Ilona Kauremszky

Correspondent

  • Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Ilona Kauremszky is a correspondent who lives in Toronto and covers the city for Forbes Travel Guide. A syndicated travel columnist, Kauremszky is also a blogger and web producer of mycompass.ca. She has appeared as a travel expert on TV and radio for NPR, CBC News Now and Egyptian National Television, to name a few. Kauremszky recently received the Discover America Travel Writer Award presented by the U.S. Travel Association. A self-confessed travel scribe, Kauremszky admits she’s forever on the prowl for the next cool story. Follow her discoveries on Twitter and YouTube @mycompasstv.

  • On June 24, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    Where is the best nightlife in Cairo?

    If Antony and Cleopatra were around today, chances are pretty good they’d be hanging by the tony districts of Zamalek and Heliopolis where Cairo’s nightlife rocks.

    In this post-Arab Spring world, young and restless hearts are thrashing to a new Cairo beat. Meanwhile the capital seems to forever float between the ancient and the modern like the Nile itself.

    Head to the Buddha Bar  in Zamalek on Gezira Island. Located in the luxe Sofitel Cairo El Gezirah minutes from the Cairo Opera House, the hotel’s opulence will make you feel like a pharaoh. The Asian-themed watering hole is an ideal spot for the international jet setter who likes to while away time in this timeless city. It’s a perfect place to sip cocktails and mingle with Cairo’s corporate elite or visiting celebs. The mood is Orient meets the other Orient (you’ll often hear Egypt referred to as the Orient).

    Meanwhile the Roof Bar in Heliopolis showcases Cairo debauchery. Hit the heavenly dance floor at this DJ-friendly haven. I like how close this bar is to the airport (about 10 minutes) plus it’s located by one of Cairo’s most affluent neighbourhoods in a new cosmopolitan boutique hotel called The Gabriel. The mood is oh so SoHo-ish.

    But the ritzy properties along the Nile River by Le Corniche are also attracting after hours buzz.

    The Four Seasons Cairo at Nile Plaza opened its Grafitti Bar. Amazing how western-inspired graffiti has gone main stream. Prepare for the ultimate night out with the city’s upper crust wielding bling encrusted Smartphones.  The mostly 30 something crowd mix with business suited foreigners in the city’s hottest new lounge.

    With chi-chi nightclubs and ample sheesha bars popping up as of late, you can party like it was 1999.
  • On June 24, 2013

    I caught up with a glass eater and bearded lady the other night at one of Toronto's cool festivals. It's called Strange Brew for a reason. Wanna know more?

  • On June 14, 2013
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  • On May 30, 2013
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  • On May 30, 2013
  • On May 30, 2013

    Hi JoAnne so happy to see you here. Guess what I did today? Smelled some amazing lilacs. I think you would have enjoyed them too. Okay I did lots more but boy was it nice to smell the flowers. XO

  • On May 30, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky is now following JoAnne Bassett
  • On May 29, 2013
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  • On May 29, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What is the one must-do activity when visiting Toronto?

    You cannot visit Toronto and forget to take a streetcar ride especially the legendary one known as the 501 Queen street car.

    The Queen Street route takes you across the city from east to west or vice versa.  The most westerly point is the Long Branch Loop and the easterly hub is the Neville Park Loop.

    Locals have affectionately nicknamed their transit system as the ‘Red Rocket’ due to the dark cherry red facade from early days. The streetcars still maintain this traditional hue and so do the drivers uniforms. As soon as you hop inside the 501 be prepared to experience an interesting ride through the cities bygone past to its gentrified present.

    Pass the enclave frequented by the city’s boho-artsy crowd in a section dubbed West Queen West. You’ll know you’ve arrived as soon as you see The Drake Hotel, one of the hip new/old venues there.

    Meanwhile an earlier version of Queen’s trend setters known as Queen Street West which was big during the seventies through the nineties has been taken over by big name brand stores. Although some holdout shops still remain as you cruise Queen between Bathurst and John Streets.

    One of the quaintest hubs is by The Beach or Beaches in the city's east end. This neighborhood feels like you’re on vacation. Some homes look like old cottages because that’s what they once were. The leafy Queen Street there is lined with two story storefronts catering to the doggie and stroller set with neat coffee shops, galleries, bars and patio nooks everywhere.

    Get ready to step off the 501 by Kew Gardens and hang in this hood for hours.
  • On May 29, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What is public transportation like in Toronto?

    Like most big cities across North America public transit plays a vital role in moving millions of people each day. 

    The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) or as locals call it ‘The Rocket’ is quick, convenient and a great alternative to bringing your vehicle into the downtown core.

    The metro system runs on a web of lines that includes buses, streetcars, and subways. A single $3 ticket permits you to access the entire TTC network. Just remember if hopping off the TTC for connections it’s important to have a valid TTC ticket transfer. The transfers are still oldie- timey printed on newsprint. You obtain transfers after paying your transit fare either directly from the bus or streetcar driver or from an automated machine inside the subway turnstiles. 

    For days of endless commutes, it’s nice to purchase the TTC Day Pass for $10.75 which allows for unlimited one-day travel on the entire system. During special holidays and on weekends, the TTC Day Pass can be used for a family of two adults and up to four children under 19 years of age or even two adults.
  • On May 29, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What are some things to know before visiting Toronto?

    Canada’s largest city is situated along Lake Ontario bound by a couple of major rivers: the Don River in the east and the Humber River to the west. But like most major cities Toronto has experienced urban expansion coupled by a surge in population.

