We signed up for 2 free tours with the Tour Guys that day so we headed off to downtown early in the morning. Tour Guys offers a few 1.5 hour tours to choose from and they are all free. All you have to do is reserve on their website and show up at the designated meeting point. Tipping is highly suggested! Our first tour was the Downtown Toronto Tour which starts at 10:30 a.m. inside the Great Hall of Union Station. Our tour guide is a PhD student who provides tours to earn income to subsidize her studies. She was very knowledgeable about the history of Toronto and her presentation was fun and interactive. The tour took us around the financial district, where we learned about the history of the top 4 banks of Canada, Fairmont Royal York Hotel, Eaton Centre and concluded at the Osgoode Hall.
We quickly grabbed lunch at the concession booth outside of the new Toronto City Hall before our next tour started at 1 p.m. The second tour was about the Old Town of Toronto and started at the Old City Hall. From there we visited the new City Hall, Queen Street, King Street, St. James Church and concluded at the St. Lawrence Market. Both tours were very good but the second one was my favourite as it was interesting to hear about the dark period of Toronto’s history.
After our tour, we picked up our car and headed over to the Kensington Market. It is a bohemian and hipster neighbourhood with indie shops, vintage boutiques and graffiti art. The Market is located right beside Chinatown which provides a very stark comparison. The Market occupies about 3-4 small blocks and it is quite a neat area to explore. I would recommend coming during the day as most shops close by 6 pm and some of the locals hanging out in the area seemed a little sketchy. We spent about 45 minutes here as we walked around the shops and grabbed a bite at The Dirtybird Chicken and Waffles. The Chicken and Waffles here are super delicious! We ordered The ODB and The Clucker which cost about $14 each. It is a little pricy but it is definitely worth it! The chicken was very juicy and the waffles were nice and fluffy. Each order is freshly made.
From the Kensington Market, we took a stroll through Chinatown. Their Chinatown definitely looks a lot safer and cleaner than the one in Vancouver. There are many Chinese restaurants, banks, grocery stores and shops within the 3-4 blocks. We spent about 30 minutes here and headed off to the Joey’s at Eaton Center for dinner. They gave us a nice spot in their covered garage which had a nice breeze as fresh air was coming in from the busy streets. The décor was really trendy and fancy, much more lavished than the Joey’s we have in Vancouver. We were not too hungry so we ordered two mains and one appetizer to share – Spanish Paella, Herb Crush Salmon and the Gyozas. Food and service were quick and excellent. We had to grab a quick dinner as we wanted to check out Eaton Center before they closed at 9 p.m.
Eaton Center is very similar to the shopping malls we have in Vancouver but I really wanted to revisit this mall as I remember coming here before when I was very young. They do have a 2 floor Uniqlo store here but the first store in Vancouver just opened up a few weeks ago. We walked around for an hour but did not end up buying anything. After walking around for a good 8 hours, we decided to call it a day and headed back to the hotel after the mall closed.