Ben on our first morning in Toronto, and Ben at 4 in the afternoon the day after NYE
It turns out that Canada is a very cold place in January, and I’m not entirely sure what it is, but there’s something that makes cities by large bodies of water verrrryyy windy (Yeah, I’m looking at you Chicago…) We prepared ourselves pretty well to the icy temperatures before we set out though. Me in a pair of fleece lined tights paired additionally with my sparkly sweater tights, topped with a wool sweater and a thick blazer; and Ben donning a faithful pair of long underwear and thermal under his own slick new years eve outfit.
A few things that we’ve learned thus far about navigating big, wintery, foreign cities (Toronto):
- Not even the locals really know the tricks to parking - Our first night, I asked the bartenders at Cranberries what they knew about parking. Turns out, you can park on some of the major streets at night for free (but be prepared to wake up at an ungodly hour to fuel the parking meters)
- Meter maids are bloody thirsty - They don’t give a single fuck if it’s snowy and you don’t want to park lightyears away from your hostel to avoid walking back at 8am in last night’s freshly fallen snow. Consider your ass ticketed.
- Nobody likes tourists - Be careful who you ask and how you ask to locate a souvenir shop
- Nobody likes Americans - If you reveal this information, be prepared for your newly met company to give you a hard time
- Even if you are a tourist and and an American, and as long as you’re not a total shit head, people will still be nice to you - Most people currently from the city were not always from the city. They’ve been lost and confused in new surroundings before too.
- Hailing a cab is an incredibly empowering thing the first time you do it out on a busy city street
Upon venturing out onto Queen St. without a single NYE plan, Ben and I wandered around like lost little puppies (being that we were cut from normal usage of our smartphones). We popped into a closing starbucks and had very little time with their wifi to put together a game plan, so we walked back the way we came down Queen St. (we went east when we should have gone west, what fools…) and eventually found a nice 30something couple, abuzz over the hockey game to be taking place in Ann Arbor the following day (err… today). They helped us with directions back to the Imperial Pub. Returning to the Pub was not only a comforting decision, but the right decision, as we ended up making new friends from the University of Toronto. We ordered some good old fashioned Irish Car bombs and a pitcher of Amsterdam Blonde, and even received complementary flutes of champagne just before midnight. We finally got around to ordering a plate of poutine (fries covered in gravy and cheese curds — Canadians know how to do drunk food). It was an evening that started off right, and ended right (with a healthy amount of confusion, and disorientation in between). Happy New Years from superadventurefuntime!!!
We started off our night at the Mill Street Brewery, in the Distillery District of Toronto. We really couldn’t have picked a better place to start our night too. Arriving just before the NYE rush we were sat right away at a table to begin our “liquid diet” as Ben so eloquently put it to our waitress. After a few rounds of shots and a pitcher of their finest Distillery Ale, I asked our waitress what sitcom character she most closely identified with — she said Max, from 2 Broke Girls (which really only made me appreciate her more). As I mentioned, Mill Street not only offered delicious beers, but also some really creative shots. “Max” started us off with a round of “quick cocaino" shots with if I remember correctly were some sort of Goldschläger, Jäger, and some sort of cinnamon-y liquor. We munched on their to die for pretzel bread whilst we finished off our pitcher of beer, and before leaving, we downed another round of shots — this time “electric popsicles" (which the internet tells me is a mixture of vodka, blue Curacao, and some sort of melon liqueur).
Upon paying our tab (and disappointing Max the waitress with our early departure), we were pushed out of our comfort zone and forced to learn how to summon a cab. Ben attempted to call, but my keen eye spotted a line of a dozen or so cabs lined up outside the distillery district. We really had no idea where we were going to go from our nice safe table at the Mill Street Brewery, but we knew that we must venture out into the city. I walked up to one of the cabs in a line and asked the gentleman to take us anywhere on Queen St., and like a little couple of little Canadian Carrie Bradshaws we were zooming into the city.
Some instagram pictures from our NYE adventures last night!
Some pictures of our hostel, The City Guesthouse. It really is a very pretty little place, situated in a little cluster of houses parallel to Parliament St. in Cabbagetown. I’m really pleased we had the opportunity to stay here. The picture above of the bedroom is not actually our bedroom (ours is much more cluttered currently…) but the rooms are spacious, the beds are freshly made, and the views are lovely. We really couldn’t have asked for a better hostel (okay… maybeee a hostel with free parking — but beggars can’t be choosers.)
Some Hamilton, ON landscapes we passed while driving
BarVolo is a really neat little bar situated on Yonge and Wellesly (only a few blocks from our hostel!!). It had an excellent selection of craft beers and wines. The restaurant itself was tiny. It looked as if there was some sort of porch outdoors for the warmer months. BarVolo does bar service only, which was not something Ben and I were entirely ready for — but the staff was super friendly and attentive, even though the place was packed and we literally had to sit at a table with another couple. We ordered a pulled pork sandwich, and the “Ploughman’s Platter’ — which was a mixed platter of cheese, sausage, sauerkraut and mustards. For Beer, we tasted the Dieu du Ciel - Péché Mortel, and an Amsterdam Raspberry Wheat Ale. Both beers were excellent, and we could have drank on and on, but the crowded bar had a really overwhelmed vibe to it , and we were both exhausted from walking around town, so we decided to head out after each getting a full chalice of the Raspberry Ale with our meal. I would come back, but ideally on one of the restaurant’s lull periods, I’m sure it would be wild to get a chance to talk more with the bar tenders about the beers served here!
She Said Boom! Records & Books is a little shop with a few stacks of records, tapes and only a couple bookshelves, but everything in stock was of excellent quality. An impressive dedication to different genres of literature, as well as an exquisite selection of records new and old. I could have spent an entire day and night just thumbing through stacks and shelves. It was really a treat to stop in, and the couple manning the storefront were really wonderful salespeople. I ended up purchasing an Iggy Pop record recorded by Bowie, an original copy the couple directed me to. Ben picked up a copy of ‘The Saga of Swampthing’ and was delighted by the low price for it. 10/10 would say boom again.
Ben and I’s first stop today was Kensington Market and Chinatown. We managed to find cheaper parking for the few hours we were down there (although the lot was pretty terrifying, and smelled like poop…) Chinatown was really interesting, with colorful shops and crowds of people. Apparently Toronto’s Chinatown is one of the largest Chinatowns in North America.
Kensington, which is just a few blocks from the center of Chinatown, is a very bohemian little nook. There were shops to buy nuts, spices, cheeses, and meats. Kensington Market is the equivalent to that of an eclectic hipster’s unorganized studio apartment. A mixture of semi-expensive looking board shops, hip coffee shops (with cool backyards), discount shopping, specialty markets, head shops and even a board game cafe only a few blocks away.