Picture of ice_sculpture At the time of our visit, Toronto had recently been approved as Canada's candidate for the 2008 Summer Olympics. As part of their bid they made it the theme of an ice sculpture display held downtown in Nathan Phillips square. Most of these feature the Olympic rings, the CN Tower, and a sport or two of choice. This is a close-up of one of our personal favorites.

Picture of more_ice_sculptures There were quite a few however, this is just one set of them. Nathan Phillips square is the center of Toronto and is bounded by the city hall and Ontario government buildings among others. A summer fountain becomes an ice rink in the winter (and a really small one compared to the Rideau Canal) and it was also the location of the city's largest New Year's Eve festivities.

Picture of cn_tower The world's tallest structure (that's structure, not building) is the CN Tower in downtown Toronto. For approximately the same price as an airline ticket from Toronto to say, Singapore, you can buy a ticket to go up in the CN Tower. Naturally, we went up in it.

Picture of glass_floor_m Once inside, the CN Tower is much like tall pointy structures in other major cities. You have a nice view of the area but it gets boring after about ten minutes. However, the CN tower has advanced tall pointy thing technology with the introduction of the 'glass' floor. Obviously, it's nothing like glass - they really just mean transparent floor. A cleverly placed mirror allows for exciting camera angles like this one. That's the tower of course sloping away on the left side.

Picture of glass_floor_d Look! I'm a midget! No, it's just fun with perspectives, exacerbated by the eight layers of clothing I was wearing in a futile attempt to remain warm while outside.

Picture of cn_top That's Lake Ontario behind Melanie and the New York shoreline somewhere in the distance. Down below is Toronto's 'city airport' which is actually on an island in the harbor. Ice has connected it, more or less, to the rest of the city.

Picture of toronto In the other direction is the rest of the city. Over on the left edge is a little bit of Nathan Phillips Square, which we mention again because we spent New Year's Eve there. Or at least an hour or so centered on midnight. After an impressive display of fireworks we returned to a pub near our hotel. Specifically, the 'Artful Dodger' which we highly recommend if you're in the area. There we met some local fellow pub-goers and spent a lively four or five hours discussing American politics, Canadian politics, world peace, and other fine pub topics. Eventually they felt necessary to issue a last call and we returned to the hotel to sleep.

Picture of dave_toronto Here is David somewhere in Toronto. Notice the globe lights are on because it's 3:00 in the afternoon in Toronto in the winter. Which means, this is about as sunny as it gets. Over there where all the other people are headed are the nice heated walkways connecting all of Toronto's buildings above or below ground. As an added bonus, every single intersection of tunnels also feaures a food court. Well, maybe that's an added bonus.

Picture of gardens The next day we spent visiting some of Toronto's more interesting ethnic neighborhoods, specifically the Portugese and Chinese sections. We also visited the university but we don't have pictures of any of this - sorry. We ate an eventful dinner in Chinatown (eventful because we weren't really sure what we ordered for the most part) and returned to our adopted pub again that evening. The next day we headed back to Buffalo stopping first in Burlington at the Royal Canadian Gardens. Most of the Royal Canadian Gardens are located outside and are enormous, but not very interesting in the winter. So we toured the Mediterranean gardens inside, shown here, and planned to return during a nicer season which will almost certainly be featured on the trip pages someday.

Picture of melanie_nf Not done yet, we made one last frigid stop at Niagara Falls to see how it compared to our summer visit the previous June. Well, it was much much colder. We can't really describe how cold it was given current internet technology levels, but maybe in the future we'll be able to demonstrate it somehow and your keyboard will freeze and crack into many small pieces and then you'll know. Anyway, it was pretty neat looking.

Picture of dave_nf Here is David not quite frozen yet. Due to the buildup of snow, the guard railing is much lower (effectively) than it normally would be. Given that, and the ice coating on everything, we strongly recommend caution in the vicinity of anything that might be called "the edge". We might also recommend snowshoes if you really want to get from the parking lot to the falls without trekking through waist-deep snow.

Picture of frozen_nf That is a person out there on the platform in between American and Bridal Veil falls. The ever-present mist at Niagara immediately condenses and freezes forming a perpetual snowstorm over the base of both falls. Everything else is coated in ice from the mist. The Niagara river below the falls is frozen on top except for a semicircle at the bottom of the falls. Most everything else in the area is closed, but the good news is that its unusually easy to get a parking spot.

Picture of tx_cntower


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