72 Hours in Toronto

72 Hours in Toronto is both enough and not enough.

It’s enough if you want a break from reality.

It’s not enough if you want to explore Toronto’s incredible culture

It’s enough for a layover to reduce the effects of jet lag

It’s not enough to experience Canada.

But it was perfect for me.

Toronto was a last minute decision (as much of a last minute decision as you can make 8 months in advance) but it was already the clear winner even before I decided on my third city.

It was picked for a number of reasons: my close friend (and long time reader) lives a few hours outside of Toronto and I had always said I’d come to visit. She had me sold on Toronto when she told me about Kensington Market and Centre Island. And she was dead right, Toronto was right up my alley.

I also picked it for variance. Not only was it in a country I’d never been to before, it was also somewhere where I knew someone. I had lived in San Francisco and had friends there, I had never been to Denver and knew no one but Toronto I knew one person and for once I was able to let go of the reigns of control and hand them to someone else who knew a considerable amount more than I did. Having Fiona stay with me in Toronto was like having my own tour guide. She knew where to go, how to get there and where the good places were.

We stayed in the Glen Grove at Maple Leaf Apartments (which I couldn’t recommend high enough) which had a very up-close view of the CN Tower and was in the perfect location for sight seeing and quayside ambling.

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For our first night we went to the Amsterdam Brewery just a short walk from our apartment. The place was packed for a Wednesday night so we had to wait for a table but it was worth it.

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Toronto is like a lucky mix bag, there is a huge amount of diversity whether it be nationality, ethnicity, culture, food, arts, sports or nature. Kensington Market is one of the big hotspots and definitely the place that interested me the most! Think Camden in London – but better!

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Kensington Market is full of quirky thrift shops, little cafes, houses and artwork that you could spend hours wandering around and never see the same thing twice.

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The other wonderful surprise that Fiona had was a board game cafe which absolutely blew my mind. You wouldn’t think a concept so simple would be so incredibly entertaining but this place was one of the highlights of my trip. Snakes and Lattes have a number of spots across Toronto. They boast a cafe/bar venue with a fantastic array of board games which you pay a small fee to play as many as you like for as long as you like. Games range from kids/easy stuff like LUDO, Monopoly to the classic party games like Cards Against Humanities to the downright impossible like Risk.

Fiona, who was pretty much an expert compared to me at some of these games, got me to try out Pandemic and Ticket to Ride whilst we guzzled beer and ate Poutine (!!). It was the most relaxing afternoon I’d had in weeks.

After, we went to The Second City for a comedy show (which I cried from laughing at) before walking back to our apartment.

The other incredible place we visited was Casa Loma in mid-town Toronto. This place  was insane, a grand Gothic Revival castle built in the early 20th Century was like something you’d see in the French countryside. The interior was equally stunning with a museum dedicated to the Canadian Army on the top floor. Casa Loma was also the filming location for a number of big name films such as X-Men, Scott Pilgrim and Chicago.

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On the last day, I ambled around the city..

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and took a trip to Centre Island by ferry to get a look at the famous Toronto skyline.

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Toronto was a very good choice, I only wished I could have stayed a little longer. I think it’s somewhere worth exploring, so go for more than a couple of days if you can. There is quite literally something for everyone.

(PS the best – and I mean BEST – takeaway pizza is Amato Pizza – if you’re willing to wait, it’s worth it)

PPS Massive thanks to Fiona for rounding up my trip so perfectly!!

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