Once I FINALLY got to Toronto, I was running late, so I had to carry my bags downtown with me in order to make a lunch meeting at G Adventures with my Terraficionados friends. G Adventures is my favorite adventure tour company, one that I have traveled with several times, so I was excited to get to meet someone who works there. In fact, it was on a G tour to Turkey that I first met the 5 wonderful people I came to Toronto to visit. After a delicious lunch at Ravi Soups we headed back to “Basecamp” for a tour and to pick out some G swag. I then took a quick look around Mountain Equipment Co-op, Canada’s version of EMS or REI, and headed to my home base to relax for a bit.
On Friday night the 6 of us had big plans: An Italian dinner at Buca and after dinner revelry at SPiN Toronto, a Ping Pong bar. Dinner at Buca was delicious, but the real highlight of the night was SPiN. Apparently these ping pong bars are really popular (SPiN also has locations in NYC, Milwaukee and LA), but this is the first time I had been to one. Think dimly lit basement with ping pong tables generously spaced around a bar that serves whatever drink gets you loose enough to be good at the game. There is music, art and semi black lights abound to help add to the fun of just chillin or hardcore competing. We, as a group, did not take the actual ping pong very seriously, choosing instead to slam yellow, orange, pink and occasionally blue ping pong balls everywhere. The person whose job it was to pick the balls up hated us, but we had such a good time (and had gotten pretty good by the end)!
Saturday started off with a delicious brunch of croissant french toast from L’Espresso Bar Mercurio followed by neighborhood tours and sightseeing. We hit an amazing portion of the city including Little Portugal, Koreatown, The Financial District, The Fashion District, and my favorite, the Distillery District. The Distillery, a pedestrian neighborhood, is located right off of Toronto Harbor. It houses restaurants, cafes, lots of art studios and theater companies and public art displays. It maintains much of its original industrial charm, brick buildings and cobblestone streets included.
After a quick stop at home to change, we headed to a friend’s house for dinner, then headed down to the Harbourfront Centre for a free party/concert being DJed by a Tribe Called Red. This 3 man Native American DJ crew mixes traditional Pow Wow music with club beats resulting in some really cool tracks that you can download for free (or a donation) here.
Tired after a night of dancing, we slowly made our way to hipster hangout Swan for Sunday brunch, then mused at a long line of people waiting to screen test their dogs for a new Fido campaign: a Canadian cell phone carrier that features canines in their ads. Strolling, shopping, and stopping to eat this at French bakery Nadege, we hit a few more neighborhoods, visited the Kensington Market and the University of Toronto campus, then made our way back to the Danforth to take in the last of the Greek flavored street festival that was happening that weekend. After finally getting some Spanikopita we ended the night with a trip to dessert only restaurant Caffé Demetré, the likes of which I had never seen before. This place literally had a GIANT menu serving only cakes, ice creams, crepes and other forms of desert in all sizes and flavors. Full beyond belief, we headed inside to pack for 7am flights back to the US.
My trip back to NYC went smoothly (phew!) and I was in the office by 10am- exhausted. I had a great weekend with the Toronto/Turkey crew and can’t wait to do it again. Until then, I leave for 3 weeks in Peru this Friday!