Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Martyr's Shrine Day 5 (Last)

Today is the last day of our little Toronto trip. We're going to go to mass to this place outside Toronto. It's called Martyr's Shrine. On the way there, we caught a glimpse of Canada's Wonderland. We'll go there one day. We also saw a lot of plains that reminded me of the view at Caleruega. I guess Martyr's shrine is somewhat like Caleruega with the church, the nice view, and the gardens. They also attract a lot of pilgrims/tourists. Martyr's shrine though has a lot of statues around the compound. The Church is also quite nice inside and out. It also has the bones of some saints on display.

Martyr's Shrine Full Photo Album

From there we stopped by Cookstown outlet mall to get some "pasalubong". Other than that, I was sleeping for most of the way. We also stopped by Yam's friend's place who was having a party. After that, we picked up our bags and headed for the airport. It was a pretty packed plane so we weren't able to get a window seat. It was a guy holding his kid who got it. Since he was sharing the seat with a small child, the stewardess gave him special instructions/procedures. So no sights = all sleep. We wouldn't have seen anything anyway, since it was nighttime. Pity though I couldn't take a picture of the Winnipeg lights from the sky. We arrived slightly after midnight, took a cab and went straight to bed. It was a fun but tiring trip. I even told Mean that I was having a great time and at the same time couldn't wait for it to end. Perhaps on our next trip, we won't have such a packed itinerary. Then again, we'd probably have to give up going to some major attractions which I would regret. Or maybe we could rent a car. I wonder where we'll be going...
Bye Toronto Full Photo Album

Monday, September 24, 2007

Niagara Falls Day 4

Yam and Gibes offered to bring us to Niagara Falls today. We left around 10am. It was then I was exposed to the freeways. I think there were usually 14 lanes at any given stretch. An amazing site for country folk like us :) We also got some other viewing angles of the lake and Toronto. The sights were also so different from ultra flat plains of Manitoba.

The falls were what this was all building up to though. A short distance away, we could already see the mist rising from the force of the water. And when we got to the railings, it didn't disappoint.

Niagara Falls Full Photo Album

We had to start visiting the attractions though so as not to waste our Niagara Pass. First off was Journey Behind the Falls. Here we descended by elevator several meters down into a tunnel that goes behind the horseshoe falls. Through the tunnel you could access 3 openings located directly behind the torrent of water. You could also access a large viewing deck just beside the falls.
Journey Behind the Falls Full Photo Album

After that, we headed for the Maid of the Mist. On the way, we took some more pics.
Niagara View Full Photo Album

On to the Maid of the Mist. This boat ride goes right up to both falls. After this, I wanted a waterproof camera.
Maid of the Mist Full Photo Album

From there we took the shuttle or People Mover (we have a whole day pass with the Niagara Pass) to White Water Walk. It's a close up view of the rapids. They say it's a class 6 which means if you want to die, take a boat and go down the river. There are several stories of daredevils who tried to go through the river displayed before getting to the walkway. Many of these don't have happy endings. When you see the rapids, you'll start to wonder what they were thinking.
White Water Walk Full Photo Album

It was getting pretty late now. We nearly weren't able to get into the Butterfly Conservatory. I guess this isn't a place we'd normally visit when at Niagara falls but it came with the pass. It wasn't bad. I've been to a place like this in the Philippines (Subic). I'm proud of myself though. There was a butterfly that didn't want to leave the walkway and might have been crushed under someone's shoe if I hadn't kept trying to shoo it into the plants. ANYWAY... here some pics.
Butterfly Conservatory Full Photo Albumry

The day was pretty much winding down from here. We found a nice garden for some extra pics. We then joined Yam and Gibes at the Casino for the buffet dinner. On the way home, I slept most of the way. We weren't as tired as before though thanks to the people mover. This was a great day. I'd say the best of the whole trip.
Niagara End Full Photo Album

Toronto Day 3

Like the previous days, we couldn't wake up as early as planned. Originally we were supposed to go to Chinatown, Eaton Center, City Hall and possibly Toronto Islands. However, we decided to go to Toronto Islands immediately instead. We didn't know where exactly we could catch the boat so we just walked by the docks. It turns out it was a pretty long walk (we had to make a few detours as well). When looking out at the water, it's easy to forget that it's not an ocean. We could even see sailboats in the distance. I guess I'm used to lakes where you could see the opposite shoreline. There are quite a few things you can do here. You can have picnics, bike, boat, swim, etc. Basically a place to relax. They even have a small amusement park which was closed for the day. You'll also have a great view of Toronto's skyline from here. Of course it helps that it's surrounded by Lake Ontario - one of the five great lakes. After walking and biking around I was tired again. I'm just out of shape.

