A week in Toronto
A week in any city is never really enough time to fully explore all the neighbourhoods, cool bars and restaurants, shops, parks, galleries and museums or to get a real feel for the city, but it does give you enough time to get a feel for the vibe and the people who live there. Toronto feels like a city thats been hiding in the shadows of the other big North American cities and hot tourist destinations such as Montréal and Quebec and then suddenly realised, hey I’m a cool place too.
The city is in the swing of a massive transformation, Yonge Street in particular is springing up new skyscrapers on par with China with the old independent stores slowly closing and making way for Starbucks. The transformation while impressive and exciting seems to be wiping out some of the more interesting places in the city, luckily though, there is also a gentrification going on in areas around downtown which is preserving some of the original sprit and architecture albeit in a safer and cleaner environment.
Toronto is on the move and so is its people, the energy is palatable. Lets hope the condos bring new life to these neighbourhoods and the city recovers from its facelift.
Getting away from downtown Toronto blossoms (maybe because I was visiting in spring) into a super cool city with excellent cafés and independent stores (which I personally feel are missing from US cities). The vibe is cool and laid-back and the people are friendly and helpful, as a sole traveller it was refreshing and easy to speak with local people. Walking around the neighbourhoods of West Queen West/King West you are transformed from generic North America to cool Canada. If you like fashion (even bears), food and art then you will probably be visiting here a number of times. Just walking around is an experience in itself.
Toronto’s gay village is more laid-back than most, which for some may find a little on the boring side, but for me offers a better opportunity to meet and speak with locals. The days of going to a club or bar where I can’t speak to anyone over the music, getting drunk and hooking up when the club closes are long over. I prefer to speak, get to know people and have interesting conversations and Toronto’s gay village offers plenty of opportunity for meeting people. I found the village very inclusive of all ages of the community and offered venues for whatever your taste. Check out The Village website for more info.
No trip to Toronto should miss the Niagara Falls, it will take you a day and I would suggest hiring a car to get there as the bus ride is long and boring and you will miss Niagara on the Lake with its cute little centre (Queen St). After visiting the falls, Niagara on the Lake is the perfect place to have a late lunch, buy “maple”everything and enjoy the rest of your day. As I had a nice upgrade from Avis when I arrived at the airport, I wanted to have a drive out of the city and headed north to Wasaga Beach. It was a fun drive and the beach was really beautiful, but you do get the feeling that once you leave the city in Canada you are in the outback. Really different for Europeans.