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Paddington’s Pump

Paddington's

On the south-west corner of St. Lawrence Market is a greasy spoon called Paddington’s Pump. With all day breakfast it’s the best place to go if you’re looking to avoid long line-ups found at the more trendy brunch locations. That doesn’t mean you’re compromising on quality. Quite the contrary.

A favourite during the tourist season, Paddington’s is known for its friendly service, and its “Oink on a Kaiser”, which was praised by The Boston Globe. Recognized by Toronto Life magazine for serving one of the top three Reuben sandwiches in Toronto, Paddington’s has been voted one of the best cheap east breakfast spots in town.

Oh and not to be out done, during the summer, they have a fully licensed patio.

So go. Eat. And be merry. Today I had the chocolate chip pancakes. My eyes were far bigger than my appetite.

Paddington’s Pump
93 Front Street East

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Christmas Market in the Distillery District

Christmas Market

Last night I braved the cold and went to the Christmas Market in the Distillery District. The idea is to celebrate the magic of a traditional European Christmas market, which is inspired by the Old World and influenced by the New.

It’s also a great opportunity to showcase hundreds of unique and local handcrafted products, while drinking malt wine, scotch and beer! There’s family friendly entertainment that includes musicians, carolers, rides, and choirs.

My photos don’t really illuminate how beautiful the set-up is, so it’s best you get out and see it for yourself. I was surprised with how busy it was too, and there are a lot of selfish parents with newborns who believe they should have special privileges not alloted to the childless among us — so be warned.

It’s probably best to get there during the afternoon, because last night was insanely busy.

Dates

Friday November 29 to Sunday December 15
Monday to Friday Noon to 9pm
Saturday and Sunday 10am to 9pm

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Photographs of street art

Brazil Street Art

I thought I’d share some photographs of South American street art. There’s really no other theme for this post, other than to just share some images. Chau.

Church Street Mural Project takes flight

This mural replaced the iconic painting of two cowboys holding hands

This mural replaced the iconic painting of two cowboys holding hands

Toronto has a long way to go if it ever wants to equal Buenos Aires’ mastery of street art. For some examples of what I mean, please see here, here and here.

I’ve spoken before about what I consider to be the poseur attitudes of the Toronto art community, and how it negatively impacts the nurturing of real talent. That doesn’t really exist in Argentina, the art community there is inclusive to new members and they respect each other in a manner I’ve never seen anywhere else. There’s little ego, and an endless amount of collaboration.

Perhaps in Toronto, or maybe even Canada, government involvement stifles creativity, where as in Buenos Aires the current administration encourages the development of talent, offering financial assistance to street artists. Graffiti in South America is a way of life, stunning to look at and revered by citizens.

The tide is changing in Toronto I think, though I doubt it will ever reach the level found in Buenos Aires. Luckily, there are upcoming events that have brought artists together to beautify the city’s oldest buildings in a barrio that is beginning to show its age.

The most prominent of all these events is World Pride 2014. Toronto is the host city, and much of the activities will be centred in the Church-Wellesley village. To help connect public spaces, the community and local artists, The Church Street Mural Project, has been established. Comprised of 11 artists who have been carefully selected, their mission is to create publicly accessible murals throughout the gay village.

I haven’t found all the murals yet, with many of them yet to be completed, but I will be back, with camera firmly in hand, to document these stunning pieces that are certain to entertain residents of Toronto. I for one am excited about this development, and I hope it’s a sign of more to come.

Church Street Mural Project 2

Ella

This one makes me laugh, the woman giving birth!

This one makes me laugh, the woman giving birth!

At the corner of Church and Wellesley, to be unveiled soon!

At the corner of Church and Wellesley, to be unveiled soon!

The Crews and Tangos building

The Crews and Tangos building

I snuck in to get a better look

I snuck in to get a better look

Steam Whistle Brewery

Steamwhistle Brewery 008

On visiting Toronto you’ll probably notice that many of us have beer bellies. Well, that’s because we love spending our evenings gulping down copious pints of beer. And we love local brews. In fact, nothing unites us more heartily than a good pint of local pilsner, or lager, or whatever else.

