Tuesday, March 1, 2016

We're Moving to Canada

When I met my husband he was obsessed with Canada. Okay he still is, but I had never met anyone so enthralled with our northern neighbor. Maybe it's growing up in West Virginia, but I never thought much about Canada one way or the other. I moved to Michigan during the winter Olympics and met this guy who insisted we meet at the bar and watching curling, a "sport" I didn't even know existed. He loves hockey and wears poppy pins to commemorate Canadian military personnel who have died in war. He can talk about Canadian Parliament like he works there, and before we started dating I had no idea who Steven Harper was (immediate past Prime Minister of Canada...please tell me other people didn't know that.)

I had never been to Canada ten years ago. In fact the more my husband raved about it the more I dug in. I like to think my antagonism is part of my charm. My first time to Canada was on foot - I ran there during the Detroit Marathon. The second time was a few years later when my husband and I went to Toronto on a whim. We'd been matched with a birth mother who changed her mind after giving birth. We drunkenly booked a trip to Toronto and headed off to start to heal.  

I enjoyed Toronto on that trip, but it didn't blow me away. I much preferred Quebec City and Montreal when we visited there last year. When we started talking about a quick weekend getaway, Toronto didn't come to the front of my mind. But my Canada loving husband quickly pointed out that the Canadian dollar is weaker than the U.S. dollar right now, and if we went to Toronto we'd actually save money. Faulty logic from the guy who is in charge of the largest portion of our state's budget, but I am a sucker for cute faulty logic that results in a vacation.

We arrived in Toronto late on Friday evening after I may have decided I didn't want to follow the directions and got us lost. We got to the Marriott right downtown by the Eaton Centre, a colossal downtown shopping center, around midnight.  I had called the day before to affirm we'd have a crib for the baby so we didn't have to bring the pack 'n play, and I was assured we would. Unfortunately when we arrived not only was it not there, but we were told there were no cribs available in the hotel. We were not happy, and sleeping with a restless one-year-old between us in a king-sized bed wasn't exactly ideal.

Thankfully the hotel was apologetic and gave us free breakfast passes to their amazing breakfast buffet the next morning. We started the morning there before heading out in the chilly February morning. Our first stop was the St. Lawrence Market. I raved about it in my  last Toronto post, and it did not disappoint this time. National Geographic ranked it the world's number one food market, and it was packed on a Saturday morning. We spent a large chunk of the morning wandering through the market and marveling at how they have such a variety of fresh everything


Shortly after we left the market our rockstar traveling son fell asleep in the stroller. It was chilly, but our kid travels like a champ. We stopped at the Hockey Hall of Fame gift shop and did some other shopping while the baby was out. We then decided to regroup at the hotel before lunch.

My favorite restaurant of all time is Toronto's Richmond Station.  We were unable to get dinner reservations at a toddler appropriate time, so we settled for a late lunch reservation (which actually worked better with a toddler anyway).  Our Richmond Station experience was a little different than a few years ago, but the food and drinks were just as amazing. Canadians are also super nice and helped me pick up toys off the floor approximately 44.7 times. I was nervous that my second trip to Richmond Station wouldn't live up to the high expectations resulting from the first visit, but it was incredible. Definitely the highlight of the trip.
Love Richmond Station

After lunch Will decided his stroller nap wasn't good enough, so we headed back to the hotel for a nap (including one for Mom). We followed a long nap with poutine for dinner (French fries with gravy and cheese curds if you aren't familiar). Our son is such a picky eater, but he loved poutine. My husband is so proud. The weather was cold, so we walked around the Eaton Centre for a while before bed. We discovered that one of the challenges of traveling with a toddler means you're in the room relatively early, but it gave us much needed time to relax. 

Baby's first poutine!

I went for a run on Sunday morning and immediately noticed it was warmer than it had been the day before. I took my new Garmin for a spin and logged a few miles before heading back. We had a quick breakfast before walking around downtown. We headed toward the CN Tower and then to the Fashion District in search of Yo Sox, a colorful sock store. My husband loves fun socks, so it was worth the walk.

Striking a pose in Toronto while Will sleeps it off
We took a baby to a bar for lunch as we stumbled into Duke's Refresher. We had cocktails and appetizers (bacon caramel doughnuts? Yes please) before heading back for nap time. I have to admit I don't hate having to take nap breaks on vacation. Usually we don't stop moving, and I found myself more relaxed than I've been on vacation for a while.

You've got a baby. In a bar?

We braved a fancy restaurant for dinner by taking our son to The Elm Tree around the corner from our hotel. He rocked it out with only one slight wrinkle - helping spill a cocktail when toasting with dad. We walked around downtown for a while after dinner before heading to sleep (aka drinking wine in the hotel room). 

Love my beautiful family.

On our last morning we had breakfast and did a little shopping before heading home to Michigan. It's the most relaxed I've been in a while. Having a break from our phones is always the best way to disconnect, and Toronto captured my heart. My husband has decided we're moving to Canada, and I've told him to find jobs for us and I'm in. I'm not super worried about his pulling it off, but I thought I should give y'all a heads up in case you need a place to crash in Toronto.  

Happy, relaxed baby running around in Toronto
Happy, relaxed mom in Toronto

3 comments:

  1. I really loved hearing about the whole Canadian experience. I think the pictures you took make it even better! Are any places that just stand out above all the rest in Toronto or are there some that are better than others? I'm planning a long trip to Canada and I want a quick pit-stop to Toronto!

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    1. If you're planning a long trip to Canada you MUST see Quebec City. It's my fav! (Here's a blog I wrote about it after our visit in 2014: http://irunthesetowns.blogspot.com/2014/07/jaime-le-centre-ville-quebec-city.html) In Toronto you have to go to Richmond Station. It's my favorite restaurant ever. The St. Lawrence Market and Distillery District are also must sees!

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  2. I love your blog. I've always wanted to move to Canada. Your pictures are really beautiful and I'm so happy that you've taken the big leap of deciding to move. I just need to convince my husband now to want to do the same. I've heard that the Canadian way of life is so relaxed and that really appeals to me.

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