IT’S BEEN A BUSY SUMMER FOR TORONTO’S FREE AMBASSADOR TOUR PROGRAM (TAPTO)

 Established several years ago by the City of TORONTO, TAPto has roughly 90 tour guides who know the city and its neighbourhoods well. TAPto tours last anywhere from 1 to 3 hours, and by filling in a simple one-page booking sheet visitors can pinpoint their interests and availability. Once that’s done, a guide will be assigned. Visitors I’ve shown around this summer came from Montreal x3, Verdun, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Charlotte NC, Waco, Texas; Los Angeles, Dumbarton, Scotland; Charleston SC, Frankfurt, Vienna, Detroit, New York City, Leominster & Boston, Massachusetts; and Philadelphia.

TAPTO1Jennifer Pour and Felicia Upshaw <PHOTO ABOVE> flew in from Philadelphia. “TORONTO is a very friendly town,” said Jennifer, “and it’s so easy to get around on public transportation.” Felicia found “the blend of architecture to be very intriguing.” She agreed the people were friendly, the streets and parks were clean, and both thought the $3 Red Rocket bus/subway connection from Pearson International to downtown T.O. was an incredible bargain – which it is.

The Global Greeter Network is an informal association of Greeter programs around the world. In Canada SHERBROOKE, Quebec and CALGARY, Alberta are also members.  Global Greeter Network and a listing of its member cities – http://www.globalgreeternetwork.info/

IF THERE’S A CHIC NEIGHBOURHOOD IN TOWN – YORKVILLE IS IT!

NEWYORKVILLE1 YORKVILLE was once a separate village, and in many ways it still is. There’s more wealth on display in this district than anywhere else in the city’s core. Combined with Bloor Street West, the village is one of the most expensive retail spaces in North America. At the same time, its shady residential streets give visitors a pleasurable tour of TORONTO architecture from the 1800’s to the present day. On a summer day, this is urban paradise.

NEWYORKVILLE12NEWYORKVILLE2NEWYORKVILLE9NEWYORKVILLE8NEWYORKVILLE6Within YORKVILLE you’ll find – the Mira Godard Gallery and several others, the new Four Seasons Hotel, an antique strip along Davenport Road, countless coffee bars and restaurants, Cumberland Street park and the famous Yorkville Rock.  Nearby – the Annex neighbourhood, the Royal Ontario Museum, Royal Conservatory of Music, Koerner Concert Hall, Philosopher’s Walk, the University of Toronto, the Bloor Street West ‘culture corridor’, Hyatt Rooftop Bar, and the Gardiner Ceramics Museum.  Subway stop – BAY

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A DOZEN UNIQUE AND INEXPENSIVE THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN TORONTO

TEN1 #1. –  The 501 Queen Streetcar travels the longest streetcar route in North America, and one of the longest in the world. From Neville park in the east end to either the Long Branch Loop or the Humber Loop in the west, the line passes through 24.5 kilometres (or 15.4 miles) of the inner city and many different neighbourhoods. Named by National Geographic as one of the ‘great tram rides of a lifetime’.  #2. – Toronto Transit Commission Day Passes are the best bargains in town. Single Day Passes are available 7 days a week and can be used on the subway, streetcars and buses. On weekends and statutory holidays the passes admit 1 adult and 5 youths 19 years and under, or 2 adults and 4 youths, or two adults. Get them at all subway stations for $11.50.

TEN3#3. – TIFF Bell Lightbox. This is a complex of 5 movie theatres (including the city’s cinematheque), two restaurants, 2 galleries, a research library and a shop, 350 King Street West. The films shown here are not regular multiplex fare . . . . . #4 & #5. – The Winter Garden and Elgin Theatres, 189 Yonge Street, are the last remaining Edwardian-era double-decker theatres in the world. Tours are conducted on Thursdays and Saturdays for a modest fee. . . . . #6. – Kensington Market is the old Jewish market quarter just off Spadina Avenue above Dundas Street West. This is where the multicultural/multilingual character of downtown TORONTO really shines. Augusta, Kensington, Nassau, and Oxford streets west of Spadina.

TEN4#7. – The TORONTO Islands, reachable by ferry from the foot of Bay Street. People live in rustic homes on Wards Island (cottage country in the heart of the city). Centre Island is a vast park with a Lake Ontario boardwalk and other attractions. Hanlan’s Point offers a clothing optional beach. . . . . . #8. – Canada’s only purpose-built opera house at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen Street West. Backstage tours on weekends, $20 adults, $15 seniors/students, http://www.coc.ca/ExploreAndLearn/Adults/BuildingTours/FourSeasonsCentre.aspx . . . . . #9. – St. George Campus of the University of TORONTO, bounded by Bloor Street West, College Street, St. George Street and Queens Park. This beautifully landscaped campus combines old and new architecture and seven colleges (Innis, New, St. Michael’s, Trinity, University, Victoria and Woodworth).

