Spirit of York

Once upon a time in 1860, in the lovely industrial city of York (now Toronto), there was a giant Distillery, the biggest in North America and allegedly the whole world. Founded by Gooderhem and Wort, the distillery’s location was considered ideal. Spread out on the bank of Lake Ontario and at a Canadian National Railway hub, the Distillery benefited from unlimited water supply and the best transportation imaginable at the end of 19th century. Production flourished, marking the Golden-era of the Canadian whiskey.

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Painting by Canadian illustrator Arthur Hider

The time passed by. WWI, dry laws, tax disputes and deindustrialization led to a decline in operations and an eventual shutdown. As a result, an enormous collection of Victorian-era industrial machinery and architecture was left unattended to the mercy of the Canadian climate. The extension of the shoreline further south didn’t help either.

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Current map, Google

In 2003, after a massive renovations, the Distillery Heritage District reappeared on Toronto’s social map, eager to face the soon to rise generation of millennials, hipsters, Instagrammers and other daring folk.

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Photo credit: The Distillery Historic District

While investors were keen on keeping the name and transforming the rusting equipment into museum exhibits, they favoured start-ups (OhYeah!) over established chains like Starbucks, Tim Hortons or Swiss Chalet as tenants. The subsequent transformation of the Distillery District evolved into a collection of various businesses like theatres, limited edition art, dance studios, local designers, craft beers, a sake brewery but surprisingly no distillery. The historic district of distillery featured no distillery except in the name. Right until May 2017.

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The Spirit of York opened in a former malting facility with the collective effort of 35 shareholders with a similar vision: “Make Canadian Spirits Great Again” (I’m joking, or am I?). The Spirit of York Distillery consists of a production area and spacious lounge for tasting, mixing, shopping and celebrating. The state-of-the-art distillation facility is well hidden from the eyes of general wanderers, but not from the curious visitors to the lounge area.

The realization of how incredibly sharp this place is hits you right at the entrance. The Spirit of York designers accomplished a very rustic urban look with a prevailing vibe of masculinity and Wild West type of adventure. Look at the ceiling for example:

Not a bottle wasted! The same feeling is applied across the space, making it worth spending a sunny afternoon indoors. Take your time walking around staring at the old exposed brick, fortress like windows, infinity, coded into symmetrical symbols, beautifully polished copper and shining glass. Not to mention a peculiar looking bar on the right reserved for events and parties with a large resemblance to the one in “The Shining”.

A cool heritage building feature is floors made of from an old concrete mix that is no longer used, but sadly coated in parts with a rubber-like layer to comply with modern safety standards.

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The production area is designed as an open concept space seperated from the retail area by just a glass wall. The entire production cycle from mashing to labelling is facilitated in-house. Quality was the first word that popped into my mind.

I was very lucky to spend two hours with Mark Harrop, in the production area, “entertaining” him with questions like: “How many hours at the Distillery does it take to get high on vapors?” or “During tasting do you follow the rule of sommeliers or do you feel sorry wasting a good rye?”.

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While Mark talked passionately about locally sources ingredients (rye and spring water), added botanicals and a new recipe for aquavit he was working on, I couldn’t resist the urge of tasting. So I headed to the bar to investigate if the Spirits of York were worth the hype.

Oh, yes they were! With the floral hints of lavender, citrus, spicy coriander and a warming taste of rye, the Spirit of York gin was absolutely delightful sipped alone or mixed with a tonic. The aquavit impressed me with a distinguish taste of dill and rye, a combination that many a chilly Northern person appreciates.

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Looking through the wonders of the little gift shop I realized how complicated the art of beverage making actually is. Next time I will a way more generous tipping my favorite bartenders whoes hard work and hard listening skills are often underestimated.

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More about Spirit of York or The Historic Distillery District

Eat.Drink.Gossip in Toronto

What I really love about Toronto is its diversity. A place where everyone is from everywhere, boosted with a splash of flavors, cuisines, tastes, spices, beverages and food experiences accessible nowhere else. From Italian breakfast to dim sum lunch followed by 5 o’clock cocktails, irresistible Spanish tapas and locally produced ice-cream, all unforgettable and within a walking distance from each other. The picture is completed with Canadian service, the friendliest and, let’s be honest, most apologetic in the world. Getting hungry? I’m about to share with you a list of places very dear to my heart and my tummy. Places I love to go back to, again and again.

