Snapshots of Toronto at Night

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Just some pictures I have taken of places in Toronto in the nighttime. By no means am I a professional photographer so I apologize in advance if you are not impressed by my cell phone picture taking skills.

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6 Reasons Why I Can’t Wait for Summer in Toronto!

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We have had a one of the most brutal winters in recent memory and up to this point it has not felt like spring has really arrived but, nonetheless I cannot wait for the summer! Toronto gets to flex its awesomeness when the warm months hit. While there are much more than 6 reasons, here is what I can come up with so far.

6. Patio Season!

Hanging out with friends, family or making new friends on a patio somewhere is a favourite pastime for most Torontonians. Nothing brings people together quite like a pint and some nachos.

5. Food Trucks, Food Trucks, Food Trucks!

When the summertime hits the food trucks will be out in full force offering up Toronto plenty of goodies all over the city. When its summertime you can actually sit outside and enjoy your food instead of staying indoors!

4. The Beach

All that work you have been putting in at the gym over these past few months is about to pay off. Whether you are at Woodbine Beach, Kew Beach, Bluffers Park or the Toronto Islands to name a few, it is time to take in some sunlight, maybe play some beach volleyball, take your pets for a stroll or just show off how awesome you look and feel. If you got some time maybe even dip in the water…I know that is just crazy talk.

3. Free Concerts

One thing I know about Toronto is that we love free concerts and I will assume that there will be no shortage of free shows! Last year I saw The Beach Boys at the CNE, Maxi Priest at David Pecaut Square, Ludacris at Dundas Square to name a few. With NXNE and Luminato among other offerings this summer I suspect we will be singing in the streets and/or parks.

2. Festivals and More Festivals!

From May to September just about every weekend is filled with at least a few festivals. While it can create traffic chaos, you will survive. It’s time to enjoy the streets and sights our city has to offer. There is pretty much something for everyone when it comes to festivals. Food, art, music, liquor/beer, dance, cultural over the summer months the world is literally at your doorstep! Some festivals I’m looking forward to aside from ones already mentioned are Toronto Carnival, Taste of the Danforth, Taste of Little Italy, Beaches Jazz Festival, can’t forget about Salsa on the St. Clair and Harbourfront Centre virtually every weekend hosts a different festival representing a different type of culture starting Canada Day Weekend. Trust me there is much, much more when it comes to festivals in Toronto it is all one Google search away to find info.

1. Random Walking and Exploring!

Well my blog is titled ‘Waynie Walks the TDot’ so obviously this would be my favourite thing. Last summer, I decided to walk all the TTC subway lines (yup I know that sounds crazy) in an effort to be healthy and get to know my city more and more. So I walked the Scarborough RT line one time, from Finch to Union and finally from Kipling all the way Kennedy! Sorry but the Sheppard line gets no love from me. And don’t worry I did these on different occasions and on city streets not on actual train tracks. It was really amazing getting to see different neighbourhoods up close and since I was walking I could just stop and take it in. From Uptown Yonge to Yorkville to the Waterfront to Bloor West Village to High Park to Korea Town to Greektown to Scarborough I got to see plenty of our city and I have a new found respect for it. For those wondering if I did this for a certain cause, no cause just because.

This summer I hope to tackle some streetcar lines, apparently the Long Branch streetcar line is the longest in North America at 35.5KM, that sounds like quite the challenge hopefully I am up to it. Not to mention random eating adventures, chilling out by the Waterfront, maybe take in some boat rides and checking out not so familiar neighbourhoods.

This city has so much to offer its citizens and tourists alike as much as we like to perhaps travel to different cities sometimes being a local tourist is not a bad thing plus it can be lighter on the wallet. If you are not a fan of driving and parking you can get TTC Day Passes or use the Toronto Bike Share Program (formerly Bixi) as an alternative just create a starting point to just walk around and explore.

The city is yours to discover so why not take a chance and who knows maybe you will uncover something you didn’t already know about Toronto. I can personally attest that each summer I learn about something I had no idea about. So let’s get cracking people well once the warm weather commences and at this rate who knows when that will be.

Walk it out,

Waynie

Random Food Adventures in Toronto!

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This post is pretty simple especially if you love food. Just food and pictures from places you may or may not know of!

Hot Thai Noodles – Salad King (Yonge and Edward)

Salad King is never a bad choice if you’re in a Thai mood. Thailand has even granted Salad King status as authentic Thai food by their government.

Southern Carolina Pulled Pork w/ Poutine – Greenwood Smokehouse (Pape/Danforth)

Soooo many calories and sooooo much goodness. Cheat day must!

