Toronto, Canada

Before going to Canada, all I knew of Toronto is that its people love ice hockey, it’s where the CN Tower is, and that it’s usually very cold. After having visited, I can confirm that this is all true.

Nicola had flown out to meet me at the end of a business trip, and we moved from our corporate hotel to a little Airbnb in Cabbagetown, a quiet suburb of Toronto. Our host had kindly left some locally-made bread and goat’s cheese, so we made some makeshift sandwiches that before heading out for a wander around the area.

We were heading towards the Phoenix Theatre, where Canadian singer-songwriter Coeur de Pirate was playing. I discovered her while searching for French music a few years ago, and the Toronto leg of her Canadian tour conveniently coincided with our trip. I’m pretty sure we were the only British people in the tiny venue, but we didn’t let anyone know, singing along in broken French and pretending to know every word.

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Earlier in the week, while I was at a conference, we had both visited the Toronto Islands. A short boat ride across Lake Ontario is a collection of small islands that have barely changed since in the 1950s. Ramshackle wooden houses line gravel pathways, and you could see residents twitching net curtains as they watched tourists passing by. Walking along the sandy beaches of the lake, you are only reminded of the presence of Canada’s largest city by the occasional hum of planes taking off from the island airport.

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The following day I’d booked a table at the top of the CN Tower, which I had carefully tried to coordinate with the sunset. Right on time, the sun went down, and the sparkling lights of Toronto appeared below. As we sat down at the table, Nicola carefully placed her bag on the windowsill beside her, completely oblivious to the fact that the window remained in the same place while the floor rotated.

No trip to Canada would be complete without a trip to see an ice hockey match. We headed to the Ricoh Coliseum to see Toronto Marlies versus Manitoba Moose. The Marlies won fairly easily, but the most intriguing part was during the final break, when local pizza merchants ‘Pizza Pizza’ (inspiring name, no?) got the crowd to throw pepperoni pucks at a giant pizza on the ice. We were leaving Canada early the next day, and were slightly concerned that we were going to end up with a $250 pizza voucher to spend. Dodging the replica cured meat being flung around the stands, we headed back to our apartment in Cabbagetown.

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We stayed at: Riverdale Suite Artist Retreat (airbnb.co.uk)
We ate at: 360 Restaurant, CN Tower (cntower.ca)
We watched: Coeur de Pirate (coeurdepirate.com)

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