Big City Tales

Boston Strong All Year Long

September 17, 2013
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In the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, a city reeling from tragedy found comfort in a short, simple rallying cry.

“Boston Strong” perfectly captured the stalwart spirit of Bostonians on display for the world to see that fateful April day, and while springtime in Boston will forever be associated with the genesis of the powerful mantra, it’s a sentiment that has since been embraced by many of the city’s other heralded institutions/events held throughout the year.

No matter the season, no matter the month, Boston is truly strong all year long.

Image of Charles River Esplanade

The Charles River Esplanade in all its springtime glory.

Spring

You don’t have to be a sports enthusiast to know that in Boston the advent of spring and third Monday of April (Patriots’ Day) is synonymous with thousands of runners descending upon the city to participate in the aforementioned Boston Marathon.

The 2013 edition attracted over 20,000 participants from around the globe, of which some 5,000+ were unable to finish the race owing to the bombings, and featured an Ethiopian winner in the men’s event and a Kenyan in the women’s.

With early invites already extended to those non-finishers who completed at least half of the 2013 race, next year’s marathon promises to be bigger and better and STRONGER than ever.

Image of Boston Marathon runners

Every year, the Boston Marathon attracts thousands of runners eager to pound the city pavement en route to the finish line at Copley Square.

Summer

Given Boston is the site of many important events associated with the American Revolution, it comes as no surprise that the city spares no expense with Independence Day celebrations.

In addition to a 4th of July parade, residents and visitors are treated to a Boston Pops concert along the banks of the Charles River and one of the country’s best fireworks displays set to a fantastic musical score, culminating in the playing of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture with its booming cannon section.

The summer months are also an ideal time to check out Boston’s Freedom Trail and National Historical Park that features properties such as the Bunker Hill Monument, Paul Revere House, and Faneuil Hall where many pro-independence speeches were held.

Image of Boston skyline/harbour

It looks peaceful now, but come July 4th the Back Bay district is one of the busiest harbours in America.

Fall

When the dog days of summer make way for the  cool, crisp days of fall, baseball fever in Beantown takes on a heightened sense of fervour – especially since 2004 when the “Curse of the Bambino” was finally lifted with the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series after an 86-year drought.

As one of Major League Baseball’s oldest and most-decorated teams, taking in a Bo Sox game at Fenway Park is a must for diehard sports fans, but will also appeal to those who appreciate historic landmarks and quirky architecture, such as the Green Monster in left field so named for its vivid green colouring and towering height of over 37 feet.

Image of Fenway Park

Fenway Park is the oldest major league ballpark, and is home of the massive Green Monster wall looming larger than life out in left field.

Winter

There’s no denying the fact that Boston is a hub of winning sports teams (they don’t call it Titletown for nothing!) and after the athletes of spring/summer/fall hang up their cleats and jerseys, it’s time to head indoors to TD Gardens for some classic action in the hockey arena with the heralded Bruins, and in the paint on the basketball courts with the equally beloved Celtics.

As one of the Original Six franchises in the National Hockey League, the Bruins are the third oldest league franchise and oldest in America, and have won five Stanley Cup championships. Meanwhile, with 17 championship titles and 21 conference/division titles, the Celtics are a perennial powerhouse team in the National Basketball Association.

The winter months may be long and cold in NE Massachusetts, but having winning teams who share a common winning cheer sure helps to take the sting off…Boston Strong All Year Long!

Boston Strong image

The “Boston Strong” sentiment extends to the city’s many sports franchises.


The Magic and Magnificence of Montreal & Quebec City

August 30, 2013
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Image of Canadian and Quebec flags

To stay or not to stay…that is the question that has plagued Quebec voters for years.

While the politics of separatism may divide the people of Quebec (and Canada); one thing everyone can agree on is that when it comes to cities in Canada offering a sense of urban chic with a touch of old world charm, Montreal and Quebec City are at the top of the list.  Magic and magnificence abounds in equal measure in these two cities, and it doesn’t take long to fall under their respective spells.

Image of Notre Dame Basilica

Notre Dame Basilica across from Place d’Armes square in historic Old Montreal.

Image of Plains of Abraham

A lively re-enactment of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City.

