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Toronto is ~80 miles from Niagara falls. Much of the drive was uneventful, but closer to Toronto, the Gardiner Expressway was PACKED and was down to a crawl, even on a Sunday. I found the last 15 miles the most painful – took almost 40 minutes for this stretch! Our hotel was right in downtown (it is PK’s insistence that we stay in downtown in most big cities we visit).

Our plan for the day was to visit the Toronto Islands and do some biking over there and see the rest of the city the next day.From the top of the CN tower But the timing, weather forecast, fatigue etc called for some change of plans. We decided to go see the CN tower. So, after lunch, we started walking there. It was a good 40 minute walk! Kids who live in the suburbs are not used to this. It is not like AK is not physically active – he does a lot of hiking, biking, sports etc, but just walking in the city to get to a place is new to him. He whined a bit, but we goaded him on, trying to get him excited about the trip to the top. The lines for the elevator were long and we probably waited for about 45 minutes for our turn. The guide book had mentioned that on summer weekends, it could be a 2 hour wait, so I can’t complain too much. There were some kids in the line who seemed to be scared at the prospect of going up. It was a clear and sunny day and the views from the top were absolutely gorgeous. Then, we headed to the glass floors section. A small section of the floors of the observation deck have been made of glass. Apparently it can withstand the weight of 14 large hippos, so they assure you not to worry and even jump up and down on it, if you can handle it. Even though I don’t have a fear of heights, I muGlass floorst say that this part was a bit scary, initially at least. This is also one of the most crowded places, with many people just not wanting to leave. We didn’t go to the highest level, the Skypod, since that was extra money. The walk back seemed never ending, even though there was a break for dinner. The kids wanted pizza. The main street in downtown is YongeSt, which is lined witha ton of eateries. The side walks were very crowded with a lot of pedestrian traffic. The Yonge St Square, near Eaton center had a live band playing and the water fountains were on, so we hung around a bit.

Next day’s agenda was Toronto Islands. But the morning started off very damp and the forecast didn’t look encouraging either. But it did say it would clear up by afternoon, so we decided to while away the morning. Hoping to get some Indian food in Little India, we rode the subway there. This was the highlight of AK’s trip so far (goes to show how often we go to Boston, he doesn’t remember riding the T there). It was a wasted trip. First of all, the shops and restaurants open around noon time and it was barely 10.30 am when we reached there. And I wasn’t desperate enough to hang around till noon. So, we turned right back. We exited the subway into a mall, had lunch at the food court and back to the hotel.  After a short nap, weather still didn’t look any better, but we were headed back home the next day, so considering that we had lugged bicycles all the way, I was determined to go. The ferry dock in the harbor was probably 2 miles from our hotel, but parking would have been very hard to find and very expensive. So we decided to bike it up all the way. Our only hesitation was that the streets were crowded and we have never ridden anywhere outside of designated bike trails in state and national parks, so this was very different. We decided to take a longer, less crowded path, but it was still a “stop and Toronto Skylinego” ride since we had to stop at the lights at every block. And at some point, we had to join the busy streets which led to the harbor and it was evening rush hour, but we finally made it there in about 1/2 hr. We caught the 4.45 pm ferry to Central Island. It was a short 15 minute ride with great views of downtown. The islands themselves are heaven. I don’t know if it was because it was past 5 pm or what, it was practically deserted. There’s miles and miles of park/greenery with lots of picnic tables, drinking water etc. Very clean and well maintained. And its free, except for the nominal ferry fare. I couldn’t have imagined such a serene place right across from such a big, crowded city. We rode our bikes (PK on rollerblades) for about 1.5 hours. We first went left to Hanlan’s point. Great views of the city from here. From there we went all the way to the other end of the islands – Ward’s island. The only downside of going that late in the day was all the cafes and eateries were closed. Not to worry, we had our PBJ sandwiches and had a picnic dinner at Ward’s Island. We took the 7.45 pm ferry back into the city. I was dreading the ride back to the hotel for three reasons – by now, my legs were tired, then there was the stop and go thing and the third was that the return back would be slightly more uphill. We somehow made it back – I could see the others were tired too.

The next morning was pretty chilly, so we abandoned plans for any more sightseeing. We anyway had a long drive back, so we decided to just hit the road. We started @ 9 am. 10 hours and 2 stops later, we were home by 6.45 pm. It was PK’sbirthday and I felt sorry for him – he spent most of the day driving and had a terrible lunch at one of the fast food places in the service areas. But friends visited in the evening with cake and some drinks, which was nice, and the kids had a blast. They were surprised at how calm, pleasant and energetic our kids were after spending most of the day in the car. And the fact that we made such few stops each way.

So, may be we are all ready for the cross-country drive PK and I have talked about!

 

 

 

 

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