My friend and I were visiting Toronto, Canada and arranged to join the Bikes & Bites Tour for a venture around the city. It’s a relatively flat city and therefore perfect for a bike tour in the sun.
We met Sean outside Union Station which was easy to locate, his directions instructed that he’d be waiting with a bright green clipboard. Sure enough, he was. We spent some time learning from Sean about the history of Toronto and how the city came into formation. It’s incredible to think that with the landmass of Canada, the population is just 37 million… The UK is around 66 million!!
Sean also explained more about Queen Elizabeth’s role as head of state. Incidentally her residence in Toronto is at the Fairmont New York, an imposing building opposite Union Station.
We’ve yet to visit Toronto Islands but learned that at one point this was intended to act as a line of defence against America.
Whilst waiting for the rest of the group to arrive, Sean explained that he started the Bikes & Bites Tour in August 2018. He’s an experienced guide following a stint in Munich, Germany where he also hosted large travel groups to the city.
When Sean had welcomed our group of five, we followed the underground Path signs which connect an underground network for locals to get around the city. This took us to the bike storage and was our starting place for the tour.
Our first stop was at Toronto’s graffiti alley. Here, Sean explained the difficult visit if graffiti in the city and how recent years have seen a transition in the appreciation for street art. Artists are now welcomed and respected for their ability to transform parts of the city into literal works of art.
Some murals around this area have cost as much as C$20,000 to produce. Artists in this area include @uber5000 who also produced a wax textured mural that dominates an entire side of a building.
We then moved on to our first food stop of the day in Chinatown, an opportunity to try Char Siu Bao aka pork buns. These were divine and are freshly made on a daily basis.
This was a short stop before we got back onto our bikes to cycle to Kensington.
At Kensington Village, Sean paused to talk with us about this particular part of the city. I was immediately struck by the diversity of the area – a Trinidadian restaurant neighbours an Italian, which is near to a Jamaican, Hungarian and Spanish. It’s so vibrant here and beautiful to look around on the sunny day that we had in the city.
We also had an opportunity to check out Cold Tea (albeit closed) renown for serving drinks and dumplings, the name being a nod to the Chinese tradition of cold tea being alcohol/beer served in tea pots.
Kensington Village is a great location to see Torontonians enjoying bric a brac stores, independent boutique-type stores and also to indulge in buying cannabis, which was legalised fairly recently in 2018.
Whilst in Kensington, Sean explained the popularity of Jamaican beef patties (one of my favourites) in Toronto and of course, provided a few for our group to enjoy.
We had a brief stroll around the area – reminds me a lot of Camden in London, before getting back on our bikes and cycling to the campus for University of Toronto.
At University of Toronto we discussed the increasing cost of tuition (which remains lower than the UK) whilst admiring the grounds and the architecture of the buildings. It’s a beautiful campus, one that any student would be privileged to study at.
It’s also a great spot to see the skyline of Toronto.
From the University of Toronto we cycled to Koreatown along Bloor Street, a hub for Korean businesses in Toronto.
Here we tried fish waffles (that contain no fish) but are actually just waffles with either a custard or red bean filling.
Sean also gave our group some time to browse the Korean supermarket. For me, this became a chance to try more samples of noodles and dumplings.
After this delicious snack we wrapped up the tour with a bike ride back towards downtown Toronto and through Trinity Bellwoods Park, Toronto’s equivalent of Central Park in New York or Hyde Park in London. On a day like this is full of people sunbathing, playing sports and just enjoying the beautiful surroundings.
Bikes & Bites Tour is engaging and ideal for foodie travellers that want to enjoy a relaxing way to see the city. Sean was well organised and friendly whilst obviously being passionate about Toronto. The tour is one that I’d highly recommend to anybody that wants to get acquainted and to see as much as possible in a relatively short amount of time, particularly other neighbourhood’s like Chinatown and Koreatown.
The tour lasts for just four hours, allowing plenty of time to return and see any highlights that you want to explore in more depth.
My friend and I both enjoyed the Bikes & Bites Tour with Sean. He’s interesting and knows so much about the city that it’s impossible not to share his passion. The tour is priced at just C$75, highly recommended for making the most of seeing Toronto as a local.