Canada Day 63-65: Exploring Toronto

Day 63 Rest and Relaxation

I headed to the Vietnamese district to get some pho (rice noodles in a beef broth) and try a Canadian classic, the butter tart, at the bakery too. I’m quite a food driven person, so getting authentic Asian food is an easy way to boost my morale and curb any feelings of homesickness, without blowing my budget. My big ticket item for the day was an hour long massage, to iron out the knots in my body which I had accumulated over the past 4600km and 260 hours in the saddle. I had a lot of tension in my shoulders and neck from gripping the handlebars and constantly checking my mirror and over my shoulder for traffic.

After a nap and a shower, I headed into town to meet a former colleague, who moved to Canada on a two year working visa. He had adjusted well to his new home and took me to some awesome food spots, combining waffles with fried chicken and an ice cream shop around the corner too. It was so good to talk to a friend and learn about his experiences of moving to Canada and laugh over the little things that seem so strange for us Aussies.

Day 64 Exploring Downtown Toronto

I did a lot of walking today and ventured into town to see some cool stuff like the Old Distillery District, the Lawrence Market and the Kensington Market. The day was broken up with lots of food stops and checking out parks and street art throughout the city. There was such a mix of different cultures and it was really hard to pick the places I could see in such a short space of time.

I met up with Natasha, a fellow cycle tourer who also stayed at my friend Julius’ place in Winnipeg. Unfortunately she was hit by a car shortly after leaving Winnipeg and had to finish her cross Canada trip early. She had been recovering for a few weeks and was still in good spirits, surprisingly she was browsing new bikes and keen to get back on the bike soon. Even though cycling across Canada is quite popular, it involves sharing roads with cars and trucks for most of the journey, which has been much riskier compared to my other tours.

Natasha met me at the Aga Khan Museum, which houses centuries of Islamic art and history. She’s a member of the museum and we both got in for free and it was quite extraordinary. It reminded me of my last tour, when I stopped in Turkey and was in awe of the beautiful and intricate architecture and craftsmanship. I caught the bus back home and listened to some music along the way. Even though it was a rest day, I still felt really tired, the longer distances in Canada demand a lot more recovery and my body probably just wanted to lie down and do nothing.

Day 65 Niagara Falls 

Today was definitely one of the highlights of my trip, I was blown away by Niagara Falls, even though I’d seen plenty of photos and videos from other people. While the tourist strip was really cheesy, like a mini Las Vegas, it was easy to avoid, except for the Beaver Tails, which I had been meaning to try for a while.

I didn’t realise that there were actually two waterfalls, the American Falls on the US side and the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side. I went on the boat that takes you right up to the waterfalls (the Hornblower for Canadian side or the Maid of the Mist for the US side) and it was so incredible to see it up close and feel the spray of the water. The sheer power of the waterfalls seemed endless and it was so peaceful to just watch the water flow down the river.

The bus ride back to Toronto took a while, particularly because the city is known for its horrendous traffic and insanely busy highway system, which has one section that is 16 lanes wide. Luckily I arrived an hour before Art Gallery of Ontario closed, which has free entry on Wednesday nights. I really enjoyed seeing the Canadian art, especially because it captured the wonderful landscapes that I had cycled through as well as the winter side, which I have yet to experience. Afterwards I had dinner and headed back home, where I spotted a raccoon as it scampered up a tree. Even though they’re pests and like to eat trash, I still find them cartoonish and cute, although they’re a lot bigger than I expected.

It was my last night in Toronto, but I only had a four day stretch to reach Ottawa, where I would reunite with my cycling friends from a week ago. With only two more weeks in Canada, it was hard to believe my tour would come to an end, but I was looking forward to being home again.

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