August 05, 2019


Last week we took a family vacation to Toronto. We all loaded up our luggage into Berta's new car and hit the road.

We spent the weekend in Johnstown so that Berta's family could celebrate Abby's graduation. There was a nice cake and pizza dinner on Saturday night. On Sunday, we stayed for dinner then headed out to Toronto.

In Toronto on Monday morning, we set out for a restaurant called Cora to have breakfast. There were crepes and fruit. In the morning, we visited the Toronto aquarium. There were many fish. No hippos.

We wandered around Toronto looking for someplace with good poutine for lunch but ultimately ended up at an Irish pub because the poutine place was cash only, and we hadn't stopped to get any Canadian money. Poutine, it turns out, is not great.

In the afternoon, we ascended the CN Tower. It was pretty high and Abby and I could feel the building move. We walked around on the glass that looked down on the city. We also went up to the Sky Pod, which is an extra few floors above the main observation deck. It was terribly high up. There were planes outside of the window that we looked down on.

For late dinner, we had food at Mercato, which is a nice Italian restaurant. They seemed to be known for their wine selection, but we didnt have wine. Riley had seafood linguine and the rest of us ate pizza.

On Tuesday, we visited the Royal Ontario Museum ("ROM") after breakfast across the street at Over Easy. The ROM had a lot of interesting exhibits (Chinese family portraits, horror movie posters, African artifacts, dinosaur skeletons, medieval furniture/armor, Rembrandt paintings, animal exhibits...) but probably the most interesting was the building itself, which was a weird melding of at least three different buildings of different architectural types. It looked both internally and externally as if aliens had erected a new, larger building in the same place as two existing structures, but left them both intact.

In the afternoon, we headed to the Distillery District for shopping and food. There were many little shops. We looked at lamps in Artemide, spices in a small spice shop, fancy custom shoes at John Fluevog, and chocolate at Soma Chocolatier. I stopped for a flight at Spirit of York Distillery, which had a really neat octagonal bar with plants hanging above, and delicious whiskey. We ate dinner at the French restaurant, Cluny, where I had a mildly disappointing hangar steak, especially in comparison to the dishes that everyone else was served. Riley had a very interesting-looking lobster dish, for example, and Abby's pea soufflé looked delicious.

After we finished dinner, we set out on a mission for ice cream at Sweet Jesus. After a failed attempt where we visited a bar with an ice cream window (maybe a satellite location?) that was closed, we found a full-on location that was open back in the CBD. There was a short line, and we waited with the neighboring club blaring techno music. The ice cream was basically soft serve with toppings caked on the outside; literally mashed onto the cone by hand. My cone was vanilla with bits of speckled birthday cake mashed onto the outside. Even the baby cones were huge, and I couldn't finish the whole thing.

On Wedensday, we ate a late breakfast at the hotel, then set out for the bus terminal, where we were to meet the bus for our excursion to Niagara Falls. The bus took us to a handful of locations. We stopped at a vinyard for ice wine along the route from Toronto to Niagara. The ice wine was very sweet, and oddly expensive.

There were a couple of outlooks we stopped at for photos along the way, where we could see the river and rapids below. Ultimately, we stopped at a Sheraton hotel for buffet dinner, which was surprisingly good for a buffet. The tour guide kept going on about how it was "four star". The restaurant was on the 13th floor of the hotel, and had a small balcony on the corner where you could go out and take photos of the falls.

From the hotel, we took a bus down to the falls themselves to get some good photos of the place. There was a giant rainbow over everything, with all of the water mist in the air.

The bus next stopped at the Hornblower cruises, where we boarded a boat and visited the falls close-up. The falls were generally more impressive than I was expecting. I did not get quite as close or quite as wet as I was expecting on our short cruise.

There was a short fireworks display in the evening which we watched from a park near the Sheraton, then boarded the bus back to Toronto.

On Thursday, we headed back home. In the car, we listened to the entire "14", by Peter Clines, and started Lexicon, by Max Barry.

Overall, it was a nice trip.