August 9, 2016
Toronto & the Beach, Day 5
This is the fifth day of a photographic journey in the city of Toronto, Canada.
The previous day, on the road back from the zoo, I wanted to check a place named Scarborough Bluffs. Also called The Bluffs, this is where the actual beach of Toronto is. Yes, there is this district named The beaches, closer from Toronto downtown, but The Bluffs are bigger, higher, cleaner and have a free parking all weekend long. They also well deserve their name: “bluff”, not exactly a cliff, but pretty steep so that it makes a natural border between the beach and the neighborhood. Despite that, some teenagers were trying to climb the wall up and down – they didn’t succeed enough to persuade us.
Anyone spending more than a couple of days in Toronto during summer should lay down on the warm sand of The Bluffs for an afternoon. In early September, it’s not exactly quiet, so we decided to walk east along the shore to find peace. When we first put our feet in the water, we were kindly surprised: it’s clean, we-can-see-our-feet transparent, it does not smell like a lake and the temperature is perfect.
Time flies in these conditions. We stayed just long enough to take a severe sunburn and we already had to go back to the civilization, because this evening, we were dropping our suitcases in a new place. With all our stuff already in the car, we took the road to Bloordale Village, a neighborhood at the west side of Toronto, along Bloor Street West.
It’s already 7 pm when we join Amy and Graeme, our hosts, under the porch of their charming three story house. This nice 40-something couple decided to share three of their bedrooms on AirBnb and since we all lived under the same roof, it was more affordable than a hotel. For us, it was an opportunity to meet locals, get to know more about the “real life” in Toronto and hear about nice breweries around. In addition, it made us discover the western part of the city, which so far looks totally different!
Bloordale reminded me European cities, where it’s all about little shops, groceries from all around the world and cozy restaurants. It may sound like the hipster paradise, but it’s actually more real and more about diversity. Even though we have found this diversity all across the city, our new neighborhood seemed more familiar and welcoming. It rather looked like a dense village with neither towers of glass nor four lanes streets.
To confirm this first impression, we followed Graeme's advice and went for beers, fries and some onion rings in Wenona Craft Beer Lodge. It appeared they know their craft and we could even try some ales before ordering! Now we know, Next time in Toronto will be around Bloordale Village.

Behind the lens

Even though I didn't take much photo during this day, I can still share some tips with you, especially related to the previous day: a walking day!
How to walk with a heavy camera for hours?
First, how to carry a 2.5kg combo during 8h? Certainly not by hanging it around the neck. I’d rather choose those three alternatives:

Over the shoulder, diagonally, like a messenger bag.

- The weight is better balanced, it won’t hurt the neck. - If your strap is long enough, the camera will be at the belt level, what makes it easy to access and ergonomic to put your hand on. - Because the friction is more important than carrying around the neck, the camera won’t swing as much.
- You usually need to replace the original strap for a longer one - If you also carry a backpack, the camera strap may jam with the shoulder strap of your pack - It’ ok for walking but not for running Note: instead of spending $60 in a fancy leather home-made-but-too-short camera strap, unclip the solid strap from a sport duffel bag or from an old messenger bag you already have. They usually have hooks, they are made to carry a lot of weight and they are adjustable.

Over the right shoulder, like a purse (not diagonally)

- Very easy and fast to access - You can carry a backpack at the same time - The regular strap is long enough
- The strap may slip off your shoulder - The weight is not well balanced, however, it is not painful

With a camera clip

I personally use PeakDesign’s Capture Pro because the plate is compatible with my tripod. PROS:
- You attach it to your backpack shoulder strap, and it’s tough enough to hold the weight. I’ve seen some carrying at the belt but it’s inconvenient for walking. - The weight is really well balanced, especially with a hiking pack - Made for long distance walk and hike - Sold with a Manfrotto or Arca plate
- You need a backpack. - If your camera is heavier than the content of your backpack, it will go down while the backpack is pulled up. Not comfortable. - The mechanical lock does not like sand or dust. It takes me sometimes three of four times to unlock the system and finally be able to take a photo. - A button needs to be pressed to unlock the camera. Since it is not easily accessible, I sometimes get fed up of the clip-unclip gimmick.
Note: despite all the cons, it’s still essential for hiking. For non-hikers, it’s overkill.
Note: the map used for the cover of this article was made by Miles & Co. in 1878 and is now public domain. More info here.