Lowe's Christmas Market 2015-2016

I don't know about everyone, but I think that most of us are really glad 2016 is over with.  I don't regret one minute of worry or disappointment because I've learned sometimes challenges and obstacles that are for the greater good can make a person stronger.  It isn't so much what you experience that defines you, it's how you deal with that experience.

Thankfully with the help of good people, justice prevailed and never ever believe everything the media reports.  So there, I've said my piece.  On to Christmas and the spirit from which it was intended.  What better way to get into the mood that to enjoy the Christmas Market in it's 7th year in the Distillery district.  Officially christened the Lowe's Christmas Market, it's a great time for all ages, especially for the kids (which is what I think Christmas is really for anyways).  

The market is bigger and better than ever before for the most part.  More vendors, more treats, less authentic and more commercialism :)  There is one more thing, for the first time they are charging entrance fee.  It's not a lot ($6/head) and that is for their busiest time of the week, Friday - Sunday.  Which for most of us career folks that is pretty much the only time we can get away from the office and relax.  The crowds are over the top leaving little for wiggle room.

As in every year before the Market opens with the traditional Christmas tree lighting ceremony on the 22nd of November, there is Christmas carolers and dance performances, ferris wheel and a horse carousel and lots of lots of foodies.  Because the Christmas Market had originated in Switzerland. 

Take in sparkling Christmas light canopies, traditional music and carols, dance performances and family-friendly activities like Santa’s House, a ferris wheel, carousel and life-sized gingerbread house. Foodies can taste traditional European street-style food as well as Canadian holiday treats and sip on cold and warm brews in the beer gardens.  

A Christmas market, as known as Christkindlmarkt originated in Germany and although they are held all over the world now, the basic feel to the market still remains in the Germanic theme with the street market associated with the celebration of Christmas during ht first four weeks of Advent. This also will explain why Santa Claus has the appearance of wearing long robes rather than a red suit as they are keeping his attire akin to the Germanic Christmas traditions.

Overall, as I recall it was a good experience, but unless I have grand kids in the future, most likely won't be attending next year :P 

P A T H - Toronto's Underground

 When the snow piles high and the wind blows cold, you can get yourself around in the underground of Toronto without ever coming up for air.

There's a whole world down here and its called the PATH.

The PATH led me to my first job downtown, my first attendance to a Convention and Trade show and to my first husband, but not necessarily in that order and not all in the same day!

The P A T H starts from Dundas Street from the north at the Eatons Centre (future plans are to continue north to College Street) to Queens Quay in the south (south of the Gardiner Expressway) and from Simcoe Street in the west to Yonge Street in the east.

You can check out any map of Toronto yourself to see that that is a pretty impressive underground trek, don't you think?

In order to follow the P A T H, each color represents a direction (Red-South; Orange-West; Blue-North; Yellow-East).

During the week, this underground world is saturated with hundreds of thousands of people commuting from the local transit systems (TTC) to the GO Stations (Metrolinx) at Union and to the VIA trains or the Toronto Coach Bus Terminal  at Bay Street, which can take them out of the city's core altogether.

Workers, shoppers, and tourists pack the P A T H more so during the week days.  On weekends, you may have a little more elbow room especially if you plan on taking pictures as the Office Towers close down except for the odd bored security person.

The P A T H links to some of the most visited tourist attractions in Toronto, like the Eaton's Centre, which brings in millions of holiday shoppers; Air Canada Centre, Ripley's Aquarium, Skydome (I still refuse to call it the Rogers Centre :) and of course the CN Tower.

Some of the major performing arts centre, like the Four Seasons Centre and Roy Thompson Hall are accessed on the path as well.  Although I do enjoy most movie soundtracks which apparently were inspired by classical composers, I don't enjoy most classical music unfortunately so don't go to Roy Thompson or others like it very much.

When I worked downtown, I loved the convenience of the  
P A T H as it took me to many hotels, some for business, others for pleasure.  I was in the Convention and Trade Show industry that hosted Toronto for international exhibitors.  This was of course before Free Trade, when Trade shows and Conventions were a very busy industry not only for for tourism (still are) but for the Custom House businesses.

Conventions are awesome for local economies obviously because when exhibitors come to your city, they often put money into hotels, spend lots in shops and restaurants and list goes on.

Today, the Metro Convention Centre hosts most of the Conventions in the city and has a hotel built directly beside called the InterContinental Toronto Centre Hotel.   Hotels like the Sheraton or the Royal York or Hilton, which once were the only game in town have lost out to that income on a private corporate level.

Sometimes in bigger shows though, there is always the much needed extra capacity for rooms for which they are necessary.

The bigger shows kept us up sometimes over 24 hours straight working on booth setups, and coordinating with Customs to bring shipments in for the show.  It was great fun.

Back to present day, the holidays dress up the main lobbies of many of these Corporate Towers, like the Royal Bank Plaza, The Toronto-Dominion Centre, First Canadian Place and the beautiful Exchange Tower.  It was a treat looking at them again.

Historical value? I didn't want to research too much on this underground world, but rather give credit to those who have by linking you to this site.

We came here just for fun for me to take pictures and share them as I love to do.  So here are some of what we saw today.

Bronte Creek Provincial Park

Starting out early on September 4, hours before another summer would be a distant memory, we were determined to bike as far today as possible. Since the weather was agreeable, and the western ride along the waterfront trail is a fairly easy one, I didn’t expect any difficulty with this.

