Jorge’s Guide to Toronto – II

The Journey Continues…

Welcome back to my guide to the city I live in.

In this chapter, I will be dealing with a few more cultures, as well as some extra points you may want to consider.

Landmarks are an important part of travel. They are usually famous places that you can use as a point of reference, so you don’t get lost. You can also learn interesting things about the history of the city from some of the major landmarks, as steps have been taken to ensure that information is posted at these places. Landmarks can also make up part of the unique skyline of the city.

These skylines are like fingerprints. Every major city has a recognizable skyline. If you don’t know what the skyline of your city looks like, just go to a book shop or souvenier store and check out some postcards. A pattern will make itself apparent.

Toronto is no exception. In fact, it has one of the most recognizable skylines of any city in the world…

Is That a Landmark Or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

I have come to the conclusion that if the city of Toronto was a gender, it would be male. I’m not referring to the smell, or stuff lying all over the place. No, I am referring to the giant penis along the lakeshore in our downtown core.

The CN Tower was first conceived as a communications platform (radio and television), a testatment to Canadian ingenuity and probably a healthy dash of my-dad-can-beat-up-your-dad machismo.

From what I gather, the observation decks were added later on in the plan. Construction of the CN Tower was worked on non-stop for over three years. When it was finally completed, it was a sight to behold.

On top of being a communications nexus and observation tower, it also acts as an entertainment centre, complete with revolving restaurant and other goodies. If you decide to try to stand on the transparent floor and pretend you are Superman (the floor looks down several hundred metres to the cold, hard ground below), make sure you wear a diaper.

Visit the CN Tower if you ever find yourself in the neighbourhood. You won’t be disappointed. Following are two links to more information…

Actually, I just checked what I wrote against the Wikipedia entry and I was right on the money! Not that I would have changed anything if was wrong…


There are two major subgroups in this category: European and Brazilian. Since I haven’t been able to find the geographical distribution to indicate distinction, I’ve thrown them both into one category.

This could be considered a faux-pas, as I have observed that the older generations of European and Brazilian Portuguese people have some kind of long-standing feud based on something lost to memory. The younger generations don’t, though, which makes visiting these parts of town a lot more comfortable.

Another interesting distinction is the language. While they both speak Portuguese, they each have their own variations. European Portuguese is a clipped, sharp-sounding latinesque language. The Brazilian version, on the other hand, is softer and more sultry.

Vocabulary is also tricky. A Brazilian acquaintance of mine told me once that he was in Portugal, and someone asked him (in European Portuguese) to stand in a queue to wait for the banker. In Brazilian, the European word for queue translates to homosexual. Needless to say my acquaintance was momentarily taken aback. Brazilian contains a lot of slang, usually double meanings of a sexual nature. Hell, I think every word in Brazilian contains some sexual connotation.

From my observations, there are two major sections of the city that can be classified as Portuguese

  • Bloor St W from Ossington to Dufferin

  • Dundas St W from Ossington to Lansdowne

These neighbourhoods have some great little markets to do grocery shopping, as well as a lot of bakeries. You can’t visit one of these neighbourhoods without trying one of the infamous Portuguese custard tarts called pasteis de nata. These heavenly baked treats simply melt in your mouth. Each bakery and coffee shop has their own unique flavour. Ironically, in my opinion, the best pasteis de nata can be attained at Caldense, which is nowhere near the neighbourhoods listed above. These tarts are almost if not as good as the original pasteis from Belém in Porgugal.

When strolling around in these areas, you might also be lucky enough to see a game of Capoeira in progress. Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art, which you can read about here. You should join in the music by clapping to the rhythm (if those in the circle are clapping). Don’t stand too close to the inner circle surrounding the action, though. You might be asked to play.

Every lunch and dinner hour are bustling around these neighbourhoods. Weekends, there are probably even more people out for walks with their families, chatting with neighbours, and so on. Yes, in true Europen fashion, there are also old men wearing hats, playing cards and possibly soccer.


