After a one-day break in Montreal we headed down southwest to Toronto. The trip took us 7 hours and in the back seats a lot of activities were going on. The grandparents ensured a hassle free ride with our three kids. They told stories from the past and played traditional games like City-Country-River and Battleship. On the other hand, our kids introduced the grandparents to the latest features of the iPhone and to Siri. Eventually, our daughter introduced the app Dubsmash and it caused a lot of laughter watching the grandparents synchronizing popular movie scenes. So did the comment of grandpa describing the music the kids listen to as “sounding like church bells which have backlocked…” A self-made on the fly pick-nick on a green field next to the road rounded up a funny and active trip.
Approaching Toronto we were all in a good mood and got really impressed by the skyline. After a quick check-in at our hotel, we immediately headed downtown to enjoy a meal at the restaurant Little India which we got recommended by a Toronto couple we met in Montreal – it was indeed very good. Thanks to the ytravelblog we got the insider tip to go to the center island to get a perfect view of the skyline from the water.
In Toronto I also asked locals the question “Why this is a great place to live in?”. I got answers like “it has a great diversity” and “it is very multi-cultural”, “people like to perform and show arts”. The city also hosts the CMW Canadian Music Weeks. I was also told the town arranges several other events and festivals to contribute to different charity organizations, giving artists a place to perform.
Walking downtown we also made it to the fancy and charming Distillery District and immediately understood the statement from above. Lifestyle, multicultural and socializing was definitely something in focus. We passed tons of restaurants where people were sitting outside, plenty of shops with clothing and interior design, smaller stores with art and crafts work and everywhere music were playing. Toronto may not have many attractions to offer but it is for sure a town where you can enjoy life.
Next up was Detroit, the old motor town. With the expansion of the automobile industry Detroit was once the fourth-largest city in the country. Now it is just a shadow of its former glory. People had warned us saying “Detroit has become a real ghost town”, so we were prepared but never would we have thought that we would feel the absence of people that much, we could almost touch it. We arrived on a Monday late afternoon when you normally would expect rush hour – instead our car was almost the only one on the wide highway leading into town.
We checked in at the fancy and industrial Hotel Trumbull and Porter. This time we had planned to explore the town on bikes but as the hotel did not have any kid bikes they directed us downtown to a bike rental place at the Detroit Riverfront. It was quite empty here as well, so guess our surprise when we learnt all their 40 bikes were rented out. The only thing we could get was one single kids bike. We stored it together with all seven of us in the van and drew back to the hotel. However, there we learnt the bikes were locked in a room and the key was gone with the hotel manager, who couldn’t be reached. No other alternative than bringing back the kids bike and use our legs to explore the town instead. Kind of complicated to rent bikes in Detroit! Anyway, we did the best of the situation and had a sundowner downtown at “The Beach at Campus Martius Park”. Later we had dinner at Slows Bar BQ– which I can highly recommend both in terms of food at atmosphere.
Here how our 13-year-old daughter felt about Detroit: “What really strikes me in Detroit is the social and happy atmosphere. Everybody seems to know each other, even though the city is quite big. All the people around us were happily socializing, especially the teenagers. They had basketball courts and soccer tables set up, literally in the middle of the city for everyone to play with and even an area filled with sand to play volleyball or just simply a playing area for the children. So if you’re still debating about going to Detroit or not, it’s still worth going there at least for the social and happy atmosphere”.
When I asked some locals working in the hotel what is good about living in Detroit, they immediately pointed out their sport teams and all the delicious food. I was told a story about a good deed how a young man’s family helps look after the neighbor’s daughter who is addicted to alcohol. As her mother is away most of the time they make sure she gets her medication, take her to the doctor, bring food and clean the house. Another woman stated that “You should not just be passing by people sitting in the street. The least you could do is to give them a smile or maybe buy them a meal and show them that you care – make a difference”. I got the feeling that people do care in Detroit.
Next up is Chicago…. to be continued.