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Kensington Market (Toronto, Canada)

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Street market on Kensington Avenue in Toronto, Canada.

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      03.05.2012 20:24
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      I loved it!

      Unlike normal markets, Kensington Market is actually a district in the west of downtown Toronto. Surrounding this area is College Street to the north, Spadina Avenue to the east, Dundas Street to the south and Bathurst Street to the west, encompassing it into a square area.

      The easiest way to get to Kensington Market is by streetcar or to walk. If you do want to take a streetcar, here are the different ways you can do it:
      From the Bloor Subway: take the Spadina or Bathurst streetcar south. Get off at College or one or two stops further south. From Yonge/University Subway: take the College or Dundas streetcar west, getting off at Spadina or the next stop. From Union Station: take the Queen's Quay/Spadina streetcar. Enjoy the ride along the lake, where it turns north on Spadina. Get off at Dundas or the next couple of stops.

      If you decide to walk, it is a good 20-30 minutes from Union Station and having a map to hand would be a good idea if you aren't too familiar with downtown. The first time I went to Kensington Market was by complete accident as I was wandering around the city and got a bit lost. I was really glad for where I got lost though as I found somewhere really interesting. There is extremely little parking available in Kensington Market so driving would not be a good idea at all.

      From May until October, on the last Sunday of each month, Kensington Market operates a pedestrian day. On this day, the area is completely free from cars and traffic, making it a lovely day with no interruptions. However, there is no actual market on Sundays, like there is the rest of the week so it is quite a big thing to miss out on. Still, you are still free to look in all the weird and wonderful shops there are or you could go and get a drink outside, weather permitting and take in the views.

      The area itself used to be residential back in the late 1800s when houses were built for Scottish and Irish immigrants going over to Toronto for work. Although there are still houses here, the main attraction is obviously what else is on offer. The market itself was set up in the 1900s by Jewish immigrants and then other cultures came along a bit later on. Some of the shops here though are actually old Victorian houses now that they are no longer used for that purpose.

      What is so great about Kensington Market is the fact that it is so multicultural, showing the history of the area. The food shops and markets have offerings from all over the world and you can find pretty much anything here. Many of the market stall holders are very willing to give out small free samples in the hopes that they will eventually get a sale out of you. This gives you a chance to try something you maybe wouldn't normally and to find something new and exciting. The staff on the stalls are always extremely helpful and polite and this makes a visit here so much more pleasant.

      During the warmer months of the year, many of the cafes and restaurants have patio areas with tables and chairs placed outside. Live music often goes on in Kensington Market and it is a wonderful experience to sit with a nice cold drink in the summer and take in everything that is going on. Also, there is a park for children nearby so it doesn't always have to be about shopping and good food and drink. Although I don't have children, I was glad to see that there really was something for everyone.

      Kensington Market is a very colourful and exciting area of Toronto. The buildings are brightly coloured and stand out a lot but they are also really inviting as well. With a very bohemian feel to the area, the atmosphere is very relaxed and friendly. Shopping here is fun and interesting because you never know what you may find. Each time I went, I came back with something I wasn't planning on buying or deciding I liked some crazy kind of food! This is one of my favourite places in Toronto.

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