6.1.17

48 Hours in Toronto

 

One of the benefits of living in Chicago is that a majority of places are a short flight away. New York City is only an hour and a half, Miami is a little under three, Denver is two hours away and you can even leave the country on a one hour flight (that’s shorter than my commute to work!). Compared to the distances in Europe for example, these flights seem long but being able to travel such distances across North America in little time is convenient. This was why when we were choosing a destination for our anniversary, R and I chose Toronto, Canada. As international as we could get for a weekend getaway. Instead of buying each other gifts this year we decided to put the money towards a trip. Most tropical locations have their rainy season this time of the year and the thought of being stuck on a rainy island our whole trip didn’t sound appealing. Toronto won and ended up being an exceptionally fun city to explore – for 48 hours.


Left: Taking the tram to our culinary tour; Right: Exploringcauliflowertheyof Leslieville/Riverside
We landed Friday evening and directly caught a town car to the hotel. It was our anniversary trip so why not splurge the extra ten dollars on a luxurious ride. We drove along the lakefront to The Delta Hotel, located in the center of Toronto, just a street away from the CN Tower, Ripley's Aquarium of Canada and Lake Ontario. A friendly concierge greeted us and after I mentioned we were celebrating our anniversary he happily upgraded us to a room with a spectacular view. The hotel had a restaurant on the first floor that was open late so we grabbed a quick bite to eat before heading to bed.


The next morning I woke up realizing I had left my camera battery in its charger back in Chicago. After a mini panic attack and feeling like the world’s worst blogger, R and I went in search of a new battery. I have a Nikon D3000 which is an older model and the first place we stopped at didn’t carry the battery or camera. At the third place we stopped in, I had the option to rent a camera for the weekend for $100 but wouldn’t be able to return it until Monday, which was impossible since we were leaving Sunday night. Our trip would have to be documented with my LG G2 and R’s iPhone 5  – yes we both need to upgrade. We couldn’t spend all morning searching for a battery or else we would be late for the culinary tour, our phones would have to suffice. 

Walking through Riverside, a part of our Leslieville Culinary Tour
Queen Street in Leslieville
Our first stop on the tour: The Cannonball Coffee and Bar
Left: My fresh cup of Coffee; Right: The sibling clock to the Big Ben clock in London
After my trip to Miami in May (read here) where I went on my first culinary tour, I fell in love with the idea of finding similar tours when I travel. It’s a great way to see a city while learning about the local culture and cuisine. On this trip our tour took us through Leslieville, where we would learn about the history of Toronto’s oldest neighborhood and try local foods. The morning was sunny with a slight chill in the air so we began our tour, led by Ian and Kevin (the founder of Culinary Adventure) with a warm beverage at The Cannonball Coffee and Bar. Just next door was our second stop – Mary Macleod’s Shortbread. Ian held out a fresh box of shortbread cookies for us to all try and I have to say it was the most delicious and buttery shortbread cookie I have ever had. Mick Jagger even has a box of these cookies delivered to him while he is on tour! 

Mary Macleod's Shortbread
 Walking through Leslieville we turned down a residential street and went into St. John’s bakery. Fresh loaves of organic bread were baking in the back room as we all gathered around to hear the story of how the bakery began and enjoy samples of the bread set out for us. Years ago a man showed up at the steps of St. John Mission, the priest found him and told him to come in to stay warm. The man thanked him and told him he had lost everything – his wife, his home and his bakery. Thanking the priest for taking him in he began to bake bread for the local community. Today they still use his recipes when baking and provide work for those with disabilities.


St. John's Bakery
Slices of warm bread ready for us to try

It was beginning to get cold as Ian and Kevin took us to Tabule for drinks and unique Middle Eastern dishes. Sipping on my wine I enjoyed the number of plates that were brought out for us to try: the falafel, slices of fried eggplant that I couldn’t stop eating and baked cauliflower. The entire meal was satisfying and flavorsome. We spent the hour clearing each dish and sharing stories about where we were from. It was nice to have a moment to sit back and enjoy the food without worrying about rushing off to the next place. Kevin was kind enough to answer all of my many questions about Canada and Toronto. I’ve noticed I like to ask locals a lot of questions when I travel because I believe your learn more valuable information from a local then you would from a guidebook. Not that guidebooks aren’t helpful but I love being able to talk about current events and listen to someone share their city with me. 

