After 3 long weeks in Texas, it’s time to go back home and lose the weight from all the food I ate! 😂 Here are some of the highlights though one thing I won’t miss is the heat! 🔥🔥
Toronto Day 2: Graffiti 🎨 and Waterfall 🌊
After the first busy day in Toronto, think maybe I should give myself a little break? Nah, it’s packing in more and more! Two of my destinations on the itinerary were Graffiti Alley (recommended by my friend who visited before) and the legendary Niagara Falls! So it was up early in the morning and journey on! 🏃♂️☀️
Graffiti alley was a decent half an hour walk from the Union Station, so it was perfect to walk off the breakfast calories lol! The artistry there really was very impressive, and it were pictures after pictures with my phone! 📸 📸 These are some of my favourites below (and I still have even more pics but I thought let’s not go overboard! 😂) Which one of these is your favourite? 😉
Afterwards, I found a little spot for lunch and ordered the Canadian national dish of poutine. I won’t say it was very impressive (to my British brain, it was essentially chips, gravy and “halloumi”-like cheese 😅). But what’s not to like?
I then returned to the Union Station area as I await my pick up bus to Niagara Falls. I ordered via FlixBus online, costing me just under £40 for the return journey (it was expensive 💸💸 though it appeared to be my cheapest option from the recommendations at the tourist information centre. The only cheaper option was the seasonal weekend bus which I unfortunately would miss- apparently they are only CA$10 for a return ticket in comparison!!)
The bus pick up spot was at a weird cross junction down by the Harbourfront (8 York Street). It was hidden right behind some large scaffolding, so I almost missed it until I spot a large group of people queueing by the bus.😅 The bus itself is around a 2-hour journey to the Niagara Falls, so it was time to sit back and relax (and charge my phone lol). 😂📱🔌
Upon arriving, I took the inclined railway down the cliff (costing only CA$3 and it was super quick) to the Nigara Falls. And the spectacular views really were worth the journey! 😍😍
With four hours to spend until my return bus, I decided to head over the State side of the Niagara Falls (in the state of New York) by crossing the Rainbow Bridge through to the US border. 🇺🇸 Just a short tour before my flight to Texas tomorrow 😂 and it was a straightforward crossing plus a small fee (make sure you have all your travel documents with you though!) The only extra thing right now (due to current COVID restrictions) is you will need to fill in the ArriveCAN form again before reentering Canada.
By the time I got back to Toronto downtown, it was already almost 9 at night 🌃 (and I got an early morning flight the next day urgh 😪). But I did manage to capture the beautiful red sky form the sunset! 🌅 (And enough to tempt me for a short wander around the city hehe!)
After a small dinner back in my hotel room (with the leftovers noodles from Chinatown I left in the fridge yesterday 😂), I made sure my alarm clock was set for my flight to Texas tomorrow morning! 🌄
See you guys in USA! 😉🇺🇸
Toronto Day 1: A Fast-Paced Metropolitan 🏃♂️🏃♂️
So finally it’s summer and my sabbatical has also officially begun! 😎 And this August, I have planned for a long trip away from the UK as I will be visiting both Canada 🇨🇦 and USA 🇺🇸 for the entire month, so let the adventure begins! 🏃♂️
Jetting off from Glasgow Airport in the early morning (spent a night over there after taking a bus from Edinburgh), the flight ✈️ lasted around 7.5 hours before landing in Toronto. Though I had been running very low on sleep 😴😪 since leaving home, but I managed to muster enough energy to head to downtown after checking into my hotel located near the Pearson airport.
From Terminal 1 Pearson airport. one may take the UP Express at the cost of just under CA$13 to Union Station in downtown (and they only offer one-way and no cheaper return option… 💸💸) I stayed near Terminal 3, but it was a very easy change to Terminal 1 using the free terminal changing train.
Toronto was a huge, busy metropolitan (in my opinion, rivals New York!) and a fast-paced city with an almost futuristic feel to it. I was a bit blown away by the intensity at first, but at the same time, it was totally unforgettable. 😊
After a brief lunch break, I headed to Jack Layton Ferry Terminal to board the ferry ⛴ heading to Toronto Island Park. The glorious sunny weather was perfect for a combo of sailing, park day and being by water! 😆☀️
I also visited the Franklin Children’s Garden – temporarily turning back into a kid again as I navigated around the bushes and joined in the scenes! There was something quite magical about it!
