Peace Bridge is a pedestrian walkway over the Bow River in Calgary, Alberta that also has a dedicated center lane for cyclists. From afar it looks like a futuristic time warp tube (heightened at night when the inside is lit up), although with the criss-cross design, many people say that it reminds them of a Chinese finger trap.
My home continent. I have been to most Canadian provinces and over a dozen states.
As you’re reading this I’m probably 30,000 feet in the air off on my next adventure. I’m staying domestic this time and am headed to the land of beef, mountains and cowboys. Can you believe I’ve never been to Alberta before? Me neither. So I’m Alberta bound today.
As soon as I walked in the door and saw the eclectic lobby I knew I was going to like the place. Between the purple leather sofa, the old-timey milk vending machine, and the giant toy soldiers I was in my element. The decor in the Retro Suites Hotel in Chatham, Ontario is quirky, ever-changing, and oozes personal style. The hotel is owned by Rob Myers, classic car restorer. He and his wife, artist Cathy Van Raay-Myers, are always bringing in new finds, sometimes to the chagrin of hotel staff who have to find homes for the pieces.
When I read about the Beaches Accordion Festival taking place on Newfoundland’s Eastport peninsula I saw that Saturday afternoon’s festivities would be taking place on various stages in the town of Salvage. I had visions of a few small structures being erected in a field, portapotties, maybe a small beer tent. In reality, eight fishing stages were somewhat cleared out and each hosted local accordion players and accompanists playing acoustically. No extra lights. No PA. Much more like a shed party than a concert.
After almost three hours on the road I turned off the highway toward Glovertown, NL making turns down progressively smaller roads until I reached Noah’s on the Point, my home for the next two nights. I’m not quite sure how to classify it as none of the usual titles: hotel, motel, or inn seem to fit. Rooms are grouped into three clusters, each room/suite with its own external door, parking space, cheery yellow deck chairs and bbq. There are a couple picnic tables and two communal fire pits where you can watch the sun set over Alexander Bay and roast marshmallows. I felt like I had stumbled onto a little cottage community.
Salvage is a town of approximately 175 on Newfoundland’s Eastport Peninsula. It’s one of the smaller but more interesting peninsulas on the island. These days it’s a popular summer destination because of its pretty towns, seascapes and sandy beaches. It’s been said that the 9km hike from Salvage to Eastport is one of the prettiest in the world and I’m hard pressed to disagree.
Graffiti and street art are one of those topics that brings on a lot of disagreement. Some see it as vandalism, defacing property while others see it as a form of art. There’s one place in particular in Toronto where authorities have turned a blind eye and artists have run amok. Toronto’s Graffiti Alley is a unique lane hidden between Queen & Richmond where street art is not only tolerated but celebrated.
Despite having been to Niagara Falls a few times, I had never made the stop to have a look at the Niagara Whirlpool, formed approximately 4200 years ago by the upstream erosion of the Niagara Escarpment by the Niagara River. If you visit you can take a ride over the gorge in an antique, open air cable car which has been operating since 1916. The whirlpool naturally spins in a counterclockwise motion during normal flow. When more water from the river is diverted to the surrounding hydroelectric power plants, however, the flow often reverses.
The sign says that Clifton Hill is the street of fun at Niagara Falls to which I add a caveat… if you’re a kid. Most adults will probably find it to be a cheesy drain on their wallets. Everything may be overpriced but I still had fun photographing the over-the-topness of it all. I was here when I was 9 and you know what, almost nothing has changed. There are still the same haunted houses, wax museums, arcades and gift shops. One thing that I do love about Clifton Hill is how colourful every thing is.
The EdgeWalk guide called it “Toes Over Toronto”. I called it terrifying. So there my 10 little digits were, perched over the edge of a grate, 1168 feet over Bremner Avenue. Every time I looked down my head would swim and I felt like I was going to fall forward. My fingers tightened on the thick black cable that was keeping me from doing the world’s most epic swan dive. How did I end up tethered to the top of the CN Tower anyway?
I’d been to Niagara Falls a handful of times in my lift but I’d never been on the Maid of the Mist before. I’d seen the boats bobbing in the water each time and saw the crowds in their plastic rain ponchos. This year I got to join them and experienced the power of the Fall’s first hand. It’s one thing to look down on the river from above but it’s another to be in that cloud of heavy mist at the bottom, looking up. You really get a sense for just how powerful Mother Nature can be. The ride doesn’t really last all that long, about 30 minutes, but I think it’s worth the $20 to be able to see the Falls from this angle. Pro tip: wear shoes that you don’t mind getting soaked…because they will. Have you been been on the Maid of the Mist?
I know the cliched terms: quiant, idllyic, sleepy so I won’t use any of those. I will, however, say that Niagara-on-the-Lake is pretty. Tourism is important here so everything about the main strip looks manicured and well-kept. People are drawn to the area for theatre and wine. The town is also known for its gardens, art galleries, antique shops, and golf courses. The visitors are older. The pace is slower. It’s the kind of town I would like to visit for a quiet, low-key, sunny long weekend.
The name of the huge art installation in the middle of Toronto’s Distillery District is “Still Dancing” and, depending on who you talk to, it resembles a whiskey still and a droplet of liquid or a man and woman dancing. I’m in the former camp since I just can’t make that leap from abstract shapes to people dancing. But I can get on board with a stylized still and droplet, especially considering the location.
I’m still a bit of a n00b when it comes to world cuisine but I was pretty sure that banh mi was a Vietnamese sandwich, so I was confused when my friend insisted we go to Bahn Mi Boys for kimchi fries. “But kimchi is Korean,” I thought. I just chaulked it all up to both being Asian countries and off we went in search of fries. I both praise and curse her now for that invitation.
St. John’s, Newfoundland has long known hard times and with our developing oil industry we’re starting to know some good times. So it makes sense that St. John’s is a city that can cater to any budget. Here’s how you can balance your budget in the far east of the Western world.
Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington DC. What struck me here was the photo that someone had hung on a post. I can only assume it was a friend or family member who served in the army during the war. It added a personal, human touch to the larger than life, stainless steel soldiers forever on patrol.
Canadian bloggers are getting together in a giant game of tag to tell you about our Canada and what you shouldn’t miss when you come visit us. Canada is a pretty awesome country and I consider myself to be very lucky to call it my home. There’s a reason backpackers stitch the maple leaf to their packs. We’re generally known as a polite, funny folk with a fondness for hockey and Tim’s double-doubles but I’ve picked out a few of my own reasons why I think Canada rocks.
Cloud Gate, aka “The Bean”, in Chicago is one of the world’s most popular pieces of public art. It has more visitors than anything else in Chicago aside from Navy Pier. At first blush it seems too simple to really be called art, just a giant mirrored bean-like shape. But there’s more to the Bean than meets the eye.
Cloud Gate, aka “The Bean”, in Chicago is one of the city’s most visited attractions, second only to Navy Pier. It was high on my own priority list when I visited the Windy City. In fact, I made two visits. Once just wasn’t enough.
2012 was another year full of travel. I visited five new countries and even circumnavigated the globe like a boss. I pushed my limits and had some incredible experiences. I worked on learning some new languages and tried lots of great new foods. I can’t wait to see what 2013 will have in store for me.