The day began with an early morning start to our conference. We sat through several hours of presentations prior to being dismissed for a long lunch. Acting on a whim, Justin and I decided to walk to the docks over the break to get a better feel for a part of the city we had not yet seen. In turn, we naturally found our way to the Toronto Islands ferry port and began reading about the islands. When we learned the seven and a half minute ferry ride to the islands provided access to a variety of restaurants we tossed around the idea of crossing the bay for a bite to eat. With time of the essence we made a quick decision and committed to the new experience. A few minutes later, we had tickets in hand to board the Centre Island ferry and were lining up to board the next boat that arrived in port.
We stood at the ferry gate for a few minutes before the ferry arrived in port and slowly came to rest in its designated slip. Once docked, a metal ramp lowered from the bow of the ship, permitting passengers returning to the mainland to disembark the massive white vessel. Once cleared, those of us waiting to travel to the islands were giving permission to board. Justin and I moved through the crowd and made our way to the second deck of the ship. Similar to the previous day's trip on Niagara River, we found ourselves against the side railing of the boat ready to take in the sights of the Toronto skyline as we crossed to the islands.
|The Toronto Skyline|
Our intuition proved accurate as the boat pulled out of port and away from downtown Toronto. The as the boat pushing onward, buildings began to become more visible and landmarks began to stand out against the retreating shore. Within the first few minutes of the trip we were standing before a panoramic view of downtown Toronto glowing in the midday sun. Our eyes stayed fixed on the city as pulled further into Lake Ontario and began to notice the strong wind blowing off the lake. The air, chilled by the massive body of water, was about 20 degrees cooler than what we felt on shore. The sight of the towering buildings and the sudden change in temperature made the rest of the journey to the islands seem almost surreal. To me, it was like we were watching the city of Toronto from a place, time, or season far removed from that in the city itself. By the time we pulled into the Centre Island port, I found myself trying to take in all of the experience up to that point. Undeterred by the quantity of new experiences already in our trip, I departed the boat and made my way to Centre Island's main walkway.
Upon departing the ferry, we were immediately greeted by a vast expanse of well-manicured green space. Birds sang everywhere around us and old trees rustled in the constant lake wind. We were surrounded by natural beauty tamed by a committed parks crew. It was clear the city of Toronto takes pride in the islands that share its name.
|Cranberry Cream Cheese on a Burger? I'm game.|
As expected, the ride back was filled with the same sights and experiences the previous ride offered; however, the view of the Toronto skyline was still as captivating as it had been little less than one hour prior. We arrived back on shore just in time to make it back to our conference for the next round of presentations, which filled out the rest of our afternoon. With the first full day of our conference wrapped up, I was feeling exhausted but I knew I couldn't let the evening get away from me. As a result, I stayed engaged and prepared myself for the next phase of our workday. That decision proved to be a wise one.
The evening brought a social gathering for members of our conference that provided me a variety of insights and information that complemented the presentation content from earlier in the day. After some conversation with fellow risk management and fraud management professionals, Justin and I were extended an invite to attend dinner at 360˚, the restaurant located in the top of Toronto's well known needle known as CN Tower. With knowledge CN Tower is the largest free standing structure in the world, I wanted to make the trip to the top before we left Toronto. However, I never expected I would be able to accomplish this feat and get to eat at the rotating upscale restaurant contained in the building. As a result, I didn't bat an eye at the opportunity. Shortly thereafter we were on our way to the top of CN Tower in an elevator moving at 21 miles per hour.
After taking in the sights for some time, I worked my way back to our table to find we had not yet been given the chance to place our order. Relieved I did not delay the meal, I settled in and prepared to eat a delicious dinner. The four course meal accompanied by my first Canadian wine was an unbelievable treat. The flavors of my small tuna appetizer, truffle and oyster chowder, pork tenderloin with spinach and cranberries, and chocolate tort made for a diverse meal that proved a perfect end to a long day. After our dinner, we spent some time among the ever changing scenery around us before calling it a night. We found our way to the bottom of the massive CN Tower and walked back to our hotel to find it was already approaching midnight. Exhausted, I knew it was time to call it a night.
|Sunset over the city...|
Today was the most fruitful day in my "I have never..." journey to date. On a day I expected to struggle to find something I had never done before, I experienced more than would have been possible had I tried to plan the day's events. After days like today, I feel like my ongoing commitment to trying new things is helping me make the most of the time I have and of the opportunities I'm presented. I'm also finding that each unexpected new experience I encounter opens me up to two or three more opportunities I had never thought of before. With that, I'm looking forward to what tomorrow brings. At this point, anything is possible in this amazing city.
|Night over the city...|