Our Trip to Toronto

After being together for over six years, we finally got hitched! Although we didn’t go about it in the most traditional of ways, we did decide to treat ourselves to somewhat of a honeymoon – in Toronto, Ontario, Canada!

You can find out the main points we took away from the trip in our other blog post on the matter – and we’ll also soon blog about the varieties of vegan eatery options right across the city. But for now, we thought we’d hit the main points of interest based on our own journey (on foot!) around the city. The only time we needed transportation was with our impromptu climactic trip to nearby Niagara Falls! (More on that later).

We set off from Manchester Airport on the Tuesday afternoon. With Toronto’s Eastern Time being 5 hours behind, by the time we landed in Toronto’s Pearson Airport it was still afternoon! Which nicely tricked our bodies into coping with the longest Tuesday ever, because we were fine! However, the main thing we wanted to do was eat, because the vegan options on the Air Transat flight consisted of one small meal with dairy-based sides and snacks. Fortunately, there was Planta to go to (again, we’ll dedicate an entire post to the vegan places) and we were based right downtown so everywhere was either nearby, or similar in walking distance (the longest walk we did at any point was about an hour, but all the way there, there were interesting things to see, which you’d miss on public transport).

After a late but decent night’s sleep, we were good to go on the Wednesday. After starting the day with breakfast at Belmonte Raw, we decided to try the CN Tower. Although Jane had long claimed there was no way she’d ever go up the 1,800-foot high structure, by the time we got to Toronto she’d called Jay’s bluff and agreed to give it a go. It was a fairly warm, clear, sunny day so the vantage point promised some great views. It didn’t disappoint – and Jane stunned Jay further by even joining him on the glass floor!

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Naturally, you exit the CN Tower ‘through the gift shop,’ which, while hosting a comprehensive selection of CN Tower, Toronto, and Canada-based gifts, sells them for CN Tower tourist prices and most of the items are discoverable at other gift stores around the city, and for a little less.

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We then headed south-east towards the harbour the Distillery District, a unique heritage site formerly home to the distillers James Worts, from Suffolk, England, and William Gooderham, from Norfolk, England. What’s particularly impressive about this area is that while Canadians will often marvel about an “historic” one-hundred year old building that British tourists condescendingly scoff at, the Distillery District actually dates back to the 1860’s. Wow! It’s now full of quirky and interesting shops, cafes, and restaurants.

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After that, we decided to continue on under the Gardiner Expressway, and headed to Cherry Beach, which we’d years ago heard had a reputation for, ah, couples parking up and making out, shall we say. Our main motivation, as we walked there on foot, was to get a good view of the city’s skyline, but the trip itself turned out to be a lot of fun, stopping off for tofu-based snacks at a Chinese supermarket, and waiting for a bascule bridge to let a boat through (though our barrier had to suddenly be operated manually by some guy, after it didn’t work and car drivers were getting restless!)

Cherry Beach itself was pretty cute. We’d also had our expectations lowered so much that it seemed positively wonderful by the time we arrived and saw Lake Ontario, a chilling lifeguard, and seagulls. We could imagine it’s more than sufficient for a relaxing afternoon at the height of summer – why not?

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After a walk back, via St. Lawrence Market at raw food based CrudaCafe for snacks, and a stop by Gooderham’s Flatiron Building, we got back to the hotel and decided we wanted a quickie – food, that is! Luckily good ol’ Pizza Pizza offers a lot of pizza (obvs) – and vegan cheese! – and pop for not many dollars!

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On Thursday, we headed across to Chinatown and Kensington Market, where there’s no shortage of interesting shops and cafes. The Ontario College of Art & Design is always a cool building to catch along the way, too (it’s like Peckham Library on steroids – and designed by the same architect).

A little-known viewpoint can be found in Kensington Market, at the top of the parking garage at Baldwin and St Andrew. Just walk in as though your car is parked there, go up the stairs to the top, and voila!

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We continued on along Queen Street West and all the great shops it has, stuffing ourselves with more grub at the amazing Cosmic Treats and Doomies and ruining our appetite by the time we met friends Lenna and Matt back downtown, just as the Toronto International Film Festival was kicking off (Lenna and Matt were proud of their close proximity to Idris Elba and Kate Winslet!) It was great to catch up though, and put the world to rights, and we still miraculously managed to fit in more food!

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Interesting fact: Something that kept appearing along the way – from inside the Cosmic Treats bathroom to along Queen Street West – was the sight of Space Invaders.

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On Friday, we ate at Copper Branch, and, at long last, Kupfert & Kim, which Jay had been craving and which Jane mispronounced an impressive variation of ways:

  • Cuthbert & Kim
  • Cooplert & Kim
  • Couplet & Kim
  • Coopert & Kim
  • Koupflirt & Kim

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After that, we strolled across past City Hall, across the University of Toronto campus and Queens Park, past another architectural joy, the Royal Ontario Museum, and up along Bloor Street West, leading to Hogtown Vegan where we met up with friends Brian, Jill, and their adorable daughter Clara.

Then, get this: After talking about Niagara Falls, they decided they’d take us there in their car, right there and then (keeping in mind, it was about 11 o’clock at night!) After checking they knew what they were doing and hadn’t taken total leave of their senses, we agreed – and off we went, with the night lights of Toronto dropping behind us, along the highway to Niagara Falls, which has no end of bars, clubs, amusements and arcades (including, you guessed it, Space Invaders).

It was still buzzing after midnight, but the most impressive part, of course, was the falls: the Stateside part was lit up blue; the Canadian side, red. The sheer force of nature before us was breathtaking. It was so lovely to be taken there for what was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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That was quite the icing on the cake of a real treat of a trip, and on Saturday afternoon we headed back, flying through the night and landing back in Britain on Sunday morning, feeling a little bit like it had all been a dream.

For our 10 Things to Take from Toronto, click here.

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