Toronto Islands Full Photo Album

We went back to the hotel to retrieve our bags and cel phone(which we left in the room). From here we brought our bags to Yam's office. She offered to keep them while we roam around. She even agreed to stay a bit late in the office to give us more sightseeing time. It was getting late so we wouldn't be able to go to all the places we want to. So we went to the Royal Ontario Museum. The front of the museum was redesigned and was finished just recently. And I have to say, it was quite a sight. I didn't even feel the need to go into the museum. We did though so we could use more of our citypass. I guess it's what you would expect from museums. Lots of artifacts, dinosaur skeletons and animal displays. Maybe I was just tired and already happy to see the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal so I wasn't so enthusiastic. Maybe I should go back someday to more thoroughly take in everything here.
Royal Ontario Museum Full Photo Album

When we left the museum it was starting to rain. We still tried to visit City Hall by going through Toronto's PATH or downtown underground walkway. It wasn't meant to be though as the rain only got stronger. With that, we headed for Yam and Gibes' place. With that, we bid goodbye to downtown as our following trips would be outside the city. Next stop, Niagara Falls.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Toronto Day 2

For Day 2, Our itinerary included Toronto Zoo and The Rogers Chinese Lantern Festival at Ontario Place. I initially wanted to be at Toronto Zoo by 9:00am since I've read it could easily take an entire day to see everything there. However, that just wasn't going to happen since we were extremely tired from the previous day. Our hotel stay included free continental breakfast. When I first heard this, I was quite excited. It turns out that continental breakfast means cereal, toasted bread, jam, juice, muffins, etc. I was expecting something with egg at least. Having said that, I still liked the hotel given the price and location. We first had to pass by Yam's office to get our Niagara and Lantern Festival passes. She and Mean were happy to see each other after a long while. They would get a chance to catch up even more since they graciously offered us to stay at their place starting Friday.

So off to Toronto Zoo we went. It was quite a long ride with 2 trains and 2 buses. When we got there we decided to get a pass for the Zoomobile to maybe decrease our walking. This might have been a waste though since it didn't stop for us to take pictures when passing the animal enclosures. It was more like a shuttle between major areas. So we got off and continued on foot. It was quite a hike for the day. We were there for around 7 hours mostly walking. Highlights include an either curious or ill-tempered ostrich, a not-so-shy squirrel, playing tiger cubs. I probably missed a few interesting things so, again, the pics should do.

Toronto Zoo Full Photo Album

After that, we headed back to the hotel to recharge the battery. We drained one of our batteries and part of the second one so I worried that we wouldn't have enough left for the Chinese Lantern Festival. There also wasn't enough time to fully recharge the battery. With that, we set off. It wasn't a straightforward ride due to construction going on at the streetcar routes and the distance of Ontario Place from the nearest stop. Soon we caught a glimpse of the several Lanterns scattered throughout the site. Other than the lanterns, they had a lot of stalls selling Chinese souvenirs and food. There were also some performances and demonstrations going on. My main focus though were the lanterns. There was also wasn't enough time as the place was in the process of closing down as we finished dinner. Thankfully we had just enough battery time to take a picture of all the Lanterns. I'm really glad Mean found out about this event because it was really worth it.
Chinese Lantern Festival Full Photo Album

After that, we were exhausted yet again. Not as much as the previous day though since we had a decent amount of sleep. Hopefully, we'll be able to regain even more energy since there's still a lot of walking to do tomorrow.