RCK Original w/Chicken – Rose City Kitchen (Spadina/Queen)

Mediterranean style food decently priced, decently portioned and be warned they have Falafel Poutine too!

BBQ Mac and Cheese Poutine – Smokes Poutinerie (Bathurst/Queen)

BBQ Chicken, Bacon, Mac and Cheese in a poutine, what more do you need!

Sriracha Flavoured Pringles – They may be found at specialty confectionary stores

This caught my eye and I said I needed to try that out. I got to say it was a good call on my part! Flavour wise to me it tastes like BBQ mixed with chili powder and salt and vinegar. Thumbs up but its subjective since its really reliant upon for palette.

That’s about it for now

Waynie

From Toronto to Cartagena, Adventures in Colombia

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Now when you think of Colombia what comes to mind? Maybe cocaine, drug lords, violence and underdeveloped areas is what stereotypes most of us may think of. Newsflash, forget what you may have heard because when I went to Colombia it was AWESOME! This time Waynie Walks the Cartagena!

Okay so I did not get to venture throughout the whole country but, I was able to visit Cartagena back in February with some family and friends and it was quite the unforgettable experience. It was a quick 4 day trip but I wish it could have lasted a lifetime.

We were lucky enough to stay in a 5 floor villa which overlooked both the beach on one side and the city on the other side. The sunset was just mesmerizing and made me forget about the sub-zero temperatures back home in Toronto. This ladies and gents was a little slice of heaven. When the sun goes down the nightlife picks up! In Cartagena, if you are seeking restaurants, bars and clubs well it is all here for you inside the Walled City. For tourists, it is recommended you stay inside the Walled City, which is a rock fortress that in encases this part of Cartagena because it has heavy police on duty and is more secure in general.

The nightlife in Cartagena has everything from clubs specializing in Latin music and EDM to bars that really love to play David Guetta or play salsa to places where men and women alike can explore extra-curricular activities. Restaurants range from high end bistros to American style food or pizza to authentic Colombian food. Believe me when I say your taste buds will not be disappointed.

Our group was lucky enough to have a concierge service which helped book our accommodations and plan some our days while giving us strong insight about customs in Cartagena and how to not get ripped off. So we took advantage and rented a speedboat to show us the different islands and beaches along the Caribbean Sea. For most of us it was our first time on a speedboat and it was pretty cool once you get over the fact that you feel you are going to fall out of the boat pretty much every 30 seconds. The surrounding islands were beautiful while others just looked deserted nonetheless amazing and we went on a beach Playa Del Blanca which apparently you can only get there by boat.

Breathtaking views, hot sun, bright blue water along with good company you cannot beat that. Naturally, we had to try some fresh food on our journey which included fresh crab meat served in the crab’s shell and eating in the water with the table in the water and a fresh red snapper in front of us and I am talking about eyes and teeth still in it fresh! So let’s just say I opted for the veggie option.

Whether you are single, with someone or whatever the case may be, Cartagena and Colombia has something for you! Due to the stigma of the stereotypes placed upon Colombia, Cartagena tries to market itself as southern Caribbean and uses being on the coast of the Caribbean Sea as a big selling point. If you want to rent a house inside of the city or do an all-inclusive the choice is yours I would suggest using a concierge service if you are not comfortable with doing these decisions on your own.

Aside from brushing up on your Spanish do keep in mind that there is some poverty in Colombia so people on the streets will try to sell you items and services repeatedly. If you are not interested, do not strike up a conversation with them as it will encourage more attention from other people trying to sell you things. Just simply, wave your hand as to mean “no” and say “Gracias”.

If in case you might have been wondering if I was representing Toronto while in Colombia I absolutely did bring Toronto with me. I was wearing a 1 Love T.O Roots shirt with a Canadian flag which attracted conversation from other Canadians visiting and I even wore a custom shirt I designed with a Scarborough flag on it. Even when I am on vacation Toronto is with me!

This trip was a reminder that you cannot believe everything you hear about a place. Sometimes you got to go out and discover it yourself. While this was surely a once in a lifetime trip I hope to go back again and next time maybe I will come armed with some Spanish speaking skills.

Regards,

Waynie

Video History of Toronto

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This short video created for TEDx Toronto Conference last fall is a brief history of the culmination of our city Toronto.

The video starts from its early days going to today. As a proud citizen, not just a taxpayer, of Toronto it is great to see our diversity celebrated even if it is just for 150 seconds. If you don’t know where you came from, you will not know where you are going.

