Three Perfect Days: Mumbai - United Hub
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Three Perfect Days: Mumbai

By The Hub team , May 04, 2015

Story by Amit Gurbaxani | Photography by Manjari Sharma | Hemispheres, May 2015

Few cities can excite and exhaust a visitor as much as Mumbai. Teeming, muggy and full of noise, the city exists on a precipice, endlessly teetering between energy and anarchy. It is, above all else, a place of contradictions, of gloss and grit, of chalta hai fatalism and fierce ambition. Some might say Mumbai has a dark heart, but few would deny that it's got soul.

Day 1 Graphic

In which Amit tucks into the best berry pulav in India and buys a bunch of stuff he doesn't need

Abode, the 20-room “anti-chain" hotel that opened in late 2013 in the tourist hub of Colaba, represents a departure from the over-the-top opulence that has long characterized high-end hospitality in Mumbai. In contrast to the aptly named Taj Mahal Palace nearby, Abode goes for the mix-and-match aesthetic popular with hipster hotels everywhere: patterned Bharat floor tiles, flea market knickknacks, Art Deco furnishings. And if that's not enough quirk for you: They keep packets of cookies by the lobby door, to give to the street children you will inevitably encounter after you leave.

I grab a few packs and head for the gleefully artistic South Mumbai neighborhood of Kala Ghoda, a five-minute stroll from the hotel, pausing along the way to take in a couple of the city's 19th-century architectural gems: the Romanesque Transitional Elphinstone College and the neo-Gothic Indian Mercantile Mansion. I also pop into the Rhythm House, Mumbai's most famous music store, where I grapple with a purchasing decision: Bombay Lounge or Bombay Chill Out?

Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi, Food writer and contributing editor for Vogue IndiaRoshni Bajaj Sanghvi, Food writer and contributing editor for Vogue India

Breakfast is at the Nutcracker, a small, funky vegetarian eatery that's known for serving excellent comfort food. I have the eggs Kejriwal, a dish of fried eggs on toast topped with cheese and chilies, which puts a spring in my step. I head out into the bright sunshine, passing the caricaturists, palm readers and rice writers lining the sidewalk, on my way to the largest, most unpronounceable museum in Mumbai.

The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya is still commonly referred to as the Prince of Wales Museum, which was its official name until the mid-1990s, when Bombay became Mumbai and many of its landmarks were renamed to reflect national rather than colonial traditions. The museum is housed in a huge domed building, an exceptional example of Indo-Saracenic architecture, which fuses European, Indian and Islamic styles to dramatic effect. The collection here is equally eclectic, encompassing everything from sixth-century religious statues to a stuffed white tiger. “Grrroar!" it says as I walk by—or maybe that's my stomach.

Lunch is a short taxi ride away at Britannia & Co., one of Mumbai's last remaining Parsi cafés, which were established in the early 20th century by Iranian immigrants. The crystal chandelier aside, this is not a swanky place—the paint is peeling, and the most prominent artwork is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II (the nonagenarian owner, Boman Kohinoor Irani, is a staunch royalist and can generally be found wandering among the diners extolling the virtues of the British Raj). Food writer and Vogue India contributing editor Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi insists, however, that you'd be hard pressed to get a better berry pulav anywhere in India.

“Bombay is easier to love than most big cities because of the social networks and support systems you so quickly form here, no matter which class or caste you belong to." —Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi

To prove her point, Roshni is joining me here, the first stop in a whirlwind tour of her favorite Mumbai eateries. “For me, one of the things that make Bombay such a great place is old restaurants like this," she says. “For a lot of people, it's almost as if their life depends on these places being open, because they go there to eat every day." We order the berry pulav, a richly flavored rice dish of chicken or mutton, spices, fried onions and tart barberries imported from Iran, and round things off with fluffy caramel custard. Boman stops at our table to soak up some deserved praise. “My son is the chef," he says, beaming, then sends us off with wishes for “a pleasant life and a safe journey."

On our stroll back to Kala Ghoda, we walk past the wrought iron gates of the Horniman Circle Gardens, where, in the 1850s, a group of traders formed the city's first stock exchange, in the shade of a banyan tree that still stands today. It's a picturesque, peaceful spot, but Roshni has her own reasons for coming here. “I love that the park is surrounded by people selling street food," she says, “from chana chor garam [fried and spiced chick peas] to bhel puri [a snack of puffed rice]."

