Sunday, July 09, 2006
Hard as it may be to believe, I still have not finished the entire account of my trip to Canada. Being one of those people who have to finish off what they started, I have to put down this last (yeah, really, it is the last part for the Canada trip) part. So, with a promise to myself to not write quite so detailed travelogues in future, here it goes. BTW, in case you are hunting, here are links to parts one, two, three and four.
So anyways, Monday was the last full day of stay for me in Canada. As there was not much time left for sightseeing, Shilpa and I decided to mainly spend time in Toronto downtown and in The Islands. In order to get an early start to the day, I optimistically set the alarm for 7.00a in the morning (when will I ever learn?). As usual, after many snoozes, we finally got up around 9.00a. So far, so good. But it turned out that both of us were rather lethargic after all the activities of the previous day - so we just lazed about for quite sometime after getting up. It was well past 11.00a when we finally set off to the bus stop.
Unlike the first day, we had to wait for quite some time before the bus finally arrived. The waiting wouldn’t have been so bad but for the fact that the day was scorching hot. It did not help that the bus stand was constructed of transparent material. It looked very cool no doubt but the designer had evidently not considered the fact that, on a hot summer day, standing under a transparent roof is equivalent to not standing under it. Anyways, by the time the bus arrived, about 40 minutes later, S and I were already exhausted.
From there it was to the GO bus stand from where we had to get the bus to downtown. Obviously our luck as regards transportation had changed. The next bus would arrive an hour later. An hour? An Hour? So S and I stood for another hour at the bus stop (the bus shelter felt like an oven so we could not sit inside). Finally, we boarded the bus and arrived at downtown. There, we learnt that the Toronto Transit Authority had gone on a flash strike. So no trams or public buses were operating that day. Great! Our day of sightseeing was turning into a total nightmare.
But S and I are made of stern stuff when it comes to sightseeing - so we bravely plodded on by walk to the ferry terminal. We were planning on taking the ferry to The Islands. But before boarding, we had to have some lunch - it was already past lunchtime. We finally wound up getting food from a grocery cum fast food store! I don't know if it was because of my hunger or not but the pizza we had there was one of the best I have ever tasted.
After lunch, it was on to the terminal. Finally, we lucked out - the ferry to The Islands left almost immediately after we bought our tickets - no waiting for transportation, hooray! From the waters of Lake Ontario, we got an awesome view of the Toronto downtown. The skyline looked really cool. The breeze as we sat in the ferry cooled us off considerably and was a welcome relief from the sun. As we approached The Islands, we saw lots of greenery and a quaint arched bridge. It looked promising!
The Islands is a tourist destination which consists of three, what else, islands. I don't know what their original purpose was, but now these are completely developed into centers for recreational activities. We landed at the Centre Island. The first thing we noticed was the serene greenery that surrounded us on all sides. We spotted a board which actually encouraged people to walk on the grass! There were rolling grasslands dotted with maple trees. A lake with occasional ducks and a steamer on it made the place look like something out of "Tom Sawyer". It was beautiful!
We had picked up a map of the place. Our first destination was a maze. S and I traversed it. It was a small one - nevertheless it gave us the feeling of being in the Harry Potter book four :-D! By now, we had walked quite a bit and it was time to rest. The soft grass made a comfortable bed and I would have fallen asleep had S not poked me awake!
All this while, we had seen many people riding a strange cycle rickshaw type contraption. We found that it was called a "quadricycle" and we could rent one and drive it around the island. We rented it and briskly pedaled away. It was really good fun and we covered a lot more distance and attractions on the islands than we would have had we decided to walk. After half an hour of brisk pedaling, we returned the quadricycle and strolled to the beach.
The beach had a jetty sticking out into the water. From there we had a good view of the Ontario lake as well as the CN Tower. As usual we got obsessed with taking pictures which would make us look like we were holding the CN tower in our hand. We did managed to get a couple of them but not before irritating the heck out of the other visitors with our constant "move left, move right, lift your hand, lower your hand, aaargh - follow my directions" ;-)!
Beside the beach they also had a row of stones in the water - it reminded us so much of the bridge to Lanka in the Ramayana! We spent some more time strolling around. By this time it was getting late. Factoring in our travel time to get back home, it was time to head back. We stopped on the way at a restaurant for iced tea. It was heavenly in the hot sun and I finished the contents of my tall glass in two gulps!
There was a short wait for the return ferry but the evening had cooled down and the wait was not as tiring as before. Once we got back to the mainland, we had to again resort to walking due to the transportation strike. We wanted to see The Path - Toronto's underground shopping destination. We managed to find it all right but we were either at the wrong segment of The Path or were there at the wrong time. Anyhow, we did not find it very impressive. By this time, we had added another mile or so to our rapidly growing "Number of miles we walked today" chart. The immediate need of the hour was energy-boosting coffee.
Shilpa remembered seeing a Tim Horton's on Bay Street the last time we were in downtown. We walked in the direction dictated by her hazy memory and mercifully found it on the first try. Once at the store, we got a whole bunch of Tim Bits and two cups of coffee and spent close to an hour cooling our feet there. After recharging ourselves, we set off to the Union Station, where we had to get the GO bus.
Since we were early, we thankfully got seats on the bus. The bus eventually got overcrowded (which apparently is unusual) due to the transport strike. From there it was back to Missisuaga. We took a break in between to shop for some stuff for S's aunt's house and finally headed back home.
There was good food awaiting us. S's cousins eagerly welcomed us - "let us make the video, let us make the video!". S had promised to make a dance video featuring them. We were of course tired - but a promise is a promise. C had actually made notes about what steps to dance! Both B and C had dressed up in good clothes for the "video-shoot". So S set up the camera and we all danced crazily for an hour. Finally it was time to go to bed.
S and me, as usual, spent a lot of time chatting, seeing pics etc. I was leaving the next day and we wanted to squeeze in as much talking as possible before that! Finally, when our eyes were involuntarily closing, we called it a day and went to bed.
The next day, S's uncle dropped me at the airport on his way to work. Surprisingly, immigration to the USA took place in the Toronto airport itself! This resulted in me getting very confused while answering the immigration officer’s questions. But I was hardly asked anything and made it through immigration without any issues. So I was officially inside the United States even in Canada!
The rest of the journey back home was a normal, looong coast to coast trip. I reached Cal in an extremely exhausted state. But the Canada trip had been simply awesome. The hospitality, the companions, the places we visited - everything, had been great!
And that concludes my Canadian Chronicles!
In case you are wondering, I have decided to stop giving ratings to my long trips as it is redundant. I usually take the trouble to write about trips with five star ratings only :-P!
Credit: All the photos in the posts about Canada were taken either by Shilpa or by me. Please to pay any royalties to us ;-P!
And, here are some announcements:
Tomorrow (July 10) is Shilpa’s birthday. Happy Birthday, girl :-D! Go, wish her folks! She is currently marooned (but happily so since Vikram is by her side :-)) in her internet-less place in Dubai!
Don’t miss Pirates of the Carribean, Part 2. Johnny Depp is simply awesome and I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen whenever he was on it! Watch it for him!