A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: amikulski

Where We Ate: Toronto--Annex

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Most of our dinners were in the Annex because that’s where we were staying. There are a lot of restaurants there, but not all of them have lots of seating. I mention below when a place is small.

Detroit Pizzeria
When I found out that we would be walking distance from Detroit-style pizza, I knew we had to try it. The pizza was up to Detroit standards with good caramelization on the edges.


There are only a few tables inside, but takeout and delivery are available.

Future Bistro
This place serves all-day breakfast, sandwiches, and some (mainly Eastern) European dishes. Our choices ran that gamut, from a burger to pancakes, wings, and cabbage rolls (pictured below).

Everyone seemed to like their food. There wasn’t a kid menu, but the variety can be helpful for pleasing a group of people.

Mi Taco Taquería
This place is unusual in that it shares a storefront with a chicken sandwich place. Everyone in my group ordered tacos, so I will only report on that. The menu here is pretty simple: tacos and burritos with your choice of various fillings. There are also a few sides. No kid menu here, but you can order just 1 taco to accommodate a smaller appetite. Everyone enjoyed their tacos, and the favorite filling seemed to be pork carnitas. There is some seating inside, but it is not very big.


Wild Wing
This appears to be a chain across Ontario similar to a Buffalo Wild Wings in the US. There is a good amount of seating at this location.

Wild Wing boasts 101 flavors of wings. There are heat ratings to help you figure out if a sauce is in your comfort zone. This was Canada Day and our last night in town, so DD1 and I went extra Canadian and split an order of Canadian (maple BBQ) wings and some poutine.


There is a kid menu, other pub grub besides wings, and lots of TVs with sports, so this is another place that could appeal to a group with different tastes.

Posted by amikulski 01:57 Archived in Canada Tagged food toronto Comments (0)

Where We Stayed: Toronto

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For this trip, we looked at both hotels and rentals. We wanted a place with parking and easy access to the subway. We ended up choosing this Airbnb because it was similarly priced to a hotel we had been considering, in an equally good location, but with a lot more space and off-street parking.

The location was great. We were in a quiet residential street, a short walk to plenty of restaurants, a supermarket, and the yellow and green lines. If you’re up for a longer walk (or 2-stop subway ride), you can reach the ROM, and if you want to go uphill in another direction, you can reach Casa Loma.

The place itself was an old Victorian divided into townhouses. Ours had 3 levels. The entry level had the main living space. A kitchen, half bath, and smaller living area were downstairs from that. The top level had the two bedrooms and full bath. As you can imagine, you have to be OK with a lot of stairs, and narrow ones at that: this would be an issue with toddlers or anybody with limited mobility. We would recommend it to anyone else, though.

Link to Yani's place: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/50656073?source_impression_id=p3_1659141163_Te7IBL8kUxR1qq8D

Posted by amikulski 00:15 Archived in Canada Tagged rental toronto Comments (0)

Toronto Trip: Part 2

sunny 75 °F
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Day 4

We planned a busy day: the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Royal Ontario Museum, and dinner at Eataly.

Our first stop was the Hockey Hall of Fame. DH played hockey growing up, but he’s been more of a soccer fan in recent years, which means that the kids don’t have much hockey knowledge, so our family runs the gamut in terms of familiarity with the sport. Overall, the HHF did a good job of meeting everyone where they were at.

The HHF has an app where you can choose a self-guided tour that focuses on your interests, be that a favorite team, international play or the women’s game. We downloaded it ahead of time, but when we got there, DH decided not to use it and instead had us go straight to the “cathedral,” which has plaques for all HHF inductees and all the trophies,


including, of course, the Stanley Cup!


Even without the app, we had no trouble finding Red Wings memorabilia. It also helped that the featured exhibit included Gordie Howe.


There were some interactive features as well. DH dusted off his skills for a shoot-out


and the kids were on SportsCentre--with Canadian spelling!


The only part that wasn’t a success for our group was the 3D movie, “Game Seven.” We thought it was going to show footage from famous Game Sevens throughout history, but it was a story about some guys playing in their own Game Seven. Despite the 3D effects, I struggled to stay awake.

After the HHF, we ate lunch and headed to the Royal Ontario Museum. Although City Pass holders must reserve a time in advance, you don’t need a specific time: you only have to choose a day. This was nice because we didn’t have to worry about arriving on time.

The ROM is pretty big. We spent over 2 hours there and didn’t see everything, and in some places we just cruised through. They do have a wide variety of artifacts ranging from dinosaurs


to gems


and cultural items.


