Day 4 in Toronto
It was yet another early start for us as it was Niagara Falls day! Our host had messaged to say she would be back by the morning but there was no sign of her so we set off and caught the subway to the centre of the city. We arrived at the Hardrock café in good time to meet our tour guide for the day, only to find out that we weren’t on his list… Fortunately, the bus wasn’t full as it was an error on their side and they’d just forgotten to put our names on the list for that day. The bus was a mix of nationalities from England, America, New Zealand, Austria, Italy & Canada, some more rude than others as the tour guide did his best to give commentary as he was driving over their loud blabbing. The commentary was brilliant, the guy knew everything there was to know and he made sure we were well informed about everything we saw along our 1hr 45min journey to Niagara. He taught us about the 4 seasons of Canada (winter, winter, winter & construction) and how baseball and ice hockey are more popular than football/soccer (which they should be).
Our first stop was the Skylon tower where we ascended using a lift which was on the OUTSIDE of the tower (ahh)! Nevertheless, it was worth it for the great views we had of the American and Canadian Falls. We were driven along the edge of Falls with some bits of history and stops to take scenic photos. The next big attraction was our trip on the Hornblower boat which many people mistake for the Maid of the Mist which is actually now what the American tour boat is called. IT WAS AWESOME and yes we have GoPro footage of our experience as we were advised that our camera would get wrecked by the water if we brought it with us. Despite the beautiful red plastic ponchos that we were given to keep us dry we got SOAKED and it was cold but fun, made funnier by the fact that the people on the maid of the mist boat had blue ponchos and looked like little blueberries (you will get the blueberry link if you have seen the Skyr yoghurt advert).
Once we had got off the boat we witnessed some people ziplining ‘to the falls’ a term I would use loosely as they didn’t actually zipline anywhere near the falls but it looked fun anyway! We took the ‘most beautiful Sunday drive’ (as described by Churchill) to Niagara-on-the-lake, past lovely houses and lush green gardens to arrive a cute little town where we stopped off for lunch, ate banana and chocolate fudge brownie ice cream, sat by the lake and witnessed people taking horse and cart rides.
Wine-tasting at Diamond Estates was next on the itinerary, where we had our first experience of the famous ice wine! Ice wine actually originated in Germany when a family had to attend a funeral so they couldn’t harvest their grapes at the usual time, allowing them to freeze. The family decided they would pick them anyway and see what they could make and ta-da ice wine. It is ridiculously sweet and generally recommended with desserts, but still delicious and also twice the price of normal wine due to the staff having to go out in the middle of the night in the cold to pick the grapes! The only single English guy on the trip had decided it was a great time to chat up the young Canadian wine expert which was so cringy but she brushed it off well and proceeded to kindly ignore his excessive flirting efforts. I got chatting to the Austrian couple and found out they had done a bit of a road trip but in Toronto, Vancouver and then some bits of America and were actually on their last day before flying home to start their next term of University.
On the drive back to Toronto we stopped at a road-side fruit stall to try some locally grown fruit which was delicious and then continued non-stop past trucks, trucks and more trucks. I think what I’ve been most surprised about since being in Canada is how diverse it is with areas full of tarmac/concrete and bare rundown buildings to beautiful classic American houses with porches and immaculate gardens and the fact that it seems so empty! I mean, I expected it to be buzzing like London but it just seems so quiet which was really odd. Throughout our day we were given endless bottles of cold water, a breakfast bar and a box of maple syrup cookies at the end which was very generous of the tour guide as it was all free!
We arrived home that evening and were finally able to meet our host and her little dog Mr Fitz who were both really sweet and interesting!