One sunny summer morning, I took a hop-on-hop-off city tour of Toronto. I like to do touristy stuff like that every once in a while. I took the Grey Line Tours bus at the Bata Shoe Museum stop (Bloor St. West at St. George St.) I did the East-West Loop, which operates in summer only.
The ticket cost Cdn$ 35 and was good for two days. The buses are the typical London red double-deckers minus the roof.
Although I'm going to stay here for a few months, I felt I needed to get acquainted with the city and this was a good a method as any. I learned a lot about the city and got a rough idea of what it is like. I like the fact that Toronto is such an ethnically diverse city that you can experience the culture and taste the flavours of different countries in a relatively small area; it's like a one-stop shop.
The first neighbourhood we drove through was Church-Wellesley Village, or the Gay Village. And you can definitely tell it is populated by the LGBT community. It's a very trendy place; I loved the design and decor of the shops. What cracked me up were the Brokeback Mountain-style adverts, which you don't see anywhere else in the city.
Gay Village Trivia: the story goes that one Alexander Wood owned the land and encouraged homosexuals to settle there in the early 1800's. He was deported to Scotland but returned years later. I guess Torontonians weren't that open-minded at the time.
In the India Bazaar District, the air is scented with the smell of spices and curry (and garlic!). I adored the bright hues of the silks and saris on display in the shop windows.
You know you're entering Greektown when you see blue and white everywhere, the Greek national colours. Must go back for dolmas and spanakopitas. Loads of restaurants and lots and lots of bridal shops. The film My Big Fat Greek Wedding has nothing on this place.
Greektown trivia: the house seen in the aforesaid film is located somewhere in this neighbourhood, it's not a movie set.
I got off the bus in Little Italy. I was famished and had a headache (it was quite windy on the top deck). I was spoilt for choice but decided to check out Cafe Diplomatico, which apparently is very popular with tourists and locals alike and it is where football fans gather to watch games. I had chicken parmiggiana with salad. It was good but not the best I've ever had. I took a stroll up and down the street. There's not really much to see and do except eat. And eat well. If you're lucky, you can hear people speak in Italian in the streets.
Although there was one more neighbourhood left to visit, Koreatown, I was done with sightseeing for the day and decided to head back to the hotel; except I had no idea where the nearest subway station was. I asked a lady, who very kindly pointed me in the right direction.
As it turned out, the tube station was in the heart of Koreatown. I didn't miss anything, after all.