Expatriation, Lifestyle, North America, Thoughts, Travel

3 and a half years later, we are back in Toronto!

It’s been a month since my husband and I came back to Toronto. For me, it was time to make a first article about it!

Our friends and families asked us several times the same question: So, is Toronto like you remembered? Is it still the city that you loved?

I left Toronto in April 2015, about 3 and a half years ago. During all this time, a modern city like Toronto can change dramatically.. or not that much actually!

It’s a peculiar feeling than to be back in a city that we left so long ago. We remember it, everything is oddly familiar and at the same time, not so much. I decided to do a Top 8 of the things that stroke me when we got back. Things that seemed smaller, bigger, prettier, uglier, new things, missing things… Well, you get the general idea! 😉

#1: Dundas Square, Toronto’s Time Square looks bigger.

New York has Times Square and Toronto has Dundas Square. It’s definitively not on the same level but you get the idea: a big square surrounded by huge screen broadcasting ads and stuff all day long!

A very north-American concept that we don’t really find in Europe. I don’t really know if new screens appeared since 2015 or if my memory is a bit blurry but Dundas Square seems to me to be a lot more impressive than 4 years ago!

dundas square toronto - photo by marionoushka

#2: Honest Ed’s is gone.

Honest Ed’s, it’s one of the first shops I went to in Toronto last time I was here. Not a clothing shop or any trendy shop, but a huge maze of everything, a true cavern of Ali Baba. A place where you could find anything: clothes, food, kitchen tools, house stuff, bath stuff…

When I arrived in March 2014 in Toronto, I had to shop for home equipment. And Honest Ed’s was on the corner of the street I was living. This old-fashioned shop, with its bright lights, was quite a shocking view in the streets of Toronto. It was an institution, a monument built in 1948 by “Honest” Ed Mirvish.

The store closed its doors between 2016 et 2017. I must confess having felt a bit sad learning the store closure, I had found a lot of cheap and useful things at Honest Ed’s. 

Honest Ed's
Photo by CityNews

#3: Renting an apartment has become so overpriced.

Toronto is an expensive city, especially when you want to rent an apartment (like most of us). It was true in 2014 and it’s even truer in 2018. I very sadly realized that with the (very correct) salary I had in 2014, I would today be totally unable to rent a bedroom apartment on my own.

To give you a more concrete idea, we are actually subletting an apartment until mid-may. It’s the same apartment that we had between December 2014 and May 2015. Exactly the same. The rent in 2014: $1,400. The rent now? $1,900. I believe I said it all…

#4: Lake Ontario is still as impressive.

Lake Ontario is the smallest of the Great Lakes of Northern America. And still, I remember that when I saw it for the first time I thought “THAT, a small lake? A mini sea yeah!”.

I come from the north of France, great lakes don’t exist around there. It’s really disorienting to see one! 3 years and some months later, I’m back in Toronto and the size of the lake still is that impressing to me! Look at that picture by Ad Meskens.

Vue de Toronto depuis la rive opposée du Lac Ontario

#5: Cookies from Starbucks Canada are definitively way better than those of Starbucks France.

My family and friends will tell you that, It has been 3 years that I despaired of the taste of the cookies from Starbucks in Canada. Before my first stay in Toronto, I wasn’t much of a Starbucks customer (there wasn’t any in Lille), so I really discovered their cookies in Toronto. And I l.o.v.e.d them! Their classic chocolate chips cookies were my favourite. So when I got back to France in 2015, I wanted more of these cookies. Big, huge deception, cookies from Starbucks France don’t have the same taste at all! 😲

So, a few days after we came back to Toronto, we went to Starbucks, and I had to take a cookie. To verify, you understand, that my memory wasn’t tricking me and that the Canadian version is really tastier than the french version. Verdict? I tried and loved it! I really do prefer the Canadian cookies! ❤

#6: The old streetcars are still there.

When I was in Toronto in 2014/2015, the new streetcars were THE big subject of Toronto’s public transit. A little revolution of the system thanks to the modernization of the vehicles.

Well, 4 years later, we can see that not much has changed, the old streetcars are still here. For my greatest pleasure! I think they have quite an old-fashioned charm, don’t you think?

streetcar toronto - photo by marinoushka

#7: I love the style of the new condos.

Toronto is a city where buildings are always being built. There is always a new condo being built somewhere, the city is getting rid of the old dilapidated buildings to build brand new condos. And I must say that, for a girl who was raised in a home in the countryside, I quite fancy these new condos. Unlike last time where I wasn’t really picking on my place to live. I now am very tempted by renting in one of these new, clean and well-equipped condos! I, even more, love when they actually build a new condo with parts of the old buildings, it’s a great mix of the past and the present.

downtown toronto - photo by marinoushka

#8: My English is totally rusty!

I knew my English level had dropped quite a bit. Because of the lack of practice in France! Nevertheless, I must confess I hoped I was better than this when I arrived lol. Coming back with no job, I had a few interviews to find a job. And, in Toronto, employers (or recruiters) love to make a first phone interview. It was harder than I expected on these calls and I even sometimes finished the call knowing that I hadn’t understood half of the speech for the other person… I really need to get back to it!

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That’s it for today!

À bientôt ❤️

Marion

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