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Toronto

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Toronto is a the capital city of Ontario, and is the largest city in Canada. Welcome to Toronto and happy surfing!

Hospitality Networks

General tips

There is a big hospex community in Toronto. Like elsewhere the most active Hosts/Surfers are usually members of more than one network. There are countless meetings and very different activities of the hospex crowd, to take part check the local/regional groups of the networks

General Advice for finding hosts: Don't hesitate to contact people from the outer parts of the city. Especially in high season (summer, public holidays, weekends ...) people living in the city center get a lot of requests (make sure you've read How to write a Request). Please fill your profile with much info as you can as well as pictures to give your prospective host a rough idea of who you are as a person. All hosts would greatly appreciate if you will make an effort to use the search facilities and message your prospective host individually. Please be mindful of their hosting status. Be sure to read a prospective host's profile carefully, and personalise your request. If you follow these tips it will exponentially increase your chance of getting a host.

BeWelcome

BeWelcome is still a small project, but there is already a big group of group potential hosts (login to see them all) in Toronto - just give it a try, probably some of them are eager to use this alternative. Also the BW group Toronto and area provides advice, company and suggestions for all kinds of activities, started bw meetings and more to come.

Couchsurfing

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Ambassadors:

Azarethroy - Jeanne - Steph

There are thousands CouchSurfers in Toronto, many of whom meet up regularly.

Find Us!

Check out the CSTO Group for latest activity or CSTO Twitter for latest meetups. This wiki page can also be used as an emergency bulletin board if the CSTO Group ever goes down. Or you can also find us on Facebook

Meetings

Come meet some local and traveling CS folk at the CSTO weekly meetups!

As of February 2013, the official meetups happen on Wednesday nights. Visit the Toronto activities list and click through to the meeting details page.

Tipping in Canadian and North American restaurants and bars is common on food and drinks, even if you are not being waited on. For more information on tipping etiquette in Canada: Tipping in Canada

NOTE: There are also ad hoc meet-ups organized almost every day. Check the Toronto forum for more info.

Hospitality Club

tbd.

Hosting Emergencies

Lost? You're host cancelled your stay on short notice? An unexpected change in travel plans? Before searching for a bridge, try the following options:

  • You may also like to post on the Couch Needed - Toronto forum - a dedicated forum that is intended to match up couchsurfers to hosts within Toronto.
  • If you're already in town head to the weekly meetings and you may find a welcoming host there.
  • List of hostels below

Travel Tips

Tipping in Canada - yes, you MUST tip (Generally 15%).

Cheap ways to travel to Niagara Falls.

Best sites for purchasing flights to/from Toronto. Use Metafares.com to compare flight prices.

For car hire, use Orbitz.com to compare prices.

There are many free permanent wi-fi hotspots in Toronto provided by Wireless Toronto. More here.

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Hostels

If you are unable to find a couch to surf on during your stay, here are some hostels located in downtown Toronto:

Global Village Backpackers - spadina/king

College Hostel - augusta/college = kensington market

Neill-Wycik - gerrard/jarvis = ryerson university

Hostelling International Toronto - church/king

[1] - for free listings in the toronto area


Refer to Hostel World for other options.

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Trivia

The Toronto Star, Toronto's most widely read newspaper, published an article about CouchSurfing in early 2004, and was one of the first major papers to write about CouchSurfing. This publicity led to a huge jump in the membership of CouchSurfing and is the reason why many of the earliest sign-ups on couchsurfing stem from Toronto. Torontonians love CouchSurfing!

07/08/08 Toronto Star article - New era of `trusting' travellers open up doors

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Newspapers

There are many free newspapers such as Metro and 24 which are basically just summaries of the top stories from the main newspapers. They can be found at transit points and on street corners. The main newspapers are the Globe and Mail,National Post, The Toronto Star, and The Toronto Sun. For alternative news, events, restaurant reviews, art shows, and other interesting and "off the beaten track" happenings in Toronto, pick up a NOW Magazine (a free weekly that comes out every Thursday) or an EYE magazine (which is also a Thursday weekly with less circulation and less information than NOW magazine. For Queer readers, there is a similar magazine called XTRA, which is published every other week and contains listings and events. EXCLAIM magazine is another free magazine that is focused on the music scene. There are several more independant newspapers in Toronto that cater to various audiences. They can be found in boxes and inside stores and restaurants.

