3 Days Exploring Toronto | Summer 2018
July 26- 28, 2018
I was so busy last weekend in Toronto I swear I needed a vacation from my vacation.
My boyfriend and I visited the 416 for three days covering everything from staying in a high rise condo, attending a psychedelic/horror themed Rob Zombie concert, renting a powerboat to explore the inner harbour and reminisced my high school days at a Evanescence concert. We also did lots of eating, eating and more eating.
We took the GO Train to Union Station Thursday afternoon arriving downtown Toronto around 3pm. Quickly after arriving we were able to find Danish Pastry House- a very small, if you blink you might miss it- pastry shop my friend who lives in Toronto told me about. We ordered four different things, but to be honest we weren’t blow away with any of the ones we tried. My friend told me later that I ordered the wrong cinnamon bun and that I was supposed to get the “low snail” instead. Whoops.
I impressed myself and packed in a backpack for this trip. OK, I have to admit I threw my hair straightener and a hoodie into my boyfriend’s backpack, but for the most part I had everything micro organized in my own bag.
Hotels in Toronto were going for around $250 CAD/night when I searched Expedia back in April, so I decided to choose a place through Airbnb instead. We stayed in a beautiful place on the 37th floor of a high-rise condo beside the Rogers Centre. It was about a 20-minute walk from Union Station. We could have taken a bus, but I wasn’t exactly sure of the routes before we got there.
It had pretty much everything you could possibly need for your home away from home and the balcony gave us a direct view of the CN Tower. Our host was there to greet us upon arrival and gave us tips on navigating the city and some suggestions of her favorite places to eat.
We were a bit short on time so we decided to eat at a Mexican restaurant close to the condo called Macho Tex Mex Radio Bar before we headed out to the Budweiser Stage for a concert. We ordered their nachos, baja fish tacos and nacho fries and we were disappointed in everything we had. These were the tiniest tacos I had ever seen and they were $5 CAD each! I DO NOT recommend this place at all. Our Airbnb host recommended a different Mexican place a bit further away and we wished we had listened to her.
Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie were playing the Budweiser Stage that night as part of their Twins of Evil Tour. I read the set times on Instagram earlier and Manson was to come on at 8:10pm. We were stuck in traffic on the bus trying to get there at 8:07pm and I was freaking out. This was the third time I’ve tried to see Mason play. The first time the set times were moved up an hour without my knowledge and I only got to see him play The Beautiful People, the second time I had to sell my tickets due to horrible winter weather and not being able to get to the venue and now this time.
I eventually found out it didn’t make a difference that we were late to the venue because as I was scanning in there was a sign posted that he would not be performing that night due to “unforeseen illness.” I was completely crushed.
A lot of people were complaining and wanted refunds, but in order to get one you would have to leave immediately and forego being able to see Rob Zombie’s set. This would be my third time seeing Zombie, but I still didn’t want to leave. I was here to enjoy my time at a concert so we stayed- really glad we did because Zombie was amazing. He played a set that started earlier and was extended. Even though the crowd booed when he mentioned Manson, he did a great cover of Manson’s version of Sweet Dreams.
I should also mention that I bought my tickets off Groupon back in March for $35 CAD/each, so I didn’t really see the point in fighting for a refund for tickets that were already so cheap.
The next morning we headed to Toronto Inner Harbour around 10:30am, which was only a 10 minute walk from our Airbnb. A friend at work told me about this 90-minute Paradise F13 mini powerboat rental through Groupon and thought my boyfriend and I would enjoy it. The weather was perfect for being on the water so we were really excited to try this out.
The day I bought the voucher Groupon was having a 20% off activities sale and I also went through Ebates to make my purchase (always trying to save money!), so the cost was $60 CAD. FYI: You have the pay the tax in person when you redeem the voucher.
They have you watch this little 5-minute instructional video on how to operate the powerboat and the areas you are allowed to go in and which ones are restricted. The cost of the rental also includes a one-day type of boating license. My boyfriend has his boating license in real life so I wasn’t worried about us out on the water, but for someone who has never driven anything in water before I found it a bit sketchy to me how someone with no experience could maneuver this boat.
After we docked we walked next door to Amsterdam Brewhouse, where we sat on the patio and were able to watch the boats in the harbour.
