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Toronto, Canada

We were back in Toronto after our Norwegian cruise. Not yet home, but getting pretty close. This will be the last post about our retirement cruise. And, rather than sharing images of Toronto with all of the new, glass-encased office towers, I thought I would share a few of my images from Toronto’s Graffiti Alley.

The alley is located near Spadina Avenue and sits in between Queen Street West and Richmond Street West. A bit of a walk from the main Toronto downtown office and condo towers.

It is an alley and you will find a fair amount of garbage. Toronto is generally a safe city to visit although I’m not sure I would go to this alley at night. Best to view the graffiti during the day.

There are some parking areas along the alley and the back of these buildings are also covered in graffiti. Except for the “Authorized Parking Only” signs.

Graffiti alley spans three city blocks. It is much longer than you might expect. The artwork is continuously refreshed and, in some cases, as in the picture above, dated. I’m not sure who decides when it is okay to paint over someone’s graffiti.

This was a tourist visiting Toronto from New York City. He wanted his photo taken for his Instagram and he asked us to use his smartphone. Lorraine took that shot for him. I took this shot using my own camera.

A bit of a different view of Toronto than what most tourists see.

And so, after an amazing two weeks travelling Europe, we finally boarded the train from Toronto to head home to Kingston.

New adventures will be starting soon as we begin a longer-term journey south in our coach.

Toronto

Kingston.

It is a wonderful town. The only thing it lacks? An international airport.

To get ourselves out to our Norwegian cruise, we needed to book a train from Kingston to downtown Toronto, a train from downtown Toronto to Toronto Pearson Airport, a flight from Toronto for Zurich and then, with only a one-hour layover, a flight from Zurich to Hamburg. And, once in Hamburg, board our cruise ship to enjoy Norway.

Cleaver’s rule of cruising: arrive one day early. In our case, that meant a day early in Toronto as well as a day early in Hamburg.

Having been a frequent traveller during my corporate career, I have encountered many, many delays while travelling.

Cruise ships won’t wait. If you miss the departure day, you have to catch the ship at the next port of call.

The trains in Canada are not great. Schedules are more like suggestions. We might plan to arrive at a certain time but that could be plus or minus several hours.

From Kingston to Toronto, our train was fairly close to schedule arriving about 40 minutes late. Via Rail is running old stock though. The cars are old, worn out and look a bit like something you might expect to see in an impoverished country. I agree with this recent article on our train system: we can do better.

Arriving into Union Station, it was a quick and easy walk to our hotel, Le Germain Maple Leaf Square. We’ve stayed numerous times at this small boutique hotel in downtown Toronto. Lovely place and great service.

The arena formerly know as the Air Canada Centre, now renamed the Scotiabank Arena, reminds us that we are still in Canada.

Hockey, eh?

Lorraine and I spent the day in Toronto walking through the harbour front. It is shocking to me how much the skyline in Toronto has changed in the past ten years.

I used to be an executive with a large Canadian bank in downtown Toronto. These buildings near the Queen’s Quay did not exist back then.

The waterfront has also changed dramatically over the past decade but not if you look out to the water. The Toronto ferry still goes back and forth to Toronto Centre Island. And there are no condos on the island.

Toronto’s CN Tower is visible from almost everywhere in the downtown area with the new condo buildings making it a bit more challenging to find.

Condos, condos, condos. No matter which way you look, condos are all over the downtown.

Toronto is amongst the most expensive real estate in Canada and in the world for that matter. Depending on which source you might reference, Toronto usually falls within the top 25 most expensive cities in the world. Vancouver beats Toronto. Both cities have become unaffordable for most Canadians.

Tiny 600 square foot condos will sell for $1,000 – $1,500 a square foot in the downtown.

$700,000 or more for a little space in the sky. Before condo fees.

Weather was sunny and very warm in Toronto and this weather pattern followed us all the way to Norway. We did not need to pack any thermal clothing for our trip. But we did not know that.

After a wonderful dinner in Toronto, Lorraine and I settled in for the evening, excited to begin the travel to Norway.

The next morning, we made our way to catch the UP Express from downtown to the Airport. This is the entrance for the UP Express:

Next post will cover our journey to Hamburg.