After starting out on our holiday Friday night at the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport, Steve (DOS) and I flew to Toronto on Saturday as the first stop in our China vacation. We love staying at the Orlando Airport Hyatt Regency, and although our morning flight wasn’t until 10:30am, by staying the night before, it forces you to be all packed and ready to go, so you’re not rushed in the morning or stuck in traffic getting to the airport.
We also like having dinner at McCoy’s Restaurant at the hotel. As I’ve written before many times, the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport, is directly inside the main terminal, so it’s just a short walk to security and the gates – perfect for a morning flight departure, or occasionally a late night arrival.
As we did in February, we are flying via Canada to London to Helsinki, and this time to Shanghai, instead of Singapore. While it seems like a long trip around the world, it’s much cheaper to fly Business Class to Asia out of Canada vs Orlando; i.e. several thousand dollars cheaper! It’s also fun taking different airlines and having access to different airport lounges, mixed in with the actual flying in lie-flat seats.
On Saturday morning, we had a leisurely breakfast at the Orlando Airport Hyatt, this time on the 9th floor restaurant, Hemispheres. Hemispheres is appropriately aviation themed as it looks out over the runway at the airport. They even have a bar/service area that has a base stand made from a Boeing 747 engine!
After we finished breakfast, we checked out of the Hyatt and after going thru security, headed over to the Admiral’s Club for a Coke Zero, and some last minute phone calls to family.
We then took our first of several flights en-route to Shanghai. Our first segment was on American Airlines, to Charlotte. We had a short layover in Charlotte (only an hour), and then continued on to Toronto on an Airbus 319 jet.
Once in Toronto, we used the automated self-service kiosks for immigration (no more paper forms), then retrieved our luggage (only two checked bags this trip!) and finally and quickly cleared Customs. After exiting the terminal, we went to the ‘limo queue’ and took a huge black Chevy Suburban to our hotel, the Hyatt Regency Toronto.
We stayed at the Hyatt Toronto for one night only, but it felt like two days as we didn’t leave for our next flight to London until 6:30pm the following night. We’ve stayed at the Hyatt Regency Toronto several times, and they welcomed us back at check-in.
The hotel was quite busy as it was Saturday night, and with it’s downtown Toronto location it was conveniently located to the sports venues, theaters, and lots of bars and restaurants. As we checked in we passed a large and colorfully dressed wedding party that was heading out for the ceremony.
After getting settled, we walked around the downtown area a bit, and had a light lunch at A & W Root beer, a couple blocks away. We didn’t want a huge meal, as we were eating at the CN Tower for dinner, and didn’t want to spoil our appetites.
Our dinner reservations at the 360 CN Tower were for 7:30pm, but the confirmation email said to arrive 30 minutes or so prior to the dinner time, to allow for security, check-in, and the ride to the top. The CN tower is a short walk from the hotel, so we headed out from the hotel around 6:50pm, with our umbrellas in tow just in case of rain. It was slightly misty outside, but mostly cloudy, which would actually make for some incredible dinner photos later.
At the base of the tower, you go thru a metal detector, and fortunately the line was not very long this late in the day. We then checked in for dinner, and were shown a waiting area to take the elevator up to the restaurant.
The staff takes your photo against a green backdrop, and later ‘photo-chromes’ you in a souvenir photo of the tower. We would later purchase the souvenir photo package – our first purchases of the trip!
While waiting for the elevator we took turns ‘playing’ the prop piano, complete with a Liberace-like candelabra on top of the piano.
Once it was turn, we boarded the left elevator (1 of 2 elevators) with a dozen or so others, and quickly zoomed to the top of the tower, some 1,151 feet up, while the top of the tower itself rises to 1,815 feet.
Once at the top, we were promptly shown to our table for two, which was directly next to the window. The large restaurant was quite busy and also revolves, making one revolution every 72 minutes we were told by our waiter. As we walked to the table I took a couple photos, including one of several wine display cabinets.
Unlike most people there it seemed, we were not celebrating a birthday, anniversary or graduation, and were not in a hurry to dine quickly. The restaurant offers an (overpriced) ala-carte menu, but a quite reasonable 2 or 3 course dinner. We took quite a while deciding what we wanted, but our waiter did not rush us at all throughout the evening, which was appreciated.
We chose the 3 course dinner and each had two appetizers which we shared, in lieu of a dessert each. The menu also has a suggested wine pairing, and went with a Chardonnay for the appetizers, later having a Malbec by the glass. The wine list was fairly extensive (and quite expensive!!!), but they had a few wines by the glass for $21 to $49 which were preserved; i.e. opened on demand similar to the Coravin device we have at home, which keeps the wine fresh. There were quite a few Canadian wines on the list, including many from Ontario, and while we felt comfortable ordering a bottle of the Ontario area Chardonnay, we didn’t care for the Ontario Cabernet the waiter let us sample, so we stuck with the Malbec for the main course of delicious prime rib.
As we wined and dined, the view outside kept changing due both to the rotation of the restaurant, and more importantly due to the cloud formations. We thought we would not have a good view from the tower, due to the cloudy and occasionally rainy conditions, but the clouds actually provided an interesting perspective, and something our waiter said they rarely see. He referred to the skyscrapers sticking above the clouds as ‘waves’, and actually at times with the clouds down below covering the ground, it did appear like the ocean.
Here are some photos from the evening, showing some of the different views, and later sunset. When I said earlier we don’t like to be rushed when we dine, this became quite evident by all the tables around us turning over a couple times while we gazed away at the view. By the time we left, we had just started our FOURTH rotation! I think most people only stayed for one rotation or so – not us – what’s the rush?
Due to the cloud cover below, we took an interesting photo of the CN Tower being reflected over the clouds.
We did end up ordering a dessert (ala-carte) which we shared between the two of us.
After our three plus rotational dinner, we took the elevator back down to the ground level, and walked around the courtyard area by the tower, taking a few photos at night.
We then walked back to the hotel, and as DOS was tired, he went to bed, while I stayed up for a nightcap brewski in the Hyatt’s lobby bar. Even at midnight it was still quite lively with lots of sports fans celebrating the game, which I could watch from the corner window table which overlooked the street one level below.