I am writing this post still with sleep in my eyes. You know that feeling you get when you are so tired that you feel like you are hungover despite not drinking anything the night before? Toronto was amazing, airlines at the moment, however, are not. Our flight was supposed to get in at 6 pm last night and it got in sometime around 10:45. By the time we got home, it was after midnight. We spent our last day in Toronto at the airport because nothing when it comes to flying is easy these days. But I don’t want to get into all that because if I had to slog through it all over again to enjoy the weekend Frank and I just had, I would. Yet, that doesn’t mean I’m not exhausted and my body doesn’t seem to ache just about everywhere from standing around waiting at the airport or pushing my body this weekend to walk more than it usually does. Again, all worth it, but bear with me as I rally.
I LOVE Toronto
So. Toronto quickly became one of my favorite cities in no time. Many people compare it to New York City but, I don’t know. It didn’t remind me of New York City at all, and I mean this as a compliment. What I loved about Toronto is everything I hate about New York. New York is intense, cramped, and let’s face it, we’re kind of sloppy. Our buildings are tall and crowded together and it’s hard to see much sky or find a lot of green space. You can barely catch your breath before some impatient person is either honking or yelling at you to get out of the way. New York is rapid, crowded, and anxiety-producing because it never stops. We’re not mean and we don’t deserve the labels we’ve been given as being rude or unfriendly, but we are blunt and disinterested in those around us because we just don’t have the time. By comparison, Toronto feels more like a place you can exhale, actually become aware of your surroundings, and take a beat while still being in a cosmopolitan, active, and vibrant place. People see you in Toronto and you see them, and you see Toronto because you actually have enough physical and mental breathing room to see it. If I were to draw a comparison, I’d say Toronto felt more like Seattle or Portland Oregon, two other favorite cities of mine.
Culturally, however, I can see why Toronto and New York often get compared. It seemed to be an inclusive and progressive city with a large mix of cultures, and people who have emigrated over the years and there were a lot of preparations going on for their gay pride weekend. Toronto also seems to be one of the friendliest and, what appeared to be, one of the happiest places I’ve been to. Even the crosswalk light guy seemed to have a jolly spring in his step. And speaking of the crosswalks. Talk about being different from New York, never have I seen a bunch of people actually walk to a corner of a street and stand there patiently until the light turned green to cross a street…even when there were no cars! What the what? This would never fly in New York. We jaywalk right in front of cops despite the fact that we could technically get ticketed. Here, the blinking red light before it turns solid means, “run, there is still time to make it across!” and every New Yorker has stared down a cab driver at an intersection to make him stop at least half a dozen times.
In terms of friendliness, all I can say is, wow, thank you to the Canadians of Toronto, you really know how to make tourists feel welcome. There is the cordial smile when you pass someone, the kindness when someone holds a door, and then there is Canadian friendliness. Like when I lost my place on the map on my phone and a woman stopped her car and called out the window, “you look lost, can I help?” I was shocked. As I said, don’t believe what people say about New Yorkers being horrible jerks who aren’t helpful with tourists. I’ve assisted and given unsolicited help to tourists trying to figure out a map on a subway and I’ve even gone so far as to walk a lost tourist a bit to their destination if it was on my way, but would I stop my car and yell out my window if someone looked lost? Probably not. But I don’t want what I am saying about the friendliness of Canadians to paint the people I met in Toronto as these happy-go-lucky Pollyannas, because that’s not what they are. Theirs is a friendliness that penetrates and reminds you that being friendly to each other is just how we should be as humans.
Kicking Off Our Trip at an Ungodly Hour
Our alarm clock went off at 2:30 am and we were at the airport at 4 am. These are the moments where you say, “yup, membership does have its privileges,” and you whip out your Amex card and you go sit your butt in the Delta Sky Club and take advantage of the soft chairs and quiet space before you leave because, holy hell, it was an early start, but we wanted a full day in Toronto. Last week I shared my packing capsule, so you could see what I was planning on packing and I pretty much wore it all but made a game-day decision to leave the blazer at home and wore the linen cardigan instead. Otherwise, all the other pieces I wore to fly went as planned.
The jeans were not the original pair I planned but an even better pair I now want a million pairs of, J.Crew’s Curvy Vintage Slim Straight Jeans in Surf Wash. These jeans are everything. They fit amazingly well. They don’t bag out, they have a great higher rise for curvy figures, so they offer a great hip curve shape, and they are lightweight but not thin. They are my new favorite jeans. My orange Longchamp bag I purchased resale was perfection the entire trip. I have no idea why they don’t make this bag any longer, and Frank’s Travelpro suitcase was amazing. I can’t wait until my current suitcase dies so I can get myself one. We used our Eagle Creek Packing Folders and we both fit everything we packed inside our folders. They’re magic.
