What I Learned From Pushing Myself to Travel Solo

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One year ago today, I embarked on a personal mission to see more of the world outside of North America. People always talk about it, but I wanted to be about it. Most of my friends are into going to the US or doing all-inclusive trips which is fine but I was seeking something more but, I just wasn’t sure. 

The wheels started turning in my head on New Year’s Eve as 2016 was approaching. Most people were out with friends or loved ones while I was inside of my apartment partaking in Chinese takeout. Toiling about the year I had and the year to come I realized I still hadn’t watched the Netflix series ‘Master Of None’ like I said I would back in like October. So, 3 episodes turned into 6 episodes and 5 hours later I ended up watching the whole season. First of all, that show is like the handbook to your 30’s. Secondly, when I saw Aziz Ansari’s character Dev, just randomly hop on a plane bound for Italy I was thinking to myself “ Yoooo, that is pretty bad ass…I wish I could do that!”.

Then suddenly, it hit me…WHY CAN’T I DO THAT?!?! After listing about 15 reasons why I am too scared to randomly travel alone it was almost midnight. Most of the time you share with your friends some goals or resolutions you may have. Since no one was around I told myself 2016 my theme is going to be EXPLORE! I should’ve prefaced that by saying each year instead of resolutions I have themes or mottos I try to live by. 2015 was ‘Get It Done!’ which was a challenge to finish my last bout of education and stop telling myself I can’t do this or that.  So perhaps that theme was a precursor to this 2016 one. 
I went back to work after the holiday and starting thinking, how the hell was I going to pull this off. I learned that once I have the time everything else will figure itself out. I had banked some leftover vacation time from 2015 so perhaps I could use that. I had money saved up as a ‘rainy day fund’ so if push comes to shove I could tap into that to make this happen. 

Fast forward to Valentine’s Day and I had a romantic day alone on the coldest weekend in recent memory watching the NBA All Star Game and after the game I was like…LETS DO THIS!!! I was researching places to go that weren’t too crazy expensive but weren’t in North America. Google Flights was my homeboy for about 3 weeks before booking just randomly mapping out destinations and price watching. So after 5 minutes of OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! AM I REALLY GONNA DO THIS…I said… F— It and clicked confirm and my flights were booked. And I would be leaving the following Sunday. That gave me no time to overthink this and talk myself out of it. The rush was amazing and scary at the same time, if that makes any sense. 

The destination was….wait for it….Malta! Wait what?! Where the hell is that?! Why did you pick Malta?! Why not Great Britain or France or Spain?!  So Malta is an island nation just off the south coast of Italy. I didn’t go for the obvious places like Great Britain and France because well one it’s cold there in February and everyone goes there. I like to be a bit out of the ordinary and Malta was like $400 bucks cheaper to fly there and it’s like 20-22C every day. Also, there were weird coincidences that I convinced myself were signs I must go there. 

I was scanning through the New York Times list of ’52 Places to Go in 2016’ and Malta caught my eye, one week later I was on a bus and one of the stops was Malta Street. About 3 days after I randomly saw the film ‘The Maltese Falcon’ on TV and at the groceries scanning through the candy aisle a bag of Maltesers fell on my arm. I was like whether these are real signs or not, this is pushing me to pursue something that I set it out to do so let’s go for it!

I booked my accommodations and sightseeing trips literally 2-3 days before I left, I had to get printer ink to print out my itineraries because I like having hard copies just in case. I packed my bags like 5 hours before I left and I hardly told anyone. Just my mom and sister, a few cousins and friends no more than like 6 people. My mom thought I was a crazy person for doing something like this so spur of the moment and alone no less. Up until that point the farthest I have ever travelled alone was to Hamilton…Ontario not Bermuda. 

Was I scared? No, I wasn’t scared…I WAS TERRIFIED!!! The longest I have ever sat on a plane for was like 4.5-5 hours. This was going to be 8 hours to fly to Frankfurt and then catch my connecting flight to Malta. When I said goodbye to my mom, my heart sank down to my kneecaps because this was really happening. My sister dropped me to the airport and she was impressed and maybe a bit jealous that I had the boldness to do what many others wouldn’t. Not only travel alone, but to put it all together in 6 days. Oh yes, I was brave. 

