Here marks the point my notebook runs out. During the trip, I was about as good at writing about what we'd seen as I was at planning what to see in the first place. I was abysmal at both. New York, the end point of our journey, was the only exception (although if I could do it again, I'd probably abandon the diligent research and stick with the aimless wandering towards the main sights).

In any case, the rest of my posts about our trip last summer will be written entirely from memory. (And given just how long ago it was now, this is going to require some serious hippocampus work!)

The van drove up into the centre of Toronto and tipped us out onto sunny pavements. Excitement was seriously high; after weeks in the sticks, we had finally returned to civilisation and had a full day of freedom to do as we wished. Within seconds the group had scattered in all directions. Michele and I were due to meet his friend, an expat from Milan, in the afternoon. We had no idea what he had in store for us so for the time being, we proceeded to walk about without a single clue as to where we were going or what we would find.
We skirted busy roads, eavesdropping on the conversations of the young and ambitious of Toronto. Words wreathed the bustling pavements; debates about work, invitations to parties, catch ups and laughter. I wanted to join them and be a part of their circles. We had been there for all of five minutes but something about Toronto felt infinitely welcoming. There was a sense that somewhere in the city, there was a life to be had of our own.
Walking through the Kensington area, we stopped off for breakfast in a cosy and relaxed independent coffee shop. The summer streamed in through the windows as we drank coffee and nibbled on brownies, chatting about our trip so far and how it seemed to suddenly be drawing to a close.
Outside, we explored circles of streets, alleys and dead-ends, slowly perused the al-fresco rails of second-hand clothing stores and peered in through countless windows. Kensington has been described as everything from a hipster haven to more legend than district. It's one of Canada's National Historic Sites (historic having a relatively different meaning across the pond of course) and has been a thriving community since the 1800s.  
Something we noticed in Canada's Eastern cities was the sheer abundance of street art. In the neighbourhoods that were home to the independent cafes and shops, we found an extensive and free art gallery to admire in the sunlight. Otherwise inconspicuous alleyways and courtyards invited the ambling passer-by to step away from the main streets in a cacophony of colour.
We were aware that we'd been circling for about an hour and that we needed to make our way to meet Michele's friend beneath the CN Tower. Luckily there was little chance of getting lost with the tower sticking up like a pin on a map in the distance.
We threaded through the usual side streets and alleyways again, winding back up in the Chinatown district where fruit and vegetable stalls spilled onto the pavements beneath the clamour of hundreds of brightly coloured signs. The street art took a thematic turn here, depicting the Great Wall and vast Chinese mountain landscapes.
Something that struck me about Toronto more so than the other cities was the abundance of things to see. Not once did we get bored as we meandered through little-known streets, happening across interesting architecture and communities of people out together in the sunshine. One little park was full of school children from various different schools, playing games together and visiting a series of stalls full of activities for them to engage with.
We couldn't quite believe our eyes when we happened upon the imposing structure of the OCAD University for art and design. Sheltered as we were by the narrow alleys along the way, it was a surprise to see it suddenly loom above us as we emerged into a clearing. It looked like an alien spaceship about to abduct the unwitting inhabitants of the old house beneath us (which is now an art supplies shop, conveniently placed for the students of the university).

But there wasn't much time left so we hurried along to the CN tower to find our tour guide for the day...