If you’re expecting, a babymoon is the perfect way to spend some quality time with your partner before the baby arrives. So when you’re thinking of your last holiday of freedom together before a little comes comes into your life, a city break may not be the first thing that you think of. You may be more inclined to go down the route of beach, sunlounger and doing nothing…but a city break can provide all of this and more! With the allure of a great deal and also a great Canadian exchange rate, Toronto sailed to the top of our list. It was too good to resist.
We both love Canada and live in Glasgow so could easily hop on Air Transat’s direct flight and be in Canada in under 7 hours. Plus, with only 6 days off work, the flights worked perfectly.
A comfortable six-and-a-half-hour flight later, we touched down refreshed and ready for our adventure. After a quick ride on the newly opened UP Express Train from the airport – which was really comfortable, cheap ($12CAD each way, which is roughly £7) and quick (25 minutes) – we emerged into the sunshine at Union Station, right in the heart of Toronto and a short 15 minute walk to our hotel.
Where to stay
Top of my list when we were looking for a hotel was that it had to have a swimming pool. With it being the beginning of July and the weather looking pretty good, an outdoor pool would be even better and the perfect spot to relax and rest if needed. We settled on the Sheraton Centre right in the heart of the city that has a large pool spanning both inside and out. As a real treat, we added on Sheraton Club – this gave us access to the Club Lounge on the 43rd floor where we could enjoy a complimentary breakfast, soft drinks and fruit during the day and evening hors d’oeuvres. It also meant our room was on a high floor too and we were delighted when we were allocated a room on the 42nd floor. The views were amazing and we could even watch the sunset from the bed!
In the Club Lounge it was such a treat enjoying breakfast with a view over the CN Tower or downtown, depending on which side you sat. We could have sat there for hours just staring at the views and on the first morning we did just that as we had risen ridiculously early due to jetlag. In the evening after a busy day of sightseeing, it was lovely to be able to head for the lounge for a cold drink or even just a bottle of water, a snack and a comfy seat.
What to do in Toronto
Holidays for me usually mean walking until you drop in order to explore every nook and cranny of your destination. I had already warned the other half that we would need to slow the pace slightly this time but turns out Toronto is a brilliant city to explore, even when you don’t want to walk too far. With great transport links and loads of great café’s and food courts if you need to sit down for a bit, there’s no need to exhaust your legs to the point of no return.
So, what did we do?
City Sightseeing Tour
I love an open-top sightseeing tour! They’re such a great way to get an overview of the city and the guides are usually super-knowledgeable so you can pick up some handy tips for your time in the city. I have one word of warning though – City Sightseeing has a variety of tour buses from old London-style to shiny newer ones and if you’re pregnant, try and avoid the old London-style ones – when you’re bumping and bouncing your way up Yonge Street it’s not the most comfortable feeling in the world! In the summer season, the buses are really frequent so you’ll never have to wait too long for another one. Tickets last for 48 hours so you can really explore a good chunk of the city and get your bearings in this time.
Toronto Harbour and Islands Cruise
Included in the ticket for the City Sightseeing tour is a 45-minute boat tour. In the gorgeous summer sunshine, this is absolutely bliss and so relaxing. It’s the perfect place to sit down and chill out while enjoying awesome views! Although make sure you’re slathered in suncream! The tour takes you out into the harbour to get the famous views of downtown and the CN Tower before sailing around the Islands.
This grand ‘castle’ is a great attraction for a morning or afternoon and is also perfect if the weather doesn’t play ball. With tropical showers forecast we took the sightseeing bus to Casa Loma and spent a good three hours exploring. The place is huge and there’s a really fascinating story behind the castle and Sir Henry Pellatt, the man who built it. My only tiny criticism is that there is no seating while going around except for on a mezzanine level where there were some sofas. I ended up perching on a windowsill for a while to rest my weary feet somewhere around the third floor.
Chilling at the waterfront
Toronto’s waterfront is gorgeous. It stretches for miles and the main core of it around the Harbourfront Centre is always lively with lots of events going on. During the six days we were there, in the evenings there was live music, outdoor films, free ping-pong (a lot of fun!) and craft markets. There are lots of places to sit and relax along the waterfront, including some great restaurants if you want to eat. We settled on a good old Tim Hortons and a deckchair at HTO Park to relax for a bit.