At YYZ, I was mingling with some passengers and they were pretty taken aback by my tale of not only solo travelling but planning it all within a week. I did not sleep at all on the flight or the first night in Malta because of the anxiety I was feeling. But, I needed that in order to gain some personal growth. Once I finally got used to not being in my comfort zone it was smooth sailing for the most part. 

My trip was challenging, it was refreshing and enlightening too. This blog has posts of that trip if you are still reading this and want to know about Malta and Sicily go nuts! I carried a travel journal with me that I would write in on almost a daily basis to keep me calm and to live in the moment without worrying about forgetting a detail. Since I wrote my thoughts out I can go back and look at these entries fondly. 

Some of what I learned from travelling solo for the first time is the following:

1) I can do just about anything I put my mind to

2) Fear is a part of life but conquering it gives you unimaginable personal freedom and power

3) Just because your friends wouldn’t do it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be your own person

4) Always be smart with your data plan and battery life on your devices

5) VPNs come in clutch when you attempt to watch the Oscars with your tablet using Wi-Fi from your hotel room at 2 am and no channels in Malta are carrying it. 

6) Don’t be afraid to wander because the best self-discoveries happen when you least expect it

7) I can only control what I can control, I can’t worry about things that are beyond my control

8) Being Canadian really gets admiration from people in Europe

9) In Europe they reallyyyyy love churches and food (rabbit is pretty tasty)

10) Sports bars only seem to play soccer and cricket, asking about UFC will get you dirty looks

11) Life is too short to keep putting it off, it is okay to play and do what you love

12) An extreme change of scenery elevated my creativity and capacity to see and do more

13) If you like to collect passport stamps the EU isn’t as fun since it’s all connected, I only got 1 stamp!

14) People tend to get more fascinated by you when you travel solo and to different destinations. Strategic social media posting is key!

15) I can always make money back but, I can never make my time back so spend it wisely

In the aftermath of this, it gave me a new clarity and a hunger to explore more. So shortly after, I made more plans to see some more of the world in 2016. In May, I went to New York City and Philadelphia on my own and booked the flight 3 days before I went. 

In the fall, I set my sights on seeing Asia so I went to Kuala Lumpur, Bali and Singapore but I was thinking well I’m close by so let’s go to Sydney too! 

Yes, I got hit by the travel bug but it was worth it. In a span of 8 months I collected a lifetime’s worth of experiences and memories that can never be taken away from me. 

Instead of getting those new pair of Jordan’s or getting bottle service at that club I would rather use that money towards a trip that would be personally enriching to me and also it gives me decent points of conversation at gatherings and parties. I may not be rich in my bank account (especially after all of that) but I am richer in culture and experiences which is priceless to me! Solo travel may not be for everyone but, I thought it wasn’t for me until I challenged myself to try it out and test myself. And to think it all started with Master of None, Chinese takeout and a New Year’s resolution!
Walk it out people, 

Waynie

Memoirs of Honest Ed’s

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I wrote about this back in April 2014, but now the iconic Toronto store is close to shutting it’s doors for the final time on New Year’s Eve. Over the past year Honest Ed’s has been selling it’s locally famous hand painted signs and this last weekend was supposedly the ‘final sign sale’ so I opted to go down and check it out for myself.

In case you were wondering about my history with Honest Ed’s I’ve written about it before but I’ll reiterate. As a kid born to immigrants Honest Ed’s was known as the place to find cheap deals and there were always interesting characters from the shoppers to the employees to the Mirvishes themselves. Whenever, we went to see family in Parkdale usually Honest Ed’s along with Dufferin Mall and Queen West were on our to-do list whether I liked it or not.

Christmas season we would trek there to look for bargains on gifts while Boney M Christmas was blaring through the store on repeat. My mom was smart though she would bribe me with a beef patty from Bathurst station for my patience.

