Top Ten Reasons Why I Love Toronto.
Beyond the fact it was voted as one of the most liveable cities in the world by the Economist in 2014, these are my top ten reasons why I love Toronto.
- Because of the walkability.
If you live and work downtown everything is conveniently located. From your local grocery store to the local pub. In the first year of living in Toronto I lived in a two bedroom+den in City Place, Toronto, and because I shared with two other girls, it was extremely affordable. The Sobeys (the equivalent of a Woolies in Australia) and the Fox and the Fiddle (the local pub) was just a stones throw away from City Place. If you work in the financial district, then you’re entire life literally exists in a 2 kilometer radius. I always liked to joke that, “I live in the downtown bubble,” because “anything beyond St Clair is too far to travel.” If you’re a environmentalist and want to reduce your carbon footprint, come live and work downtown and you’ll never need a car again.Photo courtesy of www.chromeleaf.wordpress.com
- Because of the diversity of cultures.
Walk into any room in Toronto city and the cultural diversity will be evident. I often attend social and professional networking events in Toronto and I always meet people of different ethnicities and nationalities. Unlike New York which can be considered a melting pot, Toronto’s immigrants have retained a sense of individuality in their communities creating cultural a mosaic. This city is also home to a large immigrant population and in fact, Toronto is known as one of the most multicultural cities in the world. This is evident just wandering down the streets of Toronto. I also love that I meet and see so many mixed racial couples – from young to old. Although Australia also has cultural diversity, there it is more common to see couples with the same race and background. There is beauty in diversity. And we all know the half-white, half-asian or half-black babies are the most gorgeous babies in the world! Photo courtesy of www.shotbymartika.com for www.thehiphaus.com
- Because the city embraces same sex relationships.
Take a walk down Welsey and Yonge neighbourhood and you will see a lot of colourful personalities, a lot of which are not afraid to wear their sexuality on their sleeve. Toronto is a beacon for gay immigrants. I am taken aback still, a year into my life here in Toronto, when I see two incredibly good looking men walking hand in hand down the streets of Toronto. In a city where you can be from any racial background and be accepted as gay, straight or lesbian is a beautiful thing. To be accepted for your race and sexuality means you can be entirely yourself. I grew up in a small town in Australia where this is rare, if not, unheard of.
Over 100 gay couples participate in a mass wedding during World Pride 2014 at Casa Loma in Toronto, Thursday, June 26, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese)
Photo courtesy of: http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/164350/mass-gay-wedding-in-toronto-for-115-couples/#ixzz3gUKajbXb
- Because of the culturally unique neighbourhoods.
The Globe and Mail describes the city of Toronto as, “The City of Neighbourhoods.” From Little Italy to Chinatown, Greektown, Little Portugal and Little India are just a few amoung the unique areas in Toronto. These culturally diverse suburbs all have something different to offer. I love Greek food and obsessed with desserts. So I was so ecstatic to find “Athena Bakery,” full of authentic greek pastries in the heart of Greek Town. All the pastries start from $2.00 each. My favourite is the custard pie, also known as the “Galaktobouriko.”Also, If you wander north up Spadina and you will find, “Dumpling House,” in Chinatown, a small restaurant with speedy service and meals of decent proportion costing less than $10.00. If you are an immigrant these neighbourhoods are like a home away from home. You can have the feeling of being immersed in your own culture without having to leave the city at all.Photo courtesy of www.virtualtourist.com
- Because of the cool architecture.
One only has to wander around Dundas and McCaul just west of the Eaton Centre to stumble across two very unique Torontonian buildings; the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and the OCAD University building. Frank Gehry’s Italia Galleria at the AGO with it’s sweeping timber and glass facade sets a dramatic scene for almost anything. From art exhibits to yoga class, or a simple cup of coffee, the Galleria Italia’s high ceilings overlooks the bay-and-gable distinct style of victorian houses below. The OCAD university building, just down the road of the AGO is described by the architect as a, “box on legs,” and certainly has the “wow” factor as it levitates above a modest art shop, also of traditional victorian, bay-and-gable style of architecture. Other note-worthy architecture in Toronto include: Aga Khan museum, Royal Ontario Museum, Brookfield Place, Toronto City Hall and Toronto even has their own version of the Flat Iron; the Gooderham Building. Stay tuned for my blog on cool architecture around Toronto!Photo by @avemariabell
- Because I love the urban art.
