Posts filed under ‘Random’

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

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

We Are All Photographers Now

Last week I found a post about an art project in Lausanne, Switzerland. The exhibition is titled “We Are All Photographers Now” and it’s being held at the musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne. The exhibition is about the rapid mutation of amateur photography in the digital age and displays photos from around the world. Anyone can submit an entry via their web site which is here.

When an entry is submitted, you receive an email from the museum containing the following message…….

Thank you for uploading your picture. You are the xxxxth contributor to upload a photo to our servers! It will be shown in the galleries of the Musée de l’Elysée during the exhibition “All photographers now”.
Once the exhibition starts, we will photograph all the images. If yours is being shown, you will receive an e-mail with a picture showing how your image was exhibited.

In my case I was the 18,161th contributor.

As I understand it, they will randomly choose 100 photographs a week. These pictures will then be printed and shown as such for a full week before being replaced by the selection from the following week, and be subsequently archived in the permanent collection of the Musée de l’Elysée. All other photos will be selected at some point and will be displayed using projection or other means.

I sent two photos last week and today I received an email containing the following message…….

Your image was shown in the Musee de l’Elysee’s exhibit ‘We are all photographers now!’ in the last few days. Enclosed you will find an installation view of your image that shows it in the wall.

The visitors to the exhibit are fascinated by all the different photographs that are being shown from participants like you from all over the world. Thank you again for participating and please feel free to upload more images to the site

Here’s the image I submitted …..

and here is the installation photo ………….

I know it’s a random selection process but hey, I’m still proud of it being there.

March 5, 2007 at 2:38 pm 3 comments

Thursday’s Walk Feb 15,2007

I post all my photos in a place called Flickr. It’s more than just a storage place for photographs, it’s also a virtual community of photographers, artists and all types of creative individuals. One of the things I enjoy about Flickr is the ability to join a group. These are special interest communities. One may be only for critiquing, one for Black and White photography, etc.

There is one that stands a little above the others with the addition of it’s own web site that interacts with Flickr. It’s called UTATA. The admins are great for getting projects going and a regular project is the Thursday Walk. This week was Utata Thursday Walk 44. All you have to do is get out there on Thursday and take some pictures. This Thursday I did and this is what I saw and where I went. Those who visited will remember these places.

When I stepped out of our apartment I was met with clear blue skies, a great day.

I started my walk towards the Med and on the way I saw two police on horseback. We don’t see too much of that here in Barcelona so I was pretty cool.

At the next corner there were a bunch of police directing traffic. Four officers were on the sidewalk watching three others in the street. I suspect they were from the police academy and were training. I tried to get their photo but one waved me off so I figured I shouldn’t push it.

I kept walking towards the Arc de Triomf at the end of Psg Sant Joan with the sun in my eyes, it was really bright.

Once on the other side of the arc I noticed the bicycle path, this city has a very large network of cycle paths all over the city and on weekends the people are out in force on their bikes.

Looking to the right I noticed I could see the spire of Santa Maria del Mar with the sun shining between the buildings, gorgeous light.

I walked down the centre of this massive walkway and noticed a large group of elderly men playing a game of ……… Don’t know what it’s called but they were into a serious discussion (maybe cursing the dam paparazzi which was me)

I walked all the way down to the entrance of Parc Ciutadella and ventured in towards the mechanical sculpture. I turned and saw the Musee de Zoologia.

That big gear to the right is part of a massive sculpture. There were ducks in the water and they weren’t afraid of people because I got really close to one.

From there I walked throught some groves of palms and other trees. They were watering the sun shinning through the branches made for a very dramatic scene.

I stayed until they turned off the water, the air was cool and you could feel the oxygen that was in the dense brush, really fresh. I went over to the big fountain and just sat on a bench observing people with their dogs or kids or just reading books.

The sound of the water, the sunlight shining throught the trees and the cool air in the shade made this place a very peaceful and relaxing place.

I was supposed to meet Alex at 1:30 and go for lunch. It was around 12:30 and she called to see where I was. I told her and 10 minutes later she joined me. We went to lunch at a place on the corner of Psg Pujades and Lluis Companys, of course we ate out on the terrace and it was Paella day.
It was a wonderful day, it was a Thursday Walk

February 16, 2007 at 4:20 pm 3 comments

Photo Morning

This morning I didn’t really feel like going to the gym but I had to do something. I decided to go down to the docks where all the commercial fishing boats are. My intention was to try and get some interesting photos.

