I had the good fortune to spend a week in Toronto, Canada recently. Having said that, I have to tell you it cost a small fortune.
The airline tickets were a bargain, relatively speaking, about $750.00 round trip for two, plus another $100 for baggage fees. A decent hotel in GTA (Greater Toronto Area) is not cheap; our hotel was about $1,200 for the week, and that was for the smallest room in a downtown boutique hotel. The tradeoff was that the hotel was literally near everything we needed: shopping, public transit, great restaurants, sports venues and Lake Ontario.
It was my first time traveling anywhere that required a passport, and for the record, Customs was no problem. Yes, I was honest and declared what I bought. Yes, I brought back only the legal amount of alcohol (and no one is willing to ship any from Canada to the U.S., unless you are a commercial distributor). I brought back Grade 3 maple syrup (almost impossible to find in the U.S., unless you live in maple syrup country), twenty bars of chocolate (for my other blog), a half-dozen food books and very nice things to say about our northern neighbors.
- They are very polite, I never entered or exited a building without someone holding a door.
- Pedestrians rule, at least from what I saw on Toronto’s streets. Cars stop when you step into a cross walk; you’re not considered a target.
- Public transit is cheap, clean and fast.
- Gay marriage is legal.
- The bookstores are locally owned, independent and carry an array of titles that will blow your mind and fill your suitcase.
- People drink at lunch on business days.
- The coffee and pastry shops are fantastic.
- Torontonians seem to be a pretty fit bunch, in spite of all the good food and drink. There are lots of outdoor activities and gyms and frankly, the city is built into the side of a sloped plateau, so it’s constant uphill and downhill. The Husband and I lost almost ten pounds combined on this trip.
- For every ethnic group you see on the streets, there are restaurants and food shops somewhere, providing the food that reminds them of home. Toronto has several ethnic neighborhoods: Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Italy, Little Portugal, Roncesvalles Village (Polish), Corktown (Irish), The Danforth/Greektown, and many more small, old enclaves featuring well-preserved homes and small shops.
We did a lot of walking in our week’s visit. I believe in on-the-ground contact as much as possible in a new place, because it’s the only way to understand the lay of the land and meet the people who live there. You cannot talk to the locals on a tour bus or in a taxi, though you certainly can on a subway or streetcar. Shopping the weekly farmers markets, eating in the side street restaurants and visiting the back alley music venues is the best way to find out what people are doing, thinking, buying and how they are living. Turns out they are doing it all pretty well in Toronto. I hope to return some day and experience more.
- Be a REBEL in Mississauga (local-news.jtn-network.com)
- Sometimes You Have To Get To The Beach Early (johndorosiewicz.wordpress.com)
- I’ve seen it all in a small town … (dorathygass.wordpress.com)
- Maple Syrup: Not for the lazy! (michpics.wordpress.com)