We ordered both of their beer flights($9 CAD/each), but hated all but one of them. They were all so hoppy! Our Airbnb host suggested the Amster'dam Good Pretzel($8 CAD) and it was by far the best one of these we’ve ever tried. We also ordered the Mac & Cheese Croquettes($13 CAD) for an appetizer.
For our mains my boyfriend had the fish and chips($18 CAD) and I ordered the smoked brisket sandwich ($17 CAD), which looked small but was very filling.
Being on the water all morning made me so tired, so like an 80-year old we went back to our place and I had a nap. I usually never, like EVER, like to rest on vacation, but we still had a long night ahead of us returning back to the Budweiser Stage for another concert later that night.
This show was a complete 360 from the previous night as we were there to see dancing violinist Lindsey Stirling open for Evanescence.
I was first introduced to Lindsey Stirling through her collaboration with Lzzy Hale of Halestorm doing guest vocals for her single Shatter Me.
During this tour Amy Lee of Evanescence sings Lzzy’s parts, which is a completely different vibe from the original but nonetheless still amazing.
I’ve seen a few of her music videos so I knew she was a dancing violinist, but her set was so much more than I was expecting. It was a full-blown performance that included an orchestra, backup dancers, multiple costume changes and spectacular visuals. One of her outfits consisted of a beautiful jeweled skeleton bodysuit that I totally would wear during Halloween.
We had an amazing view for this show as I was lucky enough to get seats in the front row of the 400 section. I bought them through Ticketmaster back in March during the Evanescence Fan Presale. They were a bit expensive at $160 CAD for both tickets, but the show was more like a production so it was money well spent.
Amy Lee was everything I ever wanted to be during high school. Well, it’s been 12 years since I’ve graduated and I’m still girl crushing on her. She was wearing a green, almost black simple elegant dress with her trademark long, smooth black hair and smoky kohl lined eyes. I always loved the fact that she has a real girl’s body and not something unrealistic from a magazine.
The moment I heard the first note I instantly had good bumps. My skin pretty much stayed that way until the last note was sung, as the entire show was that amazing.
Like Lindsey, Evanescence also had an orchestra on stage and Amy explained that all the musicians that were part of the orchestra were local and all learned the material that day. She said they do this in each city they play on the tour, which I thought was amazing since they were so great and sounded perfect.
My favourite song of theirs is the Synthesis version of Lacrymosa and it was the second song they performed of the night. Lindsey Stirling also came back on stage to play violin for the song Hi-Lo that she was featured on. She also joined the band again again during their encore doing a cover of songs by both Ozzy Osbourne and Sia.
No costume changes for Amy, but with a voice like that who cares about the clothes. She could have been up there wearing a black garbage bag and I would still want purchase all her music.
The next day we woke up early and checked out of our Airbnb by 9:30am. We took a bus over to the St. Lawrence Market to spend our morning there before heading back home.
Neither of us had ever been before so it was cool to explore all the vendors and food they had to offer. If I’m going to be completely honest, after visiting the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia when we visited in 2016 the Toronto one seemed very small in comparison.
The biggest difference I noticed was that although the Toronto one had lots of raw food for sale (vegetables, meats, breads, cheeses, etc) they didn’t have a ton of places to actually eat a prepared meal. The layout of the Toronto one also wasn’t as easy to navigate because the lines of people spill into where people walk whereas the ones in Philly would wrap around each individual vendor.
We ended up getting this sandwich our Airbnb host recommended called the Godfather from an Italian place on the lower level near the Market Street entrance. It’s a chicken parm sandwich but also has eggplant on it with lots of cheese and sauce. It was $14, but it was large enough for us to split and very delicious.
For dessert I bought a baklava “cigar” from a pastry shop called Eve's Temptations and it was also very good.
At this point we had our backpacks with us the entire time at the market so we took a bus from the market to Union Station, which was only a few minutes away by bus.
They have more frequent trains going out on the weekend so we were able to catch one 30 minutes earlier than we were expecting, which was nice since I probably would have just ate something I didn’t need at Union Station.
We’re hoping to make it back to the city for a day trip at the end of August for; you guessed it, another concert.
1. What was the best/worst Airbnb experience you’ve had?
2. Do you use sites like Groupon/Ebates to get deals when you travel?
3. If I go back to visit St. Lawrence Market which vendors should I try?