Posts filed under ‘Friends’

Skeleton Lake

The first week of August was reserved for a getaway to our friend’s cottage north of Toronto. Skeleton Lake (see more about the lake here) is home to Pearl and Al’s amazing hideaway. We spent seven days exploring the lake and making new friends.

We were woken on the fist morning by a bright light. I got up and walked out to the deck and was greeted by this view…..

On that first day, Alex went down to the dock to face the sun and do her yoga. It just seemed to me that the way she faced the morning sun was how yoga should be done.

After doing her thing we had breakfast and went for a swim in the clear water. Visibility was spectacular and on a clear day we could see down at least 10 meters. It was about this time we discovered we were supposed to bring our own towels and we needed them. We hopped in the boat and motored back to the docks. There is an inn there and we thought we might be able to rent some towels. Don and Jenn were sitting outside and we asked if it was possible to rent some towels. Jenn looked at me for a moment trying to register what I was saying so I explained our situation. They laughed at the request and lent us a full set of towels. We sat with them for a while and got to know them a little better.

One morning we heard a motor boat and looked out to see this………………….

The rest of the week was spent exploring, relaxing, enjoying the solitude and the views. We would paddle around in the canoe, under cliffs and around huge boulders

Some boat houses were more luxurious than a lot of the cottages

At one point we paddled over to a spot where we could hike up to High Lake which was another lake in the area. It was well worth the trip and we were rewarded by the view.

We could have sat here for hours just soaking up the sun and atmosphere.

The lake itself must be about 50 meters higher then Skeleton Lake and is held back by a huge rock wall. A stream runs down from High Lake to Skeleton Lake. The view back to High Lake from the stream bed in the forest.

The changes in the weather was spectacular and we would sit on the deck and watch natures shows. We could see rain as it traveled across the lake.

It really stormed on Friday so we just sat inside and watched the opening of the Olympics, read and I practiced guitar. In other words we relaxed and enjoyed it. I must admit I was a bit concerned about the next day. One thing I should have mentioned is that we were on an island, about a 10 minute boat ride from the docks. I worried that the rain would not stop and we’d have to motor back with our luggage soaking wet plus I had my guitar and Alex had her lap top. Waking up Saturday morning we were treated to this……..

It was breathtaking and it also poured so much that the boat was filled with rain water. At 12:15 it stopped and let us go. It always amazes me how fate takes care of us all the time.

Many many many thanks to Pearl and Al for giving us this week.

Next year for sure………..

August 10, 2008 at 7:10 pm 5 comments

Mataró

On Sunday we headed off to Mataró to see my friends Sara and Andres. It turned out to be a gorgeous day and we spent quite a bit of time by the beach.

We passed through one of the tunnels under the highway and I was really impressed by the graffiti on the beach side.

We just wandered around a bit before heading back to their apartment for a wonderful lunch. Alex HAD to get some recipes for the salads and pasta they served.

They have an amazing view from their apartment and yes, that is the Mediterranean in the distance.

We left Mataró around 6:00 PM and when we arrived in Barcelona we walked up Psg de Gracia to Diagonal. There was some sort of party going on to celebrate Portugal. We were meeting Sebastian, Jackie, Sylvie and Julian up there. There were lot’s of people and live entertainment (check out Alex’s blog for more info). This group was playing fado.

We had to stand in line to buy tickets for food or drink and everyone had the same ideas at the same time.

We bought tickets for ginjinha, a liquer unique to Lisbon, and I must day pretty strong. Being in a party mood we soon met more people and I hope the following photos will show just how much fun we had.

The beginning of the evening when we were still in control……

Sylvie and Julian

Crowds were getting larger and food was in demand………………

Sylvie and Sebastian, still early……………………

Sylvie and her bottle of ginjinha……………….

note the blur, the evening is moving on

Here you can see the evening is well on it’s way…………………….

Alessandro, one of the friendly people we met there, he was just too funny…………

The last subway home, good thing they had safety belts so some of us could stay standing

By the way, when we got off at our stop they closed the gates as we exited the station so we were pretty lucky we didn’t have to walk home.

LIFE IS GREAT

June 11, 2008 at 10:17 am Leave a comment

Canada, The First Week

We’ve done a lot over the past week. Signed our lease, got our medicare cards updated and I joined Hart House so I can get back to the gym.

Our apartment is right down town and actually 3 floors directly above our old one. Talk about luck. We move into the place in June. This is our little oasis in the middle of downtown Toronto.

