Downtown Toronto, Patio Time and First TFC Game

downtown toronto

I will say, it was a wonderful feeling heading downtown again. I know it’s not been that long since we’ve been but it certainly feels like it’s been awhile. I know I’m biased, but I always feel at home when I’m greeted by my Toronto city line.

Cadillac Lounge patio

I won’t ever go back here for food. We ordered ribs and wings. While they boasted their wings to be really big a meaty, I couldn’t help but wonder what the point of it being meaty was if it was going to be so rubbery. The ribs were so-so. Smoked flavour didn’t really shine through and it wasn’t very tender either. I ordered a grilled Portobello sandwich which was suppose to come with a salad and on top of that, you could pay to sub the fries for more another type of salad. I was expecting two small side salads but I only got one. When the food arrived, I inquired but was told that I only get one. I didn’t both to ask to see the menu again as I was sure I was right. I should have.

And as you might have guessed, the service wasn’t so good either. Our waitress was horrible.

The patio environment, however, was great. And if you’re looking for a place to grab a drink and a light snack, or listen to the live band, definitely check this place out. But be warned about the food.

cadillac lounge patio

cadillac lounge patio

We arrived at the BMO Field for some free time just to soak in the atmosphere. I must say, there is a certain charm with a smaller stadium. The intimacy of the energy is much more noticeable. And they were right – while we had decent seats that were centre and mid-level, the view of the field can be taken in quite well regardless of where one sits.

BMO Field

Toronto FC CapPerhaps what made it an even more special night was the score – 4:2 for Toronto against the Houston Dynamo’s!

Toronto FCWhat a great evening. We’ll definitely return next year!

And while we were gone, our faithful dog guarded the house from squirrels.

dog spotting squirrel

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2014 resolutions – be inspired no. 1

[on-going documentation of new year’s 2014 resolutions – sub-section under be inspired]

as part of my new year’s resolutions, i was able to fulfill my third resolution – to be inspired.

art gallery of ontario

the ago

back when doug and i celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary by visiting the AGO to see both the David Bowie Is and Aie Weiwei’s According to What? exhibits, we commented that we should bring chaeli to the art gallery in the near future.

as luck would have it, our city public libraries have this amazing program which supports some of the cultural aspects of our city by handing out 5 passes every saturday morning to places like:

  • royal ontario museum
  • science centre
  • the toronto zoo
  • pioneer village
  • casa loma
  • art gallery of ontario
  • textile museum
  • museum of inuit art
  • and a plethora of historical buildings, including fort york

some of the more popular places are given out only at certain libraries – and some of these libraries do this by means of a draw. which is fine – because this gives the less popular ones easier access to us at our local, smaller branch.

the way i see it – it’s a great way to see something we normally might not think about. culture, after all, doesn’t always have to be at main stream attractions.

a couple of months ago, chaeli and i happened to be at our local branch for some research work on her kronosaurus presentation. i decided to try this program out. getting a pass to the AGO was easy.

with a rainy day like today, we decided to use our pass (as each pass will expire in 3 months – and to be fair, you can not take out another pass of the same venue until the one you have ‘borrowed’ has been used). it seemed like the most ideal day to head downtown by subway and digest some beautiful art. we got ready to leave right after brunch.

i have to say, i was in heaven. the canadian art section was huge – most of it housing works from The Group of Seven. plus, the beautiful espresso bar in the Galleria Italia corridor was an ideal spot for an afternoon americano. chaeli got a scoop of caramel crunch gelato which she devoured. faithful to my health, i stuck with my own snack – tuna snack pack with crackers. and a tangerine for later.

it was hard not to be inspired. if not for the art, the interior architecture alone made for a very zen-like experience.

10th wedding anniversary – with david bowie and ai weiwei

so doug and i finally made it – this past friday, we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary.

the weekend didn’t go exactly as originally planned. while we had already arranged for chaeli to stay with my parents as we booked massages and manicures at The Old Mill Spa for Saturday, and bought tickets to see David Bowie Is… and According to What? at the AGO, my cousins from vancouver were visiting this past week so Friday night, we had dinner with them and my side of the family. then saturday night, there was a last minute invite for a thanksgiving turkey feast (and food drive) in oakville with friends (including rita, harry and kids who were visiting from the states).

while doug and i never got to do an anniversary dinner, we made most of our daytime spent together.

Art Gallery of Ontario

winding staircase of AGO atrium

first off, David Bowie Is… was well worth the bus, rapid transit and subway ride downtown. neither doug or i have been back to the art gallery since all the work had been done to transform it to the beautiful structure it is now (i speak mostly of the work inside – not sure how i feel about the outside, to be honest).

being a big fan of classic bowie, i had a great time listening to the audio tour (which included a lot of his earlier tunes). but like his music or not, one can’t help but to respect how much influence he’s been for 5 decades as an artist. you learn how much work he put into his career. and how he even fictionalized himself as different characters for different themes and albums.

the design of the exhibit was good except doug and i both noted that there were a few small rooms which became over-crowded very quickly. sometimes, the audio also did not kick in and we had to sort of dance around within an area in order to figure out where the optimal place was to stand in order to trigger the respective audio track. still – these small flaws were not that grand and did not wreck our experience that day.

Ai Weiwei - According to What?

Moon Chest by Ai Weiwei

after the bowie exhibit, we went straight to ai weiwei’s According to What? exhibit.

this exhibit did not disappoint. and thankfully, ada had suggested that i watch the documentary, Never Sorry (on netflix) before seeing the exhibit. i admit that prior to nuit blanche 2013 when we saw his Forever Bycicles, i knew nothing of ai weiwei (aside from his Bird’s Next stadium at the Beijing Olympics).