I part ways with Roshni and head to the nearby home decor and design store Filter, which is filled with things I want but don't need. Having picked up a few vintage Hindi film posters, I head out to explore the many art galleries that have opened in the Colaba–Kala Ghoda area. One of the more prominent of these, Chatterjee & Lal, is housed inside the pleasantly shabby Kamal Mansion. I pop in to find a young couple taking selfies next to a fiberglass Spider-Man, which is a cast of its creator, British-Indian artist Hetain Patel, wearing the superhero suit.

The Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum is as renowned for its architecture as its exhibitsThe Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum is as renowned for its architecture as its exhibits

Not far from Patel's Spidey stands a testament to a different kind of power: the 85-foot, basalt-and-concrete Gateway of India, overlooking Mumbai Harbor—a Hindu-Muslim spin on the ceremonial arch. Built by the British in 1911 to commemorate themselves, it was also the point from which the last British troops left the country in 1948, which seems fitting. Today, it serves as a meeting point for locals, who are catered to by a clutter of street vendors selling roasted corn, ice cream and coconut water. I, however, have another kind of beverage in mind.

A quick stroll along the waterfront brings me to Cafe Marina, a rooftop bar that provides a perfect vantage point as the sun sets over the harbor, dousing the Gateway and the Taj hotel in pink and orange hues. “What's that?" I ask my waiter, pointing at a huge white structure in the distance. “Asvini Hospital," he replies, “where they filmed that movie with Amitabh Bachchan." In Mumbai, you're never far from a Bollywood reference.

From here, I walk five minutes or so for a spritz at the hotel, then cross the street to reunite with Roshni for dinner at Ling's Pavilion, a local institution where the decor, clients and quality of the food haven't changed in 20 years. “That's what I love about Ling's: the consistency," Roshni says. “The way the pot rice smells is exactly the same every time." We eat perfectly cooked salt-and-pepper prawns and meaty mushroom pot rice in view of a portrait of a white cat. “It's a piece of Chinese silk embroidery art," the restaurant's owner, Baba Ling, tells us with pride. “The Chinese consul-general gave it to us in appreciation of what we're doing for China."

A street vendor prepares pav bhajiA street vendor prepares pav bhaji

Our last stop of the evening is a few blocks northwest at Ellipsis, an artsy restaurant-bar designed by industry darling Thomas Schoos. There's clearly somebody important in the house tonight, because there are two huge bodyguards at the approach and a couple more seated at the table next to ours. Over cocktails, Roshni and I speculate about which Bollywood star might be here, only to learn that the muscle belongs to a local property developer. Ah, well.

On my way back to Abode, I make eye contact with a hand-drum seller. Oops. “Only 600 rupees, sir, 10 dollars," he says. “Five," I respond. We settle on eight and I walk away, fully aware that I've been had, but still tapping a happy beat.

Day 2 Graphic

In which Amit familiarizes himself with India's Great Soul and the potency of the Mega Frog

Iwake up and, after a quick bang on my new drum, take a long, relaxing soak in my room's claw-foot bathtub, then head to the lobby for a breakfast of pav bhaji, a wonderfully greasy dish of spiced mashed vegetables and buttered bread, which is said to have been invented in Mumbai in the 19th century to fortify mill workers for the hard day ahead.

I stuff myself into a black-and-yellow cab and head for the South Mumbai neighborhood of Tardeo, whose biggest claim to fame—or at least tallest—is the Imperial Towers, a pair of pointy skyscrapers that stand more than 800 feet high. The cab takes me down Marine Drive, a pleasant waterfront stretch that's lined with Art Deco buildings on one side and Lycra-clad joggers on the other, before depositing me in front of Mani Bhavan, Mahatma Gandhi's home from 1917 to 1934, now a museum.

 Tasneem Vahanvaty, Consultant at the National Centre for Performing ArtsTasneem Vahanvaty, Consultant at the National Centre for Performing Arts

It's a nice house, with screened balconies and ample shelving, but, more importantly of course, the chance to delve into the personal life of India's Great Soul is what draws the crowds. On one wall there's a picture of Gandhi with Charlie Chaplin. Nearby, there's a letter Gandhi wrote to Hitler in 1939: “Will you listen to the appeal of one who has deliberately shunned the method of war not without considerable success?" At a section relating incidents from Gandhi's childhood, a woman turns to a young child and says, “See, he was such a good boy."

