So, I woke up, and my first thought was probably “Shit, I have to go back to Trump now.” Also, it’s important to note that during my trip was when the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” Rally was. During my time waiting in line for my plane, I found out about more white supremacist rallies being planned, particularly one in Boston. This was all very hard to process.
The Toronto airport’s pretty big. I had a hard time navigating. Good thing I arrived like three hours early.
So, my plane was super delayed. I ended up missing my bus in Boston to bring me back to Portland. It was supposed to arrive at 4:10 PM which ended up being 5:42 PM. Can’t travel without least one major stress! I managed and had my partner contact the bus company.
Finally, we were off! Back to Portland I went, until next time!
As part of the Niagara Falls tour, we were taken to lunch and a winery. The lunch was super pretty overlooking Lake Ontario:
Next we drove to a winery. I can’t even remember the name of the winery (to be honest, I don’t know if I would’ve remembered a week afterwards, it was only mentioned in passing). I also don’t remember a lot of details, but it was pretty cool. We were guided through the vines, and they explained how regular wine and ice wine are made. We also got to see all the machinery, and then do a wine tasting of four wines. I don’t remember the first two, but I remember peach wine and ice wine. This winery, when it was first started, had to use up a bunch of peaches, so they made wine with it. It ended up being super popular, so they continue with it. I enjoyed it. Ice wine is made by allowing the grapes to freeze, which causes the vine to expel the sugar, and they only get the sugar from the grape when they squeeze it. It is extremely extremely sweet, somewhat thick, and also expensive.
Then we started the trek back to Toronto:
And then when I got back to the drop-off spot, my phone was just about dead, and I didn’t have battery to call an Uber to get back to my Air BNB, so this is my last memory of the day:
I stayed in a great Air BNB in the Don Mills area outside of Toronto. I had a few days by myself, a few days with a guest I never talked to (there were two Air BNB bedrooms in their finished basement), and a few days with a nice girl from Australia who I’m still connected with.
Here’s a map of Niagara Falls. It’s taken from what would be the Canadian side. Pay attention to mostly just the immediate foreground. The three waterfalls are the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls, and the Bridal Veil Falls.
To start the day, we had to arrive at the Chelsea Hotel in downtown Toronto at 6:30 AM! I can’t remember the exact timeline, but I believe we arrived at the helicopter site for Niagara Falls around 9:00 AM.
Video of the Helicopter Ride
Coming soon…. I’ve spent all night trying to get it uploaded, and it’s just not working! Stay tuned, hopefully I’ll get it figured out!
Tuesday, August 15th, was spent on a one-day trip to Niagara Falls, which was only a few hours away from Toronto. I’d like to give an overview of the day before I start diving in to the post.
First, I got a Niagara Falls One-Day Tour on Groupon, which included a 30-minute helicopter tour, one hour Niagara River Boat Tour, winery tour, ice wine tasting, shopping, lunch, Niagara Falls, bus transport, entry tickets, parking, taxes/tips, fruit and water.
I’ll first post videos from the helicopter ride above Niagara Falls, which last about 15 minutes. I have some beautiful aerial photos that I’ll post. Next was the Niagara River boat tour, which I have lots of photos from (despite how soaked my phone got trying to take them!). I also walked around and took different photos and videos of the falls. From Niagara Falls, we did a winery tour, which I’ll post about last.
I visit one of the Toronto Islands on the last Monday and Wednesday of the trip. You access the islands from the Jack Leyton Ferry Terminal. The beaches are not on the mainland of Toronto. They are on the islands of the inner harbour.
I visited Hanlan’s Point Beach (on the ride side of the above map) both times. There were three ferry routes, and I picked that one almost at random. I found out very quickly that Centre Island was geared towards families and kids, and there’s a lot going on, including an amusement park. The line I saw for Centre Island was crazy, and I just decided against it, regardless of how much there was to do there. I can’t quite remember how I chose between Ward’s Island and Hanlan’s Point. It may have been that the line for Hanlan’s Point was much shorter and/or that that ferry was leaving sooner. Regardless, that’s the one I chose. The ferry ride was pretty chill and relaxing, and it was about 20 minutes from dock to dock. The ferry runs about every 45 minutes (varying at some points in the day).
On the Island
A water taxi arriving into the dock.
Welcome sign to the Toronto Island Park
Walking back towards the dock with CN Tower in the background.
So, something important to note is that Hanlan’s Point has a clothing optional section, and that’s the area I decided to go to– because why not! I was in a new country, on an individual quest, and had a chance to see something different. So, I went for it. I think it was about a one kilometer walk to the beach from the ferry dock.
So, you can’t take any pictures in this section– for understandable reasons. So I don’t have any pictures from this section. But, Lake Ontario was really pretty, and the beach was nice. So, let’s get to the real questions that are bound to be asked–
Was everyone naked? People were in varying stages of dress. Probably 1/2 of people were completely naked – more males than females. A lot of females wore bottoms but went topless. Some people remained in normal swimming gear.
Is it sexual? Bottom line is no. From what I understand and learned, clothing-optional and nude beaches provide a lot more for that. They promote body confidence, bodily autonomy, freedom, and many other values. These were just the ones I picked up on. I did find out that at least at Hanlan’s, it’s relatively normal for people to engage in sexual activity in the bushes. I was relaxing in the sun on either my first or second day there, and there was this couple next to me, and they were getting pretty handsy. Before I knew it, there were handjobs happening, two feet from me. Awk. So, I would say if you attend with a partner (or even if not), sometimes it can become a sexual experience, but for many people, it didn’t seem like that. Which leads to the next questions…
Are all the guys hard? Awk but you know you might be wondering it. To be honest, 99% of them, no.
