Originally Posted by MonkeyRonin
I recall a recent thread asking "which cities were you unimpressed with?", and seeing London brought up a lot. Which is understandable - for what was a long time the largest and most important city in the world, it doesn't have the sense of grandeur that jumps out at you like it does in other European capitals. It's kind of understated and can even be downright ugly in the centre of town - but give it more time and the depth and scale of the place becomes a little more apparent.
What always shocks me the most about London is the standard of housing. Sure there are gorgeous residences but the type of housing regular Londoners live in is not what you expect in a city that was once the world's biggest city and centre of an empire.
When my mother moved to London from Finland in the 60s she was absolutely appalled at how people lived. Things have improved a ton since then but it's still a couple notches below what average income people in New World nations are accustomed to.
Originally Posted by MonkeyRonin
Everyone's experience is different I guess, but this is one of the more bizarre assessments of Toronto I've read. The vast majority of retailers (even in the core, and even in newer, higher-rent buildings) are independents, and I can't think of a North American city besides New York and maybe Montreal that's less auto-oriented.
And midwestern burgers and beer? I don't even know where to start with that one... it's too bad if you stumbled upon a couple boring places, but the eating, drinking, and shopping options are one of the best parts of the city (and not particularly hard to find). I'll grant you that it's not the best looking place and I totally understand its charms aren't for everybody, but that's one thing you couldn't be more wrong about.
I found his viewpoint bizarre as well. There are cities that impress at first sight but start looking worse the longer one stays there. They have 200 year old palaces, cobble stone streets, and world famous sights. When you live in a place for 6 months or more you start noticing the rest.
Then there are cities that lack a Louvre or Big Ben so fail to dazzle right away. Toronto falls into this category. I admit to not liking Toronto the first 3 times I visited (1980, 1989 and 1991). I thought it was ugly and shabby (although this is changing) with no show stoppers other than the CN Tower which I also viewed as rather ugly.
The more time I spent in Toronto the more I liked it. You start appreciating things like the ravines/ravine houses, Centre Island, the waterfront, the row houses, old neighbourhoods that seem to go on forever, the knock your socks off diversity, the food, the vibrancy, the energy, a gelling Toronto culture that looks destined to explode on to the world stage, the entertainment options, and its giddy pace of growth.
Toronto is now my favourite city on earth and never ever find myself bored with the constant change and collision of cultures. Toronto might not have the best museum in the world, or the best park in the world, but it does so many things very very well. What strikes me about Toronto that isn't initially obivious is that anything and everything is on offer... even things you wouldn't expect to find like great beaches. It's a city for everyone and every income level. I even love the CN Tower now. It's fantastic and the best thing Toronto ever built.
I suppose Toronto doesn't have a mountain and if I want vineyards I have to drive an hour. No place is perfect I guess.