Nothing went right in Toronto

downtown toronto winter 2001

Okay, I’m getting old. Or maybe just a little wiser. Even though this was a three-day trip, I learned a couple things that I will apply to my future travels: first, have a plan of some of the things you want to do and see before you go. Second, have a backup plan if some of those first things don’t work out. And third, don’t take the last flight out on a Sunday night (especially when you have to get up for work the next morning).

This trip would score a few ‘firsts’ for me: new airline, new airport, new city, and a whole buncha new airlines to photograph. It was a guaranteed good time, and I was really excited to get going, though work was really nasty at the time, and I wasn’t sure if I really would be going until the afternoon before. Obviously, I made it.

The flight out was actually pretty comfy, even though I was stuck in a window seat for this four-hour flight. AC service is quite nice, and we made it to YYZ right on schedule. Customs was a little bit painful to get through upon arrival (Canadian border agents are mean!), but once free of that, I decided to walk the terminal to get a quick once-over for my day of photography the next day. All in all, not that many neat places to shoot from. “Oh well,” I thought. I would have plenty of time to walk around and find a good spot. Or so I thought. My hotel was nice (the Gateway Sheraton adjacent to Terminal 3) and I ate and slept like a baby.

Morning came, and the troubles began. Long story short, there was no way I would be able to get access to the gate areas. Ticketed passengers only, so I was screwed. A big portion of this trip was for aviation photography, so I initially felt a little lost. I eventually got over it, and was happy to know that I would still have a half-day on Sunday before my flight. Or so I thought. Then, I realized that there wasn’t an ATM in the place that would accept my card…and I didn’t have enough cash on me to get to central Toronto and back. I wasn’t a happy traveler. I had two full days left until my flight home, and I was stuck. I couldn’t do any aviation photography, and I couldn’t get to the CN tower. After some calling around, I learned that there are many banks in Toronto that would take my card…and that most cabs accept credit cards.

So with that, I felt a major sense of relief as I hopped into a cab headed for downtown. First stop was CN Tower (which I must say the weather was pretty good for it). The view was incredible, and I quickly got a sense of how big the city was and where I would be starting my walk from.

CN tower toronto canada
My first up and close look at the CN tower!
cn tower toronto
The views from the top (and through the floor) of the CN Tower were quite amazing.
downtown toronto winter 2001
What an awesome welcome to the city of Toronto. The view was amazing!
cn tower views
The views from the top of the CN Tower are hard to beat.
toronto waterfront winter time
I get cold just looking at this pic. It was chilly out there, that’s for sure.
cn tower transparent floors
The transparent floors were my favorite part!
cn tower design details
I quite liked the design details of the tower.

Once out of the tower, I took a few pictures, and began walking north. It was cold. And windy. And I was getting rather hungry. I ended up finding the mother of all malls, and went inside to warm up and grab a bite to eat.

This eventually got boring after a couple hours, so I decided to venture outside and check out the city. Somehow, I had forgotten how cold it was, and I was back inside the mall within 10 minutes. I walked around until my feet hurt, and then decided it was time to get back to the airport and try to find some outside locations for photography. Upon return, I thought I at least owed it to myself to switch to an airport facing room, if any were available. Glory be, I got a switch free of charge, so that made me a little happy. Then, that happiness turned to frustration. LOTS of action out there on the ramp, but everything was just out of range for my 95mm lens. Oh well, I actually made a relaxing late afternoon / evening out of it. I just popped a squat in front of the window and watched the airport at work.

yyz airport view marriott
Watching YYZ at work from the warmth of my hotel room.

Come nightfall, I even tried my hand at some time-lapse photography. So all was not lost…it was a very relaxing evening, even if it did get a little boring.

view of yyz from marriott hotel room
I didn’t really get any really good aviation pics from this trip, but it was fun to try nonetheless.

Sunday morning came, and I took my time getting ready to leave the room. The plan was to check in at about 2pm, and then walk the terminals taking pictures. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite happen that way. I checked in at 1pm, and once inside (pass customs), I found that there weren’t any windows with a clear view to shoot from. None. So there I sat, already passed customs, nearly five hours before my flight, and I couldn’t see a darn thing out the windows. The good thing was that the flight home was a little light, and I had plenty of room to spread out and relax.

air canada 767-200
There wasn’t a single decent view of the action from inside of the terminal (because of the double windows with hallways leading to customs), and this was all that I managed to get that afternoon.

It was a good trip, as it’s always interesting to get away and see new things. However, I could have planned it a whole lot better, and I almost feel as if I wasted my money. Almost, but not quite. I will make it back to YYZ though…someday.

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