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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Toronto - Your Ticket to Diversity, Art, and Food

I have been itching to explore Canada and had a fabulous start with Toronto. The 6ix is exploding with diversity, art, and food from every corner of the planet.

This was my first flight with Porter Airlines, and wow, what a treat! Every passenger flies first class with their generous amenities.

  • Rows of 2 seats with ample, cushy seating.
  • Delicious snacks including homemade cookies and Terra chips.
  • Free wine.
  • The waiting area at Billy Bishop had free cookies, soda, bottled water, and make your own espresso drinks.

My first glimpse from the air
It was such a breeze to fly into Billy Bishop Airport. I exited through the tunnel and walked up to street level to board a free shuttle bus, which drops you at Union Station.

I was going to take public transportation to the hostel; however, I was immediately overcome with the urge to wander and snap. I wasn't expecting Toronto to be so metropolitan with an abundance of brilliant architecture.

City Hall

Heads up!

Gooderham Building

Captured these two beauties while on the Prince Edward Viaduct

My first hostel stay was at the charming Only Backpacker's Inn complete with a cafe and bar. Delish espresso drinks and an impressive craft beer list await you at the Only Cafe. This place is full of funk and I really enjoyed the art adorning the walls. It's also at the edge of Greektown, which is an excellent neighborhood to be in. 

The only thing I wasn't crazy about was the room configuration. I stayed in a 6-bed coed dorm and my bunk mate's head was at my feet due to the closeness. However, since everything else was so great, I would return and recommend it to other budget travelers. 

What I recommend in this hood:
The Big Carrot Natural Food Market
Jean's Vegetarian Kitchen
Rendez-Vous Ethiopian Restaurant
The Only Cafe (whether or not you stay at the hostel)
Wander the alleys along Danforth for some great street art

Toronto's Best Cheese Twistie at The Big Carrot
Malaysian Curry Vegetable at Jean's

I'm inspired:)
Love these intriguing garage doors.

When vacant = charming
I decided to spend my third night downtown, and it didn't take long to realize I would completely regret only one evening. Downtown Toronto mimics a small Times Square and is loaded with jaw-dropping street art and quirky neighborhoods.

I had an immensely pleasant stay at the HI-Toronto Hostel, situated in a prime location. The hostel offers an industrial-style bar/restaurant called The Cavern Bar, where I had a decent dinner and breakfast at an unbeatable price with the 50% coupons at check-in. In addition, I enjoyed free live music before turning in for the night in my spacious dorm room and comfy bed.

Beautiful mural at the hostel
Vegan breakfast at The Cavern
Phenomenal performances
Just a stone's throw away from HI-Toronto:

Tim Hortons 
C'est What
I was beyond excited to spend a full day with Magda, a fellow Instagrammer from Toronto. We met for a beer when I arrived and this lovely, knowledgeable woman offered to give me a tour of the city on Saturday. It was such a phenomenal day that it made my entire trip worthwhile. You rock Magda! Check out her inspiring Instagram feed @when_in_doubt_travel

Let me share just a teaser of the astonishing Underpass Park. If only every city had one.

OCAD University

Dundas Square
Half House
Organic Lager at Amadeu's

St. Lawrence Market
Captivating Kensington Market
Garden Car
Brews with Magda at Mill St. Brewery
Yes, Toronto has a Love Lock

Downtown Musts:
Kensington Market
St. Lawrence Market
Distillery District
Dundas Square
Gooderham Building
OCAD University
Underpass Park
Graffiti Alley
Half House
Love Lock
CN Tower
C'est What
Mill Street Brewery
Tim Hortons
Amadeu's Dining Lounge (killer patio)
Extraordinary street art everywhere

Many thanks for the awe-inspiring introduction to Canada T-dot! I also have to thank Mother Nature for not raining on my parade until I departed. The skyline is lovely; even in dreary weather.

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