Toronto CN Tower Toronto was my family's destination of choice between Christmas and New Year for 2016. Every year, we try and go away during that period and while looking at destinations for this year's trip and realised I hadn't properly written about our last Christmas trip! If you're looking for a Winter break, here's a little itinerary for visiting Toronto!

Day One

Start the Day with an Epic Breakfast

Renaissance Toronto Downtown Hotel Breakfast If you read my review of the Renaissance Toronto Downtown Hotel, you will know that the breakfasts in this hotel are pretty damn epic and should be tried by everyone. RELATED: That hotel sounds amazing right? Read my review of the Renaissance Toronto Downtown Hotel here!

Guided Tour of the City

Toronto Christmas Skyline Toronto Flat Iron Building I talways recommend a free walking tour when you first arrive in a city as they are a great way to orientate yourself and learn about the city you are visiting. However, we visited Toronto in late December and temperatures were plummeting below freezing. For that reason, many of the walking tour companies were running a limited service (if at all), so we were left searching for an alternative. We found Gerardo on Tours By Locals who organised a drive-through tour of the city, gave us in depth knowledge on a city he is clearly passionate about and generally set-us up well for our trip. We covered so much in our time with Gerardo that it would be impossible to list it all here but highlights include the Discovery District (home to the beautiful University of Toronto buildings), Casa Lomas (from the outside, we later re-visited to go inside), the Distillery District and a secret little spot for a great skyline view of Toronto without having to visit Toronto Island.

People Watch In Nathan Phillips Square

Toronto Sign Nathan Phillips Square As we were visiting in December, the ice rink was open and people were visiting in masses to skate in-front of the famous "Toronto" sign. Given the fact that I can barely walk in a straight line without falling over (this goes for my sister too), we decided not to give skating a go - there wasn't even a rail around the edge to hold on to! But people watching was just as fun!

St Lawrence Market

Toronto St Lawrence Market Christmas St Lawrence Market is Toronto's answer to Borough Market and was extra fun to explore with all of it's Christmas decor! The perfect place to stroll around and escape the bitter Winter wind! Much of the market is aimed at locals with fresh produce for cooking, but we did find some great little "cafe" type stalls for drinks and cake! Distillery District Toronto Brewery District Mill St We were briefly introduced to the distillery district on our earlier tour with Gerardo but decided to return later on in the day to explore properly. The one thing I wish we had done is visit the district at night when it's buzzing with people! If you are visiting during a cold day, make sure you check out the chocolate shop and get one of their hot chocolates!

Dinner in the CN Tower

Toronto View From CN Tower Nighttime The CN Tower is arguably the most recognised building in the city and for good reason! One of the first things we booked (after the flights and hotel of course) was a chance to have dinner in the revolving restaurant. The entire experience was great (other than the rude waiting staff) and I will be writing a full post about the restaurant in due course! Stay tuned!

Day Two

Niagara Falls Helicopter Niagara Falls View from Helicopter  The opportunity to experience Niagara Falls was essentially the reason that we chose to visit Toronto for our annual family Christmas trip, so it's safe to say that I was excited for this day! As we were visiting in December, the boat trip through the falls wasn't running but we did manage to take a helicopter ride over the falls as well as complete the "journey behind the falls"! On the way back from the falls, we also visited Niagara-On-The-Lake which is the most gorgeous little town and tried the famous Canadian ice wine! I won't ramble about this day too much as I have a whole blog post dedicated to this day which you can read here!

Day Three

Casa Lomas

Toronto Casa Lomas Family If this isn't the first time you've read my blog, you'll know that I absolutely love castles! Casa Loma was built in 1911 as the home for Sir Henry Pellett - while it's not strictly a castle (Wikepedia describes it as a "Gothic revival style house and gardens), it's pretty damn close (albeit much newer than the Castles you see in Europe) and definitely worth a visit! Casa Lomas put on loads of Christmas activities (mainly aimed at kids) including having reindeer on the grounds!

Shopping on Bloor Street / Yorkville Avenue

Toronto Christian Louboutin Bloor St This area of Toronto is the "high end shopping" district - think Fifth Avenue and Regents Street. As we visited shortly after Christmas, the "Boxing Week" (week?! We only have a day in the UK!) sales were in full swing. Some of the shops are really gorgeous - my favourite being the bright red Christian Louboutin design! My only purchase was a Kate Spade black backpack which was heavily discounted! I've used it practically every day since, so I'm very happy with my bargain purchase!

A bit more shopping in the Eaton Centre...

Boxing Day sales scare me, in the UK they are filled with hundreds of people pushing and shoving to get their grubby hands on the best deal. This was not the case in Toronto and it was a really pleasant experience! So we decided to carry on our shopping escapades with a trip to the famous Eaton Centre which is more high-street orientated than Bloor / Yorkville.

