10.14.2005

i go forth

Yesterday I went to the Toronto neighbourhood known as the Danforth. I took the GO train into the city, then got the subway at Union Station.

It was my first time on the subway since we got here. We rode the subway on our first trip to Toronto, though only for a few stops, from our hotel to Skydome. This was a more substantial trip, with a switch between lines. I felt like I live here. (Oh wait, I do live here.) Also, I love public transportation, and like to ride subways anywhere I am.

What is up with those tokens? They are tiny, lightweight little coins, easily confused with dimes. Note to self: keep subway tokens separate!

I was very pleasantly surprised when, shortly before my stop, the train emerged from the tunnel, revealing a panoramic view. The train was high above a big valley. There were highways and train tracks below, but there was also a river, and a large swath of trees, all decked out for autumn. The Don River Valley, maybe? (James and Marnie can let me know.)

I love when subways take brief above-ground trips. The New York City system has some great views, especially of the downtown skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge. Paris, too, is great for that. Toronto's sudden scenery was beautiful, all the more because it was a surprise.

When I first started blogging, several people recommended we look for apartments in the Danforth, and I can see why. It seems like a great neighbourhood. There's a long commercial strip, full of restaurants and interesting shops to poke around in, and lovely old homes on the side-streets. The strip turns into Toronto's Greektown (note to a certain reader in Colorado... though if I recall correctly, he maybe doesn't want to live in Greektown, his life being Greek enough without that). I noticed two or three really nice looking pubs, which I am always after. Not bars, mind you - although a nice bar is a good thing, too - but a real pub, something special.

I did a bit of shopping, which I can't reveal here, due to upcoming birthday celebrations, and had lunch. Ahh, lunch out by myself, one of life's great pleasures.

Somehow I even managed to time my return trip so that I wasn't waiting for my GO train for too long. The trains run once an hour, and I'm not used to thinking in those terms. I suppose at the very worst, I'd have an hour to kill around Union Station, which wouldn't be so bad. Although Buster wouldn't like it.

22 comments:

Marnie said...

Yes, you went over the Don Valley, home of the Don River, the Don Valley Parkway (aka DVP or Don Valley Parkinglot) and some very nice walking/biking trails. It's a regular haunt of mine -- come visit and I'll show you some sights.

Marnie said...

Oh, and you crossed the valley by means of the Bloor Viaduct, which you may have encountered before if you've read In the Skin of a Lion.

L-girl said...

I haven't read that book, but I've heard of the Viaduct from your blog, or perhaps an email exchange we had.

Thanks for the info! I'm all pleased with myself for guessing it was the Don Valley.

Do you recommend the Ondaatje book?

Lone Primate said...

What is up with those tokens? They are tiny, lightweight little coins, easily confused with dimes. Note to self: keep subway tokens separate!

Yeah, but wait till the first time you get one accidentally in change. It's like getting a Superdime! "Why, this dime has the strength of over twenty ordinary dimes!" You really feel blessed because, odds are, that coin all alone is worth more than the rest of the change you got put together. :)

...Ah, my life is so small. :D

James said...

The Don Valley has a great paved path that runs from the Martin Goodman trail (part of the Waterfront trail that goes past your place) up to Edmunds Gardens at Lawrence Ave, and then intermittently from there all the way up to Steeles. It's great for walking and bicycling. Between that path, the Waterfront trail, the Humber River trails, and a few marked bike lanes on roads, I can do a very nice 60km bike tour from my house.

Just to the north of you (your left as you face forward in the train going to Danforth) is the Toronto Brickworks, a park which used to be the source for most of the red and yellow bricks you see in Toronto. It's very popular for photographers as well.

Parts of the valley to the south are wildlife reserves.

Both the Don and Humber valleys are great for fall colours as well.

Some photos:
The Viaduct under construction
The Viaduct from the Don marsh below

What is up with those tokens? They are tiny, lightweight little coins, easily confused with dimes.

They aren't quite as bad as you'd think, because they're so light; hold one in your hand and you won't mistake it for a dime. But I do usually keep them separate.

Marnie said...

Yes, I have a separate wee pouch for tokens. What are they like in NYC?

I've read In the Skin of a Lion twice, and hated it each time, so I'm not about to recommend it. Other people love it and will urge you to go for it, I'm sure.

Niko said...

Actually Danforth is a neighborhood we are looking at ;-)

L-girl said...

"Why, this dime has the strength of over twenty ordinary dimes!"

LOL

...Ah, my life is so small. :D

Hey, I'm the one who blogged about it... :)

Yes, I have a separate wee pouch for tokens. What are they like in NYC?

Ah, that's a kettle-of-fish question. The historic NYC subway token is no more, replaced by the Metrocard. I do not like this, for many reasons.

But in its life of more than 50 years, the token had many guises, but it was always large, heavy and distinctive. Look here for an overview.