Because I’ve lived in cities around the world I’ve accumulated a few friends outside of Canada, and every now and again they decide to pay me a visit. Because Toronto is more a livable city, which means that it’s not a London, or New York, I spend a lot of time mapping out itineraries. I want to show visitors that Toronto is more than just the downtown core, the CN Tower, museums and our new aquarium.

However, there is one part of the tourist district that I introduce everyone to, and that’s the Steam Whistle Brewery. A Toronto beer, Steam Whistle bottles are distinct for their tiny red maple leaf imprint, which comes as close to anything as a warm fuzzy Canadian moment.

Tours are conducted seven days a week and at the end you’re welcome to taste their hand-crafted, and might I add, delicious pilsner. It sounds better than it is, trust me, and if you have the time while in Toronto I recommend that you stop by and check it out. It’s a worthy Toronto moment.

Steam Whistle Brewery
The Roundhouse – 255 Bremner Blvd

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Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto is now open

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As a vegan I do not believe in capturing animals for the entertainment of humans. I think it’s wrong, and I am vehemently opposed to anyone who tries to defend zoos and aquariums. The only exceptions are sanctuaries who rescue and protect animals from neglect and abuse.

When I first heard that Toronto was working tirelessly to open an aquarium I was upset, but then told myself that once it opened its doors I would go and see for myself what all the fuss was supposed to be about.

It came as no surprise then that Ripley’s Aquarium opened at the foot of the CN Tower in downtown Toronto to much controversy two weeks ago. It’s clearly a tourist trap, and has divided opinion amongst animal rights activists and capitalists, the latter who claim that it’s vital to the health of Toronto’s economy.

The new Toronto attraction includes 5.7 million litres of water, with over 15,000 marine creatures. There is a variety of species to delight children and their parents.

The most impressive exhibit is the Dangerous Lagoon. With a slow-moving sidewalk, visitors are overwhelmed with ocean life. From sea turtles, tiger sharks and a multitude of other fish, there is a plethora of information about each species and the aquarium’s efforts to ensure that they thrive in their new habitat.

I was pleased to see that the aquarium provides educational programs, and there are plans to expand its research initiatives and day camps, as well as a sleepover program that give visitors the opportunity to sleep in the Dangerous Lagoon after a day full of activities. SCARY!

I also appreciated their attempt to dispel the myth that sharks are man-eating creatures, which continues to be a fear of most people who make the foolish choice to swim in shark-infested waters.

The price to visit the aquarium is a tad on the high side: $33.88 including tax. Luckily, I visited the state-of-the-art facility during the early morning hours, when there were little visitors, which permitted plenty of alone time with the marine life.

It’s probably the first and last time I’ll attend the exhibits, primarily because it’s hard to ignore that the tiny tanks these poor animals share are nothing close to what they should be experiencing, and that’s the natural bodies of water where they were born.

Ripley’s Aquarium
288 Bremner Blvd

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Image courtesy of BlogTO.

Where to get the best haircut in Toronto

Self-Portrait

Every two weeks I get a haircut. For some this seems a little excessive. When I lived in Argentina my barber Federico would tell me that I cut my hair too often. I responded, “I’m paying you aren’t I?” Not quite sure why it perplexed him so much.

Maybe it’s because I have no hair, but it still makes me feel good to trim what I have. Nothing wrong with making myself feel new, is there?

In Toronto, Ho’s Place, located in the Village, is my barber shop of choice. Established by Vietnamese immigrants, the interior is a little run-down, but the barbers are friendly and skilled.

I prefer to get my haircut from Kennie, and from the looks of it he’s quite popular. I’ve had middling results with some of the other employees. Over the years, the price of a cut has gone up, but it’s still reasonable, about $18. So if you haven’t checked these guys out yet, do it, now. There are two locations close to one another, both at the corner of Church and Wellesley. That’s all!

Ho’s Place
509 Church Street

Image courtesy of BlogTO.

Image courtesy of BlogTO.