There is a lot going on around Toronto this week. The 100th Grey Cup is being held here, which is the championship game of the 2012 Canadian Football League (CFL) season, so there are loads of activities around the city for visitors and Canadian Football fans. There are street parties, festivals and adrenaline zones, amongst other things! Which is all great, and fun to partake in, but sometimes you just want some peace and quiet too.
So my week has been quite mixed so far; I’ve had some excitement, I’ve done some chilling. Slurped a few beers, had myself a few jacuzzis. Shopped, slept, sauntered.
I thought the best way to show you this would be with a little montage of pictures I have collected over the last couple of days, and so that is what I have done.
Left to right, top to bottom…
- Picture 1 – Lazy days means lie in. I don’t feel too guilty as technically I am still recovering from surgery, and I know it would please my Mam and Dad to see me taking it so easy sometimes as well! I like to lie in bed, even when I can’t get back to sleep, and just listen to the silence of the apartment against the hustle and bustle going on 18 floors below; beeping cars, workmen working, ferries honking. It is very relaxing and I love how it hits home that we are slap bang in the middle of a big city, but with such quiet and peaceful places close by.
- Picture 2 – Late breakfasts are a real luxury of my stay here. Sometimes I can go out for breakfast, other times I like to stay home and eat while reading and blogging, catching up with friends back home on Skype and facebook and jotting down notes in my notepad, always with the jotting!
- Picture 3 – An empty pool and sole use of the jacuzzi, steam room and sauna is a real treat, so I try to get down there every day during the week. I take a book or my kindle and spend a few hours alternating between relaxing and getting some exercise. It is one of my favourite parts of the day.
- Picture 4 – The view we get whenever we leave the apartment block. We are very lucky to have 2 bars and a coffee shop at our entrance too, so sitting enjoying a pint or a cuppa while looking up at this beast always makes me smile.
- Picture 1 – Breakfast TV is always a favourite of mine over here, it is like stepping back into my childhood. The Littlest Hobo and Fresh Prince of Bel Air and two of my current favourites, the fact that they both have AMAZING theme songs and that I like a good old boogie while waiting for my pop tart to pop is purely coincidental, honestly.
- Picture 2 – It is my opinion that you shouldn’t face the world without nice nails. Last week was very au natural, white shimmer. This week I am bright pink. I have brought 6 different nail polishes, but you can dare bet I will be going home with double that amount.
- Picture 3 – The weather here in Toronto has surprised me so far, it has been warm enough for a couple of day’s outings with no coat on. I wasn’t expecting this at all. So what better reason than being in a big city on a mild autumn day (see, I didn’t say fall… I went back and deleted it) to be able to get some wear out of those denim shorts I brought, just on the off chance! 😀
- Picture 4 – My sum total of spending money for yesterday – $24 (appox £15.50). I had just been paid my final wage from my old job back in Sunderland so had planned a day shopping, but the husband accidentally took my card to work with him. After raking around and counting coppers I still went ahead with my shopping spree, making sure I hit those sale rails like there was no tomorrow. Which of course there is, as today is Black Friday, and I am hoping for a few more bargains before the day is out. But with my pennies and some frugal spending, I actually managed to get an awful lot. Amongst my purchases was a present for Phil, a present for my friend Dave, some skincare essentials, a woolly hat and 2 nose studs. Impressive I am sure you will agree, especially when I came home with change. Fair enough it was only 2 dollars and 67 cents, but it is impressive none the less!
- Picture 5 – Lovely clear skies this week in Toronto. I bet the people at the top of the CN Tower had a great view out over the city. The Rogers Centre is the other building in the picture, this is the venue for the Grey Cup.
- Picture 6 – I only saw about a fifth of Queen Street on my shopping venture, as it is so big and full of markets, bars, cafés, coffee shops and not forgetting the multitude of shops. I will be making many visits back here during my stay, it is wonderful. I stuck to the high street on this visit, H&M, French Connection, Zara, Guess etc, but on my return I shall be investigating every nook and cranny of this bohemian shopping paradise.
- Picture 7 – Outside of the City Hall, there is a statue of our former Prime Minister, and iconic British figure – Winston Churchill. There are plaques and information stations around it giving visitors a background of who he was and why he is commemorated with this statue. I like finding little links to home like this, makes me feel very patriotic.
