So much beauty out there

January 19, 2010

More idle observations on Toronto

Ok. Now the big attraction in Toronto is the CN Tower. And when I say big, I mean big. Well, actually I mean tall. It’s very tall. In the last couple of years it’s been overtaken by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, but until then it was the tallest building in the world. Actually, it being overtaken may cause some problems. The signs pointing to the CN tower say something along the lines of “this way to the top of the world”. Presumably they will have to be moved round to point to the airport.

However, although it’s very tall, and really rather pretty, it doesn’t look tall enough to be the tallest (or second tallest) building in the world. I imagine that being something you can barely see the top of. Perhaps it’s partly because it’s surrounded by lots of other tall buildings makes it stand out less. If it was the only structure above 2 stories, maybe it’d seem more incredible.

Speaking of other tall buildings, many of them have signs by them saying “Beware of falling ice”. This raises two questions for me. Firstly, what are you supposed to do about it? Walk with your head constantly looking upwards? That’d be pretty dangerous in itself, not to mention slightly impractical. Secondly, what exactly is the risk of being struck by falling ice? Do Canadian news programmes feature segments where the newsreader says “17 people were killed today on the streets of Toronto by falling ice. Experts explain this relatively low figure by saying that police advice to wear steel helmets whenever you go outside is being listened to.”

Also went to the distillery district, which isn’t as riotous as it sounds. Instead it’s some very attractive, old-fashioned Victorian red brick architecture which has been converted mainly into arts spaces. I really liked it. Obviously Toronto isn’t going to have medieval buildings, but even fairly recent historical architecture can be interesting as long as its sensibly adapted. Unfortunately, it’s a little too far from the centre for many people to just drop in on, and not quite big enough to be worth an excursion to, so I suspect it’s fairly quiet most of the time.


  1. Hello! I thought I’d check out other travel-related blogs since i’m writing one, and yours was right there – interesting to me because I’ve wondered how Toronto looks to tourists; I’m not objective since it’s the first big city I got to know, living nearby… but on my return in December from 3 months in Europe I couldn’t help wanting to compare it to the cities there. It’s a different world, a culture where the standard of “old” is so much younger than most old things in Europe, and so few things are, at that! Toronto is a great city, but I think you may be right, it’s not so tourist-focused. It’s all about business, commerce, entertainment, technology and all that, and also community and activism, but it seems much more like a place where people just live, compared to everywhere in Europe that was full of travellers. Toronto is full of immigrants, though; very multi-cultural, as no doubt you know.

    It does have its attractions, however. Lots of great parks – not so great as if you were here in summer, but still good if you like to wander – Trinity Bellwoods, High Park, and Dufferin Grove which has some amazing community-built structures and a terrific market in the summer. Also Evergreen Brickworks, though, again, I don’t know how much is still going on there in the winter.

    One thing you could do which is actually winter-appropriate is go underground at any point and see how far across the city you can get without coming up. If you get lost, you can survive down there for weeks :)

    And if you’re staying around long enough, there’s also Wintercity and Winterlicious coming up, which can be great fun!

    As for Shoppers Drug Mart, it never struck me as odd until I was in the States once and mentioned something about it and got a weird look. Funny the things you take for granted! I’m sure many Canadians have the same reaction to the term “chemist” as I do – a mental picture of a guy in a white lab coat and goggles, surrounded by bubbling test tubes.

    Your experience at the US border sounds terrible but, I’m sorry to say, completely typical. Though I’ve never been fingerprinted, I was once interrogated (they took me and my mother in separately) when on my way to visit my grandmother. Crossing the border is always the worst part of a trip – good thing it happens at the beginning, so I can recover by the time I have to come home.

    Hope you enjoy the rest of your time in Toronto! :)

    Comment by emole — January 20, 2010 @ 4:30 am | Reply

    • Hey, emole. Thanks for the comments. Have you started your blog yet? What’s the URL?

      Yeah, it’s a bit of a difficult balancing act, when I’m trying to assess Toronto as a place to live to not compare it to the beautiful historical cities of Europe. Naturally it’s not going to be as beautiful as Granada or Prague, but ultimately that’s only one factor among many, and it’s clearly got a lot going for it.

      Cheers for the recommendations. Will definitely be around for some of Wintercity, so will check that out.
      The US border thing wasn’t too bad, in fact had I actually been going to the US it would have been entirely reasonable. But it’s always a release to moan a bit!

      Comment by Josh — January 20, 2010 @ 5:12 pm | Reply

      • Hey, Josh! Yes, I have started my blog, it’s here: but it’s undergoing massive renovations at the moment. I’ll publish it again soon when I have more to show for it! Hope you’re having a good time and dodging all those ice-bombs successfully ;).

        Comment by emole — January 21, 2010 @ 10:55 pm | Reply

        • Cool. Look forward to reading it when it’s up and running.

          Comment by Josh — January 23, 2010 @ 1:18 am | Reply

  2. It’s true, our news reporters do love to chat about the near misses from falling ice. I don’t recall any fatalities, but the mere thought of being rendered unconscious by a heavy object falling from the sky, in the classic stylings of a Warner Bros. cartoon, fascinates the Toronto public. I suggest you carry a very sturdy umbrella.

    Comment by runshorts — January 20, 2010 @ 4:46 am | Reply

    • You see the mental image I have is of stalactites dropping down like spears and ripping straight through the umbrellas. Basically I’m just going to be in constant terror going around downtown.

      Comment by Josh — January 20, 2010 @ 5:15 pm | Reply

      • Truthfully, you are more likely to experience flattening from the side of a building tumbling down than you are a dramatic implaling by icicle. The umbrella is for the illusion of safety, not for actual safety. This is why I run on the road, far away from overhead dangers.

        Comment by runshorts — January 21, 2010 @ 4:05 am | Reply

  3. Hey, rumshots – do you remember that day about 3 years ago – I think it was in early March even – when there was some crazy storm and the news all day was basically about how we shouldn’t even go outside? There was all this threat, not just of ice, but of power lines being snapped by snow and falling down and electrocuting innocent passsersby. (Though I don’t know if anyone was actually killed.) I was in an intensive course at the time and they closed the school for the day.

    Comment by emole — January 20, 2010 @ 4:50 am | Reply

    • Weird, but I don’t remember that. Maybe I was zapped by a dangling power line and am amnestic for the entire event.

      Comment by runshorts — January 21, 2010 @ 4:06 am | Reply

  4. I liked the distillery district a lot, sorry I forgot to tip you off about it.

    Comment by Ian — January 20, 2010 @ 2:02 pm | Reply

  5. Hey, Hope you are having a fab time. My advice for the ice is to wear a bike helmet (as strangely all the people in your photo are doing). You don’t actually have to ride the bike… you may feel a little stupid, but could always claim that your bike was just around the corner/had been stolen. Or alternatively, get a bike !!

    Comment by Lucy — January 21, 2010 @ 9:44 pm | Reply

    • Good thinking. Actually it’s so warm here by Toronto standards that there really isn’t any ice to fall at the moment. But I live in hope.

      Comment by Josh — January 21, 2010 @ 11:39 pm | Reply

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