Toronto ~ My kind of town…

This blog is way overdue — my visit to Toronto, Canada this past October to spend time with my pals Diana and Ian.

When I am in the middle of a semester, my travel adventures end up taking a backseat to reading and writing for my master’s program, blogs about related school events and articles for the evolllution. In this case, the holidays kicked in, other writing projects with immediate deadlines popped up in January and now here we are in February. And I have started my second semester at NYU, an entirely different subject or blog.

I do not typically write about airlines, but I found a new favorite, Porter Airline. Diana had recommended that I try Porter for visits to Toronto.  For New Yorkers heading to Canada, Porter’s prop planes fly from Newark to Toronto (and other locations). There are many things to cheer about when flying with Porter. The flight crew is dressed in blue suits with white shirts and scarves or ties. The flight attendants wear these amazing pillbox hats – the look is reminiscent of the Pan Am experience.

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The Newark lounge is nice, but the Toronto Lounge is amazing with a ton of comfy seating. Everyone with a boarding ticket can access free Wi-Fi and select complementary beverages and snacks in the lounge. Boarding is easy peasy. People needing assistance board first, then roughly the first 20 rows and all remaining passengers. The staff is friendly and they speak French, which is a bonus for me. Don’t fret they speak English automatically, unless you start rambling at them in French as I did. The Porter magazine and in flight announcements, you guessed it – Français and Anglais. Onboard: leather seats, lots of legroom, plus free meals, snacks, beverages, including alcohol.

Porter flies into the Billy Bishop Toronto City Centre Airport, which is a small island on the edge of downtown. Immigration is quick. My only confusion, I had not realized that I needed to take a ferry, so it took a minute to figure out the correct queue. I was wondering when the ferry was going to take off, then I felt it bump into something and a moment later, they opened the door. I was standing away from the windows and apparently missed the entire experience. It is apparently only a 400 feet journey to the mainland and free.

Diana met me at the airport and we headed to Ian’s office to drop my luggage and see if he had time to have lunch with us. Diana and I roamed around and she showed me some of the fabulous architecture of downtown such as, Mies van der Rohe’s modern buildings and also some of the gorgeous old ornate banks. I love old ornate buildings and architecture in general. http://www.flickr.com/photos/loriperkovich/12156422453/

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We met up with Ian for lunch and entered the Path, Toronto’s underground walkway, which is more like a fancy underground city so that I could find an ATM. The Path is about 19 miles (I think) of shopping, services and entertainment that links to transportation and offices all over downtown – amazing for the brutal Canadian winters.

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Now, it has been a while since my last visit to Canada and I was out of the loop on the plastic (polymer) money, which proved an interesting experience. My warning is to be careful when handing it over, the new bills sometimes stick together. The bills are hard to fold and I even had one jump out of my hand, with that said – it is a great concept that the U.S. may want to consider. We went to Vertical for lunch; it is on the mezzanine level of First Canadian Place. I ordered a quinoa & kale salad that was filling and tasty. Always a nice treat when the vegan and meat eaters can easily find enough food on the menu.

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After lunch Diana and I had planned to go to the CN Tower so that I could do the EdgeWalk, but the weather was not cooperating, so we settled in at the Steam Whistle Brewery to wait it out.

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Several enjoyable beverages later we realized today was not the day for my harnessed platform-in-the-sky walk and we went over to the King West area to do a little shopping. I highly recommend stopping at Soma Chocolatiere, which makes great bars, truffles, “elixirs” and more. I brought several elixirs home. Soma has standard milk chocolate, dark chocolate and also cacao nibs from Madagascar.

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Our final stop before heading to the house for a brief rest before dinner was the Bier Markt on King West. As Diana recently reminded me it happens to be on of Mayor Rob Ford’s favorite places. I am not sure if that is a selling point, but we had a great time. It is a great place to stop for beer and food…

Tune in for the next blog to find out what happened next!

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