Take a Winter Wonderland Stroll Through Queen's Park

Toronto Queens Park Winter Snow .... Or any of the park areas really! We loved strolling through Queen's Park while the snow was settling, it was really beautiful and felt like a proper Winter Wonderland!

See A Show

Toronto Disney On Ice Did you know that Toronto is home to a whole host of theatres? I didn't! There were so many great ones to choose from, so making the decision will be the hardest part! As we had my "little" sister with us (20 years old with the mental age of an 8 year old), we were all dragged to watch the latest Disney on Ice show. It certainly wouldn't be my first choice but it was fun having 6 year old girls stare and judge you for knowing all the words and singing along loudly without shame.

Day Four

Steam Whistle Brewery

Toronto Steam Whistle Brewery On our hunt for something close-by to do on our day of departure, Steamhouse Brewery was recommended to us by the lovely people of of the internet and we had a great time! The motto of this brand is to "do one thing really really well", so they only produce one type of beer but boy do they know what they're doing! I'm not a huge fan of beer but it's fun to see how these things work - our tour guide was super friendly and funny which added to the whole experience!

Lunch on the Harbour

Toronto Skyline Despite the fact it was December, on our last day in the city the sun was shining which made for a beautiful stroll along the harbour where we decided to have lunch. If you've got spare time in the city, I highly recommend spending some time in this area - there are even little beaches with deck chairs along the route (which we obviously did not use in December)!

Fly Home

And like that, our first ever trip to Canada was over and we were headed back to the less snowy but equally cold UK!

Other Options

Toronto Islands

A short ferry ride from the mainland harbour are Toronto Islands. Gerardo (our tour guide on the first 2 days) spoke glowingly of the Islands in the summertime as they are a nature lover's paradise - however we were visiting in the dead of winter and boats were not running frequently enough for us to enjoy the islands. This is where you will get the ultimate skyline shot of the city!

A Whole Host of Museums

Toronto is home to a whole host of museums. From some of the more "normal" establishments such as the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario, you'll also find some more quirky treats such as the Bata Shoe Museum & the Hockey Hall of Fame!

Ripley's Aquarium

Directly outside our hotel and the CN Tower was Ripley's Aquarium which looks blimmin' HUGE! If you've got some spare time to kill, this looks like a fab activity, especially with kids! But if you've read my Versatile Blogger Award post, you'll know that I have a completely irrational fear of fish and all sea creatures, so this was a big no no for me!

Catch a Baseball game at the Rogers Centre

The Rogers Centre is home to the baseball team the Toronto Blue Jays. While our hotel had a view into the Rogers Centere (cool right?!), unfortunately there weren't any games on while we were visiting! So there you have it, a fab 4 days in Toronto! Have you ever been? Where would your perfect Winter break be?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.

Danielle1      
241855-ian-snow-christmas-globes-lifestyle-2

Photo Credit & where to purchase these baubles: here

01. So, how many long weekends can I buy as presents for other people before it's obvious that these are really just presents for me? 02. Oh my god, it's nearly 2017, I have no travel plans yet. WHERE DO I WANT TO GO? THE WORLD IS MY OYSTER. 03. Wait, no, how much annual leave do I have next year? Eurgh, is this the year I quit my job to travel? 04. I can't really afford to quit, maybe I'll buy another lottery ticket this week... or six. 05. Am I allowed to use my phone at the dinner table today? RyanAir just announced their boxing day sale... PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT: £9.99 FLIGHTS EVERYONE. NINE POUNDS. 06. More presents with maps on? You guys know how to please me. 07. All of these travel pictures, posters, scratch maps, memorabilia as presents are great... but I'm running out of wall space. Time to build a new wall. 08. Do people think I'm weird for getting excited about packing cubes as a present? Probably. Do I care? No. 09. I'm off work till the New Year - where can I go to escape the miserable British weather? Ooooooh, this snowy Winter holiday looks fun, I'll go somewhere with even worse weather than home! Logic. 10. I want to go away over Christmas. Wait, what if that country doesn't have pigs in blankets?

RELATED POST: THE ULTIMATE TRAVELLER’S CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE

Okay, so maybe it's not a list for EVERY traveller. I know my obsession with RyanAir and pigs in blankets is abnormal, but I'm sure you can relate to at least some of them! I honestly can't believe that it's Christmas already. 2016 has flown by so quickly - it's been a pretty pants year by all accounts, but I did get to travel to some new and exciting places (you can read my 2016 travel round up here). I can't complain too much though, on Boxing Day I'm off to Canada - what are your plans for Christmas? I want to hear all about them!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Danielle1

