Two weekends ago, a number of events occurred. Brad had just received his passport, and it was anxiously awaiting use. I was feeling antsy, since I hadn’t been on a trip in awhile. Brad read about Poutine, a Canadian dish involving french fries, cheese curds, and gravy. And Mike got a new campus job.
So I said, “hey, we should go to Canada.”
And then, we did. A week of planning, lots of international hotel calls (yay google voice – free to canada!), some scurrying and homework-finishing, a five-hour drive, and then – we were over the border.
Friday night, we arrived at our Toronto hotel and headed to our first stop: Big Smoke Burger, allegedly home to the best burgers in Toronto and some fantastic poutine. I say allegedly because I have not tried any other burgers in Toronto – but I don’t doubt that theirs are close to the best. And poutine, as weird as it sounds, was incredibly delicious.
The next morning, we got up early and ate a box of Tim Horton’s Timbits, like true Canadians. Then we acquired our day-long subway passes and began exploring. We started at the St. Lawrence Market, and were amazed at the selection of produce – where does Canada grow all these things?
We bought Kinder Surprise eggs, which are apparently considered contraband in the U.S. But we ate them all (except the surprises!) before crossing the border again.
After further meandering, we headed toward the harbor for a tour of Toronto’s Steamwhistle Brewery. The small brewery is located on the historical grounds of an old roundhouse – you know, the place where the trains go on the circle and get spun into their different garages? I had never seen one in real life, so my 8-year-old Brio-loving self was thrilled to see a roundhouse in real life. It was so cool!
The best part of this brewery tour was the brilliant green that Steamwhistle uses for their packaging. It was everywhere!
After the tour, we headed toward Chinatown for an afternoon lunch. We dashed into an art store, where I bought 13 sheets of the most adorable paper of all time. Then we all had the classic Sam Janis foreign country experience: finding a new fabric store.
Toronto’s King’s Textiles was located near Chinatown, in what is called the Fashion District. The location is a little bit run down, with lots of (awesome) graffiti. But the fabric store was just my type, with a filled-up warehouse feel and creaky floors that you can’t hear because all the sounds are so well-damped by the cloth.
It was large, but not enormous – however, due to the towers of fabric and the eerie stillness of the air, it would be easy to get lost forever. Mike loved that he and Carrie could stand on opposite ends of the aisle pictured, nearly shouting, unable to hear each other.
The only downside of this store was the pricing – fabrics were more than I like to spend. But I was on vacation, and we were in a big city, so what could I expect? I bought a cute turquoise knit and plan to make a henley of some kind.
While in the Fashion District, we happened upon the giant thimble at the top of this post. That discovery and its photographic proof justify my trip entirely.
The Fashion District isn’t like the Garment Districts in Paris or New York – the area was mostly dedicated to clothing stores, although I did find a few stores selling buttons. And with two boys in tow, my shopping freedom was limited.
Everything in Toronto closes early, presumably because it’s so cold. So we took the long way home, stopped at some stores and ate more poutine, then took the subway back to the hotel. The subway was one long, continuous car with accordion joints and moving floors to accomodate twists in the track: Brad and Mike insisted on riding where the floor moved.
We got in the car and drove to our Saturday night hotel near Niagara Falls, and ate grilled cheeses at a strange diner that looked like a spaceship.
After Church Sunday morning, another Tim Horton’s breakfast, and an exploration of Canadian Wal-Mart to find milk that comes in bags, we headed out to look at Niagara Falls. I have decided two things: 1. It is a large waterfall and 2. It is a very cold place to be in early February.
We were hoping for something louder, more menacing perhaps – but the rushing water was, instead, almost of the peaceful sort. Near the falls, the mist was falling down on us as snow flurries, which was way cool – but a further reminder that February is not the best time for a visit.
We froze, I took lots of pictures, Mike ate yet more Tim Horton’s, and then we headed back to school. Our work was waiting where we left it, but we felt good – especially me. Who picks up and goes to another country for the weekend? I like the idea of being that person – again.