Savouring the superb vintage he has poured into our glasses, we listen with rapt attention as Joe and Lorenzo tell us all about the city below us, its various districts and must-see sights. When the bottle is empty, the two of them look at us conspiratorially. ‘So, do you have any problems with vertigo?’, Lorenzo asks impishly. We swallow hard. Shortly afterwards, we are up on the observation platform with its glass floor. Although there is absolutely no rational reason for us not to step out onto the solid glass elements, the 442 metres of nothingness between us and the ground below inevitably cause a massive spike in our adrenalin levels. Hesitatingly, we venture a first step. Looking downwards, we have the queasy feeling that we are flying, as if we are, hovering above the abyss.
The day’s crowning glory: a delectable Canadian-style dinner
‘OK, you guys have earned yourselves a special dinner,’ our hosts agree. They drive us through the city to the Casa Loma, a mind-blowing medieval-style castle built in the nineteentens. ‘It was the home of the man who built it, Sir Henry Pellatt, who had a rather chequered history. During the Roaring Twenties, socialites would meet up there for wild parties to the accompaniment of the Casa Loma Orchestra’s big band sound. A syndicate from New York wanted to buy it and turn it into a hotel but the deal collapsed. As a result, it has become quite a tourist attraction. Since 2014, it’s been a melting pot for every imaginable type of cultural event.’ ‘And,’ Lorenzo adds, ‘the Casa Loma is one of the top addresses for high-level cuisine for extra-special occasions.’ Of which the kitchen and cellar of the BlueBlood Steakhouse, which recently opened in the castle, proceed to give an impressive demonstration. The atmosphere, the sophisticated creations and the service are all absolutely top-notch. We wallow in it: this is poetry.
Before the Di Donatos bring us back to our hotel, they insist on showing us the historic Distillery District. Home to many whiskey distillers in the 19th century, the streets in this hip part of the city are now lined with countless bars, restaurants and boutiques. Making our way past the buskers on the sidewalk, we drag ourselves through the streets, exhausted but happy, and enjoying the sights. To round off the evening, we treat ourselves to an espresso.
Vineyards. And vast amounts of water
‘Still whacked?’ asks Joe, grinning, when he and his brother come to pick us up next morning at the hotel. We protest our innocence, blaming our sleepy faces on the jet lag. ‘No worries,’ he reassures us, ‘today’s all about relaxation.’ They drive us around the Golden Horseshoe to Niagara-on-theLake – the ‘Prettiest Town in Canada’, as it is known – on the shores of Lake Ontario, at the mouth of the Niagara River. The town has 27 wineries, a wealth of excellent restaurants and countless inviting stores and boutiques. You could easily spend the entire day there, strolling through the historic lanes, wandering around the vineyards and enjoying the culinary delights at the many eateries.