It’s Sunday night, and I am on my way back home from the big T.O.
I’ve never been to Toronto before. I’ve been near it, and I’ve driven by it, but I’ve never actually visited the city or the downtown core.
Now why, you may ask, did I go to T.O?
Well, it seems that everyone I know is moving there.
I have a friend that moved here about 8 years ago now (which makes us both feel old), two friends that moved here because they work as stewardesses, and are stationed out of Toronto. My cousin moved here with her boyfriend (they are both educators and were much more likely to find jobs out here). Two other friends/family members that moved out here for work. And my bestest friend, who just moved out here for work over the Christmas break. It seems Toronto is the place to be. And so out I came.
Now even though I came out to Toronto during the coldest part of the year, and even though I’ve grown up as a Montrealer making fun of T.O. (even though I’ve never been), I had an awesome time. Granted, that is because I have awesome friends whom I love. But it’s also because, I must admit, Toronto is pretty cool. I wasn’t here long, and I really didn’t see much. But I think my expectations were so low (sorry) that it definitely surpassed them.
Nevermind that it’s always fun to explore a new city.
Even though the Via Rail isn’t an airplane, and Toronto is only 5 hrs away, and not across the ocean, when I got to TO, I got the same excited feeling I get whenever I visit a new place.
And I would definitely take the Via out to Toronto over driving here any day. If you get one of the shorter trains (4.5 to 5.5 hrs), you get here just as fast (if not faster), and it is a much more pleasurable experience than driving. You can read your book, access the internet, eat food, drink wine (although I think this is the first via ride where I haven’t ordered a glass, reminder: detox, reminder: I took the via home all summer from the farm), and pee whenever you want. I love to drive, but the 401 is just sooo boring. So the train definitely wins.
I pulled into Union station on Friday around 330PM and had about an hour and a half to kill before meeting up with my girl friends. I was in an extremely good mood that day. I don’t really know why, I believe it was a combination of not having to work, getting to see my friends, exploring a new place and not being in any way rushed. In fact, when I got to the ticket booth in Montreal my smile was so big the ticket issuer couldn’t get over it. He kept asking me why I was so happy, my first response was “I was just born this way” because I couldn’t really explain it any other way.
Anywho, point is, when I got to Union Station I simply started to wander around, with no particular destination in mind, as I would when travelling anywhere else. I was in no hurry and was happy to just take in the sites (even though it was a lot of construction). I was following the signs for the Eaton’s Center and the Skywalk (I had already toured the food court) when I came across an information point. I explained how I only had to kill an hour or so, and I was given a couple of options, some indoors, some outdoors. I could walk along the skywalk and go to CN tower. I could go to Ripleys Aquarium. I could go for a bit of a walk to the “bohemian” shopping district with health food stores and thrift shops, or I could take a 10 min walk and go to the St-Lawrence Food Market.
Now, I’m sure I don’t even need to tell you where I went. But for those of you who may not know me as well, I chose the Food Market 🙂 The 10 min walk was a breeze, even with all my bags (baglady remember). There were a bunch of little funky shops and restos on the way. And, guess what was in front of the Market. The LCBO! Wonderful. I was very content. Now I’m not drinking this month, but I had time to kill, and although I haven’t found the prices to be any cheaper at the LCBO, they do have a much different selection, and a much better selection of organic wines and beers. AND you get airmiles. I am actually coming home with no purchases from the LCBO (I have too many bags already) but it was enjoyable to simply window shop. Food and drink stores make me feel like a kid in a candy shop, it’s lovely.
The St-Lawrence Market was wonderful. It actually reminded me a bit of a food market that I visited in Valencia, Spain. There were even a few organic shops. I only wandered around a bit, because Tina and I would be going back the next day to visit and buy food for our dinner Saturday night. On my way out I got myself an organic herbal tea to keep myself warm on the walk to her place.
