Toronto 2011
Roger's stay at Toronto, July 16 to 31, 2011


07/16/11 day 27 Got on the road around 8:00 am and drove seemingly longer than 255 miles to Toronto. Pennsylvania is also a pretty state and full of expensive toll roads. It cost me about $30 in tolls to get through this state. The road seemed to follow high ridges with nice views of long green semi wooded valleys. The Erie city area was very pretty. After passing Buffalo I could occasionally see the great Lake Erie. As I progressed there were lots of scenic wine vineyards. Going into Canada was relatively easy; a short wait in line, only a few questions, and request to view my passport. Drove 140 miles into Toronto past the Niagara Falls area but could not see the falls. I was disappointed that it was so far (120 miles from Toronto) as I want to visit it from Toronto. The drive through Toronto to the east side where my Glen Rouge campground was located was very nerve racking. Even on Saturday the traffic was heavy with 3 to 5 lanes and each freeway had an 3-5 express lanes and another 3-5 local lanes which you had to get on to exit the freeway. Exit spots were not obvious and it was very easy to exit too early which I fortunately only did once on the last exit, but my gps found an alternate route to take. The campground is very pretty wooded, with grass sites, and on a small river. There is two negatives however; no sewer and no wifi. I got set up and talked an hour with a neighbor from Ontario Canada just north of Detroit. I drove to a steak house called "The Keg" for dinner recommended by the local. I had to send my food back because it was cold and the steak was over cooked. It was a $35 fillet so I whined and they deducted the total cost of my dinner and I only had to pay for two glasses of wine. I was later told by another local camper that this restaurant is the Mc Donald's of steak house; fair but not good. Anyway it is chained on my list of places to be avoided.

 

07/17/11 day 28 Got up l late about 9:00 am, showered and talked with my Canadian financial planner next door neighbor for a 1/2 hour learning as best I could about details of the area. I went out to Tim White a coffee house equivalent to the US Starbucks. Unfortunately they did not have wifi, but told me that Mc Donald's next door did. I stopped in afterward and tried it. It was the fastest wifi I ever had on the iphone, faster even than my home system. I will be bringing my laptop back here to do email and web uploads, but yuk I will have to eat some of their food. Next using my GPS I found the Scarborough Metro station about 5 miles from my campground. It has a Go Train which goes downtown nonstop for 35 minutes to Union Station only 1.5 blocks from the NABC Fairmont Royal York Hotel site. With my senior discount I got a 10 pass ticket for only $26. The Metro is highly advised because of heavy traffic and a shortage of expensive parking in the down town area.

I returned to my trailer and spent the afternoon on my diary and watching the Womens Cup world soccer match on TV between Japan and the US.

 

07/18/11 day 29 Worked on my photos until noon and then drove to the local Metro/train station called Rouge Hill. Got on the Go Train around 1:00 pm and got off 35 minutes later at Toronto's Union Station. The train did make about 4 stops but was very comfortable and quite. The cars had 3 decks, so some nice views of Lake Ontario on the way. Union Station was very busy and not nearly as classy as Washington DC's Union Station. I found out that you need to stamp your ticket in a timer before boarding. I did not do this the first time, but I was not checked this time on board for a proper ticket. I was told that the fine if checked is up to $200!!! Needless to say I made sure I stamped my pass ticket before boarding the train from here on out. The Fairmount Royal York hotel was right across the street from Union Station and could be accessed via under ground tunnel system. This hotel is same chain as the one at the Chateau Lake Louise in Alberta Canada one of the prettiest hotels in the world. This hotel is also nice with several high end restaurants. I walked around the hotel a bit to get familiar with the layout. Checked out the daily tours to Niagara Falls which cost about $149 senior rate leaving at 9:00 am. I was hungary and needed some exercise, so I decided to walk to China Town which supposedly was only 20 minutes away. It took me 45 minutes and the heat and humidity at 37 degrees centigrade or 98 F with 85% humidity was gruesome. Finally made it to a China Town similar to the LA one in the US. Could not find the recommended Lee Gardens so I opted for a noodle house which was excellent except no beer or wine was served. After being revived with sustenance I walked back to Union Station only taking about 30 minutes this time. I was in the rush hour now and the Train station was very busy. Almost took the wrong train but a nice woman warned me that this train did not stop at Rouge Hill even though it was going east. Got on the correct train and arrived home about 6:00 pm stopping for a cold coffee Frappuccino on the way. I was so tired and hit my bed at 8:00 pm after watching Jeopardy on the CBC "Canadian Broadcasting Company".

