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5 Things to Do in Toronto Before You Die

I lived in Toronto for 6 years and have recently just moved to Vancouver. I was thinking back to all the awesome things I did in Toronto over the years and a few stuck out in my head. I wanted to have a link to send to people that are new to Toronto to introduce them to things that I really loved about the city. These are necessarily things like CNE, Leafs games or a trip up the CN Tower. These are things off the beaten track that are mostly known by locals if you talk to enough people. Hopefully you can experience a few of them during your time in Toronto. Let me know what you think!

Pumpkin Parade

Pumpkin parade

Lots of pumpkins

We heard that there was a spot in Toronto where everyone brings their pumpkins on the day after Halloween. I thought this sounded like a neat concept so we went to check it out. It is truly amazing to see everyone in the neighbourhood walking down the street, pumpkin in hard, heading to the park to display their unique jack o lantern. Apparently they get over 1,000 pumpkins lined up on Nov.1st every year. The pumpkins are picked up the next morning by the city and taken to be composted.

See Blog TO for more info on Pumpkin Parade

Outdoor Ice Skating

One of many outdoor rinks

I have never been a huge hockey player or even that good of an ice skater. The one thing I do love is getting outside on an outdoor rink. Many rinks have high costs for rentals or 100’s of 6 year olds falling in front of you after every turn. The great part about Toronto is there are tons of outdoor rinks all over the city offering free skating and shinny.  We would turn up for the night free skate and usually end up having the whole rink to ourselves. We could bring sticks, pass the puck around and really enjoy the outdoors.

Full list of rinks in Toronto

Saturday afternoon at Grossmans Tavern

Saturday afternoon at Grossmans

I had never heard of this pub up until December last year. My roommate told me that we were going to have an afternoon of drinking at Grossmans that would begin at 2pm. This was a little strange to me since I usually don’t go to pubs before 8pm… But I went anyway.  When we arrived, I found the place mostly filled with people over the age of 70 and rest were his friends at the back table. Here’s the deal – every Saturday Grossmans has a 12 piece Dixieland Jazz Band playing all afternoon. They are great and really get into the music. The best part of the show is the conga line of musicians and drunk patrons for the last song of the night (well, more like afternoon).

Info on Grossman’s Tavern

Ferry from the Island at Sunset

View of skyline coming back from Toronto Island

A few times when coming home from the island, I got to experience the Toronto skyline at sunset. It is really an amazing sight and I would recommend this to anyone who is sick of the hustle and bustle of the Toronto streets.

Full Ferry Schedule

Sunday brunch at Dakota Tavern

Sunday brunch at Dakota Tavern

If you are sick of eating over priced Eggs Benedict then this place is for you. Dakota Tavern hosts a Sunday brunch with a live Bluegrass band each week. The brunch is served ‘family style’ which means there are big bowls of food brought to your table. We had eggs, sausages, potatoes, fruit and pancakes. It was a decent meal but the atmosphere was great. I would suggest going right before they open at 11am. After they seat everyone waiting outside, the line starts…

Dakota Tavern website

Tanah Lot Temple at Sunset

Before my 12 day trip to Bali, I did some research online to see where I wanted to visit. I love photography, so I really wanted to check out some interesting spots so I could get some really cool shots. The one place that kept coming up in blogs and travel books was Tanah Lot Temple. The biggest tip was to not visit the temple at sunset. This is due to the face that bus loads of tourist descend on the temple each day at sunset to capture the incredible sight. I didn’t take that advice and VERY happy with the results.

According to Wikipedia, Tanah Lot means “Land in the Sea”. It also says that Tanah Lot is claimed to be the work of the 15th century priest Nirartha. During his travels along the south coast he saw the rock-island’s beautiful setting and rested there. Some fishermen saw him, and bought him gifts. Nirartha then spent the night on the little island. Later he spoke to the fishermen and told them to build a shrine on the rock for he felt it to be a holy place to worship the Balinese sea gods. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanah_Lot)

Motorbike adventure to Tanah Lot

We decided to skip the tourist bus and rent a motorbike for the night and drive there. We were staying in Legian which is about 10 minutes from Kuta. The rental was about 40,000R which works out to about $5 US. Not a bad deal! We were concerned about getting there before sunset and getting lost. It turns out there are tons of signs along the way so it was easy to find.

Sunset Terrace

When you arrive at Tanah Lot, you park in a huge parking lot and walk past tons of little market stalls before you get to the great temple. You can choose to take a view up high and sip a Bintang while you watch the sunset below. You can also choose to stay below (low tide nights only) and watch the sunset as you stand by the ocean and watch the waves crash in front of you. We chose to watch from above and then walk down for some closer shots. I am so glad I put up with the tourists and came at sunset. It was absolutely beautiful and something I will never forget.