Gandhi hailed from the western state of Gujarat, so it seems fitting that I'm having lunch today at Swati Snacks, a family-run eatery that's renowned for its fantastic Gujarati food. I'm joined by Tasneem Vahanvaty, a consultant with Mumbai's National Centre for Performing Arts. We order panki chatni (razor-thin rice pancakes rolled and wrapped in banana leaves) and fada ni khichdi (baked wheat, legumes and veggies)—then settle down to discuss the city of her birth. “Samuel Johnson said, 'When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life,' and that's how I feel about Bombay," she says. “People have a love-hate relationship with this city, and often both emotions are felt in the same breath."

Over the next half hour or so, as we ride in a sweltering taxi through Mumbai's traffic-clogged and cacophonous roads, it's easy to understand this sort of ambivalence. But then all is forgiven when we arrive at the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum, in the South Mumbai district of Byculla. Located in a mint-green Renaissance Revival mansion, this is Mumbai's oldest museum, having opened for business in 1872. The interior—with its arches and columns and elaborate wrought iron detailing—is so exquisite you'd be forgiven for forgetting the exhibits, which range from industrial art to dioramas of local communities. “Sindhi!" I shout, having spotted mine. Another highlight is a statue of Mumbadevi, the Hindu goddess after whom Mumbai is named.

“If you can afford it, this city can give you any kind of experience you want—cloistered avenues, urban fever, polyglot dining and a vibrant art scene. There is always something to do in Bombay, or something to see." —Tasneem Vahanvaty

The sun is going down, which means: time for a sundowner. I say goodbye to Tasneem and take a black-and-yellow to Aer, the Four Seasons bar, which, 34 floors above street level, is the highest in the city. From up here, Mumbai looks like a massive graphic equalizer bar, lit up against the black screen of the sky. Below the bright towers are streams of blue, the tarpaulin roofs of the city's slums. At the next table, a group of youngsters are playing a game of Spot the Building. Quietly, so as not to freak them out, I join in: the blunt pineapple of the Nehru Centre; Antilia, the Jenga-like, billion-dollar home of India's richest man.

Finally, I spot the pyramidal roof of the ITC Grand Central hotel, where I've booked a table at Kebabs and Kurries, a restaurant serving a vast range of Indian cuisine. First, though, I catch a taxi to Juhu, the North Mumbai suburb, where I check into the J. W. Marriott. Full of bright lights and big columns, the Mumbai Marriott “is the hotel where you're most likely to spot a Hindi film star," says the receptionist. Actors such as Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar, Kajol and Shilpa Shetty have all been spotted here, she says. I hang around in the bar for a while, waiting for Bollywood royalty to arrive, then realize with a jolt that I'm running late for dinner. Taxi!

My driver does a fine job of dodging through the traffic to get me to Kebabs and Kurries before closing time. The menu here is dizzying, so I play it safe and order the signature dish, dal Bukhara, black lentils lavished with cream and butter and slow-cooked in a tandoor. For dessert I have the shahi tukda, India's syrup-soaked version of bread pudding. It's a tasty, filling and somewhat narcotic meal—a nap might be in order. But no. Suck it up. Things to do.

blueFROG, Mumbai's best-known music club (and home of the Mega Frog) and a 1960s vision of the futureblueFROG, Mumbai's best-known music club (and home of the Mega Frog) and a 1960s vision of the future

I catch another cab to Lower Parel, a former mill district in the heart of Mumbai and home to blueFROG, the city's best-known music venue. Housed in an old industrial building, the club's interior is right out of 2001: A Space Odyssey, a '60s-inspired vision of the future that includes color-shifting circular booths and bubble-wrap bumps on the walls. But people aren't here to admire the decor—they're here to bounce around to the music of Mad Orange Fireworks, a jazz-funk band from Bangalore. At the bar, ordering a whiskey-and-watermelon cocktail called a Mega Frog, I start chatting with Suprateek Chatterjee, a local film reviewer and musician, with whom I discuss the club's recent renovations. “Apart from the new sofas," he says, “the washers in the loos have been changed!" This, we decide, calls for another round of Mega Frogs.

