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Discover the wonders awaiting them in their own backyard

Stay home and see the world in exotic Toronto

Monday, January 22, 2007

What with the high cost of fuel and the long security checks at customs, more and more Canadians are deciding to spend their vacations at home. Many of these stay-at-home vacationers are pleasantly surprised when they discover the wonders awaiting them in their own backyard. Residents of the GTA in particular, and you'd be surprised how many of them have never bothered exploring the treasures on their doorstep, will be just as astonished as are the thousands of tourists at the sights, sounds and mix of cultures to be found in what used to be stodgy old hogtown where they rolled up the sidewalks on the Sabbath. Toronto, designated by the U.N. as the most multicultural city in the world, has something to please every taste. Here is a just a small sample of Toronto's many great attractions. The C.N. Tower (the highest one of its kind in the world) stands beside the Sky Dome, which is the only sports dome in North America with a retractable roof, and there's a covered walkway to these two sights from the Union Station, itself a national treasure. Union Station also has an entry to Toronto's best-kept secret, a huge underground shopping mall. If your interest runs to castles, Casa Loma is as impressive as any to be found in Europe. Maple Leaf Gardens, on Carlton, close to the Yonge/College subway station, is a very special place, not just to Torontonians, but to all Canadians, because from the time it was built in the 'thirties to the opening of the Air Canada Centre it was the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team. Ontario Place, close to the CNE, has restaurants, bars, paddleboats, miniature golf and the famous movie-dome known as the Cinesphere. The Eaton Centre is a giant down-town shopping mall that is very popular with tourists. The old and new City Halls, close together at

Queen and Bay, are fine examples of ancient and modern architecture. Then there are the major-league hockey, baseball, basketball and football games, the many theatres hosting Broadway shows, art galleries and all those Irish and English pubs. In the burbs you'll find the Ontario Science Center on Don Mills Road, the Toronto Zoo in Scarborough and, of course, the impressive Scarborough Bluffs. And if you want a really different shopping experience, check out the Chinese Pacific Mall at Kennedy and Steels, also in Scarborough. Most exciting of all, are Toronto's famous ethnic enclaves known collectively as the "Littles.", as in Italy, India, Greece, Portugal, China etc. You can set out each morning of your vacation and explore a different culture without ever boarding a plane. And no other city in the world can top Toronto's many restaurants catering to every taste from Albanian to Zimbabwean. From rock concerts at the Dock to thoroughbred racing and the Slots at Woodbine to the many ethnic Parades there is always something exciting going on in Toronto. So, there you have it. You don't have to put up with currency exchange headaches, airport delays and customs hassles, fear of being stranded in a foreign country or any of the other knocks and shocks that often ruin a foreign holiday. You don't have to go anywhere else, because everywhere else is right here under your nose in old familiar, yet exotic, Toronto.