Restaurant Name: Dundas Park Kitchen
Type of food: Sandwiches, baked goods
Address: 2066 Dundas Street West
Ordered: Grilled goat cheese sandwich, tomato soup, chocolate chip cookie with pretzel
Cost (with tax): $10.00
I heard about Dundas Park Kitchen through my manager who raved about it. We dropped by one Monday afternoon to pick up some lunch. It’s a pretty neat joint. It’s small with very limited seating and a large chalkboard menu. I instantly knew I wanted the grilled goat cheese sandwich because goat cheese is the greatest thing since cream cheese frosting (hmm, maybe goat cheese came first…). I was not disappointed. The sandwich is honey and herb goat cheese with avocado on an English muffin. The portion of goat cheese was perfect and the English muffin was crisp. Keep in mind you have to wait a little bit for the sandwich (obviously as it’s being made fresh); it’s well worth the few minutes. I also had a side of tomato soup. The cheese croutons were superb. I’m drooling re-calling the taste. And since I have a sweet tooth (my dentist hates me), I couldn’t resist getting the chocolate chip cookie with a pretzel. Yes, it tastes as good as it looks.
Dundas Park Kitchen is definitely a spot worth checking out in Toronto to grab lunch or dinner (or just get a darn cookie). I can’t wait to go back to try one of their pies which are apparently exceptional and their breakfast sandwiches. Two things that really matter to me which I found here (aside from taste, duh): good value and good service!
Note: Parking is pretty limited in the area if you’re a driver. (I parked around the corner on a neighbourhood street).
I love Toronto…I always have, I always will. It’s home and it’s a city with SO much to offer year round. After my trip to Paris and London, my perspective on how I explored Toronto changed and thus my desire to blog about it. I thought about how much I explored Paris neighbourhoods…how food was such an event in Europe…how much I loved walking aimlessly…and how I had an exciting itinerary daily. And I thought to myself…why can’t I do that at home? Yes, we have jobs and/or families and life is busy…but still, I want every day to be an experience.
Now don’t get me wrong… I never lived a sheltered life before this vacation. My weekends were always packed with fun to-dos in the city. But I decided I didn’t want to just experience food festivals and eat at the same chain restaurants. I wanted to find hidden gems, go to food markets, and walk…! I barely use the subway in the city anymore and I drive everywhere. I’m excited to just park my car and walk…and walk…and walk.
Since Paris/London, I found my outlook on Toronto has changed. I pay attention to detail such as street signs and architecture a lot more. Despite living in Toronto for over 25 years, I’ve only been to a few selected neighbourhoods. I have SO much of the city left to see and so I’m excited to get started! I hope to blog about my experiences to share with fellow Torontonians and those visiting Tdot (yes, I promise not to use “Tdot” again).
When I was working on my itinerary for London, I planned a pub walk for every night (you know, meeting a group, going on a tour, checking out a few pubs). I really wanted to experience the London pub life and I like drinking (ha) so I figured this would be perfect for me. But really, I didn’t know what to expect.
The only ONE pub walk I actually did end up doing was an unplanned one. I was in the midst of Piccadilly Circus near 7pm on a Saturday night and I NEEDED something to do. I came across London Walks Fitzrovia Pub Walk beginning at 7:15pm at Goodge Street Tube. It was perfect with both time and location. I hopped onto the Piccadilly Line and went from Piccadilly to Leicester Square, and then the Northern Line from Leicester Square to Goodge Street Tube Station. As soon as I arrived at the Station, it was VERY easy to spot the pub tour (whereas I couldn’t find the group when I tried to go on a pub walk the night before!). I noticed “London Walks” around the neck of the tour guide and pamphlets in his hand. Now, I feel awful for saying this…but I cannot remember the name of the tour guide! I checked through the London Walks website but it’s not ringing a bell. I hope I can edit this with a name soon.
I looked at the crowd: there was an older couple (60s?), two men alone (one was perhaps 50s and one was prolly late 30s to early 40s, two women together (again late 30s to early 40s) and one other solo female (must have been early 30s). Thank goodness there’s another solo woman here, I thought to myself. The tour guide was very kind. “Are you joining us tonight?” he asked me. I said “Yes”, paid him the £9 and off we went. I had NO idea what to expect from this pub tour. Instead of giving a huge play by play, here’s the gist along with tips and thoughts:
After a quick, well needed, hour nap, I took the Piccadilly Line from Russell Square to Piccadilly Circus. As soon as I got to the area, it was BUSY. People (tourists mainly) were everywhere! I explored the area which was incredibly lively especially with street performers. I came across M&M ‘s World. I fell in love with this store on my first trip to New York City, and after visiting the one in London, I have now been to four M&M World locations! Quite the accomplish eh? It was very busy in the store. I went hunting for a mug. My favorite mug I own is from the New York store and I figured I’d look for a neat one from London. I ended up purchasing one of the M&M’s walking down Abbey Road. The cashier was so sweet. After hearing that I been to other M&M World stores, she asked me which one I liked best. “London of course” I answered (which may have been a white lie. I actually like the New York store best if I HAD to pick).