Yesterday, Pearl took us to a park right near her place. Consider this, the park is in an urban area, cycling distance (long maybe) from downtown Toronto. When we went I felt that the ambience and feelings were Canada. This park represented how I felt about Canada. It was great. I had never felt that way before but as Alex explained, sometimes you have to leave and come back before you notice these things. It was so true. There were loons diving for fish, geese flying low over the water and lines of other water fowl flying in formation past the point. The mist was light and the air cool. It really struck me that I was back in Canada.

Not many people around either. After the crowds in Barcelona, this was nice.

The trees had not yet grown their new leaves and most of them held only the hint of green. Some were further along than others but the mixture was lovely. Subtle coloring in the background and calm waters made for a sensuous ambiance.

The boats were ready for another season and people were out cleaning and socializing. For boaters, it was more socializing than cleaning……

Alex exploring the photo ops of bleached driftwood. She bought herself a new digital camera and was testing it out.

We had a great time thanks to Pearl. We will be doing this once a week like we did in Barcelona. We hope to pick a neighborhood in Toronto every week and go exploring with our cameras. I’ll post something about where we went and some photos and if I can, I’ll give a little history. Our friends in Barcelona will be able to know more about Canada. I hope it makes them interested enough to come visit.

May 10, 2007 at 3:32 pm 1 comment

Barcelona, The Final Two Months

Well, it had to happen. Our stay here is coming to an end. We stayed with Jackie and Sebastian for the last few months and had an absolutely fantastic time. I don’t think I managed to get on their nerves but I have been known to be wrong. Jackie and I would have some pretty heated discussions in the morning and most times she was right but I’d never admit that. I’ll miss the times we had.

Most of the last few weeks was saying goodbye to all the amazing and woderful friends we had made over the past year. There are some that will remain close to my heart forever (and they will never know who they are). I’ve put together some photos of some of the people we partied with or dined with or just hung out with over the last few weeks.

Bradley at Wushu’s

Paul

Francesca, I’ll miss her humor and outlook on life. We had fun communicating. Sha actually thought I spoke Italian but that’s a whole other story.

Sara, my spanish teacher. We became good friends. I really hope her and Andrea come to visit us in Canada. Actually I hope they all come to visit us in Canada.

Matt, a great friend whom I met in Spanish class.

His wife Elena, always smiling. The two of them were a lot of fun.

Marc, another friend from Spanish class.

I had to have a few friends who were closer to my mental age and Elena’s cousin’s baby fit the role. Same sense of humor too.

Jackie, Alex, Joy and Jesus at Joy and Jesus’ casa. They had us over for a farewell lunch

Alex and Andres having a chuckle. Andres taught Alex how to make mate.

Francisca and Sylvie fooling around. Those two were really great people. Sylvie was stressing out about her newly purchased piso in Bari Gotic. It’s an amazing place and I am sure she’ll love it when all the work is done. Francisca returns to Chile in October and we hope to visit her soon.

Mireia, she just finished her Phd thesis and was preparing to defend it. Her and Pau were super and Pau has to send me my honorary Catalan citizenship card. I’ll hold him to that too.

Jackie getting her hair done

Pau, Mireia and Jackie having a discussion. I’ll miss my discussions with Jackie………

Joy and Jesus

I have missed posting photos of many others because I don’t have them or they are really blurry. Photos taken while drinking too much wine ……

Last, but not least is Naomi. It was through her thoughtfulness and consideration that we met most of these people. Naomi always made sure that Alex and I were invited to different places. She is a bundle of energy and always up for a good time.

Many thanks to all of you who made Barcelona a special place and time for us. You are all invited to visit us in Canada anytime. Our home is always open to you so please come.

Now for the next series of adventures ………

May 10, 2007 at 2:37 pm Leave a comment

Last Visit

This was the last visit to Barcelona’s beaches. It was ana mazing day and lot’s of people were out. Many booths were open on the boardwalk and the crowds were thick.

It was kind of weird though, looking south the sun was shining and the air clear but looking north was another view altogether.

A fog was rolling in off the sea and it had this really strange effect. People were wondering what was happening and the sun worshippers began to leave in droves. Soon, the beach looked like this…….

The fog itself was low and buildings above it still had sunlight. Made for a neat photograph and dramatic effects.

All in all, it was a dramatic last view of Barcelona’s beaches. One I’ll not forget.

