Tuesday, April 30, 2024

A tourist in Vancouver British Columbia

Had a whirlwind week in Vancouver and area checking out the west coast city along the Pacific Ocean, nestled into the Strait of Georgia along Vancouver Island and wow, what a place to visit. The mountains along the northern view of the city still white capped with snow and even past the rainy period, still foggy and damp for half of our visit.
At Canada Place
Looking to Canada Place from the Vancouver Lookout
Canada Place with the sails lit up in various colours

We stayed in Century Plaza Hotel on Burrard Street in a great big room that included two beds and a kitchen, perfectly located to allow us to walk to a lot of activities, attractions, restaurants and also close to a lot of transportation options and free shuttles. It is also close to a hospital so you will hear the occasional ambulance.
Vancouver Lookout reflected in an adjacent building
The famous Gastown Steam Clock. It blows a tune every 15 minutes but when we were there the clock was wrong so you have to be ready for the music to start.
Gastown Steamclock plays a tune
Digital Orca by Douglas Coupland at the Convention Centre
An illuminated earth globe hanging in the Convention Centre

There is a three hour time difference between Toronto and Vancouver so we gained those hours on the flight in and were able to do a lot of things on that first day; Canada Place with the Cruise Port, art installations, the Vancouver Convention Centre and the 2010 Olympic Cauldron (photo at top), the Vancouver Lookout and Gastown with its famous Steam Clock.

Canada Place also has a manned, extensive tourism information kiosk with plenty of brochures and some discounts to the attractions.

See more of our trip after the jump.

Monday, April 29, 2024

Big Trash Bunny mural on Dundas Street West

Toronto's graffiti murals and art installations make Toronto interesting. Sometimes they are beautiful and have a message like artist Artur Bordalo who creates art around the world using trash. The one in Toronto (Dundas Street West near Lisgar Street) is of a large bunny, part of the Big Trash Animals series completed for Toronto Portuguese communities.
His website notes, "The excessive production and consumption of stuff, which results in the continuous production of “garbage” and consequently in the destruction of the Planet, are the central themes of his production. This “garbage” assumes itself as the unusual and unique raw material that Bordalo uses in the construction of small and large scale pieces that he has spread around the world and that, above all, intend to be the vehicle of a universal manifesto."

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Toronto Bomb Squad truck

Toronto Police Services have plenty of divisions and specialties including the Bomb Squad, complete with a very impressive vehicle. I saw it parked out on Front Street East and I thought should I be running away from this vehicle, or from the building it is parked beside? The truck should have a sign that says "work in progress - RUN" or "just on a coffee run - relax."

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Blue Jays at Rogers Centre - loonie hot dog days rule

Toronto's professional baseball team the Blue Jays are playing in a newly renovated Rogers Centre. Ripping up the 100 level seats and expanding the room each chair occupies - as well as adding cup holders (gosh darn those spoiled richies), happened after the 500 level seats were changed to add a number of open space, non-assigned seating areas, as well as a few other changes, came at the cost of some 10,110 seats. The capacity of the arena is now at 39,150 down from 49,260.

To make up the costs I think that they may have jacked the costs of seats and sent the price of stadium food through the retractable roof. It seems to have driven some people out of the lower levels and up into the previously sparsely populated 500 levels. One of the best deals you can find is the Loonie Dogs Night presented by Schneiders. Those tubular beauties are available at quite a few of the food vendors and are quite tasty. And just in case the costs of food is bringing you down, remember that the Blue Jays allow you to bring outside food and non-alcoholic drinks into the stadium which is a great way to keep your sports night outing to a more reasonable cost.

The Jays sold almost 700,000 Loonie Dogs in 2023 alone so I recommend that you check the promotion schedule to see when Loonie Days are coming in 2024.

Poly the plastic Polar Bear

A large art installation is in Yonge-Dundas Square showing a Polar Bear made of discarded plastic. 

The installation is by the Toronto Zoo to highlight the amount of waste plastic that is being found in the foodchain. Plus visit the zoo!

Friday, April 12, 2024

Win tickets to Toronto Soulful Beauty event April 21

Born for More is bringing the Soulful Beauty event to Toronto April 21, 2024 where you can explore beauty and wellness while enjoying a few tasty beverages and some delectable food. Soulful Beauty's creator, Kathryne Mejias, is committed to empowering women which is so very important as women's rights have been under pressure around the world and she wants to "instill confidence, enabling women to make a meaningful impact, pursue their passions, foster healthy relationships, and lead purposeful lives." (Submitted photos)
Kathryne Mejias Author, Coach and CEO of Born for More explains "Once we feel beautiful and have that inner glow, we have the courage and confidence to go for our deepest desires, create a life we love and not settle for anything less than we deserve. Life becomes limitless because we won’t hold ourselves back anymore."

