NOEMI Sardeng is a Filipino-Canadian who has lived in Toronto, Ontario, Canada almost all her life. She was in her late teens when she moved to Toronto, studied there and acquired a diploma in Travel and Tourism. She eventually got married and now raising two kids in the same city she now calls home. The only time she lived outside of Toronto was in 2004. After about 4 years, she moved back in and has lived in the city since then. She claims that she’s not an expert on anything Toronto or anything in general but is more than enthusiastic to share some of her experiences and the good things that this city has to offer.
This Canadian national tells of Toronto’s attractions, traditions, best bargains and a sound advice for visitors to consider…
S&F: Which neighborhood in Toronto do you like best?
Noemi Sardeng: I’ve been to different neighborhoods in Toronto; each one has good things to offer. I’d be very bias and say the neighborhood where I’m currently living is one of the best. It is at the north east of Scarborough. The majority of people who live here is from Chinese and South Asian origin. I had also lived in the Danforth area, this neighborhood is known as the little Greek town for obvious reason, most of the residents have Greek background. I love both of these neighborhoods because they’re close to everything – shops, restaurants, public transit, etc. and the people are so friendly.
S&F: How do you travel around the city?
Noemi Sardeng: By local transits – subway trains, buses, RT (Rapid Transit) and street cars.
S&F: What are your favorite restaurants?
Noemi Sardeng: My husband and I are fond of all-you-can-eat buffets – Chinese buffet restaurants like China King Buffet, Star Walk and Mandarin. I like Greek restaurants, too. One of my favorites is Mr. Greek restaurant in Danforth. I also like Vietnamese restaurants, they serve the best varieties of soup!
S&F: Any recommendations for local foods or dishes to try?
Noemi Sardeng: POUTINE, a French/Canadian dish that every Canadian loves. It is so popular that you can find it at any fast food chain restaurant across the country. Other personal favorites of mine are dishes from different cultures like samosas, souvlakis with tzaziki sauce, sho-mai, and the list goes on.
S&F: What is your favorite local café or pub?
Noemi Sardeng: I’m not much of a coffee drinker but I love drinking tea and Tim Hortons has the best steeped tea and peppermint tea.
S&F: Any favorite shops?
Noemi Sardeng: I love Winners/Homesense. They have good selections of clothes, shoes and home decors at affordable prices.
S&F: Where are the best bargains?
Noemi Sardeng: I’d say Winners.
S&F: Where do you take visitors?
Noemi Sardeng: Niagara Falls. Although it’s not really in Toronto but very close to the city, just an hour or less drive. There are so many sights in the heart of Downtown Toronto like the CN tower. There’s no better place to view the city skyline but here plus it has fun features like the glass floor and the revolving restaurant called 360. I would also take visitors to the Harbourfront Centre, located along the shores of Lake Ontario. It is one of the scenic places you can be, best for taking pictures with different types of boats and ships in the background, not to mention the beautiful lake itself. Harbourfront Centre offers tons of activities for kids and adults alike. You can go skating or sailing, or just have a relaxing day by the water.
S&F: Do you have a favorite tourist spot?
Noemi Sardeng: CN Tower and Eaton Centre (best place to shop). I’d like to say Niagara Falls but it’s not really in Toronto.
S&F: What’s Toronto’s best attraction?
Noemi Sardeng: Too many to mention but I’d say the people. Toronto is known for its diversity and multiculturalism. This is what attracts me to this city, you can be in a foreign land and yet still feel like you belong. And the restaurants around the city that cater to all kinds of people of different cultures and background.
S&F: And the best museum?
Noemi Sardeng: Royal Ontario Museum. My son loves this. I remember he was only 3 years old when I took him there and he saw all these dinosaur displays. That’s when he decided to become a paleontologist and he became so obsessed with all things dinosaurs… books, figures, anything with dinosaur. It’s amazing how his curiosity and obsession with dinosaurs started from that one visit to the museum. Of course, this obsession only lasted for about 2 years. He’s 7 now but I’m taking him back to that museum again, who knows maybe it will rekindle his love for dinosaurs for the second time around!
If you’re into shoes, there’s also the shoe museum called Bata Museum. I’ve never been there but I heard it’s pretty good too!
S&F: Can you recommend a hotel?
Noemi Sardeng: Lots of them but the one I’ve actually been to is Hyatt.
S&F: What Canadian tradition do you like most?
Noemi Sardeng: I always love the Christmas tradition where we actually spend time with our family. It’s nice to see some houses decorated with flickering Christmas lights and other Christmas adornment. I also like the Canada Day celebration, its Canada’s Independence Day. My family and I usually go camping on a Canada Day long weekend. You can also see display of fireworks during the celebration.
S&F: Any advice for visitors?
Noemi Sardeng: Be prepared for the extreme weather. Always check the weather first before heading out and dress for it. It gets extremely cold in winter and extremely hot in summer. The weather can be unpredictable, so taking a sweater even in summertime won’t hurt you as it tends to get cold at night. My personal favorite seasons are spring and fall. The weather during these two seasons is pretty mild. If you want to explore Downtown Toronto, by foot is best, just wear comfortable shoes and off you go. Of course you can also take the local transit, very convenient but just like in any other cities, you must avoid the rush hours. Parking in the downtown area can be quite expensive if you’re travelling by car.
Photos courtesy of Noemi Sardeng