May 10, 2007 at 2:35 pm Leave a comment

A Great Day

Tuesday, April 17, 2007.

What a day. In the morning I worked on some photos that I had set aside and around noon I went over to Alexandra’s archives so we could go for lunch. Alex wanted to go to a place with a terrace that was across from Parc de le Ciutadella. We had a great lunch outside. The park trees have their new growth of green and it was really spring like (at a temperature of 24 + it was more like summer). After we ate, Alex went back to work and I went off to the park to lay around in the grass. I found a great place in the shade of a palm tree so I pulled out my ipod, set up my knapsack as a pillow and lay down on the grass. Lot’s of people all around me doing the same thing, just relaxing.

I don’t know how long I lay there but a group of swedish girls sat down close by to sunbathe. One of them, Erika, started chatting, really friendly and bubbly (almost too bubbly). She was here in Barcelona for a month. It turns out she comes here every year for a month and has been doing so for the past six years. She tells me that she has made friends from all over the world and has kept in touch with most of them. We hung about for most of the afternoon and when she left I went to a new spot by the big fountain. I looked out over the scene in front of me and couldn’t beleive it. This was more like dreamland than reality.

I think the thing that really clinched it all was when this guy cycles in and stops by one of the palm trees. He was carrying all kinds of things, 2 guitars, a drum and a big bag full of other stuff. He parks his bike and begins to unpack. Next thing I know, he’s pacing off the distance between the palm trees. I was really curious so I watched what he was up to. Turns out he was stringing up a strap between the two trees. A bunch of his friends arrive and they all settle in. They just radiated a joie de vie that made me slightly envious. It was really amazing. Anyhow, the strap was for walking on. Some were tightrope walking, others sitting around dinking matté and others making music. I loved it and thought about all the young people over in Canada who should make it a point of coming to Barcelona. It’s a paradise or maybe it’s mine. who knows.

Anyhow, for the past few weeks I have been playing around with a game on internet called Second Life. It’s like a chat room but you have animated characters that represent you and there is a virtual world to explore. It’s quite the place with buildings and roads and averything else a person can think of. I usually go to this specific spot and just watch the interaction of the animated characters. All kinds of outfits and animations that I could never describe in words. My point is that watching people in the park was so similar to watching the fantasies in Second Life that I immediatly fell in love with Barcelona all over again. It’s not the place for everyone but for me, it is amazing. Some compare it to Paris in the beginning of the last century.

I’ll miss this place.

April 19, 2007 at 11:12 am Leave a comment

Cantonigròs

This past weekend we went on a camino with Pau and Mireia. This hike had been in the works for quite a while. Sebastian and I had talked about organizing one way back in January. We wanted to hike up north, around Vic and Pau, who is a member of the hiking feferation in Vic, knows many of the trails there. We contacted him about a month ago to see if he was available to go for a hike with us. Sunday was the day we went. We let people know where we were going and when to meet but in the end only Alex, myself and Sebastian went from Barcelona. We left for Vic on the 9:20 train out of Placa Catalunya.

Pau i Mireia

An hour and a half later, we arrived in Vic. Pau and Mireia met us at the train station and off we went. They told us that they had made reservations for lunch and that we would be hiking to the restaurant, eating and hiking back. We were in for a huge, pleasant surprise. We headed off in the direction of Olot, which is north of Vic. The highway progressively climbed as we got further from Vic. The whole landscape changed from what we were used to in Barcelona. Most of the trees were bare of their leaves and the sky, wow, so dramatic. The sun and clouds were having this huge battle for dominance and the clouds were winning each skirmish, although at times it seemed the sun would win. It was like this for the entire day and made for some of the most dramatic skies I had ever seen.

So here’s a photo of what Barcelona was like on Thursday of last week, lush and green. Keep this in mind when you view the photos from our hike.

We pulled into a parking lot for a restaurant and our hike began. we were in an area called Cantonigròs. Pau pointed the way and off we went. The light was really flat so it was hard to get good photos since there was hardly any contrast.

We walked down the highway to a dirt road that went towards the mountain.

Actually, the road ran along a valley in between mountains, the scenery was amazing. We walked past working farms and the livestock was right there. Some of the biggest bulls I have ever seen were here too. These are cows by the way.

The path eventually started to wind it’s way upwards. It started off with a gentle climb and as we entered the forest we ran into some hunters with their dogs. We could hear dogs howling since we entered the valley. I’d never seen hunters with dogs before (except in the movies) so it was quite a treat.