I first became aware of Toronto’s extensive urban art when I went on a Graffiti tour in Toronto. During the Graffiti tour, the tour guide discusses the origins of graffiti, why graffiti artist make a mark on public spaces and how the City of Toronto is attempting to manage the graffiti. However, what I took away from that tour was the importance of appreciating the urban landscape. We are so often too busy getting from A to B: walking straight to work or running to catch the street car that we forget to just slow down, walk, and take notice of the urban landscape around us. Only then do we start to notice the urban art, which in fact can be quiet breath taking. Some of Toronto’s most impressive street art can be found in: Graffiti Alley, aka “Rush Lane,” (which runs west from Spadina Avenue to Portland street), Kensington Market, The Ossington Laneway and the Keele-Dundas wall, (which can be seen riding the Bloor West Line). If you want to see some miscellaneous graffiti around Toronto from the comfort of your own home, check out @duchessanddragon Instagram page. She photographs mundane graffiti beautifully, highlighting some of the quirky and outrageous quotes of graffiti artists.
- Because of the opportunities.
Toronto is a big city. Big players in the financial district as well as many smaller competing companies makes Toronto the place to be when you are looking for new job opportunities. There is something about moving to a new city that provides a sense of new opportunity and new beginnings. And this is how I felt when I first came to Toronto. In any major metropolitan city, in a developed country you should treat it as a hub of opportunity to explore career paths. Why limit yourself to the 9-5 grind or the industry of the degree you studied at school? Be adventurous and try new things. In the first 6 months of my time in Toronto I worked at several temp jobs including at a Modelling agency, Marketing agency, Financial company, I also worked as a Graphic Designer and finally at an Interior Design company. Be unafraid to experiment and dip your feet into a variety of industries. With an architecture background I was at first adamant to find work in the architecture industry. However I have had no regret exploring my options and taking the opportunity to see what other career paths might look like.
- Because of the awesome summers.
Yes the winters are long, but Torontonians really know how to make the most of the summer. The amount of festivals, events and music gigs are endless. However my favourite events during the summer is the Street Festivals. During the first week I arrived in Toronto on a gorgeous 25-degree day in July, I decided to wander up Spadina. Just walking up Spadina I was pleasantly surprised to discover Kensington Street Markets and the Pedestrian Sunday street life. I loved Kensington Street Markets because it had a relaxed vibe and random people from the streets including mums, teens and seniors all got into the summer spirit, dancing with strangers, in front of strangers! It was sweltering hot but everyone made the most of the sun. Eating, drinking and dancing on the street! I also went to Salsa on St Clair; a celebration of the Latin culture. In one weekend the city transforms the stretch of St Clair Avenue West into a salsa party featuring live music, dance lessons and my favourite; lots of latin food to eat. This is just a couple of the free street festivals I had been to when I first arrived and I am looking forward to another long summer ahead going to more street festivals such as; Caribana, Pride Week, Waterfront Night Market, Taste of the Danforth at Greek Town, Buskerfest, the BIG on Bloor Festival and many more. Check out http://www.toronto.com and search for Summer Street Festivals for a full list of events.
9. Because it is dog friendly.
Toronto is know for it’s dog- friendly restaurants. Go for a walk down Queens Street or Restaurant Row along King Street and you will find many little four legged creatures in and around the streets. Although predominately not allowed inside the restaurants for obvious hygiene reasons you will find many dogs able to join nearby the patio. There are many dog-friendly attractions around Toronto and all are within a reasonable walking distance or short subway ride away. Some of my favourite include: The Distillery District, Cherry Beach, High Park, The Toronto Islands and not to mention countless off-the-leash parks. Want to bring your dog indoors? Not a problem, Toronto also has some dog-friendly cafe’s and shopping centres that don’t require you to keep your dog tied up and waiting outside. These places include; William’s Coffee Pub on Queens Quay, Hazelton Lanes Shopping Centre, Vaughan Mills Shopping Centre and the Shops at Don Mills.
- Because Lake Ontario is so cool.
For me, one of the best things about Lake Ontario is seeing it’s different formations from summer through to winter. The first year in Toronto I lived only a 10 minute walk away from the lake and my girlfriends and I would frequently go for a run or walk along the harbourfront. (More often walking in a leisurely pace then running!!) Lake Ontario is the perfect backdrop for a leisurely stroll, intense cardio work-out or simply if you need to step outside, get some fresh air and get away from your small condo. In the Spring as the ice is melting, it is perfect for photo opportunities. I loved capturing the melting lake just before sunset because you get the most beautiful reflections off the ice and not to mention the orange hue from the sun as is sets in the horizon. During winter when the lake is completely frozen you can also skate on it. Although not encouraged by the city of Toronto and rarely does it get frozen enough to safely skate on it, there have been periods in Toronto’s history when temperatures plummet and a few brave souls will venture out and skate on some of the frozen channels.
Photo courtesy of www.news.nationalpost.com, Peter J Thompson
I hope next winter I get the chance to skate on Lake Ontario!