Ai Weiwei -

Grapes by Ai Weiwei

it was almost emotional as we found our way to the first of two large, grand rooms. the first wall to our left was the list of 5000 plus childrem that died during the massive earthquake in poorly structured ‘tofu’ schools. weiwei was furious at the government’s choice to not release the number of school age children who lost their lives that day, feeling that this was information the people of china had the right to know, thereby starting many of his actions which lead to his house arrest and being detained in china (as well as a hit on the head from the police that caused a serious brain swelling).

Ai Weiwei -

Straight by Ai Weiwei

another emotional project was the 150 tonnes steel rebar rods he collected from many of the schools that were destroyed by the earthquake.  a tremendous amount of work went into straightening each one back to it’s original form then put together, laid out across a vast space of the floor.

standing infront of it, and as i walked around this huge display, i can only describe it as this eerie and haunting representation of the children and teachers who lost their lives that day. the jagged distruption that went down the middle, for me, symbolized the failure of these structures (and therefore, the government) to protect the citizan’s safety. i think weiwei was trying to show his broken country through this piece.

Ai Weiwei -

Colored Vases (front) and Dropped (back) by Ai Weiwei

view complete photo set of the According to What? exhibit.

nuit blanche 2013

hybrid globe - nuit blanche 2013

Hybrid Globe by Arthur Wrigglesworth, Mohammad Mehdi Ghiyaei, Mojtaba Samimi

we finally had a chance to do nuit blanche this year, after many years of saying we should go. it was just something more do-able this past weekend now that chaeli is older. i’m sure we could have done it last year but we needed the nudge from ada and hoa (something like this is always more fun with friends).

the human sweat - nuit blanche 2013

The Human Sweat by Warren Quigley

starting off at bloor, we made our way down queen’s park where the PARADE collection was found. one of the first was my friend’s installation, The Human Sweat (Warren Quigley).

this art project was a series of bikes connected to generators – each powering some type of output (whether audio or visual). the fun interactive piece has, what i think, an eerie view of what might become the future when much of our natural resources become more and more depleted. how would we use energy if we are the ones who must physically create it?

A Quack Cure by Lisa Hirmer (DodoLab)

i will be honest, i didn’t understand what this performance piece was about until i went back to the nuit blanche webpage, a quack cure. but chaeli loved standing there just watching the characters go on about their business. i listened to some of the dialogue. it was interesting… the performers seemed to be acting out a story but the dialogue itself had nothing to do with their actions. it sounded like… small talk.

parallax - nuit blanche 2013

PARALLAX by Andrew Choptiany, Mark Erickson, Matthew Kennedy, Clayton Blackman and Sam Lock (Idea Tank Design Collective)

here’s chaeli taking a closer look at this huge light fixture created by horizontal tubes of different sizes. i loved this one – very mesmerizing. as we approached it, it looked like an outline of a firetruck. yes – it was that big.

forever bicycles - nuit blanche 2013

Forever Bicycles by Ai Weiwei

the biggest (and most crowded) structure was ai weiwei’s forever bicycles. for those that missed it during nuit blanche, it will stay up for awhile right in the middle of nathan philips square.

i’m not surprised to learn it is staying up. over 3000 bikes were used to make this statue. i doubt very much they would take it down after it took them hours to put it up. it’s definitely a wonderful display – much bigger in life as the photos do not do it justice.

the above piece was part of the Off to a Flying Start portion of nuit blanche. we didn’t get even close to the 3rd area, Romancing the Anthropocene. i’d very much like to say that it was mainly due to it being too late for chaeli and that hobbes was home waiting for us, but the truth was that i didn’t have it in me to go on any further. the ttc ride back to our parked car and then drive from the last station was close to an hour commute. it was well worth the whole night but i was starting to yawn uncontrollably starting around 9:30pm.

for dinner, we found our way on dundas st. where all these lovely ethnic family-owned restaurants can be found. it felt good to take a break around 8pm for some japanese food and cold japanese beer.

rest of the night’s photo can be found here.

ball’s falls and beamsville region

Image

yesterday, we took a day trip down to ball’s falls conservation and local area around beamsville. the trip to ball’s falls was for a light hike. light, it certainly was. the website described the trail to the lower falls to be about 40 minutes and the trail to the upper falls to be about 50 minutes – both times were for to and fro from the parking lot/visitor’s centre.

i doubt both took longer than 60 minutes altogether.  which is fine if you are really looking for a very light hike. but given that we’re use to something with just a little more challenge at least in duration, if not the actual trail difficulty, it was a surprise for us. not that we minded the beautiful scenery. it was just an awfully long drive (construction) just for such a short hike.

still, we made the most of it. along the way back, we stopped at a small, road side farmer’s market for some freshly picked, niagara peaches, cold apple cider and a bottle of apple syrup. then we stopped at dillon’s distillery for some sampling of ontario vodka, whiskey and gin (she prepared the gin for me as a mini gin & tonic, bless her heart!) we brought home a large bottle of gin and two types of their bitters – lime and pear.

here are some photos of ball’s falls…

historical ball's falls

anglican church

ball's falls - old  stone oven

time to make some pizza!

before the lower falls trail, we passed by a historical area with artifacts from the mid-1800’s. this time capsul illustrates life of the ball family during their early settlement in the niagara area.

ball's falls - lower falls

lower ball’s falls

ball's falls - lower falls

falls model

the lower falls is what most people come to see – with the falls equal in both width and height.

ball's falls - ruins of woolen mill

ruins of where yarn was made.

along our hike to the upper falls, we passed by the ruins of what use to be a woolen mill.