MONTREAL

City of Islands – Situated along the Saint Lawrence Seaway, the city of Montreal is named after Mount Royal, a prominent three-peaked hill first documented by the great French explorer Jacques Cartier. The downtown core is built upon the Island of Montreal, but the city’s borders extend to surrounding islands such as Saint Helen’s and Bizard.

Iamge of downtown Montreal skyline

The skyline of downtown Montreal as seen from a distance at Parc Jean-Drapeau on Saint Helen’s Island.

Summer Festivals – Be it comedy, jazz, fireworks or film, Montreal is known for its wide array of festivals and every summer the city is inundated with throngs of people eager to soak-up Montreal’s unique cultural flare. If you’re looking for a hearty chuckle, check out the Just for Laughs festival; or if you want to be amazed with a kaleidoscope of spectacular fireworks displays, the Montreal Fireworks Festival will be sure to dazzle.

Image of Montreal Jazz Festival

The annual Jazz Festival attracts internationally renowned performers, and standing-room only crowds.

Olympic Dreams / Sports Dynasties – When Montreal was selected to host the 1976 Summer Olympic Games, it was a major triumph for the city, province, and entire nation of Canada.  Despite soaring construction costs and ongoing maintenance issues with the primary venue, it was a point of pride for organizers that the games were a resounding success and produced some new sports heroes, notably Greg Joy who earned a silver medal in the high jump competition.

Canada may not have many elite track and field athletes, but the country does excel in other sports such as hockey and football and the city of Montreal is home to two heralded dynasties. The Montreal Canadiens are part of the National Hockey League and have won a record 24 Stanley Cups; while the Montreal Alouettes play in the Canadian Football League and have won the Grey Cup a total of seven times. During the 2000s, the Alouettes amassed an impressive win-loss-tie record, eight regular season first place finishes, and three Grey Cup wins.

Image of Olympic Stadium

Over-budget and plagued by ongoing repairs, Olympic Stadium is still a marvel of architecture!

QUEBEC CITY

Old World Charm – In the historic district of Old Quebec, cobblestone streets and quaint, colourful storefronts are reminiscent of small European towns. Everywhere you look, proprietors are happily at work and visitors share their glee in wandering around at leisure and enjoying the casual, laid back atmosphere. Be sure to sample some sucre a la crème, a traditional Québécois fudge that is especially prevalent during the Christmas season.

Image of Old Quebec City

Looking for a taste of Europe? Check out the old world charm in the historic district of Old Quebec.

Winter Carnival – Nothing makes the winter more palatable like a good old-fashioned festival, and Quebec City’s annual offering certainly does its best to chase the winter blues away! Typically held in February, the festival’s star attraction is Le Bonhomme Carnaval, a jovial over-sized snowman who spreads Québécois joy wherever he goes. In addition to a winter amusement park, other attractions include a snow sled slide, ice sculptures and various outdoor shows. When in Quebec City in the heart of winter, a rendezvous with Monsieur Bonhomme is highly recommended!

Image of Bonhomme

Bonjour, Monsieur Bonhomme! Vous etes tres beau, joyeux et plein de fun!

Chateau Frontenac – Sitting high on a hill overlooking the Saint Lawrence River below, the mighty and majestic Chateau Frontenac is a breath-taking sight at any time of day.  Designated as a national historic site in 1980, the hotel is noteworthy for being the most photographed in the world and is truly a wonder to behold!

Image of Chateau Frontenac

The regal and rustic Chateau Frontenac basks in the glow of a golden sunset.


Taking the Tarnish Off of Toronto

August 19, 2013
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Image of Toronto skyline

One of the fringe benefits of working in downtown Toronto is the close proximity to Lake Ontario.

From its boisterous and belligerent mayor to its beleaguered police force, the city of Toronto has been in the news for all the wrong reasons this summer, but don’t let these public stains tarnish your image of what is otherwise one of Canada’s safest and most vibrant urban centres. Indeed, despite the recent bad press, the city has many redeeming qualities and boasts multiple world-class amenities that are worth a look-see time and time again.

The CN Tower

Situated along the shores of Lake Ontario, Toronto’s downtown core is an eclectic mix of modern and historical buildings with the iconic CN Tower being the star attraction. Rising over 1800 feet into the air, the tower remains the tallest free-standing structure in the Western hemisphere, and attracts in excess of two million visitors each year.

