Making The Most of a Toronto Layover

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I started my return trip to Albany from Costa Rica on Saturday but arrived in Toronto for a 14 hour layover. Rather than hide away at an airport hotel I jumped aboard a $23 luxury bus shuttle for a 30-minute drive to the financial district in downtown Toronto.

Thank to Priceline, I scored an affordable $100 overnight stay at a plush 4-star Hilton.

It was slightly before 11p and I figured the area would be hopping with entertainment and dining. But with temperatures hovering under zero degrees, the streets were empty and the restaurants, even some of the bars, closed their doors at midnight.

So, I got up at the crack of dawn to tour the city by foot. I’ve never been to Toronto and have always wanted to see the skyline, harbor and, of course, the eponymous buildings of Frank Gehry, Daniel Libeskind and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

Surrounded by dozens of imposing skyscrapers, the CN Tower shadows all of them. It’s the most prominent landmark in Toronto.

Wiki says it was “the world’s tallest free-standing structure for 31 years, from its completion in 1975 until Burj Khalifa in the United Arab Emirates surpassed it in 2007; it remains the world’s tallest free-standing tower.”

The streets of Toronto are much like New York City – a grid pattern that’s easy to navigate with wide sidewalks and several parks in between. I found the nineteen-century Distillery District and St.Lawrence Marketplace both locked up tight on a Sunday morning.

When my hands and legs felt frozen with frostbite, I ducked into the Union Station railroad terminal to warm up. A covered passageway lead to the base of the CN tower for sunny views of the sprawling largesse.