A voyage of self discovery
The lush greens and spectacular scenic views of Ontario, Canada are nestled in nature's bounty. The vibrant city is always buzzing with new experiences all year-round.
Its welcoming open roads lead one to breathtaking scenery, quaint country towns and hip and happening Toronto, with its hyperactive stew of cultures and sheer urban awe, modern art galleries, theatre and love for music, baseball, soccer and hockey, the fascinating Blue Mountain and the spectacular Niagara Falls.
As you stroll across the city's scenic waterfront you will see how the natural (endless forests, 250,000 lakes and mountains) and man-made wonders (plethora of wineries and breweries to whet your appetite, stadiums, skyscrapers and one of the tallest free-standing structures in the world) add a touch of magic to this charming megalopolis.
After landing at the Toronto International Airport on Lufthansa flight, I was transferred to Blue Mountain. The view from my room at the Westin Trillum House at Gord Canning Drive was instantly uplifting and despite the long flight, I felt rejuvenated to take on the world with great gusto.
After a quick soak in the bath tub, I took an exciting gondola ride to the top of the Blue Mountain, followed by an early dinner at Tholos restaurant. The next morning I woke up to a healthy Mountain Climber’s brekkie at Oliver & Bonacini before heading out to the Scenic Caves Nature's Adventures.
A walk through the caves, the thrilling Thunderbird Twin Zipline and the Suspension Bridge was the highpoint; clearly one of Ontario's signature experiences! You might get spellbound from a vantage point view above Georgian Bay.
Venture deep inside mountain caverns carved by glacial ice or explore a labyrinth of caves and crevasses. Georgian Hills Vineyards was next with a picnic lunch, wine and apple pie under the apple trees, followed by an hour of paddling down the Beaver River with Free Spirit Tours. I was lucky enough to spot a beaver too.
With a lot of muscle work, a visit to the award-winning Ontario Spa, Le Scandinav Spa was truly deserved. The Scandinavian Bath included a Finnish sauna, eucalyptus steam room, a dip in the thermal and Nordic waterfalls, hot bath and a quick cold plunge.
Come summer, downtown neighbourhoods become an endless convergence of patios bursting at the seams; alfresco is the way to dine and that's exactly what I did at Copper Blues.
I checked into the Chelsea Hotel, Toronto next and took a walking tour of Toronto urban development examining period architecture and contemporary design with Richard Fiennes-Clinton of Muddy York Tours. Yonge Street is quintessentially Toronto (1200 km long) one of the longest in the world, where many movies and TV series have been shot. It also houses the Canadian landmark, the Toronto Eaton Centre (TEC). But the best was saved for the last!
I was awestruck at the 360 The Restaurant, CN Tower that offers an incomparable culinary experience with a magnificent revolving view of Toronto more than 1,151 ft below. Explore Canada away from the beaten track, with a tour of Chinatown and Kensington Market area, as you walk down a maze of narrow streets and alleys, lined with graffiti walls and brightly-coloured Victorian houses.
Drive down for a leisurely lunch at El Catrin, Distillery Historic District for a memorable Mexican meal. The restoration work at the Gooderham & Worts Distillery is unique with interesting art installations. Want to escape the city? Try the Canoe Paddling & Dining courtesy Harbourfront Canoe & Kayak Centre. I paddled to the beautiful Toronto Islands in a heritage freighter canoe and after hitting the shore, feasted on a gourmet dinner picnic on the island. As the sun set, I paddled back, taking in the magnificent skyline night view.
Keep three days aside to visit Niagara-on-the-Lake filled with old world charm and the Niagara Falls for some unparalleled wonders (Whirlpool, WildPlay's MistRider Zipline to the Falls, high-adrenaline Aerial adventures, Hornblower cruise and fireworks-keepexploring.in).
Toronto brims with energy and excitement and as I return with a bagful of maple syrup and other souvenirs, what I will always cherish is a collection of memorable adventures and some great travel stories. The inner explorer in me couldn't have asked for anything more breathtaking than this.
— The writer was invited to experience Ontario by Destination Canada, India.