Toronto! I somehow end up in this magnificent city at least a few times a year. Despite meandering through it occasionally, I’ve never been back and not found something unique and new to see, do, or try. The Cross-Canada Travel Blogger Tour, put on by the Canadian Tourism Commission, not only gave me the opportunity to meet a handful of other incredible writers and bloggers, but opened the doors to a few places in “The Big Smoke”, that I’d never got around to seeing.
In true rockstar fashion, I was swept up by a limo company as soon as I landed in Toronto, and brought to the Cambridge Suites in downtown Toronto. While I’m used to public transport and splitting cabs with fellow airportee’s, I have to admit, having your own driver is something I could get used to. After dropping off my backpack in these luxury Toronto Suites, I promptly grabbed the 505 Streetcar to Chinatown. Chinatown; however, wasn’t my destination. A short walk and I was back in one of my favourite neighbourhoods of Toronto. Kensington Market.
The streets of Kensington Market are filled with local produce, small restaurantes, patios, vintage shops, hand made crafts, and the occasional smell of incense. For those who’ve ever been to Australia, I like to compare this area of Toronto as “Byron Bay”, but without the beach. It’s a gathering place for free-spirits, hip young adults, and people interested in seeing a local side of Toronto.
Having not eaten in 7 hours, my gut was beyond grumbling. It was screaming at me to feed it. Everything looked so good though, and decision making has never been a skill I’ve excelled at. Mexican? A bakery? Burgers? Pub grub? Then, of the corner of my eye, I gazed upon The Grilled Cheese. I B-lined it there, and ordered the best Grilled Cheese sandwich I’ve ever eaten.
After inhaling a tremendous amount of cheese, I ran into a fellow Cross-Canada travel blogger, Frankie Bird of As the Bird Flies. As someone who’s been to Kensington Market a handful of times I was nominated as leader. In true Canadian fashion, I found beer. Mill Street beer, Steamwhistle & Tankhouse to be exact. The patio of The Last Temptation is one of my favourite spots to people watch in Toronto. The patio & window seating is just high enough to observe a bit of everything going on around you, and the food & drinks are surprisingly easy on the pocket.
The Bata Shoe Museum
After intros and pitchers of beer, it was time to see some more of Toronto. While we discussed the possibility of the CN Tower, as well as the Royal Ontario Museum, it was the Bata Shoe Museum that won our attention. A museum dedicated to the history of footwear. Thousands of years of it! Hands down one of the most interesting and cute museums I’d ever been to. It also gave me a huge appreciation for the sneakers I wear, and added even more respect to women for putting up with some of the uncomfortable footwear they’ve endured in the past, and continue to occasionally wear today.
Pimm’s, Gin, & a Filet Mignon
By 630pm the rest of the group had congrugated to the lobby of the Cambridge Suites, and we left as a group to Easy & Fifth. A trendy and unique restaurant located a short old-fashioned elevator ride above one of Toronto’s funnest clubs. It was there that I enjoyed Pimm’s & Gin, tackled a lovely salad, then finished it off with what might have been the tastiest and best cooked filet mignon I’d ever ordered.
For 24 hours in Toronto, we squeezed in a bunch, but we’d only just scratched the surface, and there was more TIFF & Toronto sights, sounds, and eats to take in. All in all, a great way to start off a superb trip catered to showing the world a slice of Toronto.