Ah, the genuine pleasure of discovering a new place…
Comfortable shoes and a map. Camera at disposal. Walking from point to point scribbled on a piece of blank paper, kilometre after kilometre on end.
When unveiling the secrets of an unknown city, time magically expands to accommodate a myriad of things. Impressions, sights, people, smells, and tastes all blend in, in a gallery of urban souvenirs.
The first images of Toronto took me back to the eighties. Women in small bustiers, shorts, big earrings and polka dots at the bus terminal; run down buildings and suspended street-car cables; dark-red Tim Horton’s take away paper mugs; soggy hot-dog signs and crammed streets.
Nevertheless, the sight of elderly Chinese women practicing morning Tai-chi in the park, the immaculate beauty of lake Ontario, the cardinal precision of streets and avenues intersecting, the variety of dietary requirements met at the city’s many eateries, the black squirrels and the random racoon chilling out on a cafe patio, and the nice people making up the human fauna, gradually worked their charms on me.
This city of 2.6 million souls grows on you like a pair of newly washed jeans, leaving a sweet after-taste of vegan ice-cream.
Some stories are like that. Love does not always come at first sight.
However, when I saw Sadie’s diner at the corner of Portland and Adelaide West, I fell flat. I had been dreaming of sitting at a real North American diner, just like people always do in my favourite series, and Sadie had just what I was looking for and even more.
A look at the vegetarian, vegan and gluten free -friendly menu made my heart skip a beat.
The inside was vintage with funky details.
On my last day in the city I had planned an early morning diner-breakfast, only to realise that I had not taken the weekend opening hours into account. I persevered and went back later for a serving of huevos rancheros with salsa, lettuce, tortillas, guacamole and non dairy cheddar.
A pity I could not fully enjoy the moment because of the time pressure.
If it was not for the Atlantic ocean though, I would definitively treat myself to breakfast at Sadie’s once in a while. I would, of course, take a seat by the window and watch people passing by, sipping on my cup of Earl Grey and dreaming away.