Wednesday, January 29, 2014

gelid, welcoming, colourful New Scotland - IV


Lunenburg was super pretty.  As simple as that.  We spent two nights there, and we got to see the town in its snowy stormy glory (the day we arrived) and in its super frigid but sunny charm (the second and third days).  And it was all for ourselves and ourselves alone - since it was winter, and a particularly harsh stretch at that, there was nary a tourist in sight.  


The place we stayed at was amazing: the Boscawen Inn.  Granted, it was a bit cold, but we were experiencing unusually cold weather with temperatures some 10 ºC below the usual minimum, so it was no surprise they couldn't cope.  But the hosts were great, and they phoned everybody they knew to find if anything was opening the day we arrived (the storm and low tourist season meant most everything was closed). The building was a beautiful heritage house, with inviting rooms for just relaxing with a cup of coffee or tea and a candy; and we had a nice, spacious room on the top floor, with a turret, great views of the bay, and delicious sunshine in the morning.   Frankly, quite the find!


We spent those days simply wandering around.  Though the town's site was inhabited originally by Acadians and the native Mi'kmaq, the town took its present shape with a massive, almost 3000 strong, protestant immigration from Germany, Switzerland and France in the mid 18th century.  And they've managed to maintain their colourful heritage look since, earning them a place in the UNESCO list of heritage sites.  A very well deserved honour, I say.

Not surprisingly, it's not only brightly coloured old houses that survived (man, do I love those bright colours in these northern latitudes!), but numerous churches which couldn't but add to the picturesque quality of the town.  That and the snow.


And, simply put, Lunenburg ended up being gorgeous within, and gorgeous from afar.  We crossed the bay to get views of the town.  We actually went twice, once during the day, with the sun shining bright above, and once at sunset.  Please, don't make me say gorgeous again!  But honestly, not that many towns can boast of being beautiful to look at from all angles!

At sunset, the gelid waters, the pinkish skies, the colourful town and the quiet of that side of the bay were the perfect setting for another improvised Butoh performance by my husband (yes, we do carry around props and gear should any one place inspire him).


Ah!  I had almost forgotten!  We also saw the Bluenose II!  If you've ever seen a 10 cent Canadian coin, you'll see there's a schooner on it.  That one was the Bluenose, a famous racing and fishing ship from Nova Scotia and launched in Lunenburg in 1921.  It sank in 1946, near Haiti.  In 1963 a replica was built, Bluenose II, an "ambassador" for the province.  It would have been cooler to see it in full sail.  But still, it was nice to see yet another item from Canada's currency in real life! (our first was Moraine Lake, which appears in some 20 dollar bills)

I assure you I did my best effort not to post too many pictures, but this was such a nice place!  And despair not, I'm almost done with my posts about this trip.  Just two more - Mahone Bay, and our drive in the Aspotogan Peninsula, ok?

Monday, January 27, 2014

bioPOD ready for implantation...

Just picked up my POD from BMC labs today.  As BMC labs' website says:

"POD (Personal On-Demand), is the ultimate recommendation engine.   POD is an emotional sensory learning and data-mining organism designed to enhance your life.  This state of the art biotech implant will guarantee you personalized recommendations that are 99.999% relevant all the time.  POD grows with you to become an intuitive companion, fulfilling your deepest desires on demand." 

POD is unique and no two are alike, as you must undergo three virtual simulations to feed it with your fears, desires and choices...

And now, time for implantation and, As David Cronenberg said, paving the road for humanity's evolutionary progress!*

*To make sense of any of this, you might want to check my previous posts here and here, as well as BMC Labs' website.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Performing Taiwan

Who would have thought, FOUR days of performances by Taiwanese artists, all free!   We found out just by chance about this, and yesterday night we went to see two performances at the Enwave Theatre.  

The first one was The Little Child (by Short One Player Theatre), a puppet show slightly in the fashion of Bunraku Theatre, where the puppeteers are visible but dressed in black against a black background, and where each puppet is handled by two or more puppeteers.  Nicely done, and presenting a dream, and maybe a dream within a dream, and with the added touch of the puppeteers becoming characters in specific moments, which is an interesting twist.   Loved it.

