The moment I arrived in Toronto, I knew that I would love the city. It was my second time in Canada, the first being a school trip to Montreal in 2004. Wow, time flies! I was surprised to see how wonderful and kind everyone is! People are very polite, welcoming, always smiling…
After arriving at the hotel, I grabbed my coat and went outside to wander around the neighborhood. I stayed in a hotel right in the middle of Queen Street, which is a great location since you have the metro right next to it, as well as a lot of restaurants, bars and of course, Eaton Shopping Center. I don’t know why or how (actually I do but for the sake of the blog, I will keep my shopaholicism out), but after walking around the hotel, I went straight to the mall. It is really big, I was looking for a Best Buy to buy an adaptor, and I think I walked around for 20 minutes before finding the store at the far end of the mall!
I saw two sides of Toronto: the financial district, with the high buildings and offices, and the entertainment district, the one that I liked the most. The office was near, so I had the chance to go to a couple of great restaurants in the area such as Gusto 101 and Wilbur Mexicana. I ate in La Brioche Dorée (French fast-food, actually this chain exists in France but it is not my cup of tea, but in Toronto it’s much better with lots of choices of salads, quiches…), Cibo (italian, great restaurant but for dinner, I wasn’t a big fan of the lunch), and Wurst (a bit disappointed of the hot dog although the place is really nice and they have tons of different beers to choose from). I had coffee almost every day at Jimmy’s Coffee, which I loved! I even bought a mug to bring back home, after two weeks the lovely baristas already knew what I was going to order, talk about great service! What I loved the most about the entertainment district was the industrial feel of every restaurant I went to: it is a lovely mix between old and new (there were many textile plants back in the day, which explains the industrial feel in all the buildings).
I know there are more neighborhoods but sadly, I did not have time to explore all of it. As you know, I travel for work once a month, so it is not always easy to take time to explore the city I am in; even if I do everything that I can to do it! This trip was particular since the terrorist attack on Paris happened when I was there. I was worried sick, hearing and reading the news non-stop. I had booked tickets to go to Niagara Falls the next day, so it was a good opportunity to distract myself. My plans for Sunday were basically walking all over the city, go to the harbor, to the CN tower… in the end I just went to the harbor to have lunch and walked back to the hotel. I was not feeling well, but I did not let this mood bring down my spirit too much!
Pro tip: To go to Niagara Falls I suggest taking the bus from downtown. It takes 1.5 hours, and costs between 25 and 30 CAD round-trip. When you arrive in Niagara Falls, you can walk (around 20 minutes) or grab a taxi at the station. Beware, there’s not much going on around the station.
I was lucky to visit Niagara Falls in 2001, so I was really happy to come back and relive my first time there. Actually, I was a little disappointed because 1) it was very cold 2) the water was not as blue as I remembered. However, hearing and seeing the falls is quite impressive! I walked all along the side to really enjoy the view. You can go on the Maid of the Mist to get really close to the Falls. Since it was reaaally cold, we decided not to take the boat ride. After walking a long time and taking lots of pictures, it was time for lunch. We ate at iHop, walked around the city a little bit, and went back to Toronto. I think it’s better to go during the spring or summer in order to enjoy Niagara Falls more.
I know this is not a city guide, it is more of a diary of my time in Toronto, but there are so many things to do, eat and see that I actually need to go just as a “tourist” and not for work. What I can say is that I was surprised by the excellent restaurants, the warmth of EVERYONE I crossed paths with, and the overall “feel” of the city.