Scenes from Toronto - A Canadian Wonderland: Day 3

Saturday, August 31st (Part 1)

It seems this Canada trip should be broken up into two posts for each and every day.  It didn't mean to be.  So if you're still keeping up with this whole trip, Bravo!!  Cause at this point, I barely can...

Our hotel did not provide a free breakfast (Boo!!  This is becoming more and more common for my hotel choices and I'm not entirely happy about this), so Adele and I did what any American travelers would do.  Stop at Starbucks.

We headed South on Yonge Street to find a Starbucks.  We were headed in that direction anyway and as we drove up the street last night, we found many different Starbucks on the street.  Until we actually went looking for them.  It took several blocks before we found a Starbucks and our Chai, Glorious Chai.  My guess is Canadian Starbucks has a different soy milk than the US Starbucks, cause it tasted just a bit different but it got the job done.  And it gave us a bit of a view of the city.

The walk also gave us a chance to find a shoe store.  Walking on a Cloud is a store similar to The Walking Company (But better.  Congrats, Canada!!) and sells comfortable shoes.  A window of Birkenstocks caught our eye and we decided to take a look see.  The Birks were glorious.  And I even saw a display of the brand of shoes I've been wearing nearly nonstop since Spring.  El Naturalista.  Love them so much.  Now the prices were a little high here, but I was happy to see some of the choices.  Adele found a few pairs of shoes she kind of loved, but decided to do some Zappo's research before purchasing.  We were going to visit the area again tomorrow anyway.

Soon enough, we left the shoe store and walked a few more blocks to the first scheduled stop of the day.  The Hockey Hall of Fame

Adele was so excited about this place.  I think it was a good stop in Canada.  And because the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup this year (Go Hawks!!), I have a bit more of a hockey background this year versus had we gone to Toronto a few years ago.  The hall of fame itself is in a beautiful, old building that seems to be mostly covered by a bigger, modern building.  I'm not entirely sure how that happened, but it was pretty cool.  

Building inside of a building.  Who knew??
As we walked into the museum, we were greeted by two giant statues and tons of memorabilia.  The museum started out with areas sorted by player.  Sometimes by teams.  And by eras.  My guess is it would be more of a flow for people who really knew what was going on.  The fun part was the squeals from people at various points in the museum.  "OOH!!  Look at this thing from that one player!!"  Guys squealed.  Ladies squealed.  Kind of cool.  There was a replica of a locker room.  There was a whole area about international hockey (did you know Mongolia had a hockey team of some sort??  You do now).  One room included all of the trophies.  Including the Stanley Cup.

Look!!  It's the Cup!!
You could pay $10 to have a professional picture taken of you and the cup.  Or you could just whip out your cell phone and take the pictures yourself.  That's what we did.  Come on, $10 is a glass of wine with dinner tonight (wait for the next post about the meal...omg!!).  We did learn that there were three Stanley Cups.  The one on display at the hall of fame.  There is the traveling one (Duncan Keith had it in British Columbia while we were in Toronto).  Then there is the original one, which was in a vault behind us.  We did go into the vault.  It was pretty cool.

The last area we saw in the hall of fame was the interactive part.  You could record yourself being a color commentary (one dude seriously got into it.  He was so excited about his call that he was emailing it to himself as we walked by).  We only really tried out hand at getting a luck last the goalie.  You had five tries and...neither one of us were able to get it done. It was the first time I'd ever held a hockey stick, so I had to get some directions on the proper way to hold the stick (stop it).  I still maintain that one of the pucks made it past.  But whatever.

We didn't stay long at the gift shop (exit though the gift shop...always).  Adele wanted a shirt, but they were all pretty expensive.  And I couldn't even find a magnet that I liked.  Oh well.

Now if this was an option to buy...
Several blocks away was the CN tower.  This is the touristy place to in Toronto.  And it didn't help that Rogers Centre is right next door.  And a Blue Jay's game was going to start in an hour and a half.  So we basically walked with the scrum of people on their way to the game.

Looking up...
We never were going to go up into the CN tower.  Again, we didn't want to spend the money to go up high to see the city.  And as we walked up to the tower, the clouds nearly enveloped the cool part of the tower.  Though I'm sure the other parts are cool too.  If we'd have bothered to learn more about the tower itself.  I do know you can walk outside of the tower on top (cool, but beyond scary).  So there's that...

