Pride may be over for this year – capped off by an actual rainbow if you can believe it – but that doesn’t mean I can’t help get you ready for next year. Pride Toronto is a massive annual event filled with music and parties celebrating LGBTTIQQ2SA* communities, combining history, activism, and education into the mix. It ends with a huge parade down Yonge St. If you decide to go, check out these tips first.
There’s nothing like a little nostalgia of the year gone by. I’ve always loved looking back at old photos and reliving the memories. It’s almost like you get to experience them all over again. I know I’ve already told you my top travel moments of 2013 but since I’m such a sucker for visuals I want to share some with you some photos that may not have made it to this site or Facebook.
This year felt like it was full of travel but when I got down to details I hadn’t visited a single new country. All the same I had lots of great new experiences. Just proves that it’s not all about ticking off countries on a list. This year seemed to be about basking in nature and also facing some fears.
As soon as I walked in the door and saw the eclectic lobby I knew I was going to like the place. Between the purple leather sofa, the old-timey milk vending machine, and the giant toy soldiers I was in my element. The decor in the Retro Suites Hotel in Chatham, Ontario is quirky, ever-changing, and oozes personal style. The hotel is owned by Rob Myers, classic car restorer. He and his wife, artist Cathy Van Raay-Myers, are always bringing in new finds, sometimes to the chagrin of hotel staff who have to find homes for the pieces.
Graffiti and street art are one of those topics that brings on a lot of disagreement. Some see it as vandalism, defacing property while others see it as a form of art. There’s one place in particular in Toronto where authorities have turned a blind eye and artists have run amok. Toronto’s Graffiti Alley is a unique lane hidden between Queen & Richmond where street art is not only tolerated but celebrated.
Despite having been to Niagara Falls a few times, I had never made the stop to have a look at the Niagara Whirlpool, formed approximately 4200 years ago by the upstream erosion of the Niagara Escarpment by the Niagara River. If you visit you can take a ride over the gorge in an antique, open air cable car which has been operating since 1916. The whirlpool naturally spins in a counterclockwise motion during normal flow. When more water from the river is diverted to the surrounding hydroelectric power plants, however, the flow often reverses.
The sign says that Clifton Hill is the street of fun at Niagara Falls to which I add a caveat… if you’re a kid. Most adults will probably find it to be a cheesy drain on their wallets. Everything may be overpriced but I still had fun photographing the over-the-topness of it all. I was here when I was 9 and you know what, almost nothing has changed. There are still the same haunted houses, wax museums, arcades and gift shops. One thing that I do love about Clifton Hill is how colourful every thing is.
The EdgeWalk guide called it “Toes Over Toronto”. I called it terrifying. So there my 10 little digits were, perched over the edge of a grate, 1168 feet over Bremner Avenue. Every time I looked down my head would swim and I felt like I was going to fall forward. My fingers tightened on the thick black cable that was keeping me from doing the world’s most epic swan dive. How did I end up tethered to the top of the CN Tower anyway?
I’d been to Niagara Falls a handful of times in my lift but I’d never been on the Maid of the Mist before. I’d seen the boats bobbing in the water each time and saw the crowds in their plastic rain ponchos. This year I got to join them and experienced the power of the Fall’s first hand. It’s one thing to look down on the river from above but it’s another to be in that cloud of heavy mist at the bottom, looking up. You really get a sense for just how powerful Mother Nature can be. The ride doesn’t really last all that long, about 30 minutes, but I think it’s worth the $20 to be able to see the Falls from this angle. Pro tip: wear shoes that you don’t mind getting soaked…because they will. Have you been been on the Maid of the Mist?
I know the cliched terms: quiant, idllyic, sleepy so I won’t use any of those. I will, however, say that Niagara-on-the-Lake is pretty. Tourism is important here so everything about the main strip looks manicured and well-kept. People are drawn to the area for theatre and wine. The town is also known for its gardens, art galleries, antique shops, and golf courses. The visitors are older. The pace is slower. It’s the kind of town I would like to visit for a quiet, low-key, sunny long weekend.
The name of the huge art installation in the middle of Toronto’s Distillery District is “Still Dancing” and, depending on who you talk to, it resembles a whiskey still and a droplet of liquid or a man and woman dancing. I’m in the former camp since I just can’t make that leap from abstract shapes to people dancing. But I can get on board with a stylized still and droplet, especially considering the location.
I’m still a bit of a n00b when it comes to world cuisine but I was pretty sure that banh mi was a Vietnamese sandwich, so I was confused when my friend insisted we go to Bahn Mi Boys for kimchi fries. “But kimchi is Korean,” I thought. I just chaulked it all up to both being Asian countries and off we went in search of fries. I both praise and curse her now for that invitation.