When I was in Toronto, I started a travel blog. I didn’t write much, as I was too busy living the dream. When I came back to Romania, I decided to write my memories about Toronto on that blog. Again, I didn’t write much. This time, because it was too painful to recreate the happiest time of my life, so far. Now I am sorry I couldn’t find the time or the strength to do at least one of the above, because people and places are starting to fade away. Soon, they will probably be just a blur and memories will lose colors and details. Well, I guess this is how it goes. I do miss Toronto, though. I miss it like I miss a lost lover. I have the butterflies and all, each time I think of it.
Anyway…today I have come across a beautiful article. An American emigrant in Canada put in words her love for her new country. I have discovered my own thoughts and feelings in this piece. I remembered that in February, I had written on my wannabe travel blog about why I love Toronto. And since I am going to delete that blog anyway, I thought maybe I should keep the articles. So, here is why I love Toronto:
Reason 1. Harbor Front. Summers are short in Toronto but most days are sunny all year round. I am a sun lover and even though I would rather be hot than cold, I don’t ask for more if the sun is up and the sky is blue.
When I think of Toronto, the first thing that comes to my mind are my secret, intimate mornings at the harbor. A Tim Hortons coffee, a bench and all that silence and view were enough for me to come to peace with the world and with myself for at least few hours. The water, the island, the seagulls and the boats made those mornings perfect. And they were my secret, my way of connecting with the city and of reconnecting with myself when I felt overwhelmed.
Reason 2. Torontonians and wannabe Torontonians. People from all over the world, praying to different gods, speaking different languages, all live together in peace and harmony in Toronto. It is a great place to learn we are not colors, we are all just human beings.
Russians escaped from communism, Palestinians that grew up in refugee camps, Mexicans looking for a safer place to live, Iranians running from a religious dictatorship, survivors of the Lebanese war, Europeans looking for new experiences or maybe just for economical stability, great minds studying at top Universities…Toronto welcomes them all, the smart ones, the professionals, the discriminated, the ill-treated, the ones in search for new lives and experiences.
Reason 3. Financial District. I have never been in a city with skyscrapers before Toronto. I always thought about me that I am not a city girl, that I wouldn’t like to live in a place where I can’t see the sky and the stars at night. I thought I am more like a girl who would go for a small town or even village, with small, white houses, maybe something like Greek Islands type of towns.
Every time I was walking the Financial District, I was feeling small, insignificant and free. Nobody knew me and this, for someone coming from a small town, is nothing but pure luxury.
Financial District at lunch time, during summer, is another kind of heaven: well dressed, young professionals having lunch on the patios opened all over the place. During winter, heaven moves underground, in the Path, which by the way, is the greatest invention to keep the spirits bright and warm during long, Canadian winter.
Bottom line, in Financial District of Toronto I had one of the greatest epiphanies of my life: I am such a city girl! This was one hell of a revelation for me, therefore, thank you, Financial District! You have my love forever!
Reason 4. Old Cabbagetown. Narrow streets, Victorian houses, silence and an explosion of greenery and colorful flowers in spring and summer. I used to volunteer at Old Cabbagetown Museum every other Sunday. When I look back, those were the best Sundays I had in Toronto. A coffee and a stroll, both before and after my shift. Sometimes, when the weather was fine, I used to get lost on purpose on the tiny, romantic streets, just to postpone the moment of leaving the neighborhood. I remember that one day, while I was lost, I found two boxes with books in front of a house, and a note: Please help yourself:) Nice walk, beautiful view, good books. That was one lovely Sunday.
Reason 5. King Street West. My very favorite street in the city. The first party I went to in Toronto was in a pub nearby. I took my first steps in Toronto on King Street West, as I walked from the streetcar to that pub. My first kiss in Toronto was on King Street West. Many drinks and coffees with friends, the coolest parties, some nice lunches or fancy dinners. I had all that on King Street West. And that corner, with St. Andrew’s Church lost among skyscrapers, looks magic at night.
Reason 6. The subway. Ok, I admit, this might sound weird. TTC doesn’t exactly offer the subway service a city like Toronto needs. But this is another topic. Because I always lived quite far from downtown, I had to spend a lot of time in the subway, so I tried to make the best of this time. You know, like putting on my make up, organizing my bag, having my coffee but most of all, reading. I read a great number of books in Toronto trains. I even missed stations because I was too focused on what I was reading. And I love the voice reciting the stations. So warm and calm…
Reason 7. High Park. For all the trees and the silence. For all the cherry blossoms in spring, for all the shadow in summer, for all the beautiful, amazing colors in autumn. For being the best place for so many things one might want to do: work out, read, study, make out, put their thoughts together, plan the rest of their life, contemplate their past, walk, smoke pot, have a picnic, enjoy the nature…And all that, by the subway, quite close to downtown.
Reason 8. Toronto Island. Ten minutes away from the downtown chore. You take a ferry and there you are, away from noise and crowds. I love Toronto Island for the solitude I can find there, if I need it, for the beautiful parks and for the blue flag beaches. For the way skyline of Toronto looks from there both at day and at night. On the island I read most of the book “A Yellow Raft in Blue Water” by Michael Dorris and I wrote Toronto – Six Months Later.
Reason 9. Food. I am a food lover. I like to eat and I can literally eat anything. I love trying new cusines and Toronto is a very good place to do that. Due to multiculturality, there are great and diverse places to eat traditional food from different places of the world, from all you can eat system to fancy a la carte. In Toronto I discovered the pleasure of eating Mexican, Indian, Korean and Thai food. I kept on eating Chinese and Greek food as I have always liked it. For the first time in my life I tried sushi and it was amazing. Of course, poutine and smoked meat are a must, if you are in Canada. They go great with lots of beer.
Reason 10. The Distillery District. For the retro look, for the comfy patios, for the great art galleries. It is said the best hot chocolate it at Soma. I disagree. It is just expensive. But you should enter Soma just for the smell. The moment I stepped in, I felt like in a chocolate factory. I think this is how heaven probably smells. But don’t mind me. I am such a chocolate lover!
Reason 11. For all the things I didn’t do. I didn’t visit the ROM and the Bata Shoe Museum, I didn’t go up to CN Tower, to see the city from above and to have dinner in the revolving restaurant, I didn’t spend a summer afternoon reading in the garden of Casa Loma, I didn’t volunteer for Pride Parade, I didn’t even see the Pride Parade. All the things I didn’t do are no regrets, just good reasons to go back.