From the Born for More website, "The Soulful Beauty event is a groundbreaking exploration of the new standards of what true beauty is all about. We will redefine what this means by merging two distinct worlds that were once far apart: the inner and outer worlds. This event is uniquely designed to ignite the inner glow of all women, encouraging them to embrace their inherent, multifaceted brilliance and empower them in a revolutionary way never experienced before. This is not just an event, it is a celebration of women and a profound journey towards self-discovery and self-love, standing out in its approach to the evolving landscape of beauty ideals. Our event seamlessly intertwines the realms of Beauty and Spirituality, forging a holistic connection that elevates the overall well-being of women in every aspect of their lives."

You can find the Soulful Beauty event at SPACE on King (300 King Street East, Toronto) from 2pm to 6pm on the 21st. Enjoy your Sunday afternoon while visiting the Inner Glow, Outter Glow and Pure Glow Floors and take in live performances, vendors, cocktails and gift bags while networking or just having fun with friends.

Soulful Beauty will bring together exclusive brands and the latest in skincare, makeup and beauty products along with positive energy that comes with inner wellness gained through yoga, mediations and much more. The event says "Prepare for a day that will elevate both your sense of beauty and overall well-being!" while Kathryne reminds us "Time to stop putting ourselves aside because we don’t feel good enough or we don’t know enough, we are all different and beauty is honouring all of what we are."

There are two levels of tickets available; VIP tickets (includes 2 alcoholic cocktails and 1 non-alcoholic beverage, a bigger gift bag and the chance to mingle with influencers and media) and General Admission tickets (includes 1 alcoholic cocktail and 1 non-alcoholic beverage as well as a gift bag to the first 100 guests) which you can buy online on eventbrite.


You can also have a chance to win two General Admission tickets to Soulful Beauty by commenting on my post or sending me an email (jmhcet@gmail.com). Good luck and enjoy the event!

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Some Queens Quay boat tours have started in Toronto

Water taxis and some tour ships are underway in Toronto's harbour getting an early start on the pre-summer weekend fun. Toronto ferries are running on the winter schedule still, those party-poopers. City Experiences by Hornblower had the Oriole out on Lake Ontario over the past weekend.
Some of the boats are still waiting for warmer temps like Toronto Harbour Tours Inc (May 1), Kajama Tall Ship Tours (May 4), City Sightseeing Toronto (May 11)

Here are some links to some of the boat tour companies: 

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Sunnyside Beach boardwalk reconstruction

I noticed that the Sunnyside Pavilion boardwalk has been replaced and the walkway is open. The work was completed by Pine Valley Corporation beginning in 2023 and finishing in 2024. Construction fencing caused the annual January 1st Polar Bear Dip to move away from the pavilion so hey, they can move back for next year's dip.

Fencing and notices for the reconstruction work

The City of Toronto's website says this about the beach park, "Sunnyside Park is located in the west end of Toronto on the shore of Lake Ontario. It was once home to Sunnyside Amusement Park. It is a popular place for picnics. Sunnyside is one of a series of parks along the waterfront that has a boardwalk for pedestrians and the Martin Goodman Trail for cyclists and multi-use purposes. On the east side of the park you will find Sunnyside Pavilion and Sunnyside Gus Ryder Pool and on the west Sir Casmir Gzowski Park with a great playground. Budapest Park wading pool close by is a favourite spot for visiting children. Throughout Toronto's history Sunnyside Beach has been a popular spot to cool off in the summer."