The second performance was Lament of the Exile.  What can I say.  The dancers were really good, especially the two main ones.   But this felt really outdated, not contemporary dance at all but merely modern dance.  It's 2014.  Can't the company move to the postmodern?  Then again, I did read this performance was "enthralling" and "acclaimed for his originality", so don't trust me.

In any case, the event ends TODAY, so you can still catch the last performances of Performing Taiwan!  (and did I mention you get tea bags, pins and postcard-style photos of performances for free too and that you can actually talk to the very pleasant artists after the show???)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

gelid, welcoming, colourful New Scotland - III

Yes, still writing about Nova Scotia.  I enjoyed the trip too much!  So here's part 3 of... say... 6? maybe?


Our drive from Peggys Cove to Lunenburg was quite something.  The blizzard had indeed hit the area, as announced, and as much as it gave Peggys Cove a sort of romantic atmosphere, it really made me wonder if we could make it safely to our next stop.  So, we agreed to drive on and turn back if things got nasty.

Our options weren't that great.  We could either take the Lighthouse Trail, which was a lot longer, not necessarily well cleaned all the way through, but it at least offered houses and towns on the way where we could get assistance if needed.  Or we could take the highway, which was a much shorter route, but where we could be exposed to careless drivers, maybe worse whiteout conditions, and where stopping somewhere to get assistance would be impossible...  In the end, we opted for the highway.  

Well, what was supposed to take an hour, took two and a half...

Also, we were driving, on a highway (on the Trans-Canada Highway!), at between 10 and 50 kmph (50! so fast!)...

At times, the only way for me to gauge where the road was would be to pay attention to the trees on the sides of the highway and try to keep at a constant distance from them.  Or to follow the tracks that the last snowplough had left on the snow.  Or, all else failing, driving over the little bumps marking the middle of the highway and using the vibration as an indicator that I was effectively on MY side of the road.

Fortunately, there was very little traffic on the highway (I mean, how many crazy people were going to be driving around when the forecast was whiteout conditions, right?), and the only slightly scary moments were when big trucks would pass by on the other side and submerge us in a small mini-blizzard where you really could see anything at all for 2 to 3 seconds.

Also luckily for us, the small road leaning to Lunenburg off the highway was been cleared of snow!  yay!

So, we survived, without a single scratch.  Hurray!  And my only embarrassing moment was when we finally made it to Lunenburg and, turning a corner to go to our inn, I got stuck in the snow on the curb.  Darn!  It took 4 very friendly Nova Scotians and my husband to manage to push the car free so we could reach the inn... only to realize the snow was piled so high we couldn't even access the parking spot!  Shovel time!

All in all, a good experience, I'd say.  After all, I get to say I successfully drove in a blizzard!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Cross country skiing at Wasaga Beach!

I'm making the most of this winter, and yesterday was no exception - friends took me cross country skiing with the Trakkers Ski Club!  We went to the Wasaga Beach Provincial Park, which this winter has seven trails for classic cross country skiing, three for skate skiing, and even back-country snowshoe trails.  So no excuses for sitting idle, eh?


My friends signed me up for an absolute beginners lesson.  I took this as excessive Canadian risk-avoiding behaviour, but gave in.  After one puny little hour of learning the basics and practising, I had thoroughly sweated through two layers of clothing, I had fully realized that excitement and lack of technique make a bad combination, and was voraciously hungry way before my normal lunch time!


Fortunately, the same two souls that thought fitting to sign me up for the lesson (thank you! thank you!) are also incredibly accommodating when it comes to my veganism, and they had brought an unbelievably delicious vegan curry stew, pita bread, coffee with chocolate, and marzipan filled dark chocolate (more thank-yous their way).


The cool thing about cross country skiing is that, well, you're skiing fully surrounded by nature!  Like hiking, right? but on skis and with winter scenery!  The not so cool thing is that this is really quite some workout!  You exercise every part of your body, you sweat like crazy, and even if you consider yourself moderately fit (like I do) you quickly realize you're as fit and as elegant as a newly born elephant.   But you get to be in nature.  And do lots funny sounding things like snowploughs and herring bones.  And do some downhill skiing too (way scarier with these short narrow skies!).  And, really, nature - my urban me knows how precious nature is, and how lucky I was to do this killer workout somewhere else than in my building's exercise room.