Passing through familiar parks I’ve recorded and blogged before meant more time for traveling and less for stopping to take pictures. Some familiar sites were the Beaches (Ashbridge’s Bay, Tommy Thompson and Cherry Beach), through Old Toronto (Exhibition Place, Humber Bay Parks) to New Toronto (Colonel Samuel Smith and the stinky-in-summer “Marie Curtis Park”). The stink is caused by the Sewage Treatment Plant, which although is necessary, I am sure very much unwelcome by the neighbourhood.

About a half hour west is the Lakefront Promenade Park near Port Credit. I waded into the fresh water at the bay inlet up to my shorts and splashed the cool water on my arms before continuing west to the Rattray Marsh Conservation Area in Clarkson. I didn’t want to stop to take many pictures here, partly because the scenery was familiar and because I had a dislike for the name of the park (I have been known to have pet-peeves with words).

Southdown Road in Mississauga was coming up and I could feel the sweat pouring out from me from the high summer sun. I was getting hungry so we took our first exit north off the trail for some welcomed food. We agreed to go to the Moon Sushi AYCE in Mississauga. I’m not someone who can eat a lot of food at once, but I agree to compromise. Click here if you want to see the review

With a nice cool off and full stomach, I was concerned about the time lost in the day, as the darkness was over shadowing the sky, it would be just another few hours before we would have to stop. Heading south on Southdown Road west along Lakeshore Blvd to Oakville is a really pretty waterfront trail ride. Finally it was time to consider a final stop in Bronte where we went north to the Provincial Park.

Bronte Creek is a Provincial “landlocked park” which means there’s no access to any public streets to get to it. It has a lot of parking, a lot of field space, and that means wide open areas for picnics, family dos and barbeques.

There are a few cute trails like one of which are probably endearing to children like the fairies trail. We saw the Children’s Petting Farm, but no children. Unfortunately at this point late in the day most everything was closing up. My favorite part here was the looking at the horses that were outside and allowed me to pet them. Not a horse-lover myself, I still found them quite beautiful. My fear of them came from being thrown off of one when I was young as the owner wasn’t taking into account that the horse had been straddled over the winter in the stalls, and he allowed people to sit on her in the dawn of spring. This is apparently why I was thrown. I think even then that they were making excuses and that it was very possible the animal sensed my fear.

So that’s about it. It was a challenge getting here, but looking forward to the Go Train ride back from Bronte Go.

Asbridge Estate - A Historical Home

One of the oldest homes in Toronto is right out front and personal on Queen Street in the east end near Coxwell (between Leslieville and the Beaches).   It's called the Ashbridge Estate and dates back to the late 1700s when the Ashbridge Family (United Empire Loyalists) came here from Pennsylvania and were given a large plot of land.  Can you imagine that?

So out they set clearing and farming and constructing several buildings including the main house, which still stands today.  The Ashbridge's (hence the namesake of Ashbridge Bay of course) were one of the first families to live here in our great city of Toronto and as the city grew, they eventually sold off most of their land by the 1920's leaving only the current 2-acre property which is now listed on the Canadian Register of Historic Places, thanks to the two remaining family members who donated their estate to the Ontario Heritage Trust.

But back to the beginning for a second.  When they arrived in Toronto as Quakers, the Ashbridge's were United Empire Loyalists (which simply means that they remained loyal to the British crown after the american Revolution) Fearing politicial persution, they fled to Canada and were officially granted 600 acres of land.  This land stretched from from Lake Onatrio to what is now known as Danforth Avenue.  If you know east Toronto, that is a huge spot of land!

I read that a log cabin was built on the trail close to the shoreline of Lake Ontario on a bay formed the mouth of the Don River, and boy I can imagine how beautiful that must have been.   They survived like most did back then on fishing and waterfowl from the bay and pigs that they raised.  They also were able to grow wheat and sold it to market, and ice in the winter.

If you take the time to learn about the places you visit or pass for that matter, you'll be amazed at what you'll learn.  There's a bit of history in everything you see.  It's important to take the time to appreciate that.  I think that's why I take pictures.  To remember that piece of history I left behind.

Toronto Waterfront Trail (Boardwalk Access)

The Waterfront Trail in Toronto covers some of the most gorgeous natural settings you will ever see.  Because of the amalgamation of the cities, Toronto runs from Etobicoke from the west to Scarborough Bluffs in the east.  

That being said, the waterfront trail is accessed from Kew Beach in the East, not Scarborough at all.  In fact the waterfront trail ends and can be picked up to the east in 22 km which is quite a trek of overhauling over rough terrain with your bike to get to where it begins again.  I always prefer going west for this reason only. 

I've comfortably been able to ride my bike from Toronto to as far west to Bronte and beyond going west using the Waterfront trail this past summer.  

The entire trail runs along Lake Ontario and covers an expanse of about 350 kilometers.  On the western shores of Lake Ontario it runs from Stoney Creek to Quinte West.  There are dozens of access points in Toronto and Mississauga to get onto this trail.  

The mere historical value of anything that you'll pass along the trail such as Commissioner Street for example, which runs from Cherry Street to Leslie) is one of the oldest streets in Toronto.  I love it because it's quiet and it makes me feel so good inside like a child again when Toronto was way less busy as it is now.

Now there are several movie studios that earn quite a pretty penny working out of Commissioner street.  Of course one of the now most popular spots at the foot of Leslie Street is the Tommy Thompson Trail (or the Leslie Spit)  

Biking has taken on a new meaning in Toronto since we hosted the Panam games in 2015.  Although in the aftermath of spending over $2Billion dollars constructing  venues and infrastructures such as the Union-Pearson Express rail train, we were left with the most amazing bike trail ever!  It's a marked path, that runs beautiful along the harbourfront right down towards the exhibition stadium and continues right through to the west.  

I might add a few more pictures here later, but for now you get the idea.

Happy trails!