    Some more things to know:

    Toronto is the city while the GTA is the Greater Toronto Area which includes various outlying regions like Markham and Mississauga.

    Don’t worry about packing a French-English dictionary. You can pack that book or app when visiting the neighboring province of Quebec. English is the lingua franca in Toronto while French can be heard at various government offices due to Canada officially being a bilingual country.

    Toronto is comprised of neighborhoods so be sure to seek out areas beyond the familiar tourist locations in downtown and stretch your sightseeing efforts to other enclaves.

    Downtown city streets have a familiar grid pattern. The main artery slicing Toronto into west and east is Yonge Street which has been known as the world’s longest street for years by the Guinness Book of World Records.

    The bars close at 2am.

    The official minimum drinking age is 19 years old.

    Pack an appetite. The city has over 7,000 restaurants.

    Fans can wander over to Canada’s Walk of Fame on King Street West to search for some of their favourite Canadian stars in movies, sports, science and more.
  • On May 29, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What is the weather like right now in Toronto?

    Boy is it pretty.

    Spring is in the air and green is everywhere. The tree-lined residential streets are canopied in soft pink and pale vanilla blossoms and the neatly manicured gardens are revealing seasonal bouquets of sweet peonies, tulips and bold irises.

    Everyone has left behind the cold days of winter. Like the season, there’s a new leaf being turned in the city’s forever changing landscape with gardeners arranging delightful floral arrangements around nearly every corner.

    The return of the cardinals, blue jays, and robins can be heard with their chirpy songs that echo against the din of city life.

    Most people are seen with the layered look that is spring coats or sweater sets but of course there are the bolder types fronting shorts and sandals on the odd occasion.

    Blessed in spring with a moderate lake effect from Lake Ontario, Toronto’s weather remains mild. Local weather offices have sometimes compared the city’s weather to that of Cannes and the French Riviera as it’s on the same latitude.  

    For the most part expect seasonal spring temperatures dipping from 7ºC / 45ºF up to 17ºC / 63ºF.

  • On May 29, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What are the best restaurants in Toronto?

    Toronto (pronounced TA-RHAN-NAH) is in the middle of a restaurant boom, a culinary renaissance that makes for a vigorously exciting and competitive scene.

    Culinary aficionados are cueing to sample the array of restaurant offerings across the city. Its distinct neighborhoods cater to a wide range of ethnic specialties and possibilities.

    The culinary darling at the moment is Shōtō part of the Momofuku complex with its four-eateries-in-one location adjacent to the new Shangri-La Hotel.

    But still French traditionalists who crave a modern slant on cooking can opt for the prestigious Scaramouche Restaurant helmed by Keith Froggett, the renowned chef with more than a little staying power (try 30 years this year).

    Toronto’s Financial District has a cluster of restaurants for those posh business lunches but if its view, ambiance, and award-winning Canadian inspired cuisine you’re after, Canoe on the 54th floor of the TD Bank Tower hits all these marks.

    For a restaurant in the cloud experience that boasts the world’s highest cellar in the sky head to 360 at the CN Tower.

    Often the best restaurants are hidden in those thriving old yet newly born neighborhoods. A narrow strip by Ossington Avenue has attracted oodles of top-notch restaurants recently. As of late it’s where the tech savvy entrepreneurs converge for lattes or where young hipster chefs open up new territory in old industrial spaces.

    The gastronomic landscape in Toronto is changing faster than the score at a Leaf’s game.
  • On May 29, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What are the best bars in Toronto?

    The classic hotel bar is making a comeback in Toronto thanks to a slew of new luxury properties in the downtown core.

    Hipsters congregate by The Lobby Bar at the oh-so hip Thompson Hotel to sip on cocktails like the Saison D’Amere, a vodka drink infused with blood orange and lime juices served in a delightful chilled coquette.

    The theatre crowd head to the Ritz Bar at the Ritz Carlton Toronto for post or pre performance chatter over some of the finest herb-infused cocktails in the city. You know cocktail making is serious stuff when the mixologist grows his own indoor fresh herb garden at the bar.

    Whenever Donald Trump’s name is associated with anything you expect it to be “YEW-GE!”  A lot of punch and bravado go with the territory and The Trump Toronto does not disappoint. It has two bars: the Stock Restaurant Bar and Lounge and the Suits Lobby Lounge. Both bars boast fabulous decor alongside cocktail menus fit for any film celeb or real estate baron.
  • On May 29, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    Where is the best shopping in Toronto?

    Hello can we talk? Not only will you find the best shops are in T.O. but it’s the sheer array of stores from those American big box (you know who they are ;-) ) to eclectic boites that serve to please the discerning shopper.

    My favourite retail haunt has been around Yorkville’s Mink Mile. This tony stretch is located east of the Royal Ontario Museum on Bloor Street West until you hit Bay Street. There are plenty of RTW shops from the likes of Prada, Chanel, Cole Haan and for the guys Harry Rosen or Rolex.

    Holt Renfrew, Canada’s answer to Barneys or Saks, has been catering to the high brow set ever since the days of Queen Victoria. Find the newest and chicest labels on these ritzy floors of high-end retail. For those who don’t have the time or need some shopping tips, try their personal shopper service. Valet parking available at the end of the week also helps.

    If it’s shopping in the newer contemporary retail concept shops that catches your eye then hit the new hr2 at Vaughan Mills. Holt Renfrew’s sibling shop opened in spring and mixes those mid-priced labels with discounted seasonal designer wear in an unfrilly setting that’s fresh and unpretentious.