Labor Day Weekend in Toronto (part 2)

Saturday, August 31, 2013

We started off our Saturday with a walk to the St Lawrence Market to grab some breakfast. The market was actually named World’s Best Food Market by National Geographic last year. It was a quick block from the hostel and Martha had her heart set on feeding pierogi to my face (and I am not one to object). Pierogi are a sort of dumpling (of Polish origin I think), and the ones we got were potato and cheddar I think. Holy Moses. They weren’t much to look at, or smell for that matter, but they were indulgent! The market was so charming… Next time I am in Toronto, and believe me: there will be a next time, I am determined to spend more time there.

st-lawrence-market

When we left the market, we headed north to visit Casa Loma. Casa Loma was built by financier Henry Pellatt and was the largest private residence in Canada. It has since been converted into a museum. The house is incredible and we spent most of the morning there, wandering and listening to out audio sets. Once I finished, I wasn’t sure where anyone else was so I stepped out to the terrace to have a water, as no food or drink was permitted inside the house.

Not my picture, but this grant some sense of the scale of the place.

Not my picture, but this grants some sense of the scale of the place.

There was a wedding happening as well! and I drooled over the thought of having a library like this in my home... of of being able to fit my home in this library.

There was a wedding happening as well! and I drooled over the thought of having a library like this in my home… or of being able to fit my home in this library.

When we left Casa Loma, we walked to this really cool board game cafe off of Bloor St. The 4 of us put in our names for a table and were told that we had to wait for 2 hours. The cafe will text you 15 minutes in advance so that you can come back and be seated. So we took off to explore Koreatown. We started by going to this tree-shaded street with lots of pubs and boutiques to piddle around shopping. I tried on a few dresses, but as always, my boobs are life ruiners and refused to fit into anything.

We also spent some time exploring the hot mess of a historical discount store, known as Honest Ed’s. This place is so delightfully tacky that I think it should be picked up and relocated to Dollywood or Gatlinburg. It’s huge, the size of a city block, and three levels on the inside. The inside will provide you with varying sizes and colors of  every knock off you could ever hope to find, stacked from floor to ceiling. It has a lighted sign, similar to a theatre marquis, that is comprised of 23,000 bulbs. I don’t know how long we spent in there, but it was hilarious! Imagine a Goodwill the size of Dillard’s.

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Okay, so a bit more about this cafe: It is called Snakes and Lattes and it is AMAZING. The place has a limited menu of sandwiches, muffins, cake and cookies, along with standard coffee drinks, sodas, water and some craft beer. You’re not required to eat or drink, but each person at a table must pay a $5 sit fee and you can play any of the cafe’s 2500+ board games (or bring your own) for as long as you please. They even have a lot of games for sale.

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We played Ticket to Ride (Europe), which, for the record, is the most frustrating, relationship destroyer ever invented. I will be purchasing my own though, because it is the most challenging, engaging board game I’ve ever played.

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We parted ways after leaving the cafe. Martha and I headed back to city center to meet up with George. Once we found him, we headed to a pool hall for a pub food dinner and several HILARIOUSLY BAD rounds of pool. On our way we found out what the small school children of Toronto think of our President:

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At the pool hall, there were general shenanigans, but on George and Martha’s insistence, I was introduced to poutine. Poutine, which originated in Quebec in the 1950’s, is one of the best known Canada-specific foods. It consists of french fries covered in cheese curds (or shredded cheese in our case) and then topped with a brown gravy. I know, it sounds awful, right? Honestly though, it was actually pretty decent. I kept eating it after the first bite, at least!

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We talked a lot about the trip while we played and about life post-homecoming. I WON A ROUND OF POOL. Did you hear me?! I did! George decided that his shoes were messing with his pool mojo and remedied that:

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All in all, it was a fantastic night! These are two of the most intelligent, engaging, hilarious people on the planet and the rest of Canada is lucky to have them. I feel like my life would be well spent, traveling around and visiting all of the people who I know, and doing silly things like playing barefoot pool.

George walked us to the hostel and told us that he hated us so much that he could not possible stomach seeing us again the next day… or it may have been that he had other plans, but I think they are both about the same.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sunday, we decided to grab coffee shop breakfast on our way to Queen West to do a bit of  shopping. Once we got down to business, I fully committed to being white and never shaving my underarm hair when I bought a pair of Birkenstocks. We spent the day shopping in this general area, which for my Louisville natives: is similar to the Highlands or Frankfort Ave areas… but bigger and with cooler hipsters.

Due to the flourishing indie culture of this area, it is awash with great and unique art. There are lovely musicians around, the shops are passions of their owners put into action and there is an incredible street art culture. You don’t see so many of those stupid, write-my-name-on-this-real-quick-just-so-it-has-my-name-on-it type tags… but rather, full-blown, time-consuming pieces… They are EVERYWHERE. Most of my readers are also my friends on Facebook, so you’ve seen (or have the capability of seeing) my Canada photo album. If you chose to flip through it, you’ll see dozens of pictures of this graffiti and I barely even scratched the surface. I really loved a couple of pieces that were done of women rather than words:

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This girl reminds me of Maroon 5's first album, SongsAbout Jane

This girl reminds me of Maroon 5’s first album, SongsAbout Jane

We headed back to the hostel so that I could grab a shower… we were going to be fairly busy for the rest of the night and my flight was leaving early, so I just wanted it taken care of. When I came back to our dorm, all of my stuff had been moved off of the bed and the linens replaced. I was a little worried at first that someone had taken my things, which I found very confusing. It turns out there had been a booking error(of mine) and I was going to be switching to a 6 bed co-ed dorm for my last night. Awesome. Except for the part where the only people in co-ed dorms are dudes. Congrats, Sara, due to your mistake, you now get to sleep in a room with 5 random men. Awesome x 2.

On our way to meet Mia!

On our way to meet Mia!

After Hogwarts sorted me into a new house (who wants to be in Hufflepuff, anyway), Martha and I left for dinner with her LOVELY cousin Mia. We went to some Indian place where we split 3 dishes and all left feeling round and roll-able. That’s how I felt. I can’t speak for those two! The food was sneaky-spicy and I distinctly remember feeling my cheeks burn while I was eating, but so YUMMY! We took the bus back downtown and the girls got off a few stops before me, but Martha was very clear on where I was to exit the bus. So I’m not totally sure how I got lost, but I did. A 5 minute walk back to the hostel took me 20. That put me right on time to attend a pub crawl with some lovely hostel mates. I spent most of the evening talking to Alia (from Brisbane) and Trevor(NYC by way of Perth).

Alia, Sheldon(our HI Toronto guide), Trevor and yours truly!

Alia, Sheldon(our HI Toronto guide), Trevor and yours truly!

 

We shared a few beers and talked well into the night. It was really the perfect cherry on top of a great long weekend. I cannot wait to return to Toronto for more time!

Mia

Pub Crawl

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