Wednesday, August 8, 2012

#63: CN Tower!

The ultimate tourist attraction in Toronto is the one that you can see from pretty much anywhere in the city:  the CN Tower!

For over 30 years, the CN Tower was the tallest free-standing structure in the world.  That all changed with the opening of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, but the CN Tower’s height is still the tallest in the Americas – far surpassing even the Sears Tower.  As this is one of the architectural wonders of the world, I thought it an appropriate addition to my list of 103 Things.

A glass elevator – including glass on the floors – whisks visitors up to the observation deck at height of 1,136 feet in under a minute.  From there, the views of the city and Lake Ontario are fantastic.

For approximately $6 extra, you can opt to go further up to the SkyPod, which sits at a height of 1,465 feet above the ground.  From there, you can actually see skyscrapers across Lake Ontario.  That’s like well over a hundred miles away – probably more.  Holy cow!  I’m pretty sure it must have been Niagara Falls (the city) or St. Catharines, Ontario, that I was looking at, but I’m not 100% sure.   If you click on the picture to enlarge, you can make out the distant skyline.  It was much more noticeable in person.

On a super clear day, visitors at the top of the CN Tower can allegedly see the mist coming off of Niagara Falls.  Apparently it wasn’t clear enough on the day I was there.

The CN Tower, while the most prominent, isn’t the only attraction in Toronto.  I wandered over to the Distillery District one afternoon for a look.  The Distillery was a whiskey distillery (as the name implies) in a previous life but has now been converted into funky outdoor mall of sorts complete with restaurants, galleries, shops, condos, and even its own brewery.  Walking around, plaques describe the history of the place (including which buildings served which purpose), as well as details on the distilling process.

There was also some great public art in the outdoor spaces.

Jeremy took me over to Riverdale Farm one afternoon.  Right in the middle of the city, Riverdale Farm is a working farm and a little respite from the hustle and bustle of Toronto.

That night, we wandered over to Dundas Square – Toronto’s version of Times Square – to check out the lights.  It wasn’t remotely close to being anything like Times Square, but given that Toronto is significantly smaller than NYC, I’ll let it slide.

There were also some great opportunities to view the CN Tower at night.

Last stop in Toronto:  the gay village!

Toronto has a huge gay population and all of the great things that go with it.  Jeremy took me to Woody’s on my last night in town for a local beer (or two) and pretty fantastic drag show.

Overall, Toronto was equally as impressive as Montreal, despite the unfortunate crime incident, the lack of European charm, and the less than aesthetically pleasing concrete skyline.  The shopping looked great, the food was even better, there was heaps to do and see, and everybody was super friendly and helpful… except for the pesky homeless.

Could I live in Toronto one day?  Absolutely.  Though I’m not sure how I’d handle -30 degrees in winter.

So maybe I’ll put that idea on the backburner and wait a few years to see if global warming lives up to its name and makes any sort of noticeable difference.  Until then, I’ll happily stick with Australia.

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