After I left the store I began walking towards Leicester Square and Covent Gardens. It continued to be a lively evening. I grabbed some pizza, browsed a few shops, but found I wasn’t in a shopping mood. I noticed the time was about 6pm. What should I do with my Saturday night? I thought to myself. The area was far too busy that I wasn’t keen to eat dinner by myself in a restaurant. I decided to see what was on sale as the TKTS ticket booth in Leicester Square. (Note: you will find a lot of discounted theatre ticket booths in the area, but from what I’ve read, the TKTS is the best to go to. I can’t speak to say how the others are). When I checked out what was on sale, I wasn’t too keen to see any of the plays at their prices. So I kept walking around the area and found a Barclays. Free wi-fi! Time to come up with a Saturday night plan.
I had an early start. I had to be in Camden Town for 9am to meet a friend of mines who was currently living in London completing his MBA. My plan was to walk, but after Day 1’s walking, I knew it was wiser to take the tube. I began at Euston Tube Station (not to be confused with Euston Square), which was less than 10 minutes from the Tavistock Hotel. My walk’s highlight was the two men in a van who continued to hit on me as I walked. Why do the traffic lights keep stopping? I thought as I seemed to keep meeting them despite the fact that I was walking and they were driving. When they finally waved goodbye, another man on the street noticed “Popular today are we?” he smiled at me. “A little bit…” I laughed.
Euston Station is on the Northern Line. I took the tube up two stations to Camden Town.The station has two sides to exit. I picked one and waited. It was 8:45am and chilly. It didn’t help that I was wearing a skirt. I stood on the side next to an ATM and waited…and waited. The good part? There was Barclays (a bank) across the street. Barclays has free wi-fi that you can access by being near the bank. Even though I was across the street, the wi-fi worked perfectly! So as I waited, I began FaceTiming with a friend back in Toronto who happened to be awake. Pretty cool! Long story short, it was 9:45am by the time my friend and I connected. We began walking and it was a really awesome neighbourhood. “The markets will be opening soon” my friend explained. He took me to a breakfast spot at the Roundhouse called Made in Camden. We must have gotten there near 10am and apparently the restaurant said they didn’t open until 10:30am (although you could still get coffee while inside). And then, I had one of the best breakfasts ever! It was scrambled eggs with guacamole and fresh salmon with sour cream. My friend ordered the “fry up” also known as an English breakfast which looked delicious as well. We then walked to Stables Market and Camden Market. It must have been 11:30 to 12pm at this point. Both markets were SO busy! Plus the chilly morning had turned into another gorgeous sunny day. By the time, we left the markers, it was RAMMED with people. “This is only about 20% of the crowd. You should see this place in an hour” my friend advised. Boy, was I glad we were there early! We then walked to Primrose Hill. It was gorgeous! Many people were lying on the grass, so many dogs in the area and what a great view of London from the top!
It was a lovely morning. My friend led me towards Chalk Farm Tube where my plan was then to head to Covent Gardens to join the Sandeman’s Royal London Walking Tour. But I decided I was exhausted. I took the Northern Line down to Euston Tube Station, walked to the Tavistock Hotel…and that’s when it got exciting: I napped.
After my early afternoon in the Knightsbridge & Kensington area, I took the District Line (London Underground) from South Kensington Station to Embankment Station. When I walked out, I made my way to the Hungerford Bridge. Goodness, it was such a gorgeous view to see across the River Thames. I decided I should get something to eat. When I crossed the bridge there were many restaurants. It was such a lively area! I walked around a little and came across the Real Food Market at Southbank Centre. I grabbed some type of pastry filled with spinach and chicken peas (it wasn’t too great; maybe if it was warmed up and had some cream cheese filling but I’m no chef…), grabbed a cappuccino and grabbed a caramel cheesecake from various vendors. I walked down a bit and found a random spot to sit and eat. I sat for a few minutes and was approached by a man asking me if I had any change. I have to say, he was very friendly. I politely said no, and offered him the rest of my food. “Oh no I’d never do that” he said. He asked where I was from and then went on his way.
I decided to then check out the London Eye. I had no desire to ride it. In terms of finding my way, honestly, I took some guesses. I knew it was in the area so I simply walked towards the Thames and a sign told me which direction to walk in. The day remained gorgeous; there were many, many people in the area and I saw a few street performers surrounded by crowds on the way. I sat across from the London Eye watching it for some time while eating my delicious caramel cheesecake. It was about 5pm at this time and SUNNY!
