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It was early evening when I paid my visit to the Tower; the sky was still bright with the sun although it was making its journey further west. I had spent an exciting day exploring the city, taking a ferry over to the harbour islands and touring the wonderful gardens and the amusement park located at their center and to crown the day was a visit to the CN Tower. It was the last week of August, Toronto was in the height of its tourist season, a week before Labour Day and during the Canadian Exhibition celebrations and I was on a once in a life time holiday.
From virtually every point of the greater metropolitan area of downtown Toronto and dominating a striking skyline of gleaming high-rise skyscrapers, condos and apartment buildings is Canada's wonder of the modern world, the spectacular Canadian National Tower.
Favourably more popularly known as the CN Tower: the world's tallest freestanding tower raises 185-stories, 1,815 feet above sea level. Many cities quarrel and people would argue that Canadian National Tower is not the tallest building asserting that the twin Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia are the highest buildings, and that the CN tower is exactly that: a tower. However, the Canadian's will persevere with their claim after all, the tower was designated World's Tallest Building and Free-Standing Structure in 1996.
As an important telecommunications focal point inhabitants of the Toronto area are blessed with the clearest reception for TV, Radio and telephone in the whole of the North American continent due to the microwave receptors housed at the tower and crowned by an antenna at its summit. I sincerely believe this claim having used my mobile phone to call the UK with the clearest and strongest signal I have ever had from the Observation deck located at 1150 feet up. The tower also receives it own power supply from its vast solar panel array, which coincidentally is the worlds highest.
Sited near Toronto's bustling harbour front and centre of the cities entertainment district off Lakeshore Boulevard and the continually active, broad Gardener Expressway the CN Tower soars above another of Toronto's prominent structures the SkyDome. This huge stadium seats 60,000 people and has a retractable roof that that when opened spectators within the tower are offered a spectacular view of a game in progress.
Construction of the Tower took 40 months opening in 1976 and was designed by Australian architect John Andrews who's vision of a pedestal like tower of reinforced concrete, amounting to a mass of over 40,000 cubic meters draws over 2 million visitors each year.
From the ground up the CN Tower is an experience that cannot be missed when visiting Toronto. Upon entering the lower galleries you
pass through state of the art security detectors before moving into the tower proper.
On the 'Concourse' level there are entertainment and tourist attracted area's to be explored. The Marketplace covers 12,500 square feet full of counters and stalls selling authentic goods, for example maple syrup or moccasins, CN Tower souvenirs, the typical key rings, drinks coasters t-shirts and postcards and sporting merchandise. It wouldn't be out of place to find a baseball jersey or a catcher's mitt considering the SkyDome, home of the Toronto Blue Jays Baseball team, is right next door. The Edge Arcade quarters the latest motion simulator rides, the small 144 seats Maple Leaf Cinema showing a 14-minute documentary of the building of the CN Tower
Climbing into one of the six centrally situated elevators my journey moved upwards towards the first of the Observation Decks. Positioning myself in front of the glass fronted doors I switched on my digital camera with video control to film my rise in the world and hung on for dear life dug my feet in and awaited the ride. I suffer from bouts of vertigo and have trouble riding an escelator. But the sensation of the high-speed rise and the unfolding city in front of me stunned and astounded me. In 58 seconds I had ascended 142 storeys at the speed of 15 mph.
On the first level of the bulbous structure positioned approx two thirds up the tower I found the Glass Floor The floor is 256 square feet of solid 2.5 inch thick toughened and tempered glass that can withstand the weight of 14 large hippos. My work colleagues and friends did not believe I would dare stand upon this floor but I mustered the courage and stood in the centre and looked down. It wasn't so bad, with a view 1,122 feet looking straight down the cars and people looked smaller than ants. To prove I amassed the courage to step on this walk of faith I took a photograph …of my feet.
In 2005 when I visited Toronto for the second time I had gained enough courage to try the glass floor again. My friend was with me and he tried to pull me onto the floor before I was ready. Obviously I didnt let him get away with that and brushed off his attempts. Composing myself I walked straight over to the middle and actually sat on the glass floor and looked down... no dizziness, no reeling, no feeling of the ground rushing up before me. I must admit that this time around I felt proud of myself for not allowing my vertigo to get the better of me. Maybe next time I will be able to walk onto the floor without any hesitation.
Further around the level was the Outdoor Observation Deck with its wire meshed screen giving a spectacular view of the city open to the winds racing around the outside of the tower. Out here it is different from the other observation decks, for one thing there are fewer people out here and the feel of the wind certainly makes the experience different. You can hear the traffic and feel the wind however it can be a little chilly outside at that height.
