Vancouver was the very first city I visited in Canada. I remember falling in love with that city straight away. The fact that you had this amazing city set with such an amazing natural background meant that you got the best of both worlds.
You can literally finish work in the busy city and within minutes be up in the mountains – scenery totally changed, skiing to your heart’s content, then head back into the city for dinner, drinks and be out dancing at some pretty amazing clubs till the wee hours! There just weren’t many cities I’d visited prior that felt like that and I fell hard for Vancouver.
Suffice to say, it set the tone for me for all of Canada and it was with this expectation I headed off to Toronto for a week (with a little time out to check out Niagara, of course – I’d never been but Lloyd had…).
What kind of took me totally by surprise was how over the next few days, Toronto would rush right up to the vie with Vancouver for my favourite city in Canada (I’m even still conflicted about which one I like more to this very day… 😄).
We arrived in the city on a sunny evening and headed straight to one of my favourite hotels – The Shangri La.
The last time we were in Vancouver, we stayed at the Shangri La (see here) and I absolutely love heading up to the Shangri La in London for drinks and dinner – it’s in the Shard, the tallest building in all of the UK and as such has one of the very best views in London… throw in cocktails and good food and you have yourself one of the best ways to spend an evening in London!
But I digress… we’re talking about Toronto here. 😀
I love everything about the rooms here (they just have even little details that you don’t realise you want/need till you notice them) but my favourite thing here has got to be that bath! I mean – come on, a bath, high up in the city with that view?
Suffice to say, we settled in very quickly and decided to head out for a quick bite to eat for something of a late lunch!
We actually ended up finding a place that does poutine and mistakenly ordered a family portion each (each portion serves 4 people!). I kinda wished we’d been warned in advance, we just assumed ‘supersizing’ this was like you might back in the UK but my goodness, we gave it our very best shot and ended up eating at least 3 of the 4 people’s portions each. 😆
That much poutine ended up knocking us right out when we got back to the hotel and we woke up far too late to venture out for dinner from what was meant to be a mini jet-lag nap! Midnight room service was the order of the evening and boy was it good (though, to be honest, I kinda already expected that from the Shangri La 😄)
The next morning, for breakfast I went for some of my very favourites at the Shangri La – at least the ones I’d tried before in the Vancouver hotel – homemade granola, fresh fruits, pancakes (eaten before I even remember to take a photo) and dim sum (…and yes, I’m very aware all we’d done in Toronto till this point was eat and sleep – I find it’s best to deal with that jet-lag head one and proceed to enjoy your holiday properly afterwards 😄).
Breakfast over with, we headed out on foot to take in the sights and sounds of Toronto!
As soon as you start to walk around the city, you start to realise that Toronto is not a particularly small city. It’s huge, shiny and feels a lot like New York or Chicago in so many ways.
We dipped in and out of churches, past the CN Tower and headed to the waterfront before I decided to throw in a bit of structure into our plans (rather than aimless wandering) and head over to one place I’d wanted to visit in Toronto for ages – Casa Loma.
Oh, and don’t forget, you can book your tickets to Casa Loma before you go. This helped us loads, especially as it was all planned before we even set foot off the plane.
Casa Loma is a beautiful gothic-style castle/mansion (it’s on the opposite side of Toronto, from the waterfront area so we hopped into a taxi to get here though you could also take the train) and the ‘Casa’ has actually served as the setting for so many amazing films (a lot of which you’ve probably seen and not realised).
It’s such an impressive place to see – inside and outside and we wasted no time traipsing through its many rooms and hallways, occasionally drifting off into daydreams about what it would be like to own this place and call it home.
My favourite part of Casa Loma, however, is right up at the top! You take a few winding stairs, walk through what feels like an attic and arrive at one of the best views in Toronto.
The CN Tower might have the highest and arguably, the best view of Toronto, but I’d argue that the best view of the city is one with the tower in it.
After taking what must have been like a million photos up here, we headed back into the castle, intrigued to see what the view from the other turret was like.
Alas, at the other turret, you can’t really head outside, like the previous one but it’s still worth checking out as it’s a very different design to the other one.
We slowly made our way back downstairs, stopping to check out the great hall and impressive bedrooms (with very ‘American Horror Story’ type bathrooms) before eventually saying farewell to this impressive building in the city.
It was at this point, no longer distracted by the beauty that is Casa Loma, that I finally realised how hungry I was!
With that, we hopped into a taxi and headed back to the city in search of food and even more of Toronto’s fantastic sights!