Sunday, February 28, 2010

Canada wins gold at hockey - Winter Olympics 2010

Dundas Square madness






- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Boston, Boston, Boston part I

After our short but fantastic stay in New York, we took a bus to a place neither of us had ever been to:  Boston!

I must say, the weather wasn't very welcoming: it was rainy, wet, cold, with very wet snow...  The good thing was that we finally got to use our winter boots, the ones we had bought for Toronto but which never proved really useful due to the unusual mildness of this winter, LOL.  The other good thing was that Boston is a really nice city.  I mean, really nice.  There's so much beautiful colonial architecture!  But I'll get to that later...

Our first night we simply settled down at the hotel and explored around a bit. It was raining, it was dark already, and we had plenty of time in the coming days to explore, so we took it easy.  But what did we find that very first night, right in front of the hotel?  The Christian Science Center!  I won't get into a discussion of my views on science, christianity and religion, all I want to mention is that the place was designed by I.M. Pei, the designer of Le Louvre's glass pyramid, and it looked beautiful lit at night:


Next day, it had finally stopped raining and it started snowing (which is way, way more pleasant than rain) and, since it was a bank holiday and almost everything was closed, it was the perfect excuse for just going for a walk.   We visited Copley Square with its Trinity Church and Old South Church (with a beautiful copper-green cupola which looked gorgeous above red walls and with white snow on it), we strolled around the beautiful nearby streets past the First Baptist Church of Boston (with really interesting friezes up high in its tower) and onto picture perfect Commonwealth Avenue (if you had to have just one picture of Boston, it would be a view of that street, I'd say).   We were surprised by the number of churches and the incredible number of old, pleasant buildings.   And, as much as it snowed on and on and we were walking on slush and water and snow, it was a really pleasant walk around downtown Boston.


Of course, always wanting to do a lot and see a lot, and given my habib's obvious interest in theatre,  and after a short stop for a quiet and relaxing walk around  the Massachusetts State House at the Boston Commons, we went to Boston's Theatre District, where we saw the Opera House, the Cutler Majestic Theatre, and the historic 1914 Wilbur Theatre.  I'm afraid my habib had a much deeper appreciation than me on what we were seeing, but one really great stop in that district was at The Brattle Bookshop, one of America's largest and oldest used-books shops.  Three floors.  What a pleasure.



After a full day of sightseeing, we were more than ready to rest.  Especially since next day we were going to Cambridge to see the M.I.T. and Harvard! 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

all the roads lead to New York... III

Our last day in NYC was, if possible, even better than the previous two.   We saw a side of the city we had never ever seen before:  DUMBO (which means Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass; love the acronym!).

I have to thank my colleage for suggesting we go there.   First, we stopped for breakfast at Bubby's, another very good tip from my colleague.  In fact, he was so convincing we actually bumped into our soon-to-be-wed friends at Bubby's!  I mean, how crazy is that? in a city of such dimensions and with so much to offer!

So, we had good food in excellent company, and then we all headed for a small park with excellent views of Manhattan.  The sun was shining, the weather was cool but quite enjoyable under the sun, and we just relaxed by the water for a while.   


After that, and a cup of coffee, our friends went back to Manhattan via the Manhattan Bridge, while we took the other one:  the Brooklyn Bridge.   And I kept thinking in amazement how I was spending a whole half-day doing stuff I had never done in all my previous four visits to the city.   You've simply got to love a place like this!


That night we went to our third (and last) play of our trip:  "Behind the Bulls-eye".  By Ontological Hysteric Incubator (theatre).  At a former church.   A play about consumerism and class collision at a Brooklyn Target store.  Need I say more?  If you ever get a chance, try to see it.   


Finally, we let our friends show us NYC's nightlife their way:  we went to an incredibly friendly lesbian-mixed pub for a few drinks, had a quick stop at a gay club (but just for one drink; after all, we know pretty much all about gay clubs and we wanted to see the other side of the coin), and finished the night at a small but classy lesbian club called RF Lounge, where the bar-woman was too good to have a cocktail list: you simply said what you felt like and she'd concoct something appropriate for you.    And did I mention it was fun?


