My friend Ellen came to town for a vacation. Before coming, she had mentioned that she had a friend in Toronto that she wanted to see and I proposed a road trip to Toronto. I also suggested (strongly) that we take bikes and ride around while there, since this was my favorite activity when I was in New York.
The first thing I learned is the Toronto is closer than I thought. It’s about the same as driving to Pittsburgh. However, there is one big difference and it’s called the 401. The 401 is apparently the most traffic-jammed expressway in the entire world. And after I had just said that we were making great time, things slowed to a crawl and we spent a rather long time traveling at 7 mph. However, once we arrived, it was great. (Interestingly, I had no cell service as soon as I entered Canada and Ellen doesn’t have a smart phone. So we managed to arrive without having a definite map. Somehow, Google Maps still sort of worked, even with no service.)
We stayed with Cara and Andy, friends of Ellen and their two cats. The cats freaked me out a bit, but after banning them from the room where we were sleeping, it was ok. We did a lot of talking about similarities and differences between Chicago and Toronto. And I got a good lesson in Canadian politics.
Ellen and I broke out the bikes and planned to bike to a Toronto landmark called Casa Loma. Cara gave us directions and told us that Casa Loma was not a castle but just a house. (This is because there is no royalty in Canada, which a castle requires.) We took off, also noting that this was the first time Ellen was going to be biking in traffic, so we went a bit slowly. We thought we were at the location of Casa Loma, based on my limited Google Map info and thinking we had followed the directions. We were at a really big house that had people working in front of it, so being a tourist, I parked my bike and took a picture. We then biked around a bit more before heading back to Cara’s house. We told her of our adventure and after some time, I showed her the picture I took. She looked at me and said, “That’s not Casa Loma”. Ellen and I were like, sure it is, we went where you told us. A very, very long discussion took place to then determine where we were and to convince us that we truly did not see Casa Loma. We ended up not seeing Casa Loma for a few more days, when we drove by it. Below are the pictures that I took of “Not Casa Loma” and “Casa Loma”. This pretty much established the theme of our trip, which we decided was “Not Casa Loma”.
Andy is a regular bike commuter and was happy to give me a tour of Toronto. I greatly looked forward to this and we took a great ~17 mile ride all over Toronto (http://cyclemeter.com/7dd8b7bec357e3ac/Cycle-20150725-1325). The Pan Am Games were also happening in Toronto, so we got to see the bike race while we were riding around. We didn’t plan on it, but as we were biking, we saw the race go by. We also rode on a new bike path which was great. And I found out that Toronto was a bit hillier than I thought it would be. (Side note, if you’re moving uphill, you’re probably heading north.)
Andy also plays trombone in a jazz band that had a gig on Sunday at the Beaches International Jazz Festival. So we got to see that and it was great.
So overall it was a great trip. And I hope to get back there again soon. My pictures are here.