Back from my four days in Toronto. I'm footsore, having tromped through most of the area right around my hotel, but I also relied on the pretty great public transport the city offers. I was in a very central location downtown which meant it was pretty touristy in spots but tourists were just sort of the background parade of bustle. This is different from DC, where in certain spots locals are outnumbered by gangs of roving tourists following guides waving umbrellas, and you have to elbow your way through them to get from point A to point B.
My current city just has to put up with football crowds, which are easier to avoid.
Anyway, my time in Toronto was marked by a lot of eating wonderful food. The biggest thing I miss living in a smaller city is not just having access to different types of cuisine, but having multiple choices for every type that are all good. That was certainly the case here. I could have eaten dinner at a different Chinese place every night and not had to walk too far to do so. Or ramen, or roti, or bibimbap or specialty burger joints, or whatever. I didn't even get to the pierogi, sadly.
I spent most of my time along Queen West, which was fun and funky, and also in Chinatown and around the Kensington Market. The city itself felt like it had mostly been marked by big growth in the 1970s, and everything was a little grubby and cementy and worn and I suspect it's not a great place to be in the wintertime. Very grey and dingy, I imagine. (I think somebody told me there is a maze of underground tunnels and shops and things so you can stay out of the weather, which makes a ton of sense.) But everyone I met reinforced the stereotype of nice Canadians, and it was a thorough pleasure to be in a place that's so deeply multicultural. People-watching was magnificent, especially since there were tons of twentysomethings rocking fashion that I could never pull off but can have fun looking at.
On one of my days I went out to a little boutique for plus-size clothing and spent some serious cash (for me) on some clothes. If I were to describe my clothing style to you I'd usually say "jeans and some sort of t-shirt" because I am unimaginative and also I like jeans and think I look good in them. But I was seduced into buying some wonderful flowy tops in breezy cuts, including a watercolory print kimono throw and a truly outrageous paisley fringed thing. I'm afraid they all say "art teacher" kind of strongly - my mistake perhaps for saying that I worked in a museum - but then again, maybe it wasn't a mistake because I think they look great on me. So, I guess I'm embracing a stereotype of Older Arty Lady? Maybe the little purple fit and flair dress I bought will help keep the Older bit somewhat at bay. Or maybe before I know it, I'll be moving to Taos and will start to throw pots.
Oh, and this is completely petty of me, but the salesfolk took my photo in said purple dress, and also the photo of a woman trying on clothes in the booth next door, and said they were for Instagram. I was simultaneously flattered and worried that I was too sweaty and un-made-up, but they coaxed me into it, but I think I was right because the other woman's (very cute) photo has appeared and mine hasn't. I can't decide if I'm disgruntled or not. I don't like to think that I bought more clothing from them that I otherwise would have because I was feeling happy and flattered, but I guess if I did, good for them, they did their job well. And really, I'm not very photogenic and had just spent an hour on public transport to get there, so it's probably for the best.
While flying home I got to witness older American businessmen being really rude to gate agents, which was obnoxious. Actually, since my hotel catered to the business trade, I was kind of surrounded by them all week, and being forced to eavesdrop as they sat in the bar and in the lobby and barked things into cell phones. It was all Very Urgent. But all my flights for the trip turned out to be pretty smooth and I got to sit in the exit row on the tiny plane for my last leg back, so hey, surprise bonus.
I'm going to miss the food. I already do.