First Day of Sightseeing
After we checked into the amazing Omni King Edward, aka The King Eddie as the locals call it, and also where I claimed I wanted to live as an adult Eloise, we set out for our first day. I was warned to the point that it became annoying by readers and Facebook Group members that I was going to be hot in what I was packing. I kept checking the forecast, I threw another pair of lightweight pants in my suitcase and started to wonder if people thought I was flying in from Siberia. Have you been to New York in the summer? If you have then you understand the level of the swamp we live in here. I understood there was a heat wave going on in Toronto and I wasn’t entirely sure what everyone was expecting me to do exactly. How much lighter weight was I supposed to dress than linen and cotton? So I packed what I packed and I guess the heatwave broke because Friday wound up being one of the most perfect temperature days we could have asked for; barely any humidity, a lovely breeze, mid-70s. I didn’t need nor did I expect to need my cardigan, but I had it in my bag, which I had planned to do in the first place. I began to wonder about the mental capacities of my readers if this was their idea of a heat wave. I jest. They all told me I came just in time. A day sooner and we would have roasted.
We used this as a walking day and did the touristy things like going to the Distillery District, where we got milkshakes as a mid-day pick-me-up after a big breakfast, then on to St. Lawrence Market which is such a fun place, and walked to the storefront of Kim’s Convenience from the Netflix show. Right about then, our 2:30 am wake-up time started to hit us and we made our way back to The King Eddie to rest and get ready for dinner.
I dressed exactly as I had planned, wearing my Saint James Breton, my very reliable linen cardigan, white J.Crew jeans, grey Birkenstocks, and teal crossbody. My only regret was not tucking in the Breton. I think it would have looked better. My hair was in serious need of a wash but I couldn’t be bothered.
Dinner on the patio at Marked was a perfect choice. We could people watch and the weather was perfect. The staff was lovely and the food was delicious. It was just one of those easy evenings where you sit back, relax, eat good food and have some drinks. I did learn one very important thing: nobody can cook a steak like a Canadian, period, end of story.
We walked home and like to think we walked off all the calories we ate. This is what we choose to believe.
The night before I told Frank that I changed my mind and I didn’t want to go to the shoe museum any longer. My decision was for a few reasons. The first was sheer exhaustion, which we hadn’t figured in. The shoe museum wasn’t local, the Hockey Hall of Fame was literally around the corner from our hotel. The idea of getting across town had begun to lose its appeal. My next reason, I wanted to spend the day with him. Call me a weird wife, but I actually went away with my husband to spend time with him. When we’re home, we spend about two hours an evening seeing each other and only get one weekend day together and, what can I say? I actually dig the guy. My third reason was I wanted to see what made him so interested in hockey, and lastly, I wanted to be his photographer. I knew he would go, look around, and have nothing documented. What was an hour or so out of my day to give him that on his birthday? So it was settled. Frank tried to dissuade me, but my mind was made up.
And it was a good thing because we woke up the next day and our bodies literally hurt. When did we get…old? Like, when did we get to the point that it became hard to get going the day after pushing ourselves on only a few hours of sleep? We, well I, really, had this idea we were going to be these go, go, go people, but I guess it’s hard to account for what your body just doesn’t want to do. This is not to say we weren’t up and at ‘em at a normal people’s time to start our day, we were just surprised by how much harder it was. But Frank did turn 52 that day after all. The first thing out of Frank’s mouth that morning was, “I’m mad at the CN Tower.”
So here is where we stood on the CN tower. It felt like an obligation. We almost didn’t bother getting tickets. Yes, we realize this makes us sound like enormous arrogant a-holes who are too spoiled to be burdened with such a spectacular piece of architecture, we get it, but from where we stand, both of us can’t remember when we last went to the Empire State Building and we’ve certainly never been to the Freedom Tower. Heck, I’ve never even been to the Statue of Liberty and I can see it if I walk a few blocks from my apartment. But we felt like if we came home and didn’t go it would be weird, so we went up, came down, checked a box, and were done. Were the views beautiful? Yes. Is the tower gorgeous? Yes. Is it a marvel? Yes. Okay, let’s move on.
