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Sun Sep 01 2013: Arrivals from Belgium, Departures from Toronto

We're hosting a couple from Belgium who contacted us through our blog! After traveling through Northern Europe by motorcycles, they're now backpacking through North America starting in Toronto. When they originally e-mailed us back in April, we were just getting ready to enter Cuba and had no plans to to be back in Toronto, so it was quite a coincidence that we were here at the same time.

The Belgians take a boat ride

We loved hosting Eva and Thomas in Toronto, it gave us the motivation to actually get out and see all the touristy places in Toronto that we wouldn't normally have visited. If it wasn't for them, we probably would have stayed in our apartment the entire summer! The Belgians are vegetarians and nature-lovers - cut from the same cloth as Neda! So I had to hide a packet of beef jerky under my bed for the week... :)

View of Toronto from Centre Island

It was great seeing Toronto from a tourists' pair of eyes. Eva and Thomas told us that the skyline looked very futuristic. I never thought about it, but I guess coming from the Old Continent, everything must look so shiny and new here. The CN Tower and Skydome do look kinda spacey, even though the tower was built 40 years ago! Nowadays, the view of the skyline from the waterfront is being quickly disfigured by a forest of high-rise condominiums which is a real shame.

Toronto's Flatiron building

Fake Canadian Geese hanging inside the Eaton Centre

While taking the Belgians around town, I realized that I really miss being an expert on something. In the entire year that we've been traveling, we were in Input-Only Mode, taking in sights, sounds and information, not having any prior background and not being able to express any opinions with any depth of knowledge. Now we were entirely in our element. Being around friends, we talked with conviction about all things Toronto: our train-wreck of a mayor, the condofication of the city, real-estate bubbles, bubble tea, the proposed casino and island airport expansion, etc.

It felt good to be entrenched in the issues and politics of a place, instead of always merely passing through and scooping up an inch-full of surface knowledge, a snippet of sound-bites.

Eva sports the latest in Toronto baseball fashion apparel

One thing I am *NOT* knowledgeable about is baseball, so I had to be quick on my feet, both with the pocket Google and the MSUs (Making Shit Up). The Belgians peppered me with questions up in the nose-bleed seats of the Skydome, all the while we watched the Jays gets murdelized by the Oakland A's. When they go back home and explain baseball to other Belgians, I hope my name doesn't come up when they talk about foul-plays and fly-runs...

The Belgians told us that our baseball fans are very tame and well-behaved. They said in European sports, when the home team loses, there is always a chance of a riot! I told them that when our home team(s) loses *ALL THE TIME*, you simply run out of energy...

Bautista is famous Toronto T-shirt designer

Sunset against the open Skydome

CN Tower looks like the warp trail of a rocket when lit up!

So cliched, but we took the Belgians to Nigara Falls. Maid of the Mist earns its name.

I forget how fascinating it is for someone who has never seen the Falls

The Canadian Horseshoe Falls flows 2.2 million liters of water *PER SECOND*!

Add this picture to our, Take-Our-Tourist-Friends-To-Niagara-Fall collection... :)

Butterfly Conservatory in Niagara

A case of mistaken identity for Eva's hairclip

After a long day, Thomas relaxes in our apartment. Great picture taken by Eva!

Toronto's version of Grand Central Station - Union Station

We had such an amazing time with Eva and Thomas! We recognized the same joy of travel in their eyes, and there was always lots to talk about between the four of us. They continued their journey to Western Canada by train and we wished them a fond farewell, and I really believe we will be seeing our new-found friends again soon. You can read all about Eva and Thomas' adventures on their blog, Life is a Journey!

Look and Point - Part 1 of 2

Look and Point - Part 2 of 2

The Canadian National Exhibition is a 3-week long fair held in Toronto and it traditionally marks the end of the summer. It also marks the end of our vacation in the city, and since we lived so close, I met up with some friends to take in the sights.

At the Ex, you take your life in your own hands with the dodgy rides and dodgier food

Actually, the real reason why I went to the Ex was to try the infamous Cronut: half-croissant, half-donut, with a burger in the middle. There was an incident the week before when the maple-bacon jam topping the Cronut caused over 100 people to contract severe food poisoning. So after hearing that, I *HAD* to try it! But sadly, the Cronut was taken off the menu for good after the incident. :(

These swings are iconic - they've been in every TV commercial for the Ex for decades!

"Carnival, the wheels fly and the colours spin through alcohol..."

Betting on a good time

Our friends have been such a joy to hang out with this summer. They surrounded us like a warm blanket on a cold winter morning, and it was much more difficult leaving them this time around than it was last year. But there's still so much to see out there so we're suiting up for the next exciting season of RideDOT.com!

Stay tuned! :)

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