Flash Break in Toronto

Toronto, Canada, Travel

Landing in Toronto

This was my first time in Canada and it was great!. I did a last minute booking and I travelled with only carry on luggage to make the trip easier. There was a very important family celebration with my niece getting married in Toronto, and that was the main reason for me travelling. I couldn’t stay very long in Toronto because of work reasons and I only had a four day short break.

Toronto, CN Tower, Canada, Travel

On the way to Toronto City Center

Toronto is a big and multicultural city, it is safe, clean and people are friendly. I was staying with family so it was easy for me to get around thanks to them. The weather in Canada is similar to the English weather so it is always good to have an umbrella handy.

One of the many places you can eat sushi.

I was very curious about Chinatown as my niece said I would love it and she was right. It was exciting to go for a walk to Chinatown and I felt like being in China. I was surprised by the many shops, restaurants, markets and spas, all with signs written in Chinese and English, but mainly Chinese. I was told there are eight Chinatowns in Toronto itself, so there are many Chinatowns to explore and there is also a Koreatown. I am a food lover, especially when it is about Asian food, and it is fascinating to see so many varieties of restaurants in Toronto Chinatown. We were walking along a road with signs for Korean food, all you can eat Sushi, Vietnamese Restaurants, and many more.

Toronto University

We also went for a walk to the grounds of Toronto University, located in Queens Park. The University buildings are lovely with a Gothic style, it is just beautiful and looks like a small Hogwarts. There are black squirrels running everywhere and they seem to be friendly, maybe they expect you have nuts for them!. It is nice and peaceful to walk in Toronto and, after a long walk we stopped to have something to eat. We went to Kenzo a ramen restaurant where I had the best ramen ever! Also we went to Tsujiri, famous for their matcha icecream. Not far from there is Uncle Tetsu’s shop, an Asian franchise with the best Japanese Cheesecake. The cheesecakes are fresh and you can actually see how they make them.

ramen, Japanese, Toronto, food

At Kenzo, a place with a very good ramen.

On another day we went to the Pacific Mall, the largest Chinese mall in North America and it is located in Markham. It is a place where you can get many products at a good price, like Korean beauty products, Japanese and Chinese candy, Anime toys, clothes and gifts. My nephew and niece invited me to have lunch and I had a lovely Chicken Katsu meal, with rice and vegetables, it wasn’t very spicy and I really enjoyed it. After that we went to Happy Lemon where they have drinks you never imagined existed! like Salted Tea Cheese and a variety of lemon tea drinks. I tried the Mango Green tea and I loved it!

Cats, Neko, Japanese, Toronto, Charm

A shop that sells only Maneki-Nekos! or lucky charm cats.

Something I discovered is that people in Canada aren’t interested in Starbucks, and this is because they are all in love with Tim Hortons, a coffee franchise that not only sells amazing coffee but have their own delicious donuts. It didn’t surprise me to see Starbucks practically empty when Tim Hortons is next to them with a lot of happy clients. Well, I brought to England packs of Tim Horntons coffee, Japanese candy and Canadian Maple tea boxes, tasty souvenirs.

Toronto, Holiday, Travel

A day exploring Toronto Downtown

I would like to say thanks to Antonella and Dan who were fantastic tour guides and I enjoyed their company very much. I haven’t finished exploring Toronto, so I will be back and next time will be a proper long holiday.

A Winter Short Break in Tuscany – Day Three in Lucca

Lucca, Italy,  Cathedral,

Lucca Cathedral

It is our last day in Pisa and we decided to visit the walled city of Lucca. The city is about 20 minutes by train from Pisa, so it is easy to get there. Lucca has beautiful churches, and it is the place where composers Boccherini and Puccini were born.

The walled city is a perfect place for a long walk or a bicycle ride. My family and I love walking so I studied the city map and did our own walking plan. We started by visiting the Duomo at the Lucca Cathedral, also called Saint Martin. Inside we saw sculptures and the walls had many beautiful paintings. we follow the road ahead to a small Piazza where we there was an ice skating ring, it has been a long time since the last time I went ice skating and my son wanted to give it try. There were many families with children ice skating and having a great time.

