Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Time I Traveled Out Of The Country Solo

So, Toronto.

Remember my last post where I vented about traveling out of the USA with an ex that brings out the worst in me? Well, that problem miraculously solved itself. Hence, #solotravelclub.

But I love Canada. It’s true that they're our “cousins.” With the double-decker tour buses and massive skyscrapers, Toronto itself is like the younger sister of Manhattan. The architecture of Toronto was a beauty of it’s own. From the asymmetrical Royal Ontario Museum exterior sculpture, to the Bata Shoe Museum that is shaped to look like an open shoe box, and even the pencil box shaped OCAD, everything was eye catching. The street art and murals were just as amazing.

Day one featured getting lost in the subway system and having a meltdown on the way to the Toronto Blue Jays game. The good news is a nice old man talked me down from the ledge and showed me how the TTC worked. The bad news is by the time I made it to the stadium, the game already started, the tickets were sold out and I was sweating buckets in the apparent “unseasonably” hot weather. After kicking it at the bar for the rest of the game, I literally stumbled upon the CN Tower. Idk how this happens when you’re right in front of it, but being a solid 5’4 doesn’t inspire you to look above your height very often. Plus, it’s very unassuming until you see stereotypical tourists taking selfies. I regret not going to the top, but it was still fire.

Bloor Street was poppin. Similar to Rodeo Drive, it’s supposed to be the best place to celebrity watch, but after realizing just how long the strip stretched, I couldn’t bear to see anything but my bed. Speaking of, I stayed in an AirBnB for the first time too. It was..interesting. It was located in The Annex, which was the perfect neighborhood of University of Toronto students living in beautiful Victorian style houses. My AirBnB host was great, the studio was great, and I would recommend the place all day long, but I realize that I’m more of the hotel type.

Queen Street is my absolute favorite. This is where the “real” lives. You have the quintessential street performers, urban clothing boutiques, and everything else you could want in a city. It’s also where I made Toronto a permanent part of me, but more of that later…

Chinatown was the typical overwhelming, shady, creepy neighborhood that seemed to never end.
At one point I ended up in what was supposed to be the LGBTQ neighborhood to go to a day concert, but really looked like the wrong side of downtown. I was probably a few blocks over from my destination, but trust that I did not stick around to confirm.

Kensington Market was so beautiful. The Market is more of a narrow street that housed vintage clothing stores and the like in beautiful multicolored row houses. I was IN LOVE. There was even a cocktail emporium that sold everything you would need and want for a bar.

St. Lawrence Market, an indoor farmer’s market, was so cool. It’s all the rave to Torontonians, including the St. Urbain Bagel shop, a carb-lovers dream.

Then, Niagara Falls. I spent a day there and it was hands down the best part of the trip. The day started with this gorge that looked right out of a Nat Geo magazine.

The actual falls are breathtaking. It’s awe-inspiring to see it on TV, but to experience it in person was overwhelming. We took a boat ride into the falls and got completely soaked, but it was so worth it.

The downside of this beauty was that once you got off the boat, you stepped right into tourist town. I mean, Ripley’s Museum, Hershey World, a Ferris Wheel, etc. It was exhausting and just killed the vibe of the Falls.

We then visited Niagara on the Lake, a cute St. Augustine type of town with an ice cream shop on every corner. They even had a secluded lake that sealed the town as a must-see.

We ended the day by tasting Niagara's signature ice wines at the Niagara College Canada Winery. Ice wine is the country’s speciality because they have the perfect climate to allow their grapes to freeze, which concentrates the sugars and makes the wine hella sweet.

Besides getting propositioned by an old English man that apparently was creeping on me since the day started, the day was nearly perfect.

One of Toronto’s best kept secrets are the Islands, that are so exclusive they have their own school, clubs and a multi-decade wait list to even live on the islands. Located in Lake Ontario, the islands even have their own amusement park, called Centreville. Riding the ferry through the islands was peaceful and then we were blessed with this beautiful view.

The food in Toronto wasn’t unlike anything in the US. They did have a weird habit of having a Tim Hortons-similar to Dunkin Donuts-on every corner, which is saying something compared to the over saturation of Starbucks in the US. I guess I was subconsciously boycotting them up until my last day, only to be underwhelmed… Apparently, “poutine” is the unofficial dish of Toronto, so I did the tourist thing and tried it. Y’all. It was just smothered fries. Still good, though.

Finally, I’ve been itching to do something unconventionally Khashilah for a while. Call me a rebel without a cause, but I needed to add another dimension to myself. I finally chose what it would be, and just knew there wouldn’t be a better place than a foreign country to make it happen.

Till Next Time,


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