City Living: Secret Walks

Whether you’re a Toronto veteran or a newbie to the city, you’ll have to agree that this is a pretty great city we live in. Exciting events, great food and shopping and festivals galore, but is it a great walking city? After reading our pick of under-the-radar walks, we think you’ll come to the conclusion that it indeed is.

Here’s a walk that probably goes against
all your instincts: City Hall. Boring! Grey! Eaton Centre on a weekend! But
hear us out – it’s here you’ll find City Hall Podium Green Roof. Enter the 2.4
km path from the ramp on the east side of Nathan Phillips Square and you’ll be
transported to a whole new Toronto (maybe where Rob Ford isn’t the mayor? One can wish). It only takes about half an hour to do the whole thing, so take your time and
smell the flowers.

You probably won’t find Rob Ford up here.
We’re not going to try to act all cool and knowledgeable like we were the first to know about this next Toronto trail, because honestly, we had no clue it existed until very recently. The West Toronto RailPath extends from Dundas St. (at Landsdowne Ave.) up to Dupont Ave., closely following the railroad. What’s nice about this path is that you feel like you’re somewhere you shouldn’t be – looking at the graffiti’d backs of buildings and empty lots. Check out some interesting architecture and buildings on Stirling Rd. and Perth Ave. and lust over the Wallace Station Lofts. Oh and you can go paintballing.
About as legally close to walking on train tracks as you can get. 

A forest in the GTA! Amid the sprawl of Scarborough lies Warden Woods, 85 acres of beautiful forested valley
along Massey Creek. Hiking, biking, snowshoeing and general frolicking allowed. This is a great option for those feeling like Trinity Bellwoods is getting a bit crowded (a.k.a. you see every single person you know within a 10 minute walk). Enter via car from Pharmacy Ave. just north of Danforth or walk five minutes from the Warden subway station at St.Clair Ave. E and Warden Ave. 

Yes, this exists in Toronto. 
Cabbagetown is filled with nooks and
crannies, and unless you live in the neighbourhood, it’s hard to know where the hidden gems are. 
We suggest starting on Spruce St. and
wandering east towards River St., across Geneva Ave., onto Sumach St. and into
postcard-worthy Gordon Sinclair Lane. At Sumach and Carlton is Riverdale Park.
Here lies Riverdale Farm (animals!) and Necropolis Cemetery (zombies!), one of
Toronto’s oldest cemeteries. Notable figures buried here include William Lyon Mackenzie, George
Brown (yes, he’s a real person) and Jack Layton. Also worth checking out is Wellesley Park at Wellesley St. E. and Amelia St. and the beautiful houses along
Winchester St., Salisbury Ave., Sackville St. and Dermott Pl. Finish this walk
off with 50 lattes from
Jet Fuel on
Parliament or dinner at
F’Amelia.
Daytime cemetery strolls? Yes please. 
Known to locals and Toronto history aficionados,
Wychwood Park is a private community at Bathurst and Davenport. Though open to
walk through, the streets and amenities (pond, tennis court) are paid for by
the residents. Originally founded as an artist colony in the late nineteenth
century, it has been home to notable Canadian figures, including
Marshall McLuhan. Stroll the trails, admire Taddle Creek and hope that one day
you too can afford to live here. Then head over to The Stockyards to drown your housing sorrows in some affordable and delicious fried chicken.  

It’s possible we could own a house in here someday, right? 

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City Living: Perks of a Publicist BFF

After the positive response to our “Pros and Cons of dating a PR pro” post, we decided to examine another type of relationship that our jobs affect. Then it hit us – we make for pretty rad BFFs. Why is that? Well, we’re glad you asked!

Met a cute new guy at a party? No problemo. Our social media savvy (read: supreme stalking skills) means we’ll find out where he works, his relationship status, the name of his puppy and his favourite sports team by the end of the following work day. 


Happy freaking birthday. 



Built in event-planner. From red carpets to intimate media dinners to launch parties for 300, we’ve organized events of every shape and size. How does this benefit you? Well, over the course of our friendship we’re sure you’ll need assistance planning a birthday party, bridal shower or Cinco de Mayo fiesta. Because we love you, you get our services free of charge. On the flip side, we know this makes us a little intimidating to throw a party for. Pro tip: fancy balloons, flowers and lots of bubbly wins us over, every time. 


“It’s, like, a totally important designer.” 


A closetful of party dresses. Again, the life of a publicist involves many, many events. This means we’ve spent way more money than we’d care to admit on new clothes. The downside is that we get sick of them pretty quickly, especially after a particularly event-heavy time like TIFF, and are delighted to share with our bestie. 

