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Rick Mercer: my getaway Add to ...

Paris is my favourite city. Recently, for reasons best not explored, I had to cancel a trip to that city. The decision to abort was made after midnight, with my bags packed and by the front door.

My job involves a lot of travel and I am very good at it. I spend a lot of time in the air so with just one week off, Paris or no, part of me was content with the fact that I wasn't driving to Pearson Airport in the morning. Instead of a 6 a.m. wakeup call, I slept in and woke up in my own bed to a strangely quiet house. The phone didn't ring and my BlackBerry didn't buzz. It dawned on me that every single person I knew - my family, my friends and, more important, everyone at work - assumed I was halfway across the Atlantic and would be away for an entire week. Instead of Paris, I enjoyed a Toronto stay-cation.

I love basketball and have Raptors seasons tickets, but in the eight years I have lived in this city, I had never gone to a Leafs game. That week, I not only saw the Raptors play and win, I saw the Leafs play and lose. I had a great time at the game and I have already been back. I'm now hooked and can now share in the pain of being a part of Leafs Nation on a whole new level.

Toronto is a great city for food and I hit all of my tried-and-true favourite rooms. I luxuriated over the burger at the Detroit Eatery on the Danforth and I had the best dim sum of my life again at Lai Wah Heen in the Metropolitan Hotel. Seafood at Joso's is always brilliant and clean and they did not disappoint. Because I was on holiday, I not only went to my all-time favourite Toronto restaurant, Scaramouche, but I finished with their signature coconut cream pie. This is, hands-down, the best dessert in the city. And I finally made it to Ruby Watchco, a new favourite dining destination that lives up to the hype. Eating well is a big part of how I judge a vacation and I can't imagine visiting any city on Earth and eating better than I did that week.

If I was in Paris, I would have walked a lot, so that's what I did. I walked the boardwalk in the Beach, which is spectacular. I walked ravines I didn't know existed, got lost in the woods and saw a deer in the middle of the city. I biked on the Toronto Islands twice. I may have cut one of my walks short and instead enjoyed two Guinness at Allen's on the Danforth, but that's allowed during a stay-cation, as are late-afternoon naps in the La-Z-Boy.

I went to two cheesy movies that week and I visited the Art Gallery of Ontario to catch up with the Group of Seven; while there, I lost an afternoon enjoying the Julian Schnabel exhibit. I looked at my city as a tourist and I was thrilled with what I saw.





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