North America | Canada | Ontario | Toronto – Wandering around Toronto
I traveled from Montreal to Toronto mainly to visit friends. Seeing that I was there I thought I might take the time to see some of the sights. I found out that Toronto is a nice place to live, but takes some time to grow on the visitor.
Longest street in the world
Toronto is very much the business and financial capital of Canada, and the downtown area reflects that. Tall buildings are concentrated in the city, somewhat resembling Manhattan in places. However, Toronto spreads out further, and many people who work in the city live far out in the more pleasant suburbs.
I took a very long walk along what is reportedly the world’s very longest street, Yonge Street. This street begins down at the harbour, and is the main street that runs through downtown Toronto and continues for another 1,900 kilometres. This is probably the only street where if two people said they lived on it, it might actually take one of them days to travel to the other.
Downtown Toronto has a wide range of shopping centres, eateries, theatres, and museums. However I decided to do what I liked to do to get a feel of a city, that is to walk through its various neighbourhoods.
Toronto has a multi-ethnic community, and this is reflected in the various neighbourhoods in the city. Walking west off Yonge Street and through Dundas Street, I came across Chinatown. Every Chinatown in the world has those Chinese restaurants with the roast ducks hanging in the window, and this was no different. It appears to be a mandatory requirement for any Chinatown, which led me to ponder what the calling signs were for other ethnic communities.
Walking further I saw the neighbourhood change to Little Italy, where a stretch of the road contained cafeterias serving authentic espressos to patrons sitting on the patios outside.
The ritzy Bloor-Yorkville area is further north, and is where I went to stock up on my Armani and Louis Vuitton accessories. Well, not really. But here, even the bums on the street begging for change had better shoes than mine.
The tall tower
The CN Tower is obviously the defining symbol of Toronto. At 553 metres, it is the tallest structure in the world, and visible from most points of the city. Seeing that I was here, I decided to go up.
The observation deck provided a great view of the city. Apart from the concentration of skyscrapers downtown, the city spreads out as far as the eye can see. On a clear day, I was told that I could see Niagara Falls. Toronto is also positioned right on the massive Lake Ontario, and at times I would forget it is a lake and think that it is the ocean I was looking at.
An interesting feature up the tower is the section of glass floor they installed. The glass is strong enough to withstand fourteen rhinos (or hippos; I forget which African animal they used when they obviously tested the floor to provide such a statistic).
I tested my nerve by walking out on it and looking down at the ground hundreds of metres below. The feeling is difficult to describe, a mixture of apprehension and thrill at the illusion that I was walking on air. I thought about jumping up and down on the glass, but I was reminded of the guy who tested the strength of an office window, only to be ignominously included in that year’s Darwin Awards.
Several people were actually too scared to go out on the floor, which made for a few amusing spectacles. One elderly lady inched out slowly, then almost fainted and screamed hysterically when she looked down.
Of course, souvenir statues of the tower are sold everywhere. The tower looks like a long, thin metal spike, which led me to think that it is possibly one of the most dangerous souvenirs in the world.
Take your time
Toronto takes some time to discover, as the places to see are not immediately obvious. The CN Tower is the most visited attraction, but there are also art galleries, museums, and interesting neighbourhoods to wander around in. The Chinese food ain’t too bad either; at one of the dim sum restaurants here, it was the first time I’ve had duck feet…