While many patrons prefer to take in the 360 degree view of the city from the inner observation deck, the thrill-seeking crowd were delighted when the EdgeWalk feature was added in 2011 allowing access to an exterior platform at 1168 feet. As TV personality Rick Mercer and singer/songwriter Jann Arden discovered, even being tethered to an overhead rail system and accompanied by a trained guide doesn’t put the butterflies at bay, but there’s no denying the spectacular views!

Image of CN Tower

With its sleek design and mammoth height, the CN Tower dominates the Toronto skyline.

Museum Central

Those looking for a break from the stress of a Toronto traffic jam on the 401 or mass of humanity on the crowded streets can seek refuge in one of the city’s peaceful cultural institutions. The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), Hockey Hall of Fame, and Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) are all found in the general vicinity of the downtown core and each has unique offerings:

  • ROM is well-known for its Egyptian, Japanese and Chinese exhibits, as well as its extensive collection of natural history artifacts numbering in the millions.
  • Fans of the National Hockey League will enjoy a stroll down hockey’s memory lane at the Hockey Hall of Fame where the exploits of Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, Maurice Richard and others greats of the game are celebrated in typical Canadian fanfare. The Hall of Fame is also the permanent exhibition site of the Stanley Cup and other significant league trophies.
  • AGO is one of the world’s largest art galleries and features an impressive array of works from Canadian artists, and a number of sculptures from Britain’s Henry Moore. AGO is also known for its many building expansions, with Frank Gehry being among the famous architects who have put their design stamp on the gallery.
Image of Royal Ontario Museum

It may have a modern exterior, but the Royal Ontario Museum interior is all about natural history and celebrating ancient cultures.

Theatre District

As the world`s third largest English-speaking theatre district there are plenty of plays, musicals and festivals to take in on a regular basis in Toronto`s Theatre District. Be it a flashy West End or Broadway touring show production, or an uncensored Fringe Festival offering there is bound to be something that appeals to live theatre buffs. Canada`s Walk of Fame is also located in this area and the annual induction ceremony is a highlight on the Toronto high society calendar.

Image of Royal Alexandria Theatre

The Royal Alexandria Theatre is the oldest continuously operating theatre in North America.

Yonge Street

As main streets go, Toronto has one of the longest in the world and one of the most culturally significant with Yonge Street playing host to street parades, performances, and demonstrations. The corner of Yonge and Dundas streets is often the site of free concerts and other public events at Yonge-Dundas Square, and is akin to the function and ambience of Times Square in New York City. Yonge Street is also a major transportation artery with the Yonge subway line running almost the full length of Toronto and connecting with most feeder routes.

For the city at the centre of the Canadian universe, Toronto often faces a lot of scrutiny from outsiders who delight in any blemishes that surface. It is a tall order to maintain a perfect complexion and it should be noted that the recent outbreak of unsavoury public activity is not a true reflection of what this city has to offer. Rather, Toronto is a dynamic and savvy metropolitan hub full of a palpable energy that fuels an air of excitement with every visit to its inner core – tarnished image or not!

Image of Yonge Street

Yonge Street a.k.a. Main Street Ontario.


All Hail to the Halifax Regional Municipality

August 2, 2013
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Image of Purdy's Wharf towers in Halifax

A tall ship sails by the iconic Purdy’s Wharf towers along Halifax Harbour.

As the largest urban centre in Atlantic Canada, Halifax has a lot of things to rave about. Not only is the city a hub for East Coast businesses and government/private enterprises; it is also a haven for students who descend from near and far to attend some of the oldest, most well-respected universities in North America. Halifax is also a hotspot for those who enjoy everything from fine dining to sailing the high seas.

Yes, there is much to hail about the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), and one of the best places to start is along the harbour.

Halifax Harbour

With the downtown business district as a backdrop, the harbour boasts a number of large office towers, trendy restaurants, historic sites, public markets, and other shops spread out over many blocks.  Long stretches of open water views add to the charm of this part of the HRM that draws people in no matter what the weather is. OK, so it’s not busy when remnants of a tropical hurricane make landfall, but when the conditions are just right this area is teeming with people from dusk ’til dawn.