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Transportation

TTC: Toronto Transit Commission

Public transit in the City of Toronto is run by the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission). This includes bus, streetcar (tram), and subway tranport. The main TTC home page is www.toronto.ca/ttc/.

(For transit outside the City of Toronto, please consult the websites of the relevant transit regions. If you’re arriving by air at Pearson International Airport, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority site gives links to selected transit sites.)

Fares and passes: www.toronto.ca/ttc/fares.htm

There are several options for fare payment:

- Exact change: $3.00 per adult. The fare covers one continuous, uninterrupted journey (via subway, bus, and streetcar) without backtracking. Be sure to get a transfer slip at the start of your journey, and be prepared to show it to drivers/ticket takers as necessary. With the transfer slip, you can change to connecting routes or modes of transportation to reach your destination, but cannot hop on and off enroute. You cannot walk from your transfer point to a stop further down. You cannot backtrack on surface transportation.

- Buying a daypass. $10. A better choice if you are making more than two trips in one day, or if you wish to jump on and off at different stops. On weekends and public holidays, day passes can be shared by up to two adults and not more than four children 19 years and under (You may need proof of age for your teens) who are travelling as a group. Sold at subway stations or sales outlets (e.g. corner stores) displaying the TTC logo.

- Buying a weekly pass. $36. Unlimited travel from Monday to Sunday of a specific week. This can only be used by one individual at a time. However, it can be used by a second person once the first user has entirely completed his/her TTC journey: that is, exited the subway station, bus, or streetcar. Sold at subway stations.

- Buying several tokens at a time: 5 for $12.50; 10 - $25.00. This saves you a little money (65 cents per trip if you buy ten at a time). Use these the same way you would exact change on a single trip. Sold at subway stations.


Student rates: -Unless you are a high school student living in the Toronto area, you won’t be eligible for student rates. Sorry, your ISIC card or University student card won’t help. See www.toronto.ca/ttc/student_pass.htm

Notes:

- The subway runs until 1:30am. - A PDF file showing the Blue Night Network routes is available at www.toronto.ca/ttc/schedules/index.htm After hours, look for stops with a blue 24 hr label. The Queen St. streetcar line runs 24 hours. - When getting off the streetcars at stops, make sure to look before exiting: cars are supposed to stop behind the last open door of the streetcar; but sadly, it is not uncommon to find drivers speeding past.

Travelling from Pearson International Airport

Ground transportation options from the Greater Toronto Airports Authority website: www.gtaa.com

-By TTC : www.toronto.ca/ttc/service_to_airport.htm. $3 one way.
If going downtown, the fastest route is using the #192 Airport Rocket to Kipling station, then taking the subway into the city from there.

-Taking the airport shuttle:
www.torontoairportexpress.com Approx. $15 one way/ $26 return.

This coach service picks up passengers from all the terminals at Pearson Airport, and drops them off at several major hotels in the downtown core. Prices, schedule, and location available through their website.

Although this option is more expensive than travelling by public transit, it may be faster (depending on your pickup/drop off schedule); and more comfortable and less crowded, especially if travelling during rush hour, which can get very busy (8:00 - 9:30 a.m.; or 4:00 - 6:00 p.m.).

-Taking a flat-rate taxi or limo. downtown:
For those traveling in a group, or with a lot of luggage, or just with the money to spend, the rates etc. are available through the Greater Toronto Airports Authority website. www.gtaa.com


Taxis: Taxis are also easily found on most of the main streets in the downtown area. They are metered.

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Cellphones

Telus Mobility has the cheapest start up cost if you already have a phone. Their rate plans are quite reasonable too.

