It's been a couple of decades since I've actually lived in Toronto but it's always nice to spend time in my hometown and visit friends and family. I didn't have much time to be a tourist but I was content enough walk along Yonge Street and visit familiar Toronto landmarks like the Eaton Centre and the Ontario Provincial Parliament.
No visit to Canada is complete without my favourite Canadian sweets, so in addition to the usual mint Aero bars, Coffee Crisp, and Laura Secord frosted mint chocolates, I had my first butter tart and nanaimo bar in years! There are days when I'm tempted to move to the British Colombia town of Nanaimo just so I can be closer to their place of origin, that's how good they are.
I stayed with one of my closest high school friends and her husband and baby. I was there for the baby's first birthday and the poor kid came down with a fever the day before the party. Even at just twelve months old, he's definitely his mother's child and was a great sport and host despite his obvious misery. He wasn't feeling up to making a mess of his birthday cake but he did enjoy some of his gifts which was a clear bright spot for everyone.
Once he was feeling better, we took the baby out for lots of walks and to play in the park. We picked up falafel from Ali Baba's, a middle eastern restaurant, and brought it to the park. The falafel was fried yet it didn't have that dense, greasy texture and taste fried falafel often has. When he was preparing the falafel pitas, the server lightly squished the falafel balls with his fingers, a quick and simple way to allow the falafel to soak up the tahini and hot sauce and ensur better falafel distribution throughout the pita. There was just the right amount of tabbouleh to give a bursting flavor that didn't overwhelm. All in all, this was outstanding falafel.
My social calendar was quite full during my visit to Toronto. I had a great time catching up with a couple of high school friends I hadn't seen in far too long and I had a fun lunch with an Antarctica friend. She and I discussed tentative plans to go to the Arctic next fall, so I will gladly accept contributions anyone would like to give me towards the cruise cost! Back in Mach, when I had a whirlwind 24 hours in Lima, Peru, I stayed with my good friend's family. Their daughter has lived in Toronto for the last couple of years and we were finally able to get together. The last time we had seen each other was briefly in Washington DC several years ago and before that, it was in the early 1990s!
If greyhounds are sleek dogs, best known for their sprinting capabilities, then think of Italian greyhounds as their smaller, perkier cousins after nine espressos and Pepe as their supreme leader. His favourite past time is to brutally attack a squeaky, bikini clad rubber chicken. His appetite is shameless and he circles the baby's high chair at mealtime like he's a piranha. The first time I left my backpack unattended, Pepe knocked the bag on its side, unzipped the zipper and then opened the internal zipped pocket to pull out a bag that contained two Sublime chocolate bars that I had been carrying across South and North America for the past four months to give to my Peruvian friend from her parents. We came home to find two silver wrappers that had been desperately opened and the chocolate had been decimated! About the only time he settles down is when you throw a blanket over him and he curls up. The problem is that at only eight pounds, he's so small that I accidentally sat on him more than once, not realizing he was snuggled under the blanket! Luckily he's a hearty dog and survived unscathed.
My next stop is Europe for the summer for family trips, solo travels, and the Olympics. I'm very much looking forward to it, but there will always be a part of me that will miss Canada.