While, in the store today random conversations were happening between total strangers talking about their experiences here with their parents or with their kids. It was like a Toronto living history lesson. One man said his dad would shop at the original store and other people reminisced about first coming to Canada and this being the place they got their first belongings upon arrival in Toronto.

Some people were here looking for signs to resell online while others like myself were searching and searching and searching for the right piece of Toronto nostalgia for their wall or basement.

Personally, my mission was to find a sign or a few for items I actually bought here as a kid. Some would grab a bunch of signs and find an area to sort through them while people like me would try to design the layout of signs on my wall. Prices ranged from $1 to $200+ it varies on the design, size and age of the sign.

It is kind of funny to me that now in Toronto we are struggling with not having enough community areas for people to gather and wander around meanwhile places that gave you that opportunity like Honest Ed’s are forced to close their doors because in Toronto condos are our hobby. Rumour has it there are plans for a big closing bash, hopefully many of us can pass through.

Ethnicity, gender and other demographics did not matter here all that mattered was finding the best deal for your family, meeting like minded people and maybe making good conversation in the process, now that’s something Amazon has yet to deliver.

Walk it out people, 

WAYNIE

The Malta Experience: Exploring Sicily and Going up Mount Etna!

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Exploring Malta was pretty fun but, when booking excursions I realized that I had a shot to touchdown in historic Sicily, Italy! Was I an expert on Sicily absolutely not, Italian clients of mine would rave about Sicily, the food, landscape, the visuals and so on. The first time I remember ever hearing about Sicily was watching Golden Girls back in the day with my mother because the character Sophia was originally from there and during episodes Sophia would reminisce about Sicilian this and that (Yup, I’m kinda aging myself).

The good part is Sicily can be done in a day but, unless you plan on flying there it truly is a daylong commitment. How much of a commitment you may ask? Well, I woke up at 415am left my hotel at 450am and returned back to my hotel sometime around 1130pm. So literally, a whole day was required! The tour operator is a company called Virtu Ferries and to be honest when I heard ferry boat I was thinking Centre Island, creeky old boat for 2 hours how will I survive that? But, it actually was a luxury catamaran boat that carries passengers, cars and transportation trucks all at once. They show movies onboard, they got a snack bar, there are like 3 levels depending on how VIP you are, really comfortable seating options from tables to recliner chairs and there are even casino machines! I was pleasantly surprised.

Malta to Sicily Italy Ferry

The water was pretty rough so that kinda delayed us, people were feeling seasick from the rocking but, we made it! Once we landed in Pozzallo, Sicily we hopped on coaches and we were on our way. We entered the province of Catania and drove, for about 90 minutes, along to the municipality of Nicolosi. Our group stopped off at a café for people to have a coffee/snack. I will admit I probably had one of the best pastries I may ever eat in my life at this Dolce Vita Café. It was like a croissant filled with fresh pistachio crème and it legit changed my life! Soooo good, I was sad when I finished it because it was done and had to go back on the bus and couldn’t get another one.

La Dolce Vita Cafe Pistachio Croissant Nicolosi Sicily Italy

Next stop, Mount Etna!

Mount Etna is tallest active volcano in Europe at a total height of about 3329m or 10922ft. On the way up, our guide told us the history of Mount Etna and we also got to see some of the destruction its eruptions have done including submerging houses in molten lava. That was pretty cool and frightening at the same time.

House Submerged in Lava Mount Etna Sicily

So the coach took us up to about 1900m up. There is a lodge there for tourists and such. Every few 100 metres I would see the temperature drop and think to myself that I should’ve brought more than my Jays hoodie to keep me warm but the funny thing is when people asked if I had a coat or anything, when I mentioned that I was from Canada everyone was like…’Oh, then you’re used to the cold you will be fine then!’ Gotta love those Canadian stereotypes but, I owned it. So at 1900m you can hang out there for an hour or so check out the view but for those who need more elevation in their life you can take a creeky cable car up to 2500m at a cost of 30 Euro. Surprisingly, not that many people wanted to do the cable car, maybe it was the price or the height or the untrustworthiness of the cable car or the weather (because it seemed foggy). My thought process was I came here from Canada so this is HAPPENING! Went up the cable car with a random person from my tour group and as Fat Joe says…I’M ALL THE WAY UP!

