Travel Diaries: Toronto & Montreal

It’s easy to see that I’ve been bitten by the travel bug within the past few years. Most of my trips were within the states to test the waters. This trip… I flew outside of my comfort zone.

My birthday fell on a long weekend. And I wanted to go on a small trip. It reminded me of how stressful it can be to rely on other people to do things. I love planning events but it comes with stress and often triggers my anxiety. I wanted to go away for my birthday, that was my goal.

Initially, I looked into flying south to Miami again, but I had already been twice in nearly a year. As much as I love the beach I wanted to go somewhere that was a short flight and someplace different.

I started looking at traveling to Toronto and Montreal. But of course I couldn’t decide which place to go to all weekend so I decided on both.

Now… for the brave part of my trip. I decided to go on this trip alone. I’m at the point in my life where a lot of my friends have a significant other, are married, have kids, saving for a wedding/house/soon to be baby. Maybe some can relate to this, it might be a small percentage of you.

At the end of the day, I’m single. I don’t have a boyfriend, a travel partner, I don’t have kids. I’m on a different path in life and to be honest I don’t like relying on others to do anything. That’s just me. So. I booked a solo trip.

Besides the stress of deciding what to wear for this trip, packing it in a carry on… I had to overcome the fear of doing things on my own.

Although I am extremely independent and once I set my mind to something I go for it without failure. I was still scared. What if I freaked out and stayed in the hotel the entire time? The so many what-ifs!

That all went out the window once I took off for my first destination…

Toronto:

The number one reason I chose this destination was to go to the hockey hall of fame. I am a HUGE New York Rangers fan, so the idea of basically going to the capital of hockey was an immediate yes.

I stayed at the Hotel Victoria which is about 2-3 minutes away from the hockey hall of fame in downtown Toronto. Of course, I dropped my bags at the hotel, got a quick bite to eat and b-lined it for the Hockey Hall of Fame. It was everything and more a hockey fan could dream of. So much history, so many hockey fans, I was among “my peoples.” Which immediately calmed my anxious nerves too.

Hockey fans are different. They are loyal to their teams. They can be incredibly nice and then threaten to kick the shit out of you a second later for bad-mouthing their team. The point is I felt safe being there.

I kept my outfit simple because regardless of what I wear, I’m not worthy next to Lord Stanley.

Details…

Afterward, I headed back to my hotel to recharge my phone a bit and then hopped over to Graffiti Alley. It was cool and all but it would’ve been better if I had a friend to take my photos.

Nearby was Queen street where I read about some cute boutiques, of course, I shopped. No clothes were purchased but it was a beautiful walk.

I decided to stay in that night because it was a huge travel day and my vacation. This meant I can do whatever I wanted. After a hell of a workweek, emphasis on the word hell, I needed downtime. The next day I was flying out to Montreal too.

My last day in Toronto was a beautiful day, I grabbed some breakfast at Frans diner. This is where I found out my flight to Montreal was canceled and rebooked. The initial notification of “your flight has been canceled” is enough to send anyone into a panic. I’m pretty sure my pancake soaked in maple syrup fell from my mouth when I read that.

Now that my flight situation was confirmed and settled, I had some time to kill. I walked over to the St. Lawrence Market and took my time. As a New Yorker, all I know is a fast pace life, we walk fast, talk fast, eat fast. This was such a challenge for me, but I did it.

I wore this coat I picked up in Target for the majority of my trip. It was long enough to keep me warm but light enough to move around in. Remember it’s a bit colder up north!

Next up…

Montreal

This is what I was most excited about and decided to spend an extra day here. My hotel was in Old Montreal. It was an old hotel and I fell in love with it on Instagram – which is a travel tip. Not only should you read the reviews and ratings of any hotel that you stay at, but this is another great way to view the hotel.