Forno Cultura

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Hiding in a basement beneath the notorious eating and drinking place Wurst, Forno Coutura on King West is loved for deeply fragrant coffees, crispy bread and mouthwatering pastry. The open kitchen creates an illusion of home cooking and there is something exceptionally magical in sipping a rather sharp macchiato while watching a focaccia rolled out right in front of you.

Try: cannoli made of light dough and filled with deliciously smooth ricotta cream.

609 King Street West, closed on Mondays, more at Forno Cultura

Wurst

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With 30 plus sausages to choose from and a fantastic selection of beers and artisanal cider (say what!), Wurst is a true wonder on King West. At a first peek, it resembles the great beer halls of Munich, but once you are in, you know it’s Toronto. Beside multilingual local vibe, this place features tile walls that evoke memories of subway commutes and rush hour. Recommended only for lunch, Wurst gets so crowded after 6pm that people line up on the staircase intimidated by a giant bouncer in a black suit. Well, I was! 

Try: carefully crafted beer samples.

609 King Street West, more at Wurst 

Enoteca Sociale

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They call it “A real Italian Wine Bar”, but for me it stands for the best Italian food ever (I’ve been to Italy). While the menu is only a page long, the selection of dishes based on seasonal ingredients represent what all Italians swear by: mozzarella di bufula, tiniest tortellini, aromatic formaggi e salumi, dreamy gnocchi and other bits and pieces to die for. Reserving a table is easy, but only if you are super lucky. I usually call a few days in advance. 

Try: Sparkling red wine

1288 Dundas Street West, more at Enoteca Sociale

Momofuko

Located at the corner of Shangri-La hotel on University Avenue, a few minutes away from City Hall, Momofuko’s famous entrance has a giant sparking statue and was featured in “Miss Sloan”. But it’s not the statue that made this place so attractive. Spread between three glass levels are two restaurants, a noodle bar, a milk bar and a cocktail lounge. Momofuko’s food experience upgrades with each floor. The higher you go the more expensive it gets, however a bowl of an exceptionally tasty ramen served on the ground floor doesn’t cost a fortune (14-16 Canadian dollars). 

Try: A jar of kimchi, pork belly buns and obviously, the ramen

190 University Avenue, more at Momofuko

Roof Lounge at Park Hyatt

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As romantic as it sounds, the rooftop bar at the Park Hyatt offers an incredible view of downtown and the skyline. Toronto’s food and gossip experience is incomplete without a fancy cocktail sipped away on a sunny summer day, with a view from the top paired with fresh shucked oysters (served after 4p). Just magical!

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4 Avenue Road, walk-in only, no reservations, more at Roof Lounge at Park Hyatt

Drake’s commissary

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Surrounded by brick industrial buildings, Drake’s Commissary embraces the spirit of the local community: urban but warm, dynamic and inviting. It’s a place where one doesn’t need to dress up, can arrive in pajamas and be seated with only one question asked: inside or outside. Provided it’s not raining I would always opt to seat outside in the shade close to the wall. Drake’s menu changes depending on the day (week or weekend), time and season. It’s important to try their both lunch and brunch menu as everything I had was worth re-ordering immediately.

Try: flavored lattes, local craft beers and scones (!!!).

128 Sterling Road, closed on Mondays, more at Drake’s commissary

Carmen

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Oh, Carmen! Carmen’s tapas and paellas are just WOW. Infused with spices, flavors and love, they deliver a dining experience that triggers the mind and senses. Carmen is tasty, visual and truly delightful in every bite, sip, look and noise. The restaurant starts with a long bar right at the entrance, leading to a spacious indoor area and a very cozy terrace open during warmer months. My first encounter with the barmen resulted in a hilarious exchange, where I was called “international” for my desperate attempts to book a table from my Dubai number.

Try: Cauliflower, white fish ceviche and paella of the day (big enough to feed 4-6 people if paired with tapas).

922, Queen Street West, more at Carmen

Rodney’s oysters 

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Another fascinating food experience on King West (I wonder why they call that street a tourist trap). Rodney’s design with dimmed lights, edgy posters and a cave like indoor space resembles a trip to dodgy London dungeons, but that illusion fades once you step onto their terrace. In fairness, the terrace, unlike many in Toronto, is hidden away from the busy street, traffic and curious pedestrians. To light up the magic, start with a dozen of oysters and just indulge in pairing them with their wide selection of sauces and freshly grated horseradish. You’ll be surprised to find pure vodka served in one of the jars as a sauce, but I opted for a dash of spicy chilly.