Samantha Jones, the ultimate PR BFF.

Your ticket to the inside. We don’t want to hammer home the point, but hammer home we shall: the life of a PR girl involves many events. Lucky for you, we sometimes get to bring our BFFs along for the ride. Free food and drinks, eclectic guest lists, first listens of new albums and bands, fancy venues and perhaps best of all, the occasional stocked swag bag all definitely beats the pizza and reality TV-fueled evenings you normally spend together. 

Look at this face. You can take us anywhere!

We’re great plus ones. Whether we’re accompanying you to a random house party or heading to a super-exclusive event, we’re pretty awesome dates. We can hold our own chatting with strangers but chances are we know most of the people in the room, so can entertain you with insider info all night long. We can also map out the hors d’oeurves serving route within the first 5 minutes of arriving, so you’ll never go hungry.  

City Living: Best date spots

Now that
it’s March and the first signs of spring are waking up our hibernated libidos,
we find ourselves longing for romance. In a time when love letters no longer look like
this,
and tend to resemble this:



It is hard not to think that maybe the grand gestures of love are long
gone.  We’re not asking to be whisked
away to Paris on a whim (though,
we wouldn’t be mad) but something a little
more imaginative than take out and Netflix would be nice. Whether you’ve been
together for 30 years or three days, taking the time to go on dates keeps
that spark between you a burning, passionate fire of love. There is no excuse
for being in a couples’ rut when there is something for everyone in the Big
Smoke.

The New Couple


As awesome as
it is to sit fidgeting across the table from an almost-stranger that you have
definitely at least imagined making out with,
Toronto singles breathed a sigh of relief when Snakes and Lattes came on the scene to put an end to awkward first date silences. You still get the barfy stomach new-love-interest interaction, but with the built in conversation starter
of over 2500 board games. The playful buffer (also, beer) takes the pressure
off, enabling new couples to test out their chemistry with a game of Alchemy or
play doctor with a round of Operation.
Also, you get to see whether your potential partner is a graceful winner or a sore loser.  

The Frugal Couple


There are
plenty of date opportunities in Toronto for a baller on a budget. High Park is
one of Toronto’s most scenic parks and only a subway ride away.  Pack a picnic and enjoy the fresh air (tip: the
Cherry Blossoms
bloom in late April/early May for an incredibly beautiful and sweet smelling
display = instant spring fever and romance). You can stroll around the pond and
laugh at goats yelling like humans at the zoo,
all at no charge. Plan your day date on a Wednesday and if all goes well, head
back downtown and check out the permanent collection at the AGO, where admittance is free from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

The Active Couple



This lucky
city is home to the number one date destination where you can work up a sweat
with balls and paddles. We are of course
talking about
SPiN Toronto, King
West’s hip ping pong social club (what did you think we meant?). With 12 ping
pong tables, a deliciously inventive food menu and seasonal twists on classic
cocktails, you’ll always have something to occupy those busy hands (if you can
keep them off each other, that is).
Resident DJs, tournaments,
art shows and glow in the dark Tuesdays ensure the place is always bumpin, and
with co-owner
Susan Sarandon in the mix and a steadfast celeb following, you never know who you’ll
run into next.

The Culinary Couple


Food is love,
people. Couples with full hearts and empty bellies can book classes at Calphalon Culinary Center, for interactive hands-on and instructional learning. The calendar offers evening and weekend
classes for everything from the basics like Chicken 101, to more sophisticated cuisine like
Parisian Pleasures or Beer and Nibbles for those who like to keep it casual. Couples classes will
generally run you $300 for the pair, but some classes at the center can start
as low as $20.

The Adventurous Couple


You don’t
have to go too far to get out of your city bubble. The Toronto Islands are a sweet
local getaway for the adventuresome twosome. Bring your bikes (or rent them on site) to cruise around and see the city skyline from just a short
ferry ride away. Lay out on one of the
many beaches, or go off on your own for an out-of-Toronto experience.
Can-Pop superfans can recreate this video by the Moffatts, which was shot
on the Island. We won’t even think it’s weird.

City Living: Toronto Bucket List

This time of year, Toronto gets a bit of a bad rap. We’re constantly whining about the weather
and all of those cool summertime to-do’s must wait until the spring. No patios to hit up on a sunny afternoon. Despite this, we consider ourselves pretty
lucky to get to live in this awesome city. Toronto is home to some great sports
teams (well, 
that may be up for debate ), excellent theatre, concerts, cool
neighbourhoods and restaurants. There are endless options for things to do any
day of the week.
 We’ve put together a
list of the things we’ve always wanted to do in this great city of ours – sort of like a guide to being a tourist in your own city. 


