There’s a world to explore in Kitchener

Contributed Image

Contributed Image

It’s as easy as taking the 7-route bus, better yet the 200 iXpress. Hell, it’s a 20-minute bike ride if you’re anywhere close to campus.

If you’re stuck inside for the night, mulling over the stale amenities of uptown Waterloo, consider looking over your shoulder to the vibrant and growing downtown Kitchener. I understand a stigma persists — the fear of unfamiliar territory. Leaving the secure bubble around the Wilfrid Laurier University campus may seem daunting, but the riches of Kitchener are worth the trek.

Just last week I stepped into an unassuming restaurant, tucked away on the second floor of a comparably unassuming pub. “The Guanaquita Restaurant” read the smidgen of a sign. What was anticipated to be a pleasant yet forgettable experience wound up opening my eyes to our charismatic, neighbouring city.

Have you ever eaten a pupusa?

It’s a traditional El Salvadoran dish, and the folks at The Guanaquita know how to sling a solid one. They fall somewhere between a pancake and a quesadilla — seemingly barren and plain from the outside — yet oozing with a delectable cheese, meat and spice filling.

Evidently, after the spiritual experience that was the pupusa, I needed to see more. The following day I stepped into Kinkaku Izakaya, a casual Japanese restaurant on the downtown strip that serves up an excellent all-you-can-eat menu. Rather than your sloppily wrapped dishes you’d find at sushi joints around campus, Kinkaku has an evident dedication to quality cuisine.

In addition to succulent restaurants, Kitchener is home to the beautiful Victoria Park. Although it lacks a petting zoo — as the one found in Waterloo Park — Victoria Park certainly offers a more scenic view. An elegant river winds through the greenery and cobblestone, creating an inviting atmosphere perfect for a comfortable stroll or relaxing picnic during the summer.

Looking beyond Kitchener, there is the historic Cambridge, along with townships including North Dumfries, New Hamburg and St. Jacobs. Although these communities aren’t as accessible, they each offer a experience that is deserving of a visit. With a group of friends and a carshare, exploring the Waterloo Region isn’t as daunting as you may think.

Students are reluctant to leave the safe, university bubble for a handful of reasons, including time restraints and apathy, but there is one barrier — a limiting mindset — that can be easily overcome.

The whole “Laurier is my home” mindset certainly contributes to the feeling that Kitchener and other townships are outside of the scope and inaccessible. Laurier may offer some exciting opportunities, but consider widening your “home” lens beyond the bounds of campus and surrounding amenities.

Because my home is not Laurier.

My home is the beautiful region in which you’ll find amazing restaurants, solid cafés, beautiful parks, townships, cities, communities and yes, Laurier. Laurier is still part of my home. But it is merely a guest room within a rich and bountiful home.

But I’m still paying the same rent as you.

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