We did this after the Hockey Hall of Fame which, much to my surprise I found way more fun than the CN Tower. Not only was it fun to watch another person enjoy something, but what I didn’t expect was to be fascinated by the historic sweater jerseys that were knitted. They were beautiful and interesting and colorful. Even the goalie masks, which almost looked tribal, and started out dangerously ineffective, intrigued me. Why the NHL hasn’t resurrected and released some of these gorgeous vintage hockey sweaters for sale is beyond me. They’d make a fortune turning them into beautiful knits for fans.
We then just found ourselves exploring and finding things for the rest of the day, preferring that over planned stops. We did laugh when the morning forecast for Toronto called the weather that day a heat advisory. Is this the part where I can laugh at what is considered hot for Toronto? Okay, it was a little warmer, but some shade fixed that just fine. If Saturday was considered hot, don’t come to New York, you won’t survive. We had a plan to make it to Kensington market but my Eileen Fisher sneaker sandals that I had such high hopes for as the perfect all-day walking shoe disappointed me greatly, and as much as we wanted more and more, our brains started to tell us that they were reaching maximum capacity, sort of like when you go to a museum and you just can’t take in any more information. We eventually made our way back to the hotel to get ready for our dinner reservations. My cheap but favorite Amazon pants worked perfectly, as did my J.Crew tees I buy by like the baker’s dozen and that Longchamp bag continued to be the MVP of the trip.
Dinner at Sotto Sotto
Dinner at Sotto Sotto was the part we were really looking forward to. We got a lot of recommendations for this restaurant and it was Frank’s choice for his birthday dinner. We went into it with the plan to indulge and this was the place to do it. Sadly, I was stuck on the phone with Delta right before we had to leave, so I rushed out of the hotel barely able to pull myself together, and thankfully, my look was easy to throw on. And let me tell you something, my Lizza Nuova sandals from M.Gemi came through. After my feet throbbing from my Eileen Fisher sandals not being good for all-day walking, you would think putting my feet in platform-heeled sandals would be uncomfortable. Quite the opposite. They were dreamy. All my clients were right, these sandals are amazing. My resale Monrow t-shirt dress was spectacularly perfect for our dinner in terms of comfort and ease and my travel scarf doubled beautifully as a wrap which was needed in the restaurant.
Speaking of amazing, the food, the service, and the ambiance, at Sotto Sotto was incredible. For some reason, I was expecting high falutin staff. The complete opposite wound up being the case. If you are ever in Toronto and want an amazing meal, make reservations…well in advance.
We came home from Sotto Sotto and I had to get back on the phone with Delta for another two hours and was left with unsure feelings about getting our boarding passes the next day. The reason my makeup was so minimal in the photos from our dinner at Sotto Sotto was that Delta kept me waiting so long I didn’t really have time to really futz with getting ready. I ran out the door best I could. Delta’s issues coupled with existing issues at Pearson airport, coupled with airline stress in general, after breakfast the day of our departure, we got out of Toronto instead of taking some time in the morning. I pulled out my white jeans to wear as planned, looked at them, and just said, “Nope, not today,” and grabbed my other jeans. I don’t even know what I was thinking. But the rest of the look, minus the navy blazer, which I left home, stayed intact. We were at the airport by 11 am for a 4 pm flight which kept getting pushed back until we finally boarded at 8:45. This sucked and if you look at that photo of me in the mirror, that was right before we boarded and I looked like someone had run me through a farming combine.
Yet it did give me an opportunity to try some local foods: a Coffee Crisp, I get it, it’s good. More importantly, why can’t we get All Dressed Ruffles in America, Why? Why, dammit, why?!?!?!?! And why did Ketchup flavored Lays Potato Chips have to become so addicting after I got used to the strange tangy flavor? I have one bag of each left that I carried home. If I eat them, they will be gone forever, but eating them will give me a good reason to take a trip back to Canada. Hmm, tempting.
How did the Travel Capsule Hold Up?
Comparing what I planned to what I wore, I’d say pretty well. Wardrobe capsules are frameworks you use as guides and shouldn’t be set in stone because you can’t know what the future will hold. However, what travel capsules most definitely can do is make packing a lot easier. The night before we left, I was so busy that I wasn’t putting clothing into my suitcase until 9:30 at night and the clothes part was the easiest step of the whole thing. I just threw in what I took the time to plan.
Canada, We’re Coming Back
We visited a tiny part of Toronto and have so much of that city still to see and, of course, there is still so much of Canada we want to visit. Frank and I are planning on applying for Nexus cards for easier entry into Canada and would like to get there at least once a year at the minimum. Airline agita aside, getting to Toronto is an hour flight for us, yet it’s the beauty, the warmth, the friendliness, and the feeling you get when you are there that is the real draw. Thank you, Toronto for giving us the perfect weekend. We’ll be back soon.