IMG_3477 v2IMG_3468 v2IMG_3478 v3 If you've read my London Winter Bucket List, you'll know that I wanted to try a "festive" afternoon tea because there is no combination better than "food" and "Christmas". You may also be aware if you follow me on Twitter that I have two work buddies who are also bloggers, so we jumped at the chance to make a booking a B Bakery in Covent Garden for one night after work! Sadly Charlie (lifestyle blogger) wasn't able to make the evening but it's okay because myself and Amy (baking blogger) definitely ate enough on her behalf! I'll stop nattering now and get on to the good stuff... B Bakery Formally know as "Bridget's Bakery", B Bakery is famous for it's Afternoon Tea bus tours which, if you hadn't guessed, involve eating a selection of Afternoon Tea classic foods whilst touring around London on a big red bus - could you do something more quintessentially English? My friend Charlie has written about her experience on the bus here if you're interested. I really like the idea and it would be great for someone who is only in the city for a few days but wants to sample the English tradition of Afternoon Tea whilst still being able to continue their sightseeing! However, if you're not a fan of eating whilst in motion (not an issue for me, I will eat wherever and whenever I can), you'll be glad to hear that the have a cute little bakery in Covent Garden. The Menu From 15 November 2016 - 5 January 2017, B Bakery offer a "Christmas Afternoon Tea" and the menu features some great twists on the usual afternoon tea classics. The turkey sandwich was to die for (who doesn't love a good turkey sandwich?!) and there wasn't one thing on the menu that we didn't enjoy. I only removed the salmon from the smoked salmon blinis as I don't eat fish - otherwise everything was perfect! The only thing that could have improved the menu is something that truly makes you think of a good Christmas dinner like pigs in blankets maybe? I am obsessed with those tasty little buggers. There was a wide selection of teas and coffees, including one Christmas Tea which is cinnamon based - yum! But of course I opted for the hot chocolate which was great! As well as a hot drink, a glass of fresh orange juice and a glass of prosecco are included in the price! Menu.PNG Overall Opinion For £33 on a weekday and £36 on a weekend, this isn't the most expensive afternoon tea experience available, you get a lot of food/drink and it will definitely get you in the Christmas spirit - there's something about pulling a Christmas cracker and plonking a silly hat on my head (ridiculous selfie below) that makes Christmas seem real - so if you are in London and want to try something new, I'd definitely give this a go! IMG_3480 - v2 I'm an avid fan of afternoon teas and it was great to try something a bit different to the usual fare. Have you visited B Bakery before? What did you think?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Danielle1

London Winter Pavement LightsLondon Oxford Street LightsLondon Winter Snow Big BenLondon Harry Potter Studios HogwartsLondon Festive Afternoon Tea B Bakery
Where photos are not my own, the watermark shows the credited author. Please click on the photo to view the original source.
Working in London means I take it for granted and don't go out of my way to enjoy what the city has to offer. I rarely visit London at the weekends seeing as I have to do the 3 hour round commute every week day already! However, London is the perfect place during Winter (despite the bitterly cold weather). So in an attempt to get myself out and exploring this beautiful city, here is the ultimate Winter London Bucket List!
  1. Visit the ultimate Christmas London destination - Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
  2. See the Covent Garden decorations because who doesn't love a giant reindeer?
  3. Ice skating at Somerset House (once I stop being a wuss)
  4. See the amazing window displays on Oxford Street
  5. Eat festive treats at Borough Market (... and the non festive treats... JUST EAT EVERYTHING)
  6. Explore the lights of Kew Garden After Dark
  7. See a Christmas show on the West End - Cinderella pantomime anyone?
  8. Stumble across Christmas Markets
  9. Take a frosty walk around the many parks - who knows, you might be lucky and get snow!
  10. See Trafalgar Square's  giant Christmas tree (which apparently resembles a gerkin this year lol)
  11. Grab a mulled wine... or two!
  12. Splurge on loved ones in Harrods and Hamley's for the little ones!
  13. Curl up in a cosy English pub to escape the cold because there's nothing better than a hearty pub lunch!
  14. Treat yo'self to a luxury Christmas decoration from Liberty (and then cry when it comes out of the loft broken next year)
  15. Explore the WHOLE Christmas floor at Selfridges (and probably the other floors too, just for good measure)
  16. If Somerset House isn't your cup of tea, head to Canary Wharf for futuristic skating surrounded by skyscrapers
  17. Experience a luxury Fortnum and Mason Christmas Hamper
  18. Go for a festive afternoon tea
  19. Get squished in the crowds watching the New Years Eve fireworks
  20. Eat your way through the Taste of London Festive Festival (which is stupidly in November and I have now missed)
  21. Go behind the scenes of the films and visit the Harry Potter Studios for "Hogwarts in the Snow"
  22. Hit the Boxing Day sales (... if you're brave)
  23. Drink in a rooftop WigWam surrounded by Winter Nordic Viking decor at Queen of Hoxton
  24. Shop, eat and Drink at the Southbank Winter Market
  25. Test your cold threshold by taking a drink at The Ice Bar
  26. Just explore and enjoy all of the pretty twinkly lights!

RELATED: Want to see my all-year round London bucket list? Be sure to read this!

I absolutely love the city at this time of year and definitely want to take a trip one weekend in December - is there anything else you love doing in London?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.

Danielle1