Do you look at people, or do you look away? This is one of the hardest things to know on a clothing optional beach: where do you put your eyes! From what I learned from researching, you should treat people like they’re wearing a bathing suit. You wouldn’t avoid glancing at someone’s top or bottoms as they walk by, but you wouldn’t gawk at them after or hold your glance for too long. This is basically how it is when people are nude. People who are naked know that they’re exposed and people are going to see them in passing, but ultimately, it should be noticing and passing glances like in normal life, and nothing more. A nude beach is a place to celebrate bodies, not act shamed around them.
Do people stare at you? This is where we have to talk about the people who don’t really respect the courtesy of the beach. Sometimes people do stare for too long, sometimes you do overhear people talking about “all the titties on this beach,” and sometimes people don’t respect the no photography rule. Some people are creepers, but it’s pretty mild. There’s some staring and some people sexualizing it, but it’s really not the norm and is not at all in your face.
Did you go nude at the beach? That’s an answer that is going to stay in Toronto 😉 I really took this as an opportunity to make a choice about my bodily autonomy. I felt so empowered knowing I had the choice to stay completely clothed, completely naked, or go anywhere in between. Maybe I went butt naked and dived right into Lake Ontario, maybe I wore my skirt and a bra and worked on my tan, maybe I stayed fully clothed and just enjoyed the beach while observing a different kind of culture. Who knows? That choice was mine, and it’ll stay in Toronto.
I ended up making a few friends for the day on the second day back. I had a great time talking with them and learning more about Toronto and all of us sharing stories about where we were from.
I really enjoyed the beach on the first day because I wanted to just take a day and relax, and I found such benefit in it that I went again.
The one downfall was that I got brutally sunburned! I did put on sunscreen, but I stupidly missed large sections of my body. So, not only did I have a sunburn, but an uneven one at that!
I stayed for probably five or six hours each time. It was a great experience, and I had a lot of time for self-reflection and learning from a new experience. One of the greatest things about traveling!
Saturday’s focus was a little bit more on self-care, and it was perfect timing, because hopefully as you know, Saturday was a rough day in the United States.
I really had to try to step back and understand that at this moment, there was very little I could do. And I felt very very hopeless.
Throughout the course of the day, I came to the realization that there is a never-ending need for activism, that in this line of work, there is never an end. I want to process this more later, and I’m really not ready to do it right now. To be honest, I’m getting anxiety just starting to think about it, and so I need to take a step back.
Yesterday, I decided to take some self-care time and have a “spa day” — nothing super fancy, but it was a great time for me to reflect on how necessary it is to take care of ourselves if we are going to continue fighting for others. And that just because you can’t be active at one particular moment does not mean you are not an activist.
So, lest I get myself sick talking about this right now (I will come back and reflect later), I enjoyed my time at Yeti Nails & Spa and had a mani/pedi and a short massage, which was all super awesome (and Canadian prices are so bomb).
After that, I ended up getting a piercing, which we all knew was going to happen. I went to Black Line Studios, and the guy was super awesome. I got my rook pierced, which is the fold of cartilage behind your forward helix and above your tragus/daith. It’s the one with the curved barbell in it.
After I left the piercing shop, I went outside and I saw a Mountie!
You can barely see him, but he’s there in the neon vest on a horse. I was on the phone with my mom when I saw him, and I said, “I gotta go! There’s a real Mountie! Or some other police person on a horse.”
Also didn’t wanna look like a dumb tourist so I pretended to take photos of everything except him, but stealthy me, I managed it.
Anyway, after that, I wandered around the Entertainment District some more and had a good night and met some cool people.
I have a lot of activism and political thoughts to reflect on, but right now, I need to step away from that and come back to it when I can.
Today, Sunday, was just a stay-in kind of day with some Netflix and lots of blogging and photos to catch up on. Tomorrow, who knows!
Friday’s adventures were the next two big things on the list of “Top Things to Do in Toronto” – The Ontario Science Centre and the Royal Ontario Museum.
Once I redeemed my City Pass ticket, I got a map and was immediately very confused by how this building was set-up (I definitely got lost inside a few times later on and couldn’t find my way out, but let’s move on from that).
The Science Centre had a lot of kids, and it was so great to see them so excited about STEM. I really enjoyed the things that were spotlighted, such as renewable energy, climate change, and dangers to our planet. It reminded me a lot of the Boston Science Museum. It was definitely geared towards children (or maybe it was just over-run with children), but it was still interesting. I don’t have much more to elaborate on right now. I mostly just went to check it out and see what it was like.
There’s about 40 pictures below with some highlights:
In Canada, the drinking age varies by province unlike the US where it’s 21 across the board, and in good ol’ Ontario, it’s 19. So 20-year-old me, still too young to be legal in the US, decided that checking out nightlife and the bar scene was a key part of this trip.
I first visited Crocodile Rock, a nightclub/bar in the Entertainment District, just because my Uber driver recommended it and it sounded good to me. I first went on Thursday and it had a really cool vibe, so I visited it again a few other nights this past weekend. I met some cool people, listened to good music, and enjoyed some quality and cheap alcohol. Can’t complain. I enjoyed my time there, it was a good part of the trip, and it was definitely an interesting experience. Good memories, lots of fun. It was definitely a fun thing to do on my trip, especially visiting a country that has different laws and approaches towards alcohol.
We’re going to end this blog post here because I don’t think any further details about my nightlife adventures in Toronto is appropriate for a blog that may be frequented by my coworkers and family haha.
(Also, whenever drunk people found out I was from America, they just had to bring up the Donald).