The SIM card costs $10 and can be bought in any Telus store. On top of that, you need to get a minimum of $10 air time card to activate the SIM Card. The air time card can be bought in any supermarket or drug store, or online. Telus does NOT charge an activation fee if the prepaid account is activated online.

The SIM Card (for $10): http://www.telusmobility.com/en/ON/accessories/other_nhdgsim.shtml

The rate plans: http://www.telusmobility.com/en/ON/prepaid/rates.shtml

The SMS plans: http://www.telusmobility.com/en/ON/prepaid/messaging.shtml

Telus Prepaid FAQ: http://www.telusmobility.com/en/ON/prepaid/prepaidfaqs.shtml

Getting Started Guide: http://www.telusmobility.com/en/ON/prepaid/gettingstarted.shtml

Checking your phone's compatibility with the Telus Network: http://www.telusmobility.com/en/ON/phones_and_devices/devicecompatibility.shtml

Other details: http://www.telusmobility.com/en/ON/phones_and_devices/nontelusdevices.shtml


OR =---:


If you would like to use Rogers pre-pay with your existing unlocked GSM phone.

1) Rogers Plus stores sells Rogers SIM Card for $10.

2) Top up $100 (you can only get the $100 vouchers from Rogers stores). This credit only expires after 365 days as opposed to smaller amounts which expire after 30 days. Obviously, this is only useful if you plan to be in Toronto for a while!

3) Choose the right plan for you. There are a few plans to choose from eg. 25 cents anytime or 39 cents peak/1 cent off-peak. Remember that you have to pay for incoming calls too.

4) Pick a Text message add-on. You can get a $10/mth text bundle which gives you 2,500 texts each month (domestic text messages only).

5) Send free sms online: http://www.rogers.com/sms


WIRELESS INTERNET -----:

Virgin Mobile offers the best prices in terms of Wireless Internet across Toronto and Canada:

The USB modem will cost $80, and the monthly plan is starts at $45

http://www.virginmobile.ca/vmc/en/phones/broadband2go/ovation760.html

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Sights to see in Toronto

The Tourist Spots

There are many musical and theatre productions in Toronto. These are held at various theatres in the Theatre district. (University to Spadina along King and below Queen St. - Entertainment District.) You can get tickets at the last minute sometimes at a cut rate by checking with the theaatre ticket office directly about 2 hours before the show.Information on what is playing can be found at Mirvish Productions or Dancap Productions. Last minute discount tickets may be picked up at the Dundas Square outlet for T.O. Tix

KENSINGTON MARKET: This is a MUST SEE on your Toronto visit. An outdoor Market neighbourhood covering several city blocks just on the West of Downtown. A long history of being the first home to various waves of immigrants is very visible: Jewish, Portugese, Caribean, Latin American stores, restaurants and cafes are great places to explore. You will find clothing stores (old and new), the best and cheapest food in the city, a vibrant street life ... and so much more .... Kensington Market is located to the West of Spadina between College and Dundas.

CN Tower (Front St.) - A tall spike tower which you can go up and view the Toronto skyline. It is very expensive. However, it does offer a great view on a clear day.

Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)(Bloor St and University) - This has many different exhibits and it is best to pick up a flyer at a hotel tourist booth to see what is currently showing. If you do want to visit, remember Wednesdays from 4:30 to 5:30 is the only hour during which admission to the ROM is free to all comers. This is now thankfully posted in between the front glass entrance doors, but strangely not at the ticket counter. Also, enjoy discounted admission to the ROM every Friday evening from 4:30 pm to 9:30 pm.

Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) - Founded in 1900 by a group of private citizens as the Art Museum of Toronto, the Art Gallery of Ontario is one of the largest art museums in North America, with a physical facility of 583,000 square feet, and with an innovative architectural design by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry. The AGO currently has more than 68,000 works in its collection, spanning from 100 AD to the present. FREE Wednesday Evenings from 6 pm to 8:30 pm.

Harbourfront - Has many different festivals and they vary in theme. It has concerts, food festivals, author, theatre etc most weekends in the summer and other specific times of the year. The Music garden is of particular interest.