Try: Smoked fish charcuterie board

469 King Street West, closed on Sundays, more at Rodney’s oysters 

Bang Bang

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Apart from its fantastic name and edgy ads, Bang Bang actually makes an incredible, kicking delicious ice-cream with true Canadian spirit – there is a flavor for everyone. Even a nutty foodie like me finds a scoop that screams hazelnuts. Before placing your order, think carefully how you would like it to be served.  At Bang Bang you are not just choosing a flavor, but rather styling it with freshly baked carbs: a cookie, half a cookie, cone, sugar cone or if you’re lucky, a waffle. In the summer the wait may reach a half an hour, but consider it well spent. More about top ice-creams in Toronto, go here.

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93A Ossington Avenue, closed on Mondays, more at Bang Bang

Patisserie 27

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This little bakery is a hidden gem adored by a local community lining up for an almond croissant as early at 6:45am (well, it only opens at 7am). Their pastry tastes like heaven baked in the best traditions of French patisserie. Always fresh, always crisp and always so perfect that their daily specials sometimes are sold out by 9am. They are able to go an extra mile and create a delightful treat according to special dietary requirements, an egg-free birthday cake for example.

401 Jane Street, closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, more at Patisserie 27

Enjoy!

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Hell’O Toronto

Warning: You are about to indulge in the most horrifying horrible horror story ever. Do not read before sleep. All characters and events are supernaturally real.

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It was a boring ordinary evening on October 31st (or 13th depending on how you look at it) in Toronto. The weather started falling apart. The clock was ticking towards midnight, but shadows outside were still growing longer and the last rays of sunshine were randomly twinkling in the glass windows. All seemed to be so totally normal.

Then I felt it happening. An inexplicable power of unknown source was dragging me out of the house to the cold deserted streets where enormous black birds and bright laughing pumpkins appeared to be the only living creatures.

“Aritzia” a crow’s cry echoed in my fuzzy coat when I stepped out dressed in a big hurry to face my destiny. “What the heck is going on?” My thoughts were in total chaos.

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“Hell’o baby… Trick or treat”, whispered a gloomy voice from above, but when I turned there was just a house staring at me with the emptiness of its framed windows.  I shivered and blamed the famous freezing Toronto breeze.

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Suddenly I heard a giggle. Shimmering with a variety of sounds like a million jingle-bells, it sparkled out of nowhere and disappeared almost immediately. A minute later a funny white face materialized from the underground, winked at me and laughed. There was another one at the corner, one on the sidewalk and one right by my side. They created an absolutely irresistible vibe! I started giggling along worrying that my shaky hands would fail me in capturing the surreal adventure.”Nighty-night my lady”, said the crisp air, and then there was the silence. I sighed.

“Pardon my interruption, but I’ve been admiring your hat”, said a friendly looking tall man from the garden across the street. There was something very familiar about his look as I’ve met him before, but his high soprano voice put my thoughts at ease. “Sorry, I usually don’t talk to strangers. Strangers scare me.” He confessed and then added: “Care for a walk, eh?”.

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I was happy to get some company to cheer me up on those empty streets and we walked. While I questioned my companion on where to find the best pumpkin pie in the neighbourhood, he was more interested in discussing American politics, so I waved good-bye and found myself on a crossroads.

“What’s next? Mmmmm… Did I get lost?” My recently charged iPhone had turned black and decided to die taking away the privilege of modern communication plus “I can’t live without you” Google maps. I starred at the surroundings, trying to figure out a game plan.

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“Meowellow”, purred a charming voice in my ear. “The sun is setting. You better find shelter. Streets belong to me after dark”. A black cat appeared behind me. “Real cats never get lost. Come along girl and hurry up”.

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I followed the Black Cat sharing the same enthusiasm and curiosity as Alice once showed following the White Rabbit. And what an amazing race it was!

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Houses, creepy sounds, streets decorated in a luxurious and decadent manner, faded facades and pale faces carved on them. I swear I saw a dragon who just played along!

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I couldn’t believe my luck! The Black Cat turned out to be the It Cat, knowing everyone and everything. After a glass of bubbly with local celebrities I realized that my friends were long gone and I was standing by myself in front of my house. It was the moon-faced pumpkin that smiled and sadly whispered: “‘Till the next year darling”!

