I was in Toronto for work the weekend of my 30th birthday. Though I would have preferred to spend my birthday with my husband and my pups, I decided to make lemonade and find some fun things to do in the short time I was going to be in town.
Between my meetings, I had about 15 hours of down time. I took to the interwebs, remembering that Anthony Bourdain had done a Layover episode on Toronto. With his suggestions, those of my friend Deb, (who lived in Toronto), and my own ideas I was able to enjoy a little personal time.
Day 1 – 3 hours of down time
I hadn’t originally thought I would rent a car while in Toronto, but if I was going to take advantage of the little time I had, a car would be necessary. A little nervous about driving in a foreign country I was very careful on the roads. Eventually, I got comfortable and realized there is no difference between driving in Toronto and in the US except, of course, the distances are in kilometers. Don’t worry, the Canadian cars measure kilometers boldly on the speedometer as opposed to miles like American cars. It was an easy adjustment to make.
After renting a car, I headed to Eaton Shopping Centre per Deb’s suggestion. The drive there was enjoyable. It was in the middle of the city (or felt that way) and I got to see the hustle and bustle or Torontonians. From shop to shop and resto to resto they hurried aboot in the cold weather.
More hungry than shoppy, I decided to visit the Bacchus Roti Shop on Queen Street West. Bacchus Roti Shop is one of the restaurants that Anthony Bourdain visited during his 30 hours in Toronto. Never having had a roti before, I was excited. The shop was quaint and cozy.
I ordered veggie samosas and a spinach, chickpea, and green bean roti. Bad idea. The roti is so much food that really it is all you need. It would have been a nice meal to share with Choy. Alas.
When asked for the spice level, I boldly said medium. Another mistake. It was so hot!
My recommendation would be to split a roti and skip the spice. It is so flavorful anyway that really the spice distracts. After my late lunch at the Bacchus Roti shop, I headed to my hotel to work until the evening.
Day 2 – 3 hours of down time
Day two of my visit was primarily spent in meetings. We started at 8 am and ended at about 4 pm. A few of the people I was meeting with recommended Yorkdale Shopping Centre. Not really in the mood to shop, but unsure of what else to do since the weather was so bad I headed to the mall. It is a facility in transition it seems. All the cheapo shops are being pushed out by the couture shops. I don’t know what kind of money my meeting-mates thought I had, but there was little I could afford in that place. I did happen to stumble onto a fantastic sale in one shop and bought a nice sweater for just 10 Canadian dollars.
When I told one of my meeting-mates that I’d like to do something I couldn’t do in the States, she recommended I stop by Roots clothing company. Roots is the official outfitter for the Canadian Olympic team and my husband tells me they outfitted the US team when the winter Olympics were in Salt Lake. I liked a lot of the sweats that Roots had but couldn’t find any in my husband’s size!
Day 3 – 6 hours of down time
The last day of my visit was the best. My flight would leave at 2 pm and I needed to return the car by noon so I had the morning to enjoy. I woke up early and packed my things before heading out to Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls was only one hour from my hotel outside of Toronto and about an hour and a half from Toronto proper. I was happy to see the roads were clear considering they were an utter disaster the night before.
I did a little souvenir shopping, buying some maple syrup my husband requested and some Roots gloves that seemed a much more practical choice than sweatpants.
The last thing I wanted to do before getting back on the road to the Pearson Airport was have a donut at Tim Horton’s, another of Deb’s suggestions. Unfortunately, the Niagara Falls Tim Horton’s doesn’t open until 9:30 am on Sundays and I needed to get on the road.
At the airport, I had a last Canadian Casear – like a Bloody Mary – the BEST of Deb’s suggestions. It was delicious.
So there are my 15 hours of free time in Toronto. Pretty cool, eh?