I had some extra time this month, and I really (really) wanted to go some place I'd never been before. In fact, I had Toronto in mind. For some reason I'd never been (except once in the airport, which doesn't count), despite the fact that it's only about 6 hours from Morgantown. I felt pretty lucky when my friend wrote and asked me when we were going to go on a girls' trip, and she was willing and excited to try Toronto. We drove up a couple days after Christmas. We stayed downtown, where we saw some great architecture. I was surprised by the throngs of people out and about on Sunday afternoon. It felt like Manhattan.

We walked through Chinatown on our way to Kensington Market, and it smelled delicious. Not to mention the crazy sites--I definitely think my favorite was the plastic food.

My friend recommended Kensington Market to me, and it did not disappoint (though no pictures here--it was too dark). There were an astonishing number of interesting shops, bars, and restaurants, as well as fruit and veggie markets that reminded me of ones I saw in Israel. We saw streets filled with adorable gingerbread Victorians, and there were murals and fantastic graffiti everywhere. We were there a bit late and lots of things were closed, so I definitely need to return on another visit in the daytime and fully explore there.

For fear of data roaming charges, I ended up not having access to google maps much of the time. That left us using a paper map to get around, which didn't contain a lot of smaller streets. On our way to the Distillery District we took a wrong turn and ended up in the Financial District downtown. The starkness of the buildings was impressive and interesting though, so we didn't mind. But it was cold. The wind. Don't forget to account for the wind. On the other hand, while we stood looking at our map, a man came up and asked if we needed help, and then gave us directions. Those Canadians have a good reputation for a reason.

Above is a street close to St. Lawrence Market, which we tried to see, but it was closed on Monday. (Another thing for next time.) From there we made our way to the Distillery District, a charming cobble-stoned area with so many cute shops and restaurants. It's also home to Mill Street Brewery, which had a beer garden that looked lovely for a warmer time. We had a beer inside, of course, along with the most delicious edamame I've ever had. It came with a lovely sweet/hot sauce that was unexpected and quite impressive.

Is this not the cutest little courtyard? I love the decor so much. There was also a stylish fire pit in the middle.

The area beyond this sign was an ice rink not far from our hotel. We were pretty happy to see it again after walking through some fairly extreme ice and snow. It was in fact so intense that at one point we laughed hysterically--and yet, we both thought it was pretty fun. What an adventure. And, I felt like I truly experienced the Canada from my favorite childhood novel (set in Montreal), Calico Captive.

We ended with a visit to Sweet Jesus. We were too early for their super fancy soft serve, but I got an eggnog topped with Earl Grey whipped cream, walnuts, fried sweet potatoes, and a strip of fried ginger. Oh my. Mindy had an espresso topped with charred marshmallows. She ate the rim of graham cracker crust for several miles as we drove with not an ounce of shame.

I feel like we only scratched the surface of this city, and I can't wait to go back.