Day 3 Graphic

In which Amit samples progressive Indian cuisine and avoids the rigors of a seaside massage

Iwake up with a (mega) frog in my throat. With some effort, I manage to drag my head off the pillow and my body off the bed and plod over to the window. I'm looking out over three small bodies of water: a kiddie pool, an infinity pool and a saltwater pool. I could do with some of that. A quick dip later, I grab a croissant at the hotel's excellent Bombay Baking Company before taking a cab back to South Mumbai via the Bandra-Worli Sea Link, a swooshing cable-stayed bridge that offers glorious views of the city (if you're not the one doing the driving, of course).

I alight at the bridge's southern end, in Worli, one of seven islands that were merged, through a series of land reclamation projects started in the 1840s, to form Mumbai. A working fishing village, Worli comprises a warren of lanes where the aroma of fish being dried or fried is ever-present. I pass by a weathered-looking man who, apparently unaware of how good he'd look on a postcard, sits fashioning a net out of rope. Nearby is a fish market inhabited by the world's fattest stray cats. Then there's a wedding party of women in bright saris dancing down the street and showering blessings on the bride. It's perfect—almost as if they knew I was coming.

Jas Charanjiva, Street artist and co-founder of Kulture ShopJas Charanjiva, Street artist and co-founder of Kulture Shop

I decide not to use the Sea Link to return to the northern part of the city, heading instead through one of Mumbai's largest green spaces, Shivaji Park, which is filled with kids, canoodling couples and, above all, cricket matches. I stop for a while to lounge in the sun, then continue on to the futuristic Bandra Kurla Complex, a commercial district on the banks of the Mithi River.

Bandra Kurla isn't the most soulful place in Mumbai, but it is home to some fine restaurants, including the “progressive Indian" eatery Masala Library, by Jiggs Kalra. Hailed as the “czar of Indian Cuisine," Kalra has pulled out all the stops at this venture. My meal includes mushroom chai presented like a tea service—a consommé is poured from a kettle into a cup of dehydrated button mushrooms—followed by mutton chaap, an Indian iteration of spare ribs. I also have the jalebi caviar, a dessert so elaborate I don't have the space to describe it here. Despite the fanciful presentation, Kalra makes no concessions when it comes to taste—this is a wonderful meal.

“A few years ago, my husband and I were supposed to move to New York, but I wanted to experience life in Bombay. Any time we came here, we'd feel creative and inspired. I just love the hustle and bustle of the city." —Jas Charanjiva

From here, I catch an auto-rickshaw and head to the west side of Bandra, where I'm meeting local street artist Jas Charanjiva. Bandra West, as the area is known, is Mumbai's creative hub, home to many of the city's musicians, designers and artists. I meet Jas outside her store, Kulture Shop, which collaborates with Indian artists around the globe to produce prints and T-shirts. The plan is for Jas to take me to her favorite place in town, Bandra Fort, a 17th-century Portuguese fortification overlooking the sea. For Jas, the history is perhaps a little less important than the fact that the spot allows “a quick getaway from the crazy traffic and pollution of the city."

On our way to the fort, we pass Mount Mary Church, outside of which is a clutter of stalls selling wax candles shaped like houses, shops, cars, airplanes, currency notes, computers, babies and body parts. Devotees believe that if they place these candles at the oratory opposite the church, their wishes, as represented by the various shapes, will be granted. In this regard, the stalls provide a snapshot of the hopes and aspirations of this city; the candles include one marked “TV star."

Inside the fort, we settle down beside some college kids taking selfies with the Sea Link bridge in the background. “I find it fascinating that you see people aiming their cameras at something so recent," Jas says, “while surrounded by something that's 400 years old." We leave the fort and stroll toward the promenade, where we come across another group of smartphone-wielding kids, snapping the actor Shah Rukh Khan's beachfront bungalow.

A wedding celebration in a fishing village in western MumbaiA wedding celebration in a fishing village in western Mumbai

I take another rickshaw, drop Jas off and head to Juhu Beach to catch the sunset. The beach is less a place to swim than a picnic spot where families spread sheets and laze, fully clothed, on the sand, buzzed by hawkers selling pinwheels, cotton candy and sun hats. As I jostle through the crowd, I am approached by three different men offering seaside massages. Then, just in time, I spot a speeding, oncoming volleyball. I duck and decide to get out of here.

