I will be the first to admit I probably overdid it on my weekend visit to Toronto in August. I was just so excited to visit and there was so much to see and do that I wanted to see and do it all at once. And then I realized how good the food was and I wanted to eat ALL the food.
I arrived on a Friday evening on Porter Airlines – an airline comparable to my beloved Southwest that flies directly into the Toronto City airport, which is on a small island right in the heart of the city. It was a short (and relatively cheap!) flight from Chicago and I landed while it was still light outside. Going through passport control was a breeze, with some of the friendliest passport control folks I have ever encountered. But then came the wait for the ferry, which seemed to take forever.
So it was more than thirty minutes later that I hopped a taxi to my hotel. And then I arrived at my hotel to discover that Priceline never communicated my reservation so they had no room for me. The staff was great and did everything they could, but it still took nearly forty minutes to resolve the whole thing and finally check me in. While I had planned to check out the Taste of the Danforth street festival before meeting up with fellow blogger Ayngelina Brogan, the delay meant a change in plans and I ended up missing Ayngelina altogether.
I did still head out to the Taste of the Danforth, though, and even though it was after 10:00 p.m. when I arrived, I was glad I did. It was such a contrast to Chicago street festivals and gave me a great introduction to Toronto. I also got to try the best grilled pork I have ever had. Ever.
Even though it was past 1:00 a.m. when I got to bed, I was up early Saturday morning to make the most of the day. Using my CityPASS, I made my first stop the CN Tower to enjoy some great views of the entire city and surrounding area. It was interesting to compare to Chicago’s Willis/Sears Tower – one nice thing being that there is actually a level where you can walk outside (although photos are impossible due to thick fencing). The CN Tower’s glass floor, though, was just kind of lame.
Then I was off to the Hockey Hall of Fame. While I am not a huge hockey fan, I am a sports fan and everyone I know (i.e., my brother) told me that this was a must. I can’t lie, it was pretty impressive. I liked that it included not just the NHL, but also international hockey, including the Olympics. There were also some cool interactive exhibits that gave visitors the chance to play goalie or shoot pucks themselves. I didn’t try, but it was fun to watch! And of course I had to check out the Stanley Cup, with my hometown Chicago Blackhawks claiming it twice in the last few years.
By now, I was pretty hungry and it was time to meet up with my friend Anna for brunch at Kensington Corner, near Toronto’s Chinatown neighborhood. Walking there gave me a nice appreciation for the way that neighborhoods in Toronto just sort of run into each other – compared to Chicago, where you would never really just wander into Chinatown. Anyway, brunch was at a gluten-free place, where I finally got to try poutine!! Since gravy generally is made with flour, I normally cannot eat poutine, so I was super excited for this opportunity. With gluten free chicken fingers also on the menu, I splurged on both, but unfortunately neither really lived up to my internal hype.
After brunch, we spent some time wandering around the Kensington Market neighborhood, stopping at Bunner’s Bakery for dessert – gluten free cupcakes! Here, I was not disappointed. My red velvet cupcake was simply to die for. I may or may not have returned later in the day for another one.
Anna and I soon parted ways and I head out to the campus of York University for the Rogers Cup. Getting there was easy, taking the subway and then switching to a bus – about an hour altogether. While the venue was great, the tennis wasn’t quite all I hoped for, with a lackluster match between Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Grigori Dimitrov (which thoroughly disappointed the hordes of Bulgarian fans in the crowd) and an even duller match between Roger Federer and Feliciano Lopez. I actually took a break in between to return to Kensington Market for some Mexican food and another cupcake.
I let myself sleep in just a bit on Sunday morning, but still headed over to the Distillery District in advance of my food tour to check out the area a bit. Then my food tour with Tasty Toronto Tours started at 11:00 a.m. and I had to run off early at 12:30 in order to catch my bike tour with Toronto Bicycle Tours starting at 1:00 p.m. Normally I would never book two tours back to back like this, and while I enjoyed each, it was a little too much for one day.
By the time the bike tour finished just after 5:00, I had to race back to my hotel, pick up my bags and rush to the airport in order to make my flight back to Chicago. I didn’t bother to stop for dinner, thinking I could grab something at the airport, but I was sorely mistaken. The only thing in the Porter Airlines waiting area was a kiosk selling snacks – by credit card only, so I couldn’t even use up my Canadian cash!
It took me about a week to recover from this crazy weekend trip to Toronto (and another few weeks to lose the pounds I gained!). I probably packed in too much, but again, there was just SO MUCH. I could easily go back and spend a week in Toronto and not run out of things to do (and food to eat!). With easy and cheap flights from Chicago, visiting Toronto may become one of my summer traditions, just as New York has been.
Thank you to Tourism Toronto for their assistance in planning my trip. While some of my activities were complimentary, my opinion are always my own.