This weekend getaway took us a mere two hours to get to….We were visiting Toronto this weekend. It’s strange we hadn’t already been here seeing as it’s in my own backyard. But as you’ve read before, we’ve kept fairly busy since Chloe arrived at the end of October. It’s about mid-December and holiday parties are in full effect. The reason why we’re headed to Toronto was for the 12 Bars of Christmas. It’s a tradition a friend of mine has been doing for a decade, and yet this will be the first time I’ll attend!
When going to Toronto, I would normally stay with my sister in Mississauga. It’s just a quick GoTrain ride into downtown, but this time we opted to stay downtown. We booked a room at the Sheraton Centre which is in the heart of downtown and across the street from Nathan Phillips Square. It’s an ideal location if you’re wanting to be in the centre of it all in Toronto.
My sister was joining us on this epic pub crawl and would meet us at the hotel later. Chloe and I dropped our things at the hotel and wanted to explore the city. We made our way to the Distillery District because every year they have a Christmas Market. I hadn’t been in years and wanted to show Chloe the area. I love this historic district. The Toronto Star (local Toronto newspaper) described it quite well back in 2003 when the district became what it is now, “To enter the Distillery is to step back into an era of horse-drawn carts, windmills and sailing ships.”
Once a derelict part of Toronto, the Distillery is a blend of Victorian-era architecture with 21st century design. It’s a beautiful part of the city that I often visit for it’s unique shopping and fantastic restaurants. Side note: If you’ve ever seen the movie Tommy Boy, their factory, Callahan Auto, is filmed at the Distillery District. We arrived just before tickets were needed to be purchased into the Christmas Market. After 4pm on weekends there is a fee to enter, but I made sure we got in before that time. We wandered around for a bit and managed to snag a table at the Mill Street Brewery. With a few beers and dinner done, we stopped in a few of the artisan stalls to see what goods were being sold. I think we picked up a sampling of tarts from a local baker because they were too good to pass up!
After leaving the Distillery, we dropped our things off at the hotel room and hit the streets again. This time we made our way along Queen St. to the Hudson’s Bay Company (nowadays it’s just called The Bay). It’s our centuries old department store here in Canada. You may have heard of the Hudson’s Bay Company from the history books. What began as a fur trading company on its first charter in May 1670, it’s now a world famous destination for luxury brands and home goods. Every year at Christmas time they have their unveiling of their shop windows. I took Chloe to see the windows this year because I never see them myself. Afterwards we wandered into the Eaton Centre; a massive shopping mall filled with luxury brand names to the common, affordable stores. It was hectic to say the least with everyone buzzing about getting their Christmas shopping done.
We called it a night after that. The next morning we woke up early to get some sightseeing done. We had appointments just after lunch for tattoos and we’d be meeting my friend’s mother who was in town for a court hearing. She lost her son earlier this year (2018) to a car accident. He was hit while riding his bike to work. So any time she’s in the city, I try to meet up with her. As fate would have it, she was getting a tattoo done at the same place we would be. The tattoo artist had been Jonas’ artist before he had passed.
Before meeting her though, I walked Chloe around the city! We grabbed breakfast at Panera Bread and then made our way along University Ave. which changes into Queen’s Park Crescent. I showed her the University of Toronto as we walked. We made our way to the Royal Ontario Museum, the ROM for short. We didn’t plan on going into visit the exhibits or anything, but the gift shop is really nice so we went in for some shopping. Afterwards, we made our way back to Yonge Street because that’s where our appointment is, Yonge Street Tattoo.
We arrived and Judy had finished her tattoo and Glen was getting his started. We grabbed some lunch with Judy while she waited for Glen. It was nice catching up with her. We are forever connected through Jonas. It wasn’t long before Glen was finished and they needed to hit the road back to Ottawa. After our goodbyes, Chloe and I sat down for our tattoos. Our original designs were not going to work, so we opted for a more simple tattoo. We were both quite happy with it, and this would be Chloe’s first one!
My sister was just about finished with work, so we made our way back to the hotel to get ready for our 12 bars adventure. A few hours later we were all set to go! Every year my friend picks a neighbourhood and plans the evening around pubs in the area. This year was the 11th year, so he decided to re-use a pub crawl plan from his first year. It worked out great for us because it was in the same area as our hotel.
The evening was so much fun. We started off knowing nobody except each other and my friend. By the end of the night we were laughing and having fun with everyone. It was a massive turnout as well. At the first pub I think there was 40 of us, and we continued to grow with each pub. There were strangers who had joined our crawl after chatting with a few people about what we were doing. By bar 12 we were a massive group. We had the most fun and I’m so glad we were able to join them this year. I’ll definitely be going again next year, and the year after!
Drunkenly we stumbled home, but not before picking up some McDonald’s. This was an absolute must! We were starving and we needed something to fight off the potential hangover in the morning. Happily eating nuggets in bed, we were quite content with how our evening had gone. Tomorrow we would be leaving Toronto for home.
Chloe and I had one last adventure after Christmas. I squeezed in a trip to Quebec City. Chloe wanted snow….well, this is where she’ll get it! But before then, we’ll be celebrating Christmas with my family. Chloe was in for a big family Christmas whether she wanted one or not! HA!
Stay tuned for frigid temps and icy adventures.
Until next time…