CN Tower EdgeWalk

A few of us want to conquer this crazy trip up the (former) world’s largest free standing structure.  Despite the high price, “Toronto’s Most Extreme Attraction” has been super popular and is now in its second season. The videos look crazy and this only for the bravest of the brave.
If you want to gear up and spend 30 minutes at the top of our city, try it out!
Season two lasts until this Sunday – it’s your final weekend!
Brave and stylish 😉
Image source.

Kensington
Market

One of the perks of being a publicist is getting to go to a lot of unique events around
town.  However, sometimes 
this doesn’t leave time for the obvious Toronto activities. It’s a
bit embarrassing but a couple of us have yet to explore
Kensington Market,
Toronto’s most vibrant and unique neighbourhood. Just west of Chinatown, with College Street to
the north and Dundas Street to the south, Kensington is home to great
vintage shops with spending-hours-hunting-worthy music, clothing and jewellery. On top of that, there’s a whole slew of spots to eat and drink. We love the new pub Thirsty and Miserable (wicked beer selection), the Bellevue and 
Big Fat Burrito (sometimes, you just need a big, fat burrito).

No shortage of character.
Image source

Love the eclectic and colourful buildings in the market.
Image source
Try some cool, new (or old) restaurants

For some of us, our weekends revolve around a new
restaurant or food trend that we’ve been dying to try. Next up for us? Fancy Franks Gourmet Hot Dogs.
Newly open on College Street, this unique place offers some “haute-couture”
hot dogs. A little something to remind you of your childhood, with a grown-up twist – especially with toppings like shrimp, lettuce horseradish mayo and hot sauce on their Po’Boy Gets Fancy or BBQ pork and cabbage slaw on the Southern Fancy. 

Even fancier than these dogs.
Image source
Window shop on Bloor Street

We may love fashion, but that doesn’t mean we can afford
it! As
previously posted, we love Joe Fresh for affordable and stylish pieces,
but 
wouldn’t it be nice to purchase something from Chanel? Of course it would! With the holiday season around the corner, retail shops are dressing up their windows with extra-special displays, making it the perfect time to grab a hot chocolate and stroll down Bloor. Window shopping on Toronto’s version of Rodeo Drive is one of those things that we always recommend that visitors do, but rarely make the time ourselves. The holiday season is the perfect time to get on it.
Every girl’s dream.
Image source

City Living: TIFF fun!

In case you haven’t heard yet, Tinseltown is making its way to
Toronto to celebrate the best in international films. 
Toronto’s International Film Festival is now
in its 37
th year and 2012’s festival is showing 372 films from over
60 countries (phew). The festival attracts more than 300,000 attendees and this September’s celebration is promising ‘la crème de la
cr
ème’ of the silver screen with a docket of A-listers a mile long. Get ready
for 11 days of public screenings, parties and events, all while keeping your
eyes peeled for confirmed attendees, including Johnny Depp,
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kate Hudson, Halle Berry, Kristen Wiig and Bruce Willis.    We’ve put together a guide to some awesome events and
celeb-spotting locations.


Opening Night: The opening night party will revolve around Maple Leaf Square with three DJ’s, two live performances and outdoor video screens to
entertain the crowd. 
Approximately 3,000 guests are expected to fill this area around RealSports Bar and Grill, the site for the huge fiesta. Even if you didn’t receive
your personal invite to this party, this will be a prime location for
celeb-spotting.

RealSports Bar and Grill.
Image Source
Thursday, September 6: Chuck Hughes, the host of Chuck’s Day Off is hosting a
special TIFF dinner at
Brant House on September 6th to kick off the
festivities. The event, called
 Chuck’s Night Off, will
feature a menu created by Hughes himself for guests. RSVP for the
limited 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. seatings.

Get dolled up to support breast cancer research at the Glitz and Glamour Breast Cancer Benefit. With hopes of raising $20,000 for research, the entertainment includes a Calvin Klein Underwear Fashion Show and live music from Nights and Weekends, Running Red Lights, CrashDex, Mikky Eriksen, Rob Friday and DJ Rouge.

