By Nida Ammar
In August 2016, my family made our immigration trip to Toledo, OH from Amman, Jordan. Minutes before the final call for our flight was broadcast, I had a horrible moment of truth; my life in the tight-knit Jordanian community flashed before my eyes, and I felt a terrible stomachache, which, for a 36-week pregnant woman, can be mistaken for labor! I felt panicked! How on earth am I going to navigate this new city?
The first year was very difficult, having just had my second child, and the winter months were terrible to someone coming from overseas. I mostly stayed indoors, and honestly, it was boring. I realized I must discover this city. After moving closer to downtown, I have discovered many spots that have become a favorite for my family.
Imagination Station is one of the spots in Toledo that made life more fun for my 4-year-old daughter. Her favorite area is the water section. There is something so funny about “toilet flush” exhibit as she likes to call it. We have a blast learning about physics, nutrition, chemistry and their temporary exhibit area has different joys to offer at different times of the year. And, it does not matter whether you are 3, 10, 26 or 65; Imagination Station has something to offer for every age!
Toledo Museum of Art. Perhaps you are now thinking, whenever I get a chance to go child-free, I will go to the Toledo Museum of Arts. Right? Not in Toledo! The museum loves giving you the full experience, including your children! They have wonderful exhibits that you can ponder upon, but they also have a Family Area where you AND your child can go and make fun art projects. I have not been to many museums around the world, but this makes TMA all the more special for me. What a wonderful way to begin a museum journey as a family.
My favorite spot for coffee or tea would be Rustbelt Coffee on N. Ontario. First, this café is in the heart of downtown. The atmosphere is rustic, the coffee tastes great and they have the most creative way of serving tea. Even if you are not a tea person, you will love it! In addition, my children are welcome, which is always something to look for when you have kids not yet in school. They have their own parking and, if you’re in the process of having a startup business in tech, this is the place you should be to meet all the tech community in town.
I am a lover of sandwiches, so on days where I don’t feel like cooking dinner, Michael’s Bar & Grill is one of my go to destinations. I don’t even try to do what they do at home. And don’t forget the Original Sub Shop. I, personally, do not believe that big franchise businesses can compete with their subs. I know they have other menu items, but I go for subs for convenience.
As a newbie in Toledo, I do have nostalgic feelings for my own Middle East cuisine, especially in the dessert department. I long for that sweet taste of Arabia. Baklava, Kunafa, Ruz-b-Haleeb, Hareeseh! Good news, though, I do not have to dream about these amazing sweets. I found all those at So Sweet Bakery. Don’t judge me, it is not an easy task to make these desserts, and again, I like the convenience. The point is, I don’t have to feel homesick, it is all here.
For quiet time, or for walks, jogs and play in the park, I like to go to Wildwood Preserve Metropark on Central. The park is a blessing, beautiful atmosphere, and brand-new playground, many trails to walk and jog and walk your dog. The numerous spots for barbeque (because if you know an Arab, you know we are passionate about that) the bird-watchers house and those deer! Oh my dear! This is definitely one place I kept coming back to over, and over, and over; it gives me serenity and I can feel the happiness getting absorbed by my skin when walking at Wildwood.
One thing I have learned about this town is that its people are passionate about their teams. In the winter, go to Huntington Center and cheer on Toledo’s hockey team, The Walleyes! In the summer, take some time off to cheer for the baseball team, the Toledo Mud Hens at the Fifth Third Field. Then after each game, grab some food and watch entertainment at places in the warehouse district or Adams Street corridor.
I know at this point you may be saying yes, yes, it is all good but I have no time! I have work, kids, grandkids a business, and it is rough! Have I mentioned yet how tight-knit and welcoming Toledo is? Let me explain how this correlates with your own business. There is no other place where people like to network more than I found here in Toledo. I, too, have my own business and the amount of connections I made in 18 months is amazing. There are numerous networking events in T-Town that will get you connected to the right people. These people are supportive and will make you feel at home.
A city is only as wonderful as its people. I know a lot of people who come from different places and settle in Toledo for a job or other reasons and those people never seem to want to leave. So, hear it from someone who had their whole life shoved back to square one. Someone whose world was torn down in favor of a fresh new start. Someone who sacrificed their career to take the first step on a brand-new ladder. If you are in Toledo, you are at home!
We are happy to welcome Nida to the RightSizeLife.com family. She is already contributing to our feature articles, Shoppers on Site, and event listing. She will also be contributing to our upcoming quick news section, debuting later this year. Nida is also the Communications Lead for CCTRONIC, a design engineering firm focusing on helping farmers and agriculture producers improve their output and efficiency while preserving and respecting the environment.