Toronto is a seriously lovely city. It was the 3rd stop on my epic road trip of 2008. There was a great deal of walking, and shivering- Canada is still so cold in April- burr!
2 hostels, one brewery tour, a hockey game, wandering around Chinatown in the rain, Tim Horton's, and meeting a Frenchman from Paris who was planning to couch surf and bus tour around Mexico. I have often wondered how that Mexico trip worked out for him...
The brewery tour was a highlight. If you've never toured a brewery, you should. They basically keep the free beer flowing from the time you enter to the time you leave. Can't beat that.
The first night we stayed in this very cool hostel that was packed with travelers, so full that I ended up having to room with all dudes. My roomies seemed to be European backpackers. One guy was in grandpa pajamas in bed, all day and all night, a Frommer's North America guidebook by his bedside. I assumed he was either sick or exhausted.
When we finally turned in for the night I attempted to warm up with the provided blanket but it absolutely reeked of body odor. I ended up using my coat as a cover. Just when I thought I might get some sleep, a very loud and clearly drunk German guy came storming in and proceeded to snore all. night. long. This prompted a very hasty booking of a different hostel with a private room for the next few nights. I also very immediately regretted this decision once I started reading online reviews- bedbugs! BEDBUGS! AHH!!
*Note to self- read reviews first
Thankfully though, we made it through unscathed, no bed bug bites to speak of. But that "hostel" was still incredibly weird. One online reviewer described it as something out of a horror movie, can't say I totally disagree with that. The common areas were gross and so, completely avoided. There was a white powder sprinkled along the baseboards of the room which is clear evidence of an attempt to combat bed bugs. In the end, it was just a place to sleep. The bathrooms were so bad that I didn't even shower. This came to be the norm on the road though, I showered when I could.
Despite these things, Toronto was sort of a turning point for me. I came to embrace the lack of home comforts in exchange for the excitement and thrill of the unknown. It was in Toronto that I realized I was living a dream. I'll never forget having my morning coffee in some random coffee shop and thinking, this is it- this is what I've been missing. My time was my own, I was wherever I wanted to be. The freedom was incredible.
The fashion district through a windshield.
Bridge to somewhere.
Steam Whistle brewery.
Beer bottle cap couture.
Hey, let's go to a hockey game.
“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” – Freya Stark