After 3 years of no trips overseas, my best friend Jennifer and I decided to take the plunge and go on a very exciting trip to Europe together. Our last trip had been in 2019, so we were itching to travel again.
Since then, she has moved to Ottawa, changing our usual arrangement of us flying from LAX. This time, we both made our way to Toronto, where we would hop across the pond.
I'd never been to Toronto before, and even though my time was extremely limited, I was excited to make the best of it.
My regular readers know I value honesty and I stray away from "review" type blogs and instead choose to share my experience. In this case, I feel that this is the best place to preface the rest of my Europe 2022 blogs - this year has truly been one of the most difficult for me. Besides my dad passing in June, I have been dealing with countless difficulties in my personal life, resulting in some pretty significant changes and transitions. This whole trip came at the perfect time, but I must admit I was not in the best mental or emotional state when it was finally time to go.
Tuesday, November 15
Even though I've been to Canada a few times, I never made it to Toronto, and I was looking forward to see what all the fuss was about. I can't lie and say that when I arrived in Toronto I started sightseeing or went out and had an exciting meal... I arrived at our adorable hotel and ordered in room service. Hey, at least it was poutine!
If you are staying in Toronto, I would definitely recommend the Kimpton St. George. I was lucky enough to use my Alaska Airlines points to book the room, but if I go back to Toronto I am seriously interested in staying here again!
I crawled into the comfy bed, enjoyed my room service, finally watched Lightyear and waited for Jennifer to arrive. I know life isn't a Hallmark movie, but it's hard for me to turn down a fairytale cinematic moment - when her Uber showed up, I met her downstairs (wet hair, pajamas and all). We reunited for the first time in a year and even though the saying is "dance in the rain," I took the opportunity to dance in the snow.
Once she settled into our room, we spent some time catching up while a gentle snow continued to fall outside our window. It even started to stick, and we knew that we'd sleep well in our warm beds while a white blanket covered Toronto outside.
As we emerged into the cold, crisp air and fairytale falling snow, I felt that familiar tinge of excitement that only comes from exploring a new city. We walked a few blocks before ducking into a cute coffee shop for some holiday-themed sustenance. Contrary to my usual travel style (I'm sure my regular readers understand what I mean), we did not have any plans! Our flight was at 11PM that night, so we had most of the day to wander and explore.
Luckily, Jennifer had visited Toronto before, and she took me to some great spots, like the CN Tower (of course! However, visibility was 0% so we did not go up), Kensington Market, Chinatown and the Toronto sign. My only request for the day was truly to see Kim's Convenience... and we did!
I thoroughly enjoyed walking through the snow, chatting with my long distance best friend, in such a great city like Toronto. I knew we didn't have time to do much and the weather provided its own limitations, but it was wonderful to just wander around the city, admiring it. I find that oftentimes we are so engrossed in attractions a city has to offer that we are unable to get to know the city itself.
To my surprise, Toronto is quite walkable, and I never found myself bored just walking around. I loved seeing the contrast between new and old, observing the eateries and local businesses that filled every corner. Public transportation was also easy - I purchased a Presto card and we were able to top off depending on how many times we used the metro or a bus.
Even though my day in Toronto wasn't the most eventful ever, it was definitely utterly enjoyable. The cold air, delicate falling snow and the excitement of an unknown city was exactly what I needed to jumpstart my epic European adventure.
Sunday, December 4
Upon our return to North America, we had one last "day" in Toronto before we both headed to our respective homes. This time we were exhausted, having traveled to 4 different countries in 3 weeks, so plans were few to non-existent.
I selected a different hotel this time, opting to stay near the waterfront and see a different area of Toronto. I'll admit, the hotel was not a boutique hotel like our last one and the neighborhood did not have the same character, but thanks to jet lag I was able to watch a gorgeous sunrise from our window.
Our only "plan" was to grab dim sum, so we took our time and made a few stops.
The day was clear, sunny, and very cold - a very different situation than the first day we visited. Since the CN Tower was on the way, we decided to go up.
If I hadn't been so tired (and so eager to get to dim sum), I probably would have experienced the CN Tower at a more leisurely pace, even though no one was in line. There were several areas with information about the tower, etc. but I just really wanted to get to the top!
There are two levels you can visit, the main observation floor and the Sky Pod, which is an extra $10. Because there was a private event going on, we were given complimentary access to the Sky Pod.
We first went up the main elevator which has windows that allow you to watch the ascent. There are also windows in the floor to watch the ground below you quickly fade away.
The Sky Pod has its own elevator (no windows) and it is much shorter. Once you arrive in the Sky Pod, the windows are considerably different from the floor-to-ceiling windows on the main observation floor.
We did one "lap" around the Sky Pod before heading back down to the main observation deck - both my fear of heights and thoughts of dim sum kept me from spending more time.
The views were absolutely gorgeous! Since it was early, the cafe wasn't open, but I imagine it would be wonderful to enjoy a hot cup of cocoa with these views.
After we had admired the views to our hearts' content, we finally headed off to dim sum! The walk was cold and brisk - I did not dress as well as I did our first day in Toronto so I was suffering a little bit.
But once we got to Rol San and ordered delicious dim sum, everything was better.
After our meal, reality finally hit that our trip was truly coming to an end. One hot milk tea and one pineapple bun later, we were back at the hotel and my Uber was on its way.
I was supremely sad to say goodbye to Toronto, but now that I've been I do know I want to come back. Have you ever been to Toronto? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!
Until next time,