Image of Halifax Harbour

Outdoor restaurants draw large crowds along the Halifax Harbour and pier district.

Citadel Hill

Also referred to as Fort George, Citadel Hill is a defensive fortification originally built in 1749 to protect protestant settlers from enemy raids by the French, Acadians, and Wabanaki Confederacy.  Over the centuries, a series of four different citadels have been constructed on the hill`s summit that overlooks the Halifax Harbour and provided an ideal defensive position to protect the region from various enemy parties.

Today, Citadel Hill is a national historic site and has been restored to the Victorian period, which is known as the Fourth Citadel. Attractions at Citadel Hill include tours of the grounds, re-enactments of daily life in 1869, and the daily firing of the ceremonial noon hour gun.

Image of Citadel Hill

Citadel Hill is a national historic site overlooking Halifax Harbour, the perfect defensive spot!

Spring Garden Road

With a freshwater spring running beneath it, Spring Garden Road comes by its name naturally but don`t let the name fool you…this is not a nature haunt! Rather, it`s a chic, boutique type area that attracts culture-seekers, but  also caters to the pub-crawling and java-drinking crowds, so there`s a little bit of something for everyone to feast on.

One of Spring Garden Road`s most famous landmarks is the Lord Nelson Hotel, which is situated at the corner of Spring Garden Road and South Park Street.  During the 1960s, the hotel was a popular gathering spot for hippies and artists to cultivate their causes and launch various protest efforts from the grounds. Nowadays, it`s still a hip place to be, but for a good night`s rest only!

Image of shop along Spring Garden Road

Unique shops, cafes and other amenities abound along Spring Garden Road.

Halifax Public Gardens

Established in 1876, the year of Canada`s birth as a nation, the Halifax Public Gardens is a 16-acre public park space that features a Victorian-inspired landscape. The gardens are a popular setting for wedding and graduation photos, but also draw in hordes of horticultural enthusiasts and amateur photographers alike looking to enjoy colourful vistas chock full of vibrant flower beds blooming at every turn.  But it`s not just flowers being admired, the gardens also include statues, fountains, bridges, ponds, and a large open-air bandstand area that hosts free public concerts on Sunday afternoons during the summer months. If you`re not allergic to pollen, the gardens are a heavenly place to escape and get lost in the wonder of one of Canada`s finest national historic sites.

Image of Halifax Public Gardens

During the summer, the Bandstand at Halifax Public Gardens features free concerts on Sunday afternoons.

Point Pleasant Park

Located at the southern end of the Halifax peninsula, Point Pleasant Park attracts nature lovers with its many forest walks and harbour views. The park also hosts the annual Shakespeare by the Sea summer play series where fans of the Bard can revel in his illustrious prose that seems to become even more glorious when delivered in a beautiful natural setting.

Other attractions at the park include various naval monuments and the Shilling Ceremony that takes place rain or shine every year to mark the anniversary of the 999 year lease negotiated in 1866 between the British Crown and the HRM.  The lease is now held by the Government of Canada but the terms remain unchanged, so Haligonians have many more years ahead to enjoy this treasured public space.

Image of anchor monument in Halifax's Point Pleasant Park

The HMCS Bonaventure anchor monument at Point Pleasant Park honours the lives of men and women who died in the service of the Canadian Navy during peacetime.

Beyond the HRM

When visiting Canada`s East Coast, a stop in Halifax is a definite must and the must-see sights are plentiful…but don`t stop there! Once you`ve had your fill of the HRM, the rest of Nova Scotia beckons with Peggy`s Cove to the south, Truro to the north, Digby to the west, and Cape Breton to the east.  Adventure awaits no matter the direction, and you`ll find yourself wanting to return more than once to this much heralded and much-loved region of Canada.


On A Sunny Day Nothing Beats Vancouver

July 28, 2013
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Aerial view of Vancouver

An aerial view of Vancouver shows off the city`s abundant natural beauty.

For a city that ranks amongst Canada`s most wettest locales, Vancouver is also one of the warmest major centres.  When the sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the temperature is rising, nothing beats spending a day enjoying the sights and sounds of what is without doubt one of the most livable cities in the world.

