I AM leaning face- first over the edge of the CN Tower.
High up, perhaps, but down below in this cool Canadian city, there are plenty higher. Cannabis is legal and Toronto is turning super-trendy.
Skateboarding kids cling to the back of streetcars (trams to you and me), rapper Drake is the local business guru and there are as many independent shops as maple-leaf flags flying.
The CN Tower is still the ultimate vantage point but down below, Kensington Market is the ultimate VINTAGE point.
Clothes, trinkets and coffee all get a hipster makeover.
Dreadlocked sellers man stalls in the gardens of old shotgun houses (where you could shoot a bullet from the front door to the back) and there are graffiti-daubed emporiums of classic clobber.
And it is easier to buy dope than a can of beer.
Toronto’s strict alcohol laws forbid drinking in the street and you can only buy gin from licensed government shops. But weed is freely available since the recent legalisation.
I pass a stall selling dope treats for dogs. Another sells cannabis lollipops and caramels, the drawling seller clearly taking product testing seriously.
But the real change in drug culture has seen marijuana super-emporiums pop up. From the outside they look part Apple store, part sex shop, with a bouncer on the door checking ages.
Inside, it is a like a high-end pharmacy. Eager staff ask: “What kind of high do you want today?”
Walk around town, though, and you don’t smell dope everywhere. Locals show restraint in pretty much everything they do.
Apart from driving, that is. Cabbies here act like they are paid by the crash.
I try the tourist bus tour to see mainstream attractions — such as Casa Loma, a vast faux-castle once used by spies, the odd Shoe Museum and the vast totem poles in the Royal Ontario Museum.
We pass a bank clad in gold — real gold — while our guide’s favourite spot is a fountain with stone dogs.
See the flip-side in Chinatown, where statue cats sit atop lampposts representing the city’s open-arm policy to strays from all walks of life.
The city is enjoying an influx of visitors keen to avoid Donald Trump’s America, including loads of Mexican tourists.
Brits make up the next largest group of visitors.
In fact, the whole city is on a high after its Raptors won the NBA basketball title, and the annual Pride parade has just marched through the city during the same month.
For the equivalent of £6, I hop on a Shared Bike (like London’s bikes but green). I peddle from posh Yorkville’s boutiques to West Queen Street’s alternative scene.
I am staying in the Gladstone Hotel, a beautiful Victorian building that has morphed into a boutique art hotel. All the rooms are decorated by different artists.
Mine has a black and white collage on one wall and scrubbed red brick on the other. And I walk past vibrant artwork to reach the stunning metal-shuttered elevator, the centrepiece to this characterful hotel.
Toronto’s laid-back humour matches our own. Unlike their American cousins, Canadians “get” sarcasm.
Meghan Markle once lived here. I pass the office used to film her hit show Suits and chat with someone whose friend was “dumped for Prince Harry”. Other famous Toronto residents include Dan Aykroyd, Keanu Reeves and Ryan Gosling.
The Great Lakes lap the Toronto boardwalk, with water levels more than 4ft higher than normal.
I take the Serendipity tourist cruise over to the nearby islands for fresh air and for stunning views of Toronto’s skyline.
Planes skit over the water to land at the Billy Bishop airport. For an alternative view of the islands, there is a foodie canoe tour.
We huff, puff and splash our way across the bay to be rewarded with a feast of expertly cooked salmon, tender pork, cheese and buttery asparagus.
A sour cherry pie gives us the energy for the paddle home at sunset.
Make sure you take your bug spray . . . and an empty stomach.
The food here is exceptional. Toronto’s old name of “Hog Town” is a reminder of the delicacy of peameal bacon sandwiches. But I get to sample superb food from all around the world.
I try Mexican-inspired chilli taco breakfasts, octopus salads, vast burgers and Chinese gai lan veg.
A visit to St Laurence food market is a must. Poutine, the French-Quebec dish of chips, gravy and cheese, is the Canadian equivalent of a kebab — and not really a meal you want to eat before doing the CN Tower Edge Walk.
I hate heights, so quite why I am walking around outside on the CN Tower is beyond me.
Mum left in tears by ‘abusive’ hotel staff and loud building work at 5.30am
Summer holiday chaos with strikes looming at Heathrow, Stansted & Gatwick
Head to the Costa Brava for the ultimate beach break this summer
Strikes at Heathrow could ‘shut down airport’ and ruin your summer travel plans
SUMMER IN THE CITY
7 days in Jerusalem – an insider’s guide
Everything you need to know about Hols from £9.50
It is the world’s highest hands-free walk. With just two ropes attached, I am encouraged to lean over the edge backwards, then face first.
From 1,190ft up, Toronto’s street grid layout looks like a blurry map.
Frankly, I am too scared to enjoy the view and would far sooner be at street level enjoying the food and art of this vibrant new Toronto.
GETTING THERE: Canadian Affair has return flights from £329pp.
STAYING THERE: Double rooms at the The Gladstone Hotel start from £152 per night. See gladstonehotel.com.
OUT & ABOUT: A Toronto CityPass (citypass.com/toronto) provides access to key attractions. The passes are £52 for adults and £34 for children, plus taxes. Getting around Toronto costs £7 a day with a TTC day pass. See ttc.ca.
MORE INFO: See toronto.com.
The post Super-trendy Toronto offers stunning views, vintage markets and exceptional food appeared first on Uk-Report.com.