Monday morning sucked even more last week than usual: Kyle headed back to Campbell River after a 10-day visit. Those 10 days were great not only because I got to spend time with him, but because I had the opportunity to do things and go places in the city that I wouldn’t ordinarily do or go. Of course, I also threw in a bunch of my tried-and-true favourites for good measure…
The first weekend, we headed to Kingston for Homecoming part 2. Here are the highlights from our week in Toronto:
After we arrived back from Kingston, Kyle and I headed downtown to the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts to see The Weeknd in concert. The concert was initially supposed to be at Massey Hall, so we were disappointed at first about the venue change, but The Weeknd more than compensated. His performances have been inconsistent in the past–low energy or pitchy at times–but this time his voice was bang-on (conjuring memories of MJ) and his repertoire of dance moves, spins and jumps was hilarious/also MJ-reminiscent. It was both surprising and amazing.
Also worth a listen: his opening act, Banks. Listen to this and this. I promise it’s worth the click.
First stop was the brand-new Ripley’s Aquarium: a definite highlight of the week. We especially loved seeing the various sharks, rays and jellyfish. I spent the last 20 minutes of our visit sticking my hand in a pool with 15 other people waiting for a stingray to pass by…worth it!
Afterward, we celebrated our one-year anniversary at the 360 Restaurant at the CN Tower. Definitely on the pricey side, but hey, there’s nothing like it and it’s something you have to check off your bucket list as a Torontonian or tourist.
We hit up Kensington Market for grilled cheese @ The Grilled Cheese (duh) and browsing in various vintage, clothing, paper and record stores. Yes, paper stores…I’m a huge nerd when it comes to journals, notebooks, stationery, greeting cards and anything of that nature. Kid Icarus is a personal favourite.
^ Trying on kewl hats in Blue Banana.
We had lunch with my Nana, and cooked this dinner!
Kyle introduced me to one of his go-to spots in the T-dot, Cafe Crepe. After a brunch of savoury-sweet goodness, we walked along West Queen West all the way to Trinity Bellwoods Park. We stopped in at Dark Horse, various clothing stores, Type Books and The Paper Place (more paper-related excitement for me. Far-away friends, expect just-because letters in the near future).
Next came the Ai Weiwei: According to What? exhibit at the AGO. To be perfectly honest, Kyle and I found it a little…well, overrated, but some of it was interesting to look at. We were just a little more impressed by the good ol’ Group of Seven.
Lunch at the Mill St. Brewery (complete with raspberry beer and pumpkin ale of course) followed by exploring of shops, boutiques and galleries. We stepped into SOMA Chocolate just to look around but were so overpowered by the incredible smell that we couldn’t possibly leave without buying treats. I went for the dark hot chocolate and Kyle got a bar of solid milk chocolate. Mmm…it’s the simple things.
From there, we hit up the Mesopotamia exhibit at the ROM, being the nerds that we are–it was preeettty kewl–and then met Jaclyn and Pat for dinner. Our last-minute change of plans to eat at Strada 241 (Gusto 101 was full) proved a happy accident. The food did not disappoint: simple, authentic and flavourful Italian in the heart of Chinatown. The calamari, grilled Caesar salad, pizza and three different pastas we tried were all richly satisfying.
I tried to take Kyle to my favourite hang-out spot, Snakes & Lattes, but apparently doing so without calling first is a no-no on a Saturday afternoon (there was a 2-hour wait). I took him to another favourite spot of mine, Fresh, for a late lunch instead (hello, all-star salad).
To round out Kyle’s visit on his last day, I took him to the Brickworks for the monthly Junction flea market. There weren’t as many vendors as last month (must be the chillier weather), but there was still enough for us to get thoroughly engrossed in: vintage prints, hats and mittens, knick-knacks, boozey cider, and a big wool sweater from the ’70s that is now a part of my wardrobe.
Finally, no week in Toronto with any member of my family would be complete without a trip to Playa Cabana. That guac, that tequila and those beef shortrib tacos…you have to eat it to believe it.
I’m back to reality and the daily grind of work and grad school applications. Such is life! Grateful for the adventures and the company while they lasted.