Fall Break – 24 Hours in Canada

As Anita alluded in her blog about Chicago, fall break as a second year is a much more relaxing experience.

I had grand plans of taking advantage being so close to Canada to drive through Ontario to Quebec and back. But as fate would have it, the last week of Mini 1 I caught the flu and spent the next two weeks recovering.

Although I didn’t make it to Montreal and Quebec, I still checked Canada off my list and went to Niagara Falls (4-hour drive from Pittsburgh) and Toronto (5-hour drive from Pittsburgh).

I have not been to the US side of the Falls, but people say that the Canada side is better. It is definitely impressive.

Either way, it is a must do attraction, and it is so close to Pittsburgh!

I’d imagine that during the summer it is much more crowded, so Fall and Spring seem like the perfect times to go.

Next stop – Toronto. Did you know Toronto is the 4th largest city in North America (after Chicago)? I had no idea until I visited. It was apparent as  soon as we approached the city – traffic on Thursday evening was rough.

We spent the night at Pembroke Inn. Freshly renovated, affordable rooms in downtown Toronto. Tip: call or email ahead of time to reserve a parking spot if you’re driving.   The staff was very friendly. They also offered free breakfast (which we overslept).

After settling in we ventured out to the Yonge-Dundas Square, Toronto’s version of New York Times Square and London Piccadilly Circus.  It definitely felt different from either, but also reminded both. It was not too terribly crowded on Thursday night, but had enough people walking around to feel lively.

The next day we went up the CN Tower, my tallest tower to date, and got to see the magnitude of Toronto from bird’s eye view.

Walking around the city, we came across this cute dog park.

Across the street from the park we saw a Moroccan restaurant, The Sultan’s Tent. It was already past lunch time and we have not had any food, so we decided to wander in. Very glad we made this decision. This restaurant was super cozy and the food was delicious. I don’t think I’ve ever had Moroccan food before, but it was probably a fusion with American, Lebanese, and Egyptian food (just my guess). Tea presentation alone made me warm up and gave me energy to explore further.

But there was more to see. Btw, parking in Toronto is tough to find, so we left my car in the garage near CN Tower. I believe parking there was under $10 for the whole day. We walked to the restaurant and from the restaurant we called an Uber to go check out Casa Loma, 200,000 square foot castle built for Sir Henry Pellatt with his wife Lady Mary. Some people complained about long waits on TripAdvisor, but when we got there around 3 pm on a Friday afternoon, there was no line and we were able to purchase tickets and walk right in.

It was a nice castle to visit. But the biggest surprise was the basement decorated for Halloween. We weren’t aware, but at night the castle turns into a haunted house in October. Albeit freaky, it was a cool experience. Since we went during the day, there were no actors to scare us (whew!), the decorations were scary enough on their own. Fun fact, the movie It and a bunch of others (like X-Men) have been filmed at Casa Loma! Definitely a recommended visit!

Before heading home, we made a run for the Kensington Market, known for its bohemian and indie culture with restaurants and shops from all over the world. We grabbed a very expensive doughnut ($3.50) and very affordable dumplings ($2.99 for 6!) and hit the road. All were consumed before crossing the border and were very delicious. Now I want more!

Before heading out, also caught a glimpse of CN Tower during a gorgeous sunset. Til next time, Canada!

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