Bronte Creek Provincial Park

Bronte Creek Provincial Park is a great place to go to escape the hustle and bustle of the city without committing to an entire camping trip. Located right off highway 403 on the border of Oakville and Burlington, it is less than an hour drive from Toronto, making it the prefect day-trip. The park even offers a camping area for those interested in overnight camping. The campground and the day-use areas of the park are completely separate, therefore it is important to know which are you will be using before arrival.

The day-use area features 4 hiking trails, ranging in length from 1 to 2.7 km. The remnants of last winter’s ice storm was visible along some of the trails, with downed trees here and there, however most of the trails were cleared and easy to access. In addition to the hiking trails the park contains gravel roads and access trails that can be used to get around.

A great place to start is the Lookout Ravine Trail, which runs along the ravine and has an observation point overlooking the ravine and the woods on the other side. This is a great place to see all the leaf colours fall has to offer. The closest parking lots to the Lookout Ravine Trail are Parking A or Parking F. We started at Parking A, and the path at the end of the Lookout Ravine Trail lead directly to the Half Moon Valley Trail. Half Moon Valley was nice trail because it took us down the hill right to the banks of the creek. It was great walking through the forest, and then hiking down to the creek, and walking along the area next to the creek. The last portion of the trail provides great exercise, as there is no option but to hike back up the hill to get to the main road.

There are other trails available, which I did not have the chance to try out yet. A map of the day-use area is available here. The only complaint I have about the park is that the trails and roads are not labelled well. It was confusing getting to any of the trails from the parking lot, and there were a lot of moments when we were lost in the park. Once in a while a trail would lead to a fork in the road, but there were no signs indicating which road would lead to where, and to make things worse, it was difficult to pinpoint exactly where you were on the map. On the rare occasion, trails were marked with numbered posts. However, these numbers were not indicated on the map, so it was impossible to know where you were at any one time.

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If hiking is not your thing, there are many seasonal activities available in the park, such as biking, fishing, swimming, bird watching, and cross-country skiing. In addition, the park has a recreation center with a public pool open in the summer months, and a skating rink available in the winter.

If interested in other Ontario Parks and viewing fall leaf colours, the following website has a neat interactive tool that shows how much of the park’s trees have changed their leaf colours, and also shows the peak viewing areas:
http://www.ontarioparks.com/fallcolour

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Christmas Display

2014. It’s a new year. The holidays are over. It’s time to get back to the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Time to start working on our new year’s resolutions. But it’s not too late to look back at the holidays.

One of the things I enjoy doing during the winter holidays is visiting the Christmas display in downtown Toronto. Every December, The Bay on Queen street decorates their storefront windows with decorations telling a Christmas story. The display is accompanied by music and gets you in the festive mood. The displays are popular and surrounded by many people during all times of the day. It makes for a nice break from all the shopping accompanying the holidays.

Caroling.

Caroling.

Christmas Display at The Bay on Queen Street

Christmas display at The Bay on Queen street

 

Let’s go to the Ex!

Nothing marks the end of summer in Toronto quite like the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE). The CNE, currently in its 135th year, runs from the middle of August until the Labour Day weekend. From midway rides, carnival games, concerts, shows, shopping, exhibits, to an entire building dedicated to food, there is something for everyone!

“Tic Toc” Acrobatics Show: I love watching acrobats perform, so this is one of the highlights of the CNE for me. This year’s theme is time.

Acrobatic Show

Acrobatic Show

IMG_20130826_113412-001The Flying Wallendas: Watching one of the famous circus acts perform on the tightrope was amazing. We were able to meet them and get their autographs at the end of the performance, which was super cool. 

The Flying Wallendas - 3 person pyramid

The Flying Wallendas – 3 person pyramid

Shopping: Let’s not forget the shopping! The exhibit hall is full of outlets and individual stands with discounted items, as well as product demonstrations. In fact, the exhibit hall is so large that it would be possible to spend an entire day there. Shop ’till you drop. Literally.

Food: Anyone spending a day at the CNE is bound to get hungry at some point. Food stands can be found throughout the grounds, but for the largest selection, head over to the food building. There is an entire building dedicated to food, so be prepared to spend longer than average time deciding what to eat. There are the usual fast food stands as well as more adventurous selections and many deep-fried foods. Deep-fried Mars bars anyone?

Cordon bleu schnitzel burger from the Schnitzel House

Cordon bleu schnitzel burger from the Schnitzel House. It’s so huge, I got stares from people passing by the table while I was eating it.

The Farm: Visit the farm to see and learn about different animals and to get a taste of farm life.

Llama

Llama

Cascade: Cascade is a group of stuntmen from France who were on Britain’s Got Talent and have also performed stunts in a number of movies. Not only are they amazing at what they do, they also have a great sense of humour and put on a very good show.

