Around the World in a Day
By Kristen Sarah | @HTGlobe
Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world and the place I call home. I have been to over 25 countries and counting, yet Toronto still remains my favourite city. I love the fact that I can experience every culture on any given day and everything is within a short subway ride away from each other. Explore Chinatown in the morning where you can indulge in mangosteen’s and bubble tea; then head to Kensington Market in the afternoon to hang with the hippies and listen to Jamaican beats. In the evening, enjoy pre-drinks at a local Irish pub, dinner with your hands at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant, and end the night with some salsa dancing.
After living in or close to Toronto for 26 years, the following is what I would consider a perfect 24 hours in the city:
Chinatown is located along Dundas Street West and Spadina Avenue in Toronto. This area can be an exciting experience for anyone; even if you have been to China. There are countless restaurants, shops, historical monuments, fruit stands and spas to check out. Even though it can feel a bit congested at times, the atmosphere is very laid back. You can visit any of the grocery stores where you can taste many exotic fruit for an affordable price. If you really want to learn about the Chinese culture and traditions, there are tours available within the city that offer group or private tours. If you’re lucky to be in Chinatown during one of the annual festivals, be sure to participate in any of the many activities offered and stop by the many booths and stands on the streets for shopping, food, and fun! Like most festivals and events in Toronto, the Chinatown festivals are free to attend. Talk about a bargain!
Since Chinatown is neighbors with Kensington Market, it’s only right that you make your way to one of the most happening and unique communities within Toronto. Kensington Market is one big melting pot of creativity and ethnicity. If you’re looking for good vibes, street entertainment, art, vintage clothing, organic foods, Latin American grocers, upbeat music, cafes, and all around outdoor fun, this is the place to be. From someone who has been to Kensington Market countless times, I can say hands down, this is my favorite spot in the city.
Indian, Thai, Japanese, Italian, Ethiopian, Vegan, oh, my!
After spending the morning walking around Chinatown and Kensington Market, it’s most likely you will have worked up quite the appetite. Toronto is home to countless restaurants offering food from all over the globe. The tough part is deciding what culture you feel like introducing your taste buds to. Whichever you choose, you’re going to get the full cultural experience as the majority of the restaurants are run by people of different ethnicities that are masters at cooking traditional cuisine from their homeland. Vegetarian and veganism has also become a huge movement in Toronto, and there are many restaurants around the city offering delicious vegetarian, vegan, and raw cuisine. A popular choice is Fresh! Fresh has three locations in Toronto, with a fourth opening in late 2013. Fresh restaurants prove that vegetarian food can be satisfying, energizing, and crave-able. If you decide to give Fresh a go, try BBQ burger. It’s guaranteed to impress!
If you’re looking for somewhere to pre-drink before heading out for a night on the town, head in to one of the many Irish pubs in the city. While there are many “Irish” pubs that will certainly yield a good time, there are only a select few that have the atmosphere, character, and legendary Irish hospitality that truly make one feel welcome and instantly part of the crowd. Some personal favourites are the Irish Embassy, The Foggy Dew, The Pour House and Murphy’s Law. Whichever pub you choose, be sure to get the entire Irish experience by indulging in typical Irish pub grub and of course beer or whiskey.
If you can still walk straight after befriending one of the Irish pubs, head on over to one of the Latin clubs in Toronto for a night of dancing. Toronto has a fairly large salsa community that is always welcoming new dancers whether you’re experienced or not. For those of you not familiar with Latin dance, most of the clubs provide a dance lesson at the start of the night free of charge. This is a great way to learn the basic steps that can be later on put to the test. The great thing about the Latin dance community is no matter what level you are at, someone who knows how to move will sweep you off of your feet. You’re always guaranteed a friendly, positive and outgoing atmosphere and an overall great time.
As you can see, Toronto has a rich multi-cultural diversity just waiting to be experienced. Even after spending so many years exploring the city, I still find hidden gems throughout the city on a regular basis. Toronto has so much for you to discover that no matter how many times you come back to visit, you’re guaranteed to have a great time.