we had a nice view of the Toronto skyline.

The Rectory Caf?

From Centre Island, we walked further West to Ward's Island.

The goal was to eat something in the Rectory Caf?. I had phoned them beforehand, to be sure they would be open. Great was my surprise when I found them closed. The problem was simple: the house I thought I recognized, was not the Rectory Cafe, it was the one just East of it. The Rectory Caf? is well indicated, something I seemed to have forgotten.

It is important to make sure they are open before you go. During the summer season (June 1 to October 11) , they are open every day from 10 am to 10 pm, but outside that period, their opening hours are more patchy. Better be safe than sorry and phone ahead. In winter, they are the only establishment that is open on the Islands.

It speaks for itself that we ate something here. Ronald had a glass of Canadian white wine, and because of the heat, I drank a pint of beer in spite of my usual reluctance to drink anything alcoholic. It was just too nice. It was quiet, warm, just a beautiful summer's day, except that it was obviously still spring.

Centre Island beach

Another example of the sea-like nature of this part of Lake Ontario: a large sandy beach, a pier, and water as far as the eye can see.

Centre Island lighthouse

As a Fleming, I am not used to lakes. There is only one natural lake in Flanders, and we consider every water-filled pit of an acre or so to be a lake. So, the idea of Lake Ontario doesn't quite fit in our view of the world. After all, Lake Ontario is somewhere between 1.5 and 2 times as large as Flanders and there are six million people living there. A lake of the size of Lake Ontario displays a lot of sea-like behaviour, dangerous storms included. And there are obviously also navigational hazards. Those hazards can at least in part be solved by lighthouses. There are several lighthouses on the Islands. This one stands on Centre Island.

An idyllic place

Here, we can see Ronald sitting at the table, preparing a recording. There is another table, but that one had its legs in the water. The debris around the place is not there by accident. It is put there to protect the island from disappearing. The Toronto Islands are not really islands but sandbars. They are eaten at one side, and grow at another. That makes them "walking sandbars". That is fine, but since there are people who live on these islands, they'd rather not have their houses and gardens being eaten away by the water.

Hanlan's Point

Here, we are at the South side of Hanlan's point. On a clear day, it is possible to see the United States from this side of the Island.

This is a place where I don't come very often, since I usually go to Ward's Island (albeit mostly in the fall), but it is quite restful nevertheless. For reasons I do not quite comprehend, it was a lot noisier than I anticipated. I normally go to the Islands because they are so quiet. Today however, there were small airplanes and big yachts all the time. To make it worse, the Island park people were preparing the touristic season mowing grass, reparing things all over the place, driving around with trucks and the like. In spite of the noise however, it was very obvious that this is a nice place where silence can be expected at better times.

The worst part for me was the sun. Since I always bring the small Fujitsu laptop to work (my officeless office), I need a place in the shade because it is otherwise not possible to see what is on the screen. Obviously, that is why I made going to Ward's Island into a habit. There are more trees there...

View of Toronto, from the Islands

Toronto is not only Canada's largest city, it is also Canada's most important city, economically speaking. Hence, it is a crowded and busy city and the Islands provide an unreal contrast to that.

In this picture, one can see a portion of the Toronto skyline with the CN Tower and some banks. The special part is that this picture was taken when we were about halfway to the most Southern part of Hanlan's point. The trees in the picture, are island trees, not mainland trees.

Red winged blackbird

The Toronto Islands are considered a giant park, and large parts of it are protected wildlife and plantlife sanctuaries. The animals living on the islands are usually friendly and not scared of people.

This red winged blackbird, for example, sat nearly at my feet and wasn't scared at all while I was trying to take a picture with the new Lumix.

We saw this bird while walking South on Hanlan's Point.

To the Islands

Wednesday, we decided to take it easier. The plan was to take the ferry to Centre Island, the largest of the Toronto Islands in Lake Ontario, and to walk to Ward's Island in the East where we would eat something and then walk through the village to take the Ward's Island Ferry back to the mainland.

Due to our impatience, we decided to take the Hanlan's Point ferry instead and then walk all the way to Ward's Island. That was obviously a lot more tiring, but it also made for a very nice walk.

It is obvious that the view one has of the Toronto skyline is fantastic from the ferry.


