Sunday, June 25, 2006

So dark the con of man

In case you thought I had forgotten all about it, the answer is no :-P. Here is the next installment of my Canada visit story (click on the numbers to read parts [1], [2] and [3]). The next long weekend is looming ahead - I should wrap up this story fast :-)!
Anyways, after visiting Niagara Falls on Saturday, Sunday was a more relaxed day. We got up late without feeling guilty. Shilpa's uncle and aunty caught up with household chores. S, the kids and me entertained ourselves by talking, playing and watching TV. After brunch, we set off to Toronto downtown - we were planning to visit the famous CN (Canadian National) towers - apparently the tallest tower in the world (is a tower is different from a building? Hmm, most of these tall buildings seem to claim that they are the tallest in the world - wonder which is really the tallest). CN towers being the quintessential tourist attraction of Toronto, S and me had, of course, insisted on seeing it. I have already been to the top of a variety of other tall buildings (Sears Towers, Space Needle, Empire State, KOIT tower - okay, the last is a kutti one) - yet, I had to see the view from this one too.
Our plan was to visit the tower, then wave good bye to the rest of the family, who, we were sure, wouldn't be interested in simply roaming around downtown. S and me were to then spend some more time in the downtown and finally return home by bus. So far so good. We made it to downtown in good time. Toronto downtown, as I said earlier, has a variety of architecturally interesting buildings. The skyline looks very nice too - apparently Toronto skyline ranks at the top along with NYC and Chicago skylines. We parked our car and then proceeded to the tower.

Shilpa's uncle had already bought the tickets online and hence we were saved a small wait to buy the tickets. We had tickets both to the glass floor level (at 342 meters) as well as to the sky-pod. The sky-pod level (at 447 meters) is the highest public observation deck in the world. We joined the queue to the top as soon as we entered the building. After security check and all, the slowly crawling queue inched ahead. B was in a bad mood from the time we stepped into the building and kept up a constant pout. The rest of us were in a reasonably cheerful frame of mind. But after an hour of waiting in the queue, with nothing to do but stare at each other's faces, we were all getting kind of edgy. Finally, after another 15 minutes, we were at the Observation deck!

We had an awesome view the buildings in downtown. Apparently on a clear day, you can even see the mist from the Niagara Falls! But it was not a very clear day when we visited. Nevertheless, we could see the whole expanse of the city before us. I never realized Toronto was this big!
As luck would have it, just then, a game had gotten over at the Rogers centre. Rogers Centre is another famous tourist destination in Toronto - the speciality being its retractable dome roof. Even as we watched from the observation deck, the hitherto open stadium roof slowly closed. It was very cool!

So far, it was fun. Then we noticed a long queue snaking around the center of the observation deck. Huh, what was everyone waiting for? Then we realized, that was the queue to the Skypod level! We quickly joined the queue. By now the first pangs of hunger were beginning to hit us - our light brunch of upma was already digested. So we looked around for something to eat.

There was a small snack store selling starbucks coffee. However, most of its shelves were empty and even as we watched, the remaining few eatables were fast vanishing as ravenous visitors bought them. We bought some coffee for S's aunty (it was almost the last cup and the lady behind the counter unapologetically said that the coffee dispenser would not be refilled!) and a packet of chips.
The chips soon vanished as the line looked like it was never going to reach the elevator. We tried playing some games - but by now, a combination of hunger and tiredness (we had been standing for an hour and half in this line) pulled everybody's spirits down. Also, B was extremely hungry. She had refused to have anything other than a glass of milk for breakfast (hunger had been the reason for her sulky mood). But of course, the snack store had absolutely nothing left now. The only other place to eat was a proper dine-in restaurant (with limited choice for vegetarians). It was unbelievable - a popular tourist destination not having adequate food facilities!
Anyways, another hour later, we finally made it to the Skypod. At that point, the only thing which would have enchanted us was a food store of some kind. Of course, there was no such thing there. Instead, we had another spectacular view of buildings. We got lots of lovely pictures without any effort. However, they failed to have any positive effect on our mood. We were clicking away more to justify the wait rather than because we found it truly amazing.
We hardly spent anytime in the Skypod - our first aim being, get back downstairs as soon as possible and get our hands onto FOOD. When we took the elevator from the skypod level, we were brought back to the glass floor level. Apparently this level had a glass floor through which you could see all the way to the ground. This fact, even though we were hungry, piqued our curiosity.
Well, I think we have too high expectations. S and me were expecting the whole floor to be made of glass (yeah, right). Instead, there were two large glass panels on the otherwise solid ground. Both these panels afforded a view right to the ground through the floor. We were disappointed but even the panels were novel enough that we tried many pictures (with B mostly as the test subject) trying to bring out the fact that we were 113 stories above the ground. I don't think they worked too much though.

