Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Toronto tourism

Why hello! I've just had an amazing long weekend chock-full of adventures and the awesomeness of my favorite people. I'm truly the luckiest girl alive. I could not have had a better time hanging out with my parents, my terrific sisters and my super niece and nephew. Getting a send-off or two from my fab friends was also the bomb!

First, let me tell you a bit about my time as a tourist in Toronto. Tomorrow I'll show you some pictures of the flood in Manitoba, which although serious and dramatic, didn't dampen good times with the fam.


When my sister Jil was going to school in Toronto, one of the first postcards she sent back to a tiny version of me was of this incredible castle. She recommended I check it out before I left the city, so I ventured inside to discover more about the curious case of Casa Loma.

This magnificent building is not actually a castle; its a private residence, the dream home of Sir Henry Pellatt. This man (also a runner!) spent approximately $3.5 million dollars building his estate over three years, starting in 1911. But just ten years later, his financial situation forced him out of his fancy house. His castle was re-imagined as a hotel and dance club before opening as a museum in 1937.

Everything about the place is majestic, starting with the fountains and sculptures in its gardens.

Inside, most visitors start their tours in the great hall with its towering ceilings, enormous organ and huge portraits. The library, conservatory, billiard room, dining room & smoking room are all housed on the first floor. 

On the second floor you find the bedrooms. Many of the 98 rooms in Casa Loma are part of bedroom suites and the one above is part of a set of rooms for Sir Henry's guests.

On the third floor, you can check out the museum for The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada (Sir Henry was knighted for his service) or climb the winding spiral staircases to check out the view from one of the towers. Finally, from a secret passageway in the study, you can head downstairs to view the unfinished swimming pool or take the underground tunnel that leads to the stables.

I'd definitely recommend checking it out. After all, who doesn't have a fantasy about living in a castle? It's really interesting to see what that might be like, and Casa Loma is very well preserved. You get to wander through history at your own pace and absorb as much or as little of it as you choose. I liked this castle so much I even walked by it again on my way home!

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