 

07/19/11 day 30 Got up early, had breakfast and worked on my diary and web site a bit. At noon I went to Mc Donald's to upload my web site data and down load my email. I stayed there about 1.5 hours using their wifi. They have the fastest wifi I have ever used anywhere. Uploading web page with 25 photos took only about 20 seconds. They must have Verizon Fios or something equivalent. The only problem is; that I hate Mc Donald's food although their coffee has improved.

 

07/20/11 day 31 I delivered John Adams wide track chair to him at his playing site using the Go Train. After talking with them a bit I went the Fairmont Royal York hotel Epic bar restaurant and had lunch. I ordered a seafood bisque soup and a smoked salmon watercress salad with Chardonnay wine. The Bisque and the salad was to die for. They grow their greens on the top floor of the hotel.

 

07/21/11 day 32 It was a horrible hot humid day 37 degrees celceous so I stayed holed up in the trailer with AC running full bore all day, except for a quick tripe to Tim Horton's for lunch. I took the Go Train down town to have dinner with John Adams and John Lodias for dinner at the Fairmont Royal York Epic restaurant. They had a 3 course special for $45. A wonderful grilled asparagus salad, Chateau Brian steak with wine sauce, french layered potato slices, and Sabayoni with fresh sweet fruit for desert. We were all impress with quality of food at this restaurant.

 

07/22/11 day 33 Played in the Bruce Life Masters Pairs with Marvin. We did not play well and did not qualify. Between sessions we ate at Marche' a really excellent gourmet buffet type offering. A magnetic card was given to you and then it was used to record all food which you ordered at the various stations. I had sushi, wine, and a fresh pineapple tart with a French custard glaze sauce.

 

07/23/11 day 34 Played in a regionally rated pairs game with Marvin. Again we played lousy and the Skeleton system also hurt us on several boards. We ate again at Marche' for dinner. I had Paella, wine, and pecan tart which was all quite good. I don't like staying so far from playing site, as using the Go train took perhaps an extra two per day.

 

07/24/11 day 35 Played a AX flighted team game with Marvin, John Adams, and John Lodias. There many very good teams entered in the event warming up for the Spingold. We did horrible only winning 1.5 out of 8 matches. Did have a nice dinner at the Epic restaurant in the Fairmont with the two Johns. Made the last Go Train home at 12:13 am.

 

07/25/11 day 36 I was exhausted and slept until 12:00 pm today. I took my 8th shower on this sewer cycle and also washed dishes. My conservation of water has paid off but now I must hook the trailer up to the truck and drive to the dump area in the park to empty my tanks. The local roof TV antenna got damaged by a tree. I bent it back into place, but it will have to be replaced, as it will not go up any more. Cleaned up the trailer and got my satellite TV system working fine even though I am in Canada. Apparently 35 miles north of the border is no problem with viewing the satellites. Had lunch at Tim Horton coffee and pastry shop. This place has excellent sandwiches, pastries, and coffee at a very reasonable price.

 

07/26/11 day 37 I left at 9:00 am from the Fairmont Royal York Hotel on a tour to Niagara Falls. The tour company was called "Toronto Tours" and it cost about $170 after taxes and Canadian money exchange. It took about 1.5 hours to drive the 96 miles. A road right along the river allows you to see all three falls from the bus. The area near the falls is actually a Canadian park and is really well maintained keeping all obnoxious commercial ventures out. The visitor center is an amazing well designedd modern structure with several theaters, shops, and rest rooms. A huge side walk lines the falls for a least a mile which has exquisite views all along of the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls , the rapids upstream, Goat Island, the bay below the falls, and is lined with beautiful pampered flower gardens on the land side and random local flowers on the water side. From my point of view the Canadian side has a far superior view compared to the American. I highly recommend anyone visiting the Niagara Falls to do it on the Canadian side. After 1-1/4 hour of viewing the falls we had a tour provided buffet at a restaurant which had a view of the falls. Food was just OK. Next we were dropped off near the "Maid of the Mist" tour provided boat ride which took you right up close to both falls. Rain jackets were provided which I only used for protecting my camera. The mist was heavy at times but you were not going to get totally drenched and the cool mist felt great on the 90 F + day. This event was 1/2 hour on the river and another 1/2 hour walking to and from. Next we got back on the bus and were driven through the local town (forgot name) which was highly commercial with theme parks, rides, souvenirs, etc., but yet was modern and clean. The biggest building in the town was an Indian Casino run by the Canadian government. The bus took further down stream on the river to view the class 6 whirl stream rapid and dam. As you may know the Niagara River runs between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and is approximately 26 miles long. Unfortunately no rafting is allowed on this river upstream or down stream of the falls. Next we stopped a beautiful quaint little town called Niagara a must see part of the trip. The town is the home of the Shaw Festival every year and it is loaded with french gourmet shops and restaurants. I stopped at the "Cow" ice cream shop for a chocolate coated sugar cone with local John Cherry ice cream which was to die for on this warm summer day. Bought some fudge also but later ended up loosing 1/2 of it in the bus. Next we drove to winery which ran a school started by Prince Henry from England. Got some free taste and I decided to buy a red Ice Wine and a Merlot both very excellent I thought. Got back on the freeway and arrived back at hotel at 7:30 pm. The fun tour took 10.5 hours.

