A Beginners Adventure: Toronto
Toronto. The prize I never even knew about. As a Montrealer, I took great pride in my arrogance of never leaving my city.
Why would I? Montreal is perfect.
I was born in its maze of culture and never left wanting. But the Toronto hipsters beginning their pilgrimage East introduced me to a new world. Maple Leafs losing, street cars, Jimmy Brooks’ new life, and the six?
I admit, I grew curious about this far away “Trana” and law school was my ticket in. My first trip was a brief run in on my way to Vegas with my woes. I was completely shocked by the size of it.
I am no stranger to metropolises. I lived in Tehran for a few years and frequently visited New York City, but I was surprised Canada hid such a big city from me for so long. The highways, the skyscrapers, the amount of people, the urban planning! Was Toronto truly the legal Promised Land?
My first visit barely counted since I was in and out faster than the Blue Jays bandwagon. Recently, I had the chance to stay in Toronto for a few nights and get a better feel of the city.
Like the typical Montrealer, I assumed Toronto was a cold and sterile corporate land where Quebecers went to become federalist—I was definitely wrong.
In my first night, I had an amazing meal at “Little India” on 250 Queen Street West that rivaled the food I’ve had in the capital of Indian cuisine, London, England. I ordered the “meat combo”, a plethora of popular dishes perfect for the indecisive modern gourmand. Why choose when you can have it all.
Not only was the food fantastic, but also the price was equally satisfying. A common thread in my little Toronto adventure was my happy belly. From downing pints of Steam Whistle with calamari at “The Merchant, a Traveller’s Tavern” at 181 University Street, to besieging hot dog stands, Toronto’s food did not disappoint.
Toronto seems to have everything a closeted hipster desires.
I shared my stay with the TIFF and was surprised by the level of involvement from the city. Ticket lines filled by trendy folks in their colorful attires zigzagged across the city.
The city was pulsing with life and the energy was intoxicating, as were the Harry Potter drinks. “Lightning has struck” the city at The Lockhart, 1479 Dundas West. Although calling it a Harry Potter bar is a bit of a stretch, this IP proof joint lives up to all the hype. Owners Matt and Paris are certainly making magic with their unique cocktails. The bar food and the popcorn were equally great and the prices leave your Gringotts account intact. The bar is petite and the wait can be a bit long but this place was the highlight of my trip.
In the end, what does Toronto truly signify? Is it really the prize? The legal promised land? I don’t know.
Toronto is beautiful, it is worldy, but it is also a bit cold, crowded, vast, and certainly not Kingston. I almost forgot it isn’t normal to walk everywhere. I forgot all the people that swarm around you in a city. More than anything, I forgot that it isn’t normal to run into a friend at every street corner.