Visiting Toronto

Ronald is here for three days only. It is my goal to show him as much as possible, so the visit is going to be hectic. On top of that, today is supposed to be cold, cloudy and miserable, so I have prepared a few alternatives.

The plan is to walk East on Carlton Street, past Allen Gardens, to Parliament Street. There, we will walk South to No Frills and a Korean store and then walk West on Gerrard Street to have a look at the Beer Store and Allen Gardens where we will have a fast look at the greenhouses. We will then go further West to my place and then to Yonge Street.

On Yonge Street, we walk South to the Eaton Centre, have a fast visit there, go to the second floor, walk South in the Eaton Centre to use the walkway to The Bay where we take the escalators to the basement. There we walk through the underground city to the Sheraton where we go to the main floor, walk outside on Queen Street to the East and pass under the walkway we used to go from the Eaton Centre to The Bay to go to Yonge Street again.

From there, we walk above ground to Harbourfront, where we use the boardwalk to walk West passed the building where I used to live, and then walk further to Queen's Quay Terminal. After a short visit, we go further West to see one of the so many marinas there and we then walk North to the Lakeshore. There, we walk East to the LCBO flagship Liquor Store and the most beautiful Loblaws store.

We then go North and West to go back to Yonge Street where we have a drink in BCE Place at Richtree's (formerly M?venpick). After our drink, we use the underground city to go to Union Station and the Skywalk to finally arrive at the CN Tower where we have a well-deserved rest and, of course, dinner.

One tip: the elevator to the observation deck of the CN Tower costs about 15 CAD plus tax. Although the restaurant is very expensive to Toronto standards, one does not have to pay for the elevator to go there. Therefore, a meal at the CN Tower is less expensive than it seems (around 45 CAD for a set menu). On top of that, one can sit comfortably and relax while eating and taking in the view. The restaurant is of the revolving type and makes one full turn every 72 minutes.

After a short visit to the glass floor where one can look about 350 metres down, we head for the Rogers Centre (formerly known as the Skydome) for a baseball game. I am not exactly a sports fanatic, so this was a first. It was a remarkable experience that I can advise anyone to check out.

And finally, I took Ronald to the hotel for a well-deserved rest and then rushed home to work on a few translations that had to be finished.

View from the CN Tower elevator, close to the restaurant level (about 350 metres high)

View from the CN Tower elevator, close to the ground floor. The picture (and the next one) was taken with my new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ4 in burst mode. That is why the quality isn't the best.

Of course, the main reason for most people to go to the CN Tower is the unequalled view. In this picture, taken from the restaurant, one can see Roy Thomson Hall, Scotia Plaza, City Hall, and so much more, not to mention the building where I live.

Toronto has at least four Chinatowns. One in the centre, one in the West and one in the East, and finally one that is sitting as a crown on the North side of the city. The Chinatown in the centre is the oldest one, and arguably the largest. I love going to shop, to discover foods I have never seen before, the wonderful restaurants, and the relaxed atmosphere. Spadina Avenue is the centre of this Chinatown. The picture shows a view of part of it.

Lunch or dinner in the CN Tower is most definitely a high point of a visit to this magnificent city. The food is delicious and has won countless international awards, the staff is courteous and friendly. Of course, the view is the most important part!


Welcome to Toronto

Today, I have collected Ronald at the airport. Ronald is a presenter of Wereldnet, the Dutch radio program broadcasted on VPRO of which I am a correspondent. He is here to make a program about me. The plan was to go by public transportation to show him how it works, but he had too much heavy luggage so we took a limo to the hotel.

After that, we went to Koreatown for a nice Korean dinner. Korean food is not yet particularly popular in Toronto, and that is a pity. It is truly delicious. I like simple dishes in which I can easily see and taste the different ingredients. If they are visually appealing as well, that is definitely a plus, but since I have to eat them, taste is definitely my priority.

In this case, I chose kimchee fried rice, my number one favourite dish. It is such a simple dish that it is often not even mentioned in the menu. Luckily, there is no such thing as Korean food without rice and kimchee, so there is also no such thing as a Korean restaurant where this cannot be had.

I have done my best to keep Ronald up for a while, since that is the best way to avoid problems due to the time difference.

Korean food is delicious!

Ronald arrives at Lester Pearson International