Summer vacation part 1 (Ripley’s Aquarium)

I mentioned before that Lee’s work schedule is opposite of mine. That proved to be true with our summer vacation too. I was off while she worked, we had a mere 6 days off at the same time and then I went back to work while she enjoyed the rest of her vacation. Although I wish we would have been able to have more time together, we did make the most of the time we did have.

It all started with a 4 day trip to Toronto, to visit her family. Luckily for us, her parents were both off so we were able to spend time with them and do a few activities.

Once we arrived, we caught up with her brother and parents by the pool before heading downtown Toronto aboard the GO train (my first time on it!) to visit the Ripley’s Aquarium.

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This whole GO train thing with all the underground tunnels and platforms seemed quite confusing to me, but her mom (who uses it daily to get to work) knew exactly where to go and where to wait.

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We arrived at Union Station and walked over to the aquarium. It was quite busy as many people were headed to the Blue Jay’s game. We had hoped to be able to catch a game while we were there but it didn’t end up making the cut on the agenda, maybe next time!

Lee’s mom had purchased our tickets in advance online so we didn’t have to wait in line, we were able to walk right in and start the tour.

The aquarium is amazing, you are greeted by a double tube that extends from floor to ceiling, full of many different fishes. We definitely got caught up watching them swim around for a good 5-10 minutes before we realized this was just the entrance and that we should probably start the tour.

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The most interesting one to us was definitely this chubby yellow guy in the middle. He looked so angry, chilling at the bottom.

We saw so many different species of sea animals, it would be impossible to remember all their names by heart… Like this little guy who is a crab, what kind, I couldn’t tell you.

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We saw a huge lobster as well as a white one and a blue one. I had no idea lobsters were colorful…

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… I always thought they look like the one on the right above.

With all the little sign giving information about every species, we were on information overload so instead of reading every single sign, we decided to stick mostly to the names unless it was something intriguing us such as these sea pens.

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They are named sea pens in reference to the quill pens and are actually made up of tens of thousands micro-creatures. If under attack, the whole “feather” part hides in the base. Isn’t that so interesting?

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This guy above is an eel. Then we got to see an octopus, this guy was so cool looking, he was definitely a big attraction.

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Don’t his suckers look neat?

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He looks so old and tired, almost like he was sleeping, though he kept moving his tentacles around…

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We saw various anemones by themselves and then a whole wall covered with them!

We saw sea urchins, starfishes, corals and all kinds of other fishes.

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Then, we arrived to the tunnel. Guys that tunnel is the coolest thing ever! You are literally walking under water, the animals are free to swim wherever they please, they come near the glass, swim over your head, it is the coolest thing.

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This saw shark for instance, seemed really scary swimming close to the ocean’s floor (or tank’s floor rather) but when he swam above us, we couldn’t help but laugh at how funny his face looked.

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Lee was fascinated with the sharks.

We came up to an open area with play structures for the kids and a structure with horseshoe crabs that you could pet. Looking at them you would think that they are soft and rubbery but their carapace is actually hard. They seemed to enjoy getting pet as they try to climb up the side where people were.

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At this point, we thought the visit was over and we were happy with all the things we saw and learned but little did we know, there was a whole section of the aquarium left to see.

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We saw Nemo, Dory, this colorful guy and a puffer fish!

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I wish I remembered this fish’s actual name… He looks like a zebra (:

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We saw sea horses! They looked so adorable!

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I had no idea they were this tiny in real life!

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Or that there was different species like the one above. Doesn’t it look like he’s running?

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What are you looking at?

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I believe above is a piranha, a sparkly piranha…

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Then we entered my favorite part of the whole aquarium, the “Ray Bay”. I love these guys, they always look so happy, like their arms are in a stretched blanket flying across the ocean.

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I mean look at them!

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The final gallery was the “Planet Jelly” with nothing else but jellyfishes.

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They were maybe not the most interesting to see, but they were definitely very fun to photograph.

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Right in front of the souvenir boutique, there was an area connected to the big tank under which we walked (in the tunnel) where rays and baby shark swam. We are able to pet the rays (but not the sharks). The bigger ones were rather hard and slimy while the little one were soft and rubbery.

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The aquarium was right by the CN Tower, it is quite impressive to be standing beside it, I remember going up to the observation deck and walking on the glass floor which lets you see all the way down when I was a kid.

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We stopped at Starbuck’s for a drink and snack to kill a bit of time before our train back arrived.

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Okay, this post is getting extremely long now, we will post the rest of our vacation in a separate post shortly, in the meantime, what did you do on your vacation this summer? Did you travel or stay close to home? We’d love to hear about it.

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