The Y-shaped cutout is the most famous one. Many people saved one when they were phased out. I have one my grandfather gave me a long time ago. I was a suburban kid, and the subway token in my grandfather's pocket (he lived in Brooklyn) was like an exotic treasure.

I've read In the Skin of a Lion twice, and hated it each time, so I'm not about to recommend it.

Whew, what a relief. I've never been able to read anything by that dreadful Ondaatje. Blech.

James, thanks for the additional Don Valley info! Good stuff.

L-girl said...

Something else on the demise of the token.

L-girl said...

Actually Danforth is a neighborhood we are looking at ;-)

Ah, it's the Certain Reader himself. :) It seems like a really great neighbourhood. Don't forget that u, now. :)

Expat Traveler said...

Great post - along with all of the comments in links are entertaining enough. For someone who hasn't been to Toronto just yet, all of this is exciting to read. :)

L-girl said...

Why thank you, Expat Traveler! I wouldn't have guessed this for an interesting post.

James said...

BTW, here's the Wikipedia entry on the Don Valley

Wrye said...

Do you recommend the [dreadful Ondaatje's] book?

Gods yes. But he is difficult to get into--UNTIL I heard the audiobook. Makes all the difference to hear the poet himself. His long works are like long poems--imagery and depth and resonance, with a narrative that is never linear and often not what it seems.

Not for everyone, no. But Audiobook, seriously.

L-girl said...

Audiobook, eh? Interesting. Thanks.

orc said...

If you have time some day, I highly recommend riding the Long Branch streetcar (which used to be route 507 years and years ago, but which is now the far western end of route 501) out to the end of the line and transferring to a GO train for the last bit of the ride into Port Credit.

I've done that a couple of times, with the one exception of when I got to the end of the line I hopped a commuter train back downtown to Union Station (as part of taking the subway in from the western suburbs, then taking the trolley back out, train back in, and subway back to the western suburbs trainspotting excursion.)

James said...

Audiobook, eh? Interesting. Thanks.

I discovered Audiobooks recently. I'd always shunned them as uncooth, until I heard Douglas Adams reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. All of a sudden there were a whole lot of extra layers of wonderful dark cynicism below the madcap goofiness of the main story.

Next was Spike Milligan's Adolph Hitler: My Part in His Downfall and the sequel, Mussolini: His Part in My Downfall, again, ready by the author. Again, all sorts of extra detail started coming out, that is easy to miss in the flat text.

I'm told that an oral reading is one of the best ways to appreciate Joyce, as well.

Right now I'm trying to find an Audiobook of The Silmarillion. I'd love to hear one read by Christopher Lee -- his voice would be perfect.

L-girl said...

If you have time some day, I highly recommend riding the Long Branch streetcar

Thanks Orc! I never would have known about that myself. Sounds cool. I'm going to make a note and try it, maybe in the spring.

I discovered Audiobooks recently. I'd always shunned them as uncooth...

I've never done (read? listened?) one. Not that I think they're bad, I've just never been moved to listen to a book instead of reading. I can certainly imagine there are books that would benefit from a good telling.

I'm told that an oral reading is one of the best ways to appreciate Joyce, as well.

This is true. In New York (and for all I know, Toronto, too), every year on Bloomsday there are all-day readings of selections from Ulysses, done by actors and other Joycean aficionados. Many people who would be afraid of reading Joyce, thinking they wouldn't understand it, attend and enjoy.

When we visited the Joyce House in Dublin, we heard a recording of Joyce himself reading the final passages of Ulysses.

Franc said...

If you enjoyed the Danforth then check out The Beach neighbourhood (Also known as The Beaches by the non-locals!!)in the East End. Take the 501 streetcar all the way past Woodbine and you'll just know when you're there. Basically, you can get on the streetcar in Etobicoke at Long Branch and the same car goes all the way to the end of the line and into the Beaches...must be a one-hour ride or so (25 minutes from downtown / 10 mins by car)...It's a nice place to go strolling on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon especially in the fall. You can walk along Queen Street East and stroll along the many shops, cafes etc then walk south to the Boardwalk and simply enjoy! You'll most certainly like the area and its more almost-West Coast laid back atmosphere. It does get a bit crowded at times but it's one of my favourite neighbourhoods for sure. In fact, this is the area I first settled in when I came here from Montreal. I moved away for a couple years (tried downtown and the 'burbs) and was simply drawn back to the area. Could no longer quite afford the neighbourhood proper so my wife and I found this small bungalow just outside the Beaches in an area called Birchcliff Village in the former Scarborough.

L-girl said...

Thanks for the tip, franc. I've already seen The Beaches, thanks to my blog-friend James. We walked on the boardwalk, saw some local landmarks and had ice cream at Ed's. Beautiful area.

L-girl said...

We walked on the boardwalk, saw some local landmarks and had ice cream at Ed's.

And ate sushi! Almost forgot. :)

Franc said...

Hi l-girl, me again...just registered a blogger acccount. Testing first post as a blogger...