7/15/15

Seeing Toronto With Urban Expeditions: Private City Tour


Happy Wednesday! Today I am sharing the first of 3 posts with you that recaps my trip to Toronto. Over the 4th of July weekend I decided to whisk myself away for a long weekend after booking tickets to Toronto, Canada and finding an adorable hotel right in Downtown area. I've been to Vancouver and Victoria many times when I lived in Seattle, and have traveled to Montreal about 6 years ago. This was my first time in Toronto. Long story short: great city, lovely people, good food, so much to see and do!

After flying in and checking into my hotel and failing to nap, I had a quick lunch and then met Peter of Urban Expeditions for a private 3 hour tour of the City. The tour was complimentary, but all opinions are my own and I'm not being compensated for this post with anything other than wonderful memories ;)
 
"Urban Expeditions is more than a tour company; we’re in the business of storytelling. Running year round in major cities across North America, our private city tours facilitate small groups of six or less. We offer a comfortable way to explore the city in practical luxury. All tours include refreshments, transportation, and a guide. By highlighting the unique features of each city, Urban Expeditions helps bring the city to life."
 
After accepting the offer for a tour, I started to panic. After all, I'll be meeting a total stranger and spending 3 hours with him in a city I've never been to. Would it be awkward? Will we have things to talk about? Would I get back to the hotel safely in one piece? {These thoughts are very similar to the ones I have in those rare blimps of time when I go out on dates.}
 
Luckily, I had an amazing time. 3 hours turned into 6 and I gained a unique overview of Toronto and many of its neighborhoods.
 
Urban Expeditions is a perfect choice when visiting a city for the first time and not having a week to explore it. You can choose to go on a tour that covers art, or culture, or food, or nature, and then specify which things are on your must list, which things you would like to see but are not necessarily on top of your list and also note if you have any allergies (not only will you see the city, but you'll also explore a bit of its food scene).
 
Oh, and if you are one of those athletic people, Urban Expeditions has many of its tours that take place by biking, not walking. I of course chose the walking tour ;)
 
Peter took me on a walk through downtown explaining how the city has changed over the last few decades and years. Toronto is #1 city people move to when they come to Canada. There are high rise condo buildings built all the time!
 
Still, there are quaint neighborhoods tucked in between. One of them was graffiti alley:


One of the benefits of touring the city with another person is being able to have photos of you taken that aren't selfies ;)

After walking for some time, I needed a rest!


On the tour I saw two old synagogues, beautiful bright houses (that were quite a bit more expensive than I'd imagined), and walked through Kensington market full of produce stands, random Army supply stores and unique little bars and restaurants.

Then it was time for a beverage break: mojitos! Notice my real camera: because this was a private tour, I did not have to worry about taking as many photos as I wanted and potentially boring the other people to death or having them wait on me. If there was somewhere I wanted to spend a bit more time, or somewhere I did not have much interest, Peter was able to customize the trip to better suit me!


One of the best places I saw on the tour, which I probably would not have discovered on my own, was Walnut Studios. It was a big warehouse-type building filled with artists' studios. It was such a blast to walk around and see how talented people are. Of course I also went to a few museums during my long weekend trip, but this was a different feel.



When I visit places, I love checking out local restaurants. Peter took me to Rock Lobster for lobster roll, oysters, and beer. Yes, I even drank beer. Located on Queen Street, it was a perfect place to sit, chat, eat and people watch. There were quite a few interesting characters.


As we made our way back, we stopped at Delysse's for dessert. I had my first gelato macaron: macaron filled with gelato. It was spectacular. Of course I chose pistachio flavor.


Thanks Peter for a great tour of Toronto!


I can wholeheartedly recommend Urban Expeditions for your next trip! Check them out next time you are in Toronto, Montreal, Chicago or New York!

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