Our fourth day in Toronto was a Saturday, and Saturdays are for brunch. So we got ourselves up and decided to take a leisurely stroll north through the grounds of the University of Toronto in search of breakfast-y goodness.
The fact that it was a super dull, grey day was not going to put us off. Even with this cloudy sky, it was somehow still 26° outside and so humid it felt like you were swimming through the air.
But that didn’t bother us because we weren’t in any hurry, and there was so much to look at. The University of Toronto dates back to the early 19th century, and it’s an architecture junkie’s dream.
It’s very reminiscent of older British universities – unsurprising, really, given that it was founded in 1827 when Canada was still very much a part of the British Empire.
Wouldn’t you have loved to study somewhere that looked like this? (If you went to Oxford or Cambridge, don’t answer that …)
Some views were even a little reminiscent of London.
Although this building reminded me more of Edinburgh’s imposing weather-beaten granite.
Content to lose ourselves among the ivy-clad walls and lofty spires, we walked through the arch of a clocktower, and found a war memorial commemorating those from the University who had given their lives in the Second World War.
After a moment’s pause to reflect on the vastness of the list, we made our way across the street to another campus.
Some parts of it looked as though Harry Potter would feel quite at home.
And I got to hang out with this dude. He doesn’t say much – he’s the strong and silent type …
This is Northrop Frye, an eminent Canadian literary critic and a former principal of Victoria College, and its campus is where you can find his statue, just outside the building named in his honour. He spent more than half a century both learning and teaching here, so it seems fitting that he should be made a permanent fixture.
But while I’d have loved to stay and chat, we were starting to get hungry. Really hungry.
So, passing a few more beautiful buildings, we made a beeline for our destination.
We were headed for the Manulife Centre, a 51-storey high tower on Bloor Street in the swanky district of Yorkville. On the top floor is The One Eighty (formally Panorama), so named for its sweeping views of the city – and although we were excited for that, we were definitely more interested in the promise of a really good brunch.
It wasn’t to be, however. When we got there, the entire restaurant had been booked out for a private event (something to do with the Toronto International Film Festival, we imagined). And then just as we were about to step back outside to see what else we could find, the heavens opened.
I have never seen rain like it. I didn’t take a picture because we were so sad that our brunch plans had been thwarted and all we could do was stare at the torrents of water rushing down the street. Little tsunamis washing over the sidewalks with each passing car. Bedraggled and bemused groups of tourists who’d gone out in summer clothes.
And our bad luck didn’t end there. After we hailed an Uber to take us a few blocks norths in search of somewhere we’d seen in the guidebook, we found that everywhere was chock full of people desperately seeking shelter from the elements, and a plate of eggs.
That was until we found ourselves at the unassuming entrance of Rose and Sons on Dupont.
Inconspicuously wedged between an Esso station and a takeout place, you kind of have to know it’s there in order to find it. But let me tell you, it’s worth finding.
By this time Jenna and I were so hungry, fed up and wet that we didn’t even want to talk to each other any more. So cocktails and fresh juice were very, very welcome and started to bring us back to life.
And once we’d chowed down on this little lot, we were feeling a lot more human. There were a couple of firsts for me on this plate of huevos rancheros – I’d never come across chorizo verde before (it’s delicious), and I’d never, ever, in my life eaten a fried egg (it’s a long story). So this was all very exciting.
Jenna had something new too – her fried chicken was served in a pool of cheddar grits. I kind of wish I’d tried them when she offered, but I felt like two new and exciting things were maybe enough for one day.
After this? We walked up to Casa Loma, got soaked to the bone, discovered how expensive it was to go inside and got a cab back to our apartment. Yep, we were bad tourists. But considering how much we’d packed into the first few days, I think it’s fair to say we’d earned the downtime …