Exploring Toronto

30
SPONSORED LINKS END OF SPONSORED LINKS

Of all the Canadian cities, Toronto is probably the one I know best. I have a soft spot for the place where I first landed in Canada in 2002, coming directly from Rio de Janeiro with a sweater and a backpack.

Even though Montreal is only a two-hour drive from Ottawa, I don’t care much for it. I don’t mind going there once in a while, there are some nice neighborhoods and it’s always a change of scenery. But it has never been “love at first sight”—quite the opposite, actually, we are never lucky in Montreal! There is something about the culture in Quebec that I don’t get. I just don’t feel close to it, even as a French.

When we go to Toronto, we usually book a chain hotel close to the airport, where rooms are cheap and parking is free. We drive to the downtown core, park somewhere and spend the day exploring our favourite spots, such as Chinatown and Kensington Market. One thing I love in Toronto is that the city is very walkable and the various neighborhoods—and their crowd—are distinct and unique. Old Chinese ladies buying traditional medicine on Spadina, a busker (probably high on helium) twisting balloons into animals and characters for kids in Kensington Market, the Bay Street crowd grabbing after-work drinks in the Entertainment District, the hordes of tourists in front of the CN Tower…

Toronto isn’t perfect, though. Traffic conditions on the 401 can be awful, especially when it’s construction season. Real estate is expensive and the GTA has dozens of soulless suburbs where there isn’t much but cheaper housing. And of course, Rob Ford. Come on, people, Rob Ford!

You can see the complete set of pictures taken in Toronto on Flickr.

Driving into Toronto

Driving into Toronto

In front of the first hostel we stayed in in 2002... still exists!

In front of the first hostel we stayed in in 2002… still exists!

Downtown Toronto

Downtown Toronto

Downtown Toronto

Downtown Toronto

Downtown Toronto

Downtown Toronto

Road trip!

Road trip!

Downtown Toronto

Downtown Toronto

Chinatown

Chinatown

Canadian Souvenirs in Chinatown

Canadian Souvenirs in Chinatown

Chinatown

Chinatown

Chinatown

Chinatown

Chinatown

Chinatown

Chinatown

Chinatown

Chinatown

Chinatown

Chinatown

Chinatown

Chinatown

Chinatown

Chinatown

Chinatown

Chinatown

Chinatown

Chinatown

Chinatown

Kensington Market

Kensington Market

Kensington Market

Kensington Market

Kensington Market

Kensington Market

Kensington Market

Kensington Market

Kensington Market

Kensington Market

Art Gallery of Ontario

Art Gallery of Ontario

Koreatown

Koreatown

Late Night Drive, Stuck in Traffic

Late Night Drive, Stuck in Traffic

Late Night Drive, Stuck in Traffic

Late Night Drive, Stuck in Traffic

Share.

About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

30 Comments

  1. Ah, you just made me miss Toronto. I would come up every couple of months from Buffalo, taking the bus across the border. I love the various ethnic neighborhoods, like Koreatown, Little Tibet, Little Portugal, among others. And yes, there’s also Priyank!

  2. Martin Penwald on

    Yeah ! Rob Ford, President ! Rob Ford, President !
    He even had an article in Le Canard Enchaîné last time I was in France, in january. It is somewhat difficult to not mocking him.
    To avoid 401 traffic, you can take the 407 (but it is maybe less expensive to have your own helicopter).

    • Do you ever drive to Toronto/through Toronto for work? I thought of you, must be hell with the traffic. Yes, we ended up taking the 407, it took longer but at least we were moving!

      • Martin Penwald on

        407 ! Hey, you have luxuries tastes. 🙂
        I guess you don’t have a transponder, so you’ll receive the facture in a few days.

        I haven’t been there recently, because Toronto is not on the way from West going to Québec, but for the former company I worked for, it was pretty common (they have a yard in Vaughn and a few big customers between Milton and Scareborough).
        But we were not allowed to take the 407 because it is too expensive (the drivers who take it had to pay the fees, and for trucks without transponder it is extremely expensive).
        If you cross Toronto by 401 outside rush hours, it is relatively manageable. And I rarely loose more than half an hour even during rush hour (but half an hour is very long when you wait).
        The worst wait I had on 401 in Toronto was late evening because a guy has been shot on the highway and collectors were closed due to police investigation, leaving only the express lanes open.

