Hey there, Toronto. It’s been a few months since I’ve seen you – but alas, I made my return this past weekend for a brief, barely-planned excursion up to the 416.
This was a very last-minute planned trip – literally, I planned this on Friday for that following weekend. After some searching, I found a hotel in Oakville, about 90 minutes from Buffalo and a short distance outside the metro area of Toronto itself. A rainy drive on Saturday afternoon with stops at a Walmart in Fort Erie, a Wendy’s in Niagara Falls and Oakville Place eventually led us (my fiancé and I, that is) to the Country Inn & Suites by Carlson.
I will disclaimer here that I paid only $15 for this room. I had a nifty Hotels.com reward to use, which took care of everything but the taxes, and it was great! The room was spacious enough, simple and nothing extravagant, but it served its purpose well enough. The staff was friendly, and I loved the “country” decor in the lobby. Parking and wifi were both free (always key points IMO) and there was also breakfast included. I didn’t eat a lot – I wasn’t feeling great – but there was enough and it looked halfway decent.
We spent Saturday evening at the Cineplex Cinemas Oakville and VIP, where we saw the new Mission Impossible movie. Now, I paid a pretty penny for the movie tickets and really didn’t get it. Sure, the VIP lounge to sit in before the movie was cool – but I’m not that high-strung that I require that sort of thing. The in-seat food service was probably the best part, but the menu was incredibly limited and the food wasn’t great (hello, please tell me how I’m supposed to eat chicken fingers COATED with Buffalo sauce in a pitch-black movie theater, thx). If I ever go back, I’ll get regular movie food in the lobby.
Sunday, after checking out of the hotel around 12, we headed to Toronto!
The one benefit of the hotel I chose: just a seven-minute drive from the Clarkson GO Station. From there, it’s easy enough to pay your fare ($14/day pass) and hop on the train to Toronto – roughly a 36 minute ride into Union Station. Parking is free at the station, and yes, you can overnight park if necessary.
Upon arriving in Toronto, our first stop was the Rogers Centre for a tour of the ballpark. We *just* made it for the 1 p.m. tour, and it ended up being fantastic. I had done a similar tour before, back in 2011, but a) that was FOUR years ago and b) the tour route changes daily depending on what’s going on in the stadium. Among the things we got to see: the 100 level, the 300 level, a suite, the Jays Community Clubhouse, media center for baseball and the Sportsnet broadcasting suite. The tour guides are absolute gems with a wealth of knowledge and you’ll learn a lot about the Rogers Centre, its history and inner workings.
After that, we found a restaurant called SoCo Kitchen & Bar to grab some lunch at. It was a weird time, between breakfast and lunch, I guess, so they had an incredibly limited menu, but it’s a cute, hip place. The macaroni and cheese is pretty delicious, but I have to say… $8 for a bottle of Angry Orchard? Seriously? I’m not sure if that’s the inflation of being in Canada, or the inflation of Toronto, or just the restaurant, but.. no.
From there, it was off to the Hockey Hall of Fame. The coolest part of this was seeing my fiancé’s handwriting on pucks in one of the cases, as he worked the 2015 Central Canada Cup Challenge back in November and the pucks from the final game were put in a display. Incredible. There’s not matter people who can say their handwriting is in the Hockey Hall of Fame, and I’m just incredibly proud! The Hall itself wasn’t too, too busy – probably partly to do with it being Sunday, and also partly to do with the fact that the Stanley Cup is out getting engraved and all that fun stuff. It’s always nice to go and see pieces of hockey history!
Our last stop of the day (and our only real “planned one”) was BMO Field for the Toronto FC vs. New England Revolution game! This was my first time at BMO Field and my first MLS game, so it was a neat experience. I made sure to book seats on the correct side so as to bask in that beautiful city skyline – from the skyline to the Lake, absolutely picturesque. Our seats were also the second row from the top so it gave us really just a great overall view and for only about $20 each. New England won (which, being American, I suppose I should cheer about) and overall, it was a good experience. It had been raining on & off all day, but held off for the game itself. My only complaints: SO MANY STAIRS. My goodness. Also, why isn’t there a standalone Smoke’s Poutinerie in the stadium? There was only a food truck, which is a) cash only b) much smaller c) only one service point for the entire stadium for Smoke’s, really?! Hmph.
The nice part of wrapping things up is that we were then able to catch the GO Train back right from Exhibition Station; a 26-minute ride led us back to Clarkson and the car, and we were Buffalo-bound. But of course, not without a stop at Boston Pizza. 🙂