December 29, 2018: Fresh, brisk air and a heightened sense of elation running through our bodies as we stepped out of the airport into a private car that would transport us to the hotel. There was a cloudy overcast, but somehow it seemed so bright outside! We felt right at home as Sean (our driver) loaded our luggage into the car. Neither of us had experienced VIP treatment like this before on a vacation. We did it! We finally made it out of our hometowns for New Years!
This would be the first time that either of us have been away from home during this holiday! Hell, this was the first time that either of us had been out of the country during the Holiday! As we commuted to the hotel we were astonished by the archuriture and clean lines provided by a contemporary skyline. There was a green hue that seemed to radiate off the glass of the buildings and babe said, “This reminds me of Emerald City!” I have to say that I agree. There was a certain “je ne sais quoi” in the air that seemed to stir in the body almost like the feeling of butterflies in the belly, but all over the body.
After about 15 minutes which felt more like 30 because of traffic and being entranced by the scenery we arrived at our hotel. We stayed at the Westin Harbour Castle the name is very befitting as we pulled up we saw two large towers connected by a common area (lobby) that sat on prime real estate on the coast of Lake Ontario. The views of the lake from this hotel are stunning! Neither of us had stayed at a 4 diamond hotel before and it deserved every diamond it was awarded!
Like normal people when we got into our room we were tired so we got pretty comfortable, but then realized we wanted to eat something so our day one adventure began. We took an evening stroll behind our hotel through the miniature park. There were some immediate breathtaking views of the lake as we entered the park. The sun was in the process of setting so the light glistened off the water so beautifully. We walked along the pier and admired nature and wildlife. There were plenty of ducks gathered in the water and it seemed they were just beginning to fish for their dinner. The breeze flowing off the water was so fresh and brisk. There were bare trees a little way off on an island that were painted with the orang-ish red of the sky and it was angled so beautifully on the brown bark of the tree line. It was just something magical about being in a Country that we barely knew anything about.
We went as far as we could go before the cold air whisked us back to the street and civilization. #lol We walked about 5 minutes when we ran into a little shopping plaza filled with stores and restaurants. So like typical Americans with all the choices available to us we ended up getting pizza from a place called “Pizza Pizza” which was very reminiscent of “Little Caesars Pizza” I truly believe they are the same company but I could be wrong. What I will say is that the customer service here was not very customer friendly. However, that is another blog for another time. The pizza was great however, and definitely left a better taste in our mouth than the service we received!
As we left from our dining experience we cruised towards our hotel which was about 5 minutes away. Taking in the sights and sounds along the way. We were transfixed by the fashion of those around us which encapsulated what we could look forward to see on the streets of Toronto. We headed up to our room to change our clothes and get ready for an exclusive reception being held at the hotel for those who booked through the travel club we are members of.
We walked into the ballroom that was hosting the reception and enjoyed a few drinks shook a few hands. Before we knew it an hour had whisked past. We then went back to the room and grabbed our coats. He was a bit curious where we were going because I informed him I had another surprise for him. He had suddenly found himself in a moment of consternation about going. I asked him to trust me and lets catch a Lyft. Catching a Lyft proved to be more difficult than we thought as the driver could not seem to find our gigantic hotel on the waterfront so we decided to walk because we could not be late for this event.
We set out into the dark night, walking in the thick humid and cold 34 degree weather. Luckily, the place we were going was only an 18 minute walk from the hotel. I quickly realized why a lot of movies set in New York actually get filmed in Toronto. It’s not so much that the architecture is the same, but just like New York, Toronto is another city that never sleeps. There was heavy traffic in the downtown area and lots of lights shinning from massive electronic billboards, horns blowing in a sea of red beaming tail lights, people walking in every direction laughing and talking. We ran into a large crowd of hockey fans trying to pretend to not be cold as they were wearing their favorite players jerseys with no coats on. I smiled because it reminded me of Columbus, OH where I see the same thing all the time as fans race in the cold to watch the Blue Jackets play.
As we turned the corner onto the street where our destination was we walked past a famous Canadian site The CN Tower. It was beautiful as it was lit up with a cascade of fluorescent lights that changed colors every few seconds. We stopped and took many pictures and then we stood still for about 5 minutes just gazing up in wonder at its sheer size and stature. I thought to myself how creative humans are and all the things we can create and achieve based on a thought or an idea that comes to our minds. I said to myself, “I hope that after I die people will remember me and that their thoughts of me will be as beautiful and admirable as I see this building right now.”
We continued on our path down the road and finally we reach our destination. It was lit up so dimly outside of the huge sign in red and blue letters against a white concrete background that read, “Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada.” Torreion was excited to see what was in store, but not as much as I was! I love aquariums and anything to do with nature!
I took our tickets from my pocket as we entered the inside not knowing what to expect. The entrance was very non intrusive to the rest of the structure as it was very reminiscent to that of a movie theater entrance. However, once we ascended to the top of the stairs we saw a very large tank that had sharks and stingrays in it. I immediately lost my mind because I think that stingrays are the most angelic and graceful species in the water. I know they get a bad reputation because of what happened to animal icon but they are mostly harmless creatures and totally safe if their barb is removed.
Getting back to my experience, we spent at least 30 minutes at this tank in awe of the dimensions and the fact that the stingrays would swim by the edge of the tank so you could touch them. I touched one for the first time and I felt like I won the lottery. If you don’t believe me check my Instagram (@abovethenormal7).
We explored the rest of the facility and ran into all types of amazing creatures and learned a lot about the ocean and its inhabitants. PSA: We need to do a much better job of taking care of our planet!
We then decided to go back to the hotel and grab dinner and head to bed so we could rest up and get ready for our next adventure!