every since my first visit in 2012, i’ve been yelling about how much i love canada on a bi-weekly basis. how could i not? it’s the home of maple syrup for starters and who loves pancakes more than me? no one. i’ve spent time in both toronto and montreal. they are very different cities that i love for different reasons. in an attempt to not looked pressed, i will try to keep this travel guide moment brief.
toronto. birthplace of the light-skinned trap god, aubrey drake graham.
i had moved on from my obsession with him by the time of my visit, so i had to find other reasons to enjoy this town. one of my besties was there to dj a pride party and a gang of us just hopped on the road trip. i went in june and the weather was perfect. toronto isn’t a landfill like nyc so you can actually breathe deeply and smile (instead of cough) upon release. even though i’m currently on a air/water/self-esteem diet, i have to say my fave thing about toronto is the hot dog stands! i mean, who knew street meat could be so classy? forget the ketchup and mustard. stands in toronto have toppings like mango chutney. i obviously consumed about 11 hot sausages within 3 days of being in t.dot. we stumbled upon a marijuana-themed restaurant called hot box cafe. its byop (bring your own pot), but they have all of your stoner needs at every table. the food is deelish and they have awesome smoothies. to get the full ambiance, make sure you snag a table on the patio. it’s beautiful out there even though you’re sitting under a massive weed cloud. i’m not a smoker and i really had a great time, so fret not my straight edge friends.
besides it being toronto pride, saturday was canada day, so toronto was on 10,000,000. this was my first pride parade and it was awesome! even traditional families were there cheering the floats on. from the canadian armed forces float to the little bus carrying queer elderly people it was the sweetest thing i’ve ever seen. i cried at one point. it was really great to see a city full of progressive folks. toronto has the premium on nice citizens. people spoke and smiled everywhere we went. we struck up convos easily and felt safe roaming around all night. i can’t really speak about the usual nightlife in toronto, but anything this chick is spinning at or going to will be fun with a lot of body rolling involved. we went to two parties and it was nonstop dancing. toronto is not for the wallflowers of the world.
after falling in love with toronto, the francophile in me couldn’t wait to get to montreal.
i had 0 plans this year for memorial day, so i rounded up some friends and b-lined north on the greyhound express. so i know a lot of you are like “ewwww greyhound”, but it was a great ride thanks to the 11pm take off time and the cute french canadians filling up the seats. it rained off and on all weekend, but it somehow managed to make montreal even more gorgeous.
i haaaaaate tourist spots, but i loooove nature. if you share the same sentiment, bite the bullet and hike up to the top of mont royal. the view is similar to that of sacre coeur in paris. it’s a nice, steep walk up so i collapsed into a pile of tulips once i reached the top, but once i regained my strength, it was a beautiful view. after that insane workout, reward yourself with a trip straight down the street to a&w takeout (it’s on mont royal + st. denis) for the largest size of fries available with the chipotle dipping sauce. on the walk from mont royal park to a&w is a vintage store called folles alliees. it’s packed with clothes and accessories to the point of looking like a bordello’s storage closet, but it works. the prices have a really wide range, so it will suit all pocketbooks. the staff is pretty awesome too. we wound up hanging out in there for like an hour just talking. montreal is famous for vintage, but this was the only one we visited.
summer didn’t plan on arriving until late july this year, so montreal was obviously super cold on top of the rain. the only way to survive a crappy may weekend is with pho. i did an entire post dedicated to chinatown, so you should know that i hit up that area in every city i visit. we went to pho bang new york (obviously) on boulevard st. laurent. remember this pic? yup, up in the pho bang. they serve bowls of pho bigger than the state of texas and it’s under $10. can’t go wrong with that! besides all things asian, i’m a real burger and beer jawn. brasseur de montreal was heaven on earth. you must try their burger…it’s topped with pancetta and gruyere for chrissake. they brew all of the beers in house so there are tons to choose from, but my fave is the la rooibos. south african red tea mixed with beer is essentially the love of christ in liquid form. walk for about 15 minutes and find yourself at the darling foundry art gallery. it was closed the day we went, but we had a great chat with one of the installation guys there. he was from brooklyn, so that was a spirited exchange. the facade and picnic tables in front of it make for some good instagram moments. i should note that french is the main language in montreal, so commit some phrases to memory, even if it’s just to look cool. montreal is the perfect blend of everything i love about france and brooklyn and $500 cheaper than a flight across the pond. i was legit looking for jobs on the ride back to new york.
i traveled to both cities before i even thought of starting a blog, so i am forgetting some must-dos, but the second temps hit 75*, i’m back to canada. i will be sure to do an update. have i convinced you that canada is the best neighbor ever…cuz it is!