Having spent the last few weeks with an imported beau, I have managed to effectively transform, chameleon-style, into a Tourista in my motherland (which is why you’re all so cranky with me, not blogging or tweeting or facebooking, oh my!) leading to a series of revelations regarding the masses of individuals-cum-kinship clumps that also pilgrimage to and from tourist attractions in Toronto, and on Toronto’s tourist attractions themselves.
Seeing as there aren’t thaaaat many tourist spots to see (comparative, darling, to some of my 2nd home European and American cities — No, not Gatwick and LaGuardia airports, sweetpeas), unless of course one were to favor gorgeous fine dining establishments such as The Hard Rock Cafe, MR GREENJEANS at the Toronto Eaton Centre, and of course the unfortunately named (and decorated) Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, I had to hustle in order to fry up some creative Touristing. Alors, mes enfants, it was with a heavy heart in a sturdy brassiere that I decided to conjure up a tour of Toronto complete with sights-without-plaques, for those of my readers that decide my hometown is their next travel destination.
Upon picking up one’s pretty new package from YYZ (That’s Pearson International to you out-of-towners, check your luggage tag. See?), it is imperative that your first stop be at the local LCBO. Now, this is critical, as they may think perhaps they are in some foreign country like Quebec where in fact one could purchase liquor everywhere and you have to hammer the point home that this is not, in fact, so. The only amendment to this rule is if you, the host, are living in the neighborhood of good breeding, my hometown of Rosedale (you cant choose family, but you can choose your hometown), in which case the Summerhill LCBO is not, sweethearts, indicative of the norm in Toronto, so you must proceed directly to Dundas and Ossington (I know it’s out of the way, but hey, you live in Rosedale so I’m assuming you can afford the cab fare), where you will purchase vaguely imported wines at extortionate prices, and not cluck your tongue when the chilled wine fridge is broken, as “it’s been that way for months.”
After purchasing your discounted, screw-top white wine (as recommended in NOW MAGAZINE — You’ll want to pick one of those up), you will proceed directly to Trinity Bellwoods Park, where your guest has thoughtfully set up the Fortnum & Mason’s fine china picnic hamper. Watching the sun set over the dog-basin, one views a select population of (mostly) single people and their canine companions eye one another up for potential match.com conversations to be had at a later date. One exits the park, picnic basket in hand, as the sun lies low on the horizon and potential cottagers emerge to score appropriate benches and get up to who-knows-what as young neo-hippies bang bongo drums and caterwaul in the style of Dave Matthews.
Leaving Bellwoods behind with contented sighs, and dozy from cheap wine, slap some sense into yourself with a strong double RedBull, as you’ve got a big night ahead fighting both jet lag AND fighting off the babes as you venture into the gorgeous establishments of Queen West West.
If your trip is anything like my guest’s, you’ll spend about four hours watching me DJ in The Gladstone Hotel, but don’t worry, there will be a constant selection of gorgeousness parading past you to the sweet strains of Shakira’s She Wolf. Making new friends is easy! Just keep drinking! Following potential sexual assaults (Just kidding, they’re hot! You’re hot! And more importantly, you’re on vacation!) making a tipsy weave up the street you try not to touch (“They don’t call it Clean Street,” as the saying goes) you’ll find yourself at The Beaver Cafe, a wicked little local that 9 times out of 10 will be super fucking fun. Go on, have a cupcake. Yes, they are 40 Million calories, but who’s counting? You’ll burn that off making out on the patio, anyway.
A fun little game: go on, pick a bar. No, not the Drake or the Beaconsfield that you’ve read about in your handy handjob tourbook, I mean walk into a bar. We picked a charming new spot that claimed to be called “The Savoy”. Either way it will be a hilarious “Remember when we went to that shit adult-contemporary bar”, or not, right? Spill your drinks and then say you’re from out of town, be offered a DJ residency, try not to barf Jager on the bar and exit laughing in another language. Just a thought.
Fall asleep drunk, but remember to set your travel-alarm — You’ve got touristing to do tomorrow!!
Wake up! You’ve got a busy day ahead, and this one begins on the outskirts of the Village and The Ryerson Ghetto! You’ll be making a stop at the Hassle Free Clinic to top up your STI testing (nobody likes a litterbug on vacay!) followed by a free trip to the Hooker Harvey’s just down the block, as you’re en route to tourism at its finest. Chow down, Lardass! Following your fine dining experience, you’ll make your way to Allen Gardens, which is free to get in and also boasts a diverse collection of field-dwellers and the criminally insane in addition to a fairly well-manicured conservatory. When people ask you if you’re “From Hollywood”, remember that the answer is always “yes”. When they ask you for money, you claim not to have received your royalties. And yes, you are in fact, Christina Aguliera.
Next stop? TTC! Finding yourself in Moss Park, you will be alternately amused and terrified at its goings-on, and react accordingly. As you are not driving, there will be no power-lock pushing as crackheads approach you, so do remember some advice I once received in Parkdale, “Crackheads are like pigeons, if you walk through them with a handful of breadcrumbs (ie money and drugs) in your hand they’ll swarm, but otherwise they’ll just wander aimlessly, pecking at the air.” There, you’ll catch the bus to the Distillery District, mere moments away, and have all memories of hookery whisked away in old tymey fashion by old tymey buildings and Mill Street Organic beer.
As one does, the key to closure on any day in a new city is finding the place to take your “it’s so romantic” pictures in a hazy sunset, so back on the TTC to The Beaches you’ll go, narrowly avoiding being hit by SUV baby buggies, large terriers, and the latte-owners who possess them. Kick the babies off the swingsets and tell them to fuck off over to the jungle gym while you drink coffee South of Woodbine and Queen. You’re not leaving dirty needles behind, so Stay-At-Home-Dad can keep the dirty looks to himself! By this point, a romantical sunset walk is well in order, and you make people barf on the Boardwalk while you’re all “baby I love you” or having a domestic, as the case may be.
Either way, you still look better than that douchebag with the white-people-dreads offering impromptu juggling lessons.
Part Two Coming Soon….