By Michael MJ Johnson
SOTG Travel Editor
Many folks give Drake a tough time for being from Canada. I mean, who or what else do you think of when you think of Canada? I instantly picture VIEWS—spoiler alert: more insufferable Drake puns await—of frozen tundras, maple syrup and snooty half-French wannabe Americans prancing around enjoying their free healthcare.
As a military brat from the ’burbs of Connecticut moving to the ratchet streets of Norf (North) Memphis, I know firsthand what it’s like for people to revoke your “hood credibility,” based on their assumptions of where you’re from. Sometimes they’re spot on, other times slightly off, as was the case of Toronto, Ontario. I had no idea I was SO FAR GONE. Yes, another pun.
In actuality, Toronto is a thriving city with its own unique flavor. As the largest city in Canada, it boasts a unique distinction of being the fourth largest city in North America, bigger than both Houston and Chicago. Only, Los Angeles, New York City, and Mexico City have larger populations.
A global centre for business, finance, arts and culture and is consistently ranked one of the world’s most livable cities and boasts a healthy population of roughly 2.8 million people. Around 14 million tourists visit the Queen City each year, as it is one of the most accessible cities in North America. In fact, Toronto is within a 90-minute flight for 60 percent of the U.S. population.
I chose to bus into Canada by booking my tickets through Wanderu, a ground travel meta-search website that searches Amtrak, Greyhound, Megabus and other bus and train operators in North America for the lowest fare.
As soon as I got on the bus in Buffalo, I could already start to tell who was Canadian and who wasn’t. Canadians to me were like American Light—kinda like us but with a little bit of a twist. That twist, I might add, was home training and chill! Toronto is precisely what NYC could be if New Yorkers weren’t so rude and dirty. Every inch of the city was clean. I smiled with amazement as cable cars cut through the large congested streets full of eateries and shopping.
Later that night, we took on Toronto’s nightlife scene. The Entertainment District along King and Queen streets provided a number of venues catering to all types of party goers. As host to one of the largest outdoor festival in the world, Caribana, Toronto was no stranger to a great time! The Hotel Drake—yes, it’s the actual name of hotel—spun a mix of hip-hop, salsa, and EDM music that glided into the night.
After grabbing a bowl of Canada’s only local dish Poutine—a medley of crisp French fries smothered in Gravy topped with melted cheese curds, we moved to check out a popular gentleman’s club called Brass Rail. The women were beautiful and the club quite upscale but there was only one issue—Canada’s paper currency starts at $5! No wonder Drizzy only wanted One Dance!