A Company-paid Trip To Toronto, Canada
Having worked for five consecutive years as a health care provider for elderly people in New York, my boss granted me an all expenses paid vacation trip to Toronto as a reward for all my efforts and hard work. I travelled with my work mates Myren and Mae to explore Canada’s largest city for ten days. It was a much needed rest and recreation; we truly enjoyed the experience of being in another place and culture. It was fun from the moment we landed at the Toronto Pearson International Airport after a forty minute flight from Buffalo Niagara International Airport. After being cleared at the Canadian Immigration, a service vehicle fetched and brought us to the Trump International Plaza where we had the best accommodation during our stay in Toronto. A grand vacation and five star hotel amenities, what more can I ask for? It was a luxurious elegant holiday!
I rented and drove a navy blue Honda Civic to easily tour around this beautiful city. Being great music fans, we started our tour by getting front row seats at the Roy Thomson Hall to enjoy the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. We were lucky enough to catch the Sarah McLachlan concert. It was a majestic performance; the acoustics inside the hall were simply stunning! The orchestra and the conductor were excellent. We had the best seat in the hall and it was spine chilling once the orchestra and Sarah McLachlan started their wonderful concert. Within proximity of this area we visited the nearby Princess of Wales Theater; I admire the old royalty setting of this well designed structure. It was very relaxing inside; the subdued lighting effects on the stage added a comfortable feel while we watch The Sound of Music. It is a large theater with interesting history. The acoustics inside the theater were equally impressive. The artistic mural in the lobby made by Frank Stella added to its allure and glam. When we get hungry from theater watching we head out to one of the oldest market in Toronto, the St. Lawrence Market. We enjoyed a sumptuous dinner at the wide array of food choices on its food shops. The sweet aroma wafts the air from the freshly baked sweet pastries and tarts of a French bakery inside the market. I had a bite of the nutritious Halibut sandwich (yummy!). The little kiosks at the market sell interesting items from all over the world. We shopped for souvenirs, cheese and clothing before heading back to our hotel.
On our second day we visited the Toronto Island Park, where we boarded a ferry to have a great view of the beaches and its surrounding parks and promenades. We had a great view of the coastline and the marvelous skyline lined with its tallest skyscrapers. It was fun to see kids enjoying the pedal powered swan boat rides at the Franklin Children’s Garden. This garden is a cute and ideal place for kids and families. While there we also checked out the old Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, when I read its memorial plaque I learned more about the historical importance of this lighthouse as it withstand the test of time guarding the marina of Toronto. We enjoyed a late afternoon stroll admiring the magnificent gardens and scenic views of the coastline at its boardwalk trails, plus a good coffee and snack at one of the fancy restaurants lined along the park.
After lunch we toured the High Park, where we get to admire a mix of nature and outdoor activities in one place. Being nature lovers this park did not disappoint us, I find it is the best place to chill, relax and admire Toronto’s natural beauty. The sight of the blooming cherry blossom trees was simply breathtaking! There is a mini zoo for kids in this park and a wide space to just walk around or sit on its shaded benches and just enjoy the sunset and go people watching. Later in the afternoon, we watched a brilliant performance of the Nutcracker at The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre. It is a lovely old theater laced with elaborate decorations on its interiors. I was particularly amused at its old but still operational Otis elevator. While touring the center, I learned more about the aspects of theater production and the interesting history of this old double decked theater. Before the day ended we checked out the Edwards Gardens to enjoy a leisurely stroll along its well maintained landscapes and admire the poignant views of a tranquil waterfall inside the park. The serenity and the colorful flora and fauna found inside this garden were an excellent way to spend the rest of the day. On this attraction we watched student riders learning to ride horses at the Sunnybrook Riding Stables. They offer beginner up to advanced classes for all aspiring equestrians. The garden also provides a good venue for weddings and special national events. Before we left we bought shirts and fridge magnet souvenirs at its gift shop.
The next day we visited the Royal Ontario Museum, it was a great way to have a deeper understanding of the Canadian culture and history. We spent half of the day exploring the many features of this large museum. It houses an impressive collection of dinosaurs, antique totem poles, stuffed animals, ancient artifacts, pottery collections, ornate statues and interactive activities. I took photographs of its gold toned ceilings which were laced with intricate Victorian designs. From here we checked out The Ago, The Art Gallery of Ontario, it is a newly renovated and premier art gallery that features special exhibitions of famous artists. We were fortunate enough to see and admire the works of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera during our visit. The best part was getting to see the artworks of Picasso. It is a beautiful building that clearly emphasized the greatness of the Canadian culture. Everything was amazing, even their staff and guides were friendly and accommodating. At night we did not fail to watch a unique black light and puppet performance of the talented artists at the Famous People Players Dinner Theatre. It was a thrill to watch a quality show while we enjoy a fine dining experience of the Canadian cuisine. The food was excellent and the performers were superb!
We drove the early morning of the next day to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame. It is a shrine for all the lovers of this trademark Canadian sport. We saw life size statues of famous hockey players, retired jerseys, old hockey memorabilia and equipments. I took pictures beside the most sought after award for hockey (the Stanley cup). We had fun playing hockey in the interactive game area. We learned more about the history of the sport as we browsed old articles, marquee posters, and used hockey pucks throughout the years. After here we went over for some rare book titles at the highly organized Toronto Public Library.
The highlight of our vacation was a visit to the world famous Niagara Falls Day Tour. We availed of the chariots of fire day trip package complete with a guide and stretch Cadillac with three other foreigners. Our first stop was a wine tasting at the Reif Estates Winery and a visit to a village called Niagara-on the Lake. We rode a red cable car to get to the center of the Niagara Whirlpool. The best part was riding the boat named Maid of the Mist that brought us to a closer view of the falls. All of these were great photo opportunities and honestly until now I still marvel at the experience of being close to one of the natural wonders of the world. We stayed around to watch the falls from the Aerial Sky Tower. After this we enjoyed a Peameal sandwich at a local Canadian cafe. We stayed until the night and watched the fireworks display near the falls, it looked more brilliant!
Toronto was a memorable vacation for me because it has everything happening everywhere. I give my thumbs up for its great mix of escape and adventure.
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