Wednesday, November 4, 2009
24 Hours Toronto
Photo by Jen Keay
Sunrise - Watch the sunrise over the city skyline from the Humber River bridge, located at the mouth of the Humber River. From here, savour the ice cream colored flavours of the sky as they soon fade to a lovely yellow before turning to a picture perfect blue.
The 139-metre pedestrian-bicycle bridge connects several trails along a scenic waterfront park. The double-arched bridge emphasizes the cultural history of a gateway between Toronto and Etobicoke, and an aboriginal trading route linking Lake Ontario to the north. The design of the Bridge was inspired by motifs and artefacts of the first inhabitants of the site. Interpretive plaques trace the history of the area and compare the engineering of canoes to that of the bridge.
Time for Breakfast! Jump on the street car or the Red Rocket as they call it and make your way to the St Lawrence Market. In 1803, this area was officially designated as the "Market Block." Since 1901, the South St. Lawrence Market has been known primarily for its fruits, vegetables, meat and cheese. Today, there are over 120 vendors on the site.
Open 6 days a week (closed Sundays), there is a consistent hustle and bustle of people trading cash for flavourful treats – to be eaten now or later. A breakfast favourite is a delicious egg, cheese and peameal bacon sandwich on a soft, fresh bun. Carousel Bakery is said to have the best peameal bacon sandwich – line up and judge for yourself. For what it is worth, it is a favourite of Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse. The Bakery also offers a tasty selection of sandwiches, breads and pastries. In the summer you can head outside to a picnic table to enjoy your treat or find a bench inside and watch the commerce unfold in front of you eyes.
Eggs not your thing? - For the more adventurous, not needing to inhale eggs at this time of the morning, head down the stairs to Mustachio. Specialties include monstrous sandwiches of veal with fried eggplant, grilled chicken breast; veal parmegiano, all served, in the Italian tradition, with tomato sauce, fried onions and peppers on warm foccacia bread. The portions are just like your Nona would make – the veal parmesan sandwich is enough for two. You won’t leave disappointed or hungry guaranteed!
Shop, shop and shop! - Continue to wander through the market taking in the sights and sounds. Listen to the different languages, accents and take in the smells of cheese, seafood, and other goodies. There are over 120 merchants to check out. Stop by Kozlik’s Mustard it offers over 30 different types of mustard ranging from sweet to out of this world spicy! Interesting fact - 90% of the world’s mustard is grown in Canada and is the second most popular spice in the world next to black pepper.
Canada’s past time - Check out all of the hockey memorabilia and history you can possible fathom! It is both museum and a hall of fame. A beautiful and historic building houses the history and trivia of Canada’s favourite game! You might even get to see and touch the prized Stanley Cup on display in the Great Hall! Its first permanent building opened at Exhibition Place in 1961. In the '90s, the Hall began outgrowing its location and was relocated to a former bank building in downtown Toronto in 1993, where it is presently located.
Look waaaayy up - Much of the Toronto Skyline is filled with headquarters of many of the country’s big banks, law firms, corporate head offices and stock brokerages. Below the skyline’s ground exists an underground world, named the PATH. The PATH weaves underground for approximately 27Km and is filled with more than 1200 shops, restaurants and coffee shops; connects 48 office buidlings; hotels; and includes 5 subway stops.
CN tower – A Toronto and Canadian landmark erected 35 years ago and once known as the “tallest free standing structure on land in the world”, a title held this title held for 31 years until it was surpassed by the Burj Dubai. The CN Tower stands 553.33M tall. The tower’s intent was to serve as a large TV and radio communication platform for the Toronto area, as well as demonstrate the strength of Canadian industry – in particular, the national railway company, CN.
