Adventures · Lessons

My First Year in Toronto

As you’re reading this my journey in Toronto is coming to an end (at least for a few months) and I’m probably on my flight back to Thunder Bay or already here. Leaving the city is bittersweet because I know that there’s an adventure to be had in Thunder Bay and I’m so excited to take it head on. The bitter part is that I truly love Toronto. I’ve made amazing friends here. I’ve experienced things I wouldn’t be able to do back home. Most importantly I actually didn’t mind being in school (even though I complained every single day…). There was something new in every corner of the city, from my first flight in to my flight out. Everything I did in between was something that put me out of my comfort zone.

I was fortunate enough to have amazing people accompanying me on every adventure. From day one to my last I did things I wouldn’t have been able to do if I didn’t move here for school. In honour of my list of adventures for the summer, I would like to share with you a few “must do” things in Toronto and the wonderful experiences I had.

  1. Wonderland! Sure it’s in Vaughan and not Toronto, but it’s close enough that if you don’t at least go once in your life then you’re doing something wrong. Also going on rides that scare you allows you to move out of your comfort zone and I’m an advocate for always living life on the edge.
  1. Nuit Blanche. I don’t know why but this will forever be one of my favourite nights. It’s a sunset to sunrise art exhibition throughout Toronto. My friends and I thought it was a cool idea to go and explore. It was cool but we saw next to nothing, art wise, and the things we did see, we were confused about (there were glowing orbs and dancing birds at one point). We stayed out looking for bagels most of the night and then when we finally gave up and decided on pizza we headed home. We walked for about 2 extra hours through Yonge and Eglinton to Bayview and Lawerence (we let an Italian be our tour guide). We finally made it home at 4 AM. Still wouldn’t trade it for anything.
  1. Ripley’s Aquarium! I love water, any animal that lives in water, the ocean, Poseidon and Ripley’s brings out your inner child! My favourite part of the aquarium was definitely the jellyfish! The neon lights, how they glowed – it was beautiful!
  1. My absolute favourite one… THE CHRISTMAS MARKET! I felt like was at the North Pole, with Santa and his Elves. I was absolutely in love! No matter if you love or hate Christmas, you will love the market. The lights, the trees, the knickknacks that you find. It’s all so beautiful and worth going at least once while you’re in Toronto.
  1. I didn’t do this one because I don’t know how to do it but… Skating at Nathan Phillips Square. No matter the season seeing the TORONTO sign is something everyone does. I liked going just to people watch during the fall. There’s just something about skating outdoors, at a crowded rink I think is hella cute and everyone should do it.
  1. Any and every coffee shop. If you live in Toronto and don’t have a coffee addiction then you’re not doing it right. There’s a new coffee shop at ever corner and a Starbucks in every direction. I personally like the non-franchise coffee shops because baristas talk to you, they aren’t as busy and they have something unique to them. There’s this one shop, near King and Jarvis, I promised a barista coffee beans from Kenya… gotta keep that promise I guess.
  1. Trying random restaurants. I loved going downtown without a plan, roaming and coming across random restaurants. It was so much fun and allowed me to try different foods, but also more authentic foods.
  1. Toronto Light Fest! This was cool because it was free and almost two months long. It’s similar to Nuit Blanche because it is an art exhibition, but strictly lights. Most exhibits were interactive and I thought that was cool because you add yourself to the art. I highly recommend!
  1. One thing that I personally got to experience was going to WeDay in Toronto. It was my fourth WeDay but my first in Toronto. It’s a day of inspiration and I got to share the day with my best friend of 14 years. If you ever get the chance to go to at least one, I suggest going.
  1. Finally, taking the subway. I don’t care how stupid this sounds but the subway is so cool in my opinion. It so easy to get around but it’s mostly because it completes my “Living in Toronto” experience.

I know that most of these are typical tourist things to do when you’re in Toronto but they are tourist attractions for a reason! They are fun and create memories. The way I see it is that if you didn’t have fun or remember it for more than just a picture, it wasn’t worth it.

As a little bonus to this list, I’ve decided to make it my tradition to get gelato from Touti Gelati on Queens Quay W every time I enter the city for a new school year and every time I finish because that’s exactly what I did this year and it’s so good there! If you go some of my favourites are: Coconut, Tiramisu, London Fog, Lemon and Basil, and the always timeless Chocolate.

I’m so very thankful for every experience I had this year and even more thankful to have shared them with such amazing people and friends. Toronto, these 7.5 months have been so memorable and I’m looking forward to another amazing year in the city. As for right now, I’m living in the moment and working on my list. First up, I’m thinking Rabbit Mountain.

Sincerely,

VP

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