Today is the day that Sharon and I have to conquer our fear of heights, well perhaps “conquer is not the correct word, and what I should have said is that it is time to “Face” our fear of heights. Yes, you guessed it, today is the day that we are visiting the Toronto CN Tower, and taking the glass elevator to the viewing platform.

After rising from our beds at a much more civilised 8.00am we decided to go downstairs for our breakfast.

There was quite a considerable spread, laid on by the Holiday Inn Express, with a multitude of offerings including Bacon, Sausage and Eggs, and and amazing fully automated pancake machine and of course toast, yoghurt and Breakfast Cereals, so we made sure to make the most of it, and filled ourselves up well in order to carry us through the day.

We then headed back to the room and packed everything up, checked out of the hotel and loaded everything back in the car. We decided to leave the car in the hotel underground car park as we had paid for a full 24 hours parking. So we made our way on foot towards the CN Tower, whilst taking our time to admire the large variety of buildings and interesting sights along the way.

It was another beautiful day, and a stroll around the streets of downtown Toronto, threw up some interesting photo opportunities. I particularly liked the shot with the reflections from one of the glass skyscrapers, that gave a wonderful water like effect to an older more established red brick structure.

The shot of the architecturally beautiful St Andrews Church, sat nestled amongst the modern skyscrapers, the gorgeous Adelaide Court Building, with the Art-Deco lights that lead you down into the Cellar Bar, combined with the still lit street light shot against the older red brick Victorian building, which all let your imagination run wild and imagine how different the Toronto skyline must have been in years gone by.

Toronto offered an eclectic mix of old and new and would perhaps be worthy of a little more exploring.

However, due to our short stopover, today was not the day for too much exploring, so after a little mooching around the Roy Thompson Hall and Canada’s Walk of Fame, we eventually headed over to the CN Tower, and you might think it looks spectacular from a distance, but close up and from the bottom, it looks absolutely huge not to mention a VERY long way up. As an idea of the size, consider this, each of the little lines that you can see on the elevator shaft in the middle of the photo is the equivalent of a single story building. We entered the base of the tower and purchased our tickets for the trip to the viewing platform, which involved a trip in a superfast elevator with windows to the outside world, and on the way to the elevator, I eventually got to see my first Moose, not quite the encounter that I would have liked, but still pretty cool.

Now, as for the elevator trip, I will let you experience that with us by letting you check out the video that I shot on the way up…

We thought we were pretty brave in just going to the viewing platform and decided that the trip to the Skypod, which another several stories higher than the viewing platform would be one step too far, so we gave that a miss. The views from the viewing platform were absolutely amazing and I think that we had been so fortunate with the fact that the day was so clear and we could see for miles. We also ventured to the Glass Floor area which is located in the viewing platform area, but unfortunately I could not get the nerve to look down whilst standing on it, that niggling feeling in my head just would not let my head move to look down, although I was brave enough to get the camera over it and take a shot or two, there was just something that would not let my brain register that it was perfectly safe and I would not fall through. If I am perfectly honest, I think Sharon was the braver one on the glass floor and made the first move to stand on the glass, whereas I had to gingerly reverse onto it, refusing to look down at all during the entire process.

The other interesting perspective of the glass floor, was that when the lift operator told us that if we wanted to find it, just look for the spot where the kids were jumping up and down, and he was absolutely right, the kids have absolutely “No Fear”. Both Sharon and I can say that we have “been there, done that”, but it is probably not something that we will be rushing back to do again. One of the photo’s gives you a clue as to our next Toronto tourist destination, can you spot it?

After some time inspecting the amazing views both outside and inside, it was now time to head for the elevator and make the rapid trip down to get our feet firmly back on Terra Firma, although we did feel that the whole experience was well worth the visit and we perhaps had gone a little way to relieving our fear of heights.