Another rickshaw takes me to the restaurant where I'll be dining tonight. A hugely popular local seafood chain, Gajalee has several branches across the city, including one right by Juhu Beach, but hardcore fans swear by the flagship, in the neighboring suburb of Vile Parle. Once there, I'm happy to find that the golden batter-fried bombil (a native lizardfish also known as Bombay duck) has been cooked to perfection. The prawn masala and fish curry are equally delectable.

Stomach full, I return to Bandra, home to Bonobo, a nightspot named after the amorous African apes. Over a few beers, I chat with a jewelry maker about to launch an online store, an indie musician working on an electro-pop album and a foodie entrepreneur who's come from debuting a pop-up night market. It all reminds me of something Jas said earlier, about Bandra being “the Brooklyn of Bombay." This isn't the first time that Mumbai has been compared to New York. It's a melting pot. It never sleeps. Some have even taken to calling the city “The Big Mango."

It's a bit of a hike, but I feel duty-bound to end my trip at my favorite spot in Mumbai: the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, a Gothic Revival masterpiece that was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, and which is even more beautiful at night. As I stand and take in its riotous detail—its turrets and Moorish dome, its glorious clash of idioms and styles—it occurs to me that Mumbai is indeed a bit like New York, and London, and Dubai, and Rio de Janeiro. It is a city where, as one visitor put it, “you go five yards and all of human existence is revealed."

Amit Gurbaxani is the co-founder and editor of thedailypao.com, a website that covers food, culture, nightlife and fashion in Mumbai.

This article was written by Amit Gurbaxani from Rhapsody Magazine and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Marvelous sites to local hideaways: the expert’s guide to Toronto

By Nick Harper

Canada's largest city spreads out along the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario, and it's a dynamic, multicultural and inclusive experience like almost no other place on earth. Not only is Toronto a thriving living city,it's also become one of the world's truly must-visit destinations. Regularly ranked as one of the greatest places to live, Toronto is the cultural center of the country and home to the biggest events, the most pro sports and the greatest concentration of theaters and restaurants.

Recent decades have seen regular multi-million-dollar upgrades to the city's public spaces, with a slew of great museums, iconic architecture and the redevelopment of the now glittering lakefront adding to the city's appeal.

Add in an ever-growing number of world-class hotels, upbeat nightlife that runs from dusk until dawn and a vibrant and diverse culinary scene influenced by the eclectic makeup of the city's people. Bright and bustling, cosmopolitan and cultured, unpredictable and energetic, Toronto has become one of the greatest cities on earth.

What you see and where you go will depend on the length of your stay. A week is good, longer is better. But even a long weekend will give you a taste of 'The Six' — one of the city's many nicknames, reworked recently as 'The 6ix' by one of its most famous sons, Drake.

However long you stay, you can't hope to see it all. So, consider what follows a starting point for your first visit…

City Hall, Toronto City Hall, Toronto

The checklist sites

No visit to The Six can be considered complete without ticking off several of Toronto's true heavyweight sights. All of the following are in or within easy reach of the city's compact, walk-able and very vibrant center.

The CN Tower is unmissable in every sense, a vast freestanding spire that looks down upon the city and takes its place as one of the 'Seven Wonders of the Modern World'. Head up for the city's best 360-degree views, or get your heart racing on the EdgeWalk — a journey around the circumference of the tower's main pod, 116 stories high and tethered by a harness.

Back on solid ground, Ripley's Aquarium is almost right next door to the CN Tower and is home to 16,000 aquatic animals and the Dangerous Lagoon. A moving sidewalk that whisks you through a long tunnel surrounded by sharks and stingrays is guaranteed to make your heart race all over again.

Ripleys Aquarium Ripleys Aquarium

Also close to the CN Tower is the Rogers Center, home to Canada's only baseball team, the Toronto Blue Jays. Visit on game day for the full experience, or take the stadium tour to go behind the scenes and through closed doors.

In a city of so many museums and galleries, the Royal Ontario Museum stands out. Not just because it's home to a world-class collection of 13 million artworks, cultural objects and natural history specimens, but as much because it hosts exciting Friday night events that include dance, drink and top DJs.

Two other must ticks include the Art Gallery of Ontario, which houses 95,000 works of art and is free for visitors under 25, and the Hockey Hall of Fame, which taps into Canada's national obsession in stunning depth.

Art Gallery of Ontario Art Gallery of Ontario

Casa Loma is a must-visit Gothic castle in the heart of the city. North America's only castle is filled with artworks and treasures from Canada and beyond, but its big pull is the network of hidden tunnels to explore as they stretch out beneath the city.