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Natural radiance prescribed by Dr. Roebuck’s

After a hot and eventful summer, I am looking forward to the fall as it offers a much needed break for skin to cool down, restore and rehydrate before winter hits it with the freeze. A significant drop in temperature and sunshine allows a more advance approach to skincare without worries of developing that “impossible to deal with” pigmentation. In Toronto the local wisdom is: “when in trouble head to Shoppers Drug Mart”, so there I was a desperate beauty consumer looking for a quick yet permanent fix.

In the first twenty minutes my usual approach to sourcing the ultimate remedy had completely failed. A quick orientation led to the thought that there were too many tempting products around with exotic fragrances and big promises. I needed a strategy and I needed it fast. “Care for minimum ingredients with maximum results, eh?”, a smiley face appeared out of nowhere. I nodded impatiently. “How about some radiance?”. I smiled  too and soon ended up holding tight to two bright green bottles unable to make any further decisions.

Dr. Roebuck’s products were not new to me. I was a big fan of the famous “Pure”, all natural and luxuriously rich face cream, initially developed  in Australia more than 30 years ago by physician parents for their twin daughters with sensitive skin. What I was holding now were newly launched BPA and Parabens free active serums, “Ultimate Hydrating” and “Reverse Aging” formulated to give me healthy radiant skin (just like baby’s).

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Ultimate Hydrating and Reverse Aging serum slightly differ in packing – one shines with silver and the other with gold, suggesting that a closer look at active ingredients is a good idea.

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After a thorough investigation, I discovered that both serums have the following active components in common:

A. the popular Hyaluronic Acid which preserves elasticity, improves hydration and treats photodamaged skin;

B. Retinol (Vitamin A) which helps improve the appearance of fine line and wrinkles

C. Vitamin C which stimulates collagen production

D. Vitamin E which acts against free radicals with a potential to reverse the process of aging

E. Carnosine, a multi-functional (just like me) naturally occurring peptide which repairs, regenerates and protects skin from UV damage

F. Creatine. It provides a noticeable reduction in skin textural changes

J. Vitamin B3. It firms, reduces signs of aging and signs of pigmentation (hooray!)

H. Aloe Vera, which needs no introduction

The Ultimate Hydrating serum additionally contains Ubiquinone, an antioxidant naturally produced by our body, but which decreases with age. So having it in the serum helps cells to generate more collagen and elastan. Ubiquinone, together with other active ingredients, allow this serum to hydrate, firm, moisturise and revitalise. I noticed that after several applications (3-4) that naughty pigmentation on my cheeks had faded away at first and then gently pealed off.

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The Reverse Aging serum is enriched with Evening Primrose oil, a wonderful antioxidant that smooths rough spots and lightens dark circles around the eyes, plus Borage Seed Oil (high in Omega-6) and Gatuline In-Tense (reinforces dermal architecture). The Reverse Aging serum actively promotes collagen production and helps skin cells to regenerate and repair. I experienced a surprisingly satisfying feeling when, in the morning, my skin felt as soft and supple as a baby’s. Not to mention it radiated some serious happiness and signs of good beauty sleep.

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You may wonder: “Which one is the best for me?”. At my age, 34, I decided to start with the Ultimate Hydrating serum and once it runs out switch to the Reverse Aging to keep my skin surprised. Remember, it’s very important to spot-test these products (for example on the inner side of your arm) prior to applying it to the face and neck because it contains Retinol. For the same reason, don’t skip using sunblock (SPF 20-30) if the weather is treating you to some sunshine. As a rule, for the first 10 days I use a new product every other night (not every night) to better determine the chance of any sudden sensitivity or irritation. Dr. Roebuck’s advises to lock-in these serums with a thin layer of Pure for maximum results. I’ve chosen to top up 4-5 drops of a serum with Face anti-aging day and night cream.

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Here’s the best news! Do you want to try the Face anti-aging day and night cream (in new packaging!) without purchasing it? For a chance to win Face, follow me and Dr. Roebuck’s on Instagram and then drop me a friendly letter to antrestain@gmail.com. I’ll select the winner on November 1o and personally send this product. Deal?

P.S. The winner is Carissa K. Congratulations!

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Toronto’s Style gAnngstars

This October Toronto is the most delightful place to hang out (in Canada at least!). While it snowed in Alberta and elsewhere across the country, the weather has been at it’s best behavior in this breezy city treating everyone and everything to incredibly warm afternoons. Day after day the sun made it’s reappearance to reflect a perfect turquoise blue sky in the million glass windows of the downtown high-rises. Meanwhile the trees were changing colors like determined bloggers loosen up their haute couture outfits during fashion week.

