What to Do on a 14-hour Layover in Toronto, Canada?

I have already heard of the Iceland-based Wow air which has been in operation since 2012 offering cheap flights from Europe to Canada and the US. But it was only lately that I found out about another budget airline also flying across the Atlantic Ocean – Westjet. A Canadian airline, it was founded and had its maiden flight in February 1996.

My family had a three-week long holiday during last year’s Christmas season. We decided to spend a week in Vancouver, Canada and two weeks in the US. I found a flight via Westjet to Vancouver with a sixteen-hour layover in Toronto. There was another flight to Vancouver with a nine-hour layover in Calgary. I booked the former as we want to see Niagara Falls and climb atop CN Tower. From London to Vancouver with a long layover in Toronto and be able to see some sights for £167 per passenger was a good deal, in my opinion. Also, it was peak season for air travels because of the holidays.

 

On the way to London Gatwick airport

Aboard an early morning train on the way to London Gatwick airport.

At London Gatwick airport, we were informed that our flight will be delayed for an hour. The heavens opened and pour out snow in our destination. We did not mind the delay but another hour was added to our misery and now we’re starting to get worried. Would the flight be delayed further or cancelled?

I suddenly remembered about a European Union legislation entitling up to £540.00 per passenger in compensation. This is in case a flight was delayed for three hours or more, cancelled or overbooked within the last three years. I wasn’t particularly interested with the compensation. The delay was already ruining our plans. We want to leave as soon as possible. It’s Canada or bust!

I am sure the airline was aware of the legislation and compensation. After what seemed like an eternity, we were allowed to board and the plane took-off. It was 1:10 pm on a usual cloudy winter day in London, two hours behind our scheduled departure.

 

On the way to Toronto

On the way to Toronto.

Midway through the flight, the plane went through a series of nerve-wracking, longer than usual bouts of air turbulence. The plane escaped unscathed and we were able to heave a collective sigh of relief as Toronto Pearson International Airport appeared from a distance several hours later. There were wild cheering and spontaneous applause from the appreciative passengers as soon as the plane touched down. It was almost 4:30 pm local time (Toronto was 5 hours behind London). By the way, the airport was located in Mississauga. I wonder why it was named after another city.

 

Approaching Toronto Pearson International Airport

Approaching Toronto Pearson International Airport.

A childhood friend and a long-time resident of Ontario whom I have not seen for almost 30 years picked us up at the airport. He first drove us down to his nearby Mississauga home to drop off our luggage. It took him twice the normal driving time of 20 minutes to get home because of the rush hour traffic and the slippery roads that have just been cleared of snow. Next, we picked up his wife at her workplace and off we go to our destination – the popular and majestic Niagara Falls. It was about an hour drive to the city of Niagara Falls, passing the scenic Lake Ontario along Queen Elizabeth Way.

 

With our friends and hosts

With our friends and hosts

We had buffet dinner at Fallsview Casino Resort, reputedly the largest gaming resort in Canada. There is a section in its dining area offering a magnificent view of Niagara Falls. However, you have to be extremely lucky to be seated there as it’s always occupied by other diners. We have to settle in an inconspicuous area.

 

Fallsview Casino Resort

Fallsview Casino Resort

After a short drive and a short walk, we were already beaming with excitement as we can hear the thunderous noise the falls make. The air was still, the night cold at 2°C but not chilly. It was almost nine in the evening, dark but floodlights illuminate the three cataracts. There was a couple and a small group of people who braved the weather like us. We first laid our eyes upon Horseshoe Falls, bathed gloriously in blue light. Thick clouds of mists slowly rising as volumes upon volumes of water cascade and crash in a never-ending process down the river. We were amazed! Not farther away are the falls on the American side, lesser in size but nonetheless pretty in pink lights.

 

The Majestic Horseshoe Falls

The majestic Horseshoe Falls

 

American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls

American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls

The world-renowned waterfall is shared by the twin cities of Niagara Falls – in the province of Ontario in Canada and the state of New York in the US. Niagara Falls is made up of American Falls and the smaller Bridal Veil Falls on the American side and the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side. All these falls can be best seen from the Canadian side. Named because of its shape, the Horseshoe Falls is the most stunning and its roaring drop of more than 50 metres can be heard from miles away.

