My first trip to Toronto was basically a 48 hour whirlwind. Came to town, had dinner, went to the MAC factory, then back to the airport. I wanted to experience more the second time around. On Friday 16 the homie Luvvie and I flew into the Billy Bishop Toronto Airport, for the first ever Soulafrodisiac event.
First stop – FOOD! I was absolutely starving by the time we arrived, so our first stop was the nearest Caribbean restaurant. Ann Marie of Soulafrodisiac took us to Ritz Caribbean Food, a Jamaican spot in downtown Toronto that features a decent menu of island favorites (and has seating and a killer soundtrack. From the moment I walked in and heard Beres, I knew I was in the right place!) The stewed chicken and rice were exactly what my soul needed. Then it was on to the next stop, for a special photo shoot!
The venue for the photo shoot turned out to be the same venue for my event the very next day — Trane Studio, an elegant and super cool venue for dinner and live jazz. The walls are bedecked with images of the legends; Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, and of course John Coltrane. It’s intimate, dim, romantic – everything you’d want from a jazz venue.
The photo shoot was for Canadian apparel line Afrodelik, a funky, hand drawn, afrocentric apparel line designed by the adorable Desiree Marshall. The photos were shot by the gorgeous and talented Alexis Finch, and makeup was done by Amanda Taches (who REALLY needs a website. I think all makeup artists do!)
After the photo shoot, I had some blessed down time to explore more of downtown Toronto. We pretty much stuck to Yonge Street, the main thoroughfare which in parts reminded me of Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, with a touch of Wicker Park thrown in the further down we walked. Luvvie, Ann Marie and I had a ball checking out all of the boutiques — I was especially enthralled with Holt Renfrew, which has amazing department store windows and a KILLER beauty department. I found a new perfume I HAVE TO HAVE – Jasmin Noir by Bvlgari, you will be mine. Oh yes, you will be mine!
I didn’t get to see as much of downtown Tdot as I wanted to this visit, because of the Toronto International Film Festival hotels were at max capacity so we stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn…in Markham (shoutout to Elmo, making things happen at the front desk). At this point I feel more familiar with Markham than Toronto. So my NEXT visit will have to include more downtown time for sure!
Saturday was all spent at the Trane Studio, hosting my back to back events. All day was a massive outpouring of love, and a gorgeous turn out of natural haired bellas there to enjoy the company and insights that I had to offer. From the blog posts I’ve seen, I think I did a great job of sharing my wisdom with the ladies of Toronto! YAY!!
Check out these amazing recaps!
Tanya Petraglia of TP Photography, our official event photographer. She wore her hair straight to the brunch event, and was so inspired that she let her natural curls out for the dinner event (which she apparently never does). And she looked beautiful!
Quite Simply, Ola, who brought a crew of super sweet girls – loved meeting and chatting with them all!
83 To Infinity — her style was SO DOPE!
NubianSoulLocs who was just warm and wonderful and beautiful!
SO many other people sent the sweetest tweets and photos and were just so delighted to meet me, thinking about the outpouring of love makes me a little verklempt. It was truly a beautiful experience.
Special shout out to Michelle of Naturally Nubian who came from the UK to attend the event and check out Toronto’s natural hair scene – she interviewed me and I think it’ll be on her blog soon! Thanks to Anya of I Heart My Hair for all of her support. Thanks to Janice of FAB Couture for being a great MC! Thanks to Lady Vee for her tireless work and support on every aspect of this event!
Carol’s Daughter – thank you for being so supportive and wonderful!
and Charlene’s Closet.
Thank you all for your support of Soulafrodiac’s first event and my visit to Toronto!
The next day of the visit got a little crazy. The original plan was to go to the Toronto Natural Hair & Beauty Show to say hello and show love to our friend Kim Coles — I heard it was GREAT and I’m sorry to have missed it! But because Luvvie had a flight at 6:30 the next morning (and we were on the last flight back to Chicago, YIKES) and also I was exhausted (and starting to come down with a cold) we decided to head back to the airport to get on stand by. That’s when we learned that Porter Airlines doesn’t play by the typical airline rules. Apparently our tickets were “firm,” and not “freedom” – which meant we would have had to pay $150 just to get on stand by. I honestly had never heard of such a policy and there a few moments at the airport counter where I may not have been the most pleasant person to be around. Luvvie and I decided to suck it up and head back to downtown Toronto. After wandering around dejectedly for a while we came upon Jack Astor’s, a Toronto chain brew pub that had killer cocktails, an amazing waiter (hey Mike at the Front St. location!) and WiFi. Luvvie and I enjoyed our downtime (and were productive, too!) and then headed back to the airport. Having mellowed out over a few cocktails and some awesome chicken wings, I was better able to appreciate the quirks of the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. Here’s what was different (and interesting) about the experience.
— you have to take a ferry to get from the mainland to this island airport. This ferry lasts for like, less than a minute. And there are lovely views of the city from the ferry.
— everyone at the airport was SO NICE. It was such a noticeable difference from oh, just about any other airport I’ve been in ever before. I left totally feeling that the stereotype of all Canadians being super nice was real.
— did you know in certain airports, if your shoes don’t have metal on them, you can wear your shoes through the security check? I didn’t! GLORY BE! My Toms passed muster!
— file this under this-may-not-work-anywhere-else-in-the-world — at the Billy Bishop airport, there are no restaurants or food items for sale. Instead, there’s a kitchenette that everyone uses and EVERYTHING IS FREE. You can make your own coffee or tea, drink water out of a real glass, and take bottles of soda or juice from the fridge. There are cookies and nuts and other little snacks. And it was all clean and well kept and respectful and…amazing. I made a cup of tea and had a small pack of Walker’s Shortbread cookies before leaving Toronto. VERY nice.
The trip to Toronto went really well! And then I came back to Chicago and got my first cold of the cold and flu season. Womp. I’m still fighting off the bug, but I’m back!
Thanks to everyone who made my trip to Toronto a success! I look forward to the next visit, for sure!