My friends Marvin and Alice were waiting for me to join them for Alice's birthday dinner. We went to a cafe named Casey's across the street and had a great time, spending about 2 hours for dinner. We started with a huge plate of curly potato chip like fries which is the reason Alice picked this restaurant. We all had barbecued pork ribs and then split a decadent chocolate cake for dessert. I gave Alice the Canadian Merlot for her birthday. Got on the Go Train at 10:00 pm and got home around 11:pm. It was a long day but a fun one.

 

07/27/11 day 38 I slept until noon and spent the day watching TV and reviewing my Niagara Falls photos.

 

07/28/11 day 39 I played in a 2 day qualifying National Fast Pairs event with Ben Yang a guy who responded to my partnership add. We played several games before hand on the BBO. We played a modified Polish Big Club System. I enjoyed the new system, but it had lots of holes in it and we got nailed a couple of times with our weak NT misunderstanding of two suited run out bids. The event was actually quite stressful because 30% of the field should not have been in the fast pairs and we were constantly being threaten with a slow play penalty, even though most of the time we were not the culprits. Ben was relatively slow and did get penalized twice. I found out that even though Ben had 800 points he was not a life master and had got most of his points on the BBO. My worst tournament ever is still holding up as we did not qualify. I would however enjoy playing this event again with a speedier and more talented partner. I reluctantly let Ben talk me into a knockout for the next day.

 

07/29/11 day 40 Ben selected a husband and wife team from Denver Colorado for our knockout partners. Together we all had about 10,000 points and we received an excellent draw. We should have beat this team easily but as fate would have it, the husband of our team could not make a contract and Ben could not defend or bid properly so lost. They wanted to play a Swiss Team next, but I decided that I would give up on this tournament and go home. I went to an "all you can eat sushi house" which was $23 per person. You actually ordered individual items which was made fresh each time and and it was very good.

 

07/30/11 day 41 Slept until 11:00 am but kept thinking about all those bridge debacles I had suffered the previous 2 days. Had breakfast at Kathryn's. I decided it was time to get out of Canada on 7/31/11 instead of 8/1/11 and got a $95 refund for 2 days from the park (it should have been 1 day , but park lady insisted it was 2 days and I did not protest). I spent the day watching TV , diary update, and photo processing.

 

07/31/11 day 42 Got on the road at 7:00 am leaving for Lansing, Michigan in the good old USA. The first 175 miles was west on Canadian hwy 401/402. The country was a combination of green rolling hills with farms and mixed wooded forest land. The road was very smooth and excellent, much better than most US roads right now. Unfortunately I was forced to buy another tank of diesel fuel in Canada at a price of $5.40 per gallon. I eventually head south across a $9 tool bridge across the board near Bayview US. I took waiting in line on the bridge about 35 minutes. I had no trouble after presenting my passport at the border. I drove another 150 miles into Lansing Michigan the home of Magic Johnson. Stayed at a nice RV Park called the Cottonwoods. It was near full and nicely wooded on a small little lake popular for fishing. Unfortunately no sewer again, but my MiFI and iphone worked good. It was nice to be on the grid again. Had patty melt hamburger and a Guiness draft beer for dinner at a popular beer bar & grill called Leo's. There were lots of postal workers having a beer after work in here even on Sunday as they all worked at a major sorting and distribution center which operated around the clock. I struck up several conversations about University of Michigan sports, Magic Johnson, and of course they all wanted to talk about autos and Nascar racing. All TV's had a Nascar auto race tuned in. Retired to be early as I was tired from the long drive.



Last updated on September 18, 2011