Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Our Summer Travels: Toronto

After a six hour bus journey from Montreal, we rocked up at our hostel in downtown Toronto feeling hungry, tired, and even more hungry. A short exploratory walk north along Spadina led us to the awesome Sneaky Dee's on College, where cold cider and beer, and heaps of vegan Tex-Mex, could be had for very few dollars. Dim, dark, with tattooed bartenders and graffiti-covered loos, this place was heaven to us and we felt right at home: for me, the scuzzier somewhere is, the more comfortable I generally feel! A legacy of my misspent youth frequenting the dodgier rock clubs and bars of Bradford and Leicester.

And speaking of feeling right at home... Not for us pounding the pavements of the generic, sky-scraper-ed downtown area, with its obvious desire to be the Manhattan of the north. Rather, we spent the majority of our two days in Toronto hanging out in the dive bars, vegan food eateries*, secondhand bookstores and vintage clothes shops of the funky Kensington Market district. Imagine crossing The Lanes in Brighton with a less tourist-clogged Camden Market, throw in a dash of Manchester's Northern Quarter, and that's Kensington Market. Obviously, we loved it.

* Vegan pizza! Vegan soulfood! Vegan cake! Vegan burritos! Thomas was in actual vegan heaven.

Even amid the hustle and bustle of downtown, you know you're in Toronto, rather than A.N.Other generic North American city, by the streetcar lines that crisscross the sky. There are also some beautiful historic buildings tucked away amongst the skyscrapers, such as you might stumble upon in London. We were particularly taken with the fact that you could just walk right into the Canadian Supreme Court building, a neo-classical beauty of a building surrounded by an intricate cast-iron fence. Even more strange was the fact that the security guards keenly pointed us in the direction of the exhibition down the hall, which we assumed would be about the history of the Canadian courts system or some such and which turned out, instead, to be about said fence. Yep, an entire exhibition about a fence (it's how I'm able to confidently tell you that it's cast-iron not wrought, because thanks to the exhibition I now know the difference). We also loved the Gallery of Inuit Art, bizarrely located in the reception and mezzanine area of the TD Bank building but very much worth a visit.

All-in-all, we found ourselves utterly charmed by Canada's biggest city: it may not have the beauty of Montreal, but it's definitely worth a visit.