Now that we've been here for more than a year and are immersed in Hamilton on a daily basis , I sometimes forget that initial feeling of shock and surprise that some people (from Toronto, mainly) have when they come to the Hammer (usually for the first time) and discover how nice some of the neighbourhoods are.
Seeing that moment where people file away their preconceived notions of what they thought Hamilton was all about and replace them with visions of how nice the houses are and how great some of the amenities we have here are is pretty gratifying for those of us who chose to move here, enjoy the city and work hard to show people how nice it really is.
Since Christmas, we have had a steady stream of visitors from various parts of Canada, including the Big Smoke, stop by to see our new place, and we always take the opportunity to show off our new city. And we try to show it all - everything from a walk down Locke Street to a drive to the waterfront, up James Street and across Barton Street.
The overwhelming consensus is that no one knew that places like Locke Street and James Street North existed here (in fact, one recent visitor who grew up in Brantford said that he wasn't aware that Hamilton had neighbourhoods like Durand and Kirkendall).
I've discussed, at length, our great Hamilton discoveries over the last few months, but in no particular order, the things that seem to most often seem to turn other people's opinions/prejudices of Hamilton on their heads are:
- how historic the homes are (and how reasonably priced), the gorgeous architecture and the community feel in many of the city's neighbourhoods.
- the calibre of Hamilton's food scene always floors people. We always make a point of taking visitors out to one of the city's unique restaurants (think Bread Bar or Wass or even Rolly Rockets), with one visitor saying she had the best sandwich she had ever had IN HER LIFE at one of these establishments. We know that they are up there with the best that other large cities have to offer.
- Hamilton's cultural scene. Yes, we have an Art Gallery and there are loads of festivals and cultural events in the Hammer all year long. You don't need to drive into Toronto to experience art, concerts, culture and festivals.
More friends from far-off places are sure to be stopping by this summer and I'm sure we will hear many more positive 'first impressions' of our city (and, of course, I'm sure we will continue to find new Hamilton gems and favourite spots ourselves!)