The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
Moving to Victoria, B.C. over seven years ago was a big shift from the lifestyle I grew up to know and love in Ontario.
While I have since settled down in Victoria and enjoy living in such a beautiful part of Canada, there are some things I miss about being in a bigger city in Ontario, including certain stores and products I simply don't have access to anymore.
From traditional Polish foods to skincare products, clothing shops and certain restaurants, there are many stops I always rush to make when I'm visiting family and friends in Ontario.
Here are seven places I often go to whenever I'm travelling from Vancouver Island, B.C. to Toronto, Ontario.
Starsky Fine Foods
Polish doughnuts from Starsky Fine Foods in Ontario. Right: A variety of Polish foods Asymina brought back from Ontario to Victoria, British Columbia.
@starskycanada | Instagram, Asymina Kantorowicz | Narcity
As someone who is Polish and loves traditional cuisine, I never miss an opportunity to shop at the biggest Polish store in Ontario to stock up on all my faves.
From kielbasa to spices, soups, teas and desserts, I can easily load up a cart at Starsky Fine Foods in Mississauga any chance I get.
I also love trying out different skincare and hair products from the store as they have a large selection of European brands that you can't find at any Canadian stores. Even brands we do have in Canada, like Nivea, are more popular in Europe so they have more products there than we do here.
Another thing I always do while I'm at Starsky is make sure to get my fix of Polish doughnuts (known as Pączki), because I can't get them on the island. Seriously, if you're ever near a Polish bakery or store, go in and grab a doughnut, you won't regret it!
Victoria used to have one Polish store, although it was much more limited when compared to Starsky, but sadly it closed down in 2022.
The closest thing I have are stores in Vancouver, so on the rare occasion I am in that city, I do visit Polish stores there as well.
An exterior shot of a Zara store.
When you grow up with the Eaton Centre, Square One and Sherway Gardens close by, you get used to a certain shopping experience whenever you head to the mall.
Shopping on Vancouver Island is pretty limited when you compare it to the big brands that are available across Ontario and other big cities in Canada.
Unfortunately, we don't have Zara on the island so it's become a habit that I always go and browse through the racks whenever I'm in Toronto.
An exterior shot of an Ikea store in Ontario.
Who doesn't love a trip to Ikea? You can spend hours walking through the various room displays and then finish off your visit with a trip to the food court for a hot dog and ice cream cone.
Vancouver Island doesn't have an Ikea and many islanders who I've talked to would love it if one finally opened up here.
Anytime I'm in Ontario I'll go to an Ikea to see what's new and what I need like kitchen tools or other household necessities.
Unfortunately, I can't fit everything in a suitcase but smaller items I can fit are coming with me!
I am well aware that you can easily order products online, but any order we place here in Victoria comes with a delivery charge of $79. So if I need something small, I can't justify paying a delivery fee as well.
We also have to go and collect our items from a pick-up location so if it's a big piece of furniture, you'll need a truck.
And yes, going to an Ikea on the mainland is certainly an option as well, but you have to also tack on the BC Ferries ticket which can add up to over $150 (round-trip) if you're travelling with someone and bringing a vehicle.
The variety in restaurants
Serbian food served at Fancy Kefana Restaurant & Bar in Mississauga, Ontario. Right: Food at Limon restaurant in Toronto.
Asymina Kantorowicz | Narcity, @limonbeaches | Instagram
Victoria does have a lot of great restaurants, but some cuisines just aren't readily available on the island.
Whenever I'm Ontario, I love trying out new places that serve food which I may not be able to get on Vancouver Island.
During my last visit I went to an incredible Serbian restaurant in Mississauga called Fancy Kafana Restaurant & Bar. From the plate of meat to the crepe for dessert, the food reminded me of the dishes I ate on a recent trip to Serbia.
Bonimi in Etobicoke is another great Serbian spot.
I also went to Limon in Toronto's Beaches neighbourhood where I got to feast on some pretty delicious Middle Eastern food and I can't wait to go back.
Orbit Restaurant in Mississauga is another great spot if you're looking for a traditional Polish meal.
Victoria used to have at least two DAVIDsTEA locations, one of which I often went to during my lunch breaks at work.
Unfortunately, the company shut down the majority of its stores in Canada a few years ago and that included all the locations on Vancouver Island.
Luckily, Ontario still has a few DAVIDsTEA locations so I always make sure to see what new blends they have when I'm in the area and to stock up on my favourites.
From Outlet Collection in Niagara to Toronto Premium Outlets in Mississauga, Ontario has a lot of great outlet malls where you can shop at popular stores and save money.
My go-to when I'm in Ontario is Toronto Premium Outlets which has a huge selection of big-brand shops like Kate Spade, Coach, Lululemon and Banana Republic.
With the holidays coming up, this is a great place to do some of your Christmas shopping!
An exterior shot of a Sephora store.
Lastly, my trips back to Ontario often include at least one stop to Sephora if I happen to be at a mall.
Yes, Victoria does have a Sephora. However, because there has only been one location on the south island for years the stock is often limited and I find myself not being able to find certain products when I shop there.
Luckily, a second location just opened up about 20 minutes outside of the city so I'll be heading there soon to check it out!