Finally we got done with taking pics. And then, torture of tortures, we figured there was a big queue to get the elevator back to the ground too :-(! So another 30 minutes was spent in that line. By this time, we were ready to faint due to hunger - of course, the glass floor level did not have any food either. But we did make it to the elevator finally.

When we touched ground level again, it was five hours since we had entered the building. I couldn't believe that we had spend four and a half hours simply standing. S and me made an immediate on-the-spot resolution. No more wating in queues to get to the top of any tower. The views are great but definitely not worth it when you spend more time in the queue than in viewing those great views! So, hence forth, even if it is the Eiffel tower, I refuse to wait in line to go to the top. Of course, I made such a resolution even after seeing the Empire State Building. Which, I obviously did not keep up :-D - but as of now, I am standing by my resolution.
Anyways, from there it was on to the Richtree market restaurant. This restaurant has an interesting concept - you shop for food. Food from a variety of cuisines in arranged in a bazaar like atmosphere. You are given a plastic food card, which you use for purchases. When you leave, you are billed for the balance on the food card. Pretty nice!

S and me picked out thai-spiced noodles and flavored breadsticks as main courses. For the first 10 minutes after getting our food, there was no sound from anyone. All of us were busy doing pet pooja (stomach worship) by feeding our poor tummies with food. Then, as the food got in, all of us perked up visibly and there was fun and laughter again!

As dessert, S and I decided to try Irish Creme Coffee. Even though we knew the guy at the counter was probably just kidding, it still felt good when he double-checked that we were more than eighteen before serving us the drinks (in case you did not know, Irish Creme coffee has some liquor content). Neither of us were able to finish it though.

By the time sumptuous dinner got over, all of us had revived like watered plants. We spent some more time simply wandering around the building and nearby streets before getting a cab back to our van (we had taken a cab from CN tower to the Richtree restaurant due to parking problems). Then it was time to go back home. Of course, Shilpa and I had, somewhere midway in the line to the Skypod level, dumped all plans of wandering around downtown after the CN tower visit was over! So all of us headed back together.

The journey home was subdued. All of us were thoroughly exhausted after our day in the queue. When we got home, the rest of the family went to sleep. While Shilpa and I, as usual chatted... Wait a minute - that should be, while Shilpa and I, unusually enough, went right to bed without any further ado! I guess that is indication enough as to how really, really tiring our day was!!

That was the end of day three. I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I did not have to wait for so long in queues! On the brighter side, I do now get to say that I saw the view from the CN tower. Though, if you ask me, the whole thing is a big con. My sincere advice is: If you want to see what the view looks like from the top of the CN tower, just check out pictures online. It really isn't all that different. Besides saving yourself some money, you will also save yourself a whole lot of time and frustration!


spark said...

well-written account. :) when i think of it, the 23rd floor in the utility building on mg road is the tallest point i've been to :-P

Floridora said...

Ah, but dinner, after dark, on a clear night, in the revolving restaurant, with a window-side table, atop the CN tower! We did that twenty five years ago on a side trip on our honeymoon to, where else, Niagara Falls. -- and no lines!

Prabhu said...