Monday, April 08, 2024

Southern Ontario's Solar Eclipse

The moon beat up the sun during the Monday, April 8, 2024 solar eclipse that slowly passed over Southern Ontario. We decided to head out along the path of totality and keep away from the billions expected in Niagara Falls and ended up picking Port Colborne on the shores of Lake Erie and the upper end of the Welland Canal.
Lock 8 park with a Great Lakes steamer passing through
The site was perfect because of free parking and a bathroom open for the event

Our route from the GTA to the port was along backroads, keeping away from the main highways that would be loaded with untold amount of stop and go traffic. When we got to the park at Welland H2O lock eight we checked the traffic cameras and found the highways were fairly light, then we heard that large crowds avoided Niagara Falls and finally, the clouds did impact our views of the solar event. Which is okay because there should be another one over Toronto any day now.
The sun, already being blocked by the moon starts to shine through the clouds
In totality the day turned into night and the streetlights all came on
A sliver of the sun starts to peek out after totality

Sunday, April 07, 2024

Cherry Blossoms in Toronto 2024

Update Saturday, April 20, 2024: Peak blossoms are getting close in High Park and in Exhibition Place.
Liberty Grand at Exhibition Place
High Park Cherry Blossom Festival
Queen's Park blossoms

U of T Robarts Library

University of Toronto's Robarts Library, Queen's Park and Trinity Bellwoods Park are all in peak bloom as of April 20. University Avenue trees are still not in bloom. 

The Weather Network on April 20th forecasts that temperatures could prove troublesome for the blossoms that still have to develop. "With overnight lows expected to dip below the freezing mark and little to no wind, a potential frost could put the cherry blossoms in jeopardy."

See more photos of the 2024 blossoms at the bottom of this post.

Update April 16: High Park blossoms have already started popping out and the Sakura cherry trees are on track for full bloom soon - unless bad weather and winds blow off the blooms, so it looks like Saturday the 27th will be peak weekend blossoms in 2024 but Saturday, April 20 will have a lot of blossoms on display. Remember the park will be closed for vehicles beginning April 22  for 2024, this will begin on April 20

Also the University of Toronto Robarts Library cherry trees are currently now at peak blossom. The Harbord Street library began peak blossom April 15 so try to get out to see them before Saturday, April 20.

From the City of Toronto April 16, 2024 media release:

"The City of Toronto is expecting cherry blossom (Sakura) trees across the city to reach peak bloom over the next couple of weeks. This annual rite of spring is a popular natural phenomenon Torontonians and visitors will soon be able to enjoy at several locations across the city. There are more than a dozen locations across Toronto where cherry blossoms can be enjoyed, many of which are easily accessible by public transit:

• Broadacres Park
• Cedar Ridge Park
• Cedarvale Park
• Edwards Garden
• Exhibition Place
• High Park
• Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre
• John P. Robarts Research Library
• Trinity Bellwoods Park
• University of Toronto Scarborough Campus
• Woodbine Park
• York University"

You can find out more about theses locations on the City's Cherry Blossom website.

Back to the original post.-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Cooler temperatures have slowed the growth of the cherry blossom buds in High Park. Sakura Watch is predicting buds will open April 18 to 24 with peak blossoms to follow by a few days, so that puts weekend peak either Saturday, April 20 or 27.
The giant Maple Leaf garden in Hillside Park

Right now (April 7) the cherry blossoms are in Stage 1 - round green buds which means that the park is not busy. However in another week or two this place will be booming for the Cherry Blossom Festival. The blossoms can last 4 to 10 days so you have a narrow range to see the beautiful flowers in the trees.

See more blossoms of 2024 following the jump.

Friday, April 05, 2024

Spring Toronto Motorcycle Show April 6-7, 2024

The bikes are back in town as the Spring Toronto Motorcycle Supershow comes to the International Centre this weekend which includes the International SPRING CUP Bike Builders Competition with participants from across North America. The show features 250,000 square feet of motorcycles, accessories, displays, vendors and more is on from April 6 to 7, 2024 and parking is free at the International Centre.

From the Spring show, "Master Motorcycle builders and top designers will enter the competition in levels 2 or 3. Level 3 will include; Builder, CafĂ©, Bagger, Performance Bagger and Bobber classes. The level 3 Builders Class competing for the SPRING Cup – Only at the SPRING Toronto Motorcycle SUPERSHOW, presented by Co-operators. The Level 3 Builder “Best Bike in Show” winner will have their name and bike’s name engraved on the SPRING Cup. This Prestigious Silver Cup will record winners and is on display in the SUPERSHOW Collection. A team of qualified judges will be judging and making the final decisions of the competition. All motorcycles in the competition will be on display for show attendees to see all weekend, and the 2024 Awards Presentation will be held at the show at 3:00pm on Sunday on the stage." Builders are competing for cash and awards over $20,000 with the best bike in the show winner collecting $5,000.

History will be displayed on the red carpet with the history of motorcycling using vintage and classic bikes. Walking through the halls of the International Centre to see the used bike market or find your treasure in the Super Swap

2024 Show hours

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square