Alex and I headed out the door at 8:00 and the first thing we noticed was …………IT WAS COLD. Not Canadian cold but cold enough to make your bare hands uncomfortable. Actually, it was 5 C but windy. We took the bus down to where Alex is doing her research and stopped for a coffee near there. She went to work and I took the tram down to the beach. I walked along the boardwalk looking for something to photograph. The sun was shining straight in from the Med and it was bright. The waves were breaking a little off the beach and the sun behind them made for an interesting subject. I’d never shot waves before so here was my chance. Down to the water’s edge I go, get the camera out and …… couldn’t see a thing. Camera settings were on the lcd but the sun was so bright I couldn’t see anything. I had to guess and use the viewfinder. Here’s what I caught and I’m quite pleased considering …….

This last one was the worst of them all. The sun was directly in front of me and I couldn’t even see the actual wave. I went by the sound and shot when I thought it was breaking. Pure luck.

I kept walking to the docks but I couldn’t get close to the water. Everything was blocked off on the dock side and the beach side was full of construction. I was getting coolish (a true Canadian would not be cold in +5 C) at this point so I headed back home. At least it wasn’t a total waste and I actually enjoyed the morning.

Oh, here’s another photo I came across on my computer. Just loaded it up to Flickr

Have a great day.

January 24, 2007 at 1:12 pm 2 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

Flickr

After having a great day with Francesca and Keiko, I had to get down to work and write about it. Most of the day was spent processing the photos, sending copies to Francesca and writing the previous post. After that I spent some time going over old pictures to see if I could come up with more additions to Flickr.

Flickr is an online community of photographers, writers, artists and the like. I initially joined Flickr to have a means of posting my photos on this blog. I soon discovered that there is far more to Flickr than just storing and saving photos. There are different groups you can join and discuss your photos, get critiques and even enter contests. It actually influenced me to return to a hobby I hadn’t done for longer than I can remember. It motivates me to do more photography. There are amazing photographers in Flickr and their work is truly inspirational. Almost everyone I have had contact with is very encouraging. To be honest, I’m very intimdated by a lot of their work and creative endevours. Now it’s become a challenge to produce more interesting snapshots and get feedback from other people in the Flickr community. If you look to the right of this post you’ll see a box labelled Flickr Photos. Click on the picture under it and you’ll be able to see other pictures I put there.

Anyhow, here’s some photos I posted yesterday. All of these photos were taken with my Canon G6, a point and shoot camera.

From Paris

From Barcelona

another from Paris

and one from Girona

Have a great day.

January 18, 2007 at 3:53 pm Leave a comment

Portugal

On Friday, December 8, Alex and I boarded a ClickAir flight to Lisbon. We had been planning a trip to Lisbon and Alex managed to buy 2 return tickets for 120 euros. It was my first experience on a low cost carrier and we were travelling with just carry on luggage. The flight was not full so there were no problems but I don’t think I’ll travel low cost again because of one thing, the open seating. If that flight were full, it would have stressed me out totally. I know, it shouldn’t but ……….. Besides, if you book further out, the prices are not that high on regular carriers. We’ll have to see.

Alex was planning our Lisbon activities even before we left Barcelona. What restaurants we’ll eat in, what sights we’ll see, if there’s anything extra special to visit, etc. She loves doing that when we go on a trip somewhere and really knows her way around once we get there.

After a 2 hour flight, we landed at Lisbon airport. It’s not far from downtown and we had no problems finding the aerobus to take us there. It cost 3 euros but that included all day access to trams and buses (not metros). We got off at Praca dos Restauradores, walked across the square and found our hotel without any trouble at all.

After dumping our bags, we headed out the door to do some exploring. We walked up to Bairro Alto and Chiado because Alex had found a restaurant she wanted to have lunch at. When we got there we found it closed so we did a random thing and found another one. After eating we walked over to the 1920’s café, Brasileira, in Chiado. Once the haunt of writers and intellectuals, it has maintained it’s look and feel from that era.

After a fine café, we jumped on the 28 tram and took it to the end of the line. This route is a must because it takes you from the crest of one hill, around the castle on the other hill and back down to the square.

The driver was very friendly and actually picked us up between stops. These trams are beautiful cars from an era where craftmanship dominated. The inside was beautiful wood and brass.

Lisbon is a city built on 7 hills and the streets in some areas are very narrow. The trams are perfect, small and powerful, they can get up the steepest streets and around the tightest corners. The regular trams and buses would not be able to go into the older parts of the city.

