Doing our best in Toronto

Our 5 hour bus journey from Ottawa to Toronto was broken up at a quintessential truck stop in the middle of nowhere. It was just your average place to buy chocolate, supersized bags of crisps, apple pie and handguns! it certainly was an experience for 2 ladies from the UK.

truck stop

Our fabulous hotel, The Chelsea, was a short walk from the bus station and as soon as we settled in we wasted no time in making our way to the CN Tower. Due to our central location we were there within 15 minutes.

The Tower did not disappoint, after a high speed ride in the outside glass elevator we were on the Sky pod level at the very top enjoying the spectacular and breathtaking view. Next stop down to the lookout level and of course we had to trot across the glass walk and jump up and down like loonies. A lot of my friends said I was brave to do it but as it can take the weight of 14 fully grown hippos I figured I was safe! We survived that to take our place in the scrum to get the best video and photo of the beautiful sunset.

Day 2 started with a lovely substantial brunch in Fran’s Diner, a quirky retro delight serving very tasty food by attentive staff. Then we headed north to midtown in our quest to find the Casa Loma. It was a bit more of a trek than we anticipated especially when we thought we had arrived, only to discover we were looking at Toronto University! In our defence it did look kind of old, but we needed to do a few more thousand steps before we could reach our final destination.

We were rewarded by the first sights of the Casa Loma poking through the trees. This Edwardian mansion was designed by E J Lennox and built for Sir Henry Pellatt who made his fortune harnessing the power of Niagara Falls for electricity.

This castle is a delightful assembly of towers, turrets and tunnels. Anyone who knows me knows there is nothing I like more than exploring towers, turrets and tunnels and they were in abundance here.

What we didn’t know before we visited is that Lady Mary Pellatt, Henry’s wife, was the first Chief Commander of the girl guides of Canada. She dedicated most of her adult life to girl guiding and was awarded the Silver Fish Award, which is the highest award in guiding for her outstanding service. As we are both guiders in the UK it was a real treat to discover the exhibition in the castle dedicated to Lady Mary’s life and achievement in guiding.

After a very lovely and relaxing mooch around the castle and grounds we made our way downtown for a spot of dinner and to enjoy the light show on the CN tower.



Due to being incarcerated in Ottawa Jail Hostel, we only had 2 nights in Toronto which was nowhere near enough. But it’s a good excuse to return, will definitely do the Edge walk at the CN tower when I go back, the queue was too long on this visit.

Next stop Niagara Falls………


Bang to rights in Ottawa

Originally when we planned this trip we were going to travel from Montreal to Toronto by train, but while searching for accommodation a little hostel popped up on my search that seemed far too interesting to ignore. So we decided on a pit stop in Ottawa.

We stayed in the Ottawa Jail Hostel, first opened in 1862 this was the city lock up for many years. Centrally situated this hostel has been cleverly converted to accommodate many a weary traveller. There are 4,6 and 8 bedded dorm rooms,  deluxe double rooms with en-suite facilities. We however had one of the double cells, converted from original cells there are single and double rooms. They are very bijou, furnished with ether a single bed or bunk beds, a table and clothes rail, it really is like being in prison! if you are claustrophobic I would probably give them a miss. Showers and toilets are shared but cleaned on a very regular basis. One of the original inmates of our cell was Patrick O’Shea in 1886 serving time for theft. Included in the room price is a very substantial buffet breakfast with cereal, eggs, fruit, bread, bagels, cheese and lots more on offer with unlimited tea and coffee to wash it all down with. A word of warning though, there is no lift in the original part of the prison and there are 6 floors!

Ottawa is the constitutional and political capital of Canada and the centre is very compact and easy to explore on foot. The 2 days we had there were the wettest of our holiday, so it kind of hampered our enjoyment of the city, but only a little bit because we’re Brits and won’t let a bit of rain put us off!

We had a good nose around the parliament buildings for free,  in a bid to try and stay a little drier. We did want to climb the Peace Tower but unfortunately it was closed for restoration work. The sun did make an appearance long enough for us to explore Byward Market, have some lunch and buy some delicious goodies to prepare later in the hostel’s kitchen for dinner.


Next ……. road trip to Toronto