By the time we finished the exhibits, we needed to sit down and hydrate. Unfortunately, the cafe on the first floor was closing even though the museum itself would be open for nearly another hour. We sat for a while and ate the granola bars I was carrying in my purse. Once we felt a bit more energized, we decided to walk towards Eataly but stop first at whatever cafe we spotted. The cafe at Eataly was the first thing we spotted. We got granitas and limonata and rested before exploring the market and getting dinner. We were tired by the time we got back, but we had done a lot.

Day 5

This was Canada Day. When we were planning this trip, I was aware of the holiday and had a very US mentality about it. I basically expected a Canadian-style July 4th with a big parade and fireworks. That wasn’t entirely accurate. A search of parades revealed that there was no parade downtown. There was one in a neighborhood called East York that looked like it wasn’t particularly big or particularly close to us. There was no central fireworks display, either. Instead, there were about 5 fireworks displays in different parts of the city. With a chance of rain predicted both during the parade and fireworks, we decided that we needed an alternate plan.

We did have one place left on the City Pass—Casa Loma—so we visited that.


The girls thought it was funny that there was a great hall like Hogwarts and spent much of the time thinking about which character they would find in each room. Of course, Neville and Professor Sprout would be in the Conservatory!


After Casa Loma, we were ready for lunch. Our idea was to get it at the St. Lawrence food market. This was the one place in our plan where I had not checked to see if the hours changed for Canada Day. I guess I thought that it would be open because it sold food. We got there to find that it was closed. Our Plan C was the Distillery District, which was open.

After lunch, we went to Eaton Centre (open but closing early in the day) to do some shopping.


Our town doesn’t have much of a mall, so this was a good opportunity.

After dinner and some packing, we found a CBC broadcast of Canada Day festivities from Ottowa and watched that. It ended up being an interesting cultural experience. We hadn’t heard of any of the musical acts, and the show had 2 emcees: one who spoke English and one who spoke French (when they spoke to each other, it was in English). Some of the songs were in French as well. At then very end, the English emcee asked if we were ready for fireworks. We were, and we were expecting something good from Canada’s capital! They showed some fireworks but went to the end credits about 3 minutes later. I guess fireworks aren’t as a big there as in the US? We also heard very few fireworks in the neighborhood, and they were done by 10:30. That was a welcome change from what we are used to!

Day 6

We finished our packing and headed home.


In all, it was a successful trip. Some things I learned:

1. Toronto in the summer is great! This was the first time I had ever visited outside of February/March. We had my favorite weather, with high temps in the 70s. Walking in the city was really pleasant. We didn’t have the chance to visit the waterfront, but that can be something for a future warm-weather visit.

2. We never had to exchange money. So many places—even parking—allowed card payment that we never needed to. The only time this sort of cramped our style was when we saw that a neighborhood ice cream place was cash only. We just got treats at the supermarket instead. It was kind of funny that we had told the girls about loonies and toonies but they never saw any.

3. City Pass is a good option for first-time visitors. If this trip had been just DH and me, we wouldn’t have used them because we had been to most of the places included. With the girls, though, we wanted them to see those sights. City Pass pays for itself if you visit the 3 most expensive attractions, or any group of 4 attractions. We went to all 5, so we came out ahead. The timing for the pass—9 days to see everything—was also leisurely enough for our pace.

Thanks for reading! I will follow up with reviews of where we stayed and ate.

Posted by amikulski 02:14 Archived in Canada Tagged children museums shopping castle hockey Comments (0)

Toronto Trip: Part 1

sunny 73 °F
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Once again, the trip that we had planned for 2020 did not seem feasible this year. We started looking at Canada as a way to travel internationally without COVID testing requirements on return flights (which were still in place while we planned our trip). We chose Toronto because it had a lot of things to do. It was a new place for the kids, and DH and I hadn’t been since we were 19 and went with there for spring break with our friends (yes, spring break! Nobody had funds for a warm weather trip, and it was an easy international train ride from East Lansing.).

Day 1

We left home and discovered that the Buffalo-Pittsburgh highway (US 219) is smaller than what you would expect for a road connecting 2 cities with professional sports teams, each the second largest in their state. Nevertheless, we made good time. The border crossing at the Peace Bridge went smoothly and took about 40 minutes. Once we were over, we stopped for a few minutes at Niagara Falls to take in the view.


When we arrived in Toronto, we settled into our townhouse, got dinner, and planned the next day.

