By chance, the weekend we were in Toronto, the annual “Doors Open” event was held, a city-wide celebration offering free, rare access to more than 155 landmarks. We have a similar event in Ottawa, usually held in June.
Browsing: Snapshots of Toronto
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.
“Did that just happen?” I asked Feng. He shrugged. He is more patient than me with strangers’ unwanted advice, because unlike me, he is not familiar with the “toddler police”.
Our Labour long weekend getaway was a last-minute decision. As we usually do in this…
The only group of islands in the western part of Lake Ontario, the Toronto Islands are located just offshore from the city centre. Today, it’s a popular recreational centre and a quick getaway from the “mainland”. Just the ferry rid can wow even the most blasé tourist: the view on Toronto’s skyline is amazing.
Every year (except when I’m eight-month pregnant like last year…), we take a short trip during the Labour Day long weekend. Two years ago, we were in Toronto and visited Barry, Balm Beach and the Georgian Bay. The year before, we were in rural Ontario and visited the Townships of Head, Clara and Maria, Rapides-des-Joachims, Pembroke, Deux-Rivières and Matawa and Deep River. This year, we decided it was time for Mark to visit Toronto—the last time we went for the Rolling Stones concert, he had stayed home with his 爷爷 and 奶奶 (grand-parents).
Early in the afternoon, Feng and I made our way to YOW, the Ottawa Airport, to catch The Rolling Stones concert in Toronto, later in the day. Killing time before the flight, we realized we had never properly “visited” YOW—most of the flights we took from there were very early in the morning, and we were too sleepy to check out the place.
Toronto is one of my favourite cities in Canada, and we’ve gotten to know it pretty well through multiple visits. This time, we were there for the Bryan Adams concert and only stayed for a day, but we still enjoyed a nice walk in the city and a stop at two of our favourite restaurants: The Old Spaghetti Factory on the Esplanade, and a small Chinese dumpling place in Chinatown.
Labour Day in North America always takes me by surprise, mostly because it is months after the rest of the world celebrates International Workers’ Day on May 1st. But in a country where holidays are given sparingly, a three-day long weekend always calls for a short trip.
After visiting the Niagara Region, we stopped in Toronto. I know the city very well now but it’s always fun to revisit a few favourite places downtown: Chinatown (where you can get excellent jiaozi and baozi), Kensington Market (for the funky artsy feel) and Yonge Street (for the shops and the crowd).
On one side, my experience with university in Canada is pretty good. First, I hope that eventually I will be able to complete a Canadian degree, even if the goal seems to be very far away. Second, it helps me keep a balance with my crazy work environment. Culturally speaking, it is also interesting to see how things are taught on this side of the Atlantic Ocean: perspectives, especially on economics, history and politics are quite different from Europe’s.
There is something very comforting in walking around in a city after sunset. Contrary to popular belief, most of them don’t turn into cut-throat places and it’s not like you risk your life at every block. Quite the opposite actually: people tend to be more relaxed after a stressful day.
And when it comes to night skylines, Toronto has it all.
Most of the market is nest inside a two-storey brick building, between King Street East and the Esplanade. We went there on Saturday morning, and boy it was busy! About half of Toronto seemed to have gathered around the baker, and the other half was queuing for meat, fish or appetizers, such as fresh olives, red pepper and feta cheese or artichokes.
I grew up in Nantes, on the West coast of France. The Loire river crosses the city and I lived close to the banks. We were also a 45 minutes drive from the coast, where I spent pretty much all of my summers. I learned to swim before I could walk and believe it or not, I was an okay surfer and windsurfer. All in all, I believe this explains my fascination for water. I like the sea best but lakes and river will do as well. Hell, even glaciers!
Of course, when in Toronto two weeks ago, we ended up in Chinatown – again. Looks like I can never really escape my Chinese roots – wait a minute… I’m not Chinese!
Nonetheless, I feel at home in crowded Chinatown. The smell of the food, the colorful signs and displays, the multicultural atmosphere make me feel good. Plus, it’s a great place to take pictures.
Two weeks ago, for the Easter long weekend, we once again drove to Toronto. The weather was gorgeous: 25ºC in Canada in early April is definitely not the norm.
Kensington Market was much more friendly than last time we were there before New Year – translation, there were actually people in the street this time. With the many terraces (all packed), the restaurants opened on the street and yes, street entertainment, it proved to be a great place to hang out for a few hours.
I will always remember the first time I came to Toronto.
It was in 2002, after our crazy long trip from Mexico to Brazil. I had never been to North America before and I wanted to see Canada, so I flew back to Toronto with Feng. It was February and I didn’t have any warm clothes after a few months in Latin America. The only jacket I had was a thin leather jacket I had bought in Argentina during the Peso crisis. Feng had warned me: it was going to be cold.
In Ottawa, we have the Rideau Canal. In Toronto, local polish their skating skills on Nathan Phillips Square, where the New Year celebrations took place.
Torontonians seemed to have a blast with friends and family as they were skating around the man-made ice rink that covers the square. I wanted to try it, but the queue at the skate rental was huge!
Dundas Square, located at the intersection of busy Yonge Street and Dundas street, is famous for hosting public events. This is one of the busiest intersection in Toronto. The square is surrounded on all sides by gigantic commercial billboards, which is fairly unique (and controversial) in Canada.
Past Chinatown, we ended up in another cute multicultural neighborhood: Kensington Market. The eclectic shops and cafés are stuck between Spadina and Little Italy. We spotted Latino, European, Middle-Eastern and North African small businesses and vintage stores in old Victorian houses.
Toronto’s Chinatown didn’t disappoint me. It was colorful, messy and it smelled of exotic and spicy food. I observed the people attending their daily business: biking around, shopping, cooking and chatting.
In Toronto, most of the party takes place downtown, in Nathan Phillips Square, at the corner of Queen and Bay. There is a small skate rink (small by Ottawa standards – remember, we have the 7.8 kilometers long Rideau Canal!) and skating seemed to be the number one activity.
After Niagara Falls, we drove to Toronto to attend the R.E.M concert in the evening. We arrived early on a Sunday and it was hot and quiet.
I had landed in Toronto quite a few time since it’s Ontario’s big hub. The city was my first stop in Canada when we came from Brazil in 2002 and I went numerous time since then. However, I never really had the chance to explore it since I mostly went there during winter time. Oh, and I was broke, too. So I was looking forward to exploring the big city.