See yourself

On Monday night with Jim it had come up how you never do your home town's tourist attractions. I had mentioned that I was going to visit the CN Tower, and he admitted he'd never actually been up it. It's the tallest man-made observation deck in the world and until recently the tallest building too. When I asked the attendant what the tallest natural observation deck was, she said 'probably a mountain', which makes it a bit of a weird qualification. Go on, you can call it the tallest observation deck in the world. A mountain isn't an observation deck. It's a fucking mountain.

Anyway, in the days that followed he asked if he could come along to the tower with me, which sounded fun. We'd arranged to meet after he finished work (the tower has a restaurant at the top and is thus open til 11pm every day). In the morning, though, I got a message to say that he'd heard the weather was turning and that if it gets too cloudy they close off the upper deck as you can't see anything. So, with his blessing, I headed off in the morning alone to see it while there was still something to see.

It's a pretty impressive structure. What terrifies me most about skyscrapers is not the safety or the heights when you're up there. It's the safety of the people who were making. Those pictures of 1920s New York with builders sitting on metal spars eating lunch over a deadly drop? That's scary. I still don't like the idea one hundred years later - at a certain point you can't have built the safety systems that would stop people falling off! No scaffolding reaches that high.

Anyway, I enjoyed the view, despite occasional clouds that limited the view at times. The glass floor (the first in the world when introduced in, from memory, the '70s), was very cool, and can supposedly hold the weight of fourteen hippos, though I don't trust that number. The lifts were too small to have brought one up. I bought the pass that grants you access up to the upper observation deck, or SkyPod as they called it. On a clear day you can apparently see something like 160km, but it wasn't that far for me. A nice visit regardless.

I grabbed some lunch and then wandered through the city. It has been nice to be in place for enough days that you can just meander, without feeling obliged to rush off to the next tourist destination. It's still a remarkably surprising city, with so many different neighbourhoods to explore and be surprised by. I found an alternative district with more interesting fashion, hip green cafes and vegan delis, and underground art scene. It gave way to a park, where I relaxed before heading back up to the room.

With the tower excursion ditched, I was meeting Jim for dinner and drinks instead on my last night in Toronto. We headed to the 3 Brewers pub in downtown, which makes their beer on site, and has done for many years. After trying 'poutine', which is basically chips and gravy with cheese on top, and a pizza for my main, we moved on to a British pub with an upstairs, outdoors patio. A lovely night followed, and we were even joined by another friend of his, Tom. Great to have passionate, lively discussions.

It feels weird that today my time in Toronto is up. Doesn't quite feel like a week, but it's already gone. I'm off to Vancouver, our second last stop before home. After that, it's just Japan, and that's it. I have even longer on the west coast, though, so plenty of opportunities to luxuriate in the city. It will be interesting to see if and how B.C. feels different to over here.