Cascades performing at the CNE

Cascade performing at the CNE

Cascades performance

Cascade performance

Lastly, buying tickets online before opening day provides you with discounted admission as well as not having to wait in the ticket line at the gate.

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Carnival games, Sky Ride, and people everywhere.

CNE nicely lit up at night.

The CNE nicely lit up at night.

Gaming at the Science Centre

From now until September 2nd, the Ontario Science Centre has an exhibit called Game On 2.0. This exhibit displays the history of video games and allows visitors to see and play all sorts of games. Just look at the huge list of games on display. Now I’m no gamer but this exhibit was really neat! I loved playing the arcade pacman and pinball. They also had a game on display where each player must hold a microphone-shaped controller as still as possible, while trying to tap the other’s controllers. Each time your controller gets tapped, it lights up and you lose a life. In total, you have 3 lives, and the person that has a life in the end is declared the winner. It was short and fun, and as it is currently in the beta stage, it was awesome being able to play it.

Another part of the science centre that is a must-see, is the OMNIMAX theatre. There are always a number of movies to choose from, most of them being hour-long documentaries. The screen is a large dome, making you feel like you are actually part of the movie, and not just in a theatre watching a movie. This is especially true for scenes filmed from a moving plane, as you feel like you are actually flying. And this might be just me, but every time I watch a movie at the OMNIMAX theatre I want to totally change my career direction. I guess it’s not that bad right now considering that I don’t have a career yet! So I should probably limit the number of documentaries I watch.

What else is there to see? Plenty! Visit the rainforest, the science arcade and the planetarium. But don’t stop there. All their exhibits are great! The best part is that most exhibits are hands-on, so you learn about science by performing the experiments!

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Science Centre’s aquarium.

Let’s not forget to visit the structures outside the building! There is a huge water organ that you can play, a huge thermometer, a few pinhole boxes, etc.

Last but not least, students receive a discounted admission, so remember to take your student card with you!

Some Past Exhibits:
Body Worlds
Harry Potter Exhibit
Reptiles
DaVinci Exhibit
Mythical Creatures

Doors Open

Doors Open is a yearly event during which many buildings open their doors to the public and allow visitors in for free. It is a great opportunity to see heritage sites that you would otherwise be unable to visit. The concept of doors open started out years ago in Europe and has now spread all over the world.

Doors Open Toronto is happening this weekend, on May 25th and 26th. The list of buildings participating in the event can be found here. Not all buildings are open on both days, so it is a good idea to plan your day before heading out.

Not in Toronto this weekend? No problem! Numerous other cities in Ontario also participate in this event. More information on specific dates, cities, and participating buildings can be found on the Doors Open Ontario website.

Dates for some of the Doors Open events happening this year:

Toronto – May 25 and 26
Ottawa – June 1 and 2
Kingston – June 22

Gooderham Building (aka Flatiron Building), one of the participants of Doors Open Toronto in 2010.

Gooderham Building (aka Flatiron Building), one of the participants of Doors Open Toronto in 2010.

Hallway of the Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre, Doors Open Toronto 2010.

Hallway of the Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre, Doors Open Toronto 2010.

Inside the King Edward Hotel, Doors Open Toronto 2010.

Inside the King Edward Hotel, Doors Open Toronto 2010.

I Like My Sushi in a Boat

I don’t know about you, but I like having my sushi presented to me in a boat. When you look at the menu at some Japanese restaurants, you see pictures of their sushi nicely placed in a wooden boat instead of a plate. Every time I saw that, I would imagine that my food would come in a boat. Alas, my hopes always dropped when I saw the waiter/waitress approach my table with a plate. You’d think that I’d learn to give up hope on these sushi boats over time but I haven’t yet.

Recently I went to a restaurant in Toronto called Memories of Japan. It is quite a large restaurant that seats approximately 300 guests, and provides them with a choice of sitting at a Teppanyaki table or at a regular dining table. Teppanyaki is always entertaining to watch but it is more enjoyable if you are in a larger group, so we opted for a dining table this time.

We ordered a combo meant for two people and containing a variety of food. It started out with Miso Soup and salad for both people, followed by tempura and a number of other appetizers, and finally the sushi! I should mention that there was a whole bunch of sushi! To get a feel, there were 29 pieces of assorted sashimi (raw fish), a choice of 3 types of sushi rolls from a list, with 8 rolls of each type (8×3 = 24) plus 8 more rolls of a fourth type of sushi. That’s 61 pieces in total! After the sushi course came dessert, which was a scoop of ice cream. Needless to say, I was so full after this meal that I skipped dinner and didn’t eat anything for the rest of the day.

The icing on the cake was that all this sushi was nicely presented to us in a wooden boat! My wish finally came true.

Sushi In A Boat