Sunday, January 19, 2014


Today I went to the TIFF Bell Lightbox for another one of Cronenberg's films, eXistenZ.  If you're in Toronto and haven't been taking advantage of this cycle of Cronenberg films and his exhibition EVOLUTION, the time is NOW, because it ends tomorrow!  

And remember you can have a bioPod designed for you! Of course, if you haven't seen the exhibition nor seen eXistenZ, the idea of a bioPod doesn't mean much to you... Very Cronenbergian, high-techy, and simply cool and fun. 

graffiti on Renfrew St

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

gelid, welcoming, colourful New Scotland - II


Our second stop in our Nova Scotia trip was Peggys Cove.  Like I said before, you might not recognize the name, but you might recognize the most famous tourist attraction of the area: the Peggys Point Lighthouse.

Like Halifax, it was incredibly cold.  But, like Halifax, the skies were fine and it wasn't snowing.  Since there was a blizzard coming the next day, we made the most of our first day there.  And since we arrived too early for check in at our Bed & Breakfast, we were exploring the place right away!

First:  St. John's Anglican Church, on (where else?) Church Rd.  This is where I started getting a strange feeling of remoteness and isolation.  True, we were but an hour away from Halifax, but the ridiculously cold weather, the wind, the rugged terrain, the winter skies, the Atlantic Ocean, the nice but small church, the lack of people... All this made this place feel way stranger than I expected (and probably than at any other time of the year).  The odd house perched on a hill just added to the peculiarness of it all...

We were actually walking to the lighthouse, but the cold was so brutal it had drained the battery of my husband's camera really fast, so we headed back to the B&B to get a new battery and to get the car.  And we then headed straight to the lighthouse.  Now, Nova Scotians won't like this, but I think I prefer the lighthouses I saw in Newfoundland.  This one was fine, for sure.  It looks pretty, all painted white with the red top.  And if you look around you'll find a nice spot for a photo with the rocks around and the Atlantic Ocean.  It IS a nice place.  It really is.  It just wasn't breathtaking.  But pretty nevertheless.

Nearby was the only place we knew of to have a meal, the Sou' Wester.  And to combat the cold I had a delicious hot apple cider!  Heavenly!  The sort of thing you simply want to hold in your hands to warm them up.   Followed by a vegan burger for me (amazing how such a remote place has vegan burgers! go Canada!) and fish 'n chips for the huz (what else should one have by the Atlantic Ocean but haddock fish 'n chips, eh?).  All the while with views of the lighthouse from the restaurant's windows (and how nice it was to see it while staying warm!).

Now, I might have said that I wasn't too impressed with the lighthouse.  But I fell completely in love with the wharf!  It was so... rough, colourful, deserted... There were round slabs of ice scattered around, left by the previous high tide.  I thought it was absolutely beautiful.  In fact, this was the highlight of this part of the trip!

Back at the B&B, it was finally time for the check in.  This was the only Bed & Breakfast there, aptly called Peggys Cove Bed & Breakfast, LOL.  We got a room in the second floor.  Now, the room had a private bathroom, but it wasn't IN the room, but across the hallway.  In exchange for that really minor inconvenience, it had the best view of all:  from the windows and the balcony you could see absolutely everything! the cove, the lighthouse, the wharf...  That was my second favourite part.  Really, this cove is something special.  So calm.  So unmodern.  So exposed to the elements...

That night, as the forecast had predicted, the snow storm started, and snow started accumulating like crazy outside.  We bundled up and stayed in bed, reading, watching some TV, and wondering if we'd be able to drive next day, as whiteout conditions (ie, near zero visibility due to the blizzard) were part of the forecast...

The good thing was that, next morning, the views from our room were pretty stunning.   It kept snowing, and now the cove looked completely different!

Waiting for us downstairs was a hearty, warm breakfast of fruit, juice, pancakes and coffee.  With more views of the (now super snowy) cove!

In the end, we decided we'd give it a shot and drive to Lunenburg, our next stop.  It was just a 100km away via the highway, or 133km via the scenic route.  We decided that we'd drive a while and, if the weather was too bad, we'd turn back and stay another night at the cove.  We hopped on the car.  And we drove away...

Next post:  Our "fun" drive, and Lunenburg, one of the prettiest towns in Canada!