Toronto: Sparkling life
There were four wine glasses of different sizes on each table. We expected four different wines to go with our lunch but were surprised as the same wine was poured into two of the glasses. The host explained that the wine changed its taste with the glass and asked us to check it out. No wine connoisseurs, we sipped each glass but the subtle difference missed us. Yet we sagely nodded as the host launched into an explanation of wine tasting. Thus began our tour of the Inniskillin Winery, one of the most sought after wineries of the Niagara region in Ontario, Canada.
Inniskillin Winery is famed for its Ice Wine and Table Wine. Here wine is served as a dessert not as a drink. And going by its taste, the Ice Wine can challenge a dessert in terms of sweetness. And the sweet taste lasted through our sojourn at Niagara, which is described as a place where one can enjoy more as they explore more. Take for instance, having dinner at the world's highest restaurant or the awesome sight of the Niagara falls.
In fact, the entire Ontario region, where we spent a week, is a discovery at every turn. Whether one cycles around the serene island of Toronto or treks, one can see why a diverse population chose to make this place their home.
Pleasant weather was the first thing that welcomed us as we landed at the Pearson Airport of Toronto. Summer is considered the ideal time to visit the city because it offers ample chances to explore. For instance, summer is perfect for outdoor activities and there are many opportunities for wildlife viewing. The province also hosts an array of popular festivals. Therefore, what could be more perfect timing than mid-June to arrive at Toronto.
Taking a round of the city one could hardly overlook the towering buildings. At first look, Toronto resembles any other North American city but after a close look one realises it houses the most diverse population from all around the world ~ more than 80 ethnic communities from Africa, Asia, and Europe. Therefore, Toronto prides itself on earning the name of being the world's most multi-cultural city, as it caters to a wide range of cultures, languages, food and art. Almost half of its population comprises immigrants. Therefore, Toronto's motto is “Diversity Our Strength”.
This diversity was all the more evident as we walked down the lanes of Toronto. We encountered different ethnic groups residing in different parts of city. This cultural melange was reflected in the different types of food and traditional attire.
What to do in Toronto
An interesting arts scene, numerous sporting events, a vibrant nightlife and restaurants, bistros and eateries describe Toronto. One could enjoy an incredible view from atop the CN Tower or explore a remarkable array of attractions, including the Art Gallery of Ontario and Casa Loma. Or if you are a shopping freak and want shop for latest trends then Eaton Center will be your halt and for luxury labels Bloor Yorkville will be a better option. For a break from urban life take a 10 minute ride to the idyllic Toronto Island. There are so many options and we had only a week's time to get to know Ontario!
C N Tower
This is one place that no one can give a miss ~ every tourist has to see it as it is visible from everywhere in Toronto. It is the second largest buildingof the world after Burj Khalifa, having 147 floors. We zipped up to the 115th floor to dine at 360 Degree Restaurant. As we had prior booking we escaped the huge wait to get in. The moment we entered the tower, we were welcomed by a cameraman who clicked our group. We also learnt that the elevators were the world fastest and it took only 58 seconds to reach the 114th floor, where we got off. This floor is 1,122 feet above the ground and its glass floor made it the best place to have a panoramic view of the entire city. Of course, it was the best place to click pictures also. The “360 Degree” is the tower's revolving restaurant, which offers a fine dining experience and a view of the city that is second to none. Apart from it, the C N Tower also offers an edge walk ~ the world's highest full-circle, hands-free-walk. Adrenaline seekers stroll at the edge of the CN Tower's main pod, just above 360 Degree restaurant, along a ledge that's only 1.5 metre wide, 116 storeys above Toronto. However, it was a bit expensive at around 200 dollars.
Being cosmopolitan in nature, Toronto has every type of cuisine and fashion. One can seek one's fill with the variety of foods available there. There is a huge choice for shoppers. For instance, if you want to shop for designer clothes then you can walk in the lanes of Toronto Yorkville. This is the place where A-listers have an array of stores. In terms of malls, Toronto has them in every size. One can wander around the perennial downtown favourite, the Eaton Centre ~ it is popular among buyers because of its comparatively low price. Others malls are in north ~ chic Yorkdale or the open-air shops at Don Mills and many more.
There are numerous street shopping option available here, for instance, China Town or Kensington Market. Kensington Market is often ranked as one of the best street markets in North Markets. It has the dense cultural labyrinth of narrow streets houses, portraying a mix of Caribbean, Latin American, European and Middle Eastern shops and restaurants. One can find here second hand vintage clothing stores too. It is the place where graffiti is legal ~ people can be seen painting the walls all the time. The other street market is China Town. A walk in this part of the city will give a feeling of walking in any city of China. It is the place where crowds come to for authentic Asian stuff. Souvenir shopping is an adventure here, with imported goods from China, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, and beyond. Take a place at one of the traditional Asian restaurant dishing out plates of fine (budget friendly) food.
This is a labyrinth of 28 kilometres of interconnecting passageway known as the Path (the world's most extensive underground network). It links most parts of the city be it office towers, stores, hotel, bus terminal, railway terminal and restaurants. Inside this market one could find budget friendly restaurants, bookstores, quaint cafes and bars.
Because of Toronto's cultural diversity, it allows a person to eat one's way around the world via its ethnic neighbourhoods. From Butter Chicken to grilled Souvlaki and Saganki, one can sample a variety of cuisine. One can have a brunch at Dimsum during a visit to Chinatown or in St Lawrence market, one can try peameal-bacon sandwich from Carousel bakery or choose mouthwatering mustard from the 30 award-wining varieties available. Or if one is fond of beer then one can indulge in several terrific wine bars or take a brewery tour at Mill Street Brewery, Steam Whistle Brewing and Amsterdam Brewery.
Fed up with the urban life and want to spend some leisure time amid peaceful greenery? Then Toronto Islands are where you should head. A 15-minute ferry ride from the mainland will bring one to the island, which has a small amusement park, a residential community and yes Toronto clothing optional beach too. The best option is to explore the whole island on cycle.
Along with the Niagara Falls, Niagara region is known for
another thing ~ wine. In the entire Ontario region, there are 140 licensed wineries, including grape and fruit wineries. We halted at the Inniskillin Winery, Canada's premier estate winery, which was established in 1975 by co founders Donald Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser. This winery is known for its Ice Wine, which is made from grapes that are left to freeze on the vine over the winter. Once temperatures drop to -8 degrees Celsius (about 18 degrees Fahrenheit), the grapes are collected and allowed to thaw, a process that helps intensify their flavour. Heavenly!