What I found in Toronto during a random walk...

2017-03-30

When I am visiting someplace new, I like to go for a walk....  Sometimes it is a subconscious thing, almost like a radar kicking in, like what happened when I visited Victoria to help with the Canadian University Cross-Country Championships and found a dozen ice cream places within a six-block radius....

And sometimes it can get me in trouble, like the time I went for a hike near the Columbia Icefields and found myself on a severe slope having rock the consistency of dried icing (i.e.:  the top layer was about to fall away, with me along), or when I thought a good spot for some pictures of a total lunar eclipse and Halley's Comet near Sydney, Australia would be an ocean-side cliff trail... and had one of my legs disappear (completely) into a hole that might have been from coral thousands of years before.  (Ever try to get your leg out of ancient coral when the only sound that can be heard is the ocean, louder than any cries for help you might be able to muster?.....)

So... On March 28, I decided to go for a bit of a walk in Toronto, maybe to find a good spot to jot on some postcards, maybe to discover something not mentioned in the "Where" or "UP" magazines....

The first meandering started in the afternoon, possibly for the purpose of finding a flash drive (to which some "Niece Wedding Part II" videos needed to be copied).  I made my way from Union Station, noticing a couple of places that might be options for dinner (which needed to be contemplated, because the train scheduled to leave at ten in the evening was already under a three-hour postponement notice).  No particular direction in mind, I came across the "Sunset Grill", which looked a bit different from a "bite to eat" perspective.  That they had a screen door for an entrance straight out of a 1960s home decorated by Humphrey's Aluminum Windows, I decided to give it a try.

That "Sunset Grill" makes things fresh was best demonstrated by the chicken club house sandwich I ordered.  It is rare there is any warmth provided by a standard club house sandwich (save the smile of the waitress serving it to you).  The "Sunset Grill" version was served hot off the grill -- the bacon was hot, the chicken was hot.  It was almost a revelation, that a club house sandwich should not be a cold nor lukewarm sandwich.

But the reason to mention "Sunset Grill" is not just because they made a good club house sandwich...  It is also because... well... I had barely started eating when another customer walked in and one of the workers mentioned "Sorry, we're closing...." It was not even three in the afternoon, and "Sunset Grill" was closing.  If your name is "Sunset Grill", should it not be necessary that you be open until, oh, you know, sunset?  That, or change your name to "Sunrise Grill" if you are more about serving breakfast and maybe some items for lunch time.  Or maybe the name should be "Grill Until We Figure We Need to Clear Out to Beat Rush Hour on the 401...".....

Across from the "Sunset Grill" is an entrance to one of those basement-level shopping-and-food things that never go right in Edmonton.  (Really:  When was the last time YOU visited McCauley Plaza?....)  To do the place justice, you really need to walk it in two directions, because otherwise you miss the places that are hidden behind the escalator.  Oh, and walking it in two directions helps you find out that you will, indeed, be walking in circles, because the layout is a ring with the food court in one corner.

Behind the escalators is a print services shop.  Nobody at the counter, and one fellow working way at the back, but if you ask "Excuse me, do you have any flash drives for sale?...", you will hear a female voice -- clear as though she is standing beside you -- say "No!!" (I guessed she gets that question a lot....)

Back outside...  A few blocks away is one of the approaches at the base of the CN Tower.  One of the signs leading to the delivery level must be made from rubber, because it sticks out and was being caught by more than one truck.  The pedestrian walkway is having some work done, so it looks like it is closed, but patience and staying on the left leads you to the main entrance...

...and a vista that includes the railway museum and the Steam Whistle Brewery.  Hmm... Would it be appropriate for someone from Alberta -- given that the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (an agency of the Government of Alberta) is being sued by Steam Whistle -- to visit the Steam Whistle Brewery... at all... even if the Albertan did not say anything... or do anything... or, you know, channel somebody?.....  (I later noticed that there was a tour in progress, and decided it would be a bad thing to scare any of the children.)

The base of the CN Tower is a warm place to be when the sun is shining during the mid-afternoon.  Might have something to do with all that concrete -- in the Tower, not just the plaza -- being a natural (I mean, man-made) heat sink.  Hint:  The trees on the west side offer some shade.

The creatures in the plaza area are comfortable with people -- I was visited by one pigeon a few times.  (Note to self:  Carrying partial small boxes of TimBits probably attracts pigeons.)  A large black-haired squirrel also took interest, but did not seem as fascinated by people-watching....

The Tower plaza (which also includes the entrance to Ripley's Aquarium) is a prime area for people-watching.  "Daddy, can we go into the tower?...."  "Mom...  Mom...  Mom...  Mom...  Mom...  Mom...."  "I am never taking my coat off again ever...."  [Unable to translate what was being exchanged between the boyfriend trying to take pictures of her and the girlfriend who was too tired to smile for all of these pictures....]

The outside video for Ripley's Aquarium shows a number of fun things ("Wanna pet a manta ray?...").  Admission fee is over thirty dollars for an adult -- perhaps a bit steep if you only have a couple of hours to kill (even if they do need to feed a lot of fish).