After boarding the ferry back to the main land of Toronto, there were forecasts of heavy rain and severe thunderstorms 😨 (and also just when I left my umbrella 🌂 in the hotel!) But, after some initial hesitance, I decided to take the risk and walk to Chinatown for dinner – praying I could make it back before the rain falls! 🏃♂️💨
Toronto Chinatown was certainly unlike any in the UK – the moment I entered the community I completely felt like I was back in Hong Kong/China and the nostalgia hit me like a ton of bricks. After some wandering around (it was so big and I was totally spoiled for choices), I managed to find an eatery that really resembled those I used to visit as a child in Hong Kong and ordered some old classic favourites. 😋
And it turned out the weather forecast didn’t happen 😆😆, so I skipped down the streets of Toronto with my takeout bag and bubble tea in hands as I crashed into a deep sleep back in my hotel room! 😴 A long day was finally over!
Wake Up, Snorlax!
This Sunday, I felt like a Snorlax… 😅😴💤💤💤
A Long Hot Weekend ☀️🔥
For those of you in the south of England like me, you would know that we have been hit by a massive heatwave 🔥🔥 (red warning alert! 🚨) With Monday and Tuesday forecasted to be the hottest days ever, I am so glad that my workplace has decided to switch to remote working for the two days (like come on, we don’t even have air con!!), which means I also got a “sort of” 4-day long weekend as I head into my final week in London! 😉 My work colleagues have been so nice doing leaving-dos with me going bowling and meals for two days in a row, which means I only got some alone time until Sunday and I sure kept my day busy that day!
On Sunday, despite a massive broke down in the Central line, I managed to cross back to the other side of London via the overground visiting the Van Gogh exhibition I have been wanting to see for weeks. (Like literally it’s popping up every other day on my Instagram lol! 😂)
I was so surprised when I learnt that Van Gogh has been heavily inspired by Japanese culture (a favourite of mine!) Moreover, it was so amazing to see many of his arts brought into 3–D form.
I then also had a play around in the colouring room! 🎨 😂
And finally into the Immersive Room watching the show as the amazing arts are projected live in the giant room. Here are some of my favourite snapshots!
After the exhibition, I spent more time exploring the hipster neighbourhood of Shoreditch and the famous Brick Lane, and ended up eating lots of street food. (Was supposed to cut down a bit but I got so tempted! 😂)
And after 5 years in London, I finally got around visiting to the famous Brick Lane Beigel Bake! Worth the wait though! (A massive chunk of salt beef covered with gherkins and mustard- what’s not to love? 😂)
After a rather lazy day on Monday shading away from the heat, I eventually managed to brave the heat in the evening to see the new Minions movie! 🎥 🍿 Such a cute and whole movie, have you seen it yet?
A State of Unknown
In the past week, I have found myself reflecting a lot about the 6 years since I moved to London. I started postgraduate teacher training, and then went straight to teaching without really a clue about what I was doing. I had a lot of challenges and pain at the beginning, and almost wanted to quit, but somehow managed to stick with it (call me stubborn I guess). Just as I finally started to feel more at ease with my job, then the pandemic hit and the uncertainty with lockdown made me learnt not to take anything for granted. When society gradually reopened, post-lockdown chaos piled on like a ton of bricks, and new circumstances made me decided to go back to studying – and at last I am two weeks away from officially starting my sabbatical and facing a brave new unknown.
I moved out of my flat yesterday and am staying at a hotel as I finish my last two weeks of work. Funny enough my last night in my apartment was instead mostly spent elsewhere as I was away at the annual BBQ with my colleagues (and marking my last bake with a fruit tart which I thought would go well with a summer BBQ! 🔥☀️) It’s probably our largest gathering yet with old and new faces all coming together, which I guess put into perspectives of all the people I have met throughout my five years here. You would think I should be feeling stressed about moving, but I wasn’t back home until late after midnight 😂 (and bizarrely ended going outside again to buy some grilled chicken 🍗 and chips 🍟 after finishing my final pack at 2am!)
