Views of Toronto

Dundas Square on a summer day

St. James’ Cathedral

The Flatiron Building


Toronto’s skyline seen from Casa Loma

Financial District

Random pub

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If you’re in… Toronto

  • Make use of the public transport network, which is very good. The Subway, trolleys and buses take you everywhere. Cash fares are $3 for adults, $2 for seniors and students and 75 ¢ for children. Transfers expire in 2 hours, which means that you can take a bus and transfer to a trolley using the same ticket within a 2 hour period. You can pay for your fare on the bus but remember to have the correct amount in coins as the driver doesn’t give you change. The same goes for the Subway: you can pay cash (they make change, though) or buy tokens. You should consider buying a $10 day pass too if you’re planning on sightseeing a lot. Visit TTC for info on routes, fares, etc.
A trolley down Queen Street east – Corktown

  • Eat a hot dog. Toronto is famous for its hot dogs. There are a few varieties to choose from: beef dogs, Polish, German and Italian sausages (mild and spicy), chicken sausages, even halal meat!
Hot dog stand outside Eaton Centre

  • Walk! One of the best features of Toronto, in my opinion, is that it is pedestrian-friendly, even in the winter months. When it’s freezing cold in the street, take the PATH (a 28-kilometre long underground network connecting subway stations, hotels, malls and various attractions) and don’t let the snow stop you.
A PATH corridor

  • Take your time to stroll around the neighbourhoods. Each of them is unique: Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Italy, Cabbagetown, Old Town Toronto, and the list goes on.
Chinatown

Toronto’s iconic street food: hot dogs

I thought I’d join the lunchtime crowd at Nathan Phillips Square (in front of  the City Hall) on a busy weekday. Well, busy for them, not for me, so this gave me the illusion I was in a hurry to go somewhere. I pretended I had an important meeting and  had just enough time to grab a quick bite: a grilled beef hot dog loaded with mustard, green relish, onions and pickles.

I heard that hot dogs were a Toronto institution. At Nathan Phillips Square there are quite a few carts selling beef or chicken hot dogs, Polish, Italian and German sausages, fries and poutine (fries with gravy and cheese curd.)

This is what Can$ 4.50 gets you for lunch:

Food carts in Downtown Toronto

The square was heaving with people

Cabbagetown

Cabbagetown got its funny name from the Irish immigrants who settled in the area and used to grow vegetables in their front gardens. Nowadays, the residents of this tony neighbourhood wear that name with pride and fly the neighbourhood’s flag high.

It is a lovely area with mostly Victorian homes, although other architectural styles like Arts and Crafts and Georgian can be spotted too. If I did, you can too!

I spent an enjoyable couple of hours strolling down the quiet streets and lanes, parks and… yes, the cemetery. I don’t know why but I’m kind of attracted (and repulsed at the same time) by them, the older the better. And churchyards too. Any psychologist would have a field day! I like reading the headstones and trying to figure out who those people were and what their lives were like. Nosy? Probably.

The Toronto Necropolis is the oldest in the city, from the 1850s. The chapel reminded me of the Addams family home. Both are in the Victorian Gothic Revival style. The place was so quiet but, in a strange way, alive with the songs of birds.

Click on the photos to enlarge .

Photo essay: Kensington Market (Toronto)

Kensington Market is a vibrant area, said to be among the best street markets in North America. I loved ambling along, taking the atmosphere in, smelling the smells of faraway places, watching locals go about their business and tourists like me taking photos and window-shopping. Diversity is the name of the game.

This is what you see when you turn right off Dundas St. into Kensington Ave.: row upon row of colourful Victorian homes converted into shops selling everything from Indian silk scarves to second-hand jeans to cheeses from around the world:

People from all walks of life live and shop at Kensington Market. Like the lady in grey, who happens to be a bloke, doing the shopping:

Spices galore! The air smelled of exotic spices and delicious foods: Chinese, Indian, Thai, Chilean, Mexican; you name, it’s there:

Gioconda is eyeing some belts. Which one should she buy?

Alternative means of transport?