Ontario Science Centre - For the kids. You have to take the Don Mills 25 from one of the Bloor line subway stations. Ask any ticket counter in the subway and they will be able to give you directions.

Toronto Islands - These are best to visit in the summertime. You take a ferry to three stops. Centre Island has a small children's amusement park and some food kiosks. There are two other ferry rides. One (Wards Island) takes you to the side where there are some residential houses and nice paths to walk. The other (Hanlans) takes you to just below the airport where there is a beach. This Beach is rumoured to have a clothing optional section.

Ontario Place - Water park and amusements is open in the summer. It is from here that the International Fireworks competitions are shot over the lake. If you want to watch the fireworks without paying an admission fee to Ontario Place. Take the Bathurst Street car to the waterfront and get off at Exhibition Place. Walk down to just past Ontario Place along the water and find a place to sit. It fills up fast so, around 6-7 PM is the best time to go to stake your claim on a spot and bring a picnic with you but, NO alcohol as the police monitor the waterfront alot and you could get a ticket.

Distillery District - During the 1800's the Gooderham and Worts Distillery was a huge manufacturing district in the city of Toronto and the largest distillery in the British Empire. Today the Distillery district is not only Toronto's largest heritage district; it is also a centre for arts and culture. There you'll find open air cafes, galleries, chocolate, free beer tasting, and generally outdoor music.

Bata Shoe MuseumAn interesting "niche" museum.

The Toronto Zoo- A large zoo, that takes the better part of a day to see properly. Check the web site for public transit and driving directions.

Nathan Phillips Square - Nathan Phillips Square is a lively public gathering place located immediately in front of Toronto City Hall, on the northwest corner of Queen and Bay Streets. Nathan Phillips Square is the site of many civic activities and special events. Check the website for details on events.

Yonge-Dundas Square - Toronto's mini version of NYC's Times Square. Here you'll find regular festivals and events, particularly in the summer. At night you'll see the square light up with Neon.

Check out Toronto.com for more attractions and visit blogTO to see what else is happening in town.

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Pubs / Bars / Restaurants

Here are some regular CSTO hangouts:

The Rivoli - 334 Queen St. W. 416-596-1908. Serving up great food and art since 1982, the Rivoli is a landmark restaurant and club on Queen St. West in downtown Toronto, located in the the original Rivoli Theatre, home of 1920's vaudeville and burlesque. Patio area out front for nice summer days and nights. Open Daily 11:30am- 2:00am.

Madison Avenue Pub - 14 Madison Ave (TTC: Spadina). Another popular spot for CS'rs. It's a labyrinth so prepare to careful, you may get lost inside! It all started in 1983 in one room at the bottom of 14 Madison Avenue and today it is built out of 3 Victorian homes at 14, 16, and 18 Madison Avenue. Great outdoor patio section, and 3 giants screen for those sporting nights.

Victory Cafe - 581 Markham Street (TTC: Bathurst), 416-516-5787. Hot Jazz Quartet every Wednesday from 9:30pm. Nice hangout, good spot for brunches on the weekend. Decent veggie menu. Mon-Fri 4pm-2am ... Sat-Sun 12pm-2am.

Sneaky Dee's - 431 College St (at Bathurst). Live bands, vegan nachos, and $2.75 beers on Wednesday nights. It's dark, dingy, and the music is LOUD. Love it or hate, it's open late (3am Su-Tu, 4am W-TH, 4:30am F-Sa) and a very popular meeting spot for locals.

Gladstone Hotel - 1214 Queen Street West. 416 531 4635. Popular westend establishment. The Gladstone Hotel is a unique urban hotel providing both travelers and Torontonians with a truly authentic experience of the local creative culture. Eat and drink in the Ballroom Café and Melody Bar (11am - 2am daily) and then step out into the heart of the city's vibrant art and design neighbourhood.

The Rhino - 1249 Queen Street West, Parkdale. 416 535 8089. Another one for the westies. Cool spot for chilling out, having games days, and food and drinks aren't as $ as at the Gladstone.

