Canada, Toronto, Wellness

4-Day Self-Care Retreat in Toronto, Canada: Day 3 – Relax

Featured image: Khao Soi Beef @ Little Khao – Assembly Chef’s Hall

Note: this is part of a 4-part series. Links below for Days 1 and 2.

Day 1

Day 2


I did check my work inbox this morning. I understand this is not the most wellness-inducing activity but there are parts of my work which are time-sensitive and need to be dealt with urgently. For those of you for which this does not apply, I would strongly encourage you to try not to check work emails/messages outside of work as much as possible. If you must, try to do it first thing in the morning to get it out of the way, so you can enjoy the rest of your day.

Hearty breakfast

Aaron decided to join me for breakfast today at Tractor Food. I’ve been to Tractor in Vancouver and found they had healthy food options. We both chose their breakfast sandwiches, which was apparently not the most healthy option on the menu. It was delicious but if you want a lighter option, try the parfait or get the breakfast sandwich/wraps from Starbucks instead. (My favourite is the spinach, feta & egg white breakfast wrap.)

Egg and turkey sausage breakfast sandwich @ Tractor Foods
Egg and turkey sausage breakfast sandwich @ Tractor Foods

Spa visit: a true oasis

A self-care/wellness retreat is not complete without a visit to a spa, which is why I booked an appointment at Novo Spa in Yorkville this morning. After a quick bus ride while listening to Simon and Martina’s podcast (highly recommended for not only stories about Japan and travelling but also hosted by two very positive, inspirational role models with a great outlook on life), I arrived at the spa. I started with their Aroma Colour Therapy Steam Sauna. It was a relaxing experience. There was no steam as the name implied but I prefer dry saunas anyway. I head over to the lounge area while enjoying some wasabi pistachios and cucumber and lemon infused water. My therapist promptly found me there and guided me to the treatment room for my body treatment. It was a full 75-minute experience with full body exfoliation, clay mask, steaming and ending with a hot stone massage. Although my therapist was very professional with proper draping throughout the treatment, this is not for the shy as it leaves more skin exposed than a regular massage. To be honest the exfoliation and mask parts were not what I would consider relaxing but I really enjoyed the head massage during the steaming process as well as the hot stone massage. The steaming process was definitely unique as my body was basically in a plastic greenhouse filled with hot steam. My experience here ended with some herbal tea and cookies back in the lounge. Overall A+ experience! Perfect for a wellness retreat.

Salad that does not taste like grass 

For lunch, I head across the street to Yorkville Village, an upscale mall with one of the best salad bars in town – Palm Lane. Here I built my own salad – picking my own base (iceberg lettuce), legumes & grains (edamame), veggies (cucumber, beets, sweet corn), protein (boiled egg and tofu), pickles (kimchi), crispies (nori) and dressing (tamari miso). Let’s preface this with saying that I don’t tend to like salads. I would love to like salads but I tend to be disappointed every time I order salads when I go out. I was pleasantly surprised that my customized salad was so tasty. It has completely changed my mind towards salads. The kimchi, sweet corn and beet provided enough flavours that the dressing was not even really needed (as I had ordered it on the side). I intend to eat more salads going forward!

Custom salad @ Palm Lane

Cold local brews

I took a stroll back south, hoping to walk through Queen’s Park. Unfortunately, there was construction in the park so my walk in the park was changed to a walk in the city. I hadn’t planned to making too many plans with friends this trip but one happened to be downtown meeting up with other friends, so I swung by King Taps for some cold local brews and a nice chat, while meeting some new, friendly people.

Assembly Chef’s Hall: a unique, upscale food court

It was soon dinner time and I met Aaron over at Assembly Chef’s Hall after watching a drool-inducing video of this upscale food court. I got there first, so I enjoyed a sangria, which was on special between the others of 4-6pm for those who come here after work. Not the best sangria but a sangria nonetheless. For food, we ordered the beef khao soi from Little Khao (spin-off of Khao San Road) and truffled fried rice, crispy duck wings, and and sweet and sour pork hock from DaiLo. I was quite impressed by the khao soi even though I prefer the chicken version I’ve had in Chiang Mai, Thailand better. Regardless, creamy curry, crunchy noodles on top and eggy noodles in the soup with picked greens? No complaints here. Be careful though; the curry got it all over my white dress. The horror. But for good food, it’s worth it. From DaiLo, I especially enjoyed the fragrant truffled fried rice. Wrap it up in Peiking duck wrappers and some house made hot sauce for a scrumptous bite. The duck wings and pork hock were good but I did not enjoy the texture as much. I wish it was more melt-in-your-mouth.

Truffled fried rice, crispy duck wings, and and sweet and sour pork hock from DaiLo @ Assembly Chef's Hall
Truffled fried rice, crispy duck wings, and and sweet and sour pork hock from DaiLo @ Assembly Chef’s Hall

Wicked? or not.

After dinner, I had plans to watch Wicked, the musical, while Aaron had evening conference events planned. I’ve heard many positive reviews about this and as a musical lover, I knew I had to see it. The talent of course was amazing, but the music and storyline was not as entertaining as I had expected. Maybe I set my expectations too high. It’s been a while since I’ve been to a musical but I would have to say I was somewhat disappointed by my experience. Intermission was stressful as there were long lines for the washroom and drinks/snacks. Exiting the premise was also chaotic as the entire theatre of people try to exit via one staircase. Overall, not a very relaxing experience. I would suggest choosing to watch a less popular show, or choose another type of entertainment (movie, local play) instead if this was truly in keeping with a wellness retreat. I walked by the outdoor cinema occurring at the Yonge-Dundas square and felt like that might have been a better, less stressful experience.

Overall, nice relaxing day, progressively getting more stressful at the end, but still an experience nonetheless!


Suggested podcasts:

Tokyo Tales – The Simon and Martina Podcast


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5 thoughts on “4-Day Self-Care Retreat in Toronto, Canada: Day 3 – Relax”

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