Tram along Queen Street in Leslieville
The beginning of our meal at Tabule
These falafels were the most popular dish, I had to quickly take this photo before they disappeared
 Inside Tabule
(Left: Sign in front of Tabule; Right: Our dessert at Ed's Real Scoop)
With full bellies we headed to Hooked – The Knowledgeable Fish Store. Samples of smoked salmon and tuna were laid out for us as Ian explained how Hooked use fishermen they trust and their methods of catching fish are ethical. To end the tour we all got to choose a scoop of ice cream from Ed’s Real Scoop. I would never have thought to venture over to Leslieville while in Toronto but thanks to the culinary tour we were able to discover new foods and the history behind one of Toronto’s most charming neighborhoods. 



Our samples of smoked tuna and salmon
Visiting the Toronto Christmas Market was high on my list, thankfully Leslieville is close to the Distillery District where the market is held each year. We paid the small entrance fee and took our time strolling around the stalls selling Christmas goods. The aroma from the food stalls was tempting but after having eaten so much delicious food we couldn’t imagine having another bite.  If you are ever in Toronto during the holidays, I recommend you stop at the Christmas market, especially if you are traveling with children. You can wander for hours while enjoying the festive Christmas spirit.


Exploring the Christmas Market
As the sun set the temperature began to drop so we took a cab back to our hotel and enjoyed the hot sauna offered at our hotel. Another item on our must see list while in Toronto was the CN Tower, luckily our hotel was right across the street. There was a chance the next day would be foggy so we decided to go up the CN Tower that night. The glass elevator shot us up the tower and within minutes we had the entire city glowing below us. It was quite the view to see the city of Toronto lit up alongside Lake Ontario, similar to Chicago and Lake Michigan. Taking in as much of the panoramic views as we could while bracing the cold winds we soon decided to head for dinner. Earl’s, a favorite Canadian restaurant of ours has a variety of foods and drinks as well as a lively atmosphere. We enjoyed drinks at the bar before we were seated to eat more food that I thought possible in one day. After dinner we strolled back to the hotel taking in the city at night. 

It's quite hard to get a picture of the entire tower and sign since it's so tall
View from the CN Tower


We had passed St. Lawrence Market the day before on the cab ride back from the Christmas market, curious about what was inside we decided to check it out and grab breakfast. Unfortunately the market is closed on Sundays, but two blocks away is Le Petit Dejeune. As a highly ranked restaurant, it was no surprise to find a line out the door when we found it. We were both hungry but decided why not try a place that seemed to be popular with the locals. Not too long after getting in line we were seated in the warm and fragrant Belgian-Canadian comfort food restaurant. Our waitress brought us our mimosas and we raised our glasses to toast our anniversary and finding a perfect breakfast place. The Belgian waffles we ordered were light and filled with a sweet taste that for a moment I thought I was back in Brussels. If ever you are in Toronto looking for brunch, I highly recommend stopping at Le Petit Dejeune, it’s well worth the wait.

Inside of Le Petit Dejeune
The line outside of Le Petit Dejeune

Left: Walking past the Metropolitan United Church; Right: My belgian waffles and mimosa at Le Petit Dejeune
 We slowly wandered towards Yonge-Dundas Square which reminded us of a mini Times Square with the many billboards and stores. One of the best shopping in Toronto is in the Eaton Center, located conveniently in Yonge-Dundas Square. Warming up we walked the entire length of the mall and stopped in at Roots, one of my favorite Canadian stores. Lately I have been obsessing over candles and Roots had a few to choose from. One is burning next to me as I write this post.