Day 2

Even though DH and I already had seen many of the major sights, we purchased City Passes because it was the girls’ first time in Toronto. These grant admission to 5 of Toronto’s big attractions: the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium, the Ontario Science Centre, Casa Loma, and the Royal Ontario Museum. The trick is scheduling: the CN Tower and ROM require timed ticket entries. The remaining attractions don’t require advance reservations for City Pass holders, but they say that they will be granted the first available timed entry: that wording had us wondering how long we may be waiting. We therefore made a plan to go to the Aquarium and CN Tower, with a lot of buffer space in between.

We arrived at the Aquarium just before 10 AM and got right in. We enjoyed the variety of creatures we saw, from jellyfish to anemones and paddlefish.


One cool feature of the aquarium was this long, slowly moving sidewalk that takes you through a tunnel where sharks and rays will swim over your head.


It took us about 2 hours to get through the aquarium, but our tickets for the CN tower next door weren’t until 4. We went to Guest Services at the tower to see if we could switch our reservation, and they gave us a 2 PM time. We had a leisurely lunch and still made it back early, around 1:30.


We were prepared to just wait if they needed us to, but they let us get started on the lines and going through security. The day was clear—we had looked at the forecast before choosing our tickets—and we got some great views!


There is an app to help you identify landmarks, but unfortunately I couldn’t get an internet connection at the tower, so that was a no-go. Also, I don’t know when they put the bistros on the observation deck—I hadn’t visited since 1995—but I wasn’t a big fan because you can’t get up close to those windows anymore, at least not without invading somebody’s space. It was still fun, though.

We then tried beaver tails from a food truck by the aquarium.


They were sugar bombs! I’m glad we shared because I don’t think any of us could have finished one.

Fueled up, we took a walk down to the city hall buildings, in part to recreate a pic from 1995.


By this time, our feet hated us. We got back to our place, figured out a nearby dinner, and called it a night.

Day 3

Today’s plan was the Ontario Science Centre. It isn’t very convenient to the subway, so we drove there (note that a Science Centre stop does appear to be under construction, but I didn’t see when that would be operational). Because of a major renovation, the Science Centre was shuttling visitors to a different exit. It was a little odd, but they kept the shuttles running constantly, and I didn’t recall any exhibits being closed. Even if something was closed, there was still plenty to do. We spent over 4 hours there, including lunch. We did many, but not all, of the hands-on exhibits, so people who do everything will take longer. Some of our favorites were the rainforest


and the simulator where you tested a plane that you had designed to break the sound barrier.


Also, as a linguist, I was happy to see activities about language science.


We saw kids of all ages throughout the museum, and the exhibits held DD1 and DD2’s attention. One level has activities designed especially for those 8 and under. DD2 and I did a brief walk through some of them. Several of them are physically smaller versions of things in the main museum. DD2 stopped at a couple of things, but at 8 and a half, she was a better fit for the main exhibits. This area would be great for younger kids, though.

After the science museum, we got dinner and walked to the neighborhood supermarket for supplies.

Posted by amikulski 00:29 Archived in Canada Tagged waterfalls children museums tower aquarium Comments (0)

Pre-COVID Flashback: Where we ate:

Gettysburg, Harper's Ferry, Rockville (Partial List)

I didn't do the best job of taking notes or pics of food on our trip, but here are the notes I did take. All of these places are currently open at the time of publication.

Food 101: we went here because of the good reviews, and we were not disappointed. The menu primarily consists of sandwiches, salads, and flatbread pizzas. DH and DD1 enjoyed burgers, DD2 had chicken fingers, and I ordered a Cuban sandwich. Everything was good, especially the Parmesan truffle fries we had on the side. Kid menu available.

Harper’s Ferry:
White Horse Tavern: This place also had good reviews, but after a long day, we were just happy that it was at our hotel. It’s typical pub fare with lots of crab items. We liked our food: wings, salad with a crab cake, burger, and chicken fingers. Kid menu available.

Taco Bar: Don't come here for the atmosphere: this is basically a place in a gas station where you order at the counter. Seating is limited. But the tacos were great!

Mama Lucia: Most of us (guess who had chicken tenders?) had pasta here, but there are also pizzas and other Italian dishes. The portions are quite generous—think Olive Garden—and come with a salad for the grown-ups; if you won’t have the opportunity to enjoy the leftovers, you might want to share an entrée. Everyone enjoyed their food, and most of us liked the spicy tomato bread that was brought to the table. I'm not sure if they had a written kids menu, but there were some options for kids.

Posted by amikulski 01:42 Tagged children food Comments (0)

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