Toronto – Canada’s Largest City
As you all know, my childhood pen-pal from Brazil has been here since March 31st so I have been super busy travelling around and seeing the sights with her. For the first time since her arrival, I finally have a little bit of downtime and wanted to share with you some of our adventures. Over the next week I will do travel posts about our time together in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City.
For starters, I will begin with Toronto. Toronto is Canada’s largest city with a population of just 2.6 million. The Greater Toronto Area (GTA), the metropolitan area of Toronto has a population of approximately 6 million.
A four hour drive from Ottawa makes this a bit of a trek, but with Samira loving big cities, it was a can’t miss for her. Coming from Sao Paulo, she was used to larger city centres than what Ottawa has to offer. Sao Paulo, Brazil has a city population of nearly 12 million and a metropolitan population of nearly 20 million!!! For reference…Sao Paulo has more people than New York City, the largest city in the United States.
We stayed at a hostel downtown called Clarence Castle, just a 6 minute walk from the Roger’s Centre (where the Blue Jays play) and the CN Tower.
We paid $100/night for a room with a double bed, private bathroom, free wi-fi and parking. You can’t get a hotel in downtown Toronto for this, so it was a pretty good deal for two people. Just don’t expect a hotel quality room, because it is still a hostel. We had a TV in our room, but it only had about 4 channels and no remote control. Not to mention the bed squeaked and squealed like crazy with just the slightest amount of pressure. Not cool if you or your roommate moves around a lot in the night.
The CN tower,the tallest building in the America’s, was the tallest structure in the world until 2007. It has since been surpassed by China and Dubai. The CN Tower offers many tour packages for tourists. You can visit just the observation level, do a full tower tour, or do a combination tour to see 2 tower features. Samira and I opted for the full tower tour, which gave us access to the basic observation level (114 stories), the glass floor, the skypod (view from 147 stories up), the simulator ride as well as a 3D movie. For the full package, you would pay $35.99 before taxes, per person. (For reference – just the observation level and glass floor, cost $23.99 plus taxes per person.)
And if you love shopping, Queen Street is just a 10 minute walk from the hostel where you can enjoy popular stores as well as some unique boutiques. You may remember, this is also where you can find one of the three MAC Pro stores in Canada. If you just can’t get enough shopping, The Eaton Centre (the largest shopping mall in downtown Toronto) is a 26 minute walk from Clarence Castle or a 7 minute drive. This mall has everything a shopping addict would ever need including a number of stores not available in some other Canadian cities. (Such as Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch, H&M, etc) But be prepared, if you are visiting the Eaton Centre on a weekday, the parking is $3.00/half an hour to a daily maximum of $23.00, whereas on Saturday or Sunday, it only costs $6.oo/day.
Casa Loma is another must see in Toronto. Located downtown, it was only a 10 minute drive from our hostel and an easy site to visit on our way out of the city. Parking is $3.00/hour, so prepare to pay for 2 hours (this will give you a lot of time to explore). This majestic castle in the heart of Toronto has an admission fee of $20.55 per adult including taxes. With this entrance fee, it includes an audio-guide so you can enjoy a self-guided visit of this gem. Built from 1911-1914 and originally serving as a residence for Sir Henry Pellatt, Casa Loma now acts as a city landmark and museum. This was my favourite part of our visit to Toronto and I highly recommend the audio guide tour to anyone and everyone. I had been to Casa Loma before, but never inside. The exterior is very picturesque and beautiful, but I can’t express enough to you how much more incredible the experience was with a full tour of Casa Loma. So if you are debating paying the entrance fee and visiting the inside of Casa Loma, please trust me and DO IT! The building itself was stunning and fascinating and the story of Sir Henry Pellatt and Casa Loma will take you back to a different time and leave you in awe. Be sure to climb up the tower for views of the Toronto skyline and don’t miss out on exploring all of the secret passageways!
I hope you enjoyed my little sneak peek at Toronto, Canada’s largest city. Samira and I certainly enjoyed exploring it. You can never see everything, but we certainly scraped the surface.
Thanks for reading!
Abraços e Beijos,