This time last month, we took a trip to Toronto and Montreal for a week and a half, and now I’m finally getting a chance to sit down, look at all of the photos, and blog about it. This wasn’t the most ~exotic~ trip we’ve ever taken, but for someone who was born and raised in Canada, I haven’t travelled much within the country and have never been to either cities. Whenever my fiancé and I plan a vacation, our first instinct is to go as far as possible, but we thought the low Canadian dollar was a good opportunity to stay and explore somewhere in Canada. I’ve heard so many good things about both cities, so I was really excited!
This post is a little all over the place, but it’s mostly about my favourite things we ate and did in both cities!
We were in Toronto for 8 days and in Montreal for 4 days. While we were in Toronto, we met up with some friends, which was a lot of fun! On the way there, we found out that one of my bridesmaids was also in Toronto at the same time as us, so we met up with her and her fiance for brunch. As I mentioned in my haul posts, I also met up with stashmatters to do some makeup shopping, which was awesome! It’s not often I get to hang out with someone who likes makeup as much as I do. My fiancé also has a friend from high school who lives in Toronto with his wife, and they took us for dinner to Momofuku Ramen, which was on our to-eat list. They also brought us to a new café called Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Angel Café for dessert, which is a Japanese maid café. My fiancé and I had heard of this concept a while back and had always wanted to experience one, but we thought we would have to go all the way to Japan for that! It was certainly interesting (and not as creepy as I thought it would be).
This vacation was definitely a foodie trip for us – I felt like we were constantly eating. We ate so much that I started getting sick of food around the Day 5 mark (yes, apparently that is possible). We loved how inventive the food in Toronto was – there was a lot of fusion food that we thought was so creative. One of my favourite meals there was recommended to us by my bridesmaid, who had gone the evening before – it was a Pineapple Bun Burger from a Chinese-Jamaican fusion restaurant called Patois. The burger is two patties sandwiched between a Chinese pineapple bun. The contrast between sweet and savoury was so good. And yes, I ate that whole burger by myself.
My other favourite place was Dat Biet Burger. Dat Biet means “awesome” or “special” or Vietnamese, so this place was basically called “Awesome Burger”. The burgers here are Asian inspired – I was excited to try the Pho burger, which is a burger with toppings you will find in Pho (Vietnamese noodles), such as bean sprouts and hoisin sauce – it even comes with a little container of Pho broth for you to dip your burger in! My fiance tried the banh mi burger, which uses the same ingredients as a Vietnamese sub, but in a burger – not quite as different as the Pho burger, but still good. The burgers look like an absolute hot mess, but they were SO DELICIOUS.
Other than eating, we did do some other activities! We bought a CityPass in Toronto, which is basically a discounted package that gets you into five or six of the biggest attractions in the city. We are huge fans of the CityPass and have always gotten one in every city we’ve gone to that offers one. We would highly recommend this! We used the pass to its full advantage and went to all the attractions, which included the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, The Royal Ontario Museum, Casa Loma, and the Toronto Zoo.
One of the highlights for me on the CityPass was Casa Loma. This beautiful place was once a financier’s grand residence back in the earlier 1900’s and has now turned into a museum due to its unique architecture (you don’t really see castles anywhere in Canada because it’s such a young country). I don’t know why, but I have a thing for castle gardens in particular – guess I just enjoy a very well-manicured lawn? I also found the history of Casa Loma to be quite interesting as well. The residence is so beautiful that I kept begging my fiancé that we should get married there since they do wedding ceremonies there (they were setting up a tent in the gardens while we were there), but he didn’t take me very seriously 😛 During our visit, they were filming a mini-TV series called The Kennedys After Camelot, so unfortunately there were a couple of rooms that were closed off to the public!
As we are both rollercoaster junkies, we also had to visit Wonderland while we were there. Luckily, it wasn’t extremely busy when we went, and the lineups weren’t unbearable. It’s funny because as much as I love roller coasters, as soon as I got strapped in to a ride, I would freak out and tell my fiance that I regretted getting on – I think it’s the anticipation that is scarier than the actual ride! My favourite ride was the Behemoth, which is a traditional coaster with a bunch of big drops. I think that one is a favourite for many people!
My absolute favourite memory from this trip was was Niagara Falls. I asked a lot of people their thoughts before I went, and only got lukewarm feedback, but I really enjoyed it. We just did a day trip there and spent a total of 6 hours in the area. The waterfalls (I never knew there were two!) were beautiful on land, but getting up close and personal on the Maiden of the Mist and getting splashed by the water was my favourite part – I didn’t think we would get as wet as we actually did (my fiance’s sleeves and bottom of his pants were soaking because the poncho wasn’t long enough for him :P), and you could really feel how magnificent and powerful the falls are when you’re close.
After that, we travelled by VIA Rail to Montreal, which was a pretty fuss-free trip – I wish airports could be that easy! People say that the scenery is beautiful when you travel by VIA Rail, but I think that only applies when you travel from coast to coast – the scenery was just lots of farmland (more than I imagined there would be!) In Montreal, we stayed at a hotel that was only a few blocks from Old Montreal, so we were there quite often as it was easily walkable. It is quite touristy, but I loved the atmosphere. We went inside the Notre-Dame Basilica, and the beauty of it was overwhelming.
A couple of blocks further from Old Montreal is the Old Port of Montreal. Since we were there during the May long weekend, there was a lot of hustle and bustle there. We visited the Old Port during our first evening there, and it was so nice to walk along the St. Lawrence river during sunset (while eating an ice-cream sandwich, of course).
I “hiked” (it’s an easy uphill walk) up Mont Royal in the most ridiculous outfit – a dress and wedges. In my defense, that day we headed out without any plan, and I would have worn proper walking shoes had I known we would be doing a nature walk. It was awful and I was grumpy the whole time (lol), which was my own fault because my fiancé kept telling me that we should stop and head back down. I just didn’t want to quit halfway and miss the opportunity for a good view. Anyways, I’m really glad we made it to the top, however painful it was – the view of the city was spectacular.
On the way home from Mont Royal, we stopped by Schwartz’s, which is a renowned Hebrew delicatessen in Montreal. The lineup was unreal, and snaked all the way outdoors. It was ridiculously hot that day, I was still grumpy from the hike, and I wasn’t even hungry, so I was unimpressed with the idea of waiting in line for an hour to get a sandwich…but I knew my fiance wanted to try it so I conceded. Luckily, we found out shortly after getting in line that we were in the restaurant line. They actually had a separate section of the deli that was for take-out only, and that the take-out line was indoors and considerably shorter. We did the take-out line instead, and I am 100% glad that we did not wait in the restaurant line, because the smoked meat sandwich…was not worth the wait. I might get lynched for saying this, but I thought it was overrated.
That’s it for my vacation post! There were so many other places we visited in both cities, but then I’d have to write a novel!
Have you ever visited Toronto or Montreal (or are you a local?) What are your thoughts and/or suggestions of places to visit?