Thursday, September 10, 2015

A mini tour of Toronto, for your armchair convenience

Early Sunday morning on Labour Day weekend we decided to take advantage of our new digs, and walk to Harbourfront through the downtown core's PATH system of underground shopping lanes.  You need something like that in a city that gets super cold in winter, and you appreciate it on blistering hot summer days too.  Whew!

We started in this building, whose name I chronically forget:

It opens onto Yonge Street, and is near both Union Station and a lot of hotels, and is the home of the ever-popular Hockey Hall of Fame... plus, it has a really nice cafeteria-style restaurant at one end, so in summer there are always as many vacationing families in here as there are business people.  But really, it's part of some serious office tower space.  It is also very special because it shelters the facade of an old bank entrance.

Truly: I never get tired of looking at this thing. 

From here we took the escalators down a level and walked through PATH to Union Station, the big train hub that also houses our GO (Government of Ontario) transit system.  It's thanks to the GO that friends living just out of town are able to get into the city for special events or casual visits, and since I now live a ten minute walk away, there have been way more of the latter than usual.  The GO is also how the majority of downtown's daytime population gets to work, and the crowds here in rush hour are impressive.

The big deal for us about PATH this summer is that we'd heard there was a way to get almost all the way to Harbourfront - as in, the lake - without stepping outside, and we were determined on this particular day to find the route.  But first, I had to stop to check out the front of Union, where there is an impressive outdoor food market (all scheduled to open an hour later than our visit, sadly.)

So: back in we went, further south to the Air Canada Centre, where you can see such shows as Cirque de Soleil and Madonna, Stevie Wonder, and - hey! Paul McCartney is playing here in October!  Wow.  And just to the right of the big interior doors to the ACC, we found it: the elevated, covered walkway south.

It goes right over an offramp from the Gardiner Expressway:

which I can assure you is a lot busier at just about every other time of the week.

The walk was easy and kind of fun and passed through a condo still under construction which would be an amazing place to live if you worked downtown: you'd never have to set foot outside unless the weather was actually appealing, even to see Paul McCartney.  Depending on how long it takes to finish the thing, I guess.

PATH ended across the street from where you can buy tickets for a cruise around the Toronto Islands, and there's a nice view of the CN Tower, once the tallest building in the world.

Very soon we were strolling along the shoreline of Lake Ontario. 

Even at that early hour, the water was alive with boats of all sizes.

Including some canoes and kayaks, which I wondered about until I found the supply.

You know, many years ago my friend Bob got me a job with his company, housed in what was at the time one of the only Harbourfront buildings.  It was windswept and barren and nothing like this at all.  I mean, condos all along the shoreline, and colourful boats to rent?  Hilly shady parks with comfy chairs in the distance?

And not just any chairs, but chairs set into sand under yellow umbrellas.

Wish I worked down here now.

By the time we hit the umbrellas we had had enough of the unrelenting sun and heat and we turned northward again, crossing the street and walking up a block to the Rogers Centre, formerly known as 'SkyDome' because the roof opens up on nice days like this one.  There are concerts here too sometimes but right now, it's all about the Blue Jays, our baseball team, which is doing incredibly well at the moment. I took this picture about two hours before the day's game was supposed to start, and this was just the beginning of the flood of blue T shirts.

I didn't get a picture of any of this part, but I have to tell you the crowds were evenly split between Jays fans in full regalia, and people attending a fan convention.  The costumes and special-effects makeup people had on were AMAZING - really professional quality, and so unexpected, and so very hot-looking, especially since they were streaming past us from GO transit and had obviously come a long way.  They all made me smile, which I felt was wrong on my part because they had to be suffering terribly, but they looked so awesome I couldn't help myself.

Just east of the Rogers Centre and the Ripley's Aquarium is the entrance to SkyWalk - shady, air conditioned SkyWalk - which is another elevated walkway.  This one goes over the train tracks, where I spotted our new Pearson Express train at its special platform.  The Pearson Express is a very welcome addition to the transit system - a very fast train that runs between Union Station and the Toronto's main airport with impressive frequency.

When you get into SkyWalk, there's another high glass ceiling like the one we came in on...

... but it's tough to beat the ceiling inside Union.

Oh Union Station, I love you so.  And MAN did I spend a lot of time here as a student, waiting for trains home.

So: thinking about a trip to Toronto yet? 

(see you tomorrow, either way!)


Mimi said...

How interesting! The only "path" around here is the one that runs down through our cow pasture.

Mary Keenan said...

Heh :^) PATH in Toronto is like a corn maze - you can get lost in there in no time. My goal for this year downtown is to learn every inch of it!