To Run to Toronto

Toronto & Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. [June 2015]

On a beautiful early-summer weekend trip to Toronto for friends’ wedding (congratulations K&H!) we discover Toronto at its finest. Much like Chicago, which is a wintry hell in the frigid winter months but a paradise of happy people in the summer, this city is abuzz with art, soul, and life.

The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) was a work of art in itself, between a spiraling staircase, beautiful wooden panel shades, and large, open spaces with plenty of natural sunlight beaming in from above.

Feminine mystique at the Art Gallery of Ontario
Feminine mystique at the Art Gallery of Ontario

If the AGO is the Toronto equivalent of the Met or National Gallery, then you can find this city’s counterpart to the Museum of Natural History or British Museum at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). There are a lot more anthropological and evolutionary exhibits on display and a lot more fitting for little kids running around without punching a hole through a Renoir.

Artful chairs and lighting inside Royal Ontario Museum
Artful chairs and lighting inside Royal Ontario Museum

Hungry after exploring AGO? Walk a whopping 1 block to the West and feast in Toronto’s chinatown, a much smaller, cleaner, and more civil version of New York’s monstrosity. I especially appreciate the vibrant street art here that so infrequently permeate Asian culture.

Colorful Graffiti art in Toronto's Chinatown
Colorful Graffiti art in Toronto’s Chinatown

Or perhaps the occasion is special enough for a meal with a view – the 360 at CN Tower fit the bill with a surprisingly polished pre-fixe presentation. Below, the smoked salmon appetizer is presented to tease your appetite.

The "perfect bite" at CN Tower's 360 Restaurant
The “perfect bite” at CN Tower’s 360 Restaurant

But what trip to Toronto is complete without a day’s excursion to majestic Niagara Falls? It’s been 16 years since I last visited and I return in hopes of gaining a new perspective of what appeared to be nothing more than a crappy amusement park and a bunch of haunted houses in distant memory. First, however, food and wine are served en route.

Maple sugar ice cream at Cow's, in Niagara-on-the-Lake
Maple sugar ice cream at Cow’s, in Niagara-on-the-Lake
Reif Estate winery tasting room
Reif Estate winery tasting room

Holding a blue passport, I have to admit that the view is better on the Canadian side. (We still have better bacon.)

American Falls on the left and Horseshoe Falls shrouded on the right
American Falls on the left and Horseshoe Falls shrouded on the right

A blaze of fireworks at 10PM cap off the night, against the falls lit by neon lights. Life is a celebration after all – why not indulge a little?

Blazing fireworks above Niagara by Night
Blazing fireworks above Niagara by Night

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide

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