Take in the Natural Beauty

Situated on the western half of the Burrard Peninsula in British Columbia`s Lower Mainland, Vancouver is blessed with an abundance of waterways and green spaces that locals and visitors alike flock to in droves…Stanley Park being the jewel in Vancouver’s parks crown!

With the downtown core in close proximity, Stanley Park is frequented by the business crowd along with nature lovers who relish in over 1000 acres of luscious land and a perimeter seawall that offers breath-taking views at each turn. Over 8 million people visit the park each year, with 2.5 million making their way around the seawall. Following an invigorating run, walk, bike ride or other mode of getting around the 22-kilometre paved path, it`s time to enjoy a well-deserved break at another water-based city attraction: Granville Island.

Image of Stanley Park

The seawall around Stanley Park, with downtown Vancouver in the distance.

Take in the Arts

As a local hotspot of shopping and entertainment, Granville Island boasts a large public market and licensed buskers can be found in their appointed areas. The island caters to an eclectic mix of artisans eager to demonstrate their crafts and sell their respective wares. Glass-blowers, print-makers, potters, jewellers, and boat-builders are just a few of the crafts people who add to the artsy-feel of this popular district.

If the crafty crowd isn’t your cup of tea, head on over to Robson Street to mingle with the rich and famous (and the wannabes!).

Take in the Urban Vibe

Stretching from BC Place Stadium to the Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park, Robson Street serves up one guilty pleasure after another. Whether you have a hankering to consume an overly high-priced cup of coffee, or are feeling the need for some high-end designer shopping, Robson is the place to satisfy your cravings.

And, it’s a great place to do some serious people watching.  With the most expensive retail rental rates in the city, the likes of Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Tiffany & Co., and other upscale retailers attract the jet set along with the curious average Joe window shoppers eager to catch a glimpse of who’s out shopping and what they are buying.

Image of Robson Street signs

Robson Street is a place to eat, drink and be merry!

Take in the Views

From any direction, Vancouver is a photographer`s dream and with so many vantage points to choose from, it`s not hard to obtain an incredible shot.  True, on an overcast, rainy day the view isn`t that grand, but when gray skies clear and Mother Nature kindly serves up ideal conditions, what is revealed is a city that is brilliant by day and spectacular at night. A city like none other that draws people back time and time again to experience all it has to offer, and then some!

Image of Vancouver skyline

At dusk, Vancouver starts to sparkle!


Far More than Fine: San Diego is Truly Divine

March 6, 2013
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Image of Balboa Park

The lily pond is one of many lovely sights at Balboa Park in San Diego, California.

Come for the Weather, Stay for the Fun

With an average daily mean temperature of 64 degrees Fahrenheit, San Diego is one of the world’s warmest climates and the city also enjoys over 200 sunny days, making it a popular year-round travel destination.

The temperate climate facilitates plenty of outdoor activities, including sailing, golfing, surfing, and cycling–to name just a few–and San Diego’s public beaches and parks are the perfect spots to enjoy the great outdoors.

Whether it’s a leisurely stroll through the Botanical Gardens at Balboa Park or a brisk swim in the Aquatic Park at Mission Bay, this is a city that offers up plenty of fun!

A Who’s Who of Wildlife in the San Diego Zoo

Renowned for its conservation efforts and progressive animal care, the San Diego Zoo also boasts a highly diverse range of species – much to the delight of visitors of all ages.

Trek with pandas, monkey around with gorillas, or engage with elephants in wide-open spaces that allow you to observe animals in carefully crafted habitats intended to create as natural an experience as possible.

Image of San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is home to more than 4,000 animals, covering 100 acres in Balboa Park.

Soar with Shamu at SeaWorld

If creatures of the sea are more your cup of tea, SeaWorld San Diego is the place for you to be!

Open year-round, SeaWorld offers its patrons such unique experiences as diving with sea turtles, feeding and petting dolphins, snuggling up with belugas, and watching killer whales soar through the air in the ever-popular Shamu show.

There are also a host of amusement park rides that add another level of thrills and chills for guests to experience, including Journey to Atlantis, Shipwreck Rapids, Wild Arctic, and Manta, a multi-media roller coaster that mimics the motions of a manta ray in full flight.

