A Canadian Christmas Getaway (Part Two)

(Continued from Part One:  Montreal)

Toronto

We got into Toronto around dinnertime and decided to do some exploring of the Distillery District, just a mile or so from our hotel in the Harbourfront area. What a cute area! They’ve converted what used to be an old large distillery into a whole pedestrian only cobblestone section with bars, shops and restaurants. We found a local brewery to enjoy dinner and a sampling of the local beers before heading back to our hotel.

A sampling of Canadian beers

A sampling of Canadian beers

SNOW! Again!

SNOW! Again!

The next day Toronto somehow ended up being a similar experience to Montreal. No, it wasn’t the biggest snow storm they’d ever had, but we got into town on a clear evening, and woke up to a snow storm the next day. The weather wasn’t nearly as bad (they probably got like 4 inches … however many cm that is) and we were able to walk a few miles to get around the city, just by foot. We first walked to Casa Loma, about 4 mi from our hotel and took a tour of the huge castle-like estate that sits on a hill at the most northern point of the city. It’s a beautiful old house that was owned by a Toronto millionaire back in the day – but now is a tourist destination that has been restored to as it was nearly 100 years ago.

inside Eaton Centre

inside Eaton Centre

in front of casa loma

Casa Loma!

After Casa Loma, B and I decided to check out Toronto’s Asiatown. It was not disappointing! We strolled around the large area of Asian (Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Thai) restaurants and stores, stopped in a few (I bought some ginger coconut candy –yum!) and decided to stop by for a snack at a dumpling restaurant. The snack turned into 15 dumplings – EACH – that we finished completely. Whoops! I guess that’s what happens when you eat “Brunch” at 2 p.m.!

Dumplings in Chinatown

I ate every single one of those dumplings

B and I left Chinatown and walked back to our hotel – but first, a stop at the CN tower! The former tallest standing structure in the world was gorgeous at night – all lit up in green and red for the holidays and bright in the now clear sky (it stopped snowing finally!).  We debated going up to the top – but decided against it at the last minute and headed back to our hotel to relax for a little bit before our last night in Toronto. My boots had broken so my feet – socks and boot liners included – had soaked through so the walk back was a slow, trudgering mess. After changing, B and I hit up our hotel’s top floor restaurant – at the 38th floor, it offered a beautiful view of the city and we were able to relax and have a drink before heading out for the night.

our approximate walking tour - included checking out Easton Centre Mall, Bloor Street shopping, and more along the way

our approximate walking tour – included checking out Eaton Centre Mall, Bloor Street shopping, and more along the way

Not wanting to walk too far after finding a few blisters on my feet and soaking through my boots, I found a bar close to our restaurant that sounded Canadian for us to check out for drinks and dinner – the Loose Moose! (Come on – if that doesn’t sound Canadian …) We found it easily and grabbed a table right in front of one of the many large screen TVs in the bar – and lucky us, within a few minutes the bar became crowded with people there to watch the Dos Santos vs Velasquez UFC fight. We stayed, ordered dinner and enjoyed our last night in Toronto.

loosemoose

Last night in Toronto .. the Loose Moose!

loose moose b

Guess what – the trip wasn’t quite over! After a quick workout, we left the hotel and while driving back into the U.S. we made one more stop – to Niagara Falls! B and I had been there a few years ago, but decided to stop by on our way back. It was just as beautiful with the snow-covered landscape – but way more crowded!

niagara falls

And that, my friends, wraps up our 2012 adventures. Here’s to many more in 2013!

A Canadian Christmas Getaway (Part One)

After spending the holidays with my family (which goes by waaay too fast), B and I had planned a little winter getaway. We had thrown around a few tropical ideas – returning to the British Virgin Islands, Hawaii, the Bahamas, and even Florida – but we ended up somehow in the complete opposite direction: Canada! B had never been to Montreal, a beautiful city just a few hours away from my parents – and I had never been to Toronto, “on the way” home from Montreal – so it was a perfect, easy trip to plan.

Montreal

B and I got to Montreal just before dinnertime and checked into our hotel in Old Montreal. How cute! Everything was in French and very charming. And of course B had found us the perfect hotel, just a few steps away from the Notre Dame Cathedral. We had plans to walk around and then meet one of his coworkers (Who is from Montreal) for drinks. After bundling up and going outside, it became apparent there wasn’t going to be MUCH walking around – I was frozen! We made it a few blocks, hit a coffee shop and decided to just sit inside for most of the time before meeting up with B’s coworker at Gaspar Taverne.

cathedral 2

montreal cathedral

in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral

The Taverne Gaspar was cute – we were greeted with a “Bon Soir” as we walked in and then an immediate “Hello – English?” as we both looked slight confused. Our bartender asked where we were from and began to immediately teach us some French phrases that would come in handy. B’s coworker and her friends arrived and we enjoyed a drink with them before heading off to find someplace close (Brr!) for dinner. Dinner was also in Old Montreal, as we opted for a place that served baguettes with brie and chicken, and poutine.

Inside El Gaspar

Inside Taverne Gaspar

poutine

Poutine. Aka fries with gravy, cheese and bacon.

Practiically the only drink I could pronounce on the menu

Practically the only drink I could pronounce on the menu

The next morning we woke up to snow. And not just a little snow – a blizzard! That day, the day we were supposed to walk around Old Montreal and downtown turned into the largest snowfall Montreal had ever had in 24 hours – yes, a record-breaking 50 cm or something like that. Needless to say we probably didn’t walk as much around as we would’ve liked. We walked a few blocks and grabbed crepes for breakfast (YUM!), checked out the indoor market in Old Montreal, and then trudged along a few more miles toward the downtown area to find the underground mall that Montreal is known for. We spent most of the afternoon walking around the snowy streets and moving back toward the underground city/mall (called RÉSO). While it wasn’t ideal (we would’ve gotten way more siteseeing done if it hadn’t been snowing so much), it was a fun way to spend our day in the city. A few blisters later, B and I grabbed an easy lunch – a baguette and some fois gras and then a three course dinner at a prix fixe French restaurant. Fun fact – the waiter called us “King-makers” when he heard we were from Ohio – because “we’re the ones that choose the king [President] in the U.S.!”

Crepes for dessert!

Crepes for breakfast!

2nd course of our french dinner

2nd course of our french dinner

obligatory love photo (in the snow)

obligatory love photo (in the snow)

The morning next we strolled, slightly easier because the snow had stopped and the streets were somewhat plowed) through Old Montreal one last time and visited their indoor market and a maple shop before heading out to Toronto!

record-breaking snowfall!

record-breaking snowfall!

 

Part two of this blog post is here.