We took an extra day off and would be spending Monday and Tuesday in Toronto as well. That Monday we decided to visit the Toronto Islands, a set of small islands off the city, with a spectacular view of the skyline. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but absolutely loved it. The islands felt divided into two parts: one that felt like a casual summer-camp beach-town, and another that felt like a small backwoods residential neighborhood. Both were charming, but I preferred the latter.
We rented bikes to get around, I think this was Alex’s longest bike ride to date. There were few cars on the road, so the only hazards were other bikers, including some three-person circular bikes. We went completely across the island.
The residential neighborhood – really little cottages – enjoyed a spectacular view of the city. It was quiet here, cool in the shade, and forested; I think this was my favorite part of the city. It felt a little like upstate NY in the summer.
Back in the more touristy area, after dropping off our bikes, we felt that we had to try a Canadian specialty, the beaver tail. We’d observed these sold in stands in a few parts of the city. It was basically a fried dough with a layer of glaze; in this case we chose maple syrup and chocolate glaze. Delicious, though overpriced.
Sunburnt and a little tired we returned to our apartment. That afternoon we were going to see a baseball game: Blue Jays vs Yankees. As a kid I rooted for the Blue Jays; don’t ask me why. I still have some marginal affection for them, so wanted to see them win over the Yankees.
Getting into the game, we were gonna pick up tickets at the stadium, figuring it wouldn’t sell out. As we made our purchase, a 12-year old girl walked up to us and asked if we were buying tickets. Hesitantly (figuring some scalping racket), we said yes. She gave us free tickets – I guess they’d purchased too many. Same thing happened to a German couple who ended up seated next to us. I wanted to buy this family a drink or snack but we never saw them again – I guess they were all seated together elsewhere in the stadium. This was the most Canadian thing to happen on the trip. Also the Blue Jays won, and a charming group of Blue Jays superfans in front of us explained the game to our German neighbors.
By the way, the stadium was right next to our apartment, and so too was the CN tower, which looms over the field. As the game proceeded, we looked up to see people leaning off the edge of the tower in bright orange jump suits – an adrenaline tourist option (see here). Not for me.
The next day we revisited some of the city highlights, but also met up with another friend.
Along the way, we stopped for what I can confidently say was the best ice cream I’ve ever had, at Sweet Jesus. As you might guess from the picture, the toppings push the boundaries of a normal Sunday. But the quality of the ice cream was so much more right than I’ve had anywhere else all this for a bargain $5-6 (and the line moved quick too).
We played some boardgames in the afternoon in the Trinity Bellwoods neighboorhood, a friendlier, more residential part of the city, and then met a friend at Mamakas Taverna for some amazing Greek food, before being chauffeured to the airport.
All in all, I recommend Toronto as a weekend excursion. If I was to make the same trip again, I would forfeit the great view and stay somewhere more hip and walkable, since it seemed like there were many such neighborhoods in the city. In fact, it seems like a city where the tourist destinations and downtown overwhelm, and the outer neighborhoods are underrated. And I’d get more ice cream.