Image of Shamu show at SeaWorld San Diego

The Shamu show at SeaWorld thrills viewers with high-flying killer whales displaying their amazing moves!

Soak Up Spanish History at Old Town

Thirsty for a margarita? Hungry for a fresh tortilla? Longing for a mariachi serenade? The best place to satisfy your cravings for all things Mexican is at Old Town.

After you’ve had your fill of Mexican fare, you can work off your calorie intake with a jaunt through no less than 17 museums and historical sites, a haunted house, as well as art galleries and boutiques.  If you’re just too stuffed to walk around, hop on the Old Town Trolley for one of San Diego’s best sight-seeing experiences.

Image of Old Town in San Diego

Enjoy some Spanish fare at Old Town, one of San Diego’s quaintest historic districts.

More Blasts from the Past in Gaslamp Quarter

The Victorian era is on full display in the Gaslamp Quarter, where historic buildings hold their own against modern skyscrapers and the multi-level outdoor mall, Horton Plaza.

You can see the sights and shop by day, or grab a meal and see a show at night. The Gaslamp Quarter combines the best of the past with the best of the present in a true cosmopolitan experience that should not be missed.

Image of Gaslamp Quarter

History meets the present in the Gaslamp Quarter.

‘America’s Finest City’ is No Misnomer

Ahh San Diego…birthplace of California, home of the world-famous San Diego Zoo, land of beautiful beaches and copious amounts of sun – this is truly a city that lives up to its nickname!

Image of Hotel Del Coronado

The elaborate Hotel Del Coronado is the most recognizable landmark on Coronado Island.


One Golden Memory After Another

March 5, 2013
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Image of Golden Gate Bridge

An early morning fog blankets the expanse of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California.

The City by the Bay

For a city known more for its fog than clear blue skies, it may come as a surprise that San Francisco ranks amongst the most popular tourist destinations in ‘sunny’ California, and the world for that matter!

Indeed, despite being tagged with ‘Fog City’ as one of its nicknames, there are plenty of other aspects about San Francisco that keep people coming in droves to experience the city’s charm. And, like me, wanting to come back to experience them all over again…

Image of San Francisco skyline

The City by the Bay basks in the glow of evening light.

Take a Ride on the ‘Wild’ Cable Car Side

San Francisco’s cable car system has the distinction of being a national historic landmark that is still operational. The three lines that run intersect with the city’s other mass transit options and are adjacent to neighbourhoods such as Fisherman’s Wharf, Nob Hill and Union Square. Propelled by cables underneath the city streets, the cars chug along at a whopping nine miles per hour, making for a very different kind of ‘wild’ ride!

Image of San Francisco cable car

Nearly 10 million people ride San Francisco’s historic cable car system every year.

Wind Your Way Down Lombard Street

If a series of hairpin turns on a steep one-block stretch of road is your idea of a fun driving experience, Lombard Street is calling your name.

Designed by city planners to make the road more navigable for cars through the Russian Hill district, Lombard is one of the world’s most crooked streets and is also noted for being paved in red bricks and elaborately landscaped.

Image of Lombard Street

The long and winding road of Lombard Street.

While the Day Away at Fisherman’s Wharf

Eat your fill of fresh seafood, frolic with the seal lions, hop on a cable car or board an old-fashioned ship…so much to cram into a day at the wharf! And don’t forget about the bounty that lies offshore in the bay. Alcatraz Prison and Angel Island are just a short boat ride away, offering some of the most panoramic views of the San Francisco skyline.

Take a Ghost Tour at Night in Chinatown

San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest and largest in North America, and is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. Amble through the streets and alleys, sample delectable delights, or find the perfect Chinese herb to cure what ails you. Meanwhile, keep a lookout for the spirits that are known to haunt the area at night – Boo!

Where the Golden Sun Shines for Everyone

As Tony Bennett crooned in the closing lines of his classic 1962 hit song “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” there is a lot to love about this city and “coming home” is all the more sweeter when greeted with a golden sun.  True, the sun may not shine as much as some would like, but when it does it there’s no denying the magic it casts across the glorious city by the bay!

Image of San Francisco sunset

“When I come home to you, San Francisco, your golden sun will shine for me.”