The Distillery District & St Lawrence Market
Both of these places have a heavy emphasis on food. One of my favourite things! They’re a 15-minute walk apart, or the sightseeing bus stops at both too. The Distillery District is really pretty and has lots of bespoke shops, cafes and restaurants. It’s such a fascinating place to wander around before indulging in something delicious. We popped inside the Brick Street Bakery and after spotting the ginormous blueberry cinnamon rolls, I wasn’t leaving until I had one in my possession! There were tables outside so we sat and devoured our pastries while enjoying some people-watching. Perfect!
A short 15-minute walk through a lovely park later, we were at the St Lawrence Market. Definitely arrive here hungry! There are over 120 vendors selling every food imaginable from the famous Toronto Peameal sandwich to fresh fruit and fresh meats. Even when you’re not hungry it’s a lovely place to wander around looking at everything. Top tip – there’s a nifty water-bottle fountain on the lower ground floor to top up your water bottle which we made good use of.
The CN Tower
I can’t write about time in Toronto and not mention the CN Tower. It dominates the city’s skyline and from its viewing platform 346m up in the air, the views are brilliant. We wanted to wait until the weather was as good as it could be before we visited so we didn’t pre-book tickets. We ended up waiting 1 hour and 45 minutes and my feet were killing by the time we actually got to the top so I’d definitely recommend pre-booking a timed ticket to ensure you don’t have to wait. Apparently that time was quite short for July as queues can sometimes take over 2.5 hours! There are lots of interesting things to look at while you wait and you could at any point sit on the floor to rest. Totally worth the wait though for the views over the city!
Taking time to relax
I knew there was no way that I would be able to walk around all day everyday and we knew this before we went. The best thing about combining the city break with a relaxing hotel was that we could spend downtime just relaxing together. I imagine by the time baby arrives later this year, relax won’t be a word we’re familiar with anymore! The pool at the Sheraton Centre had lots of comfy loungers so relaxing for an afternoon or two with a book was a must. The pool had a nice wide lane for lane-swimming and then plenty of space to splash around too. With the sun beating down we could laze around on the floats and relax.
Another fantastic thing about the hotel was the location. A couple of the afternoons I headed back to the hotel on my own to chill out for a bit and its location meant that a. I could find my way back easily (I’m not known for my sense of direction) and b. the other half could go off exploring on his own as there is loads of stuff nearby.
Tips for flying when pregnant
At 24 weeks pregnant, I didn’t need a fit to fly note but was still a bit apprehensive about how I’d feel on a long-haul flight. I really needn’t have worried. The cabin crew couldn’t have been nicer and we were even given three seats between the two of us which was heavenly. It’s definitely worth asking at check-in to see if this is possible.
I’m obviously not a trained medical professional so always check with your midwife if you have any questions or concerns about travelling. But for me, the following things worked:
- Comfy clothes to wear
Yoga pants with a lovely big stretchy ‘bump-band’ were absolutely perfect. I changed into them on the plane before take-off and they were honestly the comfiest trousers I’ve ever flown in.
- Compression socks
Recommended for long-haul flights anyway, these stopped any restless legs or getting tingly calves for the whole flight.
- Take lots of water
While all soft drinks and water were free on the flight, I hate the thought of ever being without water as once the thirst kicks in, it’s there. So this involved filling up my own water bottle at Glasgow Airport (they have a handy water fountain just past security) and also stocking up on a few bottles from Boots.
- Take snacks
Meals are provided on the plane and we also had Option Plus so had extra snacks but I wasn’t taking any chances. Being pregnant and hungry is not a good combination because any patience you may have had before goes straight out the door. When I need to eat, it needs to be now! I stocked up with a trusty Boots meal deal so I had a few options to enjoy if needed. On the way home, I would recommend eating before getting to the airport. The terminal we were departing from didn’t have many food options apart from a burger place, a burrito place and Tim Hortons. The flights home are late at night so it’s not the best eating time once you’re on board, particularly when the heart burn kicks in and you just want to nod off.
- An aisle seat or a seat you can move from easily
I was scared I would get stiff/ sore/ achy legs so was most worried about our seats and being a nuisance to other people. Definitely pre-book your seats if you have these concerns too. We really lucked out on having three between us and it made such a difference being able to get up and wander around easily without disturbing other people and also for those numerous toilet trips.
So in a nutshell, if you’re looking for a baby-moon that involves more than a beach, Toronto should definitely be on your list. We absolutely loved our five days in the city and we can’t wait to return with a buggy in tow.
Canadian Affair offers Toronto city breaks starting from £399 per person including flights and hotel.