Also worth checking out - Toronto's top neighbourhood patios.

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Toronto Events


(Note: Dates are for 2009)

Drummers in Exile - drumming circles Trinity Bellwoods Park & Cherry Beach]

Critical Mass Toronto - bike riders take over the city! Last friday of the month, every month. Meet at the corner of Bloor and Spadina, 6 pm - leave at 6:30 pm

January 30 - February 12: WinterCity a 14-day celebration of culture, creativity and cuisine.

January 30 - February 12: Winterlicious the ever popular Prix-Fixe promotion & mouth-watering Culinary Events.

June-August: Free Outdoor Summer Movies at:

  1. Dundas Square (Tuesdays)
  2. Harbourfront Centre (Tuesdays)
  3. Downsview Park (Fridays)

June 19 - 28: Toronto Pride Toronto throws a rainbow flag over the city as it comes alive for Pride Week, featuring 10 days of world class arts and cultural programming, community activities, and ends with one of the world’s largest street festivals.

July 3 - 19: Summerlicious! Great opportunity to sample Toronto's finest restaurants at special discounted prices. Bookings are a must. Definitely one for the foodies!

July 17 – 26: Beaches International Jazz FestivalCS Toronto Posting 2008

July 8 - Aug 26: Fresh Wednesdays at Nathan Philips Square CS Toronto Posting 2008 Farmers Market runs June 3 - October 14

July 9 - Aug 27: Tasty Thursdays! at Nathan Philips Square CS Toronto Posting 2008

July 14 - Aug 2: Caribana - an exciting two-week cultural explosion of Caribbean music, cuisine, revelry as well as visual and performing arts. In its 40th year it has become a major international event and the largest cultural festival of its kind in North America.

August 7 - 9: Taste of the Danforth - one of Toronto's signature events, showcasing the best of Hellenic food, culture, and music our multicultural city has to offer - from souvlaki to mezes, authentic Greek music to interactive children's games!

August 7 - 10: Beerlicious! Toronto BeerFest CS Toronto Posting 2008 - A celebration of Canada's rich brewing history, hosted by experts of the brewing craft from around the country. Featuring more than 200 brands of beer on-site, this is Canada's premier celebration of the golden beverage.

August 27 - 30: Buskerfest - For four days, every August, a collection of the highest skilled and most entertaining street performers gather in the St. Lawrence market to bring the thrill of world class street theatre to Torontonians.

September 10 - 19: The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) - ranks among the most prestigious international film festivals in the world. For ten days, film lovers, filmmakers, industry professionals and media watch the best in new cinema from established masters and new talent.

October 3 - 4: Nuit Blanche For one sleepless night, experience Toronto transformed by artists. The familiar will be discarded as the city becomes the artistic playground for a series of exhilarating contemporary art experiences. One night only. All night long.

December 20 - 23: Kensington Festival of Lights Celebrate winter solstice with colourful lanterns, costumes and music in Kensington Market.

For more events all year round visit TorontoZig.com, the City of Toronto Special Events site, Tourism Toronto, and the Toronto CS Forum.

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Neighborhoods

Torontonians take pride in their city as a collection of many vibrant neighbourhoods. Many locals assert the claim that Toronto, with its history of welcoming new immigrants, is the "most diverse" city ... anywhere.

Check out this site for a comprehensive list and description of the Toronto neighbourhoods. See also the List of neighbourhoods in Toronto

Little Italy

Little ItalyCollege Street, West of Bathurst

Gerrard Street East

Bazaar aka Little India India Bazaar

The Beaches

Queen Street East (Very East) - The Beaches is a neighbourhood and popular tourist destination located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is located on the east side of the "Old" City of Toronto, from Victoria Park on the east to Kingston Road on the north, Eastern Avenue to Leslie on the west, south to the lakeshore of Lake Ontario.

The Toronto International Jazz Festival (aka. "Jazz Fest") was held here recently (Aug 2008).

Parkdale

Queen Street West (Very West)

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Other Resources

City Pass