Toronto is my rest stop for less than twenty four hours. After arriving, I make a bee line for the TTC subway station that is adjacent to Union Station. Once again it is The Hospitality Club that has lead me to the door of Erika, yet another friendly and fantastically kind host who is able to give me free accomodation for the night. I arrive at during the unfolding of a particularly uncomfortable set of personal circumstances, but despite a very long day it's a real pleasure to be able to show up on her doorstep and have a really interesting and engaging conversation or two, before I collapse for the night on her air bed.
The next morning I offer Erika my sincere thanks and make my way back into town. I've got to get some wool for BMM from a small shop in Kensington Market, which I'm pleased to say I found by back tracking from my trip in January (and with a little help from Google Maps...)
I leave my luggage in Union Station, again for C$2.50 a piece... strange how certain stations charge for this service while others will happily guard items for free.
I use my three remaining hours to explore the markets just east of Union Station (well worth a visit, especially on the weekends) and then stop for a coffee in a friendly diner near-by. In the window is a poster which says "You can pay $5 for an Italian Coffee near-by or $1 for a coffee served by a man who looks Italian." I am happy to go for the second option. I plod up Yonge Street and find a branch of H&M which still has the decency to stock men's clothing. A few garments are dug out from the sale rail, and I find a new pair of trousers for the summer.
I head west to check a few small galleries and to see the new Sharp Centre for Design of the Ontario College of Art & Design (pictured) which actually came across better in the 'flesh' than I had expected. Designed by the British architect Will Alsop, it came in for a lot of criticism from those offended by the black and white tiled skin, multi-coloured legs and unusual spatial arrangement. 'Unusual spatial arrangement' meaning the way in which the whole thing is mounted six storeys above ground level, partly overhanging an existing building. I didn't like it when I first saw the images in the architectural press, but having actually walked around and underneath it and seen the rest of Toronto's architectural variety, I'm pleased to see a brave addition to the city's fabric.
I poke around, pick up some stationery from the adjacent art supplies store and check my watch. It's time to head back to Union Station to get my bags, and to get back on a train...