Cable Car View Mount Etna

This is the view from the sketchy cable car. The view from up there was breathtaking and breathe shortening since we are 2500M up at the highest point. Once you reach that level you can climb up more and there is a shuttle that takes you up a bit higher. I missed the shuttle so I power walked up maybe 100-200M more. The experience was amazing to think that I was over 8200ft in the air without being inside of a plane was soooo cool! We were so high up we actually are looking DOWN AT THE CLOUDS and the sky is really clear.

Top of Mount Etna Sicily Italy

I think that is the shuttle I missed

Top of Mount Etna Sicily Italy Above the Clouds

Up in rare air!

Top of Mount Etna Sicily Italy Above the Clouds 1

Possibly the purest oxygen I’ve ever breathed in my life!

Top of Mount Etna Sicily Italy Above the Clouds (2)

Started from the bottom…Now we here! (8200+ FEET!)

After that we hopped back on the coach and went to explore the local area and the views and architecture were immaculate in Sicily. I felt like I was transported to another planet. Just straight up beautiful.

Hilltop houses in Sicily Italy

The houses stacked up on the hills looked awesome.

Wine and chocolate tasting in sicily italy

I’m sorry…Did you say complimentary Sicilian chocolate and wine tasting? YES PLEASE!

Views from Sicily Italy

Each corridor with stairs felt like another getaway to somewhere brand new.

Cathedral in Sicily Italy

This cathedral looked incredible and is over 500 years old!

The only downside was that from 4 to 630pm pretty much the whole town is shut down. It is like their daily break time so I was unable to get Sicilian pizza but, still that was interesting imagine most restaurants over in North America closing for 2-3 hours people would lose their minds!! But, I’ll admit I am pretty down with that way of life!

Authentic Italian Panini Sicily

Well at least I got an authentic Italian Panini… So it wasn’t a total loss! The journey back, was a bit longer due to rougher waters but it was alright. Finally, got home around 1130pm and I got to admit it was an epic day. It’s not often you get to jump on a boat to hang out in Italy for a day, go up a volcano, eat chocolate and wine and wander around the beauty of Sicily!

More to come,

Walk it out people,

Waynie!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Malta Experience: Get Lost in Magic of Mdina!

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Have you ever wished you could jump into a time machine and relive a different point of time? Good news Malta has got it for you. While there are various places to get this feeling one of the best places is the city of Mdina (no typo that’s how it is spelled). Once you walk across the bridge and enter the gates you legitimately feel like you’ve been whisked away into another world.

Walled City of Mdina Malta Kings Landing Date

You thought I was joking didn’t you? There really is a bridge and gates to enter when going into Mdina. In case you were wondering if this gate looks familiar, if you watch Game of Thrones, you may know this as Kings Landing Gate from the show. As I previously mentioned in my last post I do not watch Game of Thrones so I have no idea what that means but I believe it is a cool thing. One of the most impressive things is that most of the architecture is from the medieval times of the 1400s to 1500s and is still standing. The walled city (a.k.a fortified) of Mdina, was once the capital of Malta before Valletta, which later became the capital city.

Mdina Malta Kings Landing Gate

As you might be able to guess, the reason for the high bridges and walls is because Mdina and Malta as a whole was considered to be a military type of country that defended itself and Europe from outside enemies.

Mdina Malta Street Corridor

 

The streets of Mdina are cobblestone I believe, and you can only walk, cycle or horse carriage through the streets of Mdina if you are a non-resident. Only residents of Mdina are able to drive its streets. Their driver’s licenses and plates are slightly different to identify them as Mdina residents.

