Thanks for this great write-up of Toronto by my friend D.C. Cutler! You can follow him on Twitter @DCCutlersports!
From the moment I arrived at the airport, Toronto seemed like a city where nobody was in a hurry. It’s a much laid back city, which is strange, because Toronto is a financial hub with thousands of professionals walking around. No one seems rushed and I never once found myself standing next to someone on public transit unloading on their cell phone about work.
When I met my friend from college, who worked in Toronto’s downtown business district, we had lunch at a small deli near City Hall. The place was crowded but it wasn’t noisy. Everyone there was courteous and mellow. I began noticing that about every public place I visited.
From eating at a few restaurants and walking around the business district, I felt like I could live there. It’s without a doubt the nicest city I’ve ever been to. I’ve been to a lot of cities throughout my life, but I’ve never been to one where I felt so comfortable that I could uproot everything and move there. Polite isn’t a strong enough word to describe how people are in the capital of Ontario.
As a tourist, expect to get asked, “Have you been to the CN Tower?” I was asked three times if I had seen it. I think the CN Tower is probably one of the least interesting things about Toronto. It’s not like you can miss it.
Toronto is Canada’s leading banking and financial center, and it is also a major transportation hub. When you ask someone what they do, 8 out of 10 times they’ll answer “banking” or “transportation.” There are University of Toronto students everywhere. It makes sense; the college has the largest enrollment of any Canadian university.
At the nightclubs, it seems like you either find yourself at a young professional’s club or a club with a college student lean. Both are fun, but you certainly know when you’re in a young professional’s club. The difference: Within five minutes of being in a young professional’s club someone will ask you “what do you do?” But they ask in such a courteous way, it makes it alright.
I’ve never been around so many people who like drinking scotch. I don’t know if I just happened to be around a bunch of scotch drinkers, though that seems like the drink of choice in Toronto. And if you drink scotch, especially as much as the group I was with; you’re probably an experienced drinker with particular tastes. I drank beer the whole time because I was drinking on the cheap and I wanted to remember what I had experienced.
You could visit Toronto for several weeks and still just scratch the surface of the nightclub and restaurant scene. The opportunity to discover a new club or bar around the city seemed endless.
My friend took me to a club called Forty2, an urban-chic supper club in the heart of Liberty Village that turns into a straight warehouse club. It changes over fast. The girls’ skirts get shorter and the men’s wardrobe get Gucci-correct real fast. The club went from a place where people were eating dinner, to a warehouse happening, within minutes. Most of the people there were a mix of young professionals and college students.
My friend was familiar with Forty2; it was one of her “go to” places on weekends, so she knew all the good bartenders. Sometimes when you travel to a strange, new city, you find a spot that you feel comfortable at, and that’s different than any club you’ve ever been to; Forty2 was that place for me. It didn’t hurt that the girl to guy ration was dramatically more girls over guys.
Throughout the four days I was there, every band that I saw performing in a club were just okay. Toronto isn’t Austin, or Nashville, it’s not known as a music hub, but I thought I would at least hear one good band while I was there. Perhaps I was just going to the wrong bars and clubs. When a cover band, with a drummer who thumped on a white bucket, was the best band I saw, I can’t say I was impressed by Toronto’s live music scene. And I purposely went to the entertainment district to listen to some live music.
I was in Toronto for mostly business, but The Art Gallery of Ontario was impressive. The paintings and sculptures, with the exception of the international exhibits, are mostly created by Canadian artists. I was impressed by the architecture of the actual museum. The artwork was exceptional. The visit was one of the standout moments of my trip. The Modern and Contemporary Art collection was the most memorable for me because there was work there I recognized and appreciated.
City Hall is breathtaking. Pictures do not do the architectural marvel justice; especially when you’re standing between the two curved buildings and the large man-made lake. Or, it could be a pond; it’s large. The day I was there, it was early in the morning, the sky was overcast and everyone was heading to work. You can sit along the lake on metal benches and write, or, like I did, just people watch. I didn’t see it at night. The city lights the fountain at night, which I’ve heard is gorgeous. My friend told me it’s where a lot of dates end when City Hall is lit up and the fountain is on. “You see couples strolling around everywhere at night, its romantic” she said.
I never visited the infamous zoo. Though, I’ve never been a big zoo fan when I visit a city. I’d rather try and attempt to discover a city’s soul, and spending valuably time looking at wild animals awkwardly staring back at you isn’t going to accomplish that goal.
I did finally see the CN Tower… through my tiny, airplane window as I was flying out of Toronto. It’s tall.