Toronto: Part 1

It was easy to be a bit nostalgic about Toronto. But, as Rachael astutely asked, “Are you nostaligic about the city or about being 20?” I’d have to say: both. Definitely both.

As I predicted, Rachael’s 6:30 PM flight out of O’Hare was delayed, so I felt entirely comfortable taking a little trip on my own to SSK (Sit, Sip and Knit) Night at In the Loop Cafe Thursday night. I had a blast generally unwinding and getting oriented to the local knitter scene.

I think I inspired Tracy to make the Neckdown Wrap Cardigan, and Drea told me that the very next evening the monthly Drunken Knitter’s Night was taking place. And in addition to the yummy *real* scone I purchased, we had some delicious butterscotch cake homemade by Alessandra to celebrate Draya’s birthday.

Although In the Loop was supposed to close at 9 PM, I didn’t leave until closer to 9:30 PM to catch the bus back to St. Clair West station. Rachael finally arrived at the hotel at about 11 PM. By then, I was quite tired, but she needed to get some food so we walked to a nearby 24-hour Shoppers Drug Mart to pick up some snacks (cheese, crackers, and yogurt) and make a plan for the next day.

Friday morning we were up early and headed out for a day of exploring. We walked up Yonge to Bloor, then over to a restaurant across from the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) for breakfast. We were astounded by the fact that the ROM was being consumed by a crystalline alien ship from outer space.

Royal Ontario Museum

But this wasn’t our final destination. Sad to say, I continued my tradition of being in Toronto and NOT visiting the ROM. Instead, we went to the Bata Shoe Museum, which was just a block or two west on Bloor Street. Who would have thought shoes could be so interesting? I took way too many photos of them.

From the Shoe Museum, we walked west on Bloor to Spadina where we purchased some TTC day passes and hopped a streetcar south. Like me, Rachael loves the streetcars. They are a quiet and pleasant form of surface transportation, and rarely encountered in cities anymore. We were headed to the first stop on our mini-yarn crawl through Toronto: Romni Wools. But before we got to Romni, we had to resist the myriad temptations on Queen Street West.

Around Spadina and for several blocks west, Queen Street is the “Fashion District.” We saw many fabric stores, button and trimming stores, and unique clothing stores. Peach Berserk beckoned, and Rachael barely made it out. She was sorely tempted to buy a custom made jacket, but took some time to walk out to think about it. After about 15 minutes inside Romni Wools, she felt better about passing on the opportunity.

Romni was completely overwhelming. It was packed, packed, packed with yarn. I know they don’t have *everything* there, (no Lorna’s Laces, for example) but it was a close thing. Since we were trying to stick to unique, preferably Canadian yarns and products, we were able to narrow things down a bit. Romni now has their own label of yarns, and we both picked up some Romni brand yarn.

As it was now getting well past lunch time, we needed sustenance. I had hoped to get some cheap eats in Chinatown, but we were several blocks away and needed food soon. So, we stopped at the Jerk Spot and instead had a treat I’ve only had in Toronto: roti. Specifically, we had curried goat roti. As a lunch special with a soda, the grand total was just over $5. Quite a deal, and quite good.

One of the reasons we didn’t want to roam far for lunch was because Rachael wanted to stop at the BakkaPhoenix science fiction bookstore for some browsing. While I do like science fiction, I wasn’t wanting to do any book shopping so I just hung out as she enthusiastically browsed the shelves and picked up a few good books.

We headed back to Spadina on the Queen streetcar, then continued north to Nassau Street and Kensington Market. We were headed to Lettuce Knit but enjoyed the atmosphere of Kensington Market in general.

Chocolate shop in Kensington Market, Toronto

It was just down the block from Lettuce Knit that we got the first amazing cup of coffee we’d had in a long time at Ideal Coffee. I was too mellowed by the excellent latte and the engrossing eavesdropping to take photos, but this site has some photos that capture the ecelectic vibe of the place. And Rachael also said the coffee here was even better than the coffee she had in Italy. I’ve never been to Italy, so I can’t make this distinction. But the latte was amazingly great.

We returned to the hotel (via another streetcar along College; hooray for streetcars!) for a short lay-down before joining the knitter crowd at the Spotted Dick. The Spotted Dick is a pub, so the food isn’t complicated in any way. We chowed down on fish and chips, washed down with beer. In my case, it was lots and lots of beer. I can’t remember when I last drank 4 pints of beer, and I barely made it through the night.

We had a grand time, though.

Drunken Knitter's Night at the Spotted Dick in Toronto

On the right is Rachael, of course. On the left is Jeff. Jeff was working on a Baby Surprise jacket, and generally holding up a lively conversation on a number of topics. On one of them, I’ll stay mum for now. The other, though, was about his deep desire to raise a pig for slaughter. Inside his city condo. Which is technically a studio, or a small one-bedroom. And I’m considered a bit “out there” for keeping a few hens in my backyard???

More to come. Much, more more to come. I’m just too tired after returning from such a wonderful weekend to finish this narrative. And I know this is getting quite long by now. I’ll just close out with one last photo from Kensington Market. ‘Nuff said.

A colorful shop in Kensington Market

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