Enjoy,

Waynie

A Farewell to Legendary Stores in Toronto: Honest Ed’s

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Now I will be the first to admit that Honest Ed’s is not closed until Dec. 31st 2016 but it still is unfortunately on the way out and that Honest Ed’s handmade signs sale they had a few weeks conjured up some nostalgia for me. As I am sure Honest Ed’s provides nostalgic memories for many residents in the GTA.

Since its inception back in 1948, Honest Ed’s has been an indelible landmark in Toronto. Whether it was throwing over the top birthday parties for Honest Ed Mirvish filled with freebies for the crowd, giving away free turkeys around Christmas season or even the hand painted signage inside of the store Honest Ed’s is undoubtedly one of a kind. For plenty of people living in Toronto whether new to Canada or old to Canada if you wanted a deal Honest Ed’s was on your list of places to check out.

As the child of immigrant parents I can speak first-hand about the impact this store had for us. My mother waking my sister and me up on a weekend morning demanding we get dressed because we had to go. Keep in mind we lived in Scarborough and Honest Ed’s is located on Bathurst and Bloor we had a bit of distance to cover. Usually, when we were visiting family that lived in Parkdale an Honest Ed’s trip was virtually guaranteed. Taking the subway all the way there was a task in itself along with walking all over that store looking for stuff I didn’t want but my mother insisted we needed. Items such as: winter boots, undershirts, colouring books, touch lamps (you know you had one), Christmas decorations, frames, house slippers and so on were musts for my mom. If she knew it would be cheaper at Honest Ed’s rather than BiWay, Bargain Harold’s or Woolco (yes, I went there with you guys) we were going to be there a while! I swear if I didn’t get lost from my family at least once for each time we were there it would be a miracle.

I remember one Christmas season we went to Honest Ed’s and to this day when I think of Christmas I think of Boney M’s Christmas album because it was like etched into my memory from shopping and only hearing that album for like 3 hours straight.

I will admit the best part of going to Honest Ed’s would be when we were leaving to go home on the subway. Why? Simple, BEEF PATTIES at Bathurst Station! I do not care what anyone says the Beef Patties located at Bathurst and Warden Station are the BEST in Toronto. My mother recognized my struggles with keeping up with her so as a reward I would get a beef patty for my troubles. As you can tell, as a kid, bribing me was pretty easy.

Honest Ed’s is the quintessential family store created by a family for families of all types. It did not matter how much money or status you had or how well adapted to Toronto you were, you could always appreciate a good deal and a place filled with energy and the kind heart of Mr. Ed Mirvish. I was just there a week ago looking through records at Sonic Boom and it still gives me the same sense of awe as it did when I was kid. Only now it is because of what I gained from going there and how places like this are rare this day in age. The building may not last but the memories….those are forever!

Regards,

Waynie

A Farewell to Legendary Stores in Toronto: World’s Biggest Bookstore

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Last Sunday was a milestone for many book lovers in Toronto as it marked the end of an era in which ‘World’s Biggest Bookstore’ existed. Whether the land will be converted into some big box store, or maybe a condo (because when it comes to condos, Toronto loves to build them) or who knows what else the memories of the 30+ years of Toronto’s book lovers going there to find their favourite titles will not be soon forgotten.

While I was growing up in the 90’s, most malls had Coles or WHSmith as your bookstore options keep in mind this was long before the era of Chapters and Indigo. Considering that World’s Biggest Bookstore was owned by the creators of Coles it just had a different kind of feel to it always that wasn’t totally like a Coles store. Not to mention literally miles of bookshelves covering almost too many genres. Back in the day, I used to like reading movie novels so I would spend time every now and then to go there and search for the books of the movies I had seen recently or planned on seeing in the near future.

I remember watching the movie remake of Dick Tracy with Warren Beatty I sought out some more Dick Tracy novels and just happened to have found one if my memory serves me correct at World’s Biggest Bookstore. It was a landmark achievement in my short life at the time and that was what I read over a summer.

As I got older, my love for reading kind of faded away but I would still check out the store for magazines, satirical books and comics. It still amazes me how big of a place it was and all the hopes and dreams of younger readers and students it carried. When you could not find a book at a mall bookstore World’s Biggest Bookstore was your go-to place because Amazon and EBay did not exist back then.

I find that is part of what people miss out on whether they want to admit it or not. The hunt and thrill of finding something you have been scouring for since nowadays most things are a Google search away. World’s Biggest Bookstore was one of kind and while the Guinness Book of World Records might not agree it will always be the World’s Biggest Bookstore to me! (That rhyme was totally coincidental, I promise!)

Regards,

Waynie