Sun 14 Jul - Toronto, ON

Our 5 nights in Ottawa are up and were on the move again - further west / south west to Toronto.

The Greyhound bus didn't leave Ottawa until 10.30am, a 20 minutes walk from our hotel even with luggage, which meant that we had time to enjoy our last mega continental breakfast and even get some free additional supplies for lunch (croissants and drinks).

We arrived at Ottawa's bus station with at least 30 minutes to spare. Hats off to the Greyhound staff here, it was all very well organized as follows:

  • an enclosed area with red carpets available to you to sit with your luggage provided you had a reserved seat,
  • one staff member had (and used) a proper checklist to validate the passengers,
  • another staff member told the crowd what was going to happen and when before it did happen, and...
  • we left Ottawa right on time.

The trip was mostly freeway all the way to Toronto, on an "express" route which meant no stops and therefore no lunchbreak. The distance between Ottawa and Toronto is 450 km and takes 4 hours 16 minutes according to Google, slightly longer according to Greyhound. Canada is a big country.

Di on the bus...

Hans blogging on the bus...

We arrived in Toronto just after 3pm and there was an easy 5 minutes walk from the Greyhound bus station along Dundas Street to our hotel called Bond Place (at 65 East Dundas Street).

We checked in with a Sri Lankan cricket tragic (aren't they all?) and funny guy and we got a room on the 15th floor away from the street and at a corner so it should be reasonably quiet.

The less impressive part is that wifi is not free ($8.95 + tax per 24 hours), "free" cable TV channels are not "available" (pay and they will be), no breakfast is included. In fact, there didn't seem to be much that was included in the room price.

To be honest, we did get a good deal via Priceline Express as we overheard the guy next to us at check in asked to pay $150 for his room. We paid about half of that price per night.

This is the view from the 15th floor just outside our room. The area around the intersection Dundas Street and Yonge Street looked a lot like a mini Times Square, including buskers and beggars and bums and... You get the picture.

We settled in and then went out again for a wander to get our bearings around the area.

There were a number of superheroes trading photo opportunities for donations...

We zigged and zagged a bit and then wandered down towards the waterfront where Gardiner Expressway follows the waterline a block or so away. The expressway was not in good shape, but remediation work was in progress.

A self portrait with Lake Ontario in the background. That's not USA you can see but Toronto Islands, which will take a full day visit.

Toronto seemed to be a large construction zone. This is Queens Quay looking west. We were sure that it would look a lot better once finished.

We didn't want to do a long walk this afternoon (maybe 6km) and after a few hours we decided to go for dinner at a Red Lobster just off Dundas Street that we saw on our way to the hotel. Red Lobster became a favourite whilst in Lancaster County, PA and we knew they had a delicious triple shrimp dish that we liked a lot. We decided to order it again. It is creamy shrimp linguine, with sautéed garlic shrimp and fried shrimp. Served with a salad plus veggie plus fantastic scones (biscuits). Looks good, hey?

The lobster tank at Red Lobster. This guy was very active and seemed to be trying to make a break for it...

After dinner, we needed to buy some supplies for our upcoming breakfasts. We had been told that there is a large supermarket / grocery store at the corner of Carlton and Church Street. Almost next door to that though is classic grounds... Toronto Maple Leafs ice hockey home arena. We will visit later...

The supermarket is absolutely enormous, giving WalMart a run for its money and crossed with a section that reminded us of David Jones Food Halls. Di got caught up in a small part of the cheese section (again trying to restrain her choices).

We were back in our room, with groceries, around 8.30pm for a lazy evening as we are tired and full of food.

Our first impression of downtown Toronto is that it is a pretty ugly and soulless place, especially in the CBD area on a Sunday. Not much of old Toronto is near us, if there ever was such a thing there (we will check further as there is a seperate neighborhood called "Old Town"). There are hardly any parks or trees apart from Toronto Island in Lake Ontario which is a short ferry ride away. Granted, a lot of construction work is in progress and some of it appears to be beautification and along the waterfront.

Toronto is definitely a business city but with some guidance from the tourist information we knew that we can easily find attractions for our week here. Good night.


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