Happy Thanksgiving to all of my fellow Canadians! This year, I am feeling especially grateful for all of the incredible things that life has brought my way in the past few months. Adjusting to life in Toronto has been a bit crazy, and I have not had much time to compile my thoughts into writing because I have been so busy actually living it all! This long weekend presented me with the perfect opportunity to reflect a bit on what the past three weeks living in this incredible city have been like. I have plenty more adventures to come, but for now, here is where I have been and what I have been up to so far!
Exploring North (ish) of Toronto
Though most of my work takes me around the GTA, there are some times where I get to explore outside of it. I have had a couple of opportunities to explore slightly north of Toronto!
This lovely city is growing quickly in size but still has some small-town charm to it. I have visited Aurora a couple of times, one of them being when I visited one of their university prep colleges for a school fair, which was insanely large and stunning and tons of fun. I will be heading back near Aurora to Newmarket in the upcoming week, which I am looking forward to! Definitely a nice area to explore.
This city is a new one for me because I actually just moved here! Where I am staying for the next few months is located right on the edge of Vaughan bordering northern Toronto. I have not had a lot of time to explore Vaughan yet because I have had a pretty busy week, but I am sure I will have plenty of time to do so over the next few months, so stay tuned 🙂
Exploring Southwest of Toronto
A lot of my trips that take me outside of the GTA often take me Southwest from Toronto. Some of these trips have been for work and some have been just on my own to explore, but I am excited that I have gotten a taste of Ontario outside of TO.
Though I was only here for a couple of hours one day for work, I loved having the chance to explore this smaller city. Walking in the downtown area was quiet and such a nice place to explore. It seemed quaint and there were lots of nice restaurants. I am looking forward to coming back to Oakville and exploring it some more.
I travelled to Burlington to briefly meet up with a colleague, and my, was I in for a treat! Burlington is located right next to the lake and seriously, it is SO beautiful. I was not expecting the type of natural and stunning environment that I saw at all! It was truly incredible. The downtown is adorable, filled with tons of cute cafes and other smaller shops. The waterfront was recently renovated so you can walk right along the water and take in the incredible scenery, plus there are plenty of parks nearby to hangout at. It was definitely a gem that I stumbled upon, and I am looking forward to going back and exploring more.
The drive from Burlington to Guelph is quite nice and it takes you through more of a farmland area. I went to Guelph to visit a friend attending school there, and it was nice to explore the city and university campus! The University of Guelph is a fairly small campus, easy to get around, with a pretty natural feel to it as well. The town of Guelph itself is quaint and reminded me of a few European cities I had visited, which I was quite surprised by. You can tell that there is a large colonial British influence on the city from hundreds of years ago. There is a lavish basilica right in the middle of the city as well, which represents this colonial-UK-European influence quite well. I am sure I will have the chance to explore more of Guelph as well in the coming months.
I travelled a bit further southwest from Toronto to London for an event that I was hosting in collaboration with a couple other universities. It was a great opportunity to attend this event, and the drive to London, though along the highway, was still quite stunning. Fall really brings out all of the nice colours in the foliage surrounding the highway, and there are sooo many trees along the way, so it made for a nice drive. I did not have a lot of time to explore downtown London, but again, I got the impression that there was a heavy British influence still remaining here (hence the name). I did get the chance to check out an indoor market in downtown (called Covent Garden, again with the British references), which was really neat. There are lots of vendors selling food, produce, flowers, gifts, and more. I had a great brunch there and winded up chatting with a local for quite some time, which was nice. I likely won’t have the chance to return to London, but I am glad that I got to see at least a bit of it!
Exploring South of Toronto (the Niagara Region)
I recently had the incredible opportunity to travel South of Toronto and explore the Niagara region! Unfortunately I did not have a lot of time to do so, only about a day, so I would definitely recommend giving yourself more time if you are planning to visit. Still, it was amazing and I am so glad I had the chance to explore.
I started off my journey in St. Catharines for work. I attended another incredible fair, had the chance to explore a bit downtown, and also had the amazing opportunity to visit one of the nearby wineries! Niagara is a region that is well-known for its wine, particularly ice wine, and St. Catharines is no exception. Now, in comparison to Okanagan wine, I don’t think it can quite measure up 😉 But it was still pretty delicious and a great opportunity.
I got to see the Falls!!! I was SO EXCITED that I was visiting St. Catharines because I knew the Falls were only a short drive away, and I definitely did not want to miss out on seeing them. I travelled to the Falls in the morning, which I would also recommend doing, because by the time I was leaving around noon it was jam-packed. Unfortunately, parking costs $20, but they also give you an incredible visitors guide and it does not cost anything to view the Falls themselves, so I would say it’s worth it. (If you are looking to take transit, there are lots of busses that run directly to various points along the Falls.) And when I got to see them, yes, it was definitely worth it!! They are STUNNING. I literally just walked around for a couple of hours taking it all in (and taking lots of photos, of course). It is definitely an incredible site to see that should be on everyones travel bucket list, and make sure you give yourself lots of time to explore! There are also tons of activities to do near the Falls. Unfortunately I did not have time to explore any of them, but if you go, I would encourage you to do so! Check out the Niagara Tourism website for more info.
After I was wowed by the Falls, I decided to drive up to Niagara-on-the-Lake before continuing my journey back to Toronto. It was definitely a good decision that I would highly recommend! The drive takes you through the rest of the Falls area, past many orchards and vineyards, and right into the quaint downtown of Niagara-on-the-Lake (though, admittedly, also very touristy). I did not mind the fact that it was so touristy because it was honestly so darn cute. I think I just wandered around for an hour looking at all of the quaint stores, restaurants, flowers, and more. Again, I wish I had more time to explore, but it was nice to at least stop by and check it out for a bit. If you are planning a visit to the Niagara region, definitely give yourself lots of time to explore the Falls and near the Lake as well.
Exploring the big TO
Not only have I had the chance to explore all of these incredible places, I have also spent a lot of time travelling all around the GTA. Toronto is a very interesting city that is HUGE and there is so much of it I still need to see. My first weekend here, I actually went to a Jays game, which I’m pretty sure was my initiation to TO life. It was pretty incredible to experience that environment and see how supportive everyone in Toronto is of the Jays. I kind of felt like I was part of a big family. That being said, Toronto is a city that is difficult for me to truly put my finger on. It is so unique compared to all of the other cities that I have visited. There are so many different neighbourhoods, people, and more, and I have not quite figured out how I feel about it just yet. There is definitely tons of Toronto that I still need to explore. Hopefully, the more I explore, the better I will be able to understand the essence that is, as they call it, “the centre of the universe.” Stay tuned for more of my thoughts on TO and surrounding cities over the coming weeks & months!
Grateful for all that is to come
I promise I will try to write more regularly. It has just been such a whirlwind so far, as I am sure you can tell, and it will continue to be so! But, I can’t complain. I am truly blessed to have this incredible opportunity and live this crazy wonderful life! On top of being grateful for all of that, I am also incredibly thankful this year for my family and friends that support me, no matter all of the crazy things that I do. Your support truly makes me feel like I can take on the world. Finally, I am thankful for all of you reading this. Whether you have supported me from the early stages of chiaragoesglobal or have just started this crazy journey with me, I am incredibly thankful for those of you that take the time to engage with me and read my thoughts. I am grateful for how far I have come, and I have so much further to go. I hope you will all continue to go and grow with me. I hope you all have a very blessed Thanksgiving, and again, thank you. <3