Casa Loma Casa Loma

Toronto's multi-cultural makeup is visible all across the city but reflected best in its remarkable culinary scene (see Where to eat and drink). The city's 'fresh and local' mantra is perfectly showcased at St. Lawrence Market, one of the world's greatest food experiences. Pay it a visit and grab a peameal bacon sandwich — a Canadian staple invented in Toronto and now considered the city's signature dish.

St. Lawrence Market St. Lawrence Market

Afterwards, walk off the calories by wandering the historic cobblestone and car-free Distillery District. Once a vast whiskey distillery and an important spot during prohibition, historians mention that even Al Capone would visit the Distillery to load alcohol destined for the States[9] . This iconic landmark now distils creativity within the 19th century buildings now home to hip restaurants, bars, independent boutique stores, galleries and theaters. Visit in December for the Toronto Christmas Market.

Finally, don't even think about returning home without having had a picture taken with your head poking through an 'O' of the multicolored, 3D Toronto sign at City Hall — the most Insta-worthy location in a city of so many. You'll need to head there early in the morning to avoid the crowds.

If you stay long enough, take a ferry and hop across to Toronto Islands, a chain of 15 small islands in Lake Ontario just south of the mainland. They're home to beaches, a theme park and a breathtaking view of the city's skyline and will very happily fill a full day of your stay.

The bucket list

You absolutely cannot leave Toronto without having witnessed the power of the Niagara Falls and its hypnotic mist up close. Trying to visit the Falls from the States is a trip on its own, but it's almost non-optional when you're less than two hours away in Toronto. Take the trip, buy the T-shirt and tick off one of the world's must-see sights.

Explore like a local

Away from the sleek, gleaming towers of downtown lie many of Toronto's less obvious but no less essential attractions. West Queen West is Toronto's hippest neighborhood and artistic heart, a one-mile strip of very chic galleries, stores, restaurants and boutique hotels. Kensington Market is a fantastically chaotic neighborhood and perhaps the best example of the city's famous multiculturalism. It's not a market as the name implies, but a collection of independent shops, vintage boutiques, art spaces, cafés, bars and restaurants from every corner of the globe.

The Bata Shoe Museum is one of the city's quirkiest collections, an unexpectedly fascinating exhibit that retraces the 4,500-year history of footwear. And as you wander the city, you can't fail to notice that Toronto's walls are alive with graffiti. Take a free 90-minute walking tour through the back alleys of Queen Street West and down Graffiti Alley to gain a better understanding of the city's street art scene. If you visit during the sunnier months, escape the hustle by heading just east of the center to High Park, the green heart of the city where forests, walking trails, picnic spots and even a zoo await you. Ideal to unwind after a long day of urban adventures.

The essentials

When to go With the sun shining, May through October is a great time to visit, but the city is alive through all four seasons. The Spring and Autumn months are ideal as the humidity and visitor numbers are lighter, while Toronto comes alive through the colder months through a wide array of winter celebrations. One of the most spectacular is the Aurora Winter Festival, a six-week celebration that sees the Ontario Place, West Island transformed into four mystical worlds. Whichever season you choose, plan to stay for at least five nights to get a true flavor of the city.

Toronto skyline view Toronto skyline view

Where to stay To be at the heart of most of the attractions you'll want to see, aim for downtown. One of the best options is the Marriott City Center, not only because it's located right next to the CN Tower but also because it's attached to the iconic Rogers Center where the Toronto Blue Jays play and countless concerts and popular events are held.

Toronto Blue Jay stadium Toronto Blue Jay stadium

Opt for a Stadium room and you'll look out onto the field. If you want to experience Toronto's non-stop nightlife, the Entertainment District is the place to be. If you're looking for a luxury experience, discover Canada's first St. Regis hotel in the heart of downtown.

Where to eat and drink Nowhere is Toronto's incredible diversity more evident than in its food scene — taste Toronto and you're tasting the world. The city is brimming with restaurants and cafés serving everything from high-end fine dining to comfort food from an informal neighborhood joint — plus every option imaginable in between.

For fine dining, consider Alo, Canis and Edulis. Book a table at Canoe, Lavelle, The One Eighty or 360 at the CN Tower and you're guaranteeing a view as spectacular as the food. Or experience the city's remarkable fusion food at DaiLo (French-Cantonese), El Catrin (Mexican-French) and the unexpected mashup of Rasta Pasta (Jamaican-Italian).