To continue eating our way through Toronto we went in search for beaver tails. No, not actual beaver tails but heavenly pieces of fried dough sprinkled with sugar and your choice of a variety of toppings. We found the small red building tucked away between the tall residential buildings along the lakefront. Happy to have found the place we went inside to indulge ourselves. We didn’t just have a beaver tail each we also ordered poutine, a Canadian snack of warm gravy poured over French fries and cheese curds. Thankfully we had been walking so much the past two days that we didn’t feel as guilty eating this amount of food but how can you say no to so much yummy goodness?

Yonge-Dundas Square

Eaton Center

Beaver Tails
Left: Our poutine and my beaver tail topped with apples; Right: View from the hotel's top lounge looking towards the CN Tower, Ripley's Aquarium and Rogers Center


We wrapped up our trip with a visit to Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. Inside is one of the largest aquarium tanks I have ever walked through. It was incredible to see the sharks and stingrays swim above and around you, I could have spent hours watching them. There were a number of interactive exhibits and small tanks of seahorses and other small sea creatures. A few weeks before the trip we rented Finding Dory and since watching that film I see aquariums through a new perspective. I have to admit I was looking up a few times to see if the Hank, the octopus was trying to escape =o) 

Left: Ripley's Aquarium and the CN Tower; Right: R looking at the fish in one of the large aquarium tanks


On our way to the airport we were sad to leave Toronto. In just a little over 48 hours we got to experience the history and food of Leslieville, explore the Christmas market, see the city at night from the CN Tower, stuff our faces with local dishes and wander through Ripley’s Aquarium. We ended up staying a few hours longer than planned after arriving at the airport to find that our flight had been canceled due to heavy snow in Chicago. It took a few hours to deal with several mechanical problems with the plane, arguing with United Airlines staff to book us on a flight and weather issues before we finally took off. At least I get to share the memory with Dennis Quaid who was checking into his flight at the ticket counter next to us. 

x the Adventurer

91 comments:

  1. What a story!!! It's a nice idea that instead of giving gifts to each other, you thought of spending it for travelling! :) You guys are so adventurous!!! <3

    Hope I can find a partner who is as adventurous as I am. :)

    xoxo,
    SHAIRA
    www.missdream-girl.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you! It was the best gift to give each other =o)

      You will find someone and go on so many adventures=o)

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  2. Since I visited Toronto last summer, I see it through different eyes when looking at bloggers' photos. It's so nice to revisit the city through your photos. Shame about the camera incident but these photos are great enough! Happy New Year.

    ANOUK

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    1. Thank you Anouk! We made the best of it with the phones. I'm so happy you like the photos =o)
      Happy new Year!

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  3. Such a great post! I really enjoyed reading it!

    XO

    Daria

    http://www.dbkstylez.com

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  4. Looks like fun! Beautiful photos :)
    - www.youthofthesun.com

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    1. Toronto is definitely a lot of fun =o) Thanks for the sweet comment!

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  5. Wow! Looks fun. You did a lot of things in 48 hours. :)

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    1. We did do a lot in 48 hours! It's incredible to look back and see what we did =o)

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  6. Love your blog! Visiting Toronto in four months and this post is making me hyped! x

    Regina | Paper Hobbit's blog

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    1. Thank you!! You will love Toronto! Let me know if you have any questions =o)

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  7. I've never been to Toronto before, but I have quite a few friends studying there! I've also never been on a culinary tour before, and that's something I'm definitely gonna have to get in on, because I loooooove food :3 Looks like you made the most of your 48hrs! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

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    1. You have to visit Toronto then! And definetly try a food tour next time you travel =o)

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  8. Great photos my dear, looks like you were very busy there :-)

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    1. Thank you Alice =o) Yes we made the most of the 48 hours =o)

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  9. I would love to go there some day, it looks so nice and friendly! Hope you had a lot of fun!

    http://violettedaily.com

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    1. You have to visit Toronto =o) It's such a great city to explore!

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  10. Great post and pictures !
    I'm soooo in love with city and the people overthere :)
    Kind of miss living in Canada.

