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    Canada: Toronto, Niagara and Vancouver


    Canada: Toronto, Niagara and Vancouver


    You may find, like me, that you only have 2 weeks to visit Canada. It doesn't seem like enough for such a huge country, where each visit is really just a small taste of what there is to see. Here are a few personal observations. I visited Toronto, Niagara Falls and then moved on to Vancouver.

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      Canada is a bilingual country

      The francophone parts are smaller in area, but I didn't visit the provinces of Quebec and Montreal and stayed in the English-speaking parts. Toronto airport welcomes French-speaking visitors, as you can see from the arrivals. And you can certainly speak French. is much larger, its "big city" population is over 5 million, compared to the 2 million people living in Vancouver, but there are beauties in each that you will remember.

      Moving on to Niagara Falls

      Before I had a chance to explore Toronto, I was taken by bus from the airport to Niagara Falls, the city on the Canadian side of . The city on the American side bears the same name and together they give a population of well over 120,000.

      Have you ever been to Las Vegas? I have twice and it's quite similar at first glance. How could it not be, when so many tourists head to the falls and they want to be entertained by other conveniences of the modern world (including, for example, a casino) in addition to the sight of the falling masses of water. You can also eat and drink well here. There is a very special microclimatic area where really good grapes are grown. I tasted and brought home a "Niagara" late harvest.

      Niagara Falls: a boat under the waterfalls

      I didn't see Niagara from the American side. I only saw the "Americans" from afar on their observation decks and I think it will be an amazing sight from there as well. The river actually splits into 3 waterfalls side by side, the highest of which is 52 meters. From our Canadian side, it's a sight and experience that will get your adrenaline pumping. Be sure to indulge in the "shower" that awaits you when you put on your red raincoats and let the crowd of equally fashioned human ants drive you along the water's surface, right below the falls of the tremendously lauded river. Even in May, we still saw unmelted piles of snow on one part of the hillside next to the falls, but otherwise the sun was shining through our lenses and the ever-present cascading water became a part of all of our memories.

      Toronto on foot and by bus

      You can be back in Toronto in 2 hours by bus. It's largely glued to a coastline that feels like the sea, but it's not the sea, it's one of Canada's five Great Lakes. Canada is divided into provinces, and here we are in Ontario, on the shores of the lake of the same name, which is over 300 km long.

      I had to walk around Toronto because I had no change in my pocket. On the bus they wanted exactly $3 and I had only a $20 note. It is not customary for the driver to give change, so I walked a few kilometres on my own, absorbing the atmosphere of the streets and alleys, shops and parks. Destination number one, the Hockey Hall of Fame. To take a picture with the legends of a sport that originated in Canada.

      Toronto skyline in cloudy weather

      You can take the "above ground" route of wandering around Toronto, as I did today, but during their winters, when it's -20 to -30°C outside, you can walk for miles underground, between subway stations, taking advantage of the city below, including the shops, cafes and everything the streets above offer.

      I don't need that today. It's a beautiful 20°C. It's only a few kilometres to the CN Tower (Canadian National Tower) and soon I'm looking out into the distance from its observation deck to all sides of the world. The CN Tower is 553 meters high, but you can't look directly down from it, the viewpoint is a bit too "barred".

      Toronto with illuminated CN tower

      I've done enough walking for the day. I'm touring Toronto like a true tourist aboard a sightseeing bus.

      It was nice, though we definitely didn't see everything... I don't keep track of the amazing things to see here and there. Supposedly you can't smoke on the streets, yet occasionally a sinner is caught. The fewer smokers on the streets, the more cyclists there are. There are steel-mesh posts everywhere for tying up bikes, and they are all heavily used. And what else? The toilets are free!

      How is it in Vancouver?

      It takes over 4 hours to fly from Toronto to Vancouver and I had no idea they wouldn't even give us a snack, so I was starving... and most importantly, the service was surprisingly unfriendly. But what can you do, it didn't affect my view of the Olympic city (2010 Winter Olympics). Vancouver is beautiful.

      Vancouver at sunset over the sea.

      There is a subway (Sky Train) that runs several lines around the city, the most luxurious of which is the one going from the airport. In Toronto, I was able to buy daily, weekly or monthly passes. Unfortunately Vancouver only has daily and monthly, they don't list the week as important (I guess tourists don't go there for a week). I buy Multiple Fares instead, these are by zone, and I get two zones for 31.5 CAD, which is 10 rides that are deducted incrementally with each boarding of public transit. I also use the bus and trolleybus. For comparison, the day pass is CAD 9.75.

      Vancouver Downtown

      Getting around Downtown, the centre of the city, is fine on foot. You'll get some exercise, but you'll also get a feel for the atmosphere of a seaside town that supposedly doesn't have any freezing temperatures or piles of snow, even though they hosted the Winter Olympics 2010. These largely took place in the nearby mountains, the peaks of which I photograph across the bay from Canada Place

      If there's one thing that’s annoying about the US, and Canada too, it's their price system. You constantly have to remember that the price quoted is not the final price, as they always add an "unspecified" tax, which is different every time. 

      Vvancouver street with trees

      I could certainly discover something new in Vancouver every day, even if I lived there for a year. For me, all I planned to do today was discover the Dollarama store, where all sorts of goods, from food to souvenirs to household items, are noticeably cheaper. A tip for you when you visit Vancouver.

      "Problem" with beavers

      Vancouver is an absolute paradise for the week long tourist... I explored Stanley Park by bike, for example. There are rental places nearby and for about $9 an hour, I rode and took pictures of whatever took my fancy. In the middle of the park (it's actually a peninsula) is a lake, Beaver Lake, where they have a "problem" with beavers. They dam up the outflow from the lake every night (365 times a year!) and people clean it up every day... over and over, relentlessly and without malice. Plus, beavers supposedly don't recycle, meaning you can't slip them yesterday's logs to use. They have to cut down a fresh tree!

      Trip to Capilano

      I would consider a trip to Capilano to be a "must", something that cannot be missed. I drove to Canada Place in the morning, hopped on the "Free Shuttle to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park" there, which is a free shuttle to the park outside of town (15 minutes) where you first cross over the abyss on a swinging suspension bridge and walk along wooden walkways into a canopy of centuries-old trees. I spent 4 hours there. Absolutely amazing. The bridge swings so much  that it's difficult to take reasonable photos and get a straight shot.

      Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

      When I got back to Vancouver, I had to get a coffee and dessert (for 4 CAD) at Tim Hurtons. On the surface, Hurtons is an ordinary chain that will make you good coffee, but it's typically Canadian, so I like to use them instead of the global fast food chains.

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