Day 2 Toronto

Another day of walking the streets of a big city. North west is the direction of the day.

Breakfast for me is the cold pizza that we had left over from last night. Debbie opts for a power bar and 2 hash brown potato paddies from MacD’s. We’re only walking so that should fuel us for a while.

We start north along University Ave., rather a bland walk lined by mostly institutional buildings of the hospital variety. The focus to North, visible for many blocks, is the Provincial Legislature Building.

Ontario Provincial Legislature Building

Ontario Provincial Legislature Building

It is an older building of course constructed of reddish coloured sandstone, nice but not overly impressive. Only the lobby is open to the public to wander in. One may be able to hook up with a tour but self touring is not permitted so we have to suffice with a peek of the interior.

K from Torino, Italy is wandering through Queen’s Park at the same time we are. I presume he is a tourist and strike up a conversation. He is in Canada to run the Quebec City Marathon. He uses marathons as an excuse to travel to far away places and take in some of the sites. I ask how many marathons he has run and I’m astounded at the answer, 114, in the last 13 years. I guess he is not questioning whether or not he will finish.

Around the corner is The Royal Ontario Museum, ROM, again an older structure but with a world renowned addition designed by Daniel Libeskind. It is impressive and makes for a considerable amount of ‘curb appeal.’ I don’t know if curb appeal is necessary for a museum but ROM has it.

Royal Ontario Museum

Royal Ontario Museum

The fee for entry is $25 per person and neither of us enjoy museums that much so we skipped a trip to the inner sanctum and continue our walk along another well known Toronto thoroughfare, Bloor St. in search of the shopping landmark known asĀ  Honest Ed’s.

Ed Mirvish opened a discount emporium in 1948 and it has expanded into a warren of mini stores all connected by short corridors and small flights of stairs in such a random manner that it is impossible to know exactly where we are in relation to the outside. Our only hope of exiting is to find a sign that indicates a way out and follow it. We did not end up on the street from which we entered but to us it just provides an unplanned start to the next stage of our adventure.

Just outside Honest Ed’s on the west side is a street with a few bars and few stores. While resting on a bench in the shade I spotĀ  Lapierre Bicycles of Toronto. We haven’t taken the time to stop into a local bike store so now is the time. We take a wonderful 1/2 hour to talk to the salesman, bike tech, cleaning person, owner, only person that works there guy. He is a real bike person married to another real bike person and has a cozy little store that seems to be doing OK. I hope he makes it work. If you live it Toronto and you need a bike, this shop on Markham St. just south of Bloor is a great place to start.

Our planned circuit takes us through a residential district south of Bloor St. on our way to Little Italy. The shops that line the two main streets, College St. and Dundas St., that traverse Little Italy are full of interesting shops and restaurants. The residential area between is a little worse for wear but still worth the walk.

Our stomachs are whining and it is time for lunch. The Kensington Market area has a diverse selection of eating establishments. We stop at a Hungarian Thai place, The Hungary Thai. Weird as it sounds, I think the Hungarian owner realized that Thai food would sell better than Hungarian food and after all one has to make a living. He was an attentive waiter and the food was tasty.

The Art Gallery of Ontario is the last scheduled stop of the afternoon. There is a show of “140 of the drawings Picasso kept for himself” are on display for 3 more days and we thought we should see them. Twenty-five bucks to enter and see the Picasso show. Canadian governments should take a queue from their European counterparts and subsidize the hell out of such things as museums and art galleries to make them affordable for ALL to see.

As with most art and art shows the majority of the pieces do not interest me, but there is always one or two that stand apart. The two Picasso pieces today were “Man with a Guitar” a cubist piece of muted colours that to me embodied the essence of what most people think of as a ‘Picasso’ and a black and white study entitled “Sacre Coeur” depicting a famous church in Paris. Both these stopped me short and I had to pause to take them in.

The gallery also has an extensive collection of its own, a good part of which is on permanent display. The floor with the Canadian artists takes up most of our time with its many paintings by the likes of The Group of Seven and Emily Carr. The other section we find interesting is the 20th century artists with some great pieces by the Impressionists.

Our feet are sore and its time to head back to hotel for a siesta in preparation for the raison d’etre of this Toronto foray, the Dead Can Dance concert tonight.

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