VIA Canada 150 Trip Part 2: Toronto, ON

On my third day after departing with the Canadian train from Edmonton, I finally made my arrival in Toronto. It was the second time I travelled to this city, with the first one was when I made a short vacation to Niagara Falls and the newest Uniqlo store in Canada with a couple of my friends from UofA’s International House.

I always knew I wasn’t going to be a fan of Toronto, but nevertheless, this second visit actually turned out much better than the first one. This time, I stayed at a friend’s place whom I never met in real life but has been texting with for the past year because we started our school in Canada at the same period, hence together we had to figure out a couple things before moving in.

Ami was a law student at the University of Toronto, and she let me stay at her place for that night. We’ve been following each other’s Instagram so we kind of had some ideas about each other’s life and so on, but that day we finally got to figure out about one another for real, which I was glad about because she’s just an extremely friendly and outgoing person who could talk and share about anything!

And she actually lived in a part of Toronto that would soon become my favorite neighborhood ever: Kensington Market. It was unlike any other parts of Toronto that I had visited before. Kensington Market, to me, was like New York City’s Williamsburg but in a more rebel way, yet still chic in every possible view. It has a bunch of local goods stores–which is basically like the indoor version of my projected heaven on Earth–and even more of fancy yet funky coffee shops which I would definitely try one by one hadn’t I been so broke.

And the houses! Everything was just so unique and fascinating, and I wasn’t only talking about the designs but also the vibes. You could judge by yourself by looking at these pictures I took there. Aren’t they gorgeous? And sure enough I fell in love with this market. This is very much like Canadian version of NYC’s Williamsburg indeed, meaning that the people are slightly nicer and in some ways it’s also cleaner.

And actually a week after that second visit, I had another stopover in Toronto, so this post would basically summarize both of the trips. On that third visit however, I didn’t quite enjoy my visit. The first factor might be about the weather which was very gloomy and cloudy, but also because I figured out that Toronto is apparently the dirtiest city in Canada I’ve ever been to!

There was literally lots of rubbish in the pedestrian walk in Queen Street West, which was supposed to be just another hipsteresque neighborhood of local brand stores and cafes just like Kensington Market. And I have to admit that the transit system was quite confusing. You had to buy a token using a vending machine, then if you’re taking the subway you had to walk to the gate to put your token in a special glass case, and there’s a man waiting whom you’re going to suspect to hand you the transfer ticket but did not. Because, you had to walk another meters to reach another machine with small words saying “Transfer pass” or whatsoever where you had to push the button to get your pass. And it’s very easy to miss hadn’t the man told me what to do next.

So, I was correct from the beginning that I was never going to be a fan of Toronto. And to be honest, their touristy places aren’t the kinds that got me excited as well. I went to Casa Loma which I thought to be as fascinating as cathedrals in Montreal but was not at all. And CN Tower made me line up for an hour that wasn’t even really worthy, because for God’s sake the windows were actually dirty so I couldn’t even take pictures of clear views of the city. Chicago’s Skydeck and 360 Chicago or NYC’s Empire State Building were definitely much better, and basically offered better views of a city that’s close to a water body. And I wasn’t really up for any indoor touristy spots where I knew for sure I had to fight with hundreds of other visitors.

My conclusion about Toronto: if you’re not a huge fan of metropolitan sort of city just like myself, it might not be very worth it to pay the city a visit–unless, again, just like me, you have to have a stopover there anyway before your train departs the next day. I was actually quite surprised knowing that this city is named one of the most liveable cities in the world, because frankly, Edmonton is still even prettier! Hehe.

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