Toronto and Niagara Falls Vacation 2016

01-CN Tower


Our vacation started the day before we left where we went to the annual Washington DC pen show (only the girls bought anything, Albert came home empty handed), after which we went to the BWI Aloft to stay before our very early flight. We had a great meal at the Taste of Aloha, highly recommended, though there is no air conditioning. Also we discovered as Platinum SPG members we could leave our car at the hotel for 14 days with no charge, saved us $110.



The next morning our flight was at 6 AM so we woke up at 3:30 and took the shuttle. Albert and Elia played a little pool waiting for the shuttle. We flew into Buffalo to save money and drove into Canada. We played a car game looking for Canadian flags (they fly their flag a lot more than we do). Once there, we went immediately to a Canadian Superstore to buy Kinder eggs, illegal in the US, but an obsession for Curie and Elia. Disney Princess and Star Wars eggs were the specialty eggs available (did you know an orange capsule denotes a specialty egg prize?). Dinner was at Little Sheep Hot Pot, our 7th restaurant of the chain.



Kids on a purple bench where we parked our car in Little Italy. The purple on purple is a great picture. You will notice that Elia’s pants don’t match Curie’s though. She had a blow out at the store and we had to buy new ones that wouldn’t stay up when she ran.



The Toronto Islands Ferry is one of the best places to get a picture of the Toronto skyline. We loved the ride over and back.



The girls got to drive these gasoline powered cars and steered for themselves for the first time. It reminded us of when we went with Eleanor and Miranda on Autopia in Disneyland. When we were done, Curie said, “I’m not very good at steering.” Later Elia would say that those cars were “fast.”



Right after we put them on the red fire engines, and it was the first time we let Elia alone on a ride like this, maybe even the first time we let Curie on a ride like this and there was a sense of apprehension and then triumph and pride when they were done.



Our girls love the train so we definitely rode that, and then Elia insisted on riding the bees. Whenever we ask her about the bees now, she says that she went “high” while raising her hands. Curie was so proud to be “taking care of my little sister.” They rode the cars together and got the red car they had hoped for. After having Popsicles and rating the flume riders, Curie insisted on riding the little boats, but looked bored on them.



Elia wanted to ride three things, the bees, the “teapots (tea cups) and the bears. The tea cups and the bears were spinning rides and neither of us like spinning rides so we each took a turn. Erin was nice on the tea cups, but Albert span the bears very fast. In Elia’s words “Daddy spin too fast, me dizzy.” Of the ferris wheel and flume, Elia said it was “too ‘tary (scary).”



The highlight of the day was the ponies, which we rode twice. Note the second best ride was the bounce house. Erin was so scared to let Elia ride by herself but she did great. Curie’s second pony was Brandy, and Elia’s was Merlin.



There were definitely odd things to see in Toronto, like this woman sitting on a giant picnic table, the prevalence of phone booths, and this great sign on the Toronto Islands telling us to walk on the grass.



That night after getting back from Toronto Islands, we tried to climb the CN tower (note that Elia didn’t want to do until we told her that we would take an elevator and not climb the outside). Albert had to leave his Spyderco in a planter in security. After calculating how long it would take to go through line and seeing that the kids were melting down, we got a refund and got out of the hour long elevator line. We also pretended to come out of the wall in one of the buildings.



The next day we tried to go early as recommended to the CN tower and the Aquarium. The kids were hungry so we ducked in to a building for some Japanese food. Turns out we ducked into the CBC building where big Olympic things were going on. They had a giant TV, a prize wheel (we won a throwing disk, two Olympic pins, and one CBC pin). Then we did the phone booth where we talked to a former Canadian Olympian in Rio on TV. That night we found an amazing xiao long bao place called, Xiao Long Bao.



Because we couldn’t make it up the CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium we went to the Ontario Science Museum instead.



Before we went up the CN Tower we went into the Aquarium while it was still early and little to no lines. Since we bought our tickets online, we went straight in. We have been in some amazing aquariums in Atlanta, New Orleans, Long Beach, and Baltimore, but the underwater tunnel in Toronto was the best.



The kids really liked the aquarium, especially the play area. Curie wanted to touch a shark but the sharks in the touching pool were a little to agitated, so we didn’t.



The next day, Albert had a brainstorm. If you eat at the CN Tower you skip all the lines, it is $56 for lunch but the entry fee is $35 anyway, so for an expensive lunch we would get to go up without getting in line. Lunch minus entry fee was $100 CDN, so $75 USD pretty good. The food was amazing and the view was better than the observation deck that we also went to. Because the restaurant spins we were able to see the whole view almost unobstructed for more than an hour.



After the tower and the aquarium we went to the pool, which both Curie and Elia loved.



Albert said he would go back to Xiao Long Bao over Little Sheep Hot Pot and since Curie loved the dumplings so much, we went back.



The next day we drove to Niagara Falls. On the way we detoured to African Lion Safari, but a rain storm started right when we reached the gate so we didn’t go in. Both before and after were clear and beautiful. After we got there Curie wanted to go to a ball pit and wouldn’t think of anything else. We got food at Wendy’s because they gouge you on everything at Niagara and charge an “optional” tourist fee that if you don’t know to ask to take off, you pay anywhere from 3 – 10%. We had a great time on the Ferris wheel, but exhausted and tired fought a little after. Albert took it out on the Four Points Sheraton Fallsview for their deceptive processes.



The next day we were back in good spirits and made it out to the Hornblower (the US side is the Maid of the Mist) cruise. It was sweltering but once we got on the boat it was cool. We were worried about Curie and the water, but since we had pre-wired her, she was okay about it. It was Elia who didn’t like the water. It was a pretty cool trip we had worried about the boat and even brought life jackets in our luggage, but we didn’t bring them. We stood up on the raised part in the middle and had a great time.



Once we got off, we decided to get some ice cream and at the last minute decided to get it right at the boat area before the exit. Lucky we did because Albert recognized someone further up in line. It was Chris! We haven’t seen Chris in 10 years even though Albert and Chris talk every month and had been trying to arrange time for our families to meet. It was the first time we saw each other’s kids. His mother, father, and mother-in-law were there as well. What are the odds? Astronomical right?



Afterwards we went to Skylon Tower to go up another tower, but there was a thunderstorm that we waited for and played some games (again prices were crazy). When we were done, the kids didn’t want to go up the tower any more. Curie was clamoring to play mini-golf so we did that as well, but Elia got sunblock in her eyes and ended up crying and falling asleep.



That night we moved the the US side and stayed at the Four Points there. That was a great hotel with a bubble tub in our room. We ate at Duff’s and had some amazing wings, better than Anchor Bar. Curie ordered a second hot dog directly from the waitress, and Elia ate five plain wings.



The next morning was another 6 AM flight so we got up at 2:30 AM to get to the airport on time. Why so early? We were saving money and with points were able to do our entire vacation for a fifth the cost we had planned for Japan. Maybe Japan next year.