A couple of weeks ago, I made my annual trip to the Travel Blog Exchange Conference, also known as TBEX. This was my third year attending and I was even more excited than usual. First off, it was being held in Toronto which meant I would be able to drive instead of fly and we would be able to make a full family trip out of it. Secondly, I was excited to meet new bloggers, listen to speakers I admire and be reunited with some of the best bloggers in the industry.
Travel Bloggers are some of the most welcoming bloggers you’ll meet. They welcome change, adventure, excitement and new ideas (travel in general tends to do that to you). The family travel blogger group in particular has become like a family to me and I love meeting up with all of them year after year. The conference certainly didn’t disappoint, it was wonderful in every sense of the word, but something else happened during this trip. Something that I wasn’t expecting.
When you travel to a familiar place, it tends to be the “same old, same old”. You’ve seen it a million times, you’ve walked the streets, been to all of the buildings and made your way around the city more times than you can count. It gets stale. During my trip to TBEX this year, I fell in love with Toronto all over again and I did it with my family.
How & Why I Fell In Love 1 of 11
How and why did I fall in love with Toronto all over again? Instead of telling you, let me show you!
Diversity 2 of 11
I was walking downtown when I saw this church standing next to a modern sky-scraper. I thought it was the perfect visual of Toronto in it's essence. Old vs new. Diversity at the forefront.
Toronto is one of the most diverse cities I've ever been to. It is officially one of the most multicultural cities in the world with over 1,237,720 (half of Toronto's population) born outside of Canada. You'll get a taste of every culture here and experience people that are warm and welcoming. I mean how could we not be? We're Canadian 'eh ;).
Source: City of Toronto
Maple Wrapped Cheese 3 of 11
The opening party for TBEX was hosted by Toronto Tourism and held at the Roy Thomson Hall. It was a great event where they were serving all sorts of delicious offerings including a gummy bear carving station, mini servings of mac and cheese and various appetizers.
Ninutik Maple was the highlight of the entire event and after my heart.
They made maple wrapped cheese in front of your eyes by freezing a maple reduction on a bed of snow and quickly wrapping it around a cube of your choice of cheese (old cheddar, gouda and blue). Friends, you have not LIVED until you have tried this delicacy. It is an incredible marriage of flavors!
I Saw Batman 4 of 11
Because really, how often do you get to see Batman in the flesh? And in the middle of the street nonetheless!
Honest Ed’s 5 of 11
Oh, the memories. Walking by, going in, driving by during the day, walking by at night. I'll let The Great Toronto Getaway do the explaining, "New York has Macy's, London has Harrods, Chicago has Marshall Fields, and Toronto has Honest Ed's. It is quite an attraction - honest."
The building was built in 1948 as the world's first true bargain store and well, the rest is history. You'll find bargains and cheap finds throughout this store as well as autographed pictures from celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Liberace and Celine Dion. It brings back very fond memories for me and although we visit Toronto often, it's been years since I passed by this store.
Fresh 6 of 11
Fresh is my favorite restaurant in the city. If you like vegan or vegetarian cuisine, this is Toronto's pride and joy when it comes to freshly squeezed juices and modern vegetarian food. There are three locations, Fresh on Bloor, Fresh on Spadina and Fresh on Crawford. Some of our favorite go-to meals are, the All Star Salad (pictured), Beach Bowl, Dragon Bowl and smoothies such as Lucky Charm and Negril Beach.
My Kids 7 of 11
I've said it before and I'll say it again, there is something very special about traveling with your kids. You see the city and experience the simplest things in a whole new way. My son's first smoothie at Fresh for example. An event in itself for his fangirl mom who is obsessed with this restaurant. My only mistake - I didn't get him a larger size.
CN Tower 8 of 11
Standing 1,815' tall, it's safe to say that the CN Tower is one of Toronto's most famous landmarks. In 1996 it was named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers and now it's a hub for tourists around-the-world. Take a walk along the edge of the tower with the knuckle whitening EdgeWalk, or take a stroll along the glass floor where you can peek 1,122' straight down. Just be sure you aren't afraid of heights first.
We toured this entire attraction from top to bottom and will have full coverage coming soon on Child Mode. Although this wasn't my first time visiting the tower, it was such a treat to go with my husband and our children.
360 Restaurant 9 of 11
We've always wanted to do it, but seem to run out of time during each and every visit to Toronto. This time, we carved out an evening of 100% family fun and took the kids to CN Tower's famed 360 Restaurant.
Locals and tourists have deemed this as one of the city's hot spots where you can enjoy delicious fine dining while enjoying a revolving view of Toronto over 1,151 feet above ground. You can imagine how excited the kids were. This was an experience to remember!
I'm also happy to report that the cuisine matched the view. We had an excellent meal all around and I was particularly thrilled that they offered a full vegetarian menu in addition to their regular menu.
The Ferry 10 of 11
The Toronto Ferry has been a part of my life since I was a baby. I took this boat across to Centre Island with my own family during pretty much every summer of my childhood, until I turned 13. I haven't been on this boat since I was 13!
Has it changed? Not a bit. The floors from the wooden panels to the old tiles in the bathrooms are exactly the same, and the orange and red life jackets still line the overhead of the boat. It still takes you across to Centre Island in approximately 15 minutes and holds the same charm it did since I was a child.
Photo credit: Thanks to my friend Desiree Miller for snapping this picture of me as I was officially 'the first' of our group to step foot on the boat.
Toronto Skyline At Night 11 of 11
Saturday's night event was held at Shopsy's on Toronto Island. The view from this bar and grill was absolutely spectacular. You could see the entire Toronto Skyline perfectly, so I was able to snap photos before and after the sun set. What better way to appreciate the city than with a view like this.
Find more of Nadia’s writing on her site Child Mode. You can also find her on Disney Baby and Hip Baby. Love social media? So does she! Follow her daily on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest.