The drive up to Toronto? Beautiful.
We conked out at Binghamton (of course I did--I'd just flown in that morning and for me it was about 1 am) and then continued the next morning through mists and light rain. The border crossing was easier than we thought it would be (Hand over our driver's licenses, "That luggage all yours?" "yes." "OK, have a good time.") and two hours later were checking into our youth hostel room in Kensington Market.
(The view from our room)
The drawbacks to staying in a youth hostel is no private bathroom/toilet, but it's cheap, centrally located, and has a full kitchen. (Yes, you can live a whole week cooking food double wrapped in a microwave.)
Shabbat we davened and ate at the Minsker shul. From the outside the building doesn't look like much, but inside it's gorgeous -- stained glass, wall murals, woodwork. It was torched in 2002 and some areas haven't been repaired yet (including a big window in the women's section--brrr); when they have enough money to finish the job, it'll be spectacular. The community there is warm and hospitable, even though you may end up helping cook on Friday afternoon.
Some random Kensington Market photos:
(OK, that last one wasn't random, but finding the place was. I didn't have the address, just the street, and the first thing I see, at 66 1/2, is a Lettuce Knit store sign and an empty shop. No indication that they've moved a few doors down to 70. Good thing I decided to walk down the rest of the block.)
Aside from set-up and break-down days, we walked to our convention in Bloor-Yorkville, just opposite the ROM. I love me a construction site.
At night we'd pick up fruits and veggies at a Vietnamese green-grocer on Spadina and then wander around the neighborhood. Youth hostels will definitely feature in our future travel plans.
Our last day in town we went to the Bata Show Museum, where the Spouse completely freaked me by spotting a conservator working on a boot in a glassed-in office and holding a large note asking about acid deterioration up to the glass. She thought it was cute and came out to talk, but she was only an intern and the head honcho was unavailable. I swear, The Spouse never stops working...
Random thoughts about Toronto:
- Lovely city, especially the downtown areas.
- Why did the Jewish community move from Kensington Market to the north? Where they are now looks like middle-class projects. [shudder]
- I was surprised to see a city so well built for bicycles and public transit, but with so few people doing shoe-leather commuting. It wasn't even that cold the days we were there, and as environmentally sound as street cars are, isn't walking even sounder?
- Toronto residents seem very concerned about soldiers in Afghanistan, locals in Iraq, and the HIV+ in Africa. And a lot less concerned about the homeless in Toronto.
- You lot really get into Halloween, don't you?
- Being young and hip in Toronto seems so much work. Walk around Kensington Market on a Saturday morning and everyone's shopping for the same jacket, same hair dye, same tattoos as everyone else there has. Back in my day (when men were men and cattle was dinner and we had to walk 10 miles uphill through the snow each way to school, and "vintage" was just used clothes) off-beat wasn't a uniform to which one had to conform; it seemed so much freer and less fraught.
A perfect prelude to an anniversary at Niagara Falls.
(to be continued when I can keep my eyes open)