Toronto and Back

Toronto in April (Christie Park) - exactly like home!

Toronto in April (Christie Park) – exactly like home!

Just returned to work after a 5-day trip to Toronto. For me that’s an 1800 km/1100 mile (one way) trip which is a 2.5 hour flight. This is my third trip to Toronto since I started blogging – and likely to be an annual report, along with London trips!

So every year now, we visit our kid Link and turn it into a vacation, taking in as many cultural offerings and good meals as we can. We chose April this year because our workplaces were closed extra days over Easter/Passover, it was close to Link’s 21st birthday, and we didn’t want to work 8 months straight without a break, like last year! We had 5 days and 5 nights in the city. We checked in advance which exhibits, concerts and plays were in town, and of course, looked up some new restaurants. We booked a room at a “guest house”: it was like a B&B without the breakfast. The central location was perfect and its proximity to a crêperie didn’t hurt either! Apparently we are not too old to sleep on a futon.

Our room at the guest house

Our room at the guest house

Day 1: We met up with Link downtown for lunch at Fresh, one of our favourites. It’s a vegetarian chain that features noodle and rice bowls, burgers, salads and wraps. I would love to work my way through their menu! Then we visited the Textile Museum to see the exhibit of kimono worn by Ichimaru, a geisha and folk singer (not the Bleach character).

Link at the Textile Museum

Link at the Textile Museum

In the evening we had tickets to see a metal band and we loved the show!

Devil Horns!

Devil Horns!

Day 2: After crêpes for breakfast, we had fun at This Is Not a Toy, an exhibit of collectible art toys at the Design Exchange. I was very tempted to buy a bunch of Be@rBricks but I resisted. Sometimes Rom buys me little art toy Domo figures!

Dar and Toy

Dar and Toy

We shopped our way down Queen Street and had dinner at Rua Vang (Golden Turtle) Vietnamese – not a lot of vegetarian, but fantastic pho, definitely a meal in itself. We ended the night at Lower Ossington Theatre (80 seats) for a small professional production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The musical has 2 actors and is mostly a monologue with a live band. Having seen the movie, I was fascinated to see how it was staged. Needless to say, our little family is fine with all the gender-bending content.

BTW, we didn’t get to see Rent at the same theatre, which was sold out.

Day 3: This was a shopping day but not a buying day. We looked around St. Lawrence Market and the Distillery District, which we hadn’t seen before. There was a huge industrial design store called Bergo which I could have spent the day in. Or at least bought a few watches! We had dinner at the Hard Rock Café and went to a movie.

Day 4: We brought Link an Easter basket and shopped at Kensington for the afternoon. I noted there seemed to be more people celebrating 420 in the streets than either Easter or Earth Day, LOL! We met up with Link’s two best mates and had a special dinner out at Vegetarian Haven.

Veg Heads (Link, Rom and I at the back)

Veg Heads (Link, Rom and I at the back)

Day 5: For our last day, Rom focused on clothes shopping at the Eaton Centre. We met up with Link to visit the Bata Shoe Museum. We loved their exhibit Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture. I can call myself a non-consumer all I like, but I was still impressed by the iconic brand-name shoes.

Classic Air Jordan

Classic Air Jordan

We spent just as much time looking at exhibits of First Nations handmade footwear and traditional shoes from around the world. For a treat, we went out for Ethiopian food in the evening (my first) and it was a fun experience sharing a platter of food by hand.

We had this! (Photo: africanpalacetoronto.wordpress.com)

We had this! (Photo: africanpalacetoronto.wordpress.com)

So that was our Toronto, version 2014!

The weather was cooler than expected at 8-10 degrees and just one warmer day, but we weren’t complaining after our frosty November trip last year. And, virtually no rain. The weather would have been the same at home.

In case you’re wondering if I stayed on budget: I was over by $50, but only because I upped my budget by $700 in the week before we travelled! I decided to try out a new strategy. I don’t shop much at home. There is too much else I’d rather be doing evenings and weekends. I really only shop for pleasure when I’m on vacation. This time I made a list of things I’ve been meaning to buy, and enjoyed shopping for them in Toronto instead of near home. I replaced an old suitcase and bought a new raincoat and a pair of boots, all of which were on my “to buy” list at home. I bought a 70s vintage shirt and a CBC-branded shirt. For unplanned stuff, I bought 2 pairs of earrings (both cubes!) and a robot necklace (of course). I am considering the clothes expenses to be simply pre-spending my annual clothing budget.

Our flights were expensive because we booked late, but our room was cheap. Rom got a Cultural Access Pass as a perk with his Canadian citizenship, so he got some free museum admissions! We didn’t scrimp on food, but we didn’t go for anything in the category of fine dining, either. And of course we travelled throughout the city by walking, subway and bus, which we know well by now.

As you can tell, I thoroughly enjoy Toronto and I like the mix of having new things to do every trip, and visiting old favourites. It’s a fun place to spend time with Link, and we always like visiting their place and meeting their friends.

Are there any cities or other vacation spots you’ve visited many times?

24 comments

  1. I have regularly visited Paris and NYC, which will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me – I just love them both! I know Paris far better than NYC though, I would say.

    Seems you’ve turned into me – well adopted at least my habit of shopping for clothes on holidays. It’s just more leisurely, I find. I bought a bra and some running shorts on this recent jaunt, whilst the BF went home and enjoyed!? Who knows, but we were both happy with our afternoon’s activities being different.

    I read about a robot museum or something similar recently, can put my finger on it, but thought of you straight away, of course!

