a bit about Ashley
What do you do and why do you do it?
I work as a digital media content curator for a start up in Toronto. My favourite work is photography both behind and in front of the camera. I love capturing experiences and sharing how beautiful something is. My education is in opera, so I love to sing and perform. I have a great appreciation for artistic forms and could never see myself not doing something that feeds my creative passions. I enjoy exploring cities organically as a local might experience a city. I think that's where true beauty is found. It's in people, culture, neighbourhoods, colors, scents, smells and tastes. To me, they all live in the places that are non "touristy".
Were you born and raised in Toronto? If not, where did you grow up and what brought you to Toronto?
Fun fact, most people I've met in Toronto are not from Toronto but from all over the country/world. I grew up in a small town outside of Winnipeg, and was drawn to Toronto because I loved the energy, likemindedness of people I met, the progressiveness (in comparison to back home), as well as its tech scene. It's also important for me to be a part of a community that embraces diversity, as well as rich and vibrant culture.
What’s your current hood in Toronto and what’s the best/worst thing about it?
I live in Parkdale and work in King West. Parkdale is eclectic and down to earth, with lots of boutique and vintage small shops and bars. King West is more urban and is a gastronomic and nightlife hub. I love my neighbourhood in the West end and how cozy it feels. Good news is I'm walking distance from other neighbourhoods like Trinity Bellwoods, Dundas West, Little Portugal, and if I feel like walking an hour, I can go to Kensington Market, and China Town.
What kind of music do you listen to and what kind of music do you absolutely HATE?
Let me just check my spotify for my recent album downloads: Hozier, Buena Vista Social Club, Drake, London Grammar, Philip Glass, Eva Cassidy, Buika. Although I love all types of music, I can be picky/sensitive. Country and EDM are far off my radar.
You’re broken hearted - what tracks does your heartbreak playlist consist of?
Honestly, I'd put on feel good tunes, and guilty pleasures...Justin Bieber, Celine Dion, Michael Jackson.
Name the best TV shows of all time, and what makes them so good?
My ultimate favourite used to be 6 Feet Under. It was dark, raw, creative and dramatic, but still entertaining. My most recent obsessions are Shameless and The Handmaid's Tale, followed by Game of Thrones and Narcos. Realness is what makes them so good, current issues, taboo themes, dramatic interpretations, great acting and cinematography!
Where do you buy those fabulous clothes of yours?
If not Zara, then some online Australian boutique! Wanna know more? I share all these details as well as my fav travel spots on my Instagram @kla_ssh.
What’s the area/ spot in town you’ll never be caught dead in?
If it's a sports bar, or some chain restaurant that tourists go to, count me out!
What’s the thing you LOVE to do in your city that you never get to do?
Eat at allll the restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops! Ok, I do get to do this, I just wish I could do it more. There's just too many on my bucket list! Oh, and see plays, I've only seen two live theatre/opera since living here and that's just not enough.
Where do you go in Toronto for a casual night out?
416 Snack Bar, Bar Fancy, Bellwoods Brewery.
Where would you go in Toronto to celebrate some freaking good news?
Marben (but the speak easy downstairs), LaPlama, Bar Raval.
What’s your choice of transportation in Toronto and why?
Walk, Bike, Uber...in that order. If you can walk then why not, you get to take in the city better from ground level and choose your path, like side streets, or busy walking streets. Biking is great, there are rental bikes at stations in Toronto which you can use hourly/daily. The TTC is ok, but kind of just as fast as walking in rush hours. And Uber if you're going with friends anywhere is super convenient!
What are the Toronto spots a first-time visitor can’t miss?
Ok, number 1. A walk along the waterfront (Harbourfront Centre) paired with a boat ride or ferry ride to Toronto Island. 2. Trinity Bellwoods Park and shop walk (walked to via Queen Street where the shops are between Spadina and Ossington). 4. Vintage shopping and vegan eats in Parkdale. The little shops and restaurants are very eclectic and rough around the edges, which I like. 5. Kensington Market & China Town. They're right beside each other, walk through and shop for teas, oils, and exotic produce. 6. Gelato and designer shopping in Yorkville. It's the closest feeling you get to a European street shopping style, and upscale boutiques.
What are the Toronto spots tourists should run from screaming?
Young and Dundas. It's too gimmicky. I actively try to avoid that intersection at all costs.
Tomorrow’s your last day in Toronto. How do you spend it?
I'd spend it outdoors in a park/street walking and eating all my favourite things with my friends! Ya know, the things I crave when they're not around. Like the pork buns from 416 Snack Bar, Ice Cream from Evae's Original Chimney's, The Vatican Burger from Burger's Priest, the worlds best chocolate chip cookie from Le Gourmand.
What’s your favorite vacation city in the world and why?
It's not a city. It's a very small town, on the Island of Isla Holbox. It has a maximum capacity so it's never crowded, it's insanely beautiful and serene, and there are no cars, no noise, no fuss. Just simple pleasures.