Mdina Malta Horse and Carriage

When you spend some time in Mdina you can literally get lost in its streets. The long stretching corridors just beg you to wander around them and explore a different world.

Walled City of Mdina Malta City Streets Corridors

The lamps are gas lit; the restaurants and cafes are cozy and friendly, the homes all have stories to them whether it’s the colours of their doors or the creative looking mailboxes and door-knockers (I don’t know if there is an actual name for them).

Mdina Malta 1

Just the sheer beauty of its simplicity is stellar. Can’t forget it wouldn’t be Malta without an amazing looking church in the city square.

St. Paul's Cathedral Mdina Malta European Churches

I present to you St. Paul’s Cathedral, a Roman Catholic cathedral which is an awesome site to witness. It has a patriarchal cross atop it. The clock on the right is for the time and the clock on the left is for the date. This was built sometime in the late 1600’s and it is just immaculate. People’s selfie games were strong with this site, selfie sticks popped out almost on command.

Mdina Malta Statue Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus

This is a statue of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus along a main road of Mdina which is believed to have been sculpted back in the 1600’s that is a great piece for the art buffs out there.

Mdina Malta Elevated Countryside View 1

This is the vantage point from the highest area in Mdina giving you a marvelous view of the countryside. From a strategic military point of view I could see why this viewpoint would be advantageous when defending Malta in those times.

My View of the Malta Countryside atop of Mdina..AMAZING!! (Video)

All in all, this place was amazing especially if you enjoy history and different ways of life. Personally, being from a busy city like Toronto the laid back easy pace of Mdina was a welcomed escape to what felt like a whole different world.

And yes, there is still more to come!

Waynie!

 

 

 

The Malta Experience: Exploring the Westside of Malta (San Anton and Dingli)

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My first day in Malta I survived but, full disclosure I was terrified! Not because I felt like I was in danger but because this was the first time in my life that I was in a foreign continent with absolutely nobody I knew so it does take a bit of time to adjust to that idea. So let’s just say sleeping wasn’t easy for me. I was actually awake for about 30 hours straight from the time I left Toronto to when I finally fell asleep in Malta. It was a glorious 5 hours because you can’t go to Europe without booking some excursions!

So keep in mind I booked this trip and left one week later so time was not on my side when it came to choosing what I wanted to do on my days in Malta. I could just relax, or sit by the bay and reflect on life. That sounded nice but, nope I have to explore this country. My first excursion was to the western part of Malta which was a guided tour showing me San Anton Gardens, Dingli Cliffs, Mdina, Rabat and Mosta. It was going to be a long day but, hey I’m on vacation! Stood downstairs waited for the tour operator’s coach to pick me up and off we went.

First impressions…Well I was one of the youngest people on this tour…The only person of colour on this tour…The only solo traveller on this tour…And the only person not from Europe on this tour. Yes, I like breaking barriers. Our guide was conducting the tour in English and Russian so hearing extended Russian in between English for about 6-7 hours was an experience in itself.

First stop…San Anton Gardens.

San Anton Garden Malta

San Anton Gardens is exactly what it sounds like, a garden. It is considered a sanctuary of sorts for plants and some wildlife we must have spent most of our time following the peacocks around.

San Anton Gardens

What is interesting about this place is that most of the structures are about 500-600 years old. Also, this place doubles as the President of Malta’s palace.

San Anton Palace Malta 1

Also, for Game of Thrones fans this palace is also used as a location in the show. On the show it is known as ‘The Red Keep’. Winter wasn’t here though it was like 22C.

San Anton Palace Malta 2

I apologize I am one of the 58 people who doesn’t watch the show so I got no idea what that is but, most you all do!

San Anton Palace Malta

Most of the structures in Malta are made using it is own natural limestone. After being here for a week I kinda want a limestone house because who needs bricks!

San Anton Garden Malta Statue.jpg

Next stop… Dingli Cliffs!!