After about half an hour, I decided to walk towards the direction of Blackfriars Tube where my plan was to join the London Walks: Along the Thames Pub Walk for 7pm. So I walked and I walked AND I walked! On my walk from I saw: Waterloo Bridge, Shakespeare Globe Theatre, London Bridge, The Shard, Tate Modern, The Golden Hinde, and many other neat buildings. The coolest thing I saw on my walk is the London pub life! There were so many people (especially men in suits after work) drinking pints of beer outside of pubs.
Somehow, without even knowing it, I made it to Borough’s Market (super cool!). By this time, I was thinking, Wow, how far did I walk!? I knew I had passed Blackfriars but it was early so I had continued exploring. However, I didn’t see Blackfriars Tube on my walk (only the rail station). From Borough’s Market I decided I should walk back towards Blackfriars Tube, but decided to take the street route this time. I walked down Southwark Street and then down Blackfairs Road. Signs kept saying the Tube Station was near here, but once again, when I arrived, I only saw the railway station. Now I was confused. Where is the damn tube station? By this time, it was night and the Thames looked absolutely gorgeous. But my feet were exhausted (I must have walked for ages!), plus I was hungry again…and had to use the washroom. So I walked back up Blackfriars Road and spotted Southwark Tube Station. I noticed a Pret-A-Manger nearby on The Cut (I was in the Waterloo area). Success! This would solve all my problems! After I ate at the Pret, I asked one of the workers how to get to Blackfriars tube. He explained you go down Blackfairs Road but you have to go across the Thames! OH! It all made sense now! I followed his directions and found the tube station. It was about 6:50pm at this point. I stood inside the station and waited…and waited. How the heck do I spot this pub group? By 7:10pm, I walked outside and saw a HUGE crowd across the street. Curious, I walked over and realized…it was just a bunch of people drinking outside of a pub! It was SO lively! It was far too social everywhere for me to walk into this busy pub alone, so I thought, Screw it, I’m going home. I’m tired and my foot feels like it’s broken. From Blackfriars tube, I took the District line to South Kensington, switched to the Piccadilly Line to Russell Square. Home sweet home!
Boy, did I get lucky that I got to check-in early at the Tavistock Hotel and begin my London adventure! I originally planned to visit the Knightsbridge and Kensington area on Day 3, but as it was only 11am by the time I was settled, I figured, why not? I thought to myself, I should nap.I think I got maybe three hours of sleep on my flight. But it’s so gorgeous out! All I knew was it rained a lot in London, and I thought if this was going to be my one day of sunshine, I did not want to waste it sleeping. (Fast forward, I didn’t endure any London rain!).
I took the tube from Russell Square Station to Knightsbridge Station on the Piccadilly Line which was approximately 15 minutes. First stop, which was just outside the tube, was Harrods, the infamous luxury department store. The entrance I walked in was of course the beauty (make-up/perfume) area. My one weakness! I decided to browse. Within two minutes, three different sales associates kindly asked if I needed help. I decided to purchase a Chanel lipliner (something I actually needed (ok, wanted) versus purchasing my 600th lipstick). The sales associate was extremely pleasant. After my purchase, she asked if I needed help finding anything in the store. I explained I just got to London and was browsing. She handed me a store map, pointed, and said “The Egyptian escalators are right there. You should ride them.” I took her advice and spent a few minutes going up and down the most magnificent escalators I had seen. At the very end, there was a memorial area for Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed. It was lovely. Then I decided to find an exit. It was too nice outside to stay indoors. Harrods was far too big and I definitely didn’t want to purchase anything else.
I quickly checked a TopShop across the street and then began walking down Cromwell Road towards the Victoria and Albert Museum, a museum of art and design. (If you don’t know, museums are free in London!). Honestly, I browsed a few exhibits for about half an hour and walked out. It was busy, plus there was a few school groups so I didn’t want to bother with crowds. I continued to walk down Cromwell and arrived at the National History Museum (again free entry although some exhibitions will cost you). I began by checking out the dinosaur exhibition which was pretty cool. However, school groups everywhere! (Ok, so there were two groups). I have to say hearing the young children speaking in their English accents was adorable. But having to walk behind them in the exhibition…not so much. I decided at that point, I’d much rather be outside than in another museum.