Observatory, world's tallest building etc ellaaame eyewaas thaan.

T said...

exact same pics i took when I was there :)

kuttichuvaru said...

naanum CN Tower ponapothu ithe maathiri pics eduthurukken..... so this was like flippin bak my album :-)

btw, wat plans for this long weekend??

Archana said...

Spark - thank you :-)! LOL - don't worry - you have not missed much and in fact you have saved a lot of time :-)!

Floridora - ah, that scenario sounds coooool :-D! I wouldn't mind going to the top in such a situation :-D!

Prabhu - correct!

T- LOL! Patelgiri is standard for everyone I guess :-P.

Kuttichuvaru - :-D! Long weekend NYC and Atlantic city in plan as of now. Might go to Wash DC also - not decided ...

Prasanna said...

gasp! gasp! finally finished reading...I have seen Canada thro' ur eyes...

Archana Bahuguna said...

hee hee.. I like the way you tied the title with the article ... I ve only been to Empire state building uptil now and thankfully that day it only took us like 5 min to reach the top. Maybe coz it was mid Dec and was too cold , I dont know ...

And btw on the lines of glass floor, so you can see the city under you, they say they are going to build a kind of a glass balcony in Grand Canyon about 50-100m long into the canyon so you can stand there and get the view ... I feel its a little scary at least to imagine :-)

And nice pics, and it does look a li'l like NYC.

Syam said...

photos are really terrific...didn't get time to read ( I mean sombarithanam) :-)

Saranya Kishore said...

Hey Arch,
Awesome pictures!!
Especially the ones of the glass floors looking straight down. :--)

We are always hungry when we are visiting places, arent we? :--)

Nice account Arch!

Archana said...

Prasanna - LOL :-)!

Archana - only 5 minutes??? Waaah - not fair :-(! I spent another bunch of hours of my life waiting in the Empire State queue too!! Wow, standing on a glass floor on top of the Canyon would be one giddy experience!!

Syam - LOL :-)! Parava-illai :-)!

Saranya - thank you, thank you! Finally some appreciation for all the pics we took of the glass floor :-D!

kuttichuvaru said...

oho.... enga ooru pakkam vareenga pola irukku!! Gud Gud..... ensoi..... me too not sure yet!!

dinesh said...

Nice account..

Is the rogers center you're talking about called sky dome by any chance ?

Sight seeing in hunger is a very difficult thing to do. Eppdi dhaan thaakku pidikka mudinjudho :)

Archana Bahuguna said...

And btw the first pic (after the collage) is really interesting, where one of you is trying to get a grip on the tower ;-)

Archana said...

Kuttichuvaru - yup, yup - a very loooooooooonnnng flight journey!

Dinesh - adhe, adhe! Rogers centre is called as the skydome too :-)! Amaam - it was pretty painful sightseeing with an empty stomach!

Archana - thank you, thank you! That's S's hand and I was the brilliant photographer :-D!

Prabhu said...

And I was looking for a new post today :(

Ginkgo said...

hmm...I thought I'll read this one in full...butttttttt

so...will comment as usual first before reading everything:P

Archana Bahuguna said...

Alright, new post.

Archana Bahuguna said...

Which means we could wait for the weekend :-) still'd like to let you know, we are fans ... ;-) Khaitan fans :-)

Archana said...

Prabhu, Archana - nice to know my 'khaitan fans' are waiting for the next post :-P! Leaving on vacation tomorrow na, so this week's been kinda hectic - lots of topics floating in my head - no time :-(! New post will need to wait till I get back I guess...thanks for caring :-D!

Gingko - padichu mudichacha? Do you really read or just stop at commenting :-P?

Rajesh said...

hahhaa..there goes one more account of your Canada trip...eppadi ethini account irukku unga kitte..??? romba panakaaranaga pola...;-)

Archana said...

Rajesh - only one more day left of Canada trip. Not panakaaranga ellam - I love travelling and tend to indulge in it more than anything else!