Our friend Jennifer Norcross is coming to spend a weekend with us in Toronto. She flies in Friday and leaves Sunday. Her short trip is because she is a high school teacher. Using hotel points, she scored a room just two blocks from us. She mentioned wondering if there were coffee shops near her hotel. There is no shortage of coffee shops. We have never seen so many Starbucks in one city and then there are Tim Hortons, a Canadian favorite too. The specialty coffee shops that are venturing the independent route seem to be doing okay as well.
We did a major walkabout yesterday, first looking for the tourism office. What a rip! The tourism office is basically only for conventions with nothing for unprepared tourists. We did learn there is a kiosk at the major airport. Billy Bishop where we flew in, doesn’t warrant one.
Our first stop was the Ontario Parliament. Jennifer had mentioned interest in seeing it. It is because of her we went to the Iowa capitol building in 2014. It was incredible. The parliament has tours every hour on the half hour until 5:30, but not on weekends. We will need to hit it on Friday!
We finally found the tourism office. It is located down on the waterfront, which was a hike in itself, time-consuming more than exerting. The tourism office is in a huge building without any designated signage. The Inuit Museum is located on the first floor we went there for directions. They had no clue. Thinking smartly, we went into the travel agent’s office next. Yup! Fourth floor. On the fourth floor, signs for tourism this and that, hotels, conventions, speaker’s bureau’s, and finally tourism in 405 covered a quarter of a wall. We walked through a maze of five hallways looking for 405.
Finally, we encountered a young woman staffing a huge desk on the other side of a full wall sized glass window. She was busy making what looked to be convention favors. She had completed about three dozen when we entered and still had the red crêpe paper in her hands ready for her assembly line to create the next one.
She didn’t readily know most of the answers to our questions, but she was gracious enough to search for them. We asked about the lighthouse we read about, but could not find on a map. This produced a quizzical look as she repeated “a lighthouse?” She was successful in finding it on the Internet and was able to tell us which of the ferry boats to take to get closest. The lighthouse sits a ways inland. What we failed to ask was our own fault.
Ron was prepared with his list and as he worked his way through the questions, she used her trusty computer to get answers.
The free walking tour did not sound totally compelling. It was at the same time as the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre, so we thought we could skip it. But then…
Leaving this office, we asked if we needed to go through the maze again looking for the cheese or in this case, the elevators we rode up. This would have put another quarter of a mile on the pedometer. She said the staircase nearby would be our best escape route.
Once at the waterfront, we hunted down the ferry boats needed to get us to the lighthouse. There were three kiosks with “Buy your tickets here”, but all were abandoned as were the docks. The few boats moored were ghost ships. Not a soul was around to play Twenty Questions. Not a single sign suggested times for the ferry rides, no prices were posted, and no “Be back soon” or “Be back in the spring”. Maybe this is not the season to be crossing the lake.
Jennifer wanted to stop at a Roots store for gifts. We learned the largest Roots is in the Eaton Center. We were looking for Lush Stores. Ditto for us, the Eaton Center has it all. Lush stores have mysteriously disappeared in Budapest; at least the one where I shopped most often. The others had their phones disconnected or just were not answering.
Our Lush goal was to get “#Gay is OK” soap as a gift for some of our friends. Once we located the Lush store, we found the soap only goes on sale during the PRIDE months, so we would need to wait until late May into June of next year. It is a limited edition soap. The Eaton Center, according to the web, receives one million visitors a week. I think half of them were there when we were.
Roots was about a mile away from where we were, so we didn’t bother going. Knowing it was there was plenty for now. Ron wants a Canadian winter hat, so we will go when Jennifer goes.
We stopped at the Winter Garden Theatre Centre to double-check on tours. There is no Saturday tour this week due to rehearsals. That nixes that, so the walking tour is looking better.
After this discovery, it was time for some refreshment, so we went to a brewery where they have over 130 beers. The Beer Master (their term) arrived at our table; it was a woman. She was extremely knowledgeable as she proceeded to give us a run down on all the beers. When we suggested we wanted an IPA, she turned the menu to that section where dozens of choices could boggle your mind before any alcohol entered the bloodstream.
We are certainly getting our miles in. This building really caught my attention. It is a faded shade of orangery-pink, but so light, it almost disappears on the skyline. The photo does not do the color justice; it was too sunny to get a good shot.