The weather was humid during my six-hour drive to Toronto, even more than it was in Ohio it felt like. It was a two-day trip. I was sweating not only during the car ride but also when I arrived. I had to continuously turn on the air conditioning, especially with my parents in the car.
When we arrived, my heart was beating fast from the excitement because I could finally walk outside. I longed to walk in the weather with an iced coffee in my hand. However, my body would not allow me to have caffeine so I had to have a bottle of water.
Toronto is a busy, lively city with lots of options in regards to dining, shopping and sightseeing. My idea of sightseeing in downtown Toronto was seeing the scenery and the CN tower from afar. It was so sunny that I stumbled upon a woman using an umbrella to keep the sun from burning her skin. People do enjoy honking at each other here, which can be annoying because I’m one of the most patient people I’ve ever met so it seems like this city is in a rush, similar to New York.
I did make a list of places I wanted to visit. However, I wasn’t able to go to all the places I planned to because we visited my father’s old professor, Peter Truong, and his wife. We were only able to explore the area around where they live. They live in an apartment and when you go to the right of their apartment, you can see Queen Street, which is where most people would shop at!
The selection of stores is phenomenal. If you walk down Queen Street, there are various stores you might not find in the States, such as Club Monaco, a clothing store that sends out a classy vibe throughout the store and the clothing represents it well; and Butter Avenue, a bakery filled with macaroons, desserts, teas and coffee was an amazing place to stop by.
One of the restaurants I had the pleasure of dining at was the Goldstone Noodle Restaurant on Spadina Avenue, which is where Chinatown is located. This place is medium-sized, but very crowded. Even though it had air conditioning, it still felt a bit stuffy. It was so crowded that a waitress attempted to escape with a menu from our table for another person to see. She was unsuccessful because the professor’s wife said, “No, we are still looking.” In Chinese, the waitress said, “We need to give others a menu too because we are short.” The professor’s wife still refused so the waitress left.
The tables were so close together that people had to scoot their seat in, for other people wanting to leave the building. It was also noisy so my father’s old professor wrote down our order on a napkin to give to the waitress, that way they could process the order quickly.
All photos provided by Chau Tang
On our way to Foody-World, which is a large Chinese supermarket, Truong pointed to a bridge and said, “That bridge is called the suicide bridge. Since many people have committed suicide there, they have built a barrier to prevent people from committing suicide.” The suicide bridge in Toronto, ON is called Prince Edward Viaduct. According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, since the barrier was placed 11 years ago, the suicide rate has declined.
When we arrived at Foody-World, I noticed and liked the exterior design of the building. The colors were white and blue and those two colors really complemented each other. When I walked in, I immediately thought it was more similar to Giant Eagle because of the way it presented itself. It was also wider than the Chinese grocery stores in Cleveland. One of the things I didn’t like about the place were the restrooms. The doors did not lock so it was a guessing game, especially for those who do not knock. Some people who were waiting for the bathroom did not knock, which irritated me. On a positive note, they had great tofu samples and what I tried was delicious, especially with the spice which had a smooth kick to it.
I went to Pacific Mall, which consisted of Chinese food, clothing shops, and kitchen utilities. There are three floors: the first floor looks like an underground shopping unit, although there were only a couple stores there. The second floor had jewelry stores, electronics and more. The third floor had a food court. Even though the third floor had a couple of hair salons, clothing shops and sold kitchen items, there were also plenty of food choices. You will see a Chinese inspired scenery, which definitely gave a vibe as if you’re actually in China. There were egg waffles, which were my favorite because they smell so sweet.
Then we went back to Queen Street because I wanted to go shopping. Some of the prices in certain stores were astronomically high so I picked places that had decent pricing.
I went to Lavish and Squalor and if I had to describe the place in three words, I would choose woodsy, warm and comforting. I bought organic hot chocolate and organic cinnamon. I found the packaging for both of them cute. This store sells clothes, scents (such as sage, cabin and chai latte) and they do have a coffee and tea bar, which offers a large variety of drinks, and pantry items (such as sugar and cocktail kits).
I also went to Butter Avenue, which is a pastry shop that sells items such as macaroons, cakes, tarts and coffee. It is a cute store and the exterior represents it well. The doors and windows have a really cute design. I wish I took a picture of it but I forgot. Every time I come to Canada, I make sure to come here because the macaroons here aren’t as sweet as they are in the States and are more similar to the ones in Paris. In the middle of the store, there are tea shelves on display and there’s a large variety to choose from. In the back of the store, there’s a coffee bar as well. It’s not a sit down experience, it’s a take it and leave kind of establishment.
Toronto is a lovely city and I felt relaxed there. The people can be nice and if you’re ever famished or parched, you don’t need to worry about your dining options because there are places that will meet everyone’s needs. I was nervous in regards to driving but there are some places I know I must see next time. I recommend Butter Avenue, it really is a cute place and the macaroons are great. Lavish & Squalor is also a nice place to shop, especially since there are unique tea and coffee options.