TEN2#10. – The Cabbagetown Heritage Conservation Area, roughly from Parliament Street to the Don River, Wellesley Street East to Gerrard Street East. Settled by Irish immigrants from the late 1940’s, it’s now the largest preserved Victorian-era neighbourhood in all of North America. The Riverdale Farm is here, as well as two of the oldest cemeteries in the city. . . . . #11. The Distillery District, Parliament Street south of King Street East over to Cherry Street. This is a collection of Victorian-era heritage industrial buildings on the site of the former Gooderham and Worts Distillery. It contains three theatres, numerous cafes, bars and shops, 47 buildings in all.

TEN5#12. Evergreen Brick Works, 550 Bayview Avenue in the Don Valley, a former quarry, provided the bricks for nearly a century to construct well known TORONTO landmarks including Casa Loma, Osgoode Hall, Massey Hall and the Ontario Legislature. It’s now been turned into a park with naturalized ponds and walking trails. The buildings themselves are focused on culture, the environment, and the history of brickmaking in our city. The original brick firing ovens have been left intact.

TORONTO RACKS UP RECORD NUMBERS OF COMPLETED CONDOS & HOTEL BOOKINGS IN 2014

RECORDS1 10,368 condominium apartments were completed in Greater TORONTO last month. That’s 8 times more than the average of the past decade. Most of the completed units were pre-sold, but the increase raised the number of unsold apartments to a 21-year-high of about 1,600 units, according to BMO.  Demand for TORONTO-area condos remains high. CMHC numbers show a spike in first-time buyers in the GTA choosing condominiums in 2014 – around 29% in 2014, up from 13% ten years ago.

CONVENTIONS1TORONTO’s convention industry is booming again, and this has led to increased hotel bookings – 640,000 hotel room nights from conventioneers alone. In the past two years, TOURISM TORONTO has added part-time sales agents in China and India, supplementing full-time offices in Washington DC, Chicago, Ottawa and Mississauga.  According to the New York Times, the projected number of American visitors to Canada will number 12,500,000 in 2015 – second only to Mexico as a destination. TORONTO will no doubt benefit greatly. <SOURCE – Euromonitor International>

TORONTO’S SOUTHCORE FINANCIAL CENTRE GETS A BRAND NEW FLAGSHIP HOTEL

DELTA1 After 18 months, DELTA has returned to the city with a 46-storey, four-star venue on Lower Simcoe Street, near Ripley’s Aquarium, the CN Tower, Convention Centre, Air Canada Centre, the PATH system, and Union Station. The skyscraper will house 567 oversized units as well as multiple other suites, some equipped with kitchens.

DELTA3        In September, 88% of approximately 20,000 downtown TORONTO hotel rooms were occupied, according to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sports. “We had to be here. There’s no way you couldn’t be,” said JENNIFER WORDEN, marketing and sales director for Delta Toronto.

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“LONELY PLANET” PUTS TORONTO ON ITS 2015 ‘TOP 10 MUST-SEE CITIES’ LIST

LONELYPLANET1        <TORONTO from the CN Tower. Image by naibank / Moment / Getty>  TORONTO is one of only two North American cities to make LONELY PLANET’s 2015 “TOP 10 must-see cities list”LONELY PLANET quotes: “The most multicultural city in the world, a bustling megalopolis where over 140 languages are spoken, promises to be extra vibrant in 2015, when an estimated 250,000 visitors arrive for the Pan American (Pan Am) Games. A bunch of public works projects have advanced in preparation for the C$1.5 billion international multisport games, including the long-anticipated Union Pearson Express train. . . . . 2015 will be another massive year for TORONTO’s drool-worthy restaurant scene. And the influences of nearby New York and Montreal keep things cutting-edge, with live music thriving in grassroots bars.”  The article by BENEDICT WALKER, goes on to highlight Bloor Street West, the Windsor Arms Hotel, Eaton Centre, Entertainment District, Kensington Market, CN Tower’s Edgewalk, and the “flavour of TORONTO’s neighbourhoods.”

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LONELY PLANET’s Top 10 List of “must-see cities”/2015:
1.  Washington DC
2.  El Chaltén, Argentina
3.  Milan, Italy
4.  Zermatt, Switzerland
5.  Valletta, Malta
6.  Plovdiv, Bulgaria
7.  Salisbury, United Kingdom
8.  Vienna, Austria
9.  Chennai, India
10.  TORONTO, Canada

Read more on Lonely Planet’s TORONTO at: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-tips-and-articles/seven-reasons-why-toronto-should-top-your-must-visit-list

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/best-in-travel/cities/10-toronto?detail=1#ixzz3GtClYxSa

National Geographic’s ‘Traveler’ gives TORONTO an A+++ review – May/2013 issue

TRAVELER1Those of us who live here know that TORONTO is a ‘happening’ town.  As urban guru and resident, RICHARD FLORIDA, puts it: “TORONTO is messy urbanism in action.  There are imperfect co-existences all around – man and nature, bikes and cars, religions and cultures atop one another – but always livable.”  Actress LISA RAY: “There should be something more romantic and fanciful and passionate to describe TORONTO than ‘livable’.  Can’t we call TORONTO sexy yet?”Read the entire 10 page story in the May/2013 issue of National Geographic’s ‘Traveler’ magazine.  Writer KATRINA ONSTAD and contributing photographer SUSAN SEUBERT give Big TO a once over, and conclude that Canada’s largest city has gone from bland to bold.It’s a tale of many cities in one – and we’re lookin’ good!