September 6-16: Spuntini’s restaurant and bar located in Yorkville, will be open for lunch
daily, offering delicious Italian food and an opportunity to “dine with fame”
all festival long. Check out the website, here.
The Drake Hotel is part of TIFF’s Future Projections program, and is bringing in the awesome, gender-bending, crazy-in-a-good-way performance artist Peaches. Her site-specific installation will run throughout the fest, and she’ll be performing live at the Drake on September 14 ($10). She’s taking over the building and we suggest you grab your tickets, like, now.
September 10 and 11: The TIFF Docs Conference returns for its fourth year as a showcase for
conversations with leaders in the documentary field, world premieres of new
films and sneak previews of works in progress. Previously open only to TIFF industry, passes will be on sale to the public for the first time
this year.

We’ve heard some talk about locations for great celeb-spotting locations and have come up with a list of likely locations for great festival atmosphere and photo opps:

Fortuna Ristorante in Yorkville which boasts authentic Italian cuisine. And if you’re staying around Yorkville (which is a good idea), don’t forget to stop by Carole’s Cheesecake Cafe for the best cheesecake you’ve ever had, Sorrel Restaurant which offers casual French Mediterranean cuisine or Sassafraz, a well-known celeb-studded eatery. Maybe you can get a picture of Gerard Butler’s back, like we did last year. #worthhundreds.

Sassafraz.
Image Source
      King West is also going to be busy, especially with the plethora of new high-end hotels opening in the area. Check out Crush Wine Bar or Le Saint Tropez for a French dining experience or Brassaii for a casual/chic atmosphere.

Le Saint Tropez.
Image Source
And of course, we can’t forget the whole reason for TIFF – great films! Make sure you get out a catch a few, especially those that won’t be opening in theatres for awhile (or at all). For tickets and
schedules visit the official site here. If you have some flexible time, it’s pretty easy to get daytime screenings to even the biggest galas. Make the most of this exciting time in
our city and check out some amazing international movies and documentaries!




City Living: Planet IndigenUS at Harbourfront

What’s the best thing about Toronto? There is always
something new to explore! This weekend is no exception. It marks the beginning
of the Planet IndigenUS festival at the Harbourfront Centre in association with
Woodlands Cultural Centre in Brantford. IndigenUS is the largest contemporary
international Indigenous cultural festival in the world and it only occurs once
every three years – so we don’t want to miss out (maybe we should see someone
about our fomo).
The festival celebrates current Indigenous culture.
With almost 300 performers from seven different countries taking part, the
presentation of Indigenous culture varies wildly. The acts range from Pow Wow Step to a Mongolian-folk-punk-rock
blend, to a high-energy technicolour dance performance by an Australian
company and a woman who weaves herself into a basket.
IndigenUS starts today and runs until Sunday, August 19, which means ten days
packed with great music, theatre, food, art and, if you’re willing to make the
trek to Gretzky’s hometown, even comedy. The selection of free fun to
participate in this weekend is overwhelming so we’ve listed our must see events
below.

Image courtesy of Harbourfront Centre.

A Tribe
Called Red (ATCR) and Electric Pow-Wow
DJ Bear Witness, DJ NDN and DJ Shrub of ATCR created
their own blend of traditional drums, Jamaican dub and club beats, which they
call Pow Wow Step (and you thought Moombahton was the new thing). We can’t wait
to bust a move to some new beats. You can catch ATCR at 11 p.m. on Saturday,
August 11 at the Harbourfront Centre,
235 Queens Quay West.
Image courtesy of Harbourfront Centre. 

Polytoxic
with Trade Winds
Australian dance-theatre company Polytoxic is known
for big bright performances. Trade Winds,
a story about the cultural exchanges that took place during the exploration of
the Pacific, is certainly a powerful visual experience. Polytoxic’s show starts at 9 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, August 16 to 18 at The Natrel Pond, 235 Queens
Quay West.
Image courtesy of Harbourfront

Ursula A.
Johnson: Basket Weaving Performance Art
Johnson has a theatre background and is able to turn
herself into a living piece of through her basket weaving. She will spend eight
hours creating her cocoon and emerge a butterfly. Just kidding, but we
definitely want to stop by for before and after shots. Ursula will be
performing from noon to 8 p.m. on Saturday, August 18 at Harbourfront Centre Site,
235
Queens Quay West.



Cris
Derksen: Electronica Cellist
Derksen is an award-winning Aboriginal cellist from
Alberta. She combines classic, folk and electronic styles to create her own
cross between traditional and contemporary music. We love classic strings with
an electric charge – and the girl’s got chops – she’s performed with Kanye West!
Derksen will be on the Redpath Stage,
235 Queens Quay West at 6 p.m. on Saturday, August 18.

