Toronto

Friday 21 June 2019

I’m still trying to go everywhere. And one easy place I haven’t yet been – Canada! So why not go for the weekend….

It’s only about 7 hours from London. And after 7 hours of lazing around, we landed in Toronto at 3pm local time (8pm UK time).

Getting into the city was relatively easy, on the train (once we managed to find it, having to get a shuttle to another terminal!). After about half an hour, we were in the city centre.

5pm wasn’t the best time to be arriving in the city. All the office workers were heading home for the evening, so the streets were packed.

The city is full of very, very tall glass buildings. And lots of them.

We ran into a market. And there were vegan donuts! Amazing. We got a birthday cake one, which was delicious (and huge!).

We are staying right in the city centre, in a tall glass building. 37th floor. Rather terrifying to look out of to begin with, but we got used to it. We had views across the eastern side of the city and out across Lake Ontario.

I was so tired. But thought food might help. There’s a vegan burger place just 2 blocks from us – Planta Burger – so we wandered over. The burgers were good! With fries and a caramel milkshake (the milkshake was disappointing). But I could stay awake no longer, and 7pm, was asleep!

Saturday 22 June 2019

Didn’t do so well on sleeping. I was up at 6am (which is 11am UK time!).

8am was a acceptable time to go out. And it was quiet everywhere. I guess being early and being a Saturday in the office area, no one is working today.

We were headed to the market. But stopped off at a supermarket. Always love a supermarket. It was massive, unexpected for a city! Bought some kombucha (of course) and some maple biscuits (like Oreos and also vegan!).

The St Lawrence market has been around since 1845. Market stalls selling everything – fruits and vegetables, dead animals. And lots of tourist tat. Totally here for everything maple. Maple syrup. Maple butter (super excited about that!). Maple fudge. Maple boiled sweets. Maple chocolate. I got it all….!

From here we wandered down to the lake edge. Past a sugar factory. And lots of buildings. To the ferry terminal.

Being nice and early (9.45am) there was no queue. I had read reports that the queue can be huge, particularly on weekends in the summer. Ie. This time of year! I had even bought tickets online to avoid that queue – and there wasn’t one! Amazing!

The ferry crosses Lake Ontario, over to the Toronto islands. It only takes 15 minutes, but gives amazing views of the city skyline.

I didn’t know what to expect from the islands. Looking at a map, they don’t look too exciting. I thought we would be getting the ferry there and straight back again.

But we went for a wander around and it was great! Large gardens, paths running around the lake, Canadian geese (!), some sandy beaches and a random theme park in the middle. Completely unexpected.

We caught the ferry back over to the mainland around 12.15pm. The ferries run every 15 minutes and by now, the ferries were jam packed. To the point where it didn’t look like you could even move. And on our ferry heading back, we had about 20 people!

Back on land, we wandered up through the financial district. Weaving through the towering glass buildings. Being a Saturday, it was much quieter than yesterday.

We had lunch at a vegan Mexican restaurant – Rosalinda. Having not eaten all day yet, I was hungry – and the food was amazing!

We carried on walking through the city, ending up at Nathan Philips Square. A large concrete area surrounded by the new and old city halls. This is where the large “Toronto” sign is, reflecting in the pool of water. There was a Philippine festival happening – food stalls and donation stands.

All across the city so far, we had seen no shops. All of the shops are either underground, or in a shopping mall.

So we went to the city mall! It seemed that this was where everyone was – it was busy! In the food hall, there was even a vegan cupcake shop!

We caught the tube up a few stops to an area called The Village. This weekend there was a large pride festival up here, with parades happening every day.

If you had read my trip through Singapore last month, you’ll know that I visited a famous bubble tea shop at the new Jewel shopping centre connected to the airport. I queued for 90 minutes, only to be told they had no soya milk. So I couldn’t even get their famous drink. A few days ago I realised they have a shop in Toronto too! So here we are, not knowing what to expect from the queue.

And no queue! Zero. Not even one person. It was busy, with people coming in and out, but not busy enough to create chaos. Wow. And they had soya milk.

It was amazing.

The pride parade had finished, but we went to streets that had been closed off for the fete. It was rather hectic.

The city has gone pride mad. Literally everywhere, everything is colourful. Flags. Shops selling special items. Cafes with special food. Flower displays. Window displays. Offices changing their windows and signs. Never seen anything like it!

The supermarket was exciting. So much kombucha. And huge bottles.

Around 4pm, we headed back to the hotel for a rest. And didn’t manage to move anymore!

I ordered vegan pizza to be delivered. How awesome.

Sunday 23 June 2019

Another early morning with jet lag. Up at 7am.

But we lazed around and didn’t head out until after 9am.

Our hotel is connected to The Path. This is an underground walkway that runs for 30km underground. Completely full of shops, banks, cafes and entrances to every building. Although being a Sunday, everything was closed and there were no people down here.

After a bit of wandering around, we caught the tram across to the west side of the city. Just 10 minutes on a tram and we were out of the towering city centre, into a residential area of small Victorian style houses. Massive contrast.

There’s a street here called graffiti street, a lane completely full of graffiti!

We wandered up through Chinatown. Literally felt like a different country. Actually felt as though I had stepped into China.

And then into the Kensington market area. This is Toronto’s version of London’s shoreditch. Lots of alternative shops. And more importantly – vegan cafes!

It was a bit early for lunch, so we went for icecream. And despite ordering 1.5 scoops to share, it was huge!!! But really good – Neapolitan and birthday cake flavours.

We sat in a park for while, then went for actual lunch, but weren’t hungry anymore. We had a vegan chicken korma – woah. So good.

Then headed back into the city centre for a bit more wandering around.

We left the hotel around 3pm to head back to the airport. An easy walk to the train station. And a 30 minute train to the airport.

We are flying to New York. All American flights have a special section in the airport, as you do pre-clearance. You enter America, whilst you are still in Canada. Very handy – because when you land in America, it’s just like landing from a domestic flight and no long passport queues.

But what it does mean is a long passport queue in Canada. It took about an hour. But we had time.

And even more time, as our plane ended up being delayed.

Finally at 8pm, we left. And had amazing views over Niagara falls.

It’s only a 1 hour flight to New York. Landing in the dark, with the city skyline lights in the distance.

The only transport option from La Guardia airport is a taxi. So we joined the crowds of people waiting for an Uber – in the special Uber waiting zone!

And 40 minutes later, in Manhattan.

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