Week 21: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties: Toronto Edition

Toronto with my love!

OK, you got me. Toronto wasn’t part of my original bucket list. But since we’ve traveled to this lovely city of international culture and beauty, I thought it would only be responsible of me to share our adventures. So here it goes.

First of all we were in the city because my husband, as a high volume user and faculty member for Invisalign, was invited to lecture here. We arrived a day early so we could explore a little. We checked into a lovely corner junior suite at the Marriott Delta. It had big windows on two sides overlooking the city. It was also unique in that the bathroom had a floor to ceiling window that looked out at the foot of the CN Tower. Of course, there was a shade to pull for privacy but it made quite an impression when we first walked in.

Very comfortable room with windows looking out over the city on two sides!
Taken at a bit of an angle, but that is the top of Ripley’s Aquarium and the tall gray column on the right is the base of the CN tower, had I taken the photo a bit more centered you would see more of the tower.

We had plans to head up to the top of the CN tower, but the day was rainy and overcast and there would have been very little to see. Instead we decided to check out the Ripley Aquarium of Canada. It doesn’t appear to be very big from the outside and at a ticket price of $39 per person, I was thinking we might be disappointed. However, because it has lower levels, it actually is a pretty extensive aquarium. It did a lot to educate visitors on the need to be mindful of our wasteful ways to preserve the integrity of our natural resources for generations to come. Mike and I both enjoyed it and spent a few leisurely hours strolling through the exhibits. There were two high points, one was a scuba diver that could be observed feeding stingrays while a narrator discussed these animals. Surprisingly, the diver was also equipped with a headset that allowed her to join in the conversation. The other cool part was a very long tunnel made of glass going through the exhibits, including the predators of the deep. I have been in others like it, but this one was by far the best. It was very long and it actually appeared the fish were flying over our heads, like something from a surrealist painting. It was pretty cool. If you are thinking of a visit, tickets can be bought online and even purchased as a combo with a ticket to the CN Tower.

The ticketing area of the aquarium.

The following day, Mike started his day bright and early and while he was lecturing, I headed out to explore the city. Somehow, my internal radar brought me directly to a mall, just a short .75 miles away. Hmmm, go figure. Eaton Center Mall had some great stores, Nordstrom’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Kate Spade, Ann Taylor and even Old Navy. I spent some time strolling around, and following lunch at the Nordstrom’s Bistro, headed back to the hotel, logging plenty of steps and seeing much of downtown along the way. I felt perfectly safe strolling the city by myself. I made it back in time to read a little and then dress for dinner. We were having dinner at Aria with the attendees of the conference, along with the other speakers and Invisalign representatives. We met some lovely Canadian orthodontists and as a bonus, Paul, a Toronto rep (and very nice guy) gave us some awesome suggestions for restaurants to try and areas to visit. Aria, our restaurant for the evening, was also very good. Great appetizers, great dinner, great conversation and a lovely way to end the evening.

Saturday, Mike was up early again, but the lectures were confined to the morning and he was free for lunch and the remainder of the afternoon. We ended up heading to the Distillery District at the recommendations of Paul, enjoying lunch at Mill Street Distillery. I had some yummy crab cakes and Mike ordered a chicken pot pie and an unusual orange flavored beer whose name escapes me. Then we did some shopping and strolled through a few of the many art galleries before heading over to Balzac’s for coffee.

Distillery district. We saw several wedding parties taking photos while we were there. It was a visually rich environment!
Mill Street Brewery, cool vibe, good food and drinks!
Lots of art galleries and unique installations that made it a popular spot for instagrammers and photographers alike.
Funky coffee shop. We sat upstairs on the balcony and enjoyed a leisurely latte.
Cool chandelier in the coffee shop.

After our Distillery area adventures we headed out to dinner via Uber to Patria. Patria was a small plates Tappas restaurant, tucked away just a little off the street, again recommended by Paul. It was amazing, though I didn’t navigate the menu as expertly as I’d hoped. In my defense, it wasn’t in English and I ordered two dishes that both basically ended up being fried cheese. One was porcini mushroom with manchego and the other, goat cheese and figs. Delicious! Mike ordered three things, spicy meatballs, a savory shrimp, and bacon wrapped dates. All were yummy. I also tried a new white wine Torres Viña Esmeralda, Cataluyna. Just as an aside, my favorite wine, if you followed that particular post, was a Michigan wine called Shady Lane made with Moscat grapes. However, as it was from a small vineyard, it was produced in small batches and it is no longer available. I would say this wine is another winner. It is a well-balanced Spanish wine, and it looks like it is available on the open market at a price point in the neighborhood $15 dollars a bottle (which is one of my favorite neighborhoods!) Though at the restaurant it was $13 a glass, very typical of the general mark-up on wines at restaurants, I suppose. This meal didn’t do much for my weight loss attempt and it was difficult to quantify what was exactly in it to determine calories. Whatever it was, it was worth every bite! Not to make excuses, but we had a lot to celebrate. Mike did a great job with his speaking engagement and they suggested at a future point they’d love him to come to Vancouver to lecture. We’d love to see that part of the Canada so I hope it comes to fruition. We were also celebrating getting a closing date on our Florida house! Very exciting! 

