Two weeks ago, we ventured up to Toronto for a vacation. Things had a bit of a rocky start since the airline ceased to be going out of our local airport, and we had to travel to Philly to get on it. It, of course, took longer to get to the airport than it took for the actual flight. I love flying, I freakin’ hate airports. The TSA lines weren’t bad though, and we got up to Toronto in the morning.
After navigating the rail line from the airport to Toronto and then the subway to our hotel, we finally got ensconced in our room. When ever we can, we stay at a Kimpton Hotel, since they are always nice, and they have nicely liberal policies, including taking pets. The St. George was, as usual, in a mid 20th C mid rise building and we were on the 7th floor. The room was about twice the size of the one we stayed in when we stayed at a Kimpton in Boston. And speaking of Boston, it felt like it was about that expensive in Toronto, but with a good exchang
l was near the University of Toronto, and this was definitely a college bar but very nice, and I liked the seating in it. The first time we went, it was great customer service. The second time, there was no customer service, so your mileage may vary.
That evening, we went out to find the reason we ended up in Toronto. I had read about a “nerd” bar, the Storm Crow Tavern that is located out in Vancouver. We were prepared to fly out there to go to it but then found out that they were going to open a location in Toronto, the Storm Crow Manor. It’s a couple of streets back from Yonge Street, which is the main entertainment/LGBT area of Toronto. I do need to show you the baby changing station:
They have very good food and drink. The décor is very much for the happy nerd in me. I’m not much of a photographer, so just go out to the link and look around. They were working on their outdoor area when we were there, which is complete now (I think.) You can also follow them on Facebook to see what they are doing. We went there three times during the 4 days we were there.
I got “Romulan Ale” as you can see. and here’s a video of it bubbling.
The next day we walked down to the CN Tower, a ridiculously high observation installation, about a fifth of a mile high. That’s it standing above the skyline. We were going to go up in it but the line was ridiculous and it was hot. So we proceeded across the street to the Steam Whistle Brewery, which had just opened a German-style biergarten. They had a very good pilsner, and I had a radler (beer and grapefruit soda) made with it, and my husband had just the beer. He also had the chicken schnitzel and I had beef tartar. It was a little over mustardy for me, but good, well chopped rather than ground.
We chose to walk up Yonge Street on the way back to the hotel. And there we found a Tokyo Smoke, another reason we went to Toronto. We partook some very low dose capsules. I’ve tried weed before but never had much of a reaction to it. This wasn’t much of a reaction either but it does seem to make it easer to think about things creatively and to get rid of the anxiety that you aren’t doing something “right” when doing art, writing, etc. The folks at the store were very professional and helpful. I really hope that PA gets recreational weed soon. The day was ended at Storm Crow again.
For Wednesday, I had made an appointment at a spa in the city, Hammam. It had advertised that it did Turkish baths and massages. My husband hadn’t had a professional massage before so I thought we’d both enjoy it. We had seen Turkish baths on various shows, most notably Tony Bourdain’s travel show, and wanted to try one. After wrapping up with towels, we spend some time in the steam room, a lovely tiled area with benches. It was HOT, but they had cold wet washcloths in a refrigerator right outside, so I took one and breathed through it while the sweat streamed off me. Then the bath attendents took us into a room with a large heated stone table where we laid down and were sluiced by hot and cold water, body temperature soap suds as well as being well scrubbed with what felt like 80 grit sand paper, but in a good way. After the bath, we were taken to another room for the massages. I got a full body massage and my husband got just the upper body since he’s a computer guy and, being tall, hunches over his desk all of the time. I’d definitely recommend it, even if it was a little pricy. But you only live once, eh?
After the spa, we wanted to get some dim sum, so we walked into Chinatown. We ended up at the Sky Dragon restaurant in a small multistory mall. I think we were the only Caucasian folks there, and we had absolutely no idea what we were eating, but it was tasty. There were several sets of dumplings, I could recognize the shu mai, and then we had a deep fried thing that seemed to be something like a crab cake, but rather shaggy on the outside. These were brought around in cards by elderly Chinese ladies, who were amused with us.
The next day we knew it was going to be rainy all day. We were just up the street from the Royal Ontario Museum, so we saved that for the rainy day. When we were there they had two special exhibitions, one for Indian treasures and the other paintings from the age of Rembrandt. The Indian show had caparisons for elephants and horses, clothing, canopies and jewels. The painting exhibit was beautiful, and I found I could appreciate it more since I’ve been dabbling with painting myself. One painter, I think it’s was Pieter Jansz. Saenredam, struck me as having what I would consider modern sensibilities. (an example of his work).
Finally, for dinner that evening, we again overcame our shyness and anxiety and went to a Japanese barbeque place right across from our hotel. It was called Gyubee, and seems to be a small chain up in Canada. Like the dim sum place, we really had no idea what we were doing, but it was fun grilling thinly sliced meats and vegetables on the gas grill in the center of the table. We had pork belly, brisket, marinated short rib, asparagus and mushrooms. For desert they had these great popsicles, Melona, and we had the mango ones.
We had idly known that the Toronto Raptors were playing in the NBA finals. Being not interested in sports in the least, we really didn’t pay attention. But that night, I woke up to hear all sorts of hooting and screaming. The celebration was on, and we could hear them seven stories up. And we were a couple of miles from the real craziness down at the arena by the CN Tower.
All in all, a good vacation, though every time I come home, I vow to never leave again. My anxiety chews me up on vacations. Hope you enjoyed reading!