I didn’t have high hopes for Toronto.
I went for a 30,000-person conference, expecting to awkwardly make endless small talk and feel obligated to attend hospitality events to fit in with my coworkers (or worse, not be invited to anything and end up abandoned at the hotel every evening).
It was my first time in Toronto, so I wanted to walk around the main areas of the city in my spare time. Instead, it was -22 degrees Celsius before windchill, and for the first 6 days I only saw the Path (a convoluted underground maze connecting all the buildings in the downtown area), the convention centre, and a few hotels where we attended hospitality receptions. Though I didn’t see much of the city, I met an astounding number of people I actually liked, ate an astounding amount of delicious food and drank an astounding amount of brilliant wine.
I discovered just how many of my coworkers are even bigger foodies than I am, beat a billionaire in a poker game to win the table (sadly – but not unexpectedly – I lost fairly quickly in the championship round), settled on medium talk with a friend of a friend who feels as uncomfortable making small talk as I do, drank hot chocolate at a bean-to-bar chocolate shoppe and cafe, and ate almost an entire leftover ribeye steak for breakfast to win $5 from a coworker.
(Jason, I’m still waiting on that…)
On my last day in Toronto, it was a balmy (hah) -8 and I braved the cold to wander around King Street. Weslodge Saloon was recommended to me, so I went there for lunch. The fries fell short of special, but the burger was one of the best I’ve ever had. They grind their own meat in house every morning, and the freshness and cleanliness (and the knowledge that each burger only comes from the meat of one cow) means they can cook it as rare or as well as done you’d like.
The bartender said it best when he wandered over and said “yeah, that’s right, all other burgers… Now you have something to live up to.”
And so far – excepting Vancouver, of course – that’s right, all other Canadian cities… Now you have something to live up to.