    Kenza from http://travelwithkenza.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Thank you! Everyone was so nice to us and helped us out, Canada must have been a lovely place to live =o)

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  11. It looks like such a beautiful city! x

    Jessica — NinetyCo 

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    1. Thank you! Toronto was a blast to explore =o)

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  13. So beautiful fantasic~

    http://www.brooklynglam.com/

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  14. These are great photos, I want to visit!

    http://www.myclusterofthoughts.com/

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    1. Thank you! I hope you get to visit Toronto one day =o)

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  15. and now I'm hungry! hahaha!
    Thanks for sharing :)

    LA || WANDERINGPOSH

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    1. Haha =o) there is a lot of amazing food in Toronto

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  16. Those bread slices though!! I've never been to Toronto, but I do really want to visit. Along with Montreal. I love the architecture and overall vibe I see in photos. I've heard the food is amazing too, which I'm glad you showcased here. Sounds like you had a fabulous time!!

    -Emily www.coatandcoffee.com

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    1. Thank you! Our choice was between Toronto and Montreal but we chose Toronto. I definitely want to visit Montreal too because I've head the architecture is beautiful there. Thank you for the sweet comment! =o)

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  17. Great photos!

    http://iameleine.blogspot.com/

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  18. I used to live in Toronto but I haven't been back since 2007!
    xo
    www.laurajaneatelier.com

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    1. How cool you got to live in Toronto =o) Definitely worth a trip back!

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  19. The foodie tour is a fantastic idea, I would love to do the same.
    You're so lucky to live so close to all these places.

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    1. I now recommend a food tour to anyone when they are traveling =o) They are so fun!

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  20. I love this! Some of my favorite trips are short ones. I recently went to Denver for a little over a day from LA, and it was one of the funnest experiences I've had. xx

    Kit | THINGS SHE LOVES

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    1. Thank you =o) Shorter trips can definitely be fun!

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  21. I visited Toronto for an art event; it is an incredible city, it was clean, and the people were friendly. St. John’s Bakery looks divine. I’m always on the look out for the best falafels; these look like they are pretty delicious. I have to visit Hook when I go back to Toronto. I have a slight obsession with all things seafood. What a wonder-filled trip! Trips are so much better than presents :)

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    1. People are so friendly in Toronto! I loved exploring the city =o) You definitely must stop in at hook then =o)

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  22. I've always wanted to visit! The food looks sooo amazing!

    www.prettyinleather.net

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    1. Toronto is definitely worth a visit! Hope you get to venture there soon =o)

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  23. Wonderful post and photography my dear! The Christmas market looks so beautiful and a great place to visit! Wishing you a great 2017 full of beautiful adventures!
    xo
    Stella
    www.stellaasteria.com

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    1. Thank you Stella! The christmas market may have been my favorite part of the trip =o)

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  24. The concept of NYC being just an hour and a half away, and Miami being reached in under 3 hours is SO dreamy. Your time in Toronto looks great, you certainly made the most of the 48 hours (and enjoyed some delicious food in the process!)

    aglassofice.com
    x

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    1. Thank you Gabrielle! We definitely did try to make the most of the 48 hours =o)

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  25. You've created quite the post with the iPhone! All the places look awesome and sounds like you had a great trip in just 48 hours :) xx

    Erica
    www.eggcanvas.me

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    1. Thank you so much Erica! =o) We definitely utilized as much of our time as possible in Toronto

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  26. I can't believe all these pics are off a phone, they're fab!!! Definitely want to visit Toronto, those pics from Tabule have my mouth watering.

    E x www.curatedtheory.com

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    1. Thank you eliska =o) Next time you fly to the states you should stop in Toronto for a few days =o)

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  27. A culinary tour sounds awesome. I'm going to keep that in mind next time I'm traveling. Everything you sampled looks so delicious :)

    Fariha | Blog

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    1. Yes! I recommend food tours to everyone now when they travel =o)

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  28. Awesome travel photos! Toronto is really nice :)

    Caitlin, Beauty & Colour

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  29. Wow! Can't believe how accessible these places must have been for you. :) There's so much to see in North America, and I wish I can go back! Btw, your photos are all beautiful. Hope to hear from you soon!

