Midland to Toronto and Home

Breakfast of cereals, toast and strong coffee preceded a 10am start to a long day travelling. It was predicted to be hot 28+, but the morning had the sun struggling to break through high cloud.

As we left Midland heading south the traffic started to build up, reversing the trend of the last couple of weeks with more cars than juggernauts. The towns we passed through had populations in the 10’s of thousands rather than just a few hundred that we have previously been experiencing and we could tell that it was a Saturday as lawns were being mowed and cars washed on drive ways. The closer we got to Toronto the more industrial it got and the four lane highway that had been previously snaking its way through fields and the periphery of townships began to take on the feel of approaching a very busy city. No letting the mind wander now, road signs had to be read and the volume of traffic began to squeeze on our little Nissan Rogue.

We changed our plans repeatedly on the journey into the big metropolis. First we were going to stop in Barrie, then we were going to stop in a park near Pearson Airport, but finally we decided on just getting the car back to base. We filled up with fuel a mile or so away from the rental car park and then dropped the car off.

Inside the terminal we found where we could store our luggage and then bought return tickets on the UP Express train into Union Station, Toronto. The journey took 25 minutes and just had two stops on the way. It conveniently disgorges its passengers next to the CN Tower.

The plan was to wander around the city centre, have lunch and then return to catch our flight, and that is what we did. The area around the tower had changed dramatically from when we visited it 30 years ago. The large marshalling yards had been developed into a train museum, Ripley Aquarium, shops and eating houses, it was much improved and today it was packed with people, many of whom were off to see the Toronto Blue Jays play the Washington Redsocks, they were passing through the centre to board buses taking them to the game, dressed in their patriotic shirts of blue.

We had lunch in a restaurant just a block away from the tower. As we were leaving there was a strange beeping noise, when Sue asked what it was, a rather disinterested waitress told us it was a fire alarm. As we exited onto the street, several fire engines turned up, horns blaring away, nobody moved in the restaurant, it was a false alarm. I suppose this must happen often. We next took a walk down to the ferry port where we sat on bollards, watching the water traffic pass by, glad of a cooling breeze from the lake, the clouds had disappeared and the sun was slowly turning the city streets into a furnace.

Sufficiently cooled we headed back towards the centre, stopping at a bar to escape the heat and quench our now considerable thirst. Continuing our way back to the station we were passing Ripley’s Aquarium when I spotted a security guard running out of the building holding a fire extinguisher. What I had taken as smoke from a BBQ or outdoor fast food stall was in fact the outside of Ripley’s on fire. He soon quenched the flames, but where were the fire service when you need them? The fire began on a wood chipped flower border against the building, probably from a discarded cigarette.

We returned to the airport, picked up our luggage and then waited a while for our check in desk to open. We were passengers no. 2 & 3 in the queue. After security, we sat in the bar and had some more refreshments before making our way to the departure gate which for our flight meant a short ride in a bus to the other side of the runaway where we waited inside a building used during busy times. Shortly after we had sat in our seats to wait for the gate to open, Sean, Domini and Caitlin turned up. We chatted about our various Canadian adventures until we boarded the aircraft.

The plane departed on time at 10.45pm. I slept a great deal of the flight, but Sue felt ill and spent some time up front with a stewardess cooling down as she was overheating. She had an attack of her Golfer’s Leg; the last time that happened was prior to a flight from Vietnam.

Caitlin was met by her mother at Stansted and said her goodbyes; we made our way back to Harborough in Sean’s car via a traffic jam near Huntingdon, arriving home at 2pm.

As it was Father’s Day the rest of the family had planned a BBQ at Sarah’s house in Leicester, but this was rescheduled from noon to 3 pm. We arrived there very tired at 3.20 pm. Lee’s parents and grandmother were there as well as all the Palmers. It was a chilly afternoon but the rain held off. Sue and I were both back home just after 8 pm and crawled into bed, two very tired bunnies.

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