The above suggestions don't even scratch the surface of a food scene to rival any city on earth, with options to suit every taste and any budget.

How to get around Toronto is perfect to explore on foot or via a growing network of cycle routes. For a quicker journey, buy a Presto card to use the TTC, Toronto's subway, streetcar and bus system.

How to get there Fly into Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) with United and you're around 15 miles west of the city center. The most comfortable route in is via the Union Pearson Express, which runs every 15 minutes and gets you downtown in 25 minutes ($13).The TTC is a cheaper option at under $5, but it can take an hour and a half and involves a number of transfers, while a taxi will take around 30 minutes and cost $45.

United flies to Toronto from numerous U.S. cities including our Hub city locations. Book your trip via united.com or by downloading the United app.


Taking action to make a global impact

By The Hub team , January 17, 2020

Following the devastating wildfires in Australia and powerful earthquakes that shook Puerto Rico last week, we're taking action to make a global impact through our international partnerships as well as nonprofit organizations Afya Foundation and ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency).

Helping Puerto Rico recover from earthquakes

Last week, Puerto Rico was hit with a 5.2 magnitude earthquake, following a 6.4 magnitude earthquake it experienced just days before. The island has been experiencing hundreds of smaller quakes during the past few weeks.

These earthquakes destroyed crucial infrastructure and left 4,000 people sleeping outside or in shelters after losing their homes. We've donated $50,000 to our partner charity organization Airlink and through them, we've helped transport disaster relief experts and medical supplies for residents, as well as tents and blankets for those who have lost their homes. Funding will go towards organizations within Airlink's partner network, which includes Habitat for Humanity, Mercy Corps and Americares, to help with relief efforts and long-term recovery.

Australian wildfire relief efforts

Our efforts to help Australia have inspired others to make their own positive impact. In addition to teaming up with Ellen DeGeneres to donate $250,000 and launching a fundraising campaign with GlobalGiving to benefit those impacted by the devastating wildfires in the country known for its open spaces and wildlife, our cargo team is helping to send more than 600 pounds of medical supplies to treat injured animals in the region.

Helping us send these supplies is the Afya Foundation, a New York-based nonprofit that seeks to improve global health by collecting surplus medical supplies and delivering them to parts of the world where they are most needed. Through Airlink, the Afya Foundation will send more than $18,000 worth of materials that will be used to treat animals injured in the Australian fires.

These medical supplies will fly to Melbourne (MEL) and delivered to The Rescue Collective. This Australian organization is currently focused on treating the massive population of wildlife, such as koalas, kangaroos, and birds, that have had their habitats destroyed by the recent wildfires. The supplies being sent include wound dressings, gloves, catheters, syringes and other items that are unused but would otherwise be disposed of.

By working together, we can continue to make a global impact and help those affected by natural disasters to rebuild and restore their lives

Help us (and Ellen DeGeneres) support wildfire relief efforts in Australia

By The Hub team , January 08, 2020

Australia needs our help as wildfires continue to devastate the continent that's beloved by locals and travelers alike. In times like these, the world gets a little smaller and we all have a responsibility to do what we can.

On Monday, The Ellen DeGeneres Show announced a campaign to raise $5 million to aid in relief efforts. When we heard about Ellen's effort, we immediately reached out to see how we could help.

Today, we're committing $250,000 toward Ellen's campaign so we can offer support now and help with rebuilding. For more on The Ellen DeGeneres Show efforts and to donate yourself, you can visit www.gofundme.com/f/ellenaustraliafund

We're also matching donations made to the Australian Wildfire Relief Fund, created by GlobalGiving's Disaster Recovery Network. This fund will support immediate relief efforts for people impacted by the fires in the form of emergency supplies like food, water and medicine. Funds will also go toward long-term recovery assistance, helping residents recover and rebuild. United will match up to $50,000 USD in donations, and MileagePlus® members who donate $50 or more will receive up to 1,000 award miles from United. Donate to GlobalGiving.

Please note: Donations made toward GlobalGiving's fund are only eligible for the MileagePlus miles match.

In addition to helping with fundraising, we're staying in touch with our employees and customers in Australia. Together, we'll help keep Australia a beautiful place to live and visit in the years to come.

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