    • I haven’t been to either NYC or Paris but hope to remedy that! Yeah, I like being able to shop for clothes at leisure instead of going to the same old places at the mall where it feels like a dreaded errand. OK, so I had to look up “robot museum” and there are lots of robot museums and exhibits, but an especially fine one in Madrid!

  2. It sounds like a really wonderful trip.
    I love the raincoat and just yesterday was looking at a similar HH bright yellow raincoat (not in budget sadly).
    Funny, but I love robots and toys too. I always end up buying little toys when I travel. Domokun is very popular in our household. When I started downsizing my belongings one of the most challenging categories was my collection of toys so now I limit myself to small items like the bearbricks.
    Your room looks lovely and comfortable. I dislike big fussy hotel chains.
    I love First Nations footwear. Moccasins are my first choice weather permitting.
    Link and friends look like they enjoyed your company, always nice to meet your offspring’s mates.
    Yes, funny 420 fell on Easter Sunday. Meshes well with Earth day, not so much Easter.
    Glad you had such a nice time and a safe journey. No matter how much I enjoy traveling I also enjoy returning to the nest.
    I have visited NY, London and HK repeatedly, but that is only because I have lived or live in those locations. I haven’t been to Toronto since I was a child and always say I think it would probably be my ideal city.

    • Hi Gam Kau, I really do feel comfortable in Toronto and would be happy to live there if I ever had plans to move (which I don’t, though!) I would love to get some handmade moccasins. It is a lot easier to get commercially made ones at Soft Moc. I think my toy collecting is under control, too!

  3. Sounds like a lovely visit with Link and what great and unusual museums you visited! I think everyday budgets are what make it possible to do the important things in life like visiting family, having new experiences and making purchases of needed or fun items.

  4. Looks like a fabulous trip. And the food… Wonderful. A favorite city for me is Wash, DC. Just don’t get tired of it.

  5. Sounds like a great trip! I’d really like to visit Toronto. I love your idea to shop for everyday items on vacation – might as well buy something you need, right? 🙂 And everything’s more fun on vacation!

    We’ve visited NYC for several years running (we skipped it in 2013), but it’s such a big city that I don’t feel like I “know” it. But I certainly feel more comfortable and confident than I did on my first trip there, hah!

  6. Fiona

    Ah…Link & friends make me wish I was “back in the day” at age 21! In reality it’s not an easy age but they still look so young and energetic! OK, I had to Google 420 to find out what people might be celebrating, lol! The menu at Fresh looks amazing – I will have to remember it for when we travel in June (I don’t think they have the chain here in Australia.) I’d still love to go Toronto one day…I clicked through on all your links (and just made a list of things I’d like at Bergo.) I still find it hard to imagine “PATH” – the underground pedestrian walkway system. It was one of the things we spent some time trying to work out when we thought we were moving to Toronto for work in 2009. Did you use that at all while you were there?

    I haven’t visited any cities outside of Australia (yet!) but within Australia, I’ve visited most of the state capitals at least once. We have also done the classic “road trip” up and down the Eastern coast of Australia numerous times. Looking forward to London / Dublin / Paris in June!

    • Toronto’s PATH (and Montreal’s Underground) are so useful, I don’t even think about them – when you get off a subway, signs direct you to about 6 different buildings and/or exits. We stayed at a guest house 2 blocks from a subway station, but there was a PATH entrance literally next door which brought us right there. Fresh is a Toronto-only chain (so far).

      I have driven across mainland Canada, but not Newfoundland/Labrador and the northern territories. I’ve visited most of the larger Canadian cities (Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City).

      I didn’t know you were going to Dublin as well; that’s exciting!

  7. Sounds like a great trip!! One of these days we definitely want to see Toronto since so many people rave about it. I like your idea of splurging on shopping and restaurants…this is exactly what we do these days since it adds an extra specialness to be on vacation and treat ourselves to extra things when we travel (and saves a bunch of money when we don’t do this at home!).

  8. Never heard of 420. Just googled it and now know, superficially, what it is about. But why the name 420?

    And at the vegetarian restaurant, I want the Spicey Moroccan Pad Thai. Sounds yum!

    • I will have to leave it to others to educate you about 420!

      • I’ve read up on 420. Learn something new everyday or so.

        As to places I visit over and over again, I go to the same town in the snow every year (trying to get Mr Sans to be more adventurous) but never venture off the snow. And go to South-east Queensland to see family, but again don’t do much sightseeing. But family obligations limit “going out”. Sad in both counts as there is much I’d like to see in both places.

  9. Alice

    That sounds as a lovely trip, it is so nice that you managed to see and do so much! I bet you both feel very refreshed now. Even though, I have visited Niagara Falls and a small part of the Canadian side, I have never visited Toronto, it looks as a lovely and interesting city. It’s definitely in my wish travel list. I suppose that the Canada and Niagara Falls visit doesn’t really count, I was just 3! But I do remember big ice-cream cones..lol! And the waterfalls, too. 🙂 I have visited several times NY city, France, Belgium and Turkey.

    P.S.: Had never heard of 420 either and had to look it up, too but I knew the PATH!

    • I haven’t been to Niagara Falls, but I would really like to go to that area for the Shaw Festival (theatre) and wineries! I was refreshed enough that my three-day work week has been very manageable upon my return.

  10. Lane

    What a fun trip! Hope Link is doing OK.

    I know Boston the best as I live within 2 hours; but I love NYC more. I haven’t been in over a year which is unusual so must plan something for later this year. Fun to have done some of your shopping for the year there; the selection must have been somewhat different! Your Ethiopian meal looks so colorful and healthy.

  11. Looks like a fun time! Too bad about Rent being sold out, but it sounds as if you had no shortage of fun things to do!

  12. Pingback: What I Liked About April | An Exacting Life

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