Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)


July 26, 2013

Travel twist in Toronto

ASHLAND — The thrill of traveling is in the unexpected, and sometimes the exhilarating starts off disappointing.

My latest trip to Toronto, Canada, was suppose to be centered around watching my favorite band. While there, we planned to ascend to the top of one of the world’s largest buildings and Carl planned to get an old-style Navy tattoo from a well-known artist there.

Almost immediately, our trip took a turn from the expected. As we rounded Lake Ontario on the way in, I squirmed in my seat with anticipation of seeing the skyline. I was greeted instead by a wall of gray clouds.

When we finally exited the highway, a mile from our downtown hotel, I still couldn’t see the CN Tower because heavy rains had begun falling. Over the next 30 minutes, the streets became rivers and the plan to spend a night on the town was washed away.

Over the next seven hours, Toronto received the rain of a lifetime. It caused flooding and widespread power outages, shutting down part of the subway system and canceling scheduled events.

 The next morning, low clouds continued to threaten rain and the tops of its tall buildings remained hidden from view. We totted umbrellas to the tattoo shop, but found although we arrived before it opened the parlor was completely booked by other walk-ins.

We tried to shake off the disappointment, and stay positive while praying the rains wouldn’t affect the concert later that night. We ate lunch a few blocks from the city center where skyscrapers supposedly rose above us still invisible in the clouds.

By 4 p.m. the skies had begun to clear and we headed to the venue full of anticipation. We had our best seats ever, and we were excited.

Then 30 minutes before show time the news came. The concert had been rescheduled due to the storm’s havoc on local transportation.

We were crushed. As we turned to slog back toward the city to catch a cab, we grumbled in disappointment.

Toronto hadn’t turned out as we had expected. We should have gone to Florida instead, we agreed.

Then something remarkable happened. We found ourselves walking along the harbor just as the sun was setting. The skyline came into view and Lake Ontario sparkled as sailboats bobbed in the harbor.

In Chinatown, we settled on a dumplings for dinner, agreeing after the meal they were the best we’d ever eaten. Back at our bed and breakfast, we sipped wine on the balcony and watched the CN Tower’s light show.

The next morning dawned clear and bright and we took a ferry to the Toronto Islands. It was here on a quite beach along Lake Ontario that we realized despite our initial feelings, we were falling for Toronto.

It was simply unlike any other city we’d ever visited. The mix of peoples and cultures was unique and unexpected, and, unlike many big cities, people were friendly, warm and relaxed.

At the same time, the excitement and energy was palpable. A quick count of high-rise cranes rising in the distance was undisputable evidence that the city is growing rapidly.

Then there were the amenities, recycling receptacles outpaced trash cans, public transportation was abundant — and functioning even after historic rains. There was green space tucked in around almost every corner. Green space, I had noticed, that often featured manicured French-style gardens, which I love.

Then there is the food culture. There were breweries galore, raw milk cheeses, local wines and plenty of fresh fish. That’s not counting the coffee houses, creperies and bakeries, pubs, gelato shops and bistros.

By the next morning, Toronto had leap-frogged to the front of our “favorite big cities list.”  As we headed south on the next leg of our Canadian adventure, we were already plotting a return trip.

CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at (606) 326-2653 or by email at cstambaugh@dailyindependent.com.

Text Only
  • Uncovering forgotten treasures

    You know the big difference between me and a hoarder? I mean, except that you can walk through my house and there are none of the disgusting aspects of hoarding in my life.

    April 14, 2014

  • Political stories worth retelling

    With Kentucky in the midst of the political season, it’s time to share some stories I’ve heard about the art of politicking.

    April 13, 2014

  • 0413timbizcolweb.jpg Tim Preston: Great salmon; finding Dr. Amy; and more Maria: 4/13/14

    It isn’t an especially convenient location unless you happen to be going that way, and if you don’t get there within the next couple of weeks you’ll have to wait until fall to try it out, but I had the best lunch I can remember last week at one of the last places you’d likely think of when pondering where to eat.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Restaurant horror stories; garden planning tips

    In my couponing classes, I always had fun with everyone by telling them gross restaurant stories. In encouraging them to eat at home more and save their money, I was also teaching them how much cleaner it is.

    April 12, 2014

  • Feeling happy is ...

    Anyone hoping the Ashland-Huntington area will soon overtake Disney World as “the happiest place on Earth” will be waiting awhile.

    April 10, 2014

  • 0410markcol.jpg Mark Maynard: Brick House (South Ashland Florist) brings in $13K so far: 04/10/14

    Here’s a 14-name salute coming your way:

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • John Cannon: Take this joint, please: 04/09/14

    Some of the things that occurred during our recent week in Jamaica were unexpected and even a bit weird. I suspect those will be the things we will still clearly remember long after the memories of the hours of lying on the beach have faded. I started to mention them in last week’s column, but opted to save them until a later date in the interest of length.

    April 8, 2014

  • AARON SNYDER: March Madness, sadness for Cats

    It’s just another game. That’s the message John Calipari preached profusely throughout the 2014 NCAA tournament. It’s typical coachspeak, but Cal’s young Kentucky team clung to the step-by-step approach to produce atypical results.

    April 8, 2014

  • Sweet thoughts on the season

    So far, I’ve been a good girl. Or a pretty good girl anyway. See, I have this thing for Reese’s peanut butter eggs. Homemade peanut butter eggs? Eh. I can take ‘em or leave ‘em.

    April 7, 2014

  • What happened to safety of childhood?

    In the years before air conditioning, we slept soundly and safely with the screen door often unlatched.

    April 6, 2014