Aparently there are a lot of wild boars here and signs were everywhere warning hikers of the possible danger. We kept on walking upwards and the path started to narrow at points as we made our way across the terrain.

That soon ended as we started some serious upward movements. The path varied from lots of vegetation to rock. The sky kept up the show and at this time, the clouds were really winning the battle. They were so thick it was getting dark.

You could see we’d climbed a fair bit up into the mountains

and of course we had to shoot some photos (just the excuse I needed for a rest)

After our rest, ooops, I mean photo session, we climbed at a much quicker rate. The slope of the path increased quite a bit. I was sweating like mad. I sweat easily, even just doing my weight workout. I keep meaning to ask a doctor if it’s good to sweat so easily or is it a sign that something is up. I’ll have to wait until I get back to Canada I guess. Here’s the view from a little higher up, note the sky again. The sun is starting to gain a little ground.

At this point we’re “almost” at the restaurant. It’s on top of that mountain in the back and if you look closely you can see the trail that leads up. This was going to be fun (tongue in cheek).

We started up the trail and Sebastian, the mountain goat, went bouncing up the trail. You can see where we had come from and now, where we are going.

I went up at a good rate and stopped about half way up. I could actually hear my heart pounding, it was amazing. On the way up there was a marker and it gives you an idea of just how high we’d climbed in 1 hour and 30 minutes.

On top of this mountian were more trails continuing on and walking the narrow trail gave you fantastic views on both sides of the range.

It was weird because the sun was winning the war on one side and it seemed like the clouds were gathering on the other side to attack.

This was an amzing place to be. So close to the edge and nothing to guide you. You really felt the three dimensional world when you looked at the edge of the cliff.

There was also a geological marker placed at the top and there were indicators to different areas on the horizon.

As high as we were, the trail climbed even higher. Since our table was ready we only went so far.

From here we turned around and went back to the restaurant.

The restaurant, Sanctuari de Cabrera, is in a building that heralds from medieval times. It was a church and a sanctuary and the church is still there beside the resaurant. A really amazing place and a fantastic treat.

We had salad, mountain paella, beef, wine, dessert,coffee and penty of great conversation. I might add that at the beginning of the day, we, or should I say they, decided to speak only spanish and catalan. I survived and even managed to get into the conversations.

Pau and Mireia even taught me how to drink wine from a porron, a catalan wine dispenser. It takes a bit of time to master and after pouring lots of wine on my face and shirt, I finally managed it.

Here’s some clearer photos of the porron.

The room was very humid with all the cooking going on and the outside looked so uninviting. Fog was just rolling across the ground and being inside was so comforting.

The cooking was done like it has been for centuries, by fire. The kitchen had few modern conveniences since the place was so isolated.

When we left, it seemed like the sun was finally going to win the war, at least in the valley we were heading down into. The dark clouds were still blowing across so it could go any way.

The return trip took far less time than it took to get up there and when we finally made it back to the car, the sun poked out and gave us a grand farewell.

Shortly after that photo, the clouds waged a massive assault and won the day. Less than 2 hours later, the rain started.

Pau and Mireia had given memories that we will treasure for the rest of our lives. A fantastic day with fantastic friends.

February 19, 2007 at 8:11 pm 5 comments

Two Weeks

Well, it’s been a very busy two weeks. Last week we went out for beers with Keiko, Sarah, Francesca and Matt. Keiko is going back to Japan after being away for over 8 years.

She left on Feb 9 and we all had to say our goodbyes. She’ll be living with her mom just outside of Osaka. We’re all going to miss her. Francesca is heading out to Bilbao and then back to Florence until about mid March so it was kind of an adios for her too.

Sarah is friends of all of us. She was our profesora in Spanish school and we all keep in touch.

And here are the three togather. I call them “las tres chica teeras”. They are great people and I’ll miss Keiko.

After we got home from that little soiree, I received an email from a friend in Toronto. William is teaching classical guitar at York and he had a student, Jordan, who was coming to Barcelona for spring break and he wanted to buy a guitar. I bought mine here and I thought the luthier where I bought was a special place. I sent an email to Jordan and agreed to meet him when he arrived on Feb 10. We actually met up on Feb 11 in Bari Gotic. He was here with his dad, Ron for a few days of relaxation. We hit it off like old friends and ended up showing them the sites for their entire stay. We brought Jordan to the guitar store on Monday and he tried out quite a few instruments.

