'There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path'

This weekend we are expecting Arctic winds from the north west, which should bring a wind chill temp of about -21 degrees. So what do the citizens of Toronto do in this sort of weather – go underground!


This map is of the underground pathway that sprawls below the Toronto CBD and connects more than 50 of the cities office towers. The Path is lined with over 1200 retail outlets making it one of the most extensive shopping malls I have ever been in. To give you a rough idea of its size, Simon and I have ‘guesstimated’ that if it were under Sydney it could cover from Town hall to Circular Quay and from George St up to Macquarie St. This is a rough estimate, but if one of our readers would like to actually work it out the figures are as follows: ‘According to Guinness World Records, PATH is the largest underground shopping complex with 27 km (16 miles) of shopping arcades. It has 371,600 sq. metres (4 million sq. ft) of retail space’ (www.toronto.ca).

I first became acquainted with the PATH during my visit in September and I love it! It is however very easy to get lost, so if you don’t hear from me in a while chances are I am still wandering around the labyrinth of shops trying to find a way out, ‘there is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path’ – Morpheus.



Where to from here?

There is only about 3 months left in Toronto before we move on so we have started making some concrete plans for the end of our adventures abroad.  This Map shows all of our planed destinations, you can zoom in with the controls on the left, click and drag to move around in the map, click on any of the balloons for details and can switch to a satelite view via the buttons at the top.  I will update the map if there are any changes to our plans.


Whilst we have planned which cities we want to go to, we haven’t looked too far into what we will do in each. To help us plan, we would love to hear suggestions as we know we have a few seasoned travellers amongst our readership, keep in mind we only have about 2 nights in each of the marked destinations.

Oh and before anyone asks, we are not going to Houston, Texas to pay homage to George dubya in any way but to visit our friends Ben and Louise. After reading this piece of news we had second thoughts and commented that we’d rather stay out of the USA in protest, but alas our tickets are booked and are non-refundable, oh and we coudn’t go halfway across the world and not stop in on our Aussie friends! (Gem can’t wait Lou).

So the challenge has been laid, I’m looking forward to a favourite London pub from Waratah, some local knowledge from Brian and input on other european locations from Degrassi & Dwyer.


New Years Day with the Menendes Family

New Years Eve was relatively quiet, we went into town to see the fireworks in Nathan Phillip Square but after an hour of standing in the rain decided to head down Queen Street to Jeremiah Bullfrog. It was there that we rang in the new year, dry and warm. We did see the fireworks on the TV but I have to say they had nothing on Sydney’s display (of which there was lots of coverage on the news).

New Years Day we got on the TTC Subway to Scarborough for a party at Celcia’s (a colleague of mine from the Ministry of Health). It took about an hour to get there but it was a great opportunity for us to see the suburbs of Toronto. I am sure in the spring, summer and fall it is very beautiful as there were lots of trees, however at this timeof year they are all sticks and branches.

Cecilia put on a wonderful spread of curries and other Indian delicacies and her cousin Shirley (at the head of the table) is the master behind the cherry cheesecake in the picture. Simon had a pretty big piece and had trouble walking home!

We were very grateful for their hospiality and enjoyed sharing stories of our travels in Canada. It was also interesting hearing about the family’s first impressions of Canada, as many of Ceclia’s cousins immigated to Canada with very little and not knowing anyone.

Cecilia’s daughter will be travelling to Australia at the end of Januray for four weeks and we look forward to catching up with her on her return to get her thoughts on our little spot in the world.


Merry Christmas

Gemmas Christmas Cake

Originally uploaded by simmogem.

While it is still at least 10 hours till christmas here we know that people will soon be up and unwrapping presents in Australia. We hope you all have a great day and miss you more than ever at this time.

As you can see Gemma has been cooking and we will be enjoying a similar christmas cake to most of the Alberts, we might not be able to have a taste testing contest but I think ours wins on looks.

Best Wishes,
Simon and Gemma

Casa Loma


Casa Loma
Originally uploaded by simmogem.

Our first day of the Christmas holidays was spent exploring Casa Loma, a castle just two subway stops from downtown Toronto. Commissioned by Sir Henry Pellat (prominent Toronto financier, industrialist and military man), in 1911, it was handed to the the City of Toronto after Pellat could not afford to pay his property taxes.

The construction took 3 years to complete and the cost – $3.5M, which I imagine was quite a bit back then. It is not hard to see where the money went as you wander through the mahaogny lined halls with their intricate carvings and the marble bathrooms. My favourite room was Lady Pellat’s bedroom and sitting room, the perfect place to enjoy an afternoon tea with wonderful views of the city.

Interesting were the secret stairways, both out of Pellat’s study, one to the upper levels, the other straight into the cellar. Also, from the basement there is an 800ft long tunnel to the stables and the garage where Pellat stored his collection of cars. The tunnel was built after the city refused to close a road dividing the Casa Loma grounds.

At the moment the castle has a Peter Pan theme for the Christmas holiday period. This included a short theatrical performance for the kids which we enjoyed also. Speaking of performances, the castle has appeared in several major movies inlcuding X-Men, Chicago, Cocktail and a few others of lesser note.

As an aside, you can see that the weather is quite grey and cloudy but alas no snow. In fact the likelihood of having a white christmas is very slim.

Toronto Motorcycle Show

07 CBR 600

Originally uploaded by simmogem.

You probably won’t believe it, but it was Gemma’s idea to see the Toronto Motorcycle show. She might not like me riding bikes but it seems looking is ok.

The Toronto convention centre played home to the show. Other than a slightly larger Harley Davidison influence the show was very similar to the Sydney equivilant.

The day began with a very shaky start. I sat on the new Honda Fireblade and the sidestand paritaly closed as I went to dismount. I managed to catch it to the relief of the Honda rep and disappointment of a keen onlooker hoping to purchase a discounted display model.

All the main players were represented, Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki etc. A few of the smaller ones too but disappointingly there was no Triumph display. I would really like to have a close look at their new Daytona 675.

So now I have 6 months to decide what I replace my current steed with. Gemma thinks I should stick with a Honda and I do like the new CBR 600 as pictured, although I don’t think we get that colour scheme, but the GSXR750 looked nice as does the Zx636. Decisions decisions….