Toronto, August 2nd, 2015
I recently was awoken by two little brown striped birds atop my boyfriend’s terrace wall, chirping and singing merrily while I wondered what the heck they were. I thought they might be sparrows since they looked like a “regular bird” and didn’t really know many others that looked the same. I became curious though, when their calls were all wacky and my rudimentary search online for even song sparrow calls were all repetitive and not at all the same as what I’d heard.
I posted my quest on Facebook to identify the calls, asking for any links people had. My friend Laura L. sent me this link. Well, it didn’t take very long before I discovered what I’d seen were Pine Siskins. Here is a sample of what they sound like from that link. Here is what they look like. I don’t remember seeing any yellow though, so they might have been females or young males. Still, they were very cute and happy-sounding! I might see if we’re allowed to put up thistle bird feeders…… 😉
Today’s Ideal Vacation location is my own dear province: Ontario! Since I have visited a few places around this province, I’ll start by introducing the one I know best:
Where to visit:
- Niagara Falls
What to do:
- Butterfly Conservatory (as long as you’re okay with butterflies maybe landing on you!): It’s a lovely slice of enclosed rainforest with a vast selection of colourful butterflies to stalk. It’s hard to go and not leave a happier person!
- Journey Behind the Falls: Here, you really get a sense of how powerful the Niagara Falls Horseshoe waterfall is, as well as the tremendous speed with which all that water falls every second.
- Maid of the Mist: Although locals tend to roll their eyes at this one for its “hokeyness”, you really get different perspective from a boat about these falls. I lived near Niagara Falls all my life and only truly understood the immensity of them when I went on the Maid of the Mist when I was about 16. You won’t believe the wind!
- The “old casino” (Casino Niagara): More unique and pretty than the new casino on Murray Hill, Casino Niagara at 5705 Falls Avenue still houses many slot machines (the only thing I’ve ever dared to play), as well as some tables for that other gambling stuff. It also has an interesting and functional art display of different-sized flat screen TVs so you can keep up-to-date with your favourite sports teams. Plus, it’s just a few steps away from…..
- The Hershey Store: While everything is expensive here, if you have a few extra bucks to splurge in the summer, try one of their chocolate-dipped strawberries (ask for it *freshly* dipped, trust me!) and/or a chocolate milkshake. No matter your chocolate tolerance, you will get a sugar overload! It’s an awesome place to take a date, hint hint.
- Go up to the Observation Deck at the Skylon Tower: Sure, it gives you an amazing view of Niagara Falls, but what people often forget is that the viewing deck is all around the tower, so you can see far into the distance in all directions and can admire all the local landscape. This used to be the tallest building at Niagara Falls, and is starting to be dwarfed by the (kinda ridiculous, if you ask me) massive hotels….. so if you’re one to appreciate history and architecture, this is the place you want to support! If you’re feeling like an unforgettable meal, make sure to go to the restaurant up top too; they have incredible food!
- Margaritaville: This restaurant is new as of last summer, but had my attention from the beginning. One of the famous international chain of Caribbean-themed restaurants created by everyone’s favourite beach bum, Jimmy Buffett, has opened across the street from the new casino on Murray Hill. Everything I have ever tried on this song-inspired menu has been sensational, and served in the most amusing atmosphere you can imagine. Pirates on stilts making balloon animal hats? Sure! Giant tequila bottle pouring into a monster-sized blender? Of course! Every restaurant is themed uniquely for its location, so there’s even a shout out to Niagara Falls by way of enormous large screen waterfall projections. I believe they have live music every night, and Jimmy himself has been known to show up and play a spontaneous set! (Just don’t expect it — that’s only happened once so far!)
Well, I’ve got a list started anyway. I do love playing Tour Guide for friends who’ve never been, so expect to see more updates to this list in the future. Feel free to add your own as well!
As this was only about Niagara Falls, I will try to get to other cities in the coming days, but I’ll need your help too! Tell me which cities in Ontario you love to visit and why!
I’m taking a break from the Ideal Vacation series to bring you a new challenge: I’d like to create a series of entries that’ll serve as a resource to find awesome home-cooking restaurants in Toronto, Ontario. To start off, I’ll pick an area of the GTA, and let you know where my favourite place to eat is, and why. You can tell me if I’m nuts, or if you know of a better place.
Toronto sometimes gets a reputation for being a bit uptight, and it’s not hard to understand why: costs are sky-high for real estate in this busy city, so you gotta be good to make it.
However, you don’t have to be expensive, posh, or even that great of an atmosphere to have really good home-cooked food. Although it’s sometimes nice to have a fancy meal out, with so many of us 1st-, 2nd-, 3rd-generation Canadians living here, there’s something to be said for having a meal that reminds us of chowing down at the family dining table growing up.
I have explored some areas more than others, so if your fave spot doesn’t make it here, I might not even know about it! If you have a suggestion of a place, tell me here and I’ll make sure to try it in the next few weeks. Also be sure to include your favourite dish, so I can know what to order!
Like my Category entitled “On The Beach,” where I kept you all up-to-date on my discoveries while meandering along the sandy Floridian shoreline, I will be starting a new one to include all the things I will miss about Kingston, Ontario.
I’ll start right now:
- that little smiley face in the concrete sidewalk near the corner of King St. E. and West St.
- the Wellington Street Theatre light that almost religiously turns off as I’m walking past
- the guy who puts sunglasses on his black lab while he plays guitar on Princess St.
- Figaro — the black and white cat I’ve known since he was a kitten, who lives on my street
- Tiger — the tiger-striped brown/black/gray cat who sometimes visited Uly (my kitty) at the window, even though they didn’t seem to get along well
- my spot by the water
- my bay further west
- the long bus-ride to Riley’s Garden Centre
- Loblaw’s (they don’t have one in Barrie — I checked)
- the way the sun/moon shines on the waves in the water at the end of my street as I’m getting home
- my stargazing nights by the water
- Pervert/City Park (which I can attest is completely safe, by the way, even at 4 a.m.)
- playing FRISBEE in said park (ha!)
- playing chess on my laptop sitting by the water fountain in the park
- taking Uly for walks in the park
- my little cave apartment with odd green trim and a homey feel
- visiting my friends
- the fry truck with the funny Polish guys
- the guy with all the piercings, tattoos, and hats, who plays the guitar anywhere and everywhere on Princess St.
- Coffee & Co.
- Second Cup
- Frankie Pesto’s
- The Greek Islands Restaurant
- late-night grocery shopping at A&P
- my not-hugely-close laundromat at Bagot & Earl
- the Kingston Tennis Club
- Queen’s campus
That’ll do for now…..
This past Wednesday, I went with a friend to the Coldplay concert at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario.
There has been a lot of talk about the disappointment of some fans for various reasons, so I’d just like to add something of my own to the discussion. Feel free to comment whether you agree, disagree, or add your own thoughts. Continue reading
3:55/3:56 p.m., Tuesday, December 4th, 2007.
just off the QEW, Niagara Falls, Ontario