        • Okay, so definitely not the 407 we took. Feng wouldn’t have paid 😆 I’ll ask him, but I know we took a different longer road. Gosh, I sound like a complete airhead “like, my husband is driving and I have no clue”!

          • Martin Penwald on

            The trick with 407 is that there is no toll booth on it, only RFID scanners (for people with a transpondeur) and cameras which take pictures of vehicules plates, to send the bill to the owner of the car later. That is why some drivers where I worked get screwed (moreover, in this area, shitty GPS devices always send you on 407).
            Depending where you were, maybe 427, Gardener expressway and 404, coming back on 401 there. Nice view on lake shore from Gardener.
            But in Toronto, if you are stuck somewhere, you are stuck (almost) everywhere.

          • Martin Penwald on

            I think it is written EFR Toll Road 407 or something like that at each entrance, with a remainder that your rear licence plate should be legible.

          • Good thing I wasn’t driving (and that you are warning me). I could completely see myself missing the sign.

            It’s like parking. Parking rules can be so tricky, I’m always afraid I’m going to make a major mistake such as parking in front of a fire hydrant, misreading the sign, etc.

            Do you ever get tickets, parking or other?

          • Martin Penwald on

            I have a few tickets since I’m here, almost 1 each year. For some, yes, my mistake, but sometimes, not responsible. For exemple, I had a ticket in Washington state because I didn’t have enough tire chains with me. But the policy in the company I worked for was to never put snow chains, and stop waiting the snow halt before proceding. I didn’t pay this one.
            1 parking, 1 speeding (but fortunately, I didn’t lose my bonus for this one, because the safety guy considered that the cops trapped people there), 2 overlength, 1 bad tire (I tried to go to the nearest city at 20 km. I should have stop at the first rest area even if there was no danger to drive, but rules are rules. The problem is that it change state from state and something legal in one state is not in another).

          • That’s pretty good actually considering you spend your life on the road. It must be confusing sometime with the traffic laws changing from one state/province to the other!

      • Martin Penwald on

        I don’t care for traffic jam. As you can see on the picture I send you, I have a big moose bumper in front of the truck I drive to push the small slowish cars.

  3. Je ne connais pas bien Toronto, j’ai dû y aller 2 fois dans ma vie, mais c’est clair que c’est une ville qui mérite d’être visitée 🙂

    T’as pas changé toi en 12 ans! 😀 Bisous 🙂

  4. I guess you have a lot of people who just assume that you like/should like Québec and its culture just because you are French. That must be really annoying. Québec and France do share a lot, but they are still very different from one another with distinct cultures. Just because you are French doesn’t mean you have to like Québec. Just because I am anglophone Canadian doesn’t mean I have to like the UK. I can totally see how it would be worse for you because there are so many French people who glorify Québec.

    I actually had to look up Rob Ford on Wikipedia. Ok, I hope I won’t look like a fool this summer when I visit because I am so out of date with my knowledge of Canada.

    • I am very out of date with French pop culture and it feels weird when I visit because I don’t get half of the jokes.

      Yes, I find it annoying when people automatically assume I must *love* Quebec. I don’t. I mean, I like to visit and all but I just don’t feel close to the culture at all.

  5. Beautiful kissy picture of you and Mark! I love Toronto, but I do find it exhausting! I think I am going tomorrow with some house guests tomorrow. But, yeah – Rob Ford. Just Rob Ford.

    • I feel the same, after a few days there I need to escape somewhere quieter, especially if I hang out in crowded places such as Yonge/Dundas too much.

  6. Love your pics of a city that I really enjoy, but no for more than a few hours. After that, I really need to go back to my soul­less sub­urb of Mississauga 🙂

    • To be honest, I’m not sure I’d live in the downtown core either. I also like quieter neighbourhoods, as long as there is *some* life around, i.e. stores, people, parks, etc. Mississauga is a different city almost, doesn’t qualify as a “soulless suburb” in my book 😉

Leave A Reply