In 2012, I've spent a good chunk of time in Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris and Dublin. I visit these cities as a tourist, doing some homework, marking up a map and hitting the streets with my camera. I don't visit Toronto this way, as I've always lived here.
I often wonder what it would be like to see Toronto as a tourist sees Toronto. On Reddit today, there's an interesting post from a Texan who visited Toronto and fell in love with this city.
Forgive me for ranting but...I have been all over the planet and after spending a few weeks here.... Toronto is hands down my favorite city of all time.
Living in Houston provides me with extremely minimal public transportation, and I drive 100 miles a day between my home and job. If you take public transportation in Houston, you are most likely homeless, or at least impoverished. The TTC may have its downsides, but it is phenomenal compared to systems in NYC, Sydney, San Francisco, etc. The subway may look small in scale compared to these other cities, but the quality of service is simply on another level. I can step outside and walk 10 feet to the Ossington/Davenport bus stop, and be all the way across the city on the subway in 15-20 minutes.
The level of cultural diversity in Toronto is also extremely pleasant to me. Korea town and China town seem so much more comfortably integrated into the cityscape. We have a large section of Houston which is considered "China town", but it simply isn't integrated at all within the city, and is quite a distance away from downtown. Also, we certainly don't get to enjoy the scent of stinky tofu wafting through the air for miles around.
The parks and green areas proliferate within Toronto, and impress on me that Canadians do truly value the impact that such places have on everyday life. Spent quite some time in Christie Pitts and High Park just drinking with friends, and enjoying some of your fine beverages (LOVE that nasty Faxe 10, Holstein Maibock, Holstein Festbok, ciders,and anything Molson). Truly wish the US would switch to the Canadian style of measuring alcohol content.
Speaking of beer, didn't matter if the prices were on average triple what I pay in Texas, the Victory Cafe in the Annex had one of the finest selections of beer I've come across. The beers on tap by Great Lakes brewery and Flying Monkey had me coming back daily. The Highlander Scottish Pale Ale was killer as well. However, for food, I was on a hunt to find the best poutine in the city.
Two poutine places stuck out to me as ever-dependable. "Come and Get It" and Smoke's. Smoke's seemed like it was going to be similar to a typical chain restaurant in the states, but the quality of their Country Style poutine (bacon, chicken, cheese curds, mushrooms, carmelized onions, gravy) blew me away. I was going back to Bloor St for that poutine at least twice a week. Also Spent quite a bit of time at Future Bakery enjoying their Chicken Schnitzel.
Finally, the one thing that made Toronto stand out the most....was the people. I know Canadians from surrounding/rival cities (politely) talk a lot of crap about Torontonians, but for a big city, it had the most kind population I have ever experienced. Even the small cities outside of Houston don't come close to the friendly feel of Toronto. My whole life I've always assumed that southerners are the most friendly people ever, and Torontonians made us look like Parisians....or New Yorkers..(ones that don't give away Gotye tickets). Everywhere I went there were community events going on, free food being given out in neighborhoods, and just an endless amount of effortless diversity. However, this kindness did not always extend to some places....cough (subway in korea town) cough, but overall, I felt immediately right at home.
There is so much more I could rant on about....the museums...the art galleries...Timmies.....the amount of amazing shows...Honest Ed's.....the GRAFFITI....but I've already spent too much time redditing on the clock at work, so I'll cut it short. In the end, I would have to designate Toronto as New York city, but cleaner, more beautiful, and with a VASTLY lower population of douchebags. I would choose Toronto over NYC a thousand times over. Also, your used video game shops have the best selection I have ever seen. I miss the city already, and hope to be returning soon for some Toronto winter action.
Peace out y'all, and never take your city for granted.
P.S - Excellent bud.
OH and I forgot....this video is the best single depiction of the city I have ever seen: Toronto Tempo.
What do you think of his observations? Do we take Toronto for granted?