We left Copenhagen at 11 AM on a Wednesday morning, August 9th. Amanda and I were off on a trip of our dreams to the US, where we would drive the Route 66 and watch a total solar eclipse in Illinois. But our first stop was actually in Canada, in the city of Toronto. When we were booking our flight tickets, we saw that it was possible to have an 8-hour stopover in Toronto on the way from Copenhagen to Los Angeles, which would be just enough time to get to the city center and explore it for a few hours. As the explorers we are, we decided to book it.
So off we were to Canada, my 59th country! I know that I probably shouldn’t count Canada, since I haven’t seen anything but the center of Toronto, but I’ve still seen something, so in my book, it counts. Also, I KNOW that I will be coming back to Canada! There’s so much that I want to explore there, so I’ll probably come back soon. It’s at the top of my travel wishlist!
At 1 PM, we were finally in Toronto. An hour later, after going through customs, and taking a train for 25 minutes, we were in the very center of the city! Skyscrapers were towering above us and we quickly got a neck ache for looking up so much!
We didn’t have much time to explore the city, so we chose a few interesting sights to see and actually managed to make it to most of them in just 4,5 hours!
Our first sight was the famous CN Tower, Toronto’s landmark. Towering above all other buildings in the city, this tower stands at 553,33 metres and is the second tallest manbuilt structure in the world, after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. It’s possible to go to an observation deck to get a panoramic view of Toronto, but the queue was enormous and we were short on time, so we gave it a miss.
Instead of getting the view from the CN Tower, we decided to catch a ferry to the Central Island in Toronto Islands, a set of small islands in Lake Ontario located just a few kilometres south of Toronto’s city center. This is where all of those famous pictures of Toronto are taken!
Getting to and from the island took much longer than we had imagined, and we actually ended up spending two hours on the trip, while only spending 15 minutes actually exploring the island and taking pictures of the famous view.
But the view was gorgeous, making the trip worthwhile!
Back in the center of Toronto, we walked to Queen Street West and the City Hall, another one of Toronto’s distinctive landmarks. This is the very heart of the city.
We then walked along Queen Street West until we came to Spadina Avenue, where we made a right turn for one of Toronto’s six Chinatowns!
A Chinatown is an ethnic enclave with a high concentration of ethnic Chinese residents and businesses. You’ve probably been to one yourself, as they are just about everywhere in the western world! In all larger cities, there’s a Chinatown – and sometimes a Koreatown, Greektown, Little Italy etc. as well. I’ve been to MANY Chinatowns – too many to count – and I enjoy it every time. Small communities have always fascinated me, and so has the Chinese culture and cuisine.
The main Chinatown in Toronto, which is the one we went to, is the second-largest Chinatown in North America!
Located a few blocks from the main Chinatown, is Kensington Market, a multicultural neighbourhood with one of Toronto’s best and most famous markets. The market was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 2006, and is one of the most visited places in the city – and with good reason!
The place definitely had a different feel to it than the rest of Toronto. The atmosphere was much more laid-back, hippie-like if you want, with many cool shops and bars to discover.
The market was the last place we visited on our short stopover in Toronto. Afterwards, we walked back to Union Station and caught a train back to the airport. Here, we went through a long immigration process for the US, before being able to board our plane for Los Angeles, where our adventures in the States began!
Exploring Toronto was a lot of fun and I really liked the vibe of the city. I would’ve loved to spend more time there, as there’s so much more I want to see including Little Italy, Greektown, Cabbagetown etc. Someday (soon!!) I’ll come back to explore more of both Toronto and the rest of Canada!