To the Sea and Beyond in Seattle

March 4, 2013
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Image of downtown Seattle

Seattle’s downtown skyline overlooks Elliott Bay.

As a teenager visiting Seattle back in the day, my most vivid memories of the city were the Space Needle, the Kingdome and, of course, the super mall out in Tacoma!

Some many years later, while the iconic landmarks and shopping amenities still garner my attention, I have developed an appreciation for some of Seattle’s other fine offerings that have me craving to go back.

Foodie Culture

Seattle may be the queen of corner coffee shops and is, in fact, where the Starbucks franchise got its start, but the city also has a thriving restaurant industry. And it’s not just seafood joints that foodies are clamouring to eat at.

With ready access to fresh fish and seafood, along with organic meats and produce, Seattle’s food offerings are endless and cater to multiple tastes. From Caribbean fare at Paseo to French/Cajun-Creole creations at Toulouse Petit Kitchen, foodies can enjoy exotic flavours from around the world.

For the Top Chef aficionados out there, Seattle was the host city for Season 10 that featured visits to a fresh oyster farm, Pike Place Market and Canlis Restaurant, among other notable city and surrounding area food establishments.

Arts Scene

If exotic, elaborate, and elegant glass-blown art is your cup of tea, the place to get your fill of it at is the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit. Located near the Space Needle in the Seattle Center district downtown, the exhibit showcases the work of Dale Chihuly, a local Tacoma-based glass artist who has made a name for himself in international circles for his highly unique, colourful and inspired creations.

Image of Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit

The Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibits glistens in the sun at the base of Seattle’s Space Needle.

Seattle also boasts an array of art galleries, particularly in Pioneer Square, and its opera company and symphony orchestra are recognized as world-class.

Additionally, fans of 1960s garage-rock and 1990s grunge will know that Seattle was the place where these popular musical genres first gained prominence on a wide-scale level. To this day, the local music scene continues to have a presence and is progressive in moving the industry forward.

Game On

The Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League (NFL) experienced a resurgence in the 2000s, making the playoffs seven times, winning the division championship five times, and ultimately playing in the Super Bowl in 2005.

The team’s solid play continued in the most recent season (2012-13), nearly upsetting the league’s top team, the Atlanta Falcons, in a thrilling, down-to-the-wire divisional playoff game.

With a solid core of young players and a committed coaching staff, football fans should have a lot to cheer about for years to come.

Three Cheers for Seattle

Whether you are a foodie, an artsy-fartsy or a sports fan, Seattle is a city where you can satisfy all of these guilty pleasures. For me, I can’t wait to indulge in all three!

 

 


Taking A Bite Out of the Big Apple

January 18, 2013
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NYC has something to offer for everyone!

NYC has something to offer for everyone!

New York City is just one of those places I never get tired of seeing pictures of, and will never get tired of going back to!

So far, I’ve been to the Big Apple twice and have managed to see a fair bit of Manhattan, including most of the places shown in the montage above. I’ve even ventured out to Flushing Meadows in Queens and Old Yankees Stadium in the Bronx to take in some classic sporting events. But when I consider the mile long list of attractions that I have yet to see, the reality is that I have only taken small bites out of what this juicy destination has to offer.

Here is just a sampling of things I would still like to chomp into in NYC:

  • Baseball game at the new Yankees Stadium
  • Football game at the new MetLife Stadium (NY Jets)
  • Hockey game at Madison Square Garden
  • Basketball game at Madison Square Garden
  • Visit the Guggenheim Museum
  • Visit the Museum of Modern Art
  • Visit the United Nations
  • Visit the 9/11 Memorial
  • Visit One World Trade Center (a.k.a. 1 WTC, or Freedom Tower)
  • Eat an ice cream sundae at Serendipity
  • Sit by the Bethesda Fountain (Angel of the Waters statue) in Central Park
  • Go to the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn
  • Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
  • Visit all five boroughs
  • See the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
  • See the lighting of the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center
  • Go ice skating at Rockefeller Center
  • See more Broadway shows
  • See a concert at Lincoln Center (Carnegie Hall)

And so on, and so on, and so on…here’s hoping for MANY more visits to one of my favourite big cities!