An extremely pessimistic person in my life told me, "Toronto is cool actually, very metropolitan. You'll probably like it." Considering this individual's history of not liking anything, this statement raised my already pretty high expectations for Toronto. We were going because we found some decently cheap flights to Toronto and it was Grace's birthday, so we planned a trip. Grace, my girlfriend, and I arrived on a Friday morning in the beginning of April to frigid weather, Chicago was also unseasonably cold for April as well so it was expected, yet unwelcoming regardless.
After checking into our AirBNB, it was time to head out for lunch. We found a spot on Queen Street West called Arepa Cafe that seemed interesting. Grace and I ate our arepas, which are a type of Venezuelan sandwich that utilizes a bread made out of cornmeal, and discussed our next move. It was Friday afternoon and we had a decent amount of time before my 7pm reservation for Grace's birthday surprise, but I was still trying to remain conscious of the time. We decided at this point it'd be best to just roam around a bit and get a feel for the neighborhood and then head back and get ready. Queen Street West is the main commercial area, with plenty of boutiques and coffee shops and all types of fun areas to check out. We explored a bit, and then I got lost on my own and ended up in Chinatown somehow. Eventually, we met back up and headed back to our spot to get ready for the evening.
The birthday surprise I had planned was a private experience in a bar made entirely out of ice. It was chill. A parka is provided, but it can get cold after a while, so there is also a cozy little lodge behind the ice bar with fire places and tasty drinks. We hung out in the ice bar for a bit, then got cold and hit the bar in the lodge for a drink. Afterwards we went to Soho House Toronto to get some food and even more drinks. We were staying right next to Soho, so fortunately we were able to just walk back home with ease. It was really nice staying right next to Soho House, their slogan is like it's a 'home away from home' and it really felt like it.
The next day we were up and at it, we checked out the CN Tower, Graffiti Alley, and Kensington Market. Kensington Market is a really awesome district with a bunch of vintage stores and hippy stores and interesting little food stores. It is a nice little eccentric market place, and definitely one of our favorite areas. Eventually, we got dinner at a place called Parlor, it is well-known for sourcing all of their ingredients from within Toronto and Canada. After that, we found a party in Little Portugal, Toronto's Portuguese neighborhood. It was at a spot called The Libertine, which actually did not have a sign in front of it and was disguised as a tarot card reading place. Beat.Sampras and Demiggs, two Toronto-based producers, were DJing. We had a really fun time dancing and hanging out. Everyone was super nice, the bar tender bought us shots at the end of the night and I met some of Majid Jordan's high school buddies. Majid Jordan seemed to pop up many times throughout the trip, it seems the duo is going to be the next sensation of 'The Six', hence why we used their track for our recap video (seen above). Overall it was dope, Toronto has a great art, food and music scene with lots of up and coming artists. One aspect I consistently had to remind myself, was that although it may seem similar to the midwest, Canada is a whole different country with different cultural norms from their accent and dialect to how you pay for a meal or a drink.
Sunday morning, we woke up, got brunch at Soho house and headed back home after a long, yet fun, weekend in T.Dot.