An ode to Toronto

September 22, 2007 at 10:53 am | Posted in places | 3 Comments

We all know that Toronto is hugely diverse (most multicultural city in the world) and reminiscent of NYC (“New York run by the Swiss,” “Canada’s version of New York”). But what is it like to live here? I don’t think I’ve written a whole lot about Toronto on this blog. I know that I’ve written about doing various things here, and you can probably get the sense that I like the city, but I’ve never dedicated an entire post to it. So, Toronto baby, it’s your time to shine!

(Ok, for those not in the know, the picture up there is of the CN Tower. It’s like the Space Needle in Seattle. I’ve never been up it and I probably never will, but it is a landmark, so I snapped a shot of it while Aundra was visiting, mainly because she kept calling it the Space Needle. They do look remarkably similar.   This picture is one of the few that I have of Toronto, and I swear, it’s a LOT prettier than it looks.)

Anyway, I’ve lived here for two years now, following a 9-month stint in Miami and before that, 5 years in Portland, Oregon. While Portland remains the city love of my life, and Miami is both home and the stinking cesspool of my unhappy adolescence, Toronto is a pretty freakin’ awesome place to spend one’s mid-twenties. This is by far the biggest city I’ve ever lived in, and I have the added bonus of living in a residential neighborhood downtown (or in midtown, if you want to be particular), and I just love it.

For starters, the food here is hard to beat. There’s the whole multicultural/diversity thing, which leads to an insane variety of ethnic restaurants and cuisines (basically everything is represented here, although anyone from the West Coast of the States will complain about the quality of the Mexican food. Dudes. It costs like a buck fiddy for a meal in Mexico. Yes, I know that it’s delicious, but I just don’t see how a Canadian burrito really tastes that different from a Californian burrito, when it’s just rice and beans and maybe some meat and some veggies, and either way you’re out, like, 5 bucks. So suck it up. Go eat roti or something).

Toronto is a big city, but it’s composed of lots of smaller neighborhoods.  Again, the diversity — there’s Chinatown and Greektown, Little Italy and Little India.  My neighborhood is called the Annex and it’s full of big, old rambling houses.  And approximately 3 million sushi restaurants.  I walk out onto my deck and it’s like being in the treetops of a park, but if I walk down the street I have a billion bars and restaurants at my disposal.  It’s not the most ethnically diverse neighborhood in the world, but I don’t really care.  There are bars and shops and it’s close to work and it’s pretty, and those are the things I care about.

If you can’t find something to do in Toronto, you might as well be dead.  There are a bunch of pro sports teams.  There’s theater(re) and film and lots of museums, including a shoe museum (love).  There’s classical music and world music and rock ‘n’ roll.  There are dance clubs and dive bars and lounges and hoity-toity rooftop bars.  There’s shopping, from Prada to indie designers.  There are farmers markets.  Summer in TO is synonymous with festivals, celebrating damn near everything and anything.  Most of the neighborhoods have their own little street festivals.  Every art and craft under the sun is available for viewing and participation.  There are islands and parks and patios.  There’s outdoor skating in the winter.  Seriously, if you can’t find something to do, you might as well just give up.

The people… let’s see…Toronto and Torontonians, loathed and reviled by the rest of Canada.  I guess there is the sense that if you live here you don’t really need to go anywhere else, but I also get the impression that Toronto and its denizens know that it’ll never be New York.  And it’s not as if other Canadian cities don’t have their perks.  I’ve only been to Montreal and Ottawa, but those are fine places, too, and if I lived there I’m sure I’d be writing about their charms.  I don’t know — to me, it doesn’t seem like people here are any better or any worse than people in other large North American cities.

Of course, there are drawbacks.  It’s full of hipsters and it can be hard to meet cool people if you’re not in school.  Summer can be humid and smoggy, but oh my God, it pales in comparison to anything the southern US has to offer.  It is expensive.  But certainly it’s cheaper than New York or San Francisco, and I don’t mind spending more on rent than I would in other places if it gets me the extras that it does here.


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