Just a very short video of the glass floor in the elevator on the way down…

…then it was a quick browse in the gift shop, which you just have to do and Sharon got the chance to meet a regular Canadian Mountie, then it was off to our next port of call, which I trust that some of you may have guessed from the Glass Floor pictures if you were being observant is Ripley’s Aquarium (did you guess it?).

If you happen to be in Toronto with a couple of hours to kill, then Ripleys Aquarium of Canada is well worth a visit, the exhibits are truly wonderful with some amazing lighting to show things off to their best potential, and the moving escalated walkway through the Dangerous Lagoon is truly amazing, so much so that I thought it would be remiss of me not to share some of the video footage with you.

I hope you enjoyed that little taster of Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, as I said it truly is worth a visit if you find yourself in Toronto. Well the day was running away with us and it was time for us to head back to collect our car for the next leg of our journey, but we still managed to see some more interesting stuff on our way back to the car including the Toronto Railway Heritage Centre which is situated in a park just across the road from the CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium, which had some truly amazing old engines on display, that really made one feel quite small. As an added bonus the same site is the home of the Steam Whistle Brewing Co. which does offer you the opportunity of a tour and tasting session, which for us was not on the cards, as unfortunately we still had some more driving ahead of us.

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped off in a Tim Horton’s, which is a Canada’s largest quick service restaurant chain, and actually surpasses McDonalds with over 3600 restaurants nationwide, where we enjoyed a tea and coffee and some light refreshments. Well after we got back to the hotel and collected our car, it was fair to say that we were ready for a sit down, we had certainly walked around a lot of the Toronto downtown area and surprisingly, we were actually grateful to be back in the car.

On our route out of Toronto, we saw what can only be described as “some really strange architecture”, that certainly must have raised a number of questions with the residents of Toronto, but ours is not to reason “why”, because the answer is obviously “because we CAN”. We even got to drive through Grimsby…

We were now en-route to our next stop which would be Niagara Falls, the Canadian side for our first of 2 nights in Niagara and we were heading for a quaint looking Bed & Breakfast that we had found on, that just looked far too good to pass up for our first night called “A Moment in Time” which is one of Niagara Falls premier heritage Victorian homes, located in a quiet, suburban street, where and we were booked into the Shirriff’s Tower Suite for the night. I can say in all honesty that the place did not disappoint at all, it was truly one of a kind, with the entire building being like a live-in museum, almost everywhere you look there are antiques and Victorian paraphernalia. If you get the chance, its is well worth considering as an alternative to the large chain hotels if you are looking for a stop-over that is totally removed from the normal.

After settling into our room, it was time for some food and we had decided to follow some advice from TripAdvisor and search out the Weinkeller, which was reputedly an excellent place to eat, and it certainly did not disappoint, we opted for the 5 course fixed price menu option at CA$55.00 per head and the quality of the food and service certainly did not disappoint, we had some amazing food, including Fried Goats Cheese and Heirloom Tomato Salad to start followed by some amazing Hand Carved New York Steaks, and all washed down with some gorgeous Weinkeller Merlot, in fact it was so amazing that we even forgot to take any photos’ until the final dessert course. The entire experience was enhanced by great service and attentiveness by all the staff and would most definitely be on my most recommended list.

When we left the restaurant, it was already dark and we just couldn’t return to our room without first getting our first view of the falls, so we took a nice evening stroll down the hill towards the sound of the falls. For those of you that are unfamiliar with Niagara Falls, it somewhat resembles Las Vegas, with large Casino hotels dotted around the falls, all boasting to have rooms with the greatest views of the American or  Canadian falls (yes, there are two sets of falls), combined with a number of attractions to keep the tourists amused and most importantly, spending their money. However, our target was to see the Falls and that was where we headed to get our first view of these amazing natural falls, and the sheer scale and sound of the falls, as if not enough on their own, are made all the more special by the amazing lightshow that illuminates the falls at dusk. After our stroll, all that remained was the walk back to our room for some much-needed rest, after what I am sure you will agree, was a pretty full on day.

Tomorrow will see us getting up close and personal with the Falls, so be sure to tune in for the next installment…