Everything felt like a blur in the morning as I dragged my bags and luggages down the stairs and boarded the Uber, and then rushing back on the tube to drop my key off at the agency before it closes… (Bizarrely a carnival was held there and the reception lady went outside with her young son to the face painting booth and made me stood outside for half an hour! 😂 Though I grabbed a hot dog whilst waiting! 🌭)
I wonder how these final two weeks will turn out? First thing foremost is to make sure I can get up for my hour-long journey to work tomorrow morning! 🏃♂️🚆 🌅
Made this cake a few days ago for a best friend’s BIG 3-0 birthday! 🥳🥳 Had so much that evening at the bowling alley, and now I am enjoying the glorious sunshine ☀️ at Folkestone for Jubilee weekend. Really don’t want to go back to work on Monday… 😪😅
Back to Paris: A Duo’s Journey 🇫🇷🇫🇷
After almost three years, my trip in Paris still stays as one of my most memorable journey of all times given it was my first time travelling solo oversea. So, for this bank holiday weekend, I can’t be more excited of going back!
This time, however, instead of travelling solo I will be exploring it with my bestie! 🏃♂️🏃🏻♀️ And we kicked the first night with a late, boozy dinner at Déviant! 🍸🥂
Hoping we weren’t too hungover the next morning, we stopped by a beautiful smelling bakery on our way to the Louvre museum! 🤤 I ordered a delicious gammon quiche which as I was taking a picture, dropped onto the floor!! 😱😱😱 (but 10-second rule right?? 😂)
The Louvre was packed full of people on the day just like last time. However, this time I was smart enough to reserve a ticket beforehand, but it still took quite some time queuing to get in! Finally, I get to meet the famous Mona Lisa (my friend wasn’t as enthusiastic about her though! 😂)
After a brief rest, we then embarked on our long walk towards the Eiffel Tower, passing by Café de Flore and Luxembourg Garden on the way! (Completely broke my record of steps that day haha! 😆🏃♂️)
The next day we then visited the spectacular Petit Palais. A perfect spot for some morning relaxation and a light brunch! 🥰🥰
Maximising the time spent outdoor in the glorious weather, we also went picnicking back at Tuileries Garden by the Louvre as well as visiting the rooftop of Galeries Lafayette.
My bestie was heading back to London a day earlier than me, so after saying goodbye 👋 to her at Gare du Nord, I am running solo again for the rest of trip! My first stop was the famous red windmill of Moulin Rouge (after unknowingly wandered passed the red light district of Pigalle 😂🔞 probably won’t shared pics here in case people needed parental guidance haha! 🙈🙈)
I was initially planning to visit Le Petit Canard nearby in the area for the famous duck à l’orange, but unfortunately they were fully booked up (and also closed for the following day). 😔 So, I took the metro line and headed back to one of my favourites from last time – Le Comptoir de la Gastronomie! The onion soup was one of the best I ever had! 👌
And on my last day of my Paris stay (which coincided with Labour Day), I visited Marché Saint-Quentin and the Arc de Triomphe before taking Eurostar back to London. Somehow I gradually got a bit lost track of time and ended up being a bit of a mad dash home! (Typical! 😂)
Just Want to Quickly Say…
Happy Easter! 🐣🐥🐣🐥
The following is a mango 🥭 and coconut 🥥 cake surrounded by white chocolate feathers- a technique I also used to my mum’s 60th birthday cake. (Very easy to do! 🪶 All you need to do is melt and temper some white chocolate, then take a spoon and scrape the chocolate over baking paper. Once they are cooled and dried, they should peel off very easily. Give it a try! 😉)
Happy 60th! 🥳🥳🎉🎉🎊🎊
Happy birthday to my mum! 🎂🎂 And it’s the B-I-G 6-0!! Though I was a week late getting back home to celebrate due to work, but I finally managed to pick up the spatula and whisk again and start baking! 👨🍳 (Was worried I might have gotten rusty after quite a long time of not baking haha!)
We also visited Hibiki in Edinburgh for a Japanese birthday lunch! 😋😋 A bit pricey but we loved all the food there!