What do Lake Michigan, Lake Ontario, the Empire State Building, the Blue Ridge Parkway and Alabama blueberries have in common?
They are all part of a long vacation away from home, connected by the highways we are traveling this July.
We begin our driving journey on July 3 by traveling from Wisconsin through Detroit to a neighboring suburb of Toronto, part one of our summer trip.
The next day, July 4, we connect with some old friends in one of Toronto’s suburbs, Oakville, and walk by the lakeshore, historic buildings, and charming downtown area. We also enjoy a nice lunch at an Indian restaurant together and catch up.
From there, we park our cars at the train station, to take the train for Toronto. Of course, there’s no better way to view a large city than by zipping up its largest building, which in Toronto, happens to be the world’s third largest self-supporting tower, the CN Tower.
The elevator ride up is surprisingly quick. The Toronto skyline goes on for miles.
While viewing the city below, we see a small airplane land on a tiny airstrip near the water’s edge.
One section of an enclosed portion of the floor is made entirely of glass. From way up high, we look down to see people looking like ants on the streets, and full-sized cars that look like matchbox cars. We can even see above the Toronto Blue Jays stadium, where the players are warming up for a game!
Toronto is a beautiful city. The buildings and architecture are fascinating. The city is clean and its people are polite.
One of the most striking things about Toronto is the people. The people are from everywhere in the world. I hear so many accents and observe so many different cultural and ethnic identities, I don’t even know how many. It is utterly amazing. English (nor French) is not the main language I hear, though it is widely spoken.
The kids also enjoy Toronto. We all find it to be an engaging, interesting place to visit and to be.
The subway/train rides are pleasant, clean, and enjoyable from Oakville to Toronto, and back.
At the mall, every worker seems to be from a different country. One of the small and pleasant surprises of the day is that the manager of the Greek restaurant in the food court makes the extra effort to accommodate us by making a special allergy-free meal for my son (grilled chicken with salad). I don’t eat in malls very often, so I can’t say truly how readily I could get this kind of helpful service in most malls, but my gut tells me that so much of the food is already seasoned and prepared in large quantities with set ingredients, so that these places are not usually able to accommodate special requests like mine. I am so incredibly thankful– since I happened to leave my son’s food in the cooler in the car, which is parked at the subway station 40 minutes away in the Oakville suburb.
My daughter makes a new friend, as she and the daughter of our friend click and enjoy spending time together.
I have to admit, I was hesitant to visit Toronto. I have visited, traveled through, (and lived in) a few large cities in my life (including London and Madrid). Though I enjoy traveling and seeing new places, I thought Toronto would be a concrete jungle (truthfully, it is still a bit of that), but a hard, dirty, ugly place with much that would be depressing.
Instead, I found Toronto to be a vibrant, fun, polite, clean, multicultural, and cosmopolitan city– one I would not mind visiting again and getting to know.
Trips change me. Leaving my usual place and seeing something new shifts the perspective and opens my eyes a bit. Seeing a large place with so many people helps to enlarge my vision. Life has been full of many changes the past few months, and the change in scenery is greatly beneficial.
We arrive back in our hotel late that night, exhausted, but full, happy, safe and blessed… with new friendships, new perspectives, new sights and sounds from another part of this world, and dream about the adventures of the day ahead….
*** The photo credits go to my daughter, N, for her amazing pictures.