So Friday night, I had dinner with two of my girl friends at a very funky and chic Mexican restaurant in the distillery district (voted one of the best places for Mexican in Toronto). And it was very good. We had some yummy guacamole (made at the table), a veggie dish, a meat dish, and a fish dish. Now normally I would be telling you exactly what was in the dishes, but Tina is the one who did all the ordering. She is good at making decisions, and I’ll eat just about anything. So I don’t quite remember the exact ingredients (except for xni-pec) but it was very delicious.
Afterwards, we simply went back to Tina’s place for tea. Now, that’s partly because my other friend had to drive home, and partly because I am not drinking this month (I had a virgin margarita at the restaurant) but it’s also very much because we are now in the later half of our 20s (yikes!), and simply enjoy going home for tea and taking it easy.
On Saturday, we made our way back to the St-Lawrence Market for lunch and dinner shopping. They actually have a local market set up across the street on Saturday that runs until 2PM. Local veg, fruits, wine, pies, desserts, coffees etc etc. We found a lovely raw vegan food stand (Crudacafe) and had ourselves some carrot/beet/ginger juices and a lovely gnocchi with basil cream sauce and zuchinni noodles. It was delish.
Now I think one of the best parts of the trip (and i’m probably overhyping this) was what we did next. On our way back home, we stopped in the distillery district at Hastens (a mattress shop). Now this is not just any mattress shop, it is THE mattress shop (Distillery District is an artsy area with some very expensive stores). Hastens makes a bed that they sell for 130,000$. A bed for Kings and Queens. Literally (royalties buy it as gifts for each other). They have other beds too of course, but even the cheap beds are 10,000$ at least.
In the shop, they have 2 of the 130,000$ beds. They are in a private room that is cordoned off and you can only go in with a salesperson. Lucky for us, it wasn’t busy when we walked in, and the salesperson asked us if we would like to ly in the bed. Our response: Yes Please! (why the heck not?!). We promptly informed him that we weren’t actually going to buy a bed, which I believe he was already well aware of, but he had had good sales the month before and was simply being nice. We had to take off our boots and coat, so as not to get the bed dirty, and he very nicely tucked us in to a 130,000$. (What?!). We couldn’t help but laugh as we lay side by side in an (extremely comfortable) bed priced higher than some houses.
I must say, it was lovely. The beds pretty much sell themselves (if you have that kind of money that is). It was just as nice as getting a massage. If I had that kind of money, I think I might very well have bought it.
So yes, I think the highlight of my trip to Toronto was lying in a 130,000$ bed. Saturday was a lovely, relaxing day. We made a delicious dinner with the goods we had bought from the Market: marinated halibut and shrimp kebabs, cooked sweet potatoe, tomato and parsely salad, and dry roasted shitake mushrooms and zucchini with a drizzle of truffle oil. Hmm hmm good.
We danced around to music like girls do, and played wi-bowling (cuz we are cool like that). We had considered going out, but the idea only crossed our minds near midnight, and well, bars close early in Toronto (boo). So instead we finished off the evening/middle of the night with a marathon of Once Upon a Time (which Tina has now sucked me in to somehow).
Sunday morning I met up with two other friends who mean the world to me. I took the tram for the first time to meet them at a restaurant called Beast (it actually aired on You Gotta Eat Here). One of their specialties is bacon maple donuts (drool). But they were all sold out. So we had one of their other specialties: gnocchi “poutine” with brisket. It was pretty darn good. And the meals themselves were awesome as well. I would definitely recommend it if ever you get the chance to go.
I hung out with my friends, and they were nice enough to drop me off at the train. The tram was fun, but trams and buses make me nauseous. And now I am on the Via rail (probably close to Kingston).
So that was my trip to Toronto. It may not be the most exciting tale, but I had a wonderful time and plan on coming back again in the future. I will add to the story then.
For now, I wish you a lovely evening. Keep warm in the next couple of weeks. Take your D vitamins and try to keep your spirits up during the coldest part of the year.
(I really believe we should all just hibernate during this time of the year. When it’s cold like this we should all be wrapped up by a fireplace, sleeping and eating, conserving our energy. I don’t care if the rest of the world is working, most of them aren’t living in a climate where the weather drops to 40 below Celsius.)
Anywho, like I said, keep your spirits up. A smile can warm up a whole room.