New York like city: Toronto

A short weekend in Canada`s largest city

Well, I have known this metropolis for over 20 years now. The statement about „New York under Swiss Administration“ was said by Sir Peter Ustinov already many years ago –well said!

I had not been to Toronto since 2013 and I have to say that the extended skyline is really impressive – this is boomtown! One of the city`s big assets is the location right on Lake Ontario, it feels like you are close to the sea (well – as we know, everything in Canada is a bit bigger and taller – skyscrapers, lakes, woods, bears and moose).

A Competitor for New York City?

Talking about the Big Apple – yes, that is definitely one of most striking cities in the world but can you believe that New York City alone has more German visitors per year than all of Canada? Even considering the overall media hype and the excellent air access this still strikes me. And I truly believe that Toronto could get a bit more of that piece of cake since it is likewise a perfect destination for a city break (just think about Christmas shopping!). And you can ideally combine it with a short excursion to the Niagara Falls (yes, the Canadian side is more spectacular than the US) and the Muskoka regions („pure Canada“ with woods and lakes) which are both just 2 hours away. So – convinced to buy your Christmas gifts in Toronto this fall?

So much to do and see…

You can really spend a week in this city without getting bored. Apart from the excursions already mentioned do a harbour cruise on Lake Ontario – and visit Toronto Islands close by, with a stunning view on the skyline! Needless to say that you have to take the elevator up to the CN Tower – until 2009 this was the tallest free-standing building in the world with 553 m. Although it has lost this title, it still is Toronto`s most important landmark and a „must visit“. Tip: go there for a sundowner on a beautiful day – the sunset is spectacular and on a clear day you may see the mist of Niagara Falls (no kidding)! – If you are into baseball and ice hockey (hey, we are in North America), secure tickets for a match at the – visit mapleleafs.nhl.com and torontobaseball.ca (make sure you cheer for the Blue Jays!). And then there is shopping, of course. Numerous are the shopping malls like the Eaton Centre right downtown or – if you prefer high-end shopping, the boutiques in the charming neighbourhood of Yorkville with many buildings in the Victorian style. – Feeling like spending a day on the beach? No prob! Just take the ferry and go to Toronto Islands … sandy beaches make you feel like being in the Caribbean (well, almost…!) – and on top you have an impeccable view on the city skyline.

MULTICULTURE AT ITS BEST

Ready for a Harbour Cruise

Canada has been an immigration country for many years – and this is also reflected in its largest city. Toronto has a little Italy, Greektown, Chinatown and, and, and… almost the whole world is here! Your cab driver at the airport may easily be an Asian who tells you „welcome to my country“ with a nice accent.

This is also reflected by the gastronomy. It is hard to miss any specific country when it comes to dining. Talking about food and drinks – Toronto is coffee heaven! Apart from the many Starbuck`s outlets (which are not my cup of tea) you will find excellent coffeeshops all over the city – will get back to that later.

WHERE TO STAY?

The hotel scene in Toronto has considerably improved over the past years. Traditional hotels such as the Eaton Chealsea, the Fairmont Royal York and the Westin Harbout Castle (just to name a few) have been complemented by fancy design hotels. Yes, there is a Shangri-La now and also the spectacular Trump Tower – both are yet on my bucket list.

Two years ago I stayed at the Ritz Carlton with a perfect view on the CN Tower. This hotel is „the“ place to be during the International Film Festival in September, one of the most renowned ones in the world.

The stylish lobby of the Le Germain

This time I am staying at the Le Germain, neither too far away from the CN Tower. There are two hotels of this family, both within walking distance and both really stylish. You will find art objects all over the place and on the floors, in the rooms and the tiny state-of-the art gym on the 11th floor (with a great view on the CN Tower). Apples are offered to keep you healthy ;-). Breakfast is served in a nice kitchen-style restaurant (not overloading but yet enough to enjoy in the morning) – with excellent espresso machines. Since WLAN is now obviously more important to German tourists than sea view (imagine that!), let me add that you have high-speed internet all over the place, no matter how many devices you want to use – and at no cost, of course. Something to learn for some European hotels! In short – if you are into design hotels, I can certainly recommend this place for your visit!

YORKVILLE AND A FEW GASTRO TIPS

Toronto`s most elegant neighbourhood

I have always loved Yorkville for various reasons – you have plenty of nice cafés and restaurants, plenty of shops, a great view on the city skyline and the spectacular Royal Ontario Museum (www.rom.on.ca) – a must for arts and architecture lovers! The ambiance is pretty laid back and nothing better than having a bite or coffee in one of the many patios – Canada at its best!

I have a new favorite coffee hotspot – Café Moroco (yes, just one „c“ -morocochocalt.com). A very stylish design, a great and somehow hidden patio, delicious coffee and treats – yummy! And their menu is pretty creative – unter „Decadent Sins“ you find „It`s a Religious Thing“ and „Toffeegasm“ – who could resist those ;-)?

 
A classic spot for sipping coffee or eating out is Sassafraz (sassafraz.ca) – the best place to watch people (and maybe you will see a celeb in a city where constantly movies are being directed). For dinner I have discovered a new great place – Café Boulud, a very fancy and stylish restaurant with tables outside (if you don`t mind the street noise). Good service (like in most places in Canada), good selection of various dishes and great ambiance –however, a little bit on the expensive side. My excellent (veggie) pasta cost 29 CAD – nevertheless, worth to try.

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