    Love, Airish
    Gorgeous Glance
    www.airishabella.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you Airish! You have to come back to North America and see everything =o) Thanks for the sweet comment =o)

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  30. Toronto looks like a beautiful place to visit - you certainly made the most of your 48 hours there! The Delta Hotel seems to have a great location and I love culinary tours to explore a city!

    Miriam
    www.londonkitchendiaries.com

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    1. Thank you Miriam =o) Toronto was an exciting city to tour, and I recommend the Delta hotel for sure =o)

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  31. Such lovely photos! Really want to visit one day. Toronto is stunning <3

    Hannie Arden | Missing Wanderer

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    1. Thank you Hannie! =o) You have to visit Toronto, it's a blast!

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  32. Whooaaa I love your travel story! I like the photos and yes, food! You really had fun.

    xx,
    Jewel
    www.jewelclicks.com

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    1. Thank you Jewel for the sweet comment =o) Food is always a plus when traveling =o)

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  33. Very good post, love the place, the photos and the story.

    www.busyandfab.com

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  34. Wooow!
    you sure had an amazing 48 hours! This is such a great post, thanks for sharing your itinerary! I wanted to live in Canada and leave the US sometime... seems like a good idea hahaha

    -
    Jade
    http://tinybigmoments.squarespace.com

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    1. Thank you Jade! We definitely took advantage of the 48 hours we had in Toronto =o)

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  35. I like to read travel stories with nice photos like this. Looks like a wonderful place to visit, a sustainable city with old charm.

    www.busyandfab.com

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  36. beautiful photos :D

    http://alafolie-toinsanity.blogspot.hr/

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  37. Such a fun adventure. Love these kind of spontaneous trips.
    I love Chicago. I lived there for four years. It's a great city.

    www.fashionradi.com

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    1. Thank you =o) Chicago is a great city with an ideal location =o)

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  38. Gorgeous photos! Canada is on the 2018 lost so I am definitely gonna take some notes
    xx

    Lizzie | Takeoffs & Landings

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    1. Thank you! You will love visiting Canada =o) It's a beautiful country and everyone is so nice =o)

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  39. The view from CN Tower is breathtaking! You have great photos! I wasn't aware I was holding my breath as I was reading this. Have a great day!

    Xeph | Misadventures

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    1. Thank you Xeph =o) The view was stunning!

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  40. Love it. Please check out my new post on all things hair colour!

    Kisses xo | From Aliona With Love

    Instagram @alionawithlove

    Twitter @alionawithlove

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    1. Thank you Aliona =o) Checking out your blog now...

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  41. Can't believe you fit all this in 48 hours! You really crammed it all in! I haven't been to Toronto in forever, this definitely makes me want to go.

    7% Solution

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    1. Thank you! i am so amazed at how much we ended up seeing while in Toronto =o)

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  42. I am a Torontonian and I'll have to say I agree with your recommendations! The East end and the west end of Queen St are definitely the places to go along with the Distillery market. Great guide!

    -Didier
    www.didieryhc.com

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    1. Yes thank you for your approval! I love exploring your city =o)

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  43. wow you got a lot done- great post!!

    www.londonstylegirl.com

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    1. Thank you Emma! We definitely took in as much of Toronto as possible =o)

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  44. I lived in Toronto for three years and so it was really interesting reading this through your perspective. The only other things I'd recommend doing in Toronto is visiting the St. Lawrence market and some of the ethic neighborhoods there such as Chinatown and Koreatown.

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    1. How fun that you lived in Toronto! We wanted to visit St. Lawrence market but it was closed =o( definitely have to go back!

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  45. The poutine and the beaver tail look so delicious! Loved seeing these images of Toronto as well, I can't believe how much you got done!

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

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Thank you commenting and reading about my adventures! I really appreciate it and love reading all of your comments =o)

x the Adventurer