Loaded with the unexpected overdose of Vitamin D, the local street style has flourished with eye-catching accessories, soon to be forgotten summer staples (think mini-shorts), natural fabrics and occasional layers carried in a moment of weakness to potentially compensate for the wind of change from Antarctica.

So I wasted no time and immediately WhatsApp’ed two most heroic fashion gangstars who negotiate food but never style. Together we connected what Toronto is loved for, emerging urbanism with self-expression.

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You can always define the true big city girl by her shoes. She is independent, beautiful, confident and quick. She knows what she wants and where she wants to be. She is in rational snappy sneakers that would accelerate her potential and get her going. I caught up with Dana at Trinity Bellwoods Park, a place with many hidden gems and three-dimensional friendly beasts.

PA163272.JPGWalking Queen St. W., I cursed my choice of ballerina flats for this fashion expedition as my delicate feet echoed with pain at every tiny stone. I could barely keep up with Dana diving in and out of mysterious looking stores. So I used my old trick of pulling out the camera to stop for a quick “strike a pose” moment and charmed Dana into sharing her secret of being on the best dressed page with the minimum effort and investment. As it turns out, the recurring trend in Toronto street style at any season or on any occasion is based on emotions and love.

Torontonians are passionate about the Blue Jays (Toronto’s baseball team) and they are not shy to express it. Jay’s hats, created in combination of red, blue, gold, black and white colours add a touch of naughtiness to any outfit, instantly developing into a fashion statement that drives attention. I’m totally shopping for one (well, it’s never one, believe me!). I also need to find a way to sort my hair around it or get it in the tiniest size to outshine that cool girl on the left.

One of the most romantic views of Toronto is from the roof top bar at the Park Hyatt. Shorts paired with Hawaiian tee looked rather extravagant in the middle of October and with no questions asked and with no arms raised they confidently passed for a smart casual. Meet Jesper, a fearless super fit traveller, who is rounding a latest stretch of his tour de monde.

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After a couple of fancy cocktails (tailored to my vicious desires), we were absolutely charmed by the elegance of the city winking at us in the sunshine. I demanded a change of decorations, so we headed out to the Kensington Market or “Hipster’s Paradise” in the search for the dodgiest outfit of the day.

Dressed as a “nasty woman” in black suede boots with shiny silver zips, military cut coat and mini grey woolen dress, I radiated pure awesomeness. Jesper in torn denim, keds and explorer’s windbreaker was completely immersed into surroundings, hiding his true identity behind “Top Gun” shades. It was only a matter of minutes before we started attracting some unusual waves of attention from locals and tourists (blame our pretty faces) forcing us to look for shelter. So a trip to the Lakefront seemed to be an easy escape.

Queen’s Quays is the best place for people and seagull watching and for being watched (plus a nice view of the lake). The Lakefront attracts fashionistas and crazies (in its best meaning) from all over the world, who peacefully co-exist and co-inspire. The Lakefront is also a home to the Power Plant contemporary art gallery, a busy local brewery with the tables always taken but free seats around the bar, and Canadian vintage trains that one shouldn’t climb.

The October Fashion experience in Toronto is incomplete without a photo of the CN Tower, ideally with yourself on it and some serious showing-off (don’t forget to empty pockets prior to attempting).

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P.S. Stalk Dana through her blog or Instagram and Jesper over here. Keep up with me on Instagram and Facebook. Happy styling!

Honest Ads

The era of Mad Men continues in the digital age. Where there’s a space, there’s a temptation to use it; emptiness is irresistible. I walked the streets of Toronto and further with Mr. Goose to discover the meaning of life hidden behind letters and images in posted advertisements. Accompanied by the spirit of Nietzsche, Mo Di, Tolstoy, Einstein and the cast of Mothy Python, we are about to add our deep voices to the choir of philosophical marketing. Enjoy!

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… but no thyme to chill! Spotted in the front patio, The Drake Hotel.

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… look who’s got no socks = no life at all. Just another pharmacy downtown.

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… clothed reptiles permitted. Thanks Uncle Tetsu!

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… Actimel needs to stay a lot stronger (35%+) to get me through this! High Park subway station

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… Hurry! Honest Ed’s is about to turn into condos.

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… talking about thunders, eh? Cafe on Yonge

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…can’t wait to try it all! Chinatown.

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…Psycho Reader, the aborted Hitchcock sequel. Just another place on Yonge.

