Saturday, May 9, 2015

Walking About Town

As I previously mentioned, I finished my bout of Jane's Walks last weekend. And oh, what a weekend it was! In case you weren't aware, Jane's Walks are a series of planned walking tours that happen annually all over the world. That said, I can objectively tell you that Toronto is the best city in which to attend a walk because both the event and the founder - Jane Jacobs - are from Toronto.

This weekend marks a special record-breaking adventure in which I completed FOUR walks. And I have the sore thighs to prove it. The great thing is that no matter how many years and walks I attend, each one is so different from the next. For example...

Friday - Eat Danforth East
Never before have I been so far east on Danforth Avenue - we're talking east of Woodbine and beyond! And that was only the first of many first experiences on the walk. Phil Pothen, a lawyer working and living in the area, took us on a tour of all the different culinary spots along Danforth. From Ethiopian to Icelandic to British to Caribbean, you'd really never know how multicultural that part of the town is, unless you went on a Jane's Walk, of course. It was especially interesting to see all of the different vegetables that are used in dishes from other countries. I had never seen many of them before. And not only that, I found my favourite Caribbean cookie of all time, the famed Shirley Biscuit. You can't find these just anywhere, okay.

If you know me at all, you know I love to hang out in the Annex. That little stretch of Bloor between Bathurst and Spadina is one of my favourite spots in the city. Jennifer Hollett led a colourful walk through the Annex and spaces surrounding, ending at the beautiful U of T grounds. The most amazing part of the walk was the fact that she invited Runt, the artist responsible for the mural on Lee's Palace, to speak about his work. You'd be surprised by the number of genitalia hidden in that mural. His words, not mine!

I even got a picture with Runt in front of his famed Lee's Palace mural. One for the scrapbooks!

And a visit to the Annex is never complete without some kind of culinary adventure. This time it was Guu for some seared salmon and ramen.

Sunday I - A Sense of Spadina
A historically-rich walk in Kensington began my Sunday. We started at the old synagogue and moved our way around the area, checking out establishments of past and present Jewish importance. As we stopped by a Russian church to get a nice look at the architecture, one of the members invited us inside! It is beautiful in there - but no pictures unfortunately. You'll just have to go get a look for yourself.

The final walk of the weekend - and oh boy, my feet were politely reminding me to buy better shoes. Two architects from an urban planning firm took us on a tour of all of the unusual and wondrous planned spaces around the King and Spadina area. It was really nice to see some harmony at work in amongst what may seem like any other street in Toronto. For example, there is a beautiful courtyard in behind a restaurant called Weslodge, on King and west of Spadina. It acts as a laneway for cars, but also as a nice little resting area for condo owners and really anyone to sit and take a load off. And you wouldn't believe how quiet it is! They also spoke about the importance of restoration versus tearing down and building anew. Which is probably the reason why most of the design firms in that area have old wood floors and brick walls. Not that I am complaining, it looks swanky!

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