- Picture 8 – Another interesting discovery, although not quite up there with Churchill, was this lovely little shop! The Condom Shack. Well that is the family’s presents sorted for Christmas then…
- Picture 9 – In the city, it is sometimes hard to find some peace and quiet to sit and have a moment to yourself without the noise and energy of downtown surrounding you, but this was a great find and one of my favourite quiet spots. It is Osgoode Hall, a heritage building set in 6 acres of grounds. The squirrels here are so used to people sitting amongst them that they come and sit on your bench with you, and literally run over your feet as you stroll around. Beautiful place. Here’s another picture of the grounds and the building that I have taken, I think you can really get a feel for how pretty it is here on this one.
Queen Street wasn’t the only type of shopping I have been doing this week. We had to do our big shop on Tuesday. We might be living it up miles away from home, but some things never change, like the big shop. All we have done is swap Asda for Loblaws. I love supermarkets, me. I love whizzing around on shopping trolleys, or carts as they are called here, and exploring the sections and of course, getting treats. To be honest, for Phil, it must be like having a kid go on the big shop with you. I can imagine I am hard work sometimes… “Ooooh, can I have this?” “Woah look at this, we should get one.” “Phiiiil, I really need some new *enter something I don’t REALLY need*”. I also love the colours in the fruit and veg section. I know, I’m a strange one.
As you can see from the 3rd picture, Loblaws have some great special offers on at the minute! Stir fry vegetables are 2 for 5 Dollars, or $2.50 each, meaning if you buy in bulk you get a grand saving of, errrrm, nothing! Safe to say, we didn’t bag any of that.
Anyway, back to more random montages…
- Picture 1 – As part of the Grey Cup celebrations, there is a big festival been going on all week. A few of these pictures are from that, taken at different locations around downtown. This big picture was taken as the sun was going down over Nathan Phillips Square, and is of a couple of people doing the zip wire. I wanted to have a go, but I was by myself and had all my shopping. I shall be back!
- Picture 2 – I was sitting reading on a bench and noticed this guy sitting reading at the chess tables. I wasn’t sure if he would want anyone to interrupt him, or whether he was filling time until a chess partner came along. I wish I had found out by going over and asking now, I do enjoy a nice game of chess.
- Picture 3 – The arches you see on this photograph are located in Nathan Phillips Square also. They are called the Freedom Arches, and the centre one has a piece of the Berlin Wall laying in the base of it. Underneath, there has been a football pitch laid for the festival, and while I was there 2 classes from local schools had a game, which was fun to watch.
- Picture 4 – These tents were being put up along the main street from the Rogers Centre for a street parade and party. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and definitely in the party mood, lots of singing and dancing from the workers erecting the tents and the stall holders setting out their stalls. Passer bys, like myself, stood and watched for a while, being entertained by the most unlikely of showmen and women.
- Picture 5 – This guy was walking around in amongst the festivities, and was a real character, as I am sure you can tell by the get up he is wearing. Now, I don’t know much about the CFL, or indeed the Grey Cup itself, but I am pretty sure, of the two teams that are involved, one plays in blue and the other in red…? If someone would care to enlighten me as to who he is supporting I would be very much obliged. Not that it matters, he was a real gent and posed willingly when I asked him for a picture 😀
- Picture 6 – These signs are at the entrance of every area where there are Grey cup events being held.
Here is one of my panoramic shots of Nathan Phillips Square with it’s beer tents, a huge stage for music, North America’s tallest urban zip line, army assault course, football pitch and buskers among other things. People on their lunch break were sitting in amongst football fans who have travelled the length and breadth of Canada for the game and the who build up surrounding it.
And that leads us to last night, when Phil and I went to the Harbour Sports Grille to take in the Thanksgiving NFL game between Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins. Great bar, absolutely stacked to the rafters with TVs showing every kind of sport you could imagine, at one point we were watching the NFL alongside Alan Pardew being interviewed. I have never been so interested in American football. 😉
We had a great time, enjoyed a few pints and then made our way home for a late tea. Phil made the food while I ironed his work clothes, team work.
One final picture that I think sums me up. I have noticed there are quite a lot of Vespa riders in Toronto, which I think is great. I wish I could have brought mine over, but my case was already over the allowance to start with, without a moped added to it! Anyway, I spotted this Vespa and thought I would share it, as I literally can’t stop thinking about how I wish it was mine! I think we can all agree it is a thing of beauty, and that I would look good pootling around on this little baby.