Weekend in Canada

Neither Jenn nor I had been to Toronto before that weekend we went up for the Pet Shop Boys / New Order Unity Tour, and we had such a nice time that I thought I’d separate this bit of travel writing from the memory-entangled concert experience.

Earlier this year, we visited the American side of Niagara Falls while we were in Buffalo for a dragon boat race. (Jenn’s a paddler. I’m team support.) Once we crossed into Canada, I was unprepared for the sheer sprawl of the Golden Horseshoe – I knew the names of these places like Mississauga and Hamilton for work-related reasons, but realizing they’re each huge on their own while also being part of Greater Toronto just kind of floored me.

Anyway, having never been there, we booked a hotel that was beyond Toronto’s center based on price and availability – there was a lot going on in town that weekend, it turns out – so when we reached North York around dinnertime and realized we’d be staying in one of the city’s largest and most well-established Asian population centers, we were excited. Findiing good food nearby would not be a problem. (Option paralysis, on the other hand…)

We found a dinner spot about a kilometer from our hotel, set out on foot…and stopped maybe a third of the way there because we found a place offering hand-pulled noodles. Then we learned of a dessert spot a couple blocks up, set out…and stopped two minutes later at the Upper East Food Club, a place with several little eateries all sharing the same indoor & outdoor seating spaces. (The last picture? Not from Friday night’s dessert. It’s Jenn’s bao from the next day’s lunch.)

Saturday morning I explored the area a bit more. First discovery: Our hotel was attached to a small shopping gallery with an escalator directly to the subway station below. Perfect. Second discovery: Our hotel was also attached to a magnificent branch of the public library.

I also found a few nifty parks close by, as well as a dessert place called the Cheese Garden (Why hel-LO there!) where I got a double fromage cheesecake sundae. It was a small piece of their double fromage cheesecake – a thin layer of cheese spongecake, a layer of regular baked cheesecake, and a layer of frozen mascarpone cream cheese on top – served with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. I ate this while waiting for Upper East Food Club to open so I could get lunch for Jenn.

The public transportation was an excellent alternative to driving into the city center and trying to park anywhere near the concert venue: In addition to our show, Swedish rock band Ghost was playing the neighboring concert hall; the Toronto Blue Jays were in town; and the Toronto International Film Festival was going on. This all made for some fun people-watching on the late-night trains.

Sunday we checked out after breakfast and drove to Niagara Falls, where we spent a few hours on the Canada side with friends from Ohio who’d never been there. Here are some views from our Toronto hotel and the Canadian side of the falls.

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