I was downtown the other day for a meeting. An unusual event since I’m a freelancer (so I’m lucky enough to get to do most of my work from home), but I was early for my meeting, so sat down in a local cafe for a coffee while I waited.
There was a family at the next table, and I couldn’t help but overhear their British-accented conversation. They were pouring over a generic guide book – obviously tourists in my fair city.
I listened to them wonder where they might go for lunch and then dinner. I listened to them hum and haw about visiting various sports venues, the CN Tower, shopping centres. I listened to them talk about a possible visit to Toronto Island. And I couldn’t let the moment pass: I offered up some Toronto advice.
I struck up a conversation about what kinds of things they liked to do in Toronto and began to make suggestions – I was careful to hit on some sports stuff (Hockey Hall of Fame), markets (Kensington and St. Lawrence), cool arty areas (Distillery District), shopping strips (Queen Street West), and even recommended my go-to alternative to the CN Tower (which is quite expensive, so I usually take visitors for a very civilized glass of wine to the 54th floor of the TD Bank Tower to relax at Canoe‘s bar).
They seemed receptive. Maybe even a little relieved to have someone narrow down the choices for them. (However, they may have just been being nice.)
But I know what it feels like to be a stranger in a strange land – exploring on my own and hoping against hope that I’m somehow managing to find at least some of the interesting, cool or tasty things that the place has to offer. There’s always that feeling in the back of my mind that I’ve somehow missed the really awesome neighbourhood, main drag, or hidden gem that would have transformed my visit.
I hope they enjoyed their visit to Toronto!