Tag Archives: toronto

10 Days in Ontario

Cow at the end of the Rainbow
After our week in Manitoba, we flew to London (Ontario) for Leanne and Andrew’s wedding, and then took the train to Toronto to visit family and friends there. Astrid travelled really well and had no problem sleeping in different beds. She didn’t like the heat when we arrived in London (over 30 C) but other than that she did really well with all the change.

Wedding Party Leanne and Andrew had a lovely wedding surrounded by towering trees. Emily was a bridesmaid, so I was a single parent for long stretches. It gave me new respect for all the hard work Emily does while I’m at work. Keeping her fed, entertained, and clean with only two hands can be a challenge.

Bridesmaids and Bride

Wedding babies

The trip represented a lot of firsts for Astrid – the first train ride, first meal at a restaurant (we were nervous, and she had a freak out at the end, but she did well enough that we took her to another 5 sit down restaurants), first night sleeping in a crib, and her first shower. We didn’t know how she would nap without her swing or be entertained without her toys, but we improvised and learned a few new tricks along the way.

Train Ride
1st Train
1st Brewpub
1st Brewpub
1st Mobile Time
1st Crib
1st Fancy Dinner
1st Fancy Dinner
Wedding Dress
1st Party Dress

Continue reading 10 Days in Ontario

Eating Vegan in Toronto

Vegan Platter
Toronto has a lot of great restaurant options for vegans. We discovered some great new restaurants on our most recent trip, but the highlight was a visit to Fabbrica.

We got the rock star treatment. Celebrity chef Missy Hui, winner of Chopped, prepared a 3-course vegan feast for us. You could really taste the quality of the ingredients being served up. Missy really knows how to cook. Wood-fired mushroom pizza, grilled vegetables, braised greens, fried polenta, and chocolate fudge. All of it mouthwatering.
Amazing Fabricca FoodVegan Dessert

The other places we ate:
Tabülè – Tasty Lebanese food with an almost identical menu to Nuba in Vancouver.
Hot Beans – Vegan taco and burrito shop in Kensington Market. Really liked the jackfruit taco. The mac and cheese burrito was oddly good.
Lola’s Kitchen – Healthy meals for meat-eaters and vegetarians. The Israeli Couscous Bowl was a hit.
Mamma’s Pizza – Pizza chain that now offers vegan pizza with Daiya cheese.
Vegan TacosMammas Vegan Pizza

Toronto’s Beaches Neighbourhood

Toronto Seawall
One of the things I like about Toronto, is all the cool neighbourhoods to explore. On our most recent trip, we stayed in the Beaches, a funky neighbourhood east of downtown. It had a relaxed vibe that reminded me a lot of Vancouver – with funky shops, a beach packed with volleyball courts, and a busy seawall with walkers, joggers, and cyclists.
Woodbine Park The Beach Jazzy Little Free Library

2 Weddings in Ontario

We made the most of our recent trip to Ontario. In 2 weeks we squeezed in two weddings, a trip to Montreal by train, a few family visits, and a 5-day paddling trip in Algonquin Provincial Park.

Both weddings were great. Happy couples celebrating with supportive family and friends.

Wedding Jump
Vancouver Wedding Guests
Emily and the Brides Emily and I
More photos of Erica and Barrett’s wedding
More photos of Miriam and Nadia’s wedding

Thoughts on Toronto’s Bike Scene

Toronto Patio
Another trip to Toronto, another chance to compare The Big Smoke to Lotus Land. Last time I visited, it was the patios, streetcars, and compost pickup that caught my attention; this time it was the bikes and funky neighbourhoods.

Girl on Bike
Cyclists were everywhere. Hip, fashionable people riding fixed gear bikes. Women in skirts with flowery baskets on their bikes. Hardly anyone was wearing a helmet (maybe 30%) and, unlike Vancouver, not a single piece of Gore-Tex or lycra to be found. These weren’t the “hardcore cyclists” you often see in Vancouver, but people using bikes for what their best at – providing a convenient means of transportation.

We spent most of our time in the core of Toronto (especially around Bloor), where the city is dense, walkable, relatively flat, and dotted with BIXI stations. So my perspective on the popularity of cycling is probably skewed.

BIXI Station BIXI Toronto Bixi Chic

We did get to jump on BIXI bikes and cycle around Toronto ourselves. Renting bikes from BIXI was really easy. We were able to rent two bikes on one credit card, and once you’ve paid for your membership (we got 24 hour memberships for $5 each) you can take out bikes for free, as long as you return them in under 30 minutes. The bikes are heavy and don’t go very fast, although they do have 3 gears. Several times I felt bad for holding up a long line of cyclists behind, but most of them were going the same speed – I guess casual cyclists aren’t rushing from light to light.

