Category: Canada

6 Favourite Neighbourhoods & Shops in Toronto

IMG_3284

1. The Distillery District: This historic area of Toronto used to be The Gooderham and Worts Distillery. There are lots of shops and restaurants located in beautiful Victorian Industrial buildings. This is a great place to catch a festival, take photos, go shopping for specialty items (sake, olive oil or chocolate, anyone?), see some art in the galleries and of course, drink!

Favourite Spots

Soma Chocolatiers: Very inventive chocolate. Try the spicy Mayan hot chocolate in the winter!

Greg’s Ice Cream: The best ice cream! Flavours change often.

Balzac’s Coffee: Beautiful two level coffee shop with fresh baked goods.

 Brick Street Bakery: Cheese twists to die for! For serious.

 Getting there: From King or St. Andrew subway station, take the 504 King Streetcar and get off at Parliament.

2. Kensington Market

Where can you grab a Mexican churro, fresh fish, cheese and vintage clothing? Kensington Market, of course.  Half outdoor market and half thrift store, this unique area of Toronto is stuffed with tiny mom and pop shops, fish mongers, butchers and Mexican treats.  Back in the day this used to be a predominately Jewish area. Now, it’s home to hippies and artists and a great place to people watch. In the summer, cars are not allowed and Pedestrian Sunday takes over.

Courage my Love Great for vintage finds, jewelery, post cards, beads, leather string…any and everything.

Pancho’s Bakery: Mmm. Really good churros. Get them plain or filled with chocolate!

Nu Bugels: The best bagels outside of Montreal. Buy them…you won’t regret it!

queenwest
All rights reserved by Uncle Lynx

4. Queen Street West

Queen West is where all the cool kids hang out. It used to be that anything below Queen & Spadina was a great area for shopping and finding edgy, unique clothing. Although some stores can still be found there, most have moved west. Head here to visit galleries, hang out in Trinity Bellwoods Park and go shopping.

Favourite Spots:

Fashion Crimes for super fancy, funky dresses and tights.

The Ten Spot for a manicure that will last for days.

The Magic Pony to check out what show they have in their gallery, and to pick up one of a kind jewelry, vinyl toys, notebooks and more.

Arepa Cafe: for freshVenezuela cornmeal sandwiches filled with your favourite toppings. I recommend the Curvy Chick.

Nadege Patisserie for some of the best macaroons and madelines you will ever have. They come in strawberry, vanilla and chocolate!

Gladstone Hotel & Drake Hotel. Great places to stay and hang out with artsy types. The Gladstone always has new shows on it’s second floor gallery (I had an installation here!), and the Drake has a rooftop patio.

Leslieville mural
Some rights reserved by Paul Henman

5. Leslieville

This charming east end neighbourhood has become a foodie destination. Lots of specialty shops have popped up here, including Paulette’s Donuts and Chicken, Rasher’s and the  Leslieville Cheese Market to name a few. This area is also home to a year-round artisan market called Arts Market. Here you’ll find handmade accessories, jewelry and art.

Favourite Spots:

Bobette and Belle: This fab bakery makes delightful cakes, whoopie pies and cupcakes. They also make their own marshmallows!

Le Matin Bakery: The best baguette in the city. Really.

Tango Palace: My favourite coffee shop. Yummy naan sandwiches and orange chocolate tea lattes. Mmm.

 

6. The Beaches

The Beaches are located in the east end of the city, and it’s a popular area for families and yuppies. (really).
Queen Street East has tons of tiny shops and bakeries. Each summer they have a famous Jazz festival. Hang out on the beach (Kew Beach) and catch some fireworks during the summer holidays.

The Pie Shack: Pie, pie and more pie! You can enjoy both savoury or sweet pies here.

The Remarkable Bean:  Good coffee and delicious savory muffins.

Ed’s Real Scoop Ice Cream: Home made ice cream available in an array of delicious flavours! You can get as many flavours as you want in one cone. (within reason!)

Cherry Blossoms in High Park 2013

IMG_3913

IMG_8436

One year, I went to High Park and all of the cherry blossoms were gone. That was incredibly sad, so each year I make sure to follow the Cherry Blossom Watch so that I won’t miss out!

If you’ve been waiting, wait no more! The cherry blossoms have peaked and will be around for the next two weeks. Go and see them! Be careful where you park, because it can be hard to find a spot and you will get ticketed if you park in the wrong spot!

 

IMG_8431

 IMG_8448

 

IMG_8439

IMG_3927

 

The Québec–Lévis Ferry

 

IMG_7006

Taking the ferry in Quebec in the heart of winter  unexpectedly turned out to be one of the coolest things I did while on my trip.

The ferry connects Québec City to Lévis, costs $3.25 and is 10 minutes long one way.

It was amazing, seeing the frozen lake. I had never seen ice like this before and I felt like I was in the arctic watching ice bergs drift by. I can only imagine how amazing the arctic must be…

IMG_7013

 

IMG_6993

IMG_7004

IMG_7005

Hôtel de Glace in Quebec City

IMG_9406

IMG_9449

If you are looking for a totally unique accommodation experience while in Quebec, look no further. The Hôtel de Glace (Just outside of Quebec City)  is made completely out of snow and ice. It takes 500 tons of ice to create the walls, sculptures and furniture. Everything is carved using chainsaws, and is finished off with a torch. To make surfaces completely smooth, they use an iron.

