Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tripping in Toronto, Part 3--Science and Castles!

Our first full day in Toronto was, unfortunately, a rainy Saturday. (We had strange weather while we were visiting--it wasn't the trademark hot and humid August.) We, along with every other family in the Toronto metropolitan area, hit the wonderful Ontario Science Centre. Toronto has many great museums, including the Royal Ontario Museum and the Bata Shoe Museum, but we decided to go with the family-friendly freebie (we got in free because of the reciprocal relationship among science museums in the U.S. and our OMSI pass). They had a special focus on the science of food, and Chris' highlight of the day was being in the audience for a game show called "Family Food." We also observed a demonstration of scientists making organic and non-organic butter, followed by a taste test (see Nicholas below).

And a special exhibit on lizards and snakes (Kieran and Nick looking at the boa constrictor--Kieran tried speaking parseltongue to it!):The museum has a great section called KidSpark for younger kids (under 8). I spent a lot of time in that area with Nick!

This keyboard was in the "body" section, and every note played a different body sound!

Nick, aspiring to be like his Aunty Nadine!

Kieran enjoyed the mini "rock band" room, with Chris at the controls:

I could have done with fewer crowds--the place was packed!--but the kids enjoyed themselves. Parking at the science museum cost $7, with seemed to be typical for tourist attractions. But even though Toronto has a great mass transit system, it was still cheaper and more convenient for us to drive with three kids, one of whom is a preschooler (nearly).
The next day, Sunday, we went to Casa Loma, one of my favorite attractions in Toronto. Toronto is the only city with a full-size castle (98 rooms, 25 fireplaces, 15 bathrooms, two towers, a shooting gallery, and secret passageways, among other features). Sir Henry Mill Pellatt, a prominent Toronto financier, industrialist, and military man hired the architect E.J. Lennox to create a medieval castle. It took 300 men nearly 3 years to complete and cost $3,500,000. Sir Henry enjoyed Casa Loma for less than 10 years before financial misfortune forced him to abandon it.
Nick and Kieran in my favorite room, the library/ballroom--imagine, an enormous, beautiful room lined with bookshelves, perfect for dance parties!

And this was my other favorite room, the conservatory.

Chris and Kieran listening to the audio commentary:
And Nick, singing "The Telephone Hour" from "Bye Bye Birdie"!
Here are a few other photos of rooms and furniture I liked:

Nick in the newfangled (at the time) shower:

Nick pretending to play a drum in the military museum:

Views from one of the towers (my legs ached for days after climbing all those stairs!)

The castle has a long underground tunnel to the stables, garage, and potting shed. Here we are in the stables:
Notice Kieran posing with his jellybean sword. Mike was SHOCKED that I allowed him to buy a sword with his souvenir $. I'm shocked at myself, actually. But. I. Will. Not. Allow. Guns.
Nick "mowing the lawn" in the potting shed:

Chris found some interesting books about Niagara Falls and Canada in the gift shop, and he wanted to stay there and read them while we explored the gardens. He told us later that the gift shop clerks came up to him twice and asked him where his parents were...and told him that he couldn't just sit there and read books...they were trying to run a business, yada, yada, yada. If I'd been there, I would have told them that being unfriendly to potential customers wasn't a very good way to run a business!
We loved the gardens--beautiful!

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