By this point it was nearing time to find some grub.  There were a few food trucks outside of the stadium, but we wanted poutine.  Poutini's was the original plan, but that was waaaay out of our way right now and close to where we were going to eat dinner.  Which was...out of the way.  Yelp steered us to Smoke's Poutinerie which wasn't that far away and close to the art museum we were going to go to afterwards.  But we took a slight detour to see an old roundhouse which had been turned into a brewery (is that what happens to all roundhouses at this point??).  And this is where we met up with Old John Ritter.

I don't even remember how it happened.  There was an air show also going on this weekend and a few times at the roundhouse, we saw jets stream past the CN tower.  I think we were both just waiting with our cameras to see if we could get a shot, when this guy stops as well and started chatting.  He said we should go to one of the condos that were being build across the street and ask the doormen if we could go up to the roof to watch the show.

What??  That's not done.  But Old John Ritter said they do it all the time.  It wasn't in the plans and we didn't think about doing it for long.  So we said thanks and goodbye and headed our separate ways.  But then OJR came back to us and started a conversation.

If there's one thing we can say about Toronto, it's that the people are extremely friendly.  And for a few cynical Chicago-dwellers (Chicagoland is being counted as Chicago, thankyouverymuch), this is sometimes more than we can handle.  But Old John Ritter reminded me of my dad, so I didn't try to end the conversation too quickly.

Turns out OJR used to work for the Tourism Office, so he had a wealth of information he was dropping on us.  The biggest thing was when he was directing us to a good pace for brunch tomorrow.  He is every city in Canada had a King and Queen Street.  Kind of like how every city in the US has a MLK Jr street.  Interesting.  A he was saying to go on Queen Street for croissants, he said, "You guys look to be about 30" (this is why I didn't stop him from talking...) "Do you know Degrassi Junior High??"  Yes.  Yes I do.  "Well, Degrassi Street is right there."  NO WAY!!  I didn't realize it was a real place.  Though I may have known at one time.  It's been a long while since I've checked in with Spike and Snake and Joey Jeremiah.

OJR gave us a tip on a Jazz Club we might want to check out later tonight.  He kept going and going, and somehow I found a window to extract ourselves from the conversation.  It was perfect timing, cause our stomachs were getting ready to eat themselves, we were so hungry.  OJR happily went towards the Blue Jay's game and we went hunting for poutine.

I've had a few poutines in my life, and each time it has been pretty darn tasty.  I think poutine is more of a Montreal or a Quebec thing, but there were several choices here in Toronto, so when in Toronto...  The poutine place we chose was a bit of a hole in the wall, but at 2p, there was still a line and no room inside to eat.  Which is usually a good sign.  Unfortunately, there were still no seats when we got our poutine.  After a few moments of pondering and wondering if that guy was going to leave (and after Adele walked in on a lady in the bathroom), we found a park near our next stop where we figured we could sit and eat.
Now this park was kindly lovely and had a bunch of black squirrels roaming around.  I didn't know black squirrels existed.  They do.  We found a picnic table and dug into the poutine.  Love. It.  I chose a three pork poutine, cause fries, cheese curds and gravy just aren't enough to cause some sort of coronary disease.  I want to kick it into high gear with the addition of bacon, pulled pork and Italian sausage.  Fantastic option.

It was here, as we quietly shoved poutine down our gaping maw that a dude walked up to us with a dog.  "You guys are having the best lunch ever!!  And in the park!!  Here, let me take a picture of the two of you on this great day."


This was a young guy.  Mid-twenties or so.  What??  Again, we are cynical, cynical people.  So the first thought was that this dude is going to steal our phone or something,  I politely told him nah...but thanks.  And he went along with his dog, continuing to be a happy camper.

Our last stop for the morning/afternoon was the Art Gallery of Ontario.  The AGO was in every book as one of the best stops in Toronto.  There was an Ai Weiwei exhibit happening here, but we didn't want to spend so much at the gallery knowing we weren't making an entire day of it here.  So we wanted to see what we could see and possibly look at some Canadian artists.  Something we really never see.

We ended up talking to a woman who worked at the AGO as she explained the history of one of the pieces in their collection, Massacre of the Innocents by Peter Paul Reubens.  This piece was misattributed for years and wasn't until the last century that Reubens was cited as the real painter.  We found the Canadian art.  Some of it was really lovely.  And a nice change of pace.  The gift shop was epic.  Tons of time could be spent searching for goodies.  The building itself was recently renovated by Frank Gehry.  He's a hometown boy, but had never designed anything in Toronto previously.  The building itself was beautiful.  It would be nice to spend more time there, but we needed to get back to the hotel for a bit of a break.  We knew where we wanted to go for dinner and figured it would be nice to relax before that journey began.



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