Image courtesy of Harbourfront Centre.

Heck Init
Comedy Night with Don Burnstick and Charlie Hill
Okay, Brantford is a little far (one to two hours from
downtown, depending on traffic) but it does claim rights to Gretzky and Bell,
plus, it boasts a casino. Burnstick and Hill will be there poking fun at
stereotypes and political issues. These guys are talented; Hill has appeared
with Letterman, Leno and other famous funny folk. Burnstick and Hill will be
performing at Woodlands Cultural Centre,
184 Mohawk Street, Brantford.

Image courtesy of Harbourfront Centre.

Hanggai:
Mongolian folk/punk ensemble
This group from China preserves tradition in the form
of the horse-head fiddle, tobshuur and throat singing and adds electric guitars
and drums. The resulting sound is an exciting blend. Hanggai can be seen on Redpath Stage Friday, August 10 at 7
p.m.,
235 Queens Quay West,
on WestJet Stage Saturday, August 11
at 3 p.m.,
235 Queens Quay West
and at
Woodlands Cultural
Centre, 184 Mohawk Street, Brantford at
8 p.m.

City Living: Waterparks

This summer has been bloody hot. Like wanting-to-sit-in-front-of-the fan-in-your-undies hot. We figured there
had to be a better (slightly more clothed) way to beat the heat. While we may be
partial to
pools,
we love to check out a water park for some cool-down thrills.
 


Canada’s Wonderland (Vaughan, ON)

Once you’re done on the rides, or if you’re a roller coaster
wimp, Splash
Works
is Wonderland’s place to cool off. The 20-acre water park has
slides for the whole famjam, from the tame Lazy River to the more
adrenaline-pumping Black Hole. Home to Canada’s largest wave pool, you can
easily spend the day soaking in some rays or getting drenched on one of their
wicked waterslides.


Our pick: Barracuda Blaster. Grab a buddy and a double inner
tube for this one. You’ll fly down a high-speed flume, before twisting around
the giant whirling bowl of water. Minus a grade school swirlie, this is the
closest you’ll get to being flushed!

Wild Water Kingdom (Brampton, ON)

For under $40, head on over to Wild Water Kingdom where they
take their water slides seriously. Not only does the kingdom impress in the
slide department, but they claim to have the only double-tipping bucket in the world. We
remember the scene as a kid: waiting with great anticipation as you watched the
oversized buckets slowly filling before the big splash!




Our pick: The Cliff is for the daredevils on the fourth floor
who are courageous enough (or crazy enough) to tackle a slide with a
seven-storey vertical drop.

Fallsview Indoor Waterpark (Niagara Falls, ON)

If you like to stay where you swim, Fallsview Indoor
Waterpark in Niagara Falls is the place to be. North America’s largest hotel
and indoor water park complex, it boasts 16 different waterslides, a wave pool
and a year-round outdoor sundeck to get your tan on. Plus, it’s only steps away
from the other, more famed water attraction: the Horseshoe Falls.


Our pick: After a long day of playing tourist along the Falls,
you could find us lounging in the Horseshoe Hot Springs, one of their two
adult-only hot tubs.

Calypso Park (Ottawa, ON)

Jump in the car and fuel up, because this one is a bit out
of our ‘hood. While located in Ottawa, it is well worth the five-hour drive to
check out Canada’s biggest themed water park. From ecology expert Wildman Jack
to Calypso Goddess of the Waves, the water park has its own cast of characters
that inspired the wet and wild attractions.


Our pick: The Summit. The name says it all when it comes to
the highest free-standing waterslide in North America. Measuring 17 metres, the
Aqualoops ride starts in an enclosed cabin
with a trap door. At the signal, the floor suddenly opens under your feet and
you drop straight down into a roller coaster-like ride with a 2.5 G loop.”
Sign us up.

Darien Lake (Darien, NY)

While
you’d normally find us here riding the coaster or jamming at one of their
concerts, SplashTown is the place to
cool off. Darien Lake serves up the standard lazy river (Floatation Station)
and tube-riding slides, alongside the Big Kahuna, a four-person raft ride that’s
more than 700-feet long.


Our pick: When we think water parks, the LAST thing we
usually think of is relaxing. But at Darien Lake, you can rent your own private
cabana for the day: loungers, tubes for the waterslides, personal wait staff,
bottled water and snack included. We know it’s not that adventurous, but give a
girl a break (and a cabana boy!)