IMG_9454
Basic room starting at $199 per person
IMG_9448
Deluxe room with custom furniture and carvings.

IMG_9442

Each room has a mattress on a block of ice and it has been specially made to withstand cold and won’t freeze. Before sleeping at the hotel you have to attend a mandatory briefing. You are only allowed to have one person per sleeping bag. The sleeping bag zips up to your neck and creates a cocoon of warmth.

IMG_6740

Before going to bed, you are encouraged to take a dip in the hot tub featured on site. The sleeping bag will maintain whatever body temperature you go into it with. It’s important to wear what you normally wear to bed. If you layer up, you can sweat and become uncomfortable. The average temperature in the hotel is -3C to -5C , no matter how cold it gets outside.

IMG_9417

IMG_6762

IMG_6771

Not ready for bed? Hang out in the bar and drink delicious cocktails out of a carved ice glass.

IMG_9402

The hotel is famous for weddings. Above is a picture of the wedding chapel. Can you imagine getting married there? Gorgeous!

IMG_6748
Slide down the ice slide.

The hotel is in business for 3 months, from January to the end of March. When it’s time to take down the hotel,  they don’t just abandon it and let it melt. The hotel is taken apart piece by piece.  If you want to stay here, be sure to book early. The average rate of occupancy is 90%. The day I visited, they were fully booked for the next two nights.

IMG_6752

 

IMG_20130215_110821_777

 

IMG_6729

Whether it’s a romantic getaway or a family adventure, the Ice Hotel is a perfect winter getaway. Just want to visit? Daily tours are offered for $17.50 a person.

Hôtel de Glace Québec-Canada
9530, rue de la Faune

A Day at the Quebec Winter Carnival

The Quebec Winter Carnival has something for everyone. Whether you want to have an adventure or bring the whole family, they have you covered. Admission for the entire Carnival is only $15. Here are some of the things I did while I was there.

1. Derby St-Hubert
carnivalderby

carnivalderby2

A derby is a horse race that is traditionally restricted to horses that are three years old. Over 30 teams from Canada, the United States, France, the Netherlands and Belgium participated.

2. Tubing

carnivaltubing1

carnivaltubing3

This was my first time tubing and it was fun! This was a small hill (but it felt huge to me) so lots of families were going down with their kids. I unfortunestly went down backwards the whole way, so I don’t have a photo of me doing it!

3. Various activities

carnivalfoosball
Play life sized Foosball!

 

carnivalsnow2
Take a look at beautiful snow sculptures.
carnival2
Listen to a marching band.
carnival
Take a leap!
carnivalspa
Relax in the outdoor spa featuring a hot tubs and saunas.

 

4. Eat a beaver tail!  Beaver Tails are originally from Ottawa. It’s a fried dough pastry hand stretched to resemble a beaver’s tail, and coated in cinnamon sugar. Yum.

beaver3

 

beaver

 

5.  Join hundred of bystanders gathered to watch the annual Night Parade. Colourful floats, fire jugglers, dancers and more march down the street.

night1

night2

night3

night4

7. When it’s all over, head back to the  Plains of Abraham to dance the night away in an igloo nightclub!

IMG_7130

After that, we headed back to the cozy Hilton for a well earned rest.

Hilton Quebec: Room with a View

voew

When we first step foot into our hotel room in Quebec City at the Hilton, the first thing that we saw was the view. It was mesmerizing! We were on the 18th floor and when we weren’t exploring the city or Carnival, we were hanging out and looking out of the window.

 IMG_6702

IMG_6703

The room is in a typical traditional style. It was very clean and comfortable. As for amenities, the room comes with a small coffee maker and toiletries. The room does not have a fridge.

The Hilton is located on the top of Parliament Hill, and only a ten minute walk from Old Quebec. The Eco Bus also has a stop right outside the hotel. The hotel has two restaurants. The more casual of the two is Allegro, offering buffet breakfast and dinners, as well as a la cart. If you want to dine with a view, head to the 23rd floor to enjoy dining at Restaurant 23.

All in all, I had a pleasant stay. This is a good place to stay if you want to be close to the heart of the city. It’s also excellent for families!

Hilton Québec
1100, boulevard René-Lévesque Est
Quebec City, Quebec
 IMG_6697

IMG_6700IMG_9939

Bain de Neige

bain2

bain8Where can you see scantily clad men and women dancing in the snow in the middle of February with Bonhomme? At Quebec’s Winter Carnival, of course.

On Feb. 16th at 2:00 pm, the Carnival hosted its annual Bain de Neige event (snow bath).  It helped that the day was a cool -8 degrees under a bright blue sky. The 59 participants ran out to a large cheering crowd in three groups. Other than their bathing suits, they were allowed to wear shoes, mittens and socks.

 

bain1

 

bain4

bain5

Each time, they were encouraged to play, dance, and roll around in the snow. The groups came out in bursts, each longer than before. The first time was 3 minutes, 5 minutes and then finally 10 minutes. It was an incredibly fun event to watch and I really admired the participants! Check out a video below. ( PS: You can sign up to be part of the event for next year closer to Feb. 2014 on their website. )

bain6

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...