I walked down Queen’s Gate towards Hyde Park. I arrived between Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. It was GORGEOUS out. Many people were laying on the grass. I spent some time reading on a bench in Hyde Park and then I walked down to Kensington Palace and saw Royal Albert Hall on my route. I spent more time reading in Kensington Gardens which is beautiful. It was a lovely afternoon. There were many tourists around. (By the way, next to the Palace is a restaurant I didn’t get a chance to check out but heard about called The Orangery). As you can imagine, my feet were already exhausted with all the walking I was doing. But it was only about 3:30pm (time was fortunately not speeding by!) and I figured I might as well explore a new area. I decided to find the nearest tube to make my way to the Waterloo area. I walked down Kensington Road and eventually found South Kensington Tube.
Accommodation: Tavistock Hotel (part of Imperial London Hotels)
Duration: 4 nights
Cost: 324 GBP
Dates: March 2014
Traveling with: Solo
If you’re planning a trip to London, your first question is most likely: where do I stay!? It’s overwhelming as there are many accommodation options and costs vary. I cared about three things personally: location, cost (cheap), and cleanliness. During my browsing I came across the Tavistock Hotel and it was most fitting for my budget and fit my location desire. (I have to say the most (possibly only) awful part of traveling alone is being unable to split accommodation costs with a partner or group). I knew from the costs and reviews that I should not expect the Ritz and for the most part, the Tavistock Hotel was what I expected. Hm, do I start with the good or bad? Let’s say good.
Overall, I would recommend a stay at the Tavistock Hotel to someone who isn’t looking for a ritzy hotel. If you’re on a budget and not looking to splurge on accommodation, it’s a decent stay. Just don’t eat there…
View from my room on the 8th floor:
The good ol question one asks nearly every vacation: How can I get from the airport to my accommodation? If you’re like me, you want the quick, convenient and cheap way.
As far as I know, there’s three methods of public transportation (aside from the bus) you can take from London Heathrow Airport: Heathrow Express, Heathrow Connect, or the London Underground (the tube). Do know the signs for public transit at the airport are HUGE and CLEAR. It is very easy to navigate your way!
Heathrow Express is a train and the fastest way to travel (approximately 15 minutes) into Central London. Adult fare for a single ticket is £20 online/machine/ticket office and £25 purchased on-board. I didn’t take the Heathrow Express so I can’t offer much more information. Apparently, Heathrow Express is among the most expensive trains in the world for its journey but I bet it’s worthwhile if time is a factor for you.
Heathrow Connect is a train which goes from Heathrow Airport to Paddington Station. It costs £9.90 for a journey to London Paddington. I’m not at all familiar with the Connect so I can’t offer any more opinion here but worth checking out if you’re around that station or ones on-route.
London Underground (tube) is London’s public metro (subway) system. The Piccadilly Line connects directly from London Heathrow via three stations: Terminals 1-3, Terminal 4 and Terminal 5. The cost is £5.50 for a single ticket into Central London (zone 1). It’s a bit less with an Oyster Card. In terms of travel time, it varies depending on which station you are going to, but it’s approximately an hour to the central stations. (I was heading to Russel Square station and it took about 55 minutes for my journey).
For me personally, the Tube was fantastic and I’d definitely use it again as my transportation from London Heathrow. It worked for me for many reasons:
In terms of which one to use…it’s really up to you. Time and/or money may be a factor for you. (Heck, I bet 15 minutes versus an hour may help you make up your mind). Also think about how much luggage you have. Although I’ve only taken the Tube, I’d assume the other two trains are more comfortable and luggage-friendly. You may also want to consider what time of you are arriving (be sure to check all the public transit open and close times before your journey!). Safe travels!
The one thing I always heard about London was how incredible their tube system was and I was excited to witness it. Like any smart traveler, I had taken a look at the Tube map beforehand and it looked…chaotic. There was so many lines! I was used to Toronto’s subway system with its two major lines (four in total) so I was uncertain about what to except. Here’s what I learned: don’t let the map overwhelm you. It’s very easy to navigate your way. The tube is divided in different zones and the majority of central London is Zone 2. Become familiar with…
When planning my itinerary, I used London Drum to determine the tube route. It’s a fantastic site which explains the duration of your trip and tube stations. If you’re having trouble, just Google! I often googled things such as: “Russell Square Station to Tower Hill” and the first link is usually the London Drum website showing the route. I used this to plan nearly all my routes.
Become familiar with fares for London public transportation and decide what is best for you. As a solo traveler using the tube to get everywhere, the Oyster Card was the best fit for me.It’s a “pay as you go” travel card whcih you can use on the bus, Tube, London Overground, Tram, DLR, and some National Rail. An Oyster Card costs £5 and you can choose to load as much money on it as you like. I loaded £20 initially and since I used the tube constantly, I added another £10 during my four night trip. However, £20 should do you just fine. I paid by credit card. Notes:
Overall, public transit in London is very easy and an excellent way to get around. Do your homework and plan your routes beforehand to become familiar with the system!