Prior to covid, getting in and out of Toronto was always a nightmare. Especially for commuters. Hours trapped in traffic. Endless gridlock on the Gardiner Expressway. Busy, noisy, aggressive roads. Crowded restaurants and sidewalks. Typical, normal city life.
But now, with offices shuttered and people working from home, Toronto has become a quiet, pleasant, relaxed ghost town of a city.
We did a lovely walking tour of some of Toronto’s districts. A lot of things are still closed, but it was a lot of fun to just walk around and see the sights and landmarks.
Chinatown – As someone who lived in Hong Kong and bounced around Asia for some 13 years, Chinatowns will always be a draw for me. The food, the shops, the markets, it always feels like some sort of second home, strange and familiar at the same time. Toronto’s Chinatown is a very vibrant place to explore.
Kensington Market – With its own gritty subculture and mish-mash of trendy hippie shops selling overpriced imports from India and Nepal, Kensington stinks of ganja and incense and pee and garbage. We found a Trini restaurant called Maracas (sadly, closed), a shop selling doubles, tiny cafes with every cuisine under the sun, lots of garbage and street art.
Financial District – Pretty much the polar opposite of Kensington Market, with glittering skyscrapers, concrete and glass facades, all the moneymakers and shakers including Citibank EY KPMG CIBC ETC. Not much in terms of interesting architecture, except for a handful of surviving architectural gems that have managed not to get knocked down. Also some lovely lounging cows, and a merry maternal elephant and her babes.
The last stop was Nathan Phillip Square, which unfortunately was all boarded up.
Just like going to Niagara Falls and having the place to ourselves, being able to wander around Toronto freely and peacefully was kind of nice, and relaxing even. Though at times you do miss the vibe and energy of all the frantic city life, perhaps the ‘new normal’ of covid-19 life means big crowds could become a thing of the past. I wonder what will happen to all the empty skyscrapers now that everyone is working from home?