Toronto My Adopted City

Having been born, and raised in New York City, I always thought I wanted to leave, try something else.  But as I traveled around the country and the world, I never felt at home, never felt settled.   Each city provided likes and dislikes.  Perhaps the grass isn’t necessarily greener elsewhere.  Afterall, I understand the people, the pace, the vibe, and I would miss the great museums, sports teams and restaurants.    Let’s face it, New York City is at the center of the world.  But that didn’t mean I couldn’t find another city that I loved as well.  Then, thirteen years ago, I landed in Pearson Airport in Mississauga, Ontario; depending on the traffic, thirty minutes to one hour from downtown Toronto.  As I passed through customs, picked up my luggage and headed to the taxi stand, as with all new cities I visit, I wondered whether or not I would enjoy it or count the hours until boarding the plane to head home.  One great thing about Toronto is its proximity to NYC.  It is exactly a one hour flight give or take a minute or two.  It was just after US Thanksgiving and as I waited for a taxi, it began to snow.  It wasn’t coming down like a blizzard, it was gently falling and melting as it hit the ground, but a great welcome nonetheless.  Could ski season be far behind?  As we merged on to the 427 and then the Gardiner Expressway, the traffic backed up and crawled almost until the Yonge Street exit.  The taxi dropped me off on Toronto Street, a tiny little street on the east side of downtown, down the block from the King Edward Hotel or the King Eddy as it is affectionately known.  It would be home for the next three nights.  The King Eddy is a beautiful old hotel with large murals, more like a museum than a hotel.  After working all day I walked the 100 meters back to the hotel and asked the concierge for a suggestion of a bar that sold great beer.  Not Bud or Heineken but a Chimay, or Tremens.  He pointed me in the direction of the Esplanade to the Bier Market and so began a thirteen year love affair.  Fast forward to the present and my office is now located on King St W so fortunately there is a Bier Market only a few blocks from my current office.  Toronto is the most diverse city in North America, home to more different cultures and nationalities than any other city.   But what also makes Toronto a great city are its neighborhoods, because of its great diversity, you can find restaurants that serve food from all over the world.  I often frequent the Danforth, introduced to me by a friend ten years ago.  The Spoke club is another favorite spot, particularly in the summer.   Although not Canada’s number one sport, Baseball at the Rogers Centre is  always fun.  There’s not a bad seat in the house.  Last year, for the first time, I had dinner at the top of the CN tower in the revolving restaurant.  Although a touristy thing to do, I needed to take the plunge.  Standing on the glass floor, looking straight down, is not for the faint of heart if you’re afraid of heights.   If you’re a hockey fan, the Hall of Fame will launch you in to hockey heaven.  I have visited several times because there’s too much to see in just one visit.  When finished, there’s nothing like walking through the underground maze of walkways just to be surprised where will you will finally emerge.   It’s quite amazing actually and a life saver on a cold, snowy day.  But what I love most about Toronto, which is now my adopted second home, are its people.  Torontonians love to have a good time, and coincidentally, so do I.  You can just walk down the street and in to a bar and no doubt you’ll find a good time.  People are welcoming especially if you just want to hang out and kick back a couple.  I have made many friends over the years doing just that.  So with all of the unpleasantness as of late, there is no doubt that Toronto will get through it and thrive because it’s all about her people.  And you truly won’t find any better people anywhere on the planet.

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