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… it’s true, thought a modest spider on the wall and blushed. Diesel store, Yorkville.

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… this place sucks!

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Does Yoga mean the same thing in Canada as the rest of the world? This place rocks!

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…are you kidding me?!? Only bad vodka is made from potatoes.

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… craft beer and hipsters. Somewhere around King St W

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My Big Ontario Affair

In an attempt to uncover the mystery behind Canadian migration up north to cottage country every spring/summer, I decided to trace their movements right from the beginning. My trip from Toronto to Manitoulin Island started around 6am with a light breakfast, extra strong black coffee, last minute packing (think chain-saw parts, propane cylinders and a fur coat – out of a looong list) and setting Google Maps for the road ahead. And what a road! A scenic four hour drive is followed by two breezy hours on the MS Chi-Cheemaun, the legendary ferry that connects Manitoulin Island to the Bruce Peninsula since 1930. Total time from Toronto to the cottage – 8 hours.

Speaking of the trip and duration – Canadian roads deserve special praise. They seem to be improving yearly with picnic sites, beautiful scenery and Tim Horton outlets within an hour of one another. Being used to driving on 6 lanes in one direction with a speed limit of 120 km/h (plus 20) in Dubai, it was challenging to adapt to “one lane for all” highway standards where speed will drop from 90 km/h to 50 km/h around small towns. Plus I had to watch out for horse drawn carriages managed by men in black. In Ontario “Adopt a Highway” is a common traffic sign to which people seem to respond rather positively – no garbage, but flowers, greenery, wind turbines and occasional bear jaywalkers greeted me along the road.

Just right after Toronto, I noticed the disappearance of large glass / concrete condominiums. Houses grew bigger, front lawns lusher and households got busier. The further north I went, the more confusing the Canadian accent – all super friendly comments from folks wearing “I love haters” hats were completely lost on me: “Oh hey, eh”. “It’s really weathering outside, eh”. “Got yourself in a kerfuffle? Go talk to Doug”…  I accidently got myself into further trouble by ordering a cup of tea. “Excuse me, a cup of white tea please”. “Sorry, you want it black?” “No, white”. “No double-double, eh?”. “Just white!” “Oh, boy…”

Charming little towns spread along the route casually feature the usual Ontario architecture (churches, clock towers, barns, brick houses) and the two most successful local businesses: gas stations and Tim Hortons (Always Fresh!). I was never a big fan of the latter until I tasted it in Canada. It was a love from the first sip with a dark roast black coffee paired with Maple Pecan Danish. “Tasty, eh?”

A trip on a local celebrity – the MS Chi-Cheemaun, meaning a large canoe, requires a commitment to show up not later than 1 hour (sharp) prior to the departure. Being late, even for a minute as my past experience has proven, results in loosing the reservation and queuing to be boarded on a “first-come first–serve basis” (not a delight, unless you are a fan of Russian roulette). The queue can be long as well as the vehicles in it. Chi-Cheemaun is capable of carrying 638 passengers and 240 vehicles. However, once your reservation fate is locked – it’s time to discover the little port city of Tobermory.

Tobermory is a fun place to explore, just like Dubai. It’s all about entertainment, shopping, food and the joy of a short stay. Start at Foodland for last minute supplies shopping (avocados, crackers, mature cheddar and marshmallows in our case). Continue with crowd watching from the comfort of the Tobermory Brewing Co. and Grill while sipping Russian Imperial Stout beer and spooning Vodka Smoked Salmon Roulade. That place is seriously delicious and should not be missed. On the way to the car, stop to get a scoop of locally made ice cream, fudge and a serving of beaver tail (delicious, beavers like it too).

Sailing the MS Chi-Cheemaun is an adventure in itself. As passengers are not permitted to re-enter cars during the trip, it’s important to carefully select a pile of layers to snuggle into and remember to carry a camera. I was told that a photo with a lighthouse on the background brings luck. The Chi-Cheemaun proudly features two outdoor decks, an indoor lounge, a playground, an information kiosk, a little museum display, a cafeteria and a boutique. Good news, she’s air-conditioned!

Once the Chi-Cheemaun reaches land and the final round of driving is done, it’s time to open the cottage, turn the electricity and the water on, dispose of spent mice traps and open a bottle of Cab to cheer the sunset on the wooden dock. The overwhelmingly fresh air, edgy smell of a distant fire and 50 shades of red spread across the sky reflected in the waves made me think that the trip is a total success already.

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