As promised, a wonderful post by my good friend and blogger, Nicole Cornell. Read this, then check out her blog Broke and Naked, please.
I recently was privileged to visit our neighbor to the north: Canada. My boyfriend and I were there to celebrate my dear friend’s recent marriage and made the trip into a nice little holiday. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that this was my first trip to Canada. Maybe it just didn’t seem like so much of a “must see” compared to the ancient cities of Europe or the spicy culture of South America, but whatever the reason, it had yet to happen and I was excited for the opportunity.
Upon arriving in Toronto, we initially couldn’t put our finger on it, but there was a palpable difference as soon as we entered this new city. We had left the USA. Aside from a mandatory visit to Niagara Falls upon crossing the border, we did not engage in a single “tourist” activity during our stay. We spent our days roaming the streets and riding the streetcars (or trolleys as I liked to call them, much to the Canadian’s amusement) and our nights eating and drinking our way through the vast gastronomy the city has to offer. It is very urban, in the best possible way, and I found myself comparing it to a Chicago/New York hybrid. It was obviously cleaner than either of these cities and every Canadian we encountered held true to the vicious rumor of them being so damn friendly!
But what was it about this city that made me go – Ok, I could totally live here. Definitely! – a statement I haven’t made since moving to New York 6 years ago. There is a definite “thing” happening in Toronto right now. First, there were construction cranes everywhere. This is a city that is thriving! Toronto is a bustling metropolis while still maintaining an ease and openness. The design stores (fashion and interior) we came across are right on the cusp of what is happening now, yet it is not contrived or fake like I often find the “next big thing” in New York to be. How do they manage to be doing and making interesting things, whether it is a restaurant, design showroom or an old distillery turned into galleries, shops and cafes? Upon speaking to Torontonians, I found out an important element of what I was trying to decipher. Toronto is one of the most diverse cities in the world. They also continued on to talk about what lovely lives they had in the city, whether they were doctors, lawyers, or candlestick makers….fine, I didn’t meet an actual candlestick maker, but lets move on.
The point is, the quality of life the city, and the country of Canada offers is such that creativity is possible. There is a welcoming ease that draws you in and makes you wonder how your life might be different were it taking place here. Or at least, makes you realize what you have been missing all these years and start planning your next holiday in yet another fascinating Canadian city.