 

Niagara_Falls_USA_Canada_from_Skylon_Tower_on_2002-05-28

L-R: American Falls and the smaller Bridal Veil Falls beside it and the aptly-named Horseshoe Falls (Photo credit: Robert F. Tobler / Source: Wikimedia Commons / License CC-BY-SA 4.0)

 

 

We were aboard the car and I had a final glimpse of the waterfalls. Horseshoe was now covered in green light or so I thought. I could be wrong. I muttered to myself that it won’t be our first and last meeting. I haven’t completely savoured you yet – I have to do the “Maid of the Mist” boat cruise and the “Journey Behind the Falls” adventure.

Meanwhile, we need to have a good night rest as we have an early morning flight to Vancouver the following day.

Reflection

We were not able to climb CN Tower in Toronto – not even able to get there because of time constraints. Besides Toronto is further to the east of the airport while Niagara Falls is in the southwest direction. One of the many good reasons to come back

Beforehand, I don’t even know the waterfall’s exact location. I’m not also aware that it got its name from the city where it was situated. I am surprised to know that the waterfall was in the centre of a highly urbanised area – commercial establishments, hotels, casinos, restaurants, etc. surround it. I thought of it as located somewhere in the middle of nowhere in an idyllic and bucolic setting. Just like those waterfalls in Iceland.

Also, I didn’t know that Niagara Falls was made up of three waterfalls. All I knew was that it was located along the Canadian-US border. Furthermore, I am amazed to learn that cataracts can also mean waterfalls, not just medical condition of the eyes. The quote below truly holds water:

“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” – Aldous Huxley

Travelling is not only limited to exploring and enjoying the sights, sounds and everything our destinations have to offer. It is also a learning experience – an education outside of the four walls of a classroom. Furthermore, travelling is about meeting friends who we have not seen for ages, catching up and enjoying each other’s company.

21 thoughts on “What to Do on a 14-hour Layover in Toronto, Canada?

  1. Pingback: Ontario to British Columbia, Canada: A Photo Journey - ARround Planet Earth

    1. Ash Post author

      You’re welcome! I don’t have the slightest idea that Niagara Falls has three waterfalls and their exact locations before making this trip. Truly a learning experience.

  2. RaW | Ramble and Wander

    Sometimes I wonder too why some airports are named after another city – there are a few that I’ve been to/passed through – but I guess they needed a more popular city name to let the travelling public know which city (and country) they serve. But anyways… reading this post reminds me of some 20-year old unfulfilled dream of going to Toronto and seeing Niagara Falls for myself. If only I didn’t have to travel half-way across the globe (on a full fare basis, if I may add, haha!)… It’s good to know about Westjet though. At least now I know how to get there rather on the cheap via Europe.

    1. Ash Post author

      I tend to agree with you on naming airports after a popular city, The public would easily identify the country it serves. Something like “Oh, I know where Toronto is!” than “Where on earth is Mississauga?” Hope you’ll be able to realise your dream of seeing Niagara Falls soon!

    1. Ash Post author

      Thanks! We should make the most of a long layover instead of killing time and boring ourselves to death inside the airport. Westjet is good considering we have to pass through those series of air turbulence and be able to land safely.

    1. Ash Post author

      Niagara Falls is magnificent, indeed! Got to try the boat ride and the adventure journey behind Horseshoe next time. Can’t wait to be on top of CN Tower!

  3. Joy Generoso

    14 hours is such a long layover but short for exploring places. I’m glad you still enjoy your time in Toronto. Seeing the horseshoe falls is once in a life time experience. Would love to see it one day. 🙂

    Joy of fatmoments.com

    1. Ash Post author

      Agree, considering our layover was during night time and in winter weather but seeing Niagara Falls was fantastic. Hope you’ll see it in the near future!

    1. Ash Post author

      Seeing the falls up close and personal was incredible and made up for the delayed flight and the bad weather we have to go through.

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