Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Toronto, Day Four

The last day of our trip arrived, and it was supposed to be full but not crazy.  It ended up being the longest day yet. 

Once we packed up and moved out of the hotel, we headed to Casa Loma, a castle-like structure just out of downtown.  It's still in the city, up on a hill, and in a gorgeous old neighborhood.  But it is HUGE.  As we approached the hill and saw it, I was amazed!

We pulled in, parked, and walked up to the imposing structure...

It was breathtaking!  Just a quick backstory--this was the largest private dwelling in Canada, and it was built by a successful businessman who brought electric light to the streets of Toronto and pioneered hydroelectric power at Niagara Falls, but in both cases the government took them over and gave him nothing.  Those losses, combined with the stock market crash, left him penniless and later the house ended up in disrepair.  Eventually the city took it over, and it is now a major tourist attraction.

It took us a while to get going, as we HAD to stop in the store (UGH) and there were bathroom breaks, a map search, and a viewing of the movie that taught us the history lesson above.  But eventually we got started.  Our first stop was a wine cellar that was just discovered behind a wall earlier this year!  Then we walked down a tunnel (800 feet, I think!  It was long, taking us to a building more than a block away!) to the garage, stables, and garden shed. 
Checking out the cars in the garage!
The cars were cool and the stables still had the horses' names painted on the wall and sink basins in each stall.  We headed back to the main house, to explore the many rooms.  Oh, and in a continuation of a couple weeks of perma-sweat, this 100 year old house had no air conditioning, so it was another hot day.
A guest suite, complete with fancy peacock screen, and a private sitting room and bathroom!

The view from the patio of the suite belonging to the lady of the house

Her bedroom

The owner's suite

The owner's room also overlooked the main hall
We saw many different guest rooms and quirky things like old-fashioned bidets (we think) and nooks for old style telephones.  The top floor used to be servant quarters and it was mostly converted to a Canadian military museum.  By the time we got up there, the kids were nuts but I ran off quickly to check out the view from the towers.  It's good I didn't take the kids, as the climb up a narrow spiral staircase was stressful enough for me alone!  But the view from up there was impressive!

Back on the ground floor, we headed out to the gardens.  The view with the city in the background was truly beautiful.




Back inside we saw the library and then headed into the conservatory...


The conservatory was my favorite room.  It was so classic, so bright, and so elegant.  Of course, Carter just saw it as a big room to run around in.
At least Jacob liked posing for pictures...
It was a very hot, stressful trip and it took considerably longer than we thought, but I'm glad we saw it.  We drove back down into the city, weaving through the University of Toronto campus, which was gorgeous.  We parked near where we were for the baseball game and headed back to Wahlburger's to eat lunch.  I'm not a crazy fan of either Wahlberg, but it was fun and they handle gluten-free requests really well.  It was nice to have a relatively normal lunch without panic, for nearly the first time all trip. 

Jacob had been begging all trip to go to the Hockey Hall of Fame store, and we figured we could manage a walk down there.  It wasn't horribly far, maybe a handful of city blocks, but I suppose we overestimated our ease given the kids' behavior and never readjusted it.  So off we went.  Carter fell asleep along the way, so Craig carried him the long way down.  It was hot and the walk there felt long!  Jacob took forever to pick something, so long that Carter got a significant nap and still had time to wake up and pick something himself.  Strangely, Jacob wanted him to wake up and offered to buy him a stick with his souvenir money.  Of course he sort of reneged later, but I guess it was the thought that counts?  I didn't want anymore ministicks in our house because we have a ton and I knew it would lead to the kids beating the crap out of each other or somehow arguing (which it did--Carter's nets are the current bone of contention), but I have had to pick my battles.  So, Quebec Nordiques sticks it was.  The walk back had its moments, but it felt quicker, at least. 

Our stop was the CN Tower, the last item on our list and in our CityPass books.

As we walked in through security, we were informed that it was a TWO HOUR wait.  Nooooooo.  As it was it was nearly dinnertime (even with our late lunch) and it would get us on the road so much later than we'd hoped.  But you know, we'd sort of paid for it, it seemed odd to go to Toronto and not do it, so we took a deep breath and hopped in line.  It was pretty awful, I won't lie.  It was slow and crowded.  They had some things to read and see along the way, like this model of the original design of the tower...
Who knew?  The final one was definitely better!
...but it was a long wait.  Carter and I had to duck out mid-line to hit the bathroom, and technology was definitely our friend during that wait.  At long last, we finally went up.  The elevator ride is pretty cool, and it's neat to see Toronto from that high up. 
So many buildings!  And if you look in the lower left, you'll see a pool on top of one!

City Hall is in the middle

This is looking down at near where Wahlburger's was.  I took this one because I noticed the building façade that's been preserved while the rest of the building has been completely removed.  At least a couple dump trucks of rubble loudly passed the restaurant while we ate. 

BMO Field, home of Toronto's MLS team.  Their defunct outdoor lacrosse team played there, too. 
One of the coolest parts of the tower is the glass floor!  It's freaky to step on it and assure yourself you're not going to fall!  I looked down at Rogers Centre...

...and the aquarium!

Unfortunately, while we were up there, the kids decided to lose themselves.  Craig looked away for a second while I was taking a picture, and suddenly everyone was gone.  I noticed Craig walking frantically outside, and the kids were nowhere to be found.  It took a few minutes, but eventually we found them tucked in the exit to the one higher observation deck.  Jacob insisted that Carter ran in there and he was trying to get him out, but I'm sure there was a little more to it than that, for as long as they were missing.  That was not fun.  Really not fun.

After that we got out of there pretty quickly, which was annoying considering how long we waited.  Back on the ground we looked in the store for last chance souvenirs.  We also tried for a decent picture with a Mountie moose...
Yeah, story of our lives.

We saw a Lego CN Tower, which was cool.

We attempted to get a decent shot of both kids together...
Almost...

...and then picked out souvenirs.  Jacob picked a cool baseball, and Carter picked a spinning LED light that he has barely put down (and nearly destroyed countless times) ever since, and I chose a cute CN Tower magnet.  You can never have too many of those, and they're cheap. 

On our way out there was one last group of photo ops...
Best picture yet, in the nick of time...


I took a picture of this moose on the streets of Toronto 16 years ago, and apparently he's still kicking around!


We finally exited out of the tower and headed back to the car.  The sun was going down, and we were facing a very long night of driving.  On the walk back, we walked under one of the fan sculptures outside the Rogers Centre.  Jacob liked that the guy was taking our picture, and told me to take one back.  So I did.

I took a picture from a similar vantage point that I did on the first day, this time with fading sun and some lights on the tower...

...and snapped the pastel colors in the sky, too.

We drove out of town, stopped at a rest area for an ice cream dinner (hey, you do what you can at 10pm), crossed the border at 11 with both kids still awake (ugh--and we got a bit of an interrogation at the border!), and made it home by about 12:30.  The house was hot, and everyone was tired.  Craig was a trooper driving (since I was still nervous about the van), and we were just happy to be home.

It was a crazy trip, and now we're getting back in the swing of things.  Back to work, camp, daycare, and house repairs.  I'll have more thoughts on the vacation and our first trip back to the therapist after, coming soon... 

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