After wandering around all day, we went back for a siesta before heading to Walter’s and Detlef’s restaurant, Pano de Boca. Before that, though, we had to have a ginjinha. GinJinha has to be the most localised drink in the world. It is only found in certain neighbourhoods in Lisbon.

Ginjinha is a cherry liquer and it is the only thing sold in this bar.

This place had crowds outside, sipping their ginjinha. It was a great way to finish up the day.

After resting a bit we headed out for supper to Detlef’s restaurant.

He managed to talk me in to having a beer, a dark beer on top of that and I really enjoyed it. We finally met Walter, Sebastian has many tales about experiences working with Walter, and I was really glad to meet him at last.

We sat down to an amazing meal. I had wild boar that was excellent, VERY good. Detlef picked the wine and it went very well with my meal. Detlef, if you read this, send me the name of the wine in a comment. Alex and I want to thank you and Walter for an excellent evening, it was great.

The next morning we were out of the hotel by 8:30. We were going up to Castelo de Sao Jorge in Alfama. The oldest remains found here date back to the 6th century BC.

The castle itself has parts that date from the 10th – 11th centuries. It was here that Vasco da Gama was welcomed by King Manuel I after returning from India. It was declared a national monument in 1910 and sits up on the top of the highest hill in Lisbon. To get there we took the 28 tram and walked through the back streets at the top.

After wandering around medieval streets we finally came across the castle.

Walking in the castle grounds was very peaceful. It was hard to imagine that this was a building designed for war and I’m sure that many unpleasant things happened to people here.

The slope was very evident here, it would have been a difficult place to storm.

We walked all around the castle, up steps along the ramparts, lot’s of places to explore.

We left the castle and started walking in the general direction of our hotel. On the way dwon, Alex went into an artisan’s shop. She called me in and I was astonished. It had been a stable for horses and each display was in a stone water trough for the horses. This building predated the earthquake of 1756. They didn’t really know it’s age but the coat of arms over the door was dated around the 15th century. They were pretty sure that the coat of arms had been added to the building and was not part of the original building. Across the street was the cathedral Sé. It was started around 1150 but earthquakes and fires have taken it’s toll.

The cloisters was being excavated by archeologists. There were roman and moorish artifacts being found here. Even the outline of roman streets were here. The building is in rough shape but that just adds to it’s beauty.

We walked back to Bairro Alto and Chiado and went for lunch. You’ll have to read Alex’s blog about our meals, she’s the food expert and lover. After lunch we went to the ruins of Igreja do Carmo.

Founded in the late 14th century by Nuno Alvares, the church was at one time, the biggest in Lisbon. It was destryed in the earthquake of 1756 killing many as the roof and walls collapsed on those inside.

The chancellory survived the earthquake and now houses an archaeological museum. It’s very interesting. We walked around some more and found dedicated trams for the steep streets.

I must confess that my knee was killing me walking around. When we went back to the hotel I soaked it in hot water to ease the pain. It had swelled up a lot too. This is the first time ever that I noticed swelling in my knee.

The next day we were on the streets by 9:00. We were going to Belem to see a few things that Alex had noticed. We hopped on the bus that took us along the river and got off at the Torre de Belem. It seems that Sunday is the day that all museums are free so we went to both the Torre and Mosteir.

Commisioned by Manuel I in 1515 as a fortress in Tagus river. It’s in amazing condition and the stonework is amazing. It once stood in the middle of the river but now lies just offshore. Leaving the Torre we went across to the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos.

The entrance to the monastery is full of intricate detail, all carved in stone.

Building started in 1501 and was cared for by the Order of St Jerome until 1834 when all religious orders were disbanded. The cloisters in this monastery are stunning.

These are the halls around the central courtyard.

Time for coffee and an extra specila treat. Just around the corner from the monastery is Pasteis de Belem. This cafe has been here since 1837 and is world famous for its little pasteis.

We had a little lunch and then ordered the pasteis. Wow, we were not disappointed at all. We ordered 2 more becaue we noticed that everyone ordered 2 each and not wanting to be too different, we adapted. We actually went back the next day.

The rest of our visit was wandering in no particular fashion with no particular destination, just to take some photos like these……….

an HDR shot of a street showing how steep they can be

A water fountain at the end of tram # 28 route

Alex has a lot more to say about our food experiences and especially, thanks to Detlef’s tip, the surprise we had on our last evening in Lisbon. Go find out about it in her blog.

For more photos of Portugal, go here…….. or, for a slide show go here.

December 13, 2006 at 1:07 pm 4 comments

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