Day 91 Toronto, Ontario: Bold Color - Grampies on the Go - CycleBlaze

July 30, 2011

Day 91 Toronto, Ontario: Bold Color

Marsha toured us around Toronto today by bike, to the extent of over 30 km. While we still say Toronto has poor bicycle support, there are some bike lanes on certain streets, and significantly there is the portion of the 900 km Waterfront Trail http://www.waterfronttrail.org/ that runs the entire length of Toronto's waterfront. This provides a tremendous safe east-west corridor across the city for cyclists, and no doubt we should have been on it when we first fought our way over to Marsha's house.

Our first step was breakfast with Rosie. With Ontario peaches, cherries, and blueberries plus left over souvlaki chicken from the night before, a breakfast was assembled that was far from the bacon and eggs specials we have been eating for the last three months.

Dodie, Marsha, and Rosie toast the start of a fun day
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Steve is also pleased with the situation
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Pulling the bikes from their safe shed, our first stop was Velotique, a store specializing in bike accessories. We found there a stand for Marsha;s bike of the type that grabs the rear stays. It was lighter than the MEC version bit seemed to do the job and be more adjustable. Marsha, of course, had trouble dragging us from such a toy store.

This house is famous for being built on a small lot
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Steve gets to play in the bike accessory shop
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The bold shop exterior
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Next we headed off along the waterfront trail, which is marked by a blue and a green stripe down the middle. With the sun shining but not too too hot, and a guide in front of us we could now appreciate more of the city. For example, we could see the skyline of the downtown buildings, including the famous CN Tower.

The city of course is on Lake Ontario, but it is sometimes easy to forget that, given everything else that it has going on. On the lakeshore trail, of course, the Lake reasserts its presence. There are numerous beaches and even a port.

One of the more interesting corners of the lakeshore is Sugar Beach. This is literally in the shadow of the skyscrapers, and is named for its proximity to the Redpath Sugar refinery. Yet here in an idyllic pocket children play in water jets and people lounge in the sand under beach umbrellas.

The blue and green stripe of the Lakeshore trail
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Beaches along the trail
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Toronto does have a maritime side
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The skyline is visible now that the rain is gone
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The Redpath sugar refinery
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Sugar Beach
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We pressed on West

A view of downtown
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Bay Street is the heart of Canada's financial industry
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A colorful hat salesman lightens up Bay Street
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The famous CN tower
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More urban architecture
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and finally down the closed off Lakeshore Drive, wending our way through increasing numbers of people. Finally we arrived at a spot where the annual Caribana parade was entering the street. From behind crowd control fencing we watched the incredible gaudy one person "floats" or costumes, some with supporting outrigger wheels, as well as flocks of costumed and gyrating marchers. The rhythm was provided by bands on semi trailer trucks with giant speakers. Power for this was provided by huge on board generators, and of course it was impossible to talk over the level of sound being produced. Previously we had only seen costumes and exuberance like this on PBS specials about Mardi Gras, or Samba contests in Rio. The whole thing was in real life here and quite something to see.

Dodie battles traffic
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Caribana is highly colorful and exuberant
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Caribana
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Caribana
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Caribana
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Caribana. The electical power on these trucks is provided by giant on board diesel generators
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Caribana. "Costumes" sometimes have outrigger wheels
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Caribana
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Caribana
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Caribana
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Jenny, from Trinidad, said "Don't forget me". We won't.
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A quick swing past the much revered CBC building brought us to the Toronto branch of Mountain Equipment Co-op. Some quick shopping produced replacement for my lost pen knife and for Cabella's failed self inflating sleeping pad. Good thing they closed, or we would have been there lots longer!

Another view of the CN Tower
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This is not the Prairies!
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Old Friends
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Bixi Bikes are also found in Montreal. You can check one out of one location and return it at a different place. The bike design seems to hold up well to potential abuse.
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Next came my special request to see Kensington Market. I had heard about it from Laurie, who was around the corner while at U of Toronto. but mainly its fame came from the Canadian sitcom "King of Kensington". The show starred Al Waxman and ran from 1975 to 1980. It was cut from the same mold as All in the Family and Maude.

Although Kensington had the requisite fish store and groceries, it does not strike you actually as a market, in the way of Bytown Market in Ottawa or Atwater Market in Montreal. Rather it is a hip area of inexpensive ethnic restaurants and coffee shops, with lots of multiethnic people around. The streets are narrow, a feature Marsha says was put there by the original Jewish immigrants to be reminicent of their eastern European towns of origin. There were few cars, so we could walk our bikes all over the place with no problem.

Kensington
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Kensington
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Stores something like this can also be found at Ottawa's Bytown Market
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But this could be the only place to snap up one of these
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Lots of small restaurants at Kensington
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Fruits too
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These typical guys did not know I was snapping this
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Painted on the second story of a store front
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This car was completely filled with earth
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Design on a building wall
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We tried some Mexican food in a small restaurant definitely staffed byLatino people. Outside, some definitely African guys played bongos.

Whirling past the provincial legislature at Queens Park, and the U of Toronto, we passed through Chinatown. Wow, I hope I am remembering all this in order!

Our netbook has withstood a lot of bouncing, and only now has begun to show the occasional glitch. Figuring it is time to make a backup, I got our entourage to stop a a small strip mall with a shop selling liquidation electronics. I only needed a low capacity external USB drive (low capacity is now synonymous with "antique") and haggled for an 80 gb 2 1/2" Maxtor. $40 and no tax. "Salaam" said the owner.

Miraculously bring us back through Little India, Marsh took us into a Sari shop where she is friends with the owner. Marsha is a fabric artist and sewing expert, so a shop like this is her natural environment. It certainly was colourful!

Tomorrow will bring more Toronto exploration. This is one hell of a big and varied place!

The sari store
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Inside the sari store
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Colorful bangles near Marsha's house
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Today's ride: 32 km (20 miles)
Total: 5,619 km (3,489 miles)

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