Climbing a small flight of stairs lead me to the second level of the observation deck with the indoor viewing platform providing me with a clear and protected view of the city and the darkening sky. The city lights were appearing as the sun descended onto the horizon. The Union station windows shone with a rosy glow and the in Royal York hotel (Now renamed the Fairmont Royal York) the rooms and suite lights flickered on. All over the city as dusk fell a twinkling spectacle took my breath away.
Housed also on this level is the Worlds largest and highest revolving restaurant the 360. This award winning fine restaurant offers its guests a complete 360-degree view of the city as the Restaurant rotates once every 72 minutes while you dine on superb five star foods and drink a glass of the excellent wine from the vast wine cellar. Also upon this upper level is the casual Horizons café where you can partake in a lunchtime snack or just a coffee break as you look out over the city. The food here has an excellent reputation and although a little costly the quality of the food is said to more than make up for the cost. For a three course lunch menu you can pay around $47.00 approx £23.50 and the evening 3 course menu from $52.00 approx £26.00 but you can order individual items from Appetizers, main courses, desserts and side orders. We chose instead to go to East Side Marios only a few minutes walk along the Skyway on Front Street where a 2 course meal for 2 cost us $47.00. But for a special occasion then a meal in the 360 is a must. Attached to the 360 is the Wine Cellar an at 351 metres 1151 ft. is the highest in the world. The climate is that of a typical wine cellar with the features you would find underground complete with storage for over 9000 bottles from around the world.
Taking an additional elevator from the main observation levels I rode a further 33 storeys to the other record-breaking first also belonging to the CN Tower, The World's Highest man-made observatory, The Skypod. As I was afraid of heights, and I approached my visit to the CN Tower with trepidation. To stand in the Skypod 1,465 feet above the ground in a glass fronted pod barely wide enough for three people to stand abreast was a prospect that intimidated and frightened me. Instead I discovered I did not feel anxiety or fear or vertigo but a sense of awe and wonder at the sights I beheld. The Skypod provided me an even more spectacular view of the city, Lake Ontario, and surrounding area that the lower decks and with
Pictures of CN Tower, Toronto
From the base looking upwards
a full 360 degrees bank of windows an unobstructed view where on a clear day you can see Niagara on the Lake, St. Catherines, Niagara Falls or Rochester in New York State all on the south side of Lake Ontario. On my second visit the weather was amazingly clear and using the public telescope I was able to see not only the slight curve of the horizon but although not completely clearly I could see the high rise hotels and the Skylon Tower on the escarpment at Niagara Falls and the mist rising from the falls behind. In the Skypod I met a woman from Blackpool of all places and during our conversation the woman admitted that Blackpool Tower was absolutely nothing compared to the CN Tower regardless of all the entertainment and attractions within the Blackpool Tower complex. This sight is incredible you are high enough to see over 50 miles and into another country. It's difficult to appreciate the vast size of countries like the USA and Canada coming from a small island like the UK where we cram everything into our small space but standing on the CN Tower gives you an idea why the Canadians and Americans build big...because there is so much land.
Moving back down to the lower level I seated myself overlooking the city and gazed in wonder. The sight was beautiful and incredibly restful. Lights began appearing on the roads and highway, the traffic trailling along as people made their way home and the sun began its decent to the horizon in a myriad of beautiful colours. I felt I could gaze out for hours and not become bored at the sights. The SkyDome below me was unfortunately closed as the Blue Jays were in Boston playing against the Red Sox but over at exhibition place the Canadian National Exhibition was in full swing with its amusement rides and the spectacles It's fairylights sparkling.
Surprisingly the entrance fees are very reasonable considering the attractions in store. The full Tower Experience will cost you CD $ 31.99 approx £16.00 which includes the Look Out Observation floors, the Glass Floor, The Skypod, The Movie and Motion Simulator. This is very reasonable considering the asking price of £11 out of season rate at the Blackpool Tower a few weeks after when I visited the seaside resort. Observation Experience Look Out Observation floors, the Glass Floor, The Skypod costs CD$ 25.99 approx £12.50. Canadian Dollar exchange rate is approx $2.00 to the £1.
I felt sad to leave this peaceful haven perched above the world, but I believe now having experienced an amazing journey I may have conquered my fear of heights although my vertigo does on occasion act up. I feel now I can do much more with my life because of it. The whole experience was one of wonder and one I readily and gladly repeat on my every visit.