He found one he really liked, an Alhambra and that was that. We spent the next few days touring and dining and chatting.

For their last night here, we took them to our favaorite restaurant in Barcelona, Wushu’s. During our brief time together Ron and I discovered a link we had from way back. When I was around three or four we lived in Ottawa, just off Island Park Drive. Our backyard bordered with another house that was owned by a fellow named Joe Feller. Well, it turns out that Ron know’s Joe Feller’s son and had actually been inside that house. We had been chatting about links in life and that started me thinking about some other events that happened and put me into a particular space. One that came to mind immediately was the writing of the previous post, Tribute to Our Frineds (Ron and Jordan are part of that group now).

Listen to this, it’s so strange. The reason that post is there is because a female French journalist, dropped a copy of “The Little Prince” in the Sahara desert, during the Paris / Dahkar rally. I won’t go into the sequence of events that led up to the post but I will relate the last piece. We went to see Moussa (see Alex’s blog for more info) and his words really brought the value of things to the forefront. He was the catalyst that caused me to write something I only would think about. I’m sure there are many more I could find out about. Anyhow, that one was cool.

Jordan and Ron have left now but we, both Alex and I, feel our lives are richer for having met them. I must thank William.

February 14, 2007 at 7:55 pm Leave a comment

Tribute to Our Friends

Monday evening, (see Alex’s blog here) Alex and I went to a photo exhibit in a bookstore, Libraria Baïbars, up on calle Muntaner. The author was Moussa ag Assarid, from a nomadic Berber tribe called the Touareg. To read all about Moussa, go to Alex’s site here. You must read about this amazing individual but this post is not about Moussa per se.

Anyhow, we arrived at the bookstore and listened to Moussa tell us “une petite histoire” about how he came to be here in Barcelona. While he was speaking I had a very strong feeling of familiarity. Not a feeling of “deja vu”, but a feeling of knowing. I couldn’t communicate the feeling to Alex because I myself did not understand it. We talked about it and I just couldn’t say why because I really didn’t know.

Well, Alex is very good in getting me to understand what’s going on and after a few days of discussions I think I now know why I had this feeling. Moussa is an individual whose personality is simalar to almost all of our friends here in Barcelona. This connection also made me understand another feeling I frequently get when we are with a group of our friends.

All my life, I have been conventional, ok, almost conventional. You know, the mainstream ideology. Since we arrived here, not one person we have come to call a friend is from the same background as me. They are all fiercely independent, adventuresome, free spirited individuals who do what their hearts drive them to do, doing what they enjoy doing, being in places they want to be part of. They are all extremely creative as scientists, chefs, artists, cinematographers, fashion designers, musicians, educators. Their educations range from high school to Phd’s and they are all share the same drive and passion as Moussa. I suppose while listening to him speak I had a subconscious link to those personalities but couldn’t consciously figure it out.

It explains also why I sometimes feel like a fraud when I am with my friends. I feel like I am only there because of circumstance, not through any planning on my part.

I realized too, that the same applies to our friends in Toronto. They have those same adventuresome characteristics

and Montreal …..

Anyhow, this is a tribute to you all (and you all know who you are). I’m very proud to be your friend.

February 7, 2007 at 9:47 pm 7 comments

Horta

On Sunday we went with Sebastian to Horta, the last stop on the Metro blue line, Linea 5.  Seabstian manages a cooking school up there and he was giving us a guided tour. His school is a great place and fully supplied. I could see why he enjoys working there so much.

The kitchen was spotless and very well equipped.

After the tour we started walking back towards our neighbourhoods. Horta is quite the place and I’ll definitely have to go back there and explore more of the district. As it was, I had my eye out for stairs. There was a project on Flickr to submit photos with stairs in them. Here’s what I submitted, you should see some of the photos in that project. They blow my mind and almost prevented me from submitting mine.

I entered three from my archives …..

from Paris …….

another from Paris …….

and this one from Girona …

The three from Horta this past weekend ……..

and with a little effect added….

and trying a different angle ……

It’s fun doing this and gets you out to different places. I find when we are walking with our cameras we tend to look a lot more closely at our surroundings and notice small details that we probably would notice if we were just strolling. By the way, all of these photos are taken with a point and shoot digital, a Canon.

It’s great fun.

January 23, 2007 at 11:08 am 1 comment

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