Dingli is a small village on the west coast of Malta. The village was established waaaaay back in 1436! The cliffs measure up to roughly 250M above sea level. These cliffs are considered one of the highest points in Malta. This picturesque view beams down onto the Mediterranean Sea and if you look in the distance you can see an island. (My bad, my camera isn’t top of line)

Dingli Cliffs Malta Coast

While I was briefly on top of here I couldn’t help but think of back home in Toronto for a minute. One of my favourite places to go and see are the Scarborough Bluffs which is what this kinda reminded me of. The view is just wonderful to take in, especially since it was a clear and warm day in February!

Dingli Cliffs Malta Coast 1

The serenity of it all was a nice change of pace compared to the usual hustle and bustle of big city life. I was helping people on our tour get those winner photos for their friends and family back home.

 

Coming up on my next post….MDINA and Rabat!

 

Stay tuned…More to come!

 

Waynie!

The Malta Experience! Goodbye Toronto and Hello Europe!

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It was Toronto NBA All-Star Weekend also referred to as the coldest damn weekend of 2016. I had left over vacation time from 2015 that I didn’t use as yet. For whatever reason, maybe banking it for a trip, I was afraid of being let go so maybe I wanted that extra 2 weeks of pay just in case who knows. I was randomly going on Google Flights for the week prior trying to figure out somewhere cool to go to.  

Yes, I could’ve gone the easy route and just booked an all-inclusive trip to Cuba or Dominican Republic basically anywhere with sun and beach would do just fine. However, I wanted to explore somewhere completely different. So then while looking at routes to Italy or Greece I stumbled upon the island of Malta. What did I know about Malta? Game of Thrones is filmed there….There is a Little Malta in Roncy here in Toronto…Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau was in Malta for a meeting back in November…There is a street in the Scarborough Bluffs area called Malta Avenue…It was an island south of Italy where they spoke English. Once I saw they spoke English I needed to investigate further.

All the investigation I needed was the climate. Basically, for every day I would be in Malta it would be 17C to 22C which was better than the -17C to -22C we were facing here. So, I’m watching the NBA All Star Game at home, Russell Westbrook won the MVP. Kobe said farewell to Toronto and the All Star Game as he was set to retire. Then I said…’Screw it, lets go to Malta!’ Booked it on Valentine’s Day and I went one week later Feb 21st. I should also note, I decided to role solo. This would mark for me the longest distance I have ever traveled alone. Before this I think the farthest I traveled alone was from Scarborough to Hamilton, ON hahaha!

 

Malta Aerial

After connecting from Frankfurt this was my view as we set to land in Malta! I was like, ‘Wait…This is where I’m going to be for a week?! HELLS YEAAAA!’ One thing I knew going in was in Malta, the people are really helpful and overall nice. I booked a shuttle service from the Malta International Airport (MLA) and it would pick me up on my return back home for like 15 EUR which would be unheard of at Pearson! After scouring hotels for like 3 days prior to my trip I opted to stay near the eastern coast of Malta in a town called Sliema (pronounced Sly-E-Ma) and it was like 40 CAD per night. Was it the fanciest hotel ever? NOPE! But it had the essentials, a decent bathroom, double bed, cabinet and most importantly some really good Wi-Fi! Basically, everywhere from hotels to restaurants had really decent Wi-Fi and that was an added bonus for me and my roaming data plan.

Sliema Malta Coastline View

If this was your view on a daily basis, you would be a pretty happy camper. First things first, let’s walk around this bad boy and see what it is all about. I was surprised to learn that a good portion of Malta is very walkable there is a promenade walk that goes along Malta’s coastline and it is really beautiful. There are parks, relaxing areas, beach areas, bars and pubs along this promenade walk. First thing I learned was in Malta most residents either jog/walk or smoke like all the time. Second thing I learned was a bottle of water literally costs maybe 0.20 EUR less than a beer so guess what I was drinking most of the time? BEER!

