After the wedding celebrations were over, we drove to Toronto and checked into our charming Airbnb in a tree-lined street in the Annex, a neighbourhood of the city north of College St. By the time we arrived in Toronto, we were ready to experience big city life again with all its perks.
In terms of location, we couldn’t really have asked for a better place. We were a five-minute walk from the awesome Kensington Market area with its hip bars and cool restaurants, and only a few streets from the subway station. A half an hour walk had us at Dundas St in Little Portugal, which is home to some awesome cafés, and ten to fifteen more minutes took us to Queen St with its great selection of design and fashion shops.
We happened to be in town when the CNE (Canada National Exhibition, apparently a Toronto must) and solar eclipse were taking place. We checked out the CNE, which was a slightly surreal fun-fair-come-boot-sale type affair, but it turned out to be a great spot to view the eclipse through a free pair of solar glasses. This was my attempt to capture the eclipse on my shitty smartphone camera:
It didn’t turn out too well. After the eclipse, we wandered around a bit more and stumbled upon Toronto’s oldest extant European-built house. The Scadding Cabin was first built in 1794 and was moved to its current location near the Toronto lakeshore in 1879, the year of the inaugural CNE. This is the house:
We also ate at some amazing restaurants in Toronto. We had a great brunch at The Federal with its cool vibe (Dundas St West), fantastic currywurst with duck-fat fries at Wvrst, where they have an enormous selection of beers and a good selection of veggie and vegan options (King St West), and a chilled-out breakfast on our last day at Aunties & Uncles (Lippincott St). We had tacos in multiple places, but the best were at La Carnita (multiple locations), where we imbibed a huge pitcher of sangria and munched some lip-smackingly good spicy corn-on-the-cob.
Also worth a mention is Otto’s döner in Kensington Market (Augusta Ave) and Caplansky’s Delicatessen (College St) which does great Jewish food like salt beef sandwiches and chicken soup, although it’s a little on the pricy side. In a moment of weakness and homesickness, we did also end up eating at Nando’s (multiple locations) and it was, thankfully, exactly the same as back in the UK, although they don’t charge you extra for piri-piri fries.
I’d also recommend strolling down Queen St and browsing in the plethora of independent boutiques there. All the way at the west end of the street is North Standard Trading Post, a great local clothes brand with a cute logo. They do all sorts of outdoor clothing and gear and have some great little patches and badges too. Further east is Drake General Store, a design/gift shop with a lot of Canadian merchandise and awesome souvenirs that you will actually want to keep. They also have a barber’s, although we didn’t try it out this time.
All in all we thought Toronto was awesome and had a great time! Once we figured out the TTC getting around was no problem and there was no shortage of things to do. We still have a whole bunch of restaurants on our list to try for when we’re next in town. Next, Montréal!