Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Photo Moment: Rocky Point mini vacation

There's nothing like spending a couple of days in a beach resort. Rocky Point is about 60 miles from the Arizona border on the Sea of Cortez in Mexico. Naturally, I had to check it out.  I highly recommend booking at the Las Palomas Resort.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

5 reasons to visit Toronto in the Summer

Toronto is one of my favorite cities. I love it in the fall when the trees are in bloom. I love it winter when the city is decorated for the holidays and you can go skating on the pond at Nathan Phillips Square. I love it in the spring when the leaves are starting to bloom and the Blue Jays are starting to play.

But I really love it in the summer.


It's a city filled with artists.  The Toronto Art Show Exhibit this past weekend at city hall was filled with great art from over 500 artists in city. The photo above was one of my favorites.  It's a large piece (let's say 8 ft x 6 ft) by Canadian painter Laurie Near.  You can't really tell from my snippet of the painting, but it's filled with different bird heads all stuck together.

After being away for so long, I had forgotten how many great artists are living in the area and how fantastic the architecture of the city is, which brings me to reason number 2.

I took this photo while at the art show at Nathan Phillips Square at Toronto City Hall (yup, the one you can skate on in the winter).

I have a special fondness for Old City City Hall which is the brown building in the background as I did research project on it when getting my fine arts degree at York University.  Yeah, I have a weakness for interesting buildings with great histories. When in Europe, I generally skip the museums and galleries, and hit the road looking for some obscure church I read about in the middle of nowhere.

Normally you don't see massive iron dragons rising up from the middle of Nathan Phillips Square, but if you visit this summer, you'll see them now. And there's not just the dragon, there's actually 12 animals around the fountain including a bull and a scary looking rabbit.  They are all part of a monumental sculpture series by Chinese activist-artist Ai Weiwei - don't you love his name?

The piece is aptly called Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads. The statues are powerful and amazingly beautiful. They fit perfectly in the city of Toronto which is filled with different cultures, and just like the zodiac, it is a mix of old traditions and modern trends.

The exhibit was unveiled in June as a prelude to Al Weiwei's show at the AGO in August.

I admit Toronto is a bit chilly in the winter, but the summers are incredible, which is why there are so many fantastic patios there.

The weather may only be good for a few months, but during that time dining and drinking al fresco is the trendiest thing to do, and every bar, restaurant and cafe in the city tries their best to out do each other with live music, flower boxes, comfy chairs and great summer menus.

The one in the photo is just a little pub at Bloor and Jarvis called Fionn MacCool's. In the winter, it's just another pub, but in the summer, it's a great place to hang after work.

You also have to remember, that Toronto is in the north so it doesn't get dark until 9:30 at night --so evening dining and happy hours go on and on and on.  Love it!!!

Even if you don't like it, you have to admit that things like lime and raspberry diet coke are kind of cool.  They also have raspberry ginger ale and green tea ginger ale. Yes, ginger ale made by Canada Dry is a big deal.

Canada is filled with these weird things that they totally take for granted, not knowing they are the test market for the rest of the world (my girlfriend was shocked to learn that Lime Diet Coke was not popular in the US)-- or maybe we just have unique taste buds -- whatever, when you go, you've got to try these "Canada only" things.

Okay, I admit I didn't actually try this, but if you are gluten-sensitive, you can still drink beer in Canada.

You can also get organic beer, low calorie beer, and a whole bunch of other beers that you have probably never heard of before.

Canadians really like their beer -- and just like you can get a bunch of varieties of diet Coke, you can get a lot of different beers.

I'm not a big shopper, but I am a foodie.  If you want the ultimate food experience, you have to visit Pusateri's in Bayville Village.  It puts Whole Foods to shame -- and it's just as expensive.

Inside you'll find rows and rows of irresistible foods ranging from gourmet groceries to gourmet baked goods (oh, so yummy) to delicious prepared foods.

Imagine taking a little French bakery, an Italian butcher, a European chocolatier, the best cheese shop in the world and organic fruits and vegetables from local farmers and putting them all into one massive gourmet grocery store.

I could spend hours there.