Vespa, Cat, Italy, scooter, Lucca

An Italian cat sunbathing in a Vespa

The streets in Lucca are quiet, clean and there are many gift and ceramic shops, churches, buildings with balconies ( Rome and Juliet style ones), and there are many trattorias. It was lunch time and we were looking for a place to eat when we found this lovely trattoria called L’Oste di Lucca. The trattoria has walls with stones and bricks from years ago which makes the place very special, it is beautifully decorated. We had the biggest pizzas to share, one with Italian sausages and onions and another with prosciutto. This popular trattoria and offers home made pasta and many Tuscan dishes.

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After lunch we went to see the Roman Amphitheatre, well it was a proper Amphitheatre long time ago and now houses have been built on site. The old arches are still kept in place with a nice piazza or square. We realized it was siesta time in Lucca as many shops were closed when we were on our way to the Torre Guinigi, a 14th century tower. I have seen pictures of Torre Guinigi before and I have been curious about the trees showing on the top of the Tower. It is a very old tower and my husband and son were not very happy about going up, this is because to be honest the stairs look so fragile it was like they could break anytime. Once we arrived to the top we knew it was worth it as the tower has an incredible view of Lucca and the mountains near by. There is a small garden on top of the tower with Holm Oak trees, people say they symbolise ‘a new beginning’.

Lucca, Italy, Trees, Guinigi

Torre Guinigi

It was time to go back to Pisa so we took the train feeling a bit sad as we wanted to stay for a few more days. Tuscany has much more places to visit like, Siena, Chianti, San Gimignano, Cortona, and the list of towns is big. I miss Italy, the beauty of the towns, the delicious food and the kind friendly people.

See you soon again Tuscany!.

A Winter Break in Tuscany – Day Two in Florence

Florence, Cathedral, Italy

Florence Cathedral

Some people prefer renting a car during holidays and some would use public transport, just like me. I enjoy walking, and I think renting a bicycle and travelling by train is fun. I have been witness in how difficult is to park in Italy because of tourists parking somewhere they shouldn’t. The Pisa Centrale Train Station was about twenty minutes walk from our hotel in Pisa and we decided to get train tickets to visit Florence.

Italy has a good network of trains and they are very punctual. It takes about 40 minutes to get from Pisa to Florence by train and the journey offers lovely views of the Italian landscape, the green fields, rivers, and farms. Florence is a charming big city, and I knew it would be impossible to visit the entire city and all attractions in just one day, so that meant we had to be careful regarding the time would spend there . Florence is a city where museums and galleries are everywhere and at a short distance so it is easy to walk from one place to another. First we visited the Duomo and Cathedral, and we were very impressed in how big the Cathedral is, and after making a long queue we got inside to see the beautiful paintings and frescoes. After that we went to look for a place to have lunch, and not far from the Duomo we found a restaurant called ‘Tavernetta del Battistero’ in Via dei Servi. My husband and I ordered sea food spaghetti and our son ordered a giant calzone filled with meat and sausages. We loved the food, the service was excellent and I found myself speaking in Italian with our waiter who was very kind.

Food, Italy, Florence, Sea Food

Sea Food Spaguetti

After lunch we visited the Leonardo da Vinci museum which is a small museum but it is perfect for children as they can actually interact and play with the machine displays.

There are massive museums and galleries in Florence and in order to visit all of them you would have to spend maybe between three or five days in the city. You could try to get the tickets for the museums near The Duomo but there are very long queues and the numbers of tickets are limited so they sold out quick. We were told it is far better to pre-book the tickets in advance online, like two or three months before our next holiday in Florence.

Florence, Italy, Ponte Vecchio, Holidays

 Ponte Vecchio

It was middle afternoon and we went for a walk to Piazza della Reppublica which is a very colourful and busy square. We walked along a street with many high street shops like Versace and Gucci, and shortly arrived near the Arno river. There is this special place in Florence where couples in love get engaged, and it is a bridge called Ponte Vecchio. The bridge has many tiny antique shops, and it has a sort of magical feeling, it is like the bridge is enchanted.

Florence, Love, Ponte Vecchio, Italy

Locked in Love

We were short of time and we had to make our way to the train station but before that I wanted to stop in a coffee shop, so that’s how I found the little Caffe Corsini. I couldn’t leave Florence without having a nice cup of coffee. We would love go back to Florence and next time stay for maybe a week to keep exploring and visit the other side of the Ponte Vecchio bridge.

Italy, Coffee, Florence, Holidays

Coffee Time

After visiting Florence we went back to our hotel in Pisa, we were knackered but happy! And it was time to rest as we would visit Lucca the next day. So my next post will be about the city of Lucca.

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