Ahh what a breath of fresh air (literally) Canada is!! After the stuffy air and natives of London it’s refreshing to have crisp air and friendly people. Having been to Canada twice previously in the past, we both missed and loved the manner of the Canadians, though on the bus from the airport we were constantly reminded of what we’d just left behind in London, with bus stops like Islington, Pimlico and Caledonian Road. Finally arriving at our pad in Davisville we dumped our baggage and flopped on the couch.
Finding this place on Airbnb, we had our own apartment with an amazing view from the roof (see photo above) and a rooftop swimming pool all for less than the cost of a hostel!
Our first day in Toronto involved walking, and lots of it. But first on the list, beer. A quick pop into the Steam Whistle Brewery for a free sample to get the motors (legs) lubricated Matt tried convincing Sarah to do a tour, though having already dragged her through so many brewery tours, and being the boss, ‘No fun Sarah’ won that decision.
Not having bought bikes yet we checked out the harbour front with the Simcoe Wave, a timber built walkway that follows the water front. You could get some gnarly speed on a skateboard, which is probably why they’ve installed metal barriers at certain points to stop you from doing exactly that. Canoe Landing Park bumped into us next, which is circulated by a walk through the history of Canadian Terry Fox, who started to run the equivalent of a marathon a day across Canada after loosing a leg to cancer. An informative insight into an inspirational human being.
Moving on to check out the Fort York Historical Site we arrived to find it was closed for a private function. Skipping this we headed for, yep, more beer, at Bellwood Brew pub, where Sarah enjoyed a Catherine’s Wheel Belgium IPA at a gut punching 7.2% and Matt opted for a girly yet refreshing Berliner Weiss which had a tart and strong lemon kick to it.
Stomachs started growling along with us at each other, yeah Sarah gets ‘hypoglycaemic’ and will bite you head clean off when hungry, you have been warned. Having lived with this Matt can see the signs and knows to get her food STAT, so we went searching for The Mad Italian’s pizza cone which we’d read about (pizza, toppings, cheese and all, baked into a pizza base in the shape of, you guessed it, an ice cream cone). We can’t actually tell you how it was as it turns out they’d closed down. Gutted! So we settled for a tasty gyros on Queens Street that left us with that stodgy, salt overload, yeasty bloated feeling.
To try and walk it off we hunted out some local street art, taking loads of photos along Rush Lane, which gets recovered every year for fresh pieces of art to be splashed onto it. Following this we took in the Old City Hall, not much to mention here as access inside is restricted due to it still being a functional building for court cases (although the security girls were quite fit!). The exterior is the highlight here.
Continuing on we threw a left at Yonge and ended the day in Yonge Dundas Square, Toronto’s version of Time Square, a space that holds various free events throughout the summer. Tourist trail done for the day, sore feet and knackered, we retired back to the apartment.
Already having a bike we could borrow in the apartment, Matt bought a folding one from Kijiji, Canada’s equivalent of eBay. Setting out on our wheels to help combat the fat cells rapidly increasing the girth from the beer and gyros, we headed for Toronto’s city beach. Sarah’s chosen route was a pleasant cruise through Mount Pleasent Cemetery and the Don Valley – or so it started. Google Maps being a fabulous tool (we’ve used it to make custom maps of the entire trip) we chose the ‘bike’ route it had planned out for us. Fair to say an argument ensued after having been detoured off a perfectly good path….
Matt’s version, which he believes to be totally correct in it’s entirety, begins with taking a left off the perfectly good bike path up over a creek and further into what was now a steadily thickening jungle. Furthermore we were off the bikes and now walking! To add insult to injury we were walking up what can only be described as an incline a couple of degrees short of a cliff face. Having carried the light weight folding bike Matt now stood at the top staring Sarah down with hands on hips and that
‘Well you took us this way get your bike up yourself!’
look on his face. Sarah, obviously unimpressed with the attitude, gave the
‘Stop being such an a@%hole!!’
look. Yep, Matt ended up carting up that bike too. Onwards along the ridge line we took in views through the Don Mills Valley over the Brickworks leading to yet another view of Toronto’s CN Tower. Having the opportunity to rejoin a smoother, wider path with little to no undulation Sarah again set us off along a narrow, overgrown path claiming this is the Google Maps route. Recommence argument.
Having made it out of the jungle and back to civilisation we still had over half of the ride to complete to reach Woodbine Beach and we’d already clocked up nearly 15kms for the day. Riding past what looked like a water treatment plant (which turned out to be the city’s sewerage treatment plant), we exchanged concerned looks over the quality of this beach. Sure enough when we arrived the beach was packed though there was not a single person in the water. Having dipped the feet in the still freezing waters the skies opened up and the rain began to fall. Skipping over the road and following our ears to the music we’d heard earlier, we stumbled on a free music concert in Woodbine Park. The TD Canada Trust Bank sponsored event had a mixture of local bands playing. We grabbed a beer and sat down in time to see Torontonian band Oakland Stroke play a funk and soul filled Tower of Power tribute set, with a full horn section which was enjoyable in the warm afternoon sun.
Finishing up our beers we made to leave, though not before coming across a Subaru stall handing out FREE CANDY! Both of us not being sweet toothed at all we still lined up and waited for our free candy. Anything free always tastes better, right?
Sugar hit in hand we jumped back on the bike along the Lake Shore Boulevard (not on the lake) over to The Distillery District. Containing the largest concentration of Victorian-era industrial buildings in North American is has been rejuvenated with a somewhat manufactured feel, containing galleries, boutiques and designer stores. We found the next destination on today’s journey and arrived at the Mill St. Brew Pub to find a queue outside. Not wanting a table we were free to go in and plonk our bums at the bar (sweet, no waiting for service! ) and both ordered the sampler of four beers containing the Helles Bock, IPA, Tankhouse and the Weiss, all nice beers with the Tankhouse and IPA coming out on top.
Enter the couple from Buffalo (you’ll hear more about these two later!). Sean and Myriah take a seat next to us at the bar and make a comment about our cameras, which leads to the next few hours being spent in easy conversations and an invite to visit them. Now to those that know us we make ridiculous statements like ‘only out for one’ or ‘lets cut it off at two’. Which never happens. As the laughs continued Matt proceeded to guzzle back far too many IPA’s which made for an interesting ride back up the hill of Yonge Street to Davisville. Having made new friends and with a place to stay in Buffalo when we head to Niagara Falls, we crashed out with the knowledge that chatting about life over a few beers results in fortune more made than lost.
Waking the next morning feeling like a steam train had bulldozed our heads and a cat had made beds of our mouths we again got back out on the bikes in a bid to keep that belly from porking up.