Today is the day we conquer Toronto.
But first, bacon.
The St. Lawrence Market
One of the two major public markets in Toronto (the other being Kensington Market) is known for its peameal bacon.
Peameal bacon is wet-cured back bacon coated in cornmeal and cooked to crispy perfection. We each get one of Carousel’s famous breakfast sandwiches – Breakfast on a Bun. It’s really good. Rob makes out with his for about 30 seconds before coming up for air. I’m mildly jealous, but I understand. We all have our celebrity exceptions.
In 2012 National Geographic voted the St. Lawrence Market one of the best food markets in the world. Just looking around, I can see why. One stand is selling over 50 types of rice.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
We had been warned by our friends last night that the lineups can get so long they snake around the building, so we attempted to buy our tickets online the night before to bypass it, but failed because we had been trying after midnight and you need to make online ticket purchases the day before.
Instead went early around 9am and there was barely anyone there; we beat the stroller derby crowd.
The aquarium was objectively very cool. I’m not a huge fan of watching the hollow-eyed sharks, but loved seeing the different ecosystems at play.
The best part was the wall of jellyfish that undulated about in a ten-foot tall aquarium with LEDs that shifted the colour of the creatures as they swam.
We stared at it in awe. A real world screensaver. The only thing that could have made it better would have been some dulcet Pink Floyd, a velvet chaise longue, and endless buckets of popcorn.
Also, “Fleshy Sea Pens”…
The Harbourfront Building + Art Gallery
While waiting for the Steamwhistle Brewery to open (What? No beer at 10:30am?), we headed to the harbourfront for ice cream and art.
The Harbourfront Centre also contains working artists studios, with windows running along the studios so you can watch them work. There are contemporary works on display throughout the halls; some are by the in-house artists, and some are special exhibits.
The miniature I photographed above is displayed there as part of a series by Jesse Bromm.
We popped in to sample some brews and take a look around. The 11:30 tour had already filled up, so we resolved to come through here again on the way back.
That being said, we still enjoyed some free beers and swag.
The CN Tower Fail
Having a bit of time left, we thought it would be fun to check out the nearby 553m-high CN Tower to get an overview of the city.
We went through security and waited in the line, which wasn’t too long at the time. I saw a sign that said SKYPOD $12, and I thought, “Eh, that’s kind of expensive, but okay,” I had paid to go to the top of towers before, so I could understand…
Until we got to the front of the line and learned that $12 fee was in addition to a $35 mandatory minimum ticket price. Before tax. This $50 option is the most popular. When is it worth $50 for one person to ride to the top of a building?
For comparison, Tokyo Sky Tree in Japan is 634m high, the tallest freestanding structure in the world. It opened in 2012. Much more modern in design, and higher in stature, ticket prices are only 2,060¥ (~$20).
Tokyo Tower is only 950¥ (~$9), great for a first date; Roppongi Hills is 1,800¥ (~$18), the Bunkyo Civic Centre is FREE, and the Tokyo World Trade Centre and Sunshine 60 are about 610¥ (~$6) each.
Elsewhere in the world of towers, The Eiffel Tower is 15€ (~$20), and Canton Tower (the second highest freestanding structure in the world) starts at 50¥(~$10). Even the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world at 829.8m high, only costs 125 AED (~$45 CAD) to go to the top.
The CN Tower’s ticket prices start at $35 for an adult (and that doesn’t even get you to the highest observation deck) and go up to $90 depending on which bells and whistles you purchase. You can also buy an Edgewalk, which lets you walk for 30 minutes on the outside of the tower, strapped into a safety harness, for $195.
I’m interested to find out where in Toronto you can get a good view without paying a ridiculous fee. Someone suggested the TD Building. Torontonians? What say you? Where are the best views in this city for free and/or cheap?
I have been tipped off that another way to go up without paying is to make a reservation at the 360˚ Restaurant. That being said, the cheapest lunch on the menu is the 2-course fixed price for $55. Still, for a view plus a meal, it seems to be the best bang for your buck.
The Scarborough Bluffs!
You know what’s better than the CN Tower? Hanging out at the beach with your friends.
The Bluffs are a geological escarpment (i.e., big, long cliff) that run along Lake Ontario. Along here are beautiful beaches and marinas only a 35 minute drive from downtown Toronto with good traffic.
We gathered a contingency to hang out on the beach and enjoy the noble summer pursuit of drinking beers, cooking hot dogs, playing in the
ocean lake, and reading in the sun.
There are two parts to the bluffs:
1) Scarborough Bluffs Park: A wide picnic area that offers views such as the one above, and a steep trail down to the beach.
2) Bluffer’s Park Beach: The main beach with a parking lot entrance.
We stopped first in the Bluffs Park, a little bit by accident since we didn’t know where we were going. We caught some sweet views there and then decided to go via the parking lot route instead of trekking down as we had a lot of food gear with us, and didn’t want to have to climb back up the cliffs once we were full of food and drunk from beer and sun (wise choice, team).
I couldn’t believe we’d gone from metropolis to secluded beach in only a half an hour.
After making our way back from the Bluffs, we caught the St. Clair streetcar to the metro station and then made our way to the Davison Station to reach The Wallace Gastropub near the Yonge and Eglinton area in one of the fancier parts of town. The Wallace is a cozy, European-style spot that offers a food selection of upmarket pub fare, locally procured ingredients with organic status and sustainability in mind.
We met up with more university friends and sat in their intimate back porch where I enjoyed glass after glass of Pommies Cider, and a warm atmosphere. Cheers to that.
Day 7 Costs:
- Underground Parking near St Lawrence Market: $6.00
- Parking Near Aquarium: $12.00
- 2 Adult Aquarium Tickets: $67.75
- Steamwhistle Tank Top: $22.95
- 2 Ice Creams: $3.75
- Groceries for the Beach at NoFrills: $13.59
- 4 Beers + Peanuts for Beach, Beer Store: $13.40
- Beach Parking: $4.00
- The Wallace Gastropub, Food and Beers: $108.92