Thursday, 15 August 2013

Toronto & Waterloo: 6 Days

It has been exactly one month since I've blogged here! I guess I just needed a small break after blogging for 60 days straight but I'm back now and aiming to post regularly. 

About a week after I returned from Taiwan, I went to Toronto July 19th to 24th for a conference. I took a red eye flight which was a bad idea since I am the type of person who can't fall asleep on planes (not even long haul flights), so I was extremely tired when I arrived in Toronto.

Beautiful view from flight. Photo credit: Best U.

Let's Go!

Fortunately the transport system from Toronto Pearson International Airport to downtown was inexpensive and convenient. It only cost CAD$3 to take a bus then the subway to the city.

Queen's Park subway station. Photo credit: Best U.
Right after we dropped off our luggage, I took a much needed hour nap and then I was energized to explore the city before the conference began in the evening! We went to eat brunch at Over Easy which was delicious then to St. Lawrence Market where I wished I didn't have such a large breakfast at Over Easy so that I could eat more at the market. The weather was absolutely gorgeous as you can see in my unedited photo below.

St. Lawrence Market
I really enjoyed how there is a mix of well preserved old buildings in between modern buildings all around Toronto. We stopped for gelato at The Distillery and walked through small boutiques in the area.

The Distillery
I think I enjoyed the walk along Lake Shore Blvd most because I love the water and it was breezier there on the hot summer day. It is also a great place to see the famous CN Tower, although with its height you can pretty much see it from anywhere in the city.

Lake Shore Blvd
The Union Station was quite pretty but there was a large portion boarded up for renovation. That is the trouble with travelling in the summer: construction! When I was in Quebec last year, half the parliament building was undergoing renovations which certainly didn't make for nice photos.

Union Station

Day 1 to 3

Friday evening to Sunday evening was spent at the conference where I met many new people, especially the ones I will be working virtually with over the next half a year! I love Canada but sometimes I do think that our country is too wide. My teammates are from all over the country and I don't know when will be the next time I get to see them in person due to distance.

Cool teammates :)

Day 4

After the conference ended I decided to stay behind for three more days. Monday afternoon I took the Greyhound to Waterloo to visit high school friends. I don't remember when was the last time I took a Greyhound but I'm glad to say that my ride went smoothly.

There wasn't much to do around the city so they just took me to the downtown area to eat then walk around the city hall and to the University of Waterloo. I visited more than a handful of university campuses this summer and it really changed what I used to imagine universities to be like.

Waterloo City Hall
On University of Waterloo campus

Day 5

In the morning I took the Greyhound back to Toronto for another day of city touring. We went to Centre Island which required a short ferry ride to get to. As a tourist, the ferry ride is worth taking because it offers a great view of the city.

Centre Island Ferry
There were lots of activities suitable for younger children on the island including small amusement park rides, large park areas, paddle boats, beaches and a petting zoo. I heard there's also a nude beach which isn't necessarily child friendly.

This pig at the zoo area is definitely the largest pig I've ever seen. It is probably the size of a small pony!

Pig at Centre Island
Back in the city we lined up for 15 minutes at the Magnum pop up shop for the famous luxury ice cream bars. I'm glad that I came to Toronto when they had the store open because it was really delicious! Of course, I got the macaron topping because I love macarons.

Magnum
After this photo a small story happened to my ice cream bar (my bar is the one on the bottom). The ice cream bar is dipped in chocolate so naturally the chocolate would stick to the cardboard box holding the bar. My macaron piece was sitting delicately on top of my bar and I used a little too much force to peal the bar off the box to eat, resulting in my macaron piece catapulting across the table onto the floor before I even had a bite! That was a little sad but oh well, the rest of the bar still tasted good :)

Magnum bars
In the evening, we went to Korea Town on Bloor Street for dinner then to a cafe called Snakes and Lattes to play board games. For $5 we could play the shelves and shelves of board games all night, pretty good deal.

Day 6

My last day in Toronto, I visited the downtown University of Toronto campus. It is so integrated into downtown that sometimes it is confusing which part is downtown and which part is the university. Regardless, it is a beautiful campus.

U of T
U of T Library
By early evening I was back at the airport for my flight home. This trip was short but sweet. In years to come I may not remember the names of the landmarks I went to but I certainly will remember how I felt while here: happy :)

Take care,
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