This post is a throwback to my time in toronto written in 2015… enjoy!
“Urban sprawl” is a predictable description for the bulk of major cities whether you go around the globe. The vivacious undertone that the description should possessive is snuffed out by the disdained manor the two words are delivered with.
Toronto can be described as such, with its clusters of lustrous skyscrapers, stonework hotels and spires dusting its unique skyline. With its heady mix of new and old, Toronto possesses an entirely new perspective of the metropolis. With the original metropolis, New York, being a mere 2 hour flight away, Toronto gives you the tall buildings, the traffic, the bustle of the city, yet on a smaller scale. The history of the place is intertwined with the Canadian passion for sports, economic growth and reverence for beer.
Travelling from the airport you can see the faded buildings in the distance with the CN tower proudly in the forefront, reminding you that it used to be the tallest building in the world. Winding your way through the busy grid system, hemmed in by the towering windows, a sensation of nervous demeanour and excitement collide. The streets are lined with impressive sculptures and a variety of coffee houses and offices reminding you the hustle and bustle of life.
The hotel we happened to stay in doubled with university of Toronto accommodation, providing the standard canteen breakfast and common room facilities of fridge and microwave. The room was large with all needed facilities, a functioning bathroom and a tiny balcony to let in the city air. From the 23rd floor you could see as far as the great lake Ontario, and surrounding tree line, just escaping the shadow of the CN tower.
As a visitor to the country of Canada, it is a must that you sample the wonders that is their favorite coffee chain, Tim Horton’s. Placed almost as regularly as Starbucks on the active streets, Tim’s are simple yet effective. Distinct from its main competitor, it doesn’t host boards on boards of specialty lattes and cappuccinos, with Italian roots, it has simple filter coffee with any addition you require, without the faff of adding milk and sugar yourself. To enjoy this coffee to the max, it is advised that you have a light snack or in Tim’s case, a sugary treat in the form of a doughnut. The assortment of doughnuts on sale outdoes any other coffee shop and all are a small doughy drop of heaven.
For only staying a day and a half within the city, touristic musts and local lovelies had to be balanced. The ROM, (Royal Ontario Museum) boasts three floors of extensive history from dinosaurs, Chinese dynasties to modern day, with its current feature being the disastrous Pompeii, aptly named “Rompeii.” After a quick stroll round the luxury shops, seeing the haute couture, it was downtown to a bar. Drinks are expensive in Toronto with a lager going for around $7-8 a pint and wine being on par for Norwegian prices. However the food was good and the company was better.
For our full day, we were whisked downtown in search for fame and fortune in the form of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Both being avid hockey fans, the Hall was greatly to our liking meeting the late greats and of course having a picture of the one and only Stanley cup. Saying that, there are actually two of them, but one being so fragile dating back to the late 1800s, that a second was made to house the names of the new winners in the seasons to come.
To escape the unpredictable weather and to sate our grumbling stomachs, the answer beckoned itself in the form of a sports bar. Hoops. The interior of the bar was kept out of darkness by a few themed lights and at least 100 TV screens, so that everywhere you looked, a sport could be seen in process. The place was set out consisted of an open tabled area, the bar and booths. The bar boasted an impressive 25 beers on tap, and an even bigger arsenal of assorted liquor bottles behind the bar. The food came in an unexpected normal sized portion, nothing too extreme in both respects. Being fed and watered, we continued on our way to our next destination.
Keeping on the downtown theme we returned to pass by the CN tower in a Toronto torrent, getting pretty much soaked to the skin, to find ourselves at the old roundhouse in search for the perfect component to any good hockey match. A Beer. The roundhouse is home to three establishments, the railway museum of Canada with its assorted trains out the front, Lyons and Steam Whistle Brewery. The brewery gives out a few samples to whoever wants and a 45-minute tour for 3 different tariffs depending on what you would like to receive at the end. When touring round the facility, you are handed an ice-cold bottle of beer, to enjoy that brewing process that extra bit more. The Pilsner is brewed in the tiniest brewery I’ve seen but bottles and cans an impressed 8.5 million liters a year. This is an impressive feat for any brewery.
Continuing on the brewing theme, we travel uptown about 3km to the distillery district where most of the other beers in Toronto are made. Following the premise from yesterday, some food, some beer, some laughs were held in the restaurant of the mill street brewpub.
Upon leaving the pub, the district with its old style architecture, cobbled streets and wooden window frames was lit up with a canopy of bulb lights, framed by gas-powered streetlights leading you to the end of its magical pretense and back to the reality of modern day.