The rest of Toronto

Sunday was originally going to be CN tower day but the weather was grey and being a Sunday, queues seemed likely. Instead I decided to go to a yin/yang yoga class at the Yoga Sanctuary in the morning. This was a great class! The first half was an up tempo flow and I got into an arm balance I’ve been failing at for ages for the first time, yay! The second half was yin poses so we did one back bend, held for several minutes then a bunch of back bends which was perfect got a Sunday morning. Afterwards I headed back to the hostel to have lunch then went for a walk.

The walk led me to Queen Street East which is home to lots of high street chains. Sort of like a slightly more pleasant version of London’s Oxford Street. My eyes drew me straight to French Connection which had 40% off everything in store. My purse definitely felt it! After that I called it a day in the interests of preserving my credit card.

Monday was again going to be CN tower day but when I arrived it looked like this.

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I retreated to Starbucks and ended up staying for a couple of hours. Things didn’t improve so I headed back to the hostel picking up lunch and the latest Marie Claire on the way. It’s amazing being able to buy magazines here! I hung at the hostel for a while then headed to another yoga class. Sadly when I arrived I was told the class I wanted to go to wasn’t on because it was Monday and that class was on Tuesday (I blame all the snorers I’ve been sharing my dorm with for making me tired!). Luckily there was another class in an hour so I hung around for that. It was good!

I was determined that I was going to get a good night’s sleep in spite of the snorers last night so I stocked up on nytol, ear plugs and prepped the white noise app on my phone. Sadly the snorer was still audible over the white noise and had joined forces with some annoying other room mates who thought packing at 11pm and chatting at full volume was a good idea. Eventually it fell quiet but I’d got into such a rage with the snorer that there was no way I was going to sleep! Eventually I remembered something I read in an article about sleeping through noise – “it’s not the noise that keeps you awake, it’s your own anxiety” so I decided that rather than try to ignore the snoring I was going to embrace it and make it a kind of study (the rest of this is going to sound a bit odd, bear with me!). I relaxed as much as I could and listened to the snores, noting how the sound changed from snore to snore, when they stopped and so on. When I got extra agitated rather than giving up I brought my focus back to the snoring and tried to relax again. Kind of like a snoring meditation! Anyway, I’m not sure if it was my  new approach or the sleeping pill finally kicking in but the next time I woke up it was 6am at someone’s alarm going off. Mission semi-accomplished. 6 hours is better than none!

Today is my last day in Toronto and I started it with a sad farewell to the Planet Traveller breakfast. With 6 types of bagel, bread and 16 types of cereal plus peanut butter and jam it has been good to me. I think I might turn into a bagel before I leave Canada.

Next was another yoga class which was unexpectedly great. The teacher gave a good little talk at the start about non-violence to yourself being the start of being non-violent to others. Non-violent meaning in the sense of not bearing ill will to others, loving everyone and all that. He also asked everyone why they started practicing yoga then had us share our answers with the class. This never happens in yoga, and I mean never! I’m only to happy to remain silent from the time I walk in the studio to the time I walk out but actually I enjoyed this part. His point was that you can practice for many reasons but really we’re all there to break down our ego and learn to stop doing things because we think they impress others, to stop bearing ourselves up when we think we’ve made mistakes and generally to stop indulging the ego. When we can do that we can really learn to love ourselves and everyone else. When we find that the other stuff like flexibility and crazes comes naturally when the body and mind are ready. I love it when yoga teachers make me think! He also told me I should do Chaturanga on my knees for the next 30 days until I can get my arms fully to 90 degrees. At the moment I can’t get my arms fully to 90 and I haven’t made progress in a long time. Noone has ever picked me up on it before and I feel like this could help me make progress yay.

Afterwards I headed to St Lawrence market and the Distillery district for a walk around.  The market was a little disappointing. My lunch was a sad burrito, a cheese blintz that I threw away because it wasn’t nice and a raw and vegan nanaimo bar that was just average. The Distillery district was pretty and worth an hour or two to walk around if you have a spare afternoon.

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For the rest of the day I’m going to be killing time until my 12.30am bus to Montreal which means I’ll be in my last city and only a night away from seeing Ben. Not long to go now!

Toronto day 2: Tim Hortons and the Eaton Centre

Toronto has spectacular shopping. After months of not buying anything I walked into the Eaton Centre and wanted to buy everything! Its huge and super modern.

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I managed to restrain myself to a pair of $10 Jeans from Forever 21 (I can’t believe how cheap they were!), a pair of weather appropriate shoes and the vinyasa scarf from Lululemon. Lulu is still expensive here but the prices in Canadian dollars are the same as pounds so I paid $54 here for a scarf that back home is about £54. Bargain! I also love the thing, it’s a snood but the ends button together so you can use it as a towel, blanket or shawl as well. I’m so happy with it. Also, the shop assistants here are much friendlier than at home. The girl in hmv (they still have it here, it’s amazing!) chatted about her favourite record shops and recommended a good coffee shop, and the guy in lululemon chatted for ages even though I decided not to buy their yoga mat.

I intended to go to the cinema, which is a bit cheaper here than home, but spent so long shopping I missed it! Instead I decided to try Tim Hortons, a chain of coffee shops started by a famous Canadian hockey player. They sold me a fancy tea (orange pekoe) with the perfect amount of milk plus a cream cheese bagel for $3.50. I’ve decided to ditch my love of Starbucks and make Tim Hortons my faceless chain of choice!

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Afterwards I headed to a yoga class. It was ok but although billed as advanced was the equivalent of a strong level 1 class at home so I left disappointed.

Back at the hostel I checked the election really progress and chatted for a bit. There’s a nice mixture of people here. Some are living here while looking for a job and some are Canadians using the hostel instead of a hotel on short breaks. I wasn’t looking forward to going to bed as my dorm has a snorer. I was hoping to fall asleep before he got back but he’d decided to take an early night argh! I eventually managed to sleep with the help of some new earplugs and comforted myself with the duvet provided by the hostel. Its so long since I’ve had/needed anything other than a thin sheet to sleep under I’d forgotten how great duvets are!

Toronto day 1: I love it here!

My hostel is Planet Traveller which is in the Kensington Market area of Toronto. I chose it based purely on its good reviews and inclusive breakfast, fully expecting it to be in a mangy area. Happily, it must definitely is not! To give a feeling for the area, it’s like they picked up all the most beautiful shops and the coolest restaurants in London, placed them next to each other in a roughly 30 minute walk maximum radius circle around the hostel, and cut about 40% off the price. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many things I wanted to eat and buy in such a small area. Here’s a taste of where I’ve been today.

Kensington market

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$10 (about £5.50) for a huge salad including a drink, taxes and tip. $10!!!!!! I can’t believe it!

China town

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General foodie awesomeness

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An all bacon burger! How has this not happened in England yet?!?

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Queen Street West

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So yes, my hostel is 3 times the price I paid in Nicaragua but I can walk everywhere, there’s plenty to do for free, the temperature is barable and the hostel not only includes breakfast until 1pm, the staff are super nice and they have new macs for guests to use!

So now I’m going back to actually enjoying sitting outside for the first time in 2 months and contemplating getting frozen yoghurt. Hasta luego!