Monday, November 29, 2010

On Top of the World in Toronto

Speed Demons!
While we were on our "Show-Me" showdown with Heather's parents in Canada, we decided to hit up the city of Toronto.  The area has about 5 million people and is only 80 miles 128 kilometers from Niagara Falls.  The drive was quick and easy and we felt like Dukes of Hazzard law breakers when we switched the speedometer over to kilometers and found it in the triple digit range!

We did have some problems when we realized our GPS car refused to cross the border.  Nothing like navigating from the map in the Frommer's library book in a foreign country.  It took a few miles kilometers before we realized that "TO" was for Toronto and not for going "to."  Doesn't it make you marvel that we made it driving from Mississippi to New York in once piece?

We'd like some
Petro please!
Stopping for gas petro was another comedy all in itself.  Even with seven college degrees in the car, none of us were exactly certain how many liters it would take to fill up the Prius.  We think it was more expensive than in America, but again it kinda hurt our brains to worry about it and this was supposed to be vacation.

You could easily call Toronto a cleaner version of New York City.  It has a beautiful skyline, nice public transportation and well laid out streets.  Much like NYC, it's an expensive town to live in and most of the residents are non-natives.   With more than 2,000 high rises, there's one that towers above them all...the CN Tower.  Used for telecommunications, observation and tourism, the crown jewel of the city happened to be our first official stop! 

With a mini CN Tower
The signature building stands at 1,815 feet tall and is the world's tallest tower!  If Niagara Falls was Canada's natural wonder, then the CN Tower is certainly Canada's modern wonder.  Built in 1976 for $63 million, the tower sees more than 2 million international visitors every year, most between May and October.  

The CN Tower marketing department generously provided us tickets to check out the tower while on our visit to Toronto.  We started our tour with a quick ride to the top in an elevator with a glass floor...the ride took just 58 seconds!  No time for bad Kenny G music in there!  

Looking Out at Toronto
We stopped at the Look Out Level and saw Toronto for the first time at 1,136 feet in the air.  Our nighttime view was breathtaking and it was amazing how far you could see.  On a clear day visitors can see the mist from Niagara Falls from the CN Tower!  

Mr. Ed on the Glass Floor
Just below the Look Out Level was the Glass Floor.  You would have though Phyllis was Spiderman the way she was clinging to the walls!  The rest of us had no problems walking and even lying on the 2.5" thick glass panels more than 1,100 feet above the ground.  (They say it's strong enough to hold 14 large hippos so we figured we were ok) Mr. Ed and Heather are constantly in search of the perfect picture!  

Notice the death grip
Phyllis has on Brett.
Phyllis decided she was brave enough to go out to the observation deck on the outside of the CN Tower.  Caged in, you feel pretty safe walking around, but the tower's changing LED lights at night made it tough to get good pictures.  The view through the protective screen was still amazing though and it was surprisingly not that windy.  

Sky Pod view
From the Sky Pod level, we were 1,465 feet above Toronto!  The view  is pretty much all glass and Phyllis barely made it out of the elevator before she was ready to go.  To be honest, Brett wasn't real excited about being up there either!  The view was awesome and Heather & Mr. Ed really enjoyed it!  

See any birds?
Being a tall tower has some disadvantages.  The CN Tower has to dim unnecessary exterior lights during bird migration seasons to prevent injuries to the birds.  And the tower gets struck by lightening on average 75 times a year.  But it's a strong mass of metal and concrete!  The tower is built to withstand an 8.5 earthquake and the upper reaches of the tower can withstand winds of 260 mph.

BG's having too much fun.
The CN Tower marketing department also gave us tickets to check out the other attractions featured in the building.  We got to watch Himalamazon and The Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3D.  Himalamazon is a motion theater ride that features special effect and tells the story of a a Super-Tree on its journey from seed to harvest.  Watching The Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3D was a lot like the surf documentary The Perfect Summer, only with better special effects.   The scenery sure made you forget you were in cold Canada!

Night Light!
The CN Tower has several ticket packages ranging from $22.99 to $34.99 depending on what you want to see while you're visiting.  Seniors and kids get a discount so make sure you check the prices.  Ordering ahead and online can cut down on the wait time when you're there too.  With reservations at the 360 Restaurant, access to the Glass Floor and Look Out Level are complimentary, plus the restaurant makes a full rotation every 72 minutes so you get a full view of Toronto while you're eating.  

If you're spending more than a day in Toronto, you might consider a CityPASS.  For less than $60, you get access to the CN Tower, the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto Zoo, Casa Loma and the Ontario Science Center.  Not a bad gig!

We were on top of the world while we were in Toronto...of course that high probably had a lot to do with the CN Tower!

*Special thanks to the CN Tower marketing department for providing tickets and admissions to the Look Out Level, Glass Floor, Sky Pod and Himalamazon and The Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3D.  Thanks y'all!

  • Photography image credits:  Ed Flanigan, Heather Flanigan, Brett Garrett.