Cisk Local Malta Beer Lager

Cisk (pronounced Chess-k) is a local Malta beer that is a lager which is pretty smooth. I probably downed a bottle in less than 4 minutes since it didn’t really have any kickback or anything. I walked to the southeast coast of Malta via the promenade and then passed by and went up the northeast coast to St. Julian’s Bay, Spinola Bay and Paceville (pronounced Pa-chey-vill) and again it was all along promenade so just straight up walking no oncoming traffic to worry about. I will admit drivers of Toronto would go nuts in Malta unless it’s a highway it is mostly one lane or two lane traffic and pedestrians are boss people will stop and allow people to cross the street without massive honking or road rage…OUTSTANDING!

St Julians Bay Malta Coast

This above is St. Julian’s Bay if I’m not mistaken.

Love Locks Sliema Malta Coastline

This is a bridge along the Sliema coast where people get their LOVE LOCK on. It overlooks the capital of Malta called Valletta which is reachable by car, transit or walking but it is 3 times faster to take the ferry boat.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church Sliema Malta

This above is Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel which is a spectacular piece of architecture. All the churches I saw in Malta were masterfully produced they highly respect and worship their faith in Malta.

This is just a sneak peek there is more to come I just figured I would post a little bit here and there about this magnificent place I grew to enjoy and love over my visit. Its official Waynie Walks the TDot is international again!

HELLOOOOOOOO MALTA! (I have no idea why the font changed on me)

 

 

Stay tuned more to come soon,

Waynie

 

My Reflections of Toronto: The Club District in the 2000’s

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Back in my younger days in Toronto, pretty much every weekend that I was free was spent down in the club district. Whether it was on Adelaide, Richmond, Peter, Duncan or Pearl there would always be some excuse to head downtown to party and jam. It could be for someone you know like a friend or family member, or friend of a friend celebrating a birthday or graduation or some other milestone, or some guy/girl you met once at Markham Station while getting some late night eats. And didn’t everyone have a friend or family member that was a club/event promoter?

For me, my downtown clubbing heyday probably was around 2004-2010 so I can only speak on what I recall. The old glory days, which are but a distant and sometimes drunken memory. When I was wandering around downtown a few weeks back I wondered what happened to these spots if they are still around or demolished because for anyone who walks around downtown Toronto these days all you see are condos for the most part. Keep in mind I am not saying these were the best clubs in Toronto but these were places that I recall frequenting in my younger days.

Inside

old toronto nightclubs

I remember when Inside was the place to be not only because it was popping but, former Raptor, Vince Carter was an owner of it! There was like 3 floors and each floor had a different vibe to it. One floor was a glass room where I think the dancefloor was glass and there were glass windows, booths and such that usually was the club anthems floor. The next level up had a wooden floor and we would usually hear Reggaeton and dance music on this floor. One time, we saw Daddy Yankee who was in town promoting a new project performing so that was pretty cool for our 5 dollar guest list cover charge.

However, for me and the crew back in like 2005 it was all about the basement! Or as we called it, the SOCA FLOOR! When we came here on Fridays you would hear Soca Sweetness and/or Dr. Jay De Soca Prince and back in those days it was RARE to hear reggae and soca music inside of a downtown club. So it was important to come and support the cause because if we didn’t show up it would no longer exist and many of us didn’t want to take it for granted. Countless, birthdays were celebrated here I think I celebrated my birthday here two times. The vibes were just toooooo nice week in and week out. It was almost like a weekly reunion with people.

It is now a resto called Ja Bistro. RIP Inside!

 

Seven

old toronto nightclubs 1

And right next door to Inside was Seven and Runway 224. I only went here a few times. It had an upscale urban music kinda vibe. I could be wrong because again I only been here a few times. One time I celebrated my birthday here and there was a snowstorm so the place was virtually empty. On the top floor, where we stayed at it felt more like a private party since it was literally only the people who came for my birthday that were in the room. It was kinda awesome just like 12 of us liming and wilding out. Oddly enough, one person I met there for the 1st time has become a good friend of mine since then. I respect Seven for that.

Now it is called La Vie Complex one of the few places from back in my day that is still a club!