Next day we bid farewell to New York and took the bus, along with our friends, to... Boston!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

all the roads lead to New York... II

Next day was no less interesting than our first one.   First stop:  Saint Thomas Church.  Neither of us being religious at all, we could nevertheless appreciate the neo-gothic architecture, the bright blue stained glass, the soft lighting, and the organ-tuning which, in its geometry, provided for a very unusual concert:





And from one sacred space we went to the next: the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).   Needless to say, that's a place you can visit over and over and always have something to look at.   And what did that shrine to art contain? a Tim Burton's exhibition!  Crazy:  a walkway with episodes of "Stain Boy",  tons of figures, tons of drawings (some from his earliest years), not to mention the gaping mouth with sharp teeth welcoming you into the exhibition.   It was even too much to look at.   And after that, and for a radical change of pace, we saw a Bauhaus exhibition; it's really weird to look at what, in their time, were revolutionary designs that broke with everything before and that, today, are so common-place they risk being mistaken for ordinary.  Of course, photography was not allowed inside, so all I have is this:


After the pleasant surprise of Saint Thomas Church, we decided we'd take a look at Saint Patrick's Cathedral, too.   Strangely, it seemed to lack some of the ambiance of Saint Thomas'... probably it was just a subtle difference in the light...  but it did look somewhat... plainer?  Anyhow, to do another church-museum combo, we headed to the New Museum of Contemporary Art.  Don't you just love when someone builds something a bit of of the ordinary?



Like the night before, the day ended first with theatre: with a great puppet performance called "The Devil You Know", a tale about selling your soul for fame and money (yes, a tale we all know too well, but the staging of the play and the handling of the puppets was really good).   And that tale was followed by dinner at a really good Mexican restaurant (really good, their salsas were perfect!) with delicious company:  our soon-to-be-wed friends from China (well, from Australia and the U.S.A., but we met in China), my habib's old friend from university times in Mexico and her husband, and an old friend and fellow colleague (Mexican) and his charming friend (a Romanian diplomat).   The food, the tequila and the diversity of backgrounds made for a great night.    And this was just day 2!

Next post:   DUMBO (I'll explain later), bridges, more theatre and clubbing!

no comment












- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, February 18, 2010

all the roads lead to New York...

Warning:  New York City is intense, and this is going to be one of those "image-heavy" posts!

This trip was, unlike many others, as much about people as about new places:  meeting an amazing couple we were friends with back in Beijing and celebrating their coming wedding; meeting a Mexican colleague and friend of mine; meeting a Greek friend I met in Mexico years ago; meeting my habibi's good friend who we hadn't seen for over 8 years (although, I must say, who we were quite in touch with thanks to Facebook!)... This trip started months ago, in Beijing, with a promise to meet in New York...

New York... probably the city I've visited the most in my life.  And the best thing is, every time I've gone it's surprised me with new things, this trip being no exception.

Our first day was very full, and very rewarding, and the weather was fantastic (compared with Toronto's chilly weather, it felt really comfortably cool).  We stayed at a hotel we fell in love with at first sight: on a trip a couple of years ago:  The Gershwin Hotel.  It was as funky inside as the façade was outside (and funky we like, don't we!):


After a light lunch, we headed for our second stop (really, the hotel counted for us as stop 1, lol):  the AIC building, by Frank Gehry.  Probably not his best, but unusual and worth visiting nevertheless, and the piers nearby offered a fantastic view with the sun shining bright on the water...



And next to the AIC Building?  a surprise my habibi had read about, but none of us had planned to visit, the High Line!   Built in 1930's for freight trains,  it's been turned into an elevated park.  If you visit NYC, this is a must!  It's a great walk, you get an unusual and interesting view of the city, and the lines and design are really well thought out and pleasant:  


After a lovely walk around the Meat-packing and Soho districts, and a well deserved rest at the hotel, that night we enjoyed another one of New York's pleasures:  theatre!   The first of three plays we were going to watch, this one was quite something.  It was called "Medea and it's double" (actually, I saw it written both ways, "it's" and "its"; go figure).   It was... Medea... played by two actors (one representing Medea the mother aspect, another one Medea the lover... with a mix of oriental (mostly Korean) techniques... in Korean... Though a bit difficult to follow at times, I greatly enjoyed it:


The highlight of that day:  dinner with our soon-to-be-wed friends!   There is something immensely comforting about sharing a meal with friends who lived in the same city as you (Beijing), who shared so many of the same experiences, who are as travel-crazed as you are, and who are, simply put, some of the nicest people you've ever met.   

Our first day was an excellent start.  And, as I expected, this short week-long trip is going to become a series of posts.   What can you do... just bear with me!

sun rays over lake

one of my favourite moments, when the sun's rays break through the clouds and appear as silver white slivers slowly gliding on the water...




- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Road-kill @ Enwave Theatre

Twilight-zone + Australian dream-time + multiple-road-kill + fantastic dance = staying glued to you your seat wondering what, why, whether and completely absorbed. Awesome.




- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

soft gold and new snow