Travel

Toronto Travel tips!

Since my books are based in Toronto (or at least mention it at some point), I pulled together some activities depending on what you like to do if you visit the city.

View from a water taxi of the Toronto skyline. CN Tower is the big spike (you can go to a viewing floor and even do a thing where you go outside and sort of hang over the edge, no thanks). Round white building is the Rogers Centre (Blue Jays play baseball here). Red bit is CBC headquarters. They’re the national broadcaster.

View from a water taxi of the Toronto skyline. CN Tower is the big spike (you can go to a viewing floor and even do a thing where you go outside and sort of hang over the edge, no thanks). Round white building is the Rogers Centre (Blue Jays play baseball here). Red bit is CBC headquarters. They’re the national broadcaster.

I’m active

Go hiking, my friend. You can stroll for kilometres/miles along Lake Ontario on the Martin Goodman/Lakeshore/Waterfront Trail, which connects to other paths including the pretty Don Valley (east) and Humber River (west), and will take you to the Scarborough Bluffs escarpment. High Park is good for an urban park stroll and you can go to the Grenadier Café for a bite to eat. Or take the ferry across to Toronto Island, where you can rent kayaks, canoes, bikes or those weird quadracycles.  

I’m arty and cultured

Graffiti Alley is ever changing and always fascinating. Plus, you get Queen Street shopping (go further west for better local boutiques). Skip the Art Gallery of Ontario and walk a bit south to see the wacky art college building that looks like a box on stilts. The Museum of Contemporary Art recently opened and it’s in a cool area of the city, near a walking path that goes along the train tracks. I’m planning a trip to the Bata Shoe museum because I haven’t gone in years. And the Aga Khan is relatively new and has gorgeous gardens as well as exhibits.

I like food

Me too! Toronto has neighbourhoods to tickle any fancy: Greek in the Danforth, Gerrard for Little India, Bloor and Christie for Koreatown and of course, various spots for hipsters. Like almost every North American city at this moment, there are more craft breweries than I can count. I like Burdock (has live music as well) and Henderson, both in the west end. Kensington Brewing is great for the location, right in the Market. There’s a comic book store, organic everything, cheese and wine bars. Kensington Market borders Chinatown on Spadina Avenue. 

One of the many little restaurants/bars in Kensington Market. I used to go here all the time for avocado and brie sandwiches. The scene in Masked Possession, where Caro and Estelle drink mimosas, is inspired by this place. It’s surrounded by organic grocers and vintage shops. Go east and you hit Chinatown. Go south and you get good shopping on Queen Street.

One of the many little restaurants/bars in Kensington Market. I used to go here all the time for avocado and brie sandwiches. The scene in Masked Possession, where Caro and Estelle drink mimosas, is inspired by this place. It’s surrounded by organic grocers and vintage shops. Go east and you hit Chinatown. Go south and you get good shopping on Queen Street.

Greek highs and weirds

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter (and if you don't, you should!), you might have noticed that my posts were more exotic than usual for May. It was vacation time! Two weeks in Athens, Mykonos and Santorini. It was incredible and here are some of my best and oddest experiences.

 

Highlights

  1. Meeting Anna, the Dog Lady of Oia. There are lots of strays in Greece and Anna cares for the animals in Oia, Santorini. She has 37 cats and feeds them all as well as the stray dogs (I think she said there were six).
  2. The views of and from Santorini, which were no-hyperbole breathtaking.
  3. The blue-and-white of Mykonos.

Weirdlights

  1. Petros the Pelican, who walks around Mykonos town like a celebrity, followed by tourist paparazzi. He’s pink, which is apparently very unusual for pelicans.
  2. Two old men fistfighting in the National Gardens in Athens. They fought for a bit, then one man shrugged, grabbed his dog’s leash, and left. The other sat down on a bench and drank his coffee.
  3. Our fancy Mykonos hotel bathroom that was outfitted with one-way mirrors and cage mesh.

Looking to plan a trip? Here are my tips – they might work for you. Live in Greece or travelled there? Add your thoughts!

  1. Your GPS may or may not work for you. I personally believe Greece is in a magnetic dual-reality because half the time Google maps pointed me the wrong way.
  2. Learn the Greek alphabet. At least be familiar with it to help with reading street names and other signs.
  3. Try to buy souvenirs in Athens and not on the islands to save some money.
  4. Go to the Acropolis and other sites early in the day to avoid crowds and sun. Also, read up ahead of time or hire a guide. The information signs at the sites are terse at best.
  5. Use the local buses to get around Santorini. They’re easy, fairly frequent and cheap.
  6. Buy local—I found three incredible local designers. Akiramushi (Athens), HEEL Athens Lab (Mykonos) and Theta8 (Santorini).
  7. Admire the cats walking around like they own the place.
  8. Make sure you leave time to soak in the atmosphere by drinking lots of iced coffee, wine and Alfa beer in cafes.
  9. Go to Atlantis bookstore in Oia, Santorini to stock up on books to read in the cafes.
  10. Eat the pizza at Skiza in Oia, Santorini and savour the cheesy goodness while admiring the view of the Aegean and the caldera.
  11. Save room for dessert. Baklava, gelato, vinsanto…you get the idea.