“Discover Real Affordable Peru..including Machu Pichu, the Sacred Valley and Cuzco in an Overseas Adventure Tour.”
How could I resist the lure of the travel brochure, especially since Paul and I had tried to visit Peru in 1989; however, we had to go to the jungle instead since The Shining Path (a group of terrorists) was killing tourists on the train to Machu Pichu.
So, the time was right for me to go to Peru with Kathy, my MT nurse daughter, who gave me a helping hand when those Inca steps proved too challenging for me alone.
Our weekend ended on a light note with “Being Liberal Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry” presented by The Second City National Touring Company, a group of six highly Talented improv artists who performed witty, satirical sketches.
Some of the skits focused on a Parent – Teacher conference; a married couple driving in a car and each one always wanted to have the last word; several “spoofs” on the eldrerly and nursing homes; and a very touching cameo of a young boy who is trying to win his father’s approval at a baseball game. A few of the many actors who have launched their careers at this venue are Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Gilda Radner and Martin Short.
With memories like these, I’m planning on a return visit to Toronto.
We were able to see two more plays on Sunday. “Snowman by Greg MacArthur at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre which promotes “provocative artists and alternative lifestyles” had a very interesting plot about what happens to a dysfunctional couple, a teenager who came to be part of their extended family and an uptight archeologist when a frozen prehistoric child is discovered in a nearby glacier.
We walked to the Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts to see Paul Ruder’s powerful opera, “The Handmaid’s Tale” directed by Phyllidia Lloyd and performed by the Canadian Opera Company with Conductor Richard Bradshaw.
I thought that this production was very true to Margaret Atwood’s hauntingly prophetic novel written in 1985. Her prescient view of “what happens when you start doing things that are not out in the open such as the government having secret trials? You are in big, big trouble.”
The Prologue and Epilogue of the book were effectively presented on a lowered screen. Especially disturbing were photos of ecological disasters which rendered many women infertile; therefore, the role of Handmaid was to act as a surrogate mother. With the help of a revolving platform, the stage crew did an excellent job of changing the scenes.
Other tour highlights were the Bata Shoe Museum shaped like a shoe box; the University of Toronto (largest in Canada); riding along the harbor front of Lake Ontario; the Skydome for sporting events; and Fort York which was taken over by the United States in the War of 1812 because the British simply left town.
Of course, a major part of any trip I take is seeing theatrical productions and I was rewarded with a variety of performances. We sarted with an afternoon dinner theater play, “Tony and Tina’s Wedding” at the Second City. From the minute we walked in the front door, we were caught up with the whole bridal group before and during the wacky “wedding” ceremony at Vinnie’s Chapel of Love. By the time we left the festivities, we were not just members of the audience, we had become part of the family!
“In 1812 the population of Toronto was 2,000. Today the Greater Metropolitan Area tops 3 1/2 million and is the 5th largest city in North America.
One of the big tourist attractions is Casa Loma (house on the hill), a “castle” with European influence built by architect E. J. Lennox between 1911 – 1914. Our guide said that Casa Loma was the home of Canadian financier Sir Henry Pellatt who designed a hydroelectric grid for Toronto and made millions of dollars; however, the city of Toronto took over the grid and eventually the castle leaving Henry with very little money.
The other city icon is the CN Tower built by Canadian National in 1976 to display the country’s industrial strength. I looked way up to see the revolving restaurant and viewing platforms. Our guide continued, “It still remains as one of the highest free standing buildings of the world, attracts over 2 million visitors annually, is located in the heart of Toronto’s Entertainment District and is a short walk from the Fairmont Royal York.”
Ontario Tourism virtually gave us the keys to Toronto with a complimentary Grand City Tour on a red double decker open Gray Line Bus.
After we boarded. Alex, our guide, pointed out the Hockey Hall of Fame. “the ultimate tribute to the fastest game on earth” which had a sculpture depicting a group of hockey players behind and straddling a low wall.
“The Royal Bank of Canada is encased in gold dust” and it really stood out on the overcast day. “Yonge is the longest Main Street in Canada reaching 1200 miles to the Minnesota border.” We were on mile 2 when we drove through Eaton Center – “the busiest shopping area in Canada.
Three generations of Britain’s “Royals” have stayed in the Royal Suite at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel. I thought it was interesting to note that in 1929 a room there cost $2.00 a person and guests could enjoy a grilled Lake Ontario trout for $ .85 or a filet mignon for $1.75 in the dining room.
Part of the York’s hospitality to us included a gift package of fruit, cheese, bread and crackers plus a bottle of wine. We were also guests for a sumptuous 4 course dinner at their 5 star Epic Restaurant. The “Amuse” was dried beef with a kumquat compote followed by sliced tomatoes with a Saint Maure goat cheese tower and balsamic vinegar; I chose the pistachio-crusted Rack of Lamb with an eggplant puree and tomato chutney chutney for my entree.
Since I believe that “Life is short, eat dessert first:, I was delighted to savor a Hot Dark Chocolate Truffle Cake with spiced Tulle on top and presented with almond pralines and Caramel Anglaise. Since our visit coincided with the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, a traditional turkey dinner was also available with pumpkin pie.
Nothing can beat the scenario of spending a weekend in Toronto, Ontario. In fact, just staying at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel was worth the whole trip.
As a guests of Ontario Tourism, my friend and I were treated to one of the beautifully appointed suites outfitted in period furniture. The Royal York was originally built by the Canadian Pacific Railway Co. as part of their chain of luxury hotels across Canada to provide lavish rest stops for train passengers from St. John’s Newfoundland to Victoria, B.C. When the Toronto hotel was officially opened in 1929, it was the tallest and largest building in the British Empire with 28 floors of architectural splendor and opulence topped by a glass-enclosed roof garden and a hand-painted 176′ ceiling in the loobby.
We’ve already taken a ride on the Skunk Train and looked for glass on Glass Beach. One morning we revisited the Little River Inn on the Mendocino coast for some of their famous Swedish pancakes that Paul remembered having twenty years ago. Since I’m partial to sweets, I had the house specialty – Ollalaberry Cobbler with yogurt – delicious!
Originally Little River Inn was built in 1853 by Silas Coombs, a lumberman from Maine, as a family residence. Now the facilities bordering Van Damme State Park have expanded into 225 acres which include Ocean view lodging, golf and tennis.
I am definitely anticipating our next coastal adventure at Fort Bragg.