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Although I consider myself fairly well travelled, since my husband died in 2008 I generally would travel to places I was familiar with or stick to tourist resorts in Spain which don't require much in the way of detailed research before travelling. I decided at the start of this year that I wanted to visit new places and make new memories, so as soon as I booked my trip to Toronto in Canada I headed off to Waterstone's in search of a guide book.
When I went to Boston at the end of 2011 I took the DK Eyewitness book "Top 10 Boston" with me and it was a constant companion. Having been so impressed with that travel book I decided to stick with that brand for my Toronto research.
The Top 10 Toronto book is a small paperback volume which comprises 128 pages and also includes some fold out maps. Every page in the book is in full colour, with photographs throughout.
The book is reprinted annually and it's always worth checking to see when it was published before buying to ensure you are getting the most up to date version.
The book retails at £7.99.
Once again I have been very impressed with DK's Eyewitness Travel range and found the "Top 10 Toronto" book to be the perfect introduction to the city.
The book is split into three main sections, which are "Toronto's Top 10", "Around Town" and "Streetsmart". Each section then has sub sections which will help you plan your trip.
The first section focuses on sightseeing essentials including Toronto Highlights, the CN Tower and sections on Museums and Art Galleries. There is also a section on Niagara Falls, which I particularly appreciated. The book keeps entries short and to the point, so don't expect a long history of Toronto to be found here, or even much in the way of detail with regard to some of the attractions featured.
You certainly won't find admission prices listed here (except if an attraction is free), with the onus being on the reader to find that out for themselves. That's not too difficult to do as the book does list website addresses and phone numbers for attractions. This suits me as I like to do some internet research before travelling anyway and tend to travel with print outs from websites for places I want to see.
The section also includes chapters on shopping, restaurants, bars and clubs and attractions for children.
The "About Town" section gives you a feel for the various neighbourhoods in Toronto, such as the Harbourfront, Downtown and areas such as Cabbagetown and Yorkville. Each section contains a brief history of the area and a guide of what you should see when you get there. The book also contains information on places to visit in the Greater Toronto area and attractions which can be found out of town.
The final section, "Streetsmart", offers advice for the would-be traveller on many different essential considerations such as getting around the city, where to stay and advice on security and health. I must admit I always read this section first as it helps give me an idea of what to expect when I arrive somewhere new.
Once again the entries are short and my only criticism of the book is the lack of a section which gives more detail on the Toronto Transit Commission and the transportation they offer in the city. If I had stuck purely to this book I would have missed out on the city's streetcars which are a wonderful way to get about - they are slow and cumbersome but they let you see far more of Toronto than the subway does and enable you to mix with the natives so to speak.
The section also includes a section on free attractions, tips on shopping and dining and a decent selection of recommended hotels, which are helpfully split into sections based on how much they cost. I was pleased (and relieved!) to see the hotel I had booked was featured.
The book has several maps. The inside cover folds out to reveal a map of Greater Toronto which enables you to see nearby places such as Hamilton, London and Niagara Falls clearly. On the reverse side there is a large city streetmap. The rear inside cover features a more detailed street map of the Central Downtown and Harbourfront areas, and I used this regularly when we got there. There is also a Toronto subway map but it's not a full map and I find this a bit limiting, especially for travellers who wish to use the bus/subway connection to Pearson Airport as the map doesn't show this at all.
There is also a map which stores inside the rear cover in a clear plastic wallet and I love how this can slip conveniently into a pocket when you get there. The map does repeat what you can see in the back and front fold out covers but it stops you looking like a total tourist walking about with a guide book. In my experience these are the people unscrupulous locals tend to prey on so this map is perfect for keeping a lower profile.
If you want to learn about the history of Toronto and read about the city's attractions in great detail then this book won't be for you, but if, like me, you want a quick and easy introduction to a new city then you should consider "Top 10 Toronto".
The book is small and easy to carry, has a great pull out map and covers almost everything you need to know for a visit to the city.