The core of the rail museum is an old roundhouse (which was used to help turn around and store locomotives).  (By the way, why do we call them locomotives?  Why not locomotors?  Or locomobiles, like how it is for automobiles?....)  Too early for parts of it to be open, but the available presentations provide a good overview of interesting aspects of railway operations a century and more ago (and even more recently -- some things were still manually done within the last three decades).

It is easy to be distracted by the CN Tower (which, by the way, has a stunning wine list in the restaurant).  Walking towards the east brings you to the Air Canada Centre which -- based on the number of people either wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey or offering tickets -- is the new place for hockey in town.  Finding out who is playing can be a challenge (no sign indicating upcoming events), but there is a Telus store next store offering access to the interweb.

After you get lost in Union Station...  Back to the north side.  While trying to find a Staples (hint:  King Street, but do not look for a box store version like we have in Alberta -- multi-level is more likely), you might come across "Bob's Bulgogi".  Really makes you think of excellent Korean food, doesn't it?  "Bob's" is much more Korean than "House", don't you think?

A few blocks away is the Metropolitan United Church.  On one side are some places that might scare you ("This must be the start of the bad side of town...").  Walk around the church, to see the faintest hint of stained glass (obscured by the evidence of air pollution).  On the north side is a similarly-old building, with a fašade (on the east side) with a two-level mural.  North of that is one of the larger Catholic Churches -- more hints of stained glass, but hidden behind pollution-stained windows.  Between the construction-restoration fencing and the church fencing, not clear how/where one enters for soulful purposes.)

A couple of blocks east brings you to one of the entrances to Eaton Centre.  (Yes, still called that, even though one of the anchors is now Nordstrom.) It is a different version of an urban mall, with changing levels.  On the bottom level is a jewelry place called "Bitter Sweet", which is in a straight line with "La Senza".  Still trying to figure out the message being suggested.....

Back outside...  if you can find it, because the changing levels of Eaton Centre mean that you can find yourself at the subway level even though you thought you were back at the street level.  The HMV store is closing -- at least four levels of music sighs....  (Even the sign is for sale.)

By coincidence, the Ed Mirvish Theatre is nearby.  (Coincidence, because of the closing of "Crazy Ed's" a few months ago -- the plan for the sign is to incorporate it at the Ed Mirvish Theatre (somehow).)

That side opposite from Eaton Centre also has Popeyes Louisiana [something].  No line-up at nine at night, which means that -- given a 2.5-day train trip -- it is easier to get into than the one that has recently opened in Edmonton.....

Another plaza nearby.  One side is by Ryerson University, another side has a series of vehicles getting an early start on Cannabis legalization.  Overlooking the view is the Bond Place Hotel.  (Did not have a chance to ask the front desk how many people register using "James".)

This is Yonge Street (read somewhere that it was once in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest street in the world).  It has a variety of food options.  One of the more interesting is a multi-level place that has Carribean on one level, Indian on another, and waffles off to the side.  (Be careful which door you walk into, lest you accidentally go into the Zanzibar.....)

Across the street is Thai on Yonge, which is on the second floor.  With the way the windows overlook the street, it is a good place to people-watch.  Never gave any thought to whether Thai iced tea has sugar, butIguessmaybeithasabitofsugarokayokayokaymaybeithasalotofsugarbutthatisokaybecausewhatisthepointofhavinganyicedteaifitdoesnotinvolveanysugarorevenalotofsugar?.....

Across from the Thai on Yonge is "Remingtons Men of Steel".  The pictures are a bit like you would see if there was a male equivalent of La Senza.  However... When it is after ten at night and you notice that the Open sign is flashing, it might be a hint that the place has nothing to do with selling men's clothing....

When you leave Thai on Yonge, probably a good thing to ensure you go down the stairs rather than accidentally going up to the third floor.....

Back to the waffle place... Wanda's Fresh Baked Waffles -- in addition to offering crepes and waffles and crepes and ice cream and waffles and ice cream -- has a BitCoin vending machine.  Did not know there was such a thing as a vending machine for BitCoin, but there it is.....  Oh, and the large clock with teacups-and-saucers for the hour marks.

As one meanders back to Union Station (if, you know, going back on the other side of the street (to see what might have been missed) is meandering), one street you will cross is Temperance Street.  Not sure which is the larger irony -- how close it is to the beer brewing area, or how short the street is... or that it is a short walk from Firkin on Yonge.  ("Firkin" is a measurement of beer; Firkin on Yonge appears to be an English-style pub.)

Snack time needs to be planned for if you are in downtown Toronto -- there are not too many places that are open late that would provide the basics if one did not already have Thai iced tea.  Nevertheless, there can be some interesting finds.  (When did Canada Dry start offering Island Lime... or Pineapple... or Blackberry?....)

If you are looking for a 120-year-old baby grand piano and grand piano combination made by the Heintzman company, there is a sign in the window of the Galerie Christin that might be of interest.

The road on the north side of Union Station appears to be a no-stopping zone (which is funny -- how are you supposed to drop someone off at a train station if you are not allowed to stop in front of the station).  Good area to hear taxis honking horns at each other... or to overhear one person say to another "Aren't you going to come in with me?...."

Anyway, those are just a few things that might be noticed while walking around part of Toronto, Ontario.....

Adios for now....

      Vernon


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Posted 2022-03-26.