 

G-Spot

old toronto nightclubs 2

So this place has been through quite a few name changes over the years but, I remember it as G-Spot. Usually, after a shooting would occur at a club the management would change the name to refresh the place and give it facelift. If I’m mistaken I remember it once being called Metro and its last incarnation was Gravity not sure if it has a tenant anymore. If you wanted ratchet well G-Spot was the place for you!

I think we took my cousin here after he turned 19 and it was probably a mistake but, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Can’t front though the convenience was great because I could watch a movie across the street at Paramount (now known as Scotiabank Theatre) then pop over to G-Spot shortly after. Then again, shots might pop off in the club as well.

I also remember getting into an argument with a friend of mine over something which to this day I don’t understand and she was mad at me for a while. Oh the memories!

 

Lot 332

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Lot 332 used to be poppinnnnn! Once upon a time, I came here back in like 2006-2007 a few times. I came here with some friends to celebrate a birthday and this was like back when SexyBack and anything Justin Timberlake was all the rage! And now, it’s a City of Toronto building.

It had cushy couches and upscale lounge décor. It really had the loft kinda vibe down cold. The crowd would be a mix of bag of people from new clubbers to older ones. The most vivid memory I have is listening Jr. Flo just juggling beats and killing it! The problem was most of the crowd weren’t really into that stuff so they didn’t get it at first but just some of the mixes and live remixes he did were awesome. One of the best things about the line up at Lot 332 was that it was directly across the street from a hot dog stand so if the line was long you could grab eats without losing your place in line.

 

Afterlife

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Personally, Afterlife was legendary to me. To the older club goers its legendary status comes from when it was called Limelight when I was younger I would hear older family members raving about it. I first set foot into Afterlife probably in 2005. Now if you love Soca and Reggae on a Saturday there was NO OTHER PLACE but Afterlife. Friday was Inside with Dr. Jay and Saturday was Afterlife, 3rd floor, the Paradise Room with Jump Up Kingz and Loudmout Chiney.

I will admit the décor and layout was very basic they didn’t appear to try hard on making Afterlife look good. Chipped paint on walls and faded dancefloor.

People had strategies as how to jump the line or claim they were on guest list. The thing was if you got there before 11:30pm you were good after that though, all bets were off because it would be jammed! It truly was a meeting place, the random girl you saw at STC a week ago was there, the dudes you were shooting pool with a month ago were there, that crew from your work would be there wilding out. The amount of times I had to MSN Messenger someone for guest list or send a message on like Black Planet or Desi Planet is countless. So many birthdays, so many reunions, so many passed out people that needed to be dragged down 3 flights of stairs and so many foolish fights over the bar, a girl or stepping on a man’s shoes.

And I cannot forget Afterlife Sundays! Why, because the whole bar was $2 a drink. Beer, mixed drinks, shots it was all a TOONIE!!! Most people could get lit on a $20. When I worked in retail if you had Monday morning off it was expected you would be there Sunday night. They would do limos there and back so it was no excuse not to have a few. I remember one time we had a work dance battle, I refused to dance to anything 50 Cent related which is still true today and one time the song ‘Girlfight’ by Brooke Valentine was playing and literally a girl fight started over wanting to be on top of the riser dancing.

Eventually, Afterlife lost its lustre and faded into obscurity but the good times were definitely lasting memories and now it is Rock N Horse Saloon.

 

 

Sometimes when I walk around downtown and reminisce I wonder about what happened. Toronto used to be so much fun and then suddenly we became the town from Footloose with a ban on dancing. The city opted that bringing the suburbs downtown made better sense it seems. The best cities in the world have a balance between residential living and providing nightlife and entertainment but, while Toronto is technically the 4th largest city in North America we still seem to have this small town sort of mentality. Sometimes that’s a good thing other times it’s a not so good thing of course it depends who you ask.

I am sure I will post more in the future because there is lots of history and stories that we all have about these places. Mine aren’t that wild and crazy… Well because I have a filter and somethings just should not be posted online =)

 

Walk it out people,

Waynie