Wednesday, February 17, 2010
An Adventure: Toronto
So I am currently sitting in the not so interesting Halifax airport, and I can assure you that this is one place in Halifax that you don't want to spend too much time at. There is nothing to do here. On top of everything, my fight has been delayed three hours, so I will be here for an eternity all by my lonesome. On the plus side they did provide me with a dinner voucher for my trouble, so I guess I won't have to fork over my arm and leg for a snack. Here's to looking on the bright side.
I am heading to Toronto for the weekend to visit family and friends. It has been a while since I have seen a lot of my best friends since most were away for Christmas, so this is very exciting. In honour of this visit to my fair home-city I am going to do a little piece on places to and things to do in Toronto so that it is more than a boring tourist city. Here we go:
Forget the CN Tower, it is overpriced and quite frankly has a pretty obvious and predictable view of Toronto. All I remember seeing is a lot of big basement holes for condos, the outdoor driving range nets and rooftops of a million buildings. It is cool once, but is really not what Toronto is about. I think when you go to Toronto you need to use it as an opportunity to experience a little culture and difference that we don't often see in places like the Maritimes.
One of the best places to go is The St Lawrence Market on Saturday morning. There are hundreds of vendors selling everything from homegrown veggies, fresh baked goods and Montreal bagels, to hand made items. You can spend the morning at the market and then spend the rest of the day walking downtown. If it is nice out I highly recommend spending the 3 or 4 bucks to take the ferry across to the Toronto Island. In the summer you can bike around the island, have delicious ice cream and swim. In the winter it is worth a trip just to see the amazing icicles that collect and buildup on the shoreline.
If you are more of a museum buff or the weather is just plane crap, as it can be sometimes, check out the obvious ones like the ROM, of the AGO as they always have very interesting exhibits. The new addition to the AGO is incredible and is absolutely stunning an beautiful to walk through or sit and think in. One place that often gets left out of a list like this is The Gardiner Museum, which specializes in ceramics and pottery. They even offer classes in ceramics with drop in studio hours, which I have participated in and really enjoyed.
Obviously, many people come to Toronto to shop, so if you are going to do this, avoid the malls. The Eaton Centre, downtown is a good place to start when you step out of the subway, but honestly there isn't too much in the way of interesting or authentic fashion. Try to head towards Queen street West and walk all the way down, as far west as possible. As Queen West has always been an edgy spot for fashion, mostly the punk style, it is now becoming over run with big manufactured clothing stores, so the more west you walk the more interesting and old school the stores get.
Another amazing spot to check out is China Town, just off of Queen Street West and Spadina Ave. There you can have delicious dim sum, but cheap kitchen ware and trinkets and even shoes. It is very much a miniature China and offers some interesting cultural experiences.
On the fringe of China Town is Kensington Market, you will know you are there when you see the red globe decorated lamp post. There you will have your pic of great often vegetarian/vegan foods, handmade and revamped clothing and shoes and lots of second hand items. Little shops and markets line the busy streets and at night lights flicker from the people filled pubs and restaurant windows.
Also check out Honest Eds bargain store, and The Canadian Textiles museum as extra things to do.
There are a million places you could go in Toronto that very seldom get written up in tourist manuals, because these places don't shell out the bucks to have their names line ad littered pages. They survive and rely on local business but always welcome newcomers. For restaurants, there a couple that must try:
Nazareth Bar - Bloor and Ossington - the best Ethiopian food I have ever tasted and the owner is so sweet
Rainbow Dim sum - Dundas and Spadina - The service is a little abusive but the food is good
Thobors Bakery - Davisville and Mount Pleasant red - The best French bread in Toronto (athough I am biast because I used to work there :))
Vietnamese Pho along Dundas at Spadina, any place will do.
There are also a lot of awesome sushi places so be sure to check out the cheap and usually pretty good sushi.
I could list many more places that I love but it would take an eternity so this is a limited list, but if you need more suggestions let me know!
It is also my birthday tomorrow so I will no doubt be doing a write up of good party things to do in Toronto. So stay tuned as per usual!
Talk to you all soon!