Curious Travels: The Grand Detour of 2019 | Blue Mountain Village

A two-hour drive north from Toronto, Blue Mountain Village is a resort for recreational activities and events. There are restaurants and shops as well. In the winter, people usually come here to ski, but in the summer, people can hike and do other activities (which I obviously didn’t look into, but feel free to look at their website). In our case, we ate by the pond and just browsed the shops.

I enjoyed coming there for the view. I brought a book along, so I spent some time reading. It has a different scenery and pace from the city, and if you like sitting by bodies of water to unwind, this is a great place to go. Everyone else with active ways of blowing off steam can pursue other activities Blue Mountain Village has to offer.

It’s not very far from Toronto, and it’s a wholesome place to visit with the family and friends. I say go.

Curious Travels: The Grand Detour of 2019 | Distillery District

Historically a whiskey distillery, the Distillery District is an area that has been converted into a public venue that houses boutique shops, art galleries, and trendy restaurants. I always enjoy trips to the Distillery, which is easily accessible by the King St streetcar.

A national historic site, the Distillery also hosts events and campaigns for causes. In April, the venue supported the Daffodil Campaign against cancer and in June, Pride month.

I love the aesthetic of the Distillery. I’m partial to bricks—maybe it’s the warm colors—so I’m glad the developers didn’t go crazy with a modern look. Plus! There is art all over the Distillery (not just in the galleries), and they change these up from time to time, too.

Walking around is fun. I like entering stores that sell local or one-of-a-kind products, things that will remind me of a certain place or memory, and the shops are like that in the Distillery. There is a big Deciem store here, and it can get overwhelming to look at at all of those skin care products. (Research before entering!) As for food, my favorites are Madrina and Arvo Coffee.

The Distillery is, hands down, my favorite place in Toronto.

Curious Travels: The Grand Detour of 2019 | Westcott Vineyards

It was recently National Rosé Day (second Saturday of June), and here I am talking about the place that made me appreciate rosé: Westcott Vineyards. I really liked their pinot noir rosé. It was very light and refreshing.

Approximately two hours away from Toronto, Westcott is pretty much an outdoor venue and that it’s away from the city. (Hello, fresh air!) The dining area is covered, but it’s basically a tent, so there’s a natural breeze. And then you can hang out on the lawn/grass and enjoy the sun.

The tasting room is the only area with a real roof, and it’s actually quite homey. It gets natural light, too. On the day we were there, they were preparing bottles for their rosé event for that evening.

Also, their food is amazing. We ordered pulled pork, beef tartare, and “Ontario-style” Hawaiian pizza for our “mains” and then panna cotta and berry tart for dessert. My favorite dish was the pulled pork, but I guess it was also the most familiar one to me. Their pizza had cheese curds in it, which reminded me of poutine.

PS: The bottle of pinot noir rosé retails at ~CAD23, which is on the lower end of pricing. Dine-in bottle service, though, is twice as much.

Curious Travels: The Grand Detour of 2019 | Old Montreal + Mount Royal

We went to Montreal over a long weekend. It’s a 1.5 hour flight away from Toronto, and it’s in the part of Canada where everyone speaks French. (They also speak English, so I got by.)

We stayed in Old Montreal, so the touristy places (and numerous coffee shops and restaurants) were within walking distance. I enjoyed walking around and just enjoying the view. It reminded me of Europe, at least the parts of Europe I’d been to, cobblestones and all.

The Notre-Dame Basilica is beautiful, and I think it’s worth a visit regardless of one’s religion. (If you are interested in their masses, they play the organ during the weekend ones, but double check whether the mass is in English or French for that schedule.)

While walking around in the evening, we saw a clip of a man’s face projected onto a wall. It turned out it was part of a historical touristy attraction. There was another clip projected on a nearby building as well.

We also found ourselves on Mount Royal; we were looking for the Mount Royal Chalet. Unfortunately, we were dropped off at an incorrect location and had to hike a bit to get to the chalet. The whole “mountain” is a park, so there were locals running the trails as well.

The chalet had a nice view of Montreal plus some flowers.

All in all, it was a fun, low-maintenance trip. My allergies flared up with all of the construction in Old Montreal, so I spent most of the last two days indoors. I’ll definitely come back when there’s less construction or dust in the air. (The other parts of Montreal were fine! It’s just that we stayed in Old Montreal, so maybe next time, we’ll opt for a different neighborhood.)

Curious Travels: The Grand Detour of 2019 | Casa Loma

It only took four trips to Toronto and numerous occasions of passing by Casa Loma until I finally made it inside. Casa Loma is a castle in midtown Toronto and was previously an affluent family’s residence.

There’s a fee to enter the castle (which I feel is worth it considering the upkeep required for the property), but there’s no time limit nor structure your visit has to abide by. There’s a self-guided audio tour in multiple languages, but all of the rooms in the castle have signs and descriptions in English as well.

The main level rooms are largely for entertaining visitors, except perhaps the study, which has a not-so-secret passageway to the basement and upper levels. The upper-level rooms are bedrooms, and there’s even one dedicated to the Royal Family, should they have ever wanted to visit the castle. The basement houses the wine cellar and the entrance to a tunnel that leads to another part of the property. Wow, #goals.

My two favorite rooms are the library (no surprise there) and the conservatory. The library has walls lined with books, and the conservatory pays homage to plants. I’ve found my wedding peg. (I’m filing Casa Loma as the peg for Plan A.)