The big city of Toronto reunited Brendon with his beloved Jays (go the Jays!), but most importantly with our dear Kiwi friends, Kyle & Bea.
Kyle and Bea road tripped through the States last summer, landing in Toronto in October. We always knew a Canadian reunion was immanent, and were looking forward to this time for months.
While in NZ, we journeyed very closely with these two, sharing a meal together nearly weekly. We’ve missed these times. We hold these times and these people very dear to our hearts, and so sharing this time together in Toronto was very special.
We were blown away by Kyle & Bea’s hospitality, and felt so thankful for the times and memories we could share together on Canadian soil.
Toronto was one of our favourite cities for the following reasons:
At the age of 7 in 1992, young Breno went to watch the Jays play at the Skydome. (Can you believe the child above is NOT mini Brendon??)
He recalls having an epic moment of walking out into the staduim and seeing the grand expanse of the Skydome in front of him, and being overcome with a sense of awe.
Watching a Jays game was a must, so we went to 2. Brendon watched the Jays game with the joy of his 7-year old self, shouting “Chicken hot dog” out at Colby Rasmus, who scored a home run while we were there.
It was cute seeing how happy he was when the Jays beat the Red Sox 6-1. Brendon was so proud of his Jays.
Oh my goodness. The boutiques. I kind of have a thing for cute design shops. You know, the ones that carry a mix of cool stationary and prints, locally-made jewellery, home decor items, and potentially even some unique but practical household items? I find them very inspiring. Anyways, Toronto is FULL of amazing shops like this. In all of our travels this summer, I didn’t come across a city that even compares to the volume of inspiring boutiques and design shops we encountered. Bea was kind enough to do some scouting ahead of time and map out their whereabouts on an adorable set of cue cards, which detailed some extremely well-thought out routes for day trips around Toronto.
Toronto has beaches, people. And being a bit beach-deprived this year, I was all over them. We took the ferry over to Toronto Island (which is worth the excursion just for the views of the city), found ourselves a nice beach and enjoyed a glorious afternoon in the sun. They’ve got a great, little organic cafe over there on the island too.
Sugar Beach is another place beach lovers should be aware of. This adorable slice of paradise is located directly beside the Redpath Sugar Factory. The wofts of caramelized sugar that float by are heavenly, and the pink umbrellas are super cute, aren’t they? And so what that it’s man-made? It’s super cute and super accessible. If you work downtown, you can totally beach here on your lunch break. I mean, I would!
We walked to the beach nearby Kyle & Bea’s place, and took in the peaceful glow of the evening light on the Lake. Amazing to have a gorgeous body of water so accessible from multiple places.
Toronto’s got a solid coffee scene. Favourite spots included:
Te Aro- a Kiwi-founded coffee company.
Crafted Coffee (Te Aro), where a brief Transcend reunion occurred.
Sam James- discrete espresso bar set up with a few locations around the city.
White Rabbit (they serve a generous affagato)
The way that Toronto does parks was something that really struck and appealed to us. And the parks are SO accessible. Green space is very well & purposefully used. It was neat to see the local parks well-utilized by people of all ages, and for various purposes.
Bicycle polo. Wood fired pizzas. Mud pits. Community fire pits. Skateboard park. One evening while strolling through Dufferin Park, we happened upon a hipster “storytelling” gathering around a fire pit.
Toronto’s slogan “A City Within a Park” is such a neat concept. Though perhaps their green space is not as plentiful as other Canadian cities, it is extremely well utilized. Located within the heart of Toronto, one can pop in to grab a coffee at a reputable cafe, then walk a couple blocks and enjoy their coffee. We think Toronto is on to something with their parks.
The street art.
I have yet to visit a city that displays and celebrates street art as much as Toronto does. There is inspiring street art everywhere, and often in places unexpected.
Kyle & Bea’s friend Jeff was commissioned to paint this bear, among many other pieces featured downtown.
Toronto is a city where one can definitely live without a car. We didn’t use our car once during the week we were in Toronto, and loved it. Our feet, and the occasional use of the subway or streetcar got us any place we wanted to go. It was a wonderful way to be able to get to know and feel the heartbeat of this vibrant city.
Other Toronto gems:
Soma Chocolate- A local chocolate-maker who produces produces bean to bar chocolate. Go there. And pick up a Stratus Bar. Do it. It could change your life.
Kensington Market- an eclectic, multicultural gathering place of artisans, vintage shops, cafes, & cultural food vendors. There’s a definite vibe and energy to Kensington Market, and it’s a good one.
Electric Mud BBQ. Not quite the same as Kansas City BBQ, but with a southern feeling and all the meat and mess of any of the best BBQ joints of the deep south.
Blackbird Bakery- a relatively new bakery located in Kensington Market, which specializes in delicious, artisan breads. Brendon recommends the Toronto Sourdough.
Fat Pasha- we enjoyed a mind-blowing Jewish feast of colour and flavour on their enchanting backyard patio.
Bluegrass Brunch- what could be more enchanting & cozy on a Sunday morning than enjoying a family-style brunch while listening to bluegrass tunes?
Smock- an inspiring cafe/children’s art space.
Kid Icarus- an inspiring stationary/design shop located in Kensington Market. I visited numerous times. I couldn’t get enough.
The Distillery district- I totally could have spent more time wandering the red brick streets and perusing all the cool shops tucked away in the Distillery district.
Toronto, why do you have to be so cool? Keep this up and we could easily be persuaded to move there… it’s currently Brendon’s retirement dream to live in a condo in downtown Toronto and attend every single Jays game.
We absolutely loved our time in Toronto, especially because of who we got to share it with. Thanks, Kyle & Bea for showing us an AMAZING time in your super cool adoptive city.