Sunday, February 24, 2013

Hong Kong 1972 dictionary!

On our way back from The Pomegranate we went to Balfour Books, not far from the restaurant.   It's quite the cute little second hand bookshop.  BUT... it had this 1972 Chinese-English dictionary published in Hong Kong!  Still using the traditional characters, explaining a system of transcription no longer in use (Guoryuu Romatzyh instead of Hànyǔ Pīnyīn)...   I don't know, there's something about these books about different times and uses...

Persian @ The Pomegranate

We found this place by chance last week, and the moment I saw they had VEGAN fesenjân (!!!) they had me.   Which is why I couldn't wait and we had to go today.  First thing you need to know: I've been to Iran, twice.  And I love it there.  Second: fesenjân (فسنجان‎) is our favourite Persian dish, as it's made with an incredibly delicious sauce of pomegranates and walnust.  Third: I was also dying to just have some tea the Persian way, by putting a sugar cube in my mouth and then sipping the tea...

I was NOT disappointed.  Nom nom nom!  

Friday, February 22, 2013

winter in Ísland VII - Butō at 40km south of the Arctic Circle


Nights were very long.  In fact, for about two months people in Sigló never even get to see the sun during the very short days (when we were there, the days were some 4 hours long) as the sun doesn't rise high enough to be seen from within the fjord.  Though the short days limited sightseeing just slightly, they also gave rise to experiencing more of the dark, of night...  

Our room had a set of advent lights, and the windows (which faced the town) had ice-crystals that reflected them.  We had visited the docks and the cemetery earlier.   All the ingredients were there.  It was just a question of time before my husband was inspired into a Butō improvisation with me as the single, lucky, fascinated onlooker...


Since I found the docks so fascinating, I really wanted him to do his next Butō improvisation there.  The sea, the mountains, the old crumbling dock no longer joined to land, the abandoned ship, lots of space...   I was hoping he would find the place as moving as I did.  Luckily for me, I wasn't wrong.  I was so excited! The video, though, will be his to edit and post when he is ready, and while photos are not quite the best way to convey Butō, here they are for what they're worth:

So, have I convinced you with this and my previous post about Sigló that  we loved this very special little town?   If you ever have the chance, IN WINTER, do go!  

Next post:  the trip south for the second half of our holidays.  And yes, I promise, there are just a few more posts coming about our Iceland trip, this won't drag on forever. ;-) 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

a day at the Toronto Islands

What do you do when it's sunny, not so cold, and you have the day off?   Go to the Toronto Islands!   Yesterday it was beautiful:  the light was amazing, there was snow everywhere, there was lots of colour, and it was really peaceful...







Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Toronto and the AGO

Yesterday we went to the Art Gallery of Ontario. An exhibition of Patti Smith's photographs, Gehry's staircase, and the play of lights and reflections from the windows, snow and façade, made for an inspiring visit.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pitbull @ Fly

This is how a gay nightclub advertises a Valentine's party: "It's time for some good old fashioned Man Love. Come party the night away to celebrate Valentine's Day the good old fashioned way; either with the man you love or to find a man to love for the night."

Enough said.

Another snowy day in Toronto

We don't get much snow in Toronto, actually, so today's surprise snowfall was wonderful! (Or, at least, it makes me really happy, ok?)

Espresso and Choc Scone

On a snowy afternoon, comfort food at Voodoo Child. A good espresso and a goldilocks choc scone (not too wet, not too dry; not too sweet, not too bitter) are hard to find. And this non-expert is happy to have found them here. ;-)

Toronto's underground paths...

As you may or may not know, Toronto has an extensive network of underground passages linking the downtown core. I'm fascinated by them, because even when most businesses underground have closed, most passages stay open until late, working as "underground streets", something very welcome in a cold winter or a hot summer!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Dark brews at C'est What

I'm sure going to miss this when we leave Toronto: local brews, even dark/stout ones, with funny names like Big Butt Smoked Dark Ale or Steve's Dreaded Chocolate, and (AND!) a hearty selection of vegan dishes. Bravo C'est What!

Friday, February 15, 2013

winter in Ísland VI - Life at 66° 11' North

We spent our next three days in Siglufjörður (or, as the locals call it, Sigló).   It's a tiny town, with barely 1500 inhabitants.  And we loved it there.  In fact, I think I was inspired to go there by the movie Nói Albinói (Noi the Albino), an Icelandic film that takes place in winter in a small fjord town.  true, the movie was filmed in a different place, but the overall setting exerted some strange and powerful attraction over me.  And so we ended experiencing 3 very intense days of... 


Yes, that's right, we were barely 40km south of the Arctic Circle!  And there was all the snow in the world.   To be honest, though, it was probably A LOT colder in Toronto than Sigló, hey?   Anyhow, life at this kind of places can only be a bit quirky, with the odd house and car buried under the snow, some people dragging their kids or shopping on sleds, knee-deep snow here and there, and even waist-deep snow traps, like when I decided to stand on a small "hill" to get a better view and suddenly sank!


While in Sigló, we were lucky and had partially clear skies and a full moon, so at night we could see the snow in the mountains reflecting the moonlight!  The views from our room were really nice, as we were in one of the upper streets, but I think most everywhere we went it was fairly easy to marvel at what was around you...


The docks were one of my favourite parts of town.  Close to the water, you had the mighty mountains  towering right in front of you, and the remainders of a more bustling herring-era made for amazing photo ops, like an abandoned ship and a wooden dock that was falling apart.  I so loved those!


And even though Christmas was technically over, the whole holiday spirit was everywhere.  Little children kept shouting "Gleði jól!" (merry Christmas!) to us, there were advent lights absolutely everywhere, the main square had a Christmas tree (and how not!),  the cemetery's crosses and the church (Siglufjarðarkirkja) were lit, and our guesthouse hosts had even left us a little thank-you gift for being the first ones to book at their place (The Herring House)!


Our hosts not only left us a gift.  They convinced the neighbour to let us use his WiFi because the guesthouse had none.  They brought bread, fruit, yogurt and juice for us to have breakfast.  They convinced the owner of the Herring Museum to let us in on our last night.  They arranged for a private tour the same night to the Centre for Folk Music.  They invited us for coffee and cake at their house too.   And the best thing of all is that they didn't need to do any of that, as none of that was part of the room rental, but they chose to do all that and more just because they were such wonderful, welcoming, hospitable people.   Yay!


This has got to rank as one of my best experiences in Sigló (besides the Butō experiences I mentioned before, of course!).  We went to a public pool, and they had an outdoor hot tub!  I couldn't resist and ran from the indoor pool area out to the tub and jumped in.  It felt SO good sitting in the warm water, looking at the sky, in the cold air!  Then, I saw one of the locals get out, roll in the snow, and jump back in the tub.  I had to try that.   Once was enough, as the mixed sensations my skin felt with those radical temperature changes was crazy!   Another trick I learnt?  To reach out to the super clean snow around and make a small snowball to eat and keep you cool and hydrated!   What a cool idea!   To finish the experience, we hopped into the sauna.   Man, that was an evening to remember!


I mean, you have to understand, you're at a fjord, so how could you NOT have amazing views?  From our room.  From a nearby street leading up (our street was the highest in town).  From the docks.  From wherever.  Truly inspiring.

This northernmost Icelandic town in the middle of winter was just what I wanted, and more.  OK, yeah, no, there were no northern lights.  Some clear skies - yes, but solar activity - zero.  But we were super happy at Sigló nevertheless.  Hell, the place moved moved my husband into two more Butō improvisations! (but that will be the subject of a different post)