Stop Driving Taxi in the Bike Lane Biking in Toronto
Biking through Toronto’s traffic calmed neighbourhoods is a joy – lots of old houses and large shade trees. The only downside is they’re a mess of one-way streets and we didn’t want to be “bike salmon”, although lots of others biked upstream. Some of the major streets have painted bike lanes (especially around U of T), but they’re often blocked by taxis and delivery trucks. I’m really impressed by the number of cyclists, considering the lack of dedicated bike infrastructure. One day we biked down to King and Bay, and I thought we were going to die. Google Maps told us that King is a bike route, but there isn’t even a painted lane or sharrow. We had to squeeze between parked cars and a busy traffic lane, trying not to get a wheel stuck in the streetcar tracks. It was the only time I really noticed I wasn’t wearing a helmet.

More pictures
Bixi Bike Truck Typical Toronto Home Road Bike
Bus Shelter Head Phones Cooling Down Victory Cafe Patio Ice Cream Truck Patio Brunch Baby Beach Time

A Wedding, a Birthday Party, a Pride Parade, and Sightseeing in Ontario

It seems like beautiful weather has been following me all summer. If you’re willing to fly me to where you live, I’ll consider a trip. Vancouver has been amazingly rain free for so long that the grass is turning brown. When it did rain, Emily and I were in Toronto enjoying the best weather they had all summer.

We spent the last week of June in Ontario celebrating Emily’s Mom’s Birthday and Donna & Brandon’s Wedding. I thoroughly enjoyed both events and was glad I was able to be there for them. In between, we explored Toronto and spent time with Emily’s friend and family.

The best parts of Toronto:

  • Patios – every restaurant and cafe has an outdoor patio, which is really nice when the temperature is around 30 C. I think we only ate 2 meals indoors the whole trip.
  • Plastic Bag Fee – As of June 1, every retailer in Toronto has to charge 5 cents for plastic bags. Some cities have attempted to ban plastic bags, but I like this approach better. 5 cents might not seem like a huge deterrent, but it forces retailers to ask customers if they want a bag and customers to think if they really need it. One of my biggest peeves is cashiers who automatically put what I bought in a plastic bag without asking if I need a bag. And the 5 cents isn’t a tax, but a mandatory fee – the money goes to the retailer.
  • Green Bins – Toronto has a municipal composting program (although with the garbage strike no one was picking up the scraps).
  • Public Transport – Each subway train in Toronto is at least 10 times longer then a SkyTrain in Vancouver, and wasn’t nearly as crowded during rush hour. The street car system was also really convenient for getting around.
  • Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) – I’m not a huge art gallery fan, but the AGO was impressive. The building is a piece of art in itself.

The worst parts:

  • Garbage Strike – the strike had only started when we were there, but it was annoying that all the street garbage bins were taped up. The worst part was seeing people illegally dumping garbage only a few days into the strike.
  • Smog and congestion – When you’re in Toronto, everything is great. Leaving or entering the city is another matter. That’s when you notice the giant freeways, the traffic, and the blanket of smog that covers the city.
  • Beaches – we didn’t make it to the official Beaches neighbourhood, but we did visit “Urban Beach” – a small split of sand in downtown Toronto. Compared to Vancouver, it was disappointing.

All Swinging Around For You  Bath in the Woods  Tree Swings  Toronto Street Car  TOFU  King's Cafe  AGO  Toronto Art Lounge  Slurpee  Old Fashioned Urinals  Urban Beach  Leaning Tower of Toronto  Pointy Head  Ships and Beaches in Downtown Toronto  Towering Biceps  Art Buildings  Gardens at Wychwood Barns  Danger! Quick Sand  Live Organic Food Bar  Distillery  Huggable Alien  Don't Eat Me  Kissing Wheel  Wedding Dance  Teeth Whitening Aliens  Virgin Pride  NDP Pride  Wet Pride  Pride Crowds

Guerrila Bike Lanes

No, not bike lanes for our hairy cousins, although that would be cool too.

Cyclists in Toronto, fed up with the lack of cycling infrastructure, are taking matters into their own hands and painting their own bike lanes.

“The first time the group struck was on May 30. The gang spray-painted an illegal bike lane in the Annex, between Spadina Ave. and Bathurst St., along Bloor. To make the paths appear legitimate, painters stencilled the city’s bike lane logo – a bicycle and large diamond – along the road as well.

The lines may have been sloppy, but that didn’t stop cyclists from using the lane for two weeks until the city cleaned it up last Monday.

Two weeks after their original stunt, the Repair Squad headed toward another section of Bloor St. This time, they decided to use hot pink spray paint, both for novelty and so that people would know it wasn’t done by the city.”

Article in the Toronto Star.
Hat Tip to Plantizen.