Monday, October 8, 2012

Flying Up to Toronto to See DC United – Arrival on Friday Evening

I’ve been hearing for years about the excellent atmosphere and intense fan support for Toronto FC at BMO Field, so when Porter Airlines offered an inexpensive non-stop fare into an airport right in downtown Toronto, and Nancy said she’s be willing to come along for a weekend I jumped at the chance.  In the end, the game was an anti-climax, but the weekend was excellent.

Porter flies only propeller planes, and I am not wild about commuter flights in general, but I was psychologically committed to the trip by the time I recognized that we would have to fly on a prop plane. I don;t think I;ve ridden a propeller plane since I flew to Page Arizona forty years ago to go rafting down the Colorado, but in the end, the flights were fine, even if it was it was pretty darn bumpy flying home on Sunday.  The flight was out of Dulles, an inconvenient airport, but it went right into Billy Porter City Airport, which is even closer to downtown Toronto than National Airport is to downtown DC – it takes a ferry ride across a channel barely wider than a soccer pitch is long, and the ferry lands within a couple of blocks of a busy street car line.  An extra bonus was that we flew up on the same flight at Steve Goff, the Washington Post’s soccer writer.  He and I have corresponded by email over the years, and it was a pleasure to be able to chat in person.

As we arrived, we had this nice view of Toronto from the airplane window.

View of Toronto from plane arriving at Billy Bishop City Airport

 Looking at the AAA map, I could have sworn it was a reasonable walk to our hotel, so Nancy and I set off with our bags in hand.   A run of the Google map would have corrected this misapprehension – it was more than a three mile walk. Still, it was lovely as we strolled along the waterfront, and we got nice views of the CN Tower, Rogers Centre and the Toronto skyline.

CN Tower and Rogers Center

By the time we had walked north on Bay Street, then Church Street, and finally Jarvis, it was 8 PM and we were too tired to go across town for the dinner I had reserved.  The hotel host siad that some of her guests would buy food at Loblaws and bring it back to eat in the breakfast room, but we opted instead for we opted for my second restaurant choice, the Matagali, an Indian Thai place only a few blocks from our hotel.  The food there was good, if relatively unremarkable. The most interesting thing we had was listed on the menu as prawns pakora, actually several shrimp, lightly battered, marinated then fried, with a delicious flavor.

Prawns Pakora

On the way over, we had passed a large food store called Loblaw’s, located in an older building that turned out to be the former Maple Leaf Gardens

The former Maple Leaf Gardens, now home to Ryerson University and Loblaw

We were tired, but not too tired to satisfy our curiosity, so we stepped inside to find a huge food emporium that I can best refer to as Whole Food on steroids. in addition to ample aisles of regular groceries, there was a huge section of produce, ready-made foods of many varieties, a large cheese section, bakery, fresh candy aisle, and more.

Inside Loblaw on Carleton Street in Toronto
Inside Loblaw on Carleton Street in Toronto

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