Days 18 to 23, of our Alaskan and Canadian Adventure.
Date : Sunday 18th to Friday 23rd Feb, 2007.
Places visited : From Calgary to Toronto and our last flight home.
Distance travelled : About 80 to Calgary, 1675 to Toronto, a couple of walks around town, 80 miles to Niagara and back by car, and finally 3579 air miles home.
Weather : Banff was cool and snowy, but Toronto was experiencing warm weather after a recent very cold spell. We enjoyed dry, fine weather from today on but a little snow threatened our final trip to the airport.
A cool morning as we drove the Canadian Pacific Highway back to Calgary
Out of the Rockies, down onto the flat lands, and into the sunshine on the outskirts of the city of Calgary.
I prefer this shot better though . . . I'll call it . . . . "Air Canada at Calgary"
A short taxi ride later and we were just north of the centre of town at the Toronto Downtown Bed & Breakfast.
This was to be one of the highlights of the Toronto part of our holiday. We had booked this accommodation at the same time as our Alaska Trip, and had met the owners, Roger and Jim, back in England in November 2005.
As soon as we arrived it was just as if we had met them yesterday.
Next day we had a walk round the city, firstly walking north to the old Victorian part of town.
Here were grand houses of the wealthy merchant class of the new Canadian State.
Next door was Casa Loma (The House on the Hill), a 98 room 20th Century Romantic Castle built on the hill overlooking the city for £1.5m.
It was the dream home of the wealthy businessman Henry Pallett. He made his money from supplying electricity to the city, and other investments including the Canadian Pacific Railway. He was responsible for building the first Niagara Falls Hydro Station in 1902. Knighted for his 50yr military career, he lost most of his fortune before his death and had to sell the Castle to prevent bankruptcy. It is now open as a museum and function rooms.
We toured the state rooms, the Grand Hall, the Ballroom, the basements, the towers, the unfinished indoor swimming pool,
the tunnel and here the garage and stables. The gardens, however, were closed due to snow.
Downtown Toronto - the CN Tower, at a height of 1,815 feet (553m) from the ground, stands head and shoulders above the rest of the high rise.
A short walk then a bus ride, plus a few more blocks walking separate us from dinner table overlooking the city.
Across the tracks on the one of the station bridges. Double decker trains - obviously a railway built with space in mind.
From here, the only way is up.
Down below us, and out of the window this time, is the city centre airport.
The small ferry has to ice-break it's way out at this time of year to meet the incoming planes.
Back in horizontal mode we get seated for our circular tour of the city.
The restaurant revolves 360 degrees in under an hour, so we booked our table so that we started just before sunset.
Perfect timing - dinner, plus an extra glass of wine, allowed us to see all the views a second time round.
Escape from the shop was harder than we thought as we had to go up a floor and through the tight security again, in order to collect our warm coats, before heading back to Toronto Downtown B&B.
The CN Tower experience is certainly a "'must do"' if you get the chance.
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Toronto City has many attractions, but to catch a game of Ice Hockey or Basketball needs a little more planning and lots more money.
However the Museums are a lot more accessible. One of those recommended was the "Bata Shoe Museum"
What made it sound interesting was that it paralleled the development of societies round the world with examples of the shoes they wore at the time.
Shoes from the Court of Queen Elizabeth 1st of England (she reigned 1558-1603)
The Museum has been developed by the Bata Shoe Company and features shoes from their huge collection, which spanned 4500 years,
including some worn by prehistoric Ice Man, through to Egyptians, ancient Chinese, and right up to the modern day.
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On our penultimate day we had planned a visit to see Niagara Falls about forty miles or so round the lake from Toronto.
First stop the township of Niagara by the Lake
Niagara on the Lake was the Canadian Capital for a short period 200yrs ago.
This was the original British settlement in Upper Canada, strategically placed at the mouth of the Niagara River that flows down between the Great Lakes.
This is now Canadan soil - Fort George on the other side of the river is in the USA.
The town dates from 1792 but was rebuilt after being burnt to the ground by the Americans in 1812 in a local skirmish !
Many of the homes seen today date from soon after that time.
Sunny weather, and perfect conditions for a carriage ride.
Paul, our driver, then took us to the Butterfly Conservatory in Niagara.
A Cloudless Sulphur - forgive me if I'm wrong.
Still, excellent though they were, we hadn't come to see the butterflies but to see Niagara Falls, so it was off towards the river again.
But what's this - our Limo drops us at Clifton Hill - just up from the river.
Commercialism hits Niagara - in all it's commercial vulgarity !
But a five minute walk later we were down by the river.
We had been disappointed that the "Maid of the Mist" would not be running. Now we knew why - the whole river was frozen over.
Ahead of us was the American Falls - most spectacular !
The winter weather had frozen the spray and coated all the rocks with thick ice.
The Maid of the Mist boats, safely hauled up out of harm's way.
A patch of open water only serves to highlight the spectacular American Falls.
Slightly up river the larger, Canadian Horseshoe Falls of Niagara thunder away behind the spray.
The water on the main falls rushes over the edge, just feet from the walkway.
In the foreground, the vegetation was covered in dramatic frozen spray.
The spray from the waterfalls gave us a constant rainbow effect over the river,
and left us with wonderful memories of one of the natural wonders of the world.
The late afternoon sun as we pass the docks and steel works at Hamilton
Our final delay, on the motorway back into the city at rush hour, is eased by watching a d.v.d. of the Bee Gees
and then one of the Eagles Farewell Concert, then another . . .it was a long queue ! Still . . . do you like the Limo ?
Our final day dawns with a covering of snow, just in time to give us qualms about our drive to the airport.
Our hosts, Roger and Jim, had plied us with Lemon Drop Martinis again last night, so in the few hours we had left before our car arrived, we had a local walk over to a converted railway station locally that was now a Government Liqueur Store.
Suitably supplied with Lemoncello Martini, the missing ingredient to allow us to make it back home, we make our way back to the B&B.
One of several black Squirrels along the way.
With the roads clear and the traffic moving it was time to leave.
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Technical note: Pictures taken with a Canon G7 Digital camera.
Resized in Photoshop, and built using Dreamweaver.
This site best viewed with . . . time to relax after an excellent but often busy holiday.