Day One: Raleigh to Toronto

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So the great Euro Trip of 2012 started with a very North American feel:

We started in Raleigh RDU airport at 5a and flew into Toronto, Canada for a 12 hour layover.

We didn’t want to waste that time, so we planned a day excursion where with our packs were we’d take the Airport Rocket Bus 192 to Kipling station and switch to the Metro to get into downtown. A one way ticket cost $3, so it was $6 round trip and very easy to use. I read prior to the trip you might need to grab transfer papers when switching between Bus and Metro – but if you do it in a station, that isn’t necessary.  Feel free to read about/plan a trip or see the maps for the Toronto Transit Commission.  We purchased out tickets from the Airport Vending machine in the public transit area on ground level. On the way home, we bought our tickets from the vending machines in the Metro, but you needed exact change, so keep that in mind!

Here is a map of our walk around Toronto!

If I could do it over again, I’d recommend taking a right from Bathurst Station and exploring Korea town a little more, even recommend eating lunch there. The air smelled delicious and the prices were very affordable, but I didn’t want to settle on the first restaurant I laid eyes on. So we turned left from Bathurst and followed Bloor into a more commercialized area close to the university. We turned right down Bay St and passed by teachers protesting (read more here). We got lunch at a chain called Sweet Pepper Deli where Collin for a veal sandwich and I got homemade chili (it was super spicy but perfect for such a chilly day!). We continued on the the waterfront which online reviews had claimed was worth the look, but I was disappointed at the generic scenery.

Since the water was nothing special, Collin snapped my photo in the other direction with the city’s buildings rising behind me. After that, we headed back up to Queen St to turn right and head toward Church Street. I had read about Bulldog Coffee‘s award winning barista artists. The owner was working that day and I feel it lived up to the hype.

I ordered the Blanco Bull Dog which is white hot chocolate with dark chocolate designs. It includes a shot of espresso so I was sold. If you order a latte and stay up at the counter, the barista/owner will entertain you with a crema drawing. On this day, he primarily did portraits of his dog.

After the delicious coffee, we continued up Church St to get back to the Metro line that runs along Bloor. By accident, we happened into the gay district of Toronto, The Village. Seriously, it is the cutest, brightest, best dressed stretch you will see of that city. I’d recommend walking through to window shop and enjoy the neighborhood’s good vibes.

Traveler’s Tip: We learned this the hard way, but when backpacking, you have a much better time if you can explore the city without a pack on. While this isn’t always possible, with good planning, you can avoid hurting your body. We checked the Toronto Airports luggage storage, but I was being cheap and didn’t feel it worth the $8 cost for large luggage storage for my bag. This happen a couple other times during the trip (Copenhagen and Berlin) where our bags slowed us down and made us a way more testy at each other. Doing research online, but I can’t speak with confidence about each case, bus station lockers seem to be the cheapest way to store a bag. In Toronto, it would have cost us $2-3 dollars. In Berlin is was $4. Next trip I’ll be sure to have bus stations marked down so that I can drop off the heavy bag and enjoy exploring.

We got back to the airport with plenty of time to spare; we didn’t check out everything on the list because we were so tired from hauling our packs around. Collin also attempted to air out his sweaty jacket by flipping it inside out and looking like a handsome sheep farmer.

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5 responses »

  1. Awesome blog. You should fenland for this! A new and exciting carreer. Wished you had a blog like this for your trip. Better yet rent yourself out as a travel buddy with all expenses paid. You are a fun person to help travelers get to know the locals which makes any trip more memorable and you are an excellent ambassador for the USA. You are down to earth, will try anything once, intelligent to converse with. I always thought the world was your stage! If only Maxs could travel too!

  2. I love Collins sheepskin look jacket and clever Idea! When I traveled to India I trusted the taxi driver to lock my bags up for the day, while he took me sight seeing for the day..in in a ram shackeld shack..looking back..a bit to trusting.. but worked out well!

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