Go TEAM Go! - Right next door is the Rogers Centre, previously known as the SkyDome, home of the baseball team the Toronto Blue Jays, twice World Series winners and Canadian football team, the Toronto Argonauts. On a clear day, the roof opens to bring the outdoors in to sit back, relax and watch a sporting event. It was the first stadium to have a fully retractable motorized roof and hotel attached to it. Take in a game from the 500 hundreds section to feel like you are on top of the world.
Time for lunch! – Head to Chinatown! Regardless of the day of the week, this area of this city is a hub of activity. On the weekend, be prepared to share the sidewalk as it is flooded with vendors and people. You can find inexpensive dim sum, pho and other asian treats. Experience Peking duck served in two courses at the Bright Pearl, or visit the Golden Leaf for dim sum available day long. The red cow on the sign of Pho Hung marks Toronto’s favourite destination for real Vietnamese beef pho. If you go to the Pho Hung on a weekend, be prepared to wait and once you are done, you are not expected to stick around. All of these places can be found on Spadina Ave. Once you have indulged, wander through the shops for unique finds of dishware, home electronics and clothing. Or stay on the sidewalk and taste the wide selection of Asian fruits enveloped in the prickliest of skins.
Step into another land! - Right next door, just to the west of Chinatown is Toronto's most unique neighbourhood, Kensington Market. This area is a maze of narrow streets and alleys, lined with brightly-coloured Victorian houses. The market got its start in the 1920s, when it was a predominantly Jewish neighbourhood. Families would set up stands in front of their homes and sell their goods to one another. This is a charming and diverse area made up of an eclectic mix of vintage clothing stores, grocers, restaurants and cafes. This area is a true reflection of the city’s multicultural mix – shops packed with goods from Europe, the Caribbean, the Middle East, South America and Asia. With every step, there is something unique to feast your eyes upon. This is one area where you will not find a Starbucks!
Need to hug a tree? – Head down to the water to take in picturesque views of Lake Ontario and the Toronto Islands. The Islands are made up of three major islands as well as some smaller islands. On board the ferry, head up to the upper deck and take in the skyline, the meandering sailboats and kayaks. The view of Toronto’s skyline across the water is worth the trip alone. In 10 minutes you will be transported to a peaceful, tree filled area of picnic spots, marinas, volleyball courts, and even a small amusement park for the kiddies. The islands are a pleasant reprieve from the quick pace and noise of the city.
Sundown! – Head uptown to Yorkville, affectionately referred to as the “Mink Mile’. During the Toronto International Film Festival, this is the place to watch for Hollywood stars! Even when TIFF is not on, this is a great place to shop at high end boutiques filled with designers from abroad and from right here in Canada. To watch the sunset over the city take the elevator up to the top floor of the Manulife Centre to Panorama. Enjoy the 360 degree view over drinks and dinner. It is a city favourite for best cocktails, best view and best place for a romantic date.
Downtown – In a cab or on foot, head back down Yonge Street and take in the lights that line the storefronts along this major thoroughfare. Head to Yonge- Dundas Square, Toronto’s take on Picadilly Circus and Times Square. Feast your eyes on the brilliance and non stop movement of lights. It was formerly listed in the Guiness Book of World Records as the longest street in the world at 1896 km. It was also the site of Canada's first subway line and is the dividing line between the east and west parts of Toronto.
Prepared to be entertained! - The Entertainment District is the place to be to dance the night away. With bars, pubs, nightclubs and the theatres, you are sure to find a place to suit your tastes. Or you could head west to the Drake Hotel. The Drake hotel is said to be “….filled with thoughtful contradictions and an intriguing intersection of new and old. A popular sushi bar, busy dining room, live indie music venue, luxe crashpad hotel rooms, neighborhood-friendly corner cafe, urban vegetable garden, general store and year round roof top Sky Yard patio all happily coexist within our ever-changing hotbed for culture”. This is not only is a hotel and a place to eat, it is the place to be whether it is in the Lounge, on the Skyyard, or in the Underground.
By Jen Keay
Thanks, Jen! Now, across the ocean to Bosnia...