Go through the archway and head towards the back, following a lantern path to the restaurant.
Patria, I wish I had taken a photo inside, it had a cool and romantic vibe. For Mike’s cocktail, my glass of wine and our 5 small plates the bill came to $135 Canadian. It’s definitely a nice place to celebrate a special occasion!

Sunday was the warmest of the weather we encountered, edging up to the low 60’s, most of the time the weather had been in the 50’s and overcast. We headed out to Lady Marmalade, a little restaurant that was recommended as a brunch spot for locals. It was about 3 miles from our hotel, a short Uber ride away. It was a rather small place, very narrow, just one table wide, but two floors. Very unassuming from the outside. The line was up the stairs by the time we arrived at 9am. It moved quickly though and it was worth the wait. Interestingly enough, they only prepared eggs two ways, scrambled or poached. I tried poached, never having had eggs prepared that way before and they were quite good. Mike had a waffle with fresh fruit that looked luscious. The serving size was adequate and the service was very good.

Very unassuming exterior, danish modern interior with lots of light wood. Great menu, great find.

After breakfast, because the restaurant was bordering on Chintatown, we decided to do a little exploring. There were a lot of fresh fruit, flower and vegetable open air stands. We walked almost all the way back to the hotel.

After checking out at 12 noon we headed to the CN tower, which held the title of the tallest free-standing structure in the world for 32 years, until 2007. We were able to pre-purchase tickets through our concierge to avoid the line, which ended up being a smart decision. They offered discount coupons as well, which would have saved 15% if you didn’t mind having to stand in line for your ticket, but because we were pressed for time, we opted to pre-purchase tickets through our hotel to expedite things. We purchased the ticket that takes you all the way up to the top, all 1,465 feet. There is another less expensive option that allows you to go up fairly high, about 1,135 feet. This area is the one with the glass floor. I was surprised to see an option for adventure seekers,  you could walk out on the out ledge on the 2nd highest level, 1, 135 feet above the ground. You’re hooked to a rail with a carabiner and walk around the ledge before leaning over dangling from the edge. We were able to observe this from above. I wish we had more time, I might have tried it. One of the people doing it was celebrating her 60th birthday! Mike assured me this is NOT what he wants for his upcoming birthday. Me, on the other hand, if we are ever back in Toronto, I’d love to try this! We had planned to stroll around near the hotel, but it had started raining so we decided to head to the airport early instead. We took an Uber which cost about $40 from our hotel. We had planned to go to the Delta Sky lounge but unfortunately it wasn’t located in our terminal. Again, a big THANK YOU to Paul for hitting it out of the park on every recommendation. 

In other bucket list items, I managed to read a few more books. I am currently on book #59. I read “Crazy Cock” a book by Henry Miller given to me by a friend, which was unremarkable and in fact the language was clumsy at times, but what distinguishes it is that it characterizes the process of a writer finding his voice. Henry Miller was a censored author in the sixties, his work was ultimately vindicated and subsequently  allowed to be printed in the United States. This book apparently is supposed to epitomize his early writing. I want to read “Tropic Of Capricorn” which is written in what ultimately came to be known as his “voice” and compare it to this early work. I also read “The Lost Girls of Paris” while in Toronto,  an excellent read.  I am currently reading “Sold on Monday,” by the author of “The Orphan Train.” I hope this book is just as good!

Excellent work of historical fiction based on factual happenings during World War II.

In other items, I have done one more Nordictrack workout before we left for Toronto, an interval workout around Lake Bled, Slovenia. I am still deciding on the next series of workouts I want to try.  Yoga work outs continue at home, along with meditation and visualization. French class continues as does my uninterrupted Duolingo streak. 

This is where I will leave it for now. I am writing this sitting at the Toronto airport waiting for our flight to board. Looking forward to landing back in Michigan and getting back into my normal routine and the opportunity to chip away at a few more items on my list. But of course,  I am ever hopeful another adventure awaits us all just around the bend. 

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