The weekend of November 14th to 16th saw 3 Rangers and 1 Guider setting off for three packed days in Toronto. We met at the Hamilton GO Station and were on the 9am bus headed to Union Station.
We arrived in Toronto about 10am and set out by subway and bus to check into our hotel. We stayed at the Super 8 Downtown on Spadina Avenue, so had easy access to everything we wanted to do. After checking in, we planned our day and headed out along Spadina to Queen Street in search of Graffiti Alley. What we saw was amazing - truly works of art.
Our next task was to find somewhere to eat lunch. There were a few different places, but we eventually decided to be adventurous and went to Nora's Shawarma. None of the Rangers had tried shawarma before, but everyone loved it! The eatery is nothing to look at from the outside and was very cramped and noisy inside - it is definitely where the locals eat and was excellent (as evidenced by the line up that was to the door the entire time we were there).
We spent the afternoon searching for Geocaches - with mixed success. Our searching took us to the Toronto Chinese Baptist Church ("Escape from Chinatown") and Butterfield Park, part of the Ontario School of Art and Design ("Coloured Pencils"). After this we explored Chinatown and visited the Ugly Christmas Sweater Store on Queen Street. We then took the streetcar along Queen's Quay to Union Station where we spent a little time people watching before heading to the CN Tower.
Our goal was to be able to look out over Toronto from the CN Tower in both daylight and at night. Luckily, the sun came out briefly after we got up to the observation level, so we were able to get our daylight photos. As the light faded, we went down to the glass floor (which we all stood, sat and/or lay on) and went out on the outside terrace - which was very windy. We then went up to the Skypod at the top and looked out on the whole city in the dark - which we repeated when we got back down to the observation level.
We had a dinner reservation at The Old Spaghetti Factory, so that was our next stop. For those who haven't been there, the eclectic decor starts in the lobby with stained glass, comfy chairs, and a chandelier. The food was amazing - the Rangers all had chicken parmagiana and I (their Guider) had fettuccine alfredo with chicken. All entrees come with soup or salad, fresh bread with garlic butter, ice cream and tea or coffee. This restaurant is definitely on our list to visit again.
Our morning started out with an alarm of some sort that made sure we were all up and ready to make an early start. After breakfast, we decided to go geocaching. We visited Osgoode Hall ("Osgood as it gets"), the Canadian Opera Company ("OS 6 Seen from the Shangri La") and the Hospital for Sick Children ("A Place to feel better"), all with no success. Then our luck changed and we found two caches at the University of Toronto, one at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy building ("The Pill Box") and one on College Street ("Zen on College").
Our next stop was Tim Hortons for a hot drink and a snack, then we headed for BMV Books on Bloor Street. This is an amazing store with three floors of books and a lower level with records, DVDs and magazines. It is a mixture of new and used material and everything is 50% of more off the cover/sticker price. This was a hugely successful stop and everyone came away with more than one book.
After a brief stop at the hotel to drop off our books, we headed down to the Distillery District to make sure we knew where we would be going at night. The area is lovely with the original signage and cobbled streets.
We then headed for Dundas Square where we had an early dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. Staying in Dundas Square, we attended Illuminite, the amazing tree-lighting celebration put on by the Downtown Young Business Improvement Area. The celebration included performances by musicians, dancers, and even vertical dance - dancers dancing on the walls of a building using harnesses.
Our final stop of the night was a Haunted Walk in the Distillery District. The walk we went on wound throughout the Distillery District and was called "Ghosts and Spirits of Old Town". We all enjoyed the walk and the tales of the various buildings. As a history lover, I really enjoyed the historical information and context that was provided, bringing each tale from its origins to the present day.
After breakfast we finished packing and took all of our cases downstairs, where one of the girls' families had generously offered to pick up everything so we didn't have to find a place to store things for the day.
We spent the morning working on the Photo Scavenger Hunt and geocaching. Our stops included the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (stone snowmen?), Roundhouse Park (a train accident?), CN Tower, Rogers Centre (stopped to find a geocache - "Let's Go, Blue Jays"), CBC Building, John Street, Metro Hall, PATH System, Canada's Walk of Fame, Roy Thompson Hall (stopped to find a geocache - "Car On A Hill"), British Phone Booth on Simcoe Street,
Next up was the highlight of the weekend - attending the Toronto Santa Clause Parade! we were able to a spot on University Avenue, sitting on the road so had a front-row view of everything. There were some really neat floats