Taking flight to cross the pond: a trip to Toronto and New York City

Live Your Art

by Sofia Santos
Since I started traveling, I’ve always wanted to travel outside Europe. Yet, I am a solo traveler from a small town in Portugal. I always thought I was dreaming too big and that it would take a while to happen. After all, it only took one of my friends moving to Canada for me to decide this was my time!
So, as soon as I heard the news, I booked a ticket to Toronto to see her and have my first “big trip”!

The eclectic Toronto grabbed my soul

My first impression of Toronto was that although it was such a big city, nature was always present wherever you went. Since I’m a big fan of exploring the outdoors, I was super happy. The parks and green areas, as well as the squirrels and other animals running around, were some of the best parts of the trip.
It was also super interesting to see the city landscape change between the seasons. When I arrived, it was late autumn; all the leaves were falling, and many fiery colors were everywhere. Then I saw the beginning of winter and the first snowfall, something we don’t experience back home.
Among all the parks I visited there, High Park is truly worth visiting. I would take at least half a day to explore the lakes, picnic areas, sports courts, dog parks, hiking paths, and even a small zoo. I revisit it a couple of times to explore all parts of it! 
I had a great time at Toronto Island and Ontario Place! Toronto Island is a big park with many attractions, mainly in the summer. So, I just walked to see the views and stroll around the cute, small cabin village. 
The boat trip was also fun, as I saw the city skyline during the beautiful sunset. Another great place to explore and see the sunset is Ontario Place, an entertainment venue and park on artificial islands. It was quiet and perfect for enjoying a calm trip near the water and looking around the park.
During the first week there, I explored almost all the must-see locations and strolled around the city. Queen St. stood out to me with its beautiful vintage shops, boutiques, quirky cafes, and restaurants. The fantastic graffiti murals warmed the artist in me. I also visited Kensington Market, which has the same vibe as Queen St. Still, with tons more art. The market is fun on weekends and bustling with vintage, handmade, and craft stalls. 
Toronto is a great place to visit for art and museum fans. I went to the Royal Ontario Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Art Gallery of Toronto. They were all exciting, with excellent exhibitions. They all offer one day of the week where you can visit for free, which is perfect for budget trips!

The iconic Falls have more to it

On one of my first weekends there, I went on a road trip to Niagara Falls with my friends, and it was definitely worth the ride! Besides the main waterfalls, it’s a great place for a walk with great views.
You can also stroll around the streets above. They’re filled with museums, restaurants, and fun attractions. You could spend more than one day there. We ended up going to Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Museum, the Selfie Studios, and Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks. It was a super fun day and a great place to visit for any age.

New York, New York, I am in love

As soon as I booked my ticket to Toronto, I saw how close I would be to New York. I couldn’t pass on the chance for such an iconic trip. So, I planned a long weekend trip there. Even though this wasn’t one of my top bucket list trips, it ended up being one of my favorite places I’ve ever been to. 
I stayed in an excellent hostel near Central Park, which was my first visit. I spent the first morning just exploring the park and went again the next day to see the rest. It was a fantastic experience, especially seeing the contrast of the park with the skyscrapers in the background.
I visited MoMa and the American Museum of Natural History on my days there. I’ve always wanted to see them, and they did not disappoint! I also got to go to The Top of The Rock during sunset; it was incredible and worth every penny. 
After that, I went to a Broadway show to have the complete New York experience! Since I’m a Harry Potter fan, I decided to see ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ instead of one of the more traditional Broadway shows. Yet, it was still an incredible experience!
One of my favorite areas was the surprisingly calm Greenwich Village. It has gorgeous little cafes and boutiques, quaint brownstone steps, and townhouses. I also got to experience the Christmas market in Bryant Park, which was magical. Grand Central Station was another place that took my heart; so many movie references!
I like to try traditional food from the places I visit, so I went for a salmon bagel—the best I have ever had. I also tried a delicious NY cheesecake, which I think is better than the traditional version. 
Last, on my final day, I ended up on The High Line. I had not planned to before catching my flight back to Toronto, but I’m so glad I did; it is also one of the trip’s highlights. I loved strolling on the path, seeing the city from above, and admiring all the fascinating buildings. They had edgy architecture, murals, and statues.

Saying goodbye is not easy but the trip ended on a high note

On my last weekend in Toronto, I visited the Toronto Botanical Garden. That area has many parks and gardens. I went to Don Valley Brick Works Park, which has a farmers’ market.
Then, I went to Riverdale Farm. I rented a bike for this. It was a unique ride along the river in the parks. It almost felt like I wasn’t in the city.
This was the perfect way to end my trip. It made me want to go back. I want to explore and hike more in the national parks and mountains!