  1. Introduction, Italian, Chinese

  2. CN Tower, Portuguese

  3. TTC, Greek

  4. Zanta, Ukrainian

16 Responses

  1. The CN Tower is very cool. Standing on the glass floor totally freaks me out… for some reason *sitting* on the glass floor results in much less anxiety… I guess looking down and seeing 1,124 ft (sitting) is so much better than looking down and seeing 1,127 ft (standing)…

  2. Given my fear of elevators. i will never reach the top of the CN tower. But someday i would like to look at it… from a close distance… I cant wait to come out there sometime!
    i will print off your guides before leaving for reference material


  3. LOL leave it to a male to compare the CN tower to a penis
    Roflmao! I remember visiting the CN when I was very young, and I actually thought I was on the top of the world. Or at least thats what my dad told me, and I beleived him. I did also visit the Pantages Theatre to see the Phantom Of the Opera, I will never forget that! and I think my only other memory is of Young Street….um…and that was not a good one LOL

    Hope all is well with you!
    take care and HUGs

  4. I broke a cardinal rule of mine to never visit a “new” (to me) space while in the midst of..whatever it is I am in the midst of currently.. pffft..
    But you made me laugh so much I just had to say thank you..
    I tripped over here via Q.. she says you’re hysterical.. And now I see why..
    Finally — a photographer that’s better than I..but less “pretentious” than I…hehehe… (finally.. finally.. wanna come over and talk shop some day? I could use the distraction..)
    I can’t wait to come back and read more..when I am not chasing small carbon based life forms around.. tsk..
    Lovely place here Jorge..cant wait to go see your photography site..!!!!
    peace – sol-

  5. I’ve always wanted to go to Portugal. Now, I guess I can take the cheap tour and head to Toronto! I MapQuested it. Only 507 miles! That’s a day trip.

    If only I’d known this at the BEGINNING of my vacation (last Saturday)… I actually could have been part of that CSI conversation. LOL.


  6. I love reading these kinds of blogs from you 🙂 Makes me want to go and explore 🙂

  7. Jorge, I LOVE your Toronto; MY Toronto consists of about 6 blocks around the Eaton Centre…

  8. I can’t wait to get there! I’ll see if Toronto isn’t a woman!

    Thanks for your honest comment on my blog today. Clearly my thoughts didn’t translate well to paper – why don’t we chat about it, say on FRIDAY?!?!?

    I’m in PA right now and will be leaving for your motherland late in the week. Get the city ready for me! 🙂

  9. Hi Jorge

    I was by the other day and thought for sure I had commented.. shows you what thought will do!
    I have been away working, working and working however it is nice to be back and visiting again:)
    I lived in Toronto some many years ago however I found your descriptions far more interesting than what I remembered:)
    Oh and I never thought of the CN Tower as a penis.. hahaha but then I’m such a girl 🙂
    Have a delightful week


  10. I’m definitely checking out more of the Portuguese section the next time I am in TO for training… hopefully soon. I still dream of that little Polish restaurant in Roncesvailles… And all those Vietnamese places…

    Shirtless Santa however will haunt me til the end of time. In the middle of a busy intersection, doing push-ups to R Kelly, as I sit outside at a table at Second Cup, sipping my tea, clearly amused at my Toronto experience.

    Hope you had a good weekend Jorge pronounced ‘George’.
    The CN tower really is a big penis….


  11. well toronto sounds like a cool city, jorge. i love little neighborhood markets. des moines doesn’t have much in the way of those, unless you count the farmer’s market on saturday mornings. but those are temporary set ups, of course.

    and the penis loving skyline. ha. i was just in lincoln, NE this weekend, and apparently they call their capital the penis tower or something like that.


  12. ola Jorge!!
    i watched your photographs…i liked landscape pics…keep them coming more and more

    nice review about portugese


  13. Good post.

    I an awesome picture my dad took in 1971 of myself and my mom, taken from Toronto Island, with an excellent view of the CN tower in the progress of construction. It doesnt have the observation decks built yet. Wow…its amazing how the skyline has changed. I should scan it for you.

  14. there is also some more information on capoeira at this page:

    Capoeira in Toronto

  15. Thanks, Sabotage.

    I don’t normally condone “ads” on here, but the fact that you have the only group that stepped up should be points for your initiative.

    People should also check out:


    so they have some variety.

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