Day 3 in Toronto, we headed downtown for (one of the) quintessential Toronto tourist experiences, the Hockey Hall of Fame. The HHOF is smack in the middle of downtown in an ancient-looking building that is only accessible by snaking your way through the mall for 10 minutes. Once inside, it is a pretty impressive place. Guess who the four “Hockey Heroes” are that they give centre stage? Gretzky, Orr of course. The other two are Lemieux and Howe. They also have a Stanley Cup inside that they give you special little cotton gloves to touch it with. According to Wikipedia, there are actually three Stanley Cups but the one on display at the HHOF is the original one purchased by Lord Stanley. Sam hotly contests this.
After the HHOF and a quick stop at the old Spaghetti factory, we got on the ferry to Toronto Island where we rented bikes for a couple of hours. What a totally, totally awesome place TI is!!! I don’t know why my friends in Toronto don’t go on about it more, or why it isn’t ever mentioned as being in the same league as Stanley Park. It has at least one thing over Stanley Park: no cars. All access is by ferry, and most of the ferries don’t take any cars, and the ones that do only take one or two – as a result the only vehicles are park maintenance. Anyhow it is truly a wonderful park, tons of grass and greenery and water everywhere. On one end is Toronto Island airport, and there are even naked people if you are into that sort of thing.
After biking we spent a half-hour in the TI amusement park (CentreVille) which was oriented to the under-7 crowd and therefore not quite up to the level of thrill seekers like us, but was a pleasant diversion nonetheless. We were hoping to rent a boat today as well but once again time got away from us and before we knew it things were closing down (why don’t they stay open past 5 on a hot summer night in July?, this seems to be a common marketing blunder in Eastern Canada tourism).
After Ti, we headed for the other quintessential Toronto experience, the CN Tower. For the record: the CN tower IS still the tallest “free standing structure” in the world (I thought maybe the Petronas towers were taller but they’re not), but this title will soon be taken away by the one in Dubai whose final height is not disclosed but will eventually be over 2300′ (CNT is 1875). I don’t think the measurements are very fair, though. The Sears Tower in Chicago is only slightly shorter than the CNT and has offices all the way to the top; the CNT is mostly antenna, inaccessible to all except technicians.
GPS note: our GPS continues to be a godsend but it exposed a few flaws today. #1, in downtown Toronto, satellite reception was poor and we couldn’t use it a lot of the time. I guess the buildings block the signal. #2, though its position-finding abilities are very robust, its database is not that great. It randomly has some KOA’s in it and not others. The bike rental place it had in it did not exist which led to an extra half hour of driving around. AFAIK there is no provision for correcting such errors.
Side note: It is a bit depressing, I think, how the downtown Toronto skyline is dominated by bank towers (as it is in Vancouver, and probably everywhere else for that matter). I mean, it’s too bad that the largest and most visible enterprises don’t, you know, grow stuff or build stuff or cure cancer or something.