Toronto Day 1

This took me long enough. There were just too many pictures. I bought 2 2Gb memory sticks and an extra battery just for the trip. the result is about 1400 pics and vids. I'm not going to go too much into detail on what we did there. We already have the pics to do that and I'll never finish this if I try to type it. Besides, who reads this stuff anyway? :)

Anyway, we got up early Wednesday to catch our flight (5:55am boarding). This, by the way, is me and Mean's first plane flight together. We arrived at around 9:30 at Toronto Pearson Airport. We wanted to find to find a TTC day pass but there was no place to get it. Thankfully the bus driver didn't charge us since he knew we would get one. In Winnipeg, we have Navigo where we can find the exact way to get from point A to B. It's not perfect but it sure made things easier. Toronto has nothing similar so we had to rely on maps. At first it seemed daunting but we soon found the buses/trains we needed to take. It was surprisingly easy to get around especially with the subway.

Check-in time at the hotel was still a few hours away so our first stop from the airport was the Philippine consulate since Mean had to renew her passport. It was kinda annoying to pull my bag around since it got wobbly after going over just a few bumps. I think it had something to do with my height. From there we headed to Travelodge to check in.

To Toronto Full Photo Album

Our first "tourist" destination was Casa Loma. Here, we purchased the Toronto Citypass. With the citypass, we could visit 6 attractions for a discounted price. I think it's already worth it if we visited only 3. It was a bit of a walk from the subway station, and uphill at that. Casa Loma is a castle serving as a museum with rooms restored to what they looked like decades ago. It also has a nice garden which I'm sure Mean would enjoy. But what I was really after was the exterior of the castle itself which looked pretty impressive in the pictures I saw. Unfortunately, part of it was under renovation but it still looked impressive nonetheless. ET Canada was also holding shows there for the Toronto International Film Festival (which was ongoing that week) so some areas were closed or had the set impeding access to some areas.
Casa Loma Full Photo Album

After that, I was getting pretty tired. Plus we bought a jug of water which we had to bring back to the hotel. I was tempted to just rest but I had to keep going or I'd regret not going to some of the attractions. More so since what we had planned for the evening was CN Tower. At this point CN Tower was just dethroned as the tallest freestanding structure by the Burj Dubai (it's still growing by the way). I didn't care though since I was still sure to get some awesome views. There was the main viewing area and the skypod even higher above it. Again, the pics should be enough. I just have to say though that the glass floor exposed me as a sissy while Mean didn't seem bothered at all.
CN Tower Full Photo Album

After all that, I was exhausted. We had dinner at a nearby Shawarma/Gyro place. We had to get some stuff from a convenience store but after that I was pretty much dead. The next day is sure to be equally tiring with Toronto Zoo and The Chinese Lantern Festival.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Toronto bound

The flight is booked, the Hotel room reserved, the itinerary is set (sort of). We'll be in Toronto from this Wednesday(12th) to Sunday. There are a lot of interesting places to visit there. We plan to go to Niagara Falls (not in Toronto), CN Tower, Toronto Zoo, Royal Ontario Museum (pics), Casa Loma, Ontario Place (for the Chinese Lantern Festival), possibly Toronto Islands and others. Unfortunately, we won't be able to go to Canada's Wonderland since it's closed on weekdays (we're going to Niagara on Saturday). We also might not be bable to cover the whole of Toronto Zoo since I've read that it's huge. Other places we most probably will miss are Ontario Science Centre, Hockey Hall of Fame and Art Gallery of Ontario. Oh well, we'll probably be back here when we try to get US visas so we can get back to whatever we missed.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Close call

The other day, we nearly got in a car accident. Our friends from CFC Garry and Cherry were giving us a ride home from a party when we approached the Notre Dame-Cumberland-Sherbrook intersection. As we crossed the intersection, I noticed this car coming in from the left. It looked like it might hit our rear so I braced myself for impact. Thankfully, the impact never came. It was a good thing Garry stepped on the gas instead of braking or else things might have been different. I remember that we definitely had the green light. The other driver was probably also shaken-up, as I noticed he/she remained stopped at the middle of the intersection for several seconds. That was definitely a scary experience, more so since Mean was also at the left side. This proves that no matter how careful a driver you are, nothing guarantees that other drivers are the same.