Maybe a bit overdue, since I visited Toronto at the beginning of last month, but I still wanted to share my thoughts about this city and show you how I spent my days!
I will dive right in: I LOVE Toronto! I remember texting Gordon a couple of times saying that I really would love to move there :P Don't get me wrong, Ottawa is a nice city and I think it's a great place to start when moving to Canada. The people are so friendly and it's actually a pretty nice city to live in (winters are way too long though, but in summertime everything is different), but it's pretty small and what I miss most in this city are cool concept-stores, little boutiques, hip coffee places where you can just sit down, do some work, chill and hang out with friends, and a real city-vibe. So when my friend asked me to come along on her work-trip to Toronto, I jumped at the opportunity to have a girls-weekend and do some exploring of the city.
We went from Wednesday until Sunday, my friend went by plane and I went by train. It's pretty easy and comfortable to travel from Ottawa to Toronto by train. Also, because there's pretty decent WIFI, I could put in a full 4-hours of work (one-way takes 4,5 hours). Since my friend had to work, I could go out exploring on Thursday and Friday by my own. When I arrived I immediately felt the vibe of a big city and felt creative ideas flowing in.
My first stop was Quantum Coffee, also because it was located right around the corner of both the office of my friend and our Airbnb. I think it's an incredible space, it's pretty big and not cramped with tables or anything. I just loved the design of this place, in the front they had some window seats where you could work, on the left is where the magic happens (where they make the coffee) and on the right you have the counter where you have to order and can pick some delicious pastries. In the back, you have to get up a few steps, there is this whole other room with comfortable sofa's and chairs with tables, where you can read a book or catch up with friends (it's a no-laptop zone). I sat in the front while working for a bit and enjoying a good cup of coffee and a pastry, of course ;)
In the evening, after settling into our Airbnb which was pretty awesome since it was located on the 35th floor from which you had an amazing view and could oversee the city and have a glimpse of lake Ontario, we went for some sushi at JaBistro. It's an awesome place, nothing you would expect from the outside and the sushi was amazing! The interior is pretty minimal, but so cosy with brick walls, a lot of wood-tones and natural materials. We chose a selection of the blowtorched sushi, just delicious!
On Thursday I decided to take in some art and went to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). I was lucky and was able to join a guided tour that was about to start. The guide took us to all the different parts of the museum and showed us some of the highlights while explaining a bit more about the artist intentions and/or meaning behind a piece of art. So interesting, this way it's not only your take of some of the art. I really loved the contemporary art section and the indigenous pieces. The gallery itself is pretty great, with parts where the lighting falls in perfectly. After the gallery I walked more down town and made a coffee stop at Dineen Coffee. It was soo busy, but what a great place, that floor alone is definitely worth a visit! Then I did a bit of shopping and walked back to the Airbnb. It was already time for dinner. I met up with some friends and we had dinner at a Thai restaurant, called Pai. Delicious and authentic food! And no, the evening wasn't over yet, we had to get an after-dinner drink. Our friend took us to this awesome, a bit underground, cocktail place... BarChef! Apparently they're famous for their molecular cocktails, they looked great, but were really pricey. So cheap-ass as I am, I just opted for a regular and better priced one. That one was delicious too though. But we couldn't leave before we also had some sort of mojito, but all put in one tiny ball with a bit of foam. It really was an explosive of flavours and you really have to try it if you're there. Such a cool experience.
The Friday I spent going from coffee place to coffee place. I started at RSquared Cafe which is a pretty good place to get some work done. They have enough tables and power outlets and nobody will bother you for some more drinks or something. I decided to get a pink latte, I'm a girl after all :P, and a plain croissant. After this I walked a bit, but it was actually too cold to walk a lot, so I popped into Nadège Patisserie and treated myself to some macarons and a tea. The macarons were delicious!! Really worth a visit if you're in the neighbourhood. Also, the sandwiches looked delicious too, I just think you can't go wrong with anything there. The interior of the shop was just my style. Very minimal, white and big windows, what's not to love right?! After I warmed up a bit I walked back to the Airbnb with a stop at Her Majesty's Pleasure. It's actually a café and beauty bar in one, which I didn't know before I walked in. It just looked so beautiful, it has floor to ceiling windows and black and white interior with lots of marble. Even though it was very cold that day, the sun wasn't shy so once settled inside you got warmed up by the sun. I could've stayed there all afternoon, but it was already time for dinner. That evening my friend and I went to Gusto 101 for some nice Italian food. It's a cool space, more like a container building, very industrial and pretty dark with an open kitchen and a separate bar section.
On Saturday we met up with a friend for breakfast/brunch at Swan by Rose and Sons. It's a diner with booths to sit in. Pretty cool, since we don't have anything like this in The Netherlands. I had some avocado toast with egg, so delicious. One thing I really love about Canada is their brunch traditions. After this we got a coffee to go at Sam James Coffee Bar and did some shopping and walking. We went into this really lovely concept-store, with lots of plants, coffee-stuff, books, blankets, journals and more, it's called the Old Faithful Shop. The interior of the shop was also awesome. Of course I had to buy something here! For that evening we've made a reservation at Oretta, a new (Italian) restaurant in town and already famous for their Instagrammable interior. It's quiet something let me tell you, but since it was pretty dark and I was to lazy to carry my camera, I wasn't able to take some good photos (I know... sorry guys, next time I promise). The food and cocktails were delicious! Definitely worth a visit!
On Sunday it was already time to leave and it kind of hurt a bit to leave this awesome city behind and return to Ottawa. It's just that Toronto has a lot of awesome little boutiques and some concept stores like I know from in The Netherlands / Europe. It was just so good to walk around in normal shoes (since there wasn't any snow) and be able to have a coffee at another awesome coffee place. The city is just so vibrant and big, but also not too big, it's pretty good to navigate (yes coming from me, queen of navigation disaster). Even though I've never visited New York City, hopefully I will this year, Toronto had this NYC-vibe (or at least how I imagine it to be from watching movies :P). So if you're planning a trip to Canada, you should definitely visit Toronto!
I know I'll definitely visit Toronto again, hopefully very soon, so if you have any tips on where to go next time, please let me know!