Staycation in Toronto

Jul 05

On friday my husband and I brought the kids to downtown Toronto for a day trip.  The kids have never travelled further than the Sky Dome or Rogers Center any time we ventured out of our suburban nest and we thought it would be an eye-opening experience for them to see how big city folks lived.  Here was our itinerary:

We drove to Kipling Subway Station and rode the subway to Spadina.¬† From there we rode the streetcar south and got off at Dundas, in the center of Chinatown.¬† Surprisingly, the garbage strike didn’t create as putrid a mess as I’d feared.¬† Aside from the garbage receptacles overflowing, the street looked no less unkempt than usual.

We travelled along some of the streets, browsing through the shops that offered various trinkets and trash until each of them chose to purchase a miniature sized crystal ball that came with a small wooden stand to keep it from rolling right off their cluttered dressers at home.  Two of my boys picked green coloured balls and the other liked white.  At $3 each, they were a bargain compared to the souvenirs sold at any of the parks in and around the GTA. 

After about 45 minutes of wandering through the Chinatown crowds, we found a small Chinese diner that served dumplings.¬† For $30 we each had several dumplings (some steamed, some fried), slurped wonton soup and shared a large plate of noodles.¬† The kids also each had an iced tea and my husband and I drank Jasmine tea served in large tupperware glasses (the only inauthentic Asian aspect to our meal.)¬† The kids even ate with chopsticks… sorta’.¬† Although the lunch began with the usual whining about not liking “that kind” of food, we all found the food delectable and left with stuffed bellies.

Next, we headed to Kensington Market which was only a five minute walk away.  A fantastic little musical shop sold everything from a blue maple leaf shaped guitar to bongo drums.  I considered picking up one of the intriguing instruments, but the price tags were quite steep.  A bongo drum went for about $100.  That seemed a little much for something that would likely have ended up at the bottom of a toy chest in our basement. 

My husband rummaged through the used clothing racks in the consignment shops, but the biggest thrill was watching a fifty-something man yell at a truck driver for blocking his car and thus, preventing him and his wife from driving through the street.¬† It culminated with the angry little man jumping a meter into the air and slamming his foot against the exterior of the truck before finally returning to his seat and driving past it.¬† Don’t see that too much in Oakville!

Rain started to fall so we decided to get back to the subway and head to the Royal Ontario Museum.¬† All Ontario students received a handy coupon book that offers discounts to various tourist sites.¬† Luckily, we thought to bring the coupons for free child admission to the ROM.¬† The five of us got in for $60.¬† Not bad, considering we stayed there from about 1:30 to 6pm.¬† The boys had a blast – particularly in the Biodiversity area.¬† I hadn’t been to the ROM in at least twenty years and wasn’t so sure that it would be kid-friendly.¬† It is… and I have three rowdy boys under the age of ten.

After much begging, the kids talked us into allowing them to peruse the museum souvenir shop.¬† We agreed they could each buy something for $3 a piece.¬† Of the hundreds of items on display, they could only afford two things – a flashing rubber frog ring or a small piece of granite.¬† We talked them out of those purchases, reminding them of their super cool crystal balls.¬† Just can’t beat those Chinatown prices!¬†

When we exited the ROM, we were hungry and our feet (uh, my feet) were aching.¬† My husband remembered a great pizza place called Cora’s¬†that¬†we used to order from when we lived at St. George¬†& Bloor.¬† So, we headed to Cora’s and ate pizza (not quite¬†as good as we remembered) on a bench facing onto Spadina.¬† By 7pm we were back on the subway heading home.¬†

We all had a great time, give or take some bad behaviour.¬† And the whole adventure only cost us about $120.¬† Canada’s Wonderland is great – but sometimes the real world is just as much fun.

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