Walk up to the watch from above

Amazing sunset views

Tourists getting front row as waves crash

The pink sky was unreal

For full Bali photo album on Flickr CLICK HERE

Snorkeling with sea turtles (Maui, Hawaii)

We decided to not do one of the guided tours in Maui for a snorkeling trip. Since we were staying at the Westin Maui, we were a ten minute walk from Black Rock. This is a very popular snorkeling spot in Maui and people staying close by in Ka’anapali.  There is public parking if you can’t walk at the Sheraton Resort. You can rent snorkeling gear from the beach front are at the Sheraton for about $7 an hour. We usually went around late afternoon but apparently early morning is the best time.

We saw two different sea turtles and tons of brightly coloured fish. There are also lots of people cliff jumping off black rock all day. The best time to go to take photos of this is around sunset since it sets over ocean.

These photos were taken with the Olympus waterproof camera. Great for any water related activities. We also took some amazing videos with the camera.

Sea TurtlesSwimming with Sea Turtles

Snorkeling

Snorkeling

Lahaina (Maui, Hawaii)

Lahaina

Lahaina Pier

Lahaina at Sunset

We took our rental car to Lahaina for an afternoon and toured around and did some shopping on the main strip. There are tons of touristy shops, art galleries, surf shops and restaurants. The view is incredible around sunset so make sure you schedule your trip so you are there for this amazing view.

Mala in Lahaina

View of Ocean side tables at Mala

We had dinner at the local restaurant Mala. Call ahead and make reservations and then make sure to arrive early to wait for a ocean view table. We had the most amazing table and it only took a 20 min wait. The food at Mala is all local and incredibly prepared and delicious. We shared the ribs, seared Ahi tuna, fresh fish special and a salad. All were great but I liked the ribs the best.

They are known for the mojitos so make sure to try them. I feel in love with the mango mojitos.

Mala in Lahaina

View from our table at Mala

Salad at Mala

Our salad at Mala

Ribs at Mala

Our ribs at Mala

After that we headed to Cool Cat Cafe. It is a cute spot on the second floor above some stores on the main street. This place has drink specials every night of the week for $3. I actually found out about this place while doing a search for Maui on Twitter. I know, I’m letting my geek show. They post their drink specials every night and I kept seeing them as I waited for my trip to come while being in snowy Toronto. The prices are a nice change from the $8 drinks at the resorts and restaurants around Maui. They have live music most nights and seems like it doesn’t get too busy. I think everyone in Maui goes to bed at 11pm, damn honeymooners.

Cool Cat Cafe

My Blue Hawaiian at the Cool Cat Cafe

We did our Luau at the Westin but we heard that the Lahaina Luau is the most authentic in Maui. You can find details here: Old Lahaina Luau.

If you have a lot of time on your hands, check out the entire Maui album on my Flickr page: http://tiny.cc/maui146

Halaekala Sunrise (Maui, Hawaii)

View around 6:30am from 10,000 ft up

Haleakala Sunrise

This is an old volcano that is 10,000 ft  high. You can drive all the way to the top and watch the sunrise there. It is recommended that you get there 2 hour before sunrise so you see all the crazy colours from above the clouds. I recommend this if you have a good camera and want some photos. The drive up is very crazy. It will be dark and the road curls up around the crater, tons of turns and very small road. Make sure you have a driver that is alert and not sleepy. It is very cold at the top. You can borrow blankets from hotel front desk. It was 1.5 hrs from our hotel so we left around 3:30am. Generally people are apprehensive to get up this early. Have two alarm clocks set in case your boyfriend turns one off and threatens to break up with you if you make him get up at this hour. You can stop at the 24 grocery store and get snacks before the trip there.

Kula Lodge

View from breakfast table at Kula Lodge

Kula Lodge – This is a great place to get breakfast after driving for 2 hours and standing in the cold for an hour. I think it opens around 7am and breakfast is sooo good. Try the traditional eggs/bacon/potatoes and also the pancakes with coconut syrup. Delicious. The views are incredible and the staff is great. Keep your sweater on, still very cold.

Surfing Goat Dairy – Little goat farm with surfboards everywhere, free tours and sampling. All the local restaurants in Maui use their goat cheese, Mmmm. If you’re lucky, you might even be there when one of the goats gets onto the surfboard. Best. Moment. Ever.

Surfing Goat Dairy

Surfing Goat Dairy

Surfing Goat Dairy

Awesomeness

If you have a lot of time on your hands, check out the entire Maui album on my Flickr page: http://tiny.cc/maui146

Here I am.

I have decided to capture some of my experiences traveling over the past 10 years. Please bear with me as I am new to this whole crazy thing. Feel free to leave comments about how bad I am at blogging or about how I’m not as witty as I think I am.

Bon Voyage.