Canada Trip Report: Toronto

After our time in Montreal, we flew to Toronto for the next leg of our trip.

I wanted to try flying Porter Airlines since they fly into the Toronto Island airport which is much closer to the downtown area. The flight was only an hour and 10 minutes but I didn’t realize we had to take the ferry shuttle from the island to the port so that added another half hour to the journey. For some reason I thought taxis had access to the island. They’re in the process of building a pedestrian walkway which will be so much more convenient than waiting for the ferry.

Anyway!

Tue, 9/2

On our first full day in Toronto we visited Casa Loma, which is a former home/castle that is now a historic museum. It’s also well known for being in many movies like The Vow, Chicago, The Pacifier — but most importantly the X-Men series where they used the exterior for Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. That’s a big part of why it was so intriguing to us. LOL.



From the Dupont station, we walked a couple of blocks on Spadina Avenue then climbed the Baldwin Steps (approximately 110) to get to Casa Loma. I was dreading the stairs but it wasn’t so bad. Seeing the house come into view made it all worth it. Though it is a little smaller than I imagined after seeing it in the movies.



We explored all the various levels of the house and got to see many guest & sitting rooms, private suites, the great hall (above) and conservatory among others.



It’s amazing how elaborate and detailed all the furnishings are.

I wanted to take a walk through the gardens but while we were there, it started pouring rain. So bummed!



Great view of downtown. Too bad it was so rainy and overcast.

Due to the rain, we scrapped our plans to explore the Yorkville neighborhood and the adjacent University of Toronto in favor of seeking shelter at the Eaton Centre, an indoor mall.



One end of the Eaton Centre connects to Yonge & Dundas Square so when the rain started letting up, we decided to check it out since it’s supposed to be a gathering place much like Times Square in NY. It was definitely crowded but way less chaotic.



We’re huge fans of chef David Chang and his Momofuku restaurants so of course we dined at each of the three located in Toronto. First up was Daisho.



We shared chicken karaage buns (good but not particularly memorable), the roasted rice cakes (wow, hit of the night), hanger steak ssam (yum) and the buttermilk biscuits (dense yet warm and fluffy inside). Oh man, such a yummy and deceptively filling meal. It was definitely those biscuits!

Thu, 9/4

After driving back from Niagara Falls in the morning (next blog entry), we relaxed at our hotel until late afternoon when we planned to head down to the waterfront to take a ferry to the Toronto islands.



Looking towards the islands from downtown.



We had this absolutely gorgeous view of the sun setting and the Toronto skyline from the ferry.



After a quick 30 minute ride, we arrived at Centre Island, which is the largest and outermost island. The plan was to rent bikes in order to explore more of the islands than we could on foot. But I didn’t realize that September is the off season and we walked across the island only to find that the bike rental shop closes before sunset. Bummer.



Such a beautiful sunset.



So instead we walked to the pier and adjacent beach overlooking Lake Ontario. Everything had a gorgeous golden glow.



We walked back to the ferry dock where we found a really great view of Toronto all lit up in the dark. We attempted a selfie and ended up with this blurry pic. 🙂



Back downtown we headed back to Momofuku — this time to Noodle Bar. We had the pork buns (of course), Rob had the jajang noodles (so yummy, not what I expected) and I had the traditional Momofuku ramen. Totally hit the spot on a cold night. For dessert, we tried the cereal milk soft serve which tasted exactly like cereal milk. It’s kind of a bizarre flavor at first but it’s surprisingly delicious and comforting. YUMMY!

Fri, 9/5

When I was doing research on things to do and sights to see, I stumbled upon Live Toronto on Trip Advisor. It’s a private walking tour in the downtown core that includes photos taken of your group. Such a cool concept! Especially for couples like us that have to resort to selfies in order to get photos together.

It actually looked there was rain in the forecast but luckily it held out until later in the day. We met Dustin, our tour guide and photographer, at Osgoode Hall.



We walked through the Theatre district where the festivities for the Toronto International Film Festival were taking place. So of course we stopped at the TIFF letters for a picture. I was hoping to get a glimpse of Chris Evans or Robert Downey, Jr but no luck unfortunately.



We then headed over to the area where the Skydome (or aka Rogers Centre), CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium are located.



Across the street is Roundhouse Park which is a really nice open space where a railway museum is located.



The waterfront was our final destination and once there, we had fun hamming it up for the camera. The tour was a great way to see the areas we hadn’t seen yet and get photos taken all at the same time. SO COOL! Dustin mentioned the company is going to be expanding so I’m definitely going to keep an eye out to see if they make their way to Vancouver.



We hadn’t been up to the CN Tower yet so we backtracked and made our way back there. Dustin mentioned that if you dine at the 360 Restaurant and each person orders the prix fixe, you get complimentary access to the observation decks and also get to bypass the lines for the elevators. SOLD!



The food was surprisingly solid. I rarely expect much at tourist attractions when it comes to food but everything we had was delicious (heirloom tomato salad, pork chop, seafood chowder, chocolate lava cake).



We were seated right by the window so we had a great view of the city. We made a complete circle so I got to take photos right from our table. After lunch, we decided to check out the observation deck one floor below but honestly I didn’t think it wasn’t that spectacular at all. The view we had from the restaurant was better — mostly because we didn’t have to fight the crowds and the windows seemed cleaner (not sure if that was my imagination or not though).



We also went down to the glass floor which made me incredibly nervous. I didn’t step on the glass at all — just peering over was enough for me. EEEK.

Dinner for our last night was back at Momofuku once again (I know, we didn’t exactly diversify our food choices during this trip) — this time we were trying Shoto, which features a ten course chef’s counter tasting menu. We love sitting at the counter in order to see all the prep and cooking. It’s like a performance!



It was really dark in the restaurant so my pictures aren’t the greatest. It was an incredible meal. The highlights for me included the dishes above — corn ravioli (my favorite of the night) and the pork rib — as well as the strawberry shortcake dessert. SOGOODOMG.



And of course, picking up treats at Milk Bar to take with us to our next stop, Vancouver. 🙂

We had such a great time Toronto!

For more pics, check our Flickr here.