I stayed at the Auberge du Vieux-Port, this was the perfect hotel and location. Everyplace, where I wanted to go, was within walking distance or a quick Uber ride away. Since my flight to Montreal was canceled/rescheduled I missed out on some time to scope out the neighborhood. After checking in and a quick outfit change I headed to Un Po Di Piu, an Italian spot, for dinner. This was right down the street from my even better hotel! The entire menu was in French and I had no idea what any of it said. Luckily I took Italian in high school so I was able to figure out some familiar words.

Trying new foods without knowing what they are is my favorite thing to do when traveling. Everything was delicious and the chocolate cake was to die for! I knew Montreal had delicious food but my god this was heavenly!!

For my first full day, I decided to grab a bagel from Fairmount Bagel since I am an NYC bagel snob. From there I headed to a park to enjoy my bagel and then hike up to Mont-Royal Lookout. I read mixed reviews about the hike itself. Some people say it’s easy, my coworker said it was intense.

My outfit wasn’t perfect for this hike. I probably should’ve worn workout gear but my need for a cute outfit photo at the top of the lookout outweighed that decision. Montreal was colder than Toronto, so this knit sweater from Zara was perfect for walking around. I put my Target x Altuzarra jacket over it with my Abercrombie jeans and my converse.
Initially, the hike seemed comfortable until I got to a certain point, no signs were in English and they stopped pointing to the lookout. My google maps got a workout and so did I. I ended up going the wrong direction for about 20 minutes on a separate trail. Grateful for my experience hiking in California to know what to expect on these trails. I immediately asked someone to find out that indeed I was going the wrong direction. I didn’t panic, this would’ve ruined the beautiful walk that I had to this point. Instead, I turned around and got motivated, I HAD TO BE CLOSE. And I was.

My outfit that day was not hiking friendly. I was stylish and sweaty and the lookout point. My jeans weren’t the problem, these stretchy jeans from Abercrombie are amazing. GET A PAIR (here).

The sweater from Zara (similar option here) sure as hell kept me warm and looking cute. But it was drenched in sweat at the lookout.

Luckily this view was worth the hike…

I had some lunch at Lola Rosa which was delicious before heading back to the hotel. My legs and phone needed to be recharged.

On my Uber ride back we passed by a street nearby with so many places to eat and small shops. Of course, this was my immediate destination after recharging. I walked through the streets and for a moment I wondered if this is what Belle from beauty and the beast felt like. No beasts/potentials in sight though.

I decided to get some dessert while walking around. It was delicious.

And then I decided to continue to look for a cute boutique to buy something. I was determined to find a cute top! Nothing. I walked further. I found something interesting. I couldn’t afford a single thing in there, so I decided to leave. A man shopping with his wife was blocking the door. He didn’t care to move out of the way seeing me trying to exit, and then…
I fell.
Down 3 steps out of the boutique. It hurt. The owner came rushing out. Was I embarrassed? No. I’m never going to see these people again. I wasn’t bleeding either. But I got a hell of a bruise to remember it by.

I thought I was falling for the city of Montreal figuratively, not literally.

Later that night I walked back to the small square I was at earlier for dinner. I didn’t feel like going super far after all of the walkings I had done all day. Plus my bruise hurt.

Of course, I wore all black my final night out. The food was ok, I was so exhausted that it was hard to enjoy anything at that point.

Outfit details…

  • Zara suede jacket (last season)

For once though I packed extremely smart. The Beis Travel line is great and durable. Shay Mitchell took all of her tips, tricks, and knowledge of traveling and put it into this collection. Carry on luggage’s have always made me nervous. As a chronic over-packer, I never feel like I have enough room. This wasn’t the case at all, everything I needed fit perfectly in her carry on suitcase. The backpack was something I also wanted. Although I love the weekender, sometimes I prefer to have everything evenly distributed on my back. The inside of this backpack was made for traveling. It took away any packing anxiety I had.

Overall, my trip was great. I’m so happy that before turning 31 I was able to accomplish something – traveling solo to another country.

Xx Sarah

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