Fleurs de Villes Niagara Falls

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #41! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.

It was a week of lovely autumnal weather, with daytime high temperatures ranged from 20C to 22C (68F-72F). I did my best to be outside in it:

  • I treated one of my nieces to a belated birthday Sunday brunch. Good food, good conversation.
  • I celebrated Thanksgiving Monday on October 11 by going to Toronto Islands with my family in the morning, then met up with my neighbour for a 5K walk in the afternoon, before returning home for a special dinner.
  • I did a lot of cycling and walking on the next three days to see various historic sites and public art exhibits.

Last Friday, I shared the first half of my best trip to Niagara Falls which covered the spectacular waterfalls. Today I’m sharing the second half which covers the Fleurs de Villes Niagara Falls floral trail.

Floral Butterfly.

About Fleurs de Villes

Fleurs de Villes events are organized in various cities around the world. I was thrilled to attend two of them close to home this year: Fleurs de Villes Rosé in Toronto (August 4-8) and in Niagara Falls, Canada (September 24 – October 3). Both events were free.

Fleurs de Villes Niagara Falls

Fleurs de Villes floral installations in Niagara Falls were spread out along a trail with a short uphill hike. My sister and I picked up a brochure that includes a map and listing of the floral exhibits. Most of them were outdoors and some were indoors.

The weather was perfect for our walk: Sunny, high 21C (70F) and calm wind. We had so much fun chatting, following the trail, discovering, viewing the floral displays up close and taking photos. I hope you enjoy the following photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.

Floral designs with autumnal and orange hues

Swinging Mannequin.
Swinging Mannequin.
Floral Wreath.
Floral Wreath.
Floral Railings and Stairs.
Floral Railings and Stairs outside Niagara Parks Police Station includes beautiful dahlias, berries and yellow leaves.
Queen Victoria Mannequin.
Queen Victoria Mannequin looks regal in a cream dress made up of fresh roses and mums, and burgundy accessories.
Bell Media Phone Booth.
Bell Media Phone Booth wrapped with beautiful autumnal garlands.
Orange Floral Hoop in remembrance of the Residential School Children
Orange Floral Hoop in remembrance of the Residential School Children.
Floral Rainbow at the Falls and a real rainbow.
Ketel One Botanical Floral Rainbow at the Falls and a real rainbow.
Three Sisters Indigenous Mannequin.
Three Sisters Indigenous Mannequin is designed to represent and honour the companion planting of corn, beans and squash, an agricultural practice used by the Indigenous peoples of this region.
Corn, beans and squash - the 'Three Sisters'.
Corn, beans and squash became known to the Haudenosaunee as the ‘Three Sisters’, for how they functioned together to provide a steady source of nutrition and sustenance.
Floral Tomato Truck, a classic Studebaker truck at Zappi’s.
Fallsview Mannequin at the corner #2 in autumnal hues.
Fallsview Mannequin at the corner #2.
Floral Staircase.
Floral Staircase (orange carpet) inside Marriott on the Falls.

Floral designs in other colours

Click on any image to see it in larger size and use the arrows to move through the gallery. Marilyn Monroe starred in the film Niagara in 1953. The mannequin dress was made of red rose petals.

It was my sister’s first visit to Fleurs de Villes. We both loved the floral trail and enjoyed our trip to Niagara Falls. Thank you for following along virtually.

Linking to #Colour2021: Orange, #FOTD, #LifeThisWeek, #PPAC18, #SundayStills: Orange.

Your turn:

  1. How was your week?
  2. Which of the above floral designs are your favourites?
  3. Do you prefer to scroll or click to view images on my blog?

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My Best Trip to Niagara Falls

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #40! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.

My sister and I took a day trip to Niagara Falls at the end of September for two purposes:

  1. To revisit Niagara Falls.
  2. To walk the Fleurs de Villes floral trail.

The weather was ideal on the day of our visit: Sunny, high 21C (70F), and calm wind. Without traffic, we covered the 126 km (78 miles) driving distance from Toronto to Niagara Falls, Ontario in about 1.5 hours.

Niagara Falls is a group of three waterfalls: the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls, and the smaller Bridal Veil Falls. The largest of the three is Horseshoe Falls. It’s named Horseshoe (since 1721) because it looks like a horseshoe. It’s also known as Canadian Falls since it’s situated in Canada. The other two falls are in the United States.

The main road along Niagara Falls is Niagara Parkway. During this visit, we were lucky to see several variations of the rainbows over Niagara Falls: one rainbow, double rainbows and full rainbow arch. They were incredible and stunning!

Niagara Falls in Photos

Here are some photos of Niagara Falls. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them.

Niagara Falls parking lot.
Arrived at 10 AM at an empty parking lot with a ‘loosey goosey’ traffic jam.
Horseshoe Falls in the morning with rising mist.
First glimpse of Horseshoe Falls at 52 meters (170 feet) in height and about 670 meters (2200 feet) wide. The combination of massive volume of water and flow speed produce the mist high in the air.
The Niagara River.
The Niagara River flows at approximately 56.3 kilometers/ hour (35 miles/ hour).
Horseshoe Falls morning spray.
Horseshoe Falls morning spray.
Spectacular Horseshoe Falls.
Horseshoe Falls, a natural wonder of the world.
Skylon Tower and Illumination Tower in Niagara Falls.
A gorgeous morning guaranteed spectacular views of Niagara Falls from the Skylon Tower. The round tower on the left is the Illumination Tower.
Skylon Tower 'Yellow Bug' elevators.
Two exterior glass-enclosed ‘Yellow Bug’ elevators moved along the Skylon Tower: One near the round base at the top and the other near the bottom.
Direct view of American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.
Direct view of American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.
Rainbow Bridge, Observation Tower, American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and the Maid of the Mist boat.
Rainbow Bridge, Observation Tower, American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and the Maid of the Mist boat.
Niagara Falls zipline.
The Zipline cables in the photo go past the American Falls and toward Horseshoe Falls.
View of American Falls from Queen Victoria Park.
View of American Falls from Queen Victoria Park.
Niagara Parkway.
Niagara Parkway with Queen Victoria Park on the left and the Skywheel (ferris wheel) above the trees.
Niagara Parks Police Station.
Flower beds in front of Niagara Parks Police Station.
Walking uphill on Murray Street
Walking uphill on Murray Street.
Horseshoe Falls whopping volume of water siphoned at an average of 750,000 gallons each second.
Horseshoe Falls whopping volume of water siphoned at an average of 750,000 gallons each second.
A small rainbow appeared to the left while the Maid of the Mist boat approached Horseshoe Falls.
A small rainbow appeared to the left while the Maid of the Mist boat approached Horseshoe Falls.
The Maid of the Mist passed by the rainbow as it exited Horseshoe Falls.
The Maid of the Mist passed by the rainbow as it exited Horseshoe Falls. Note that everyone wore blue rain ponchos. You’ll get wet anyway but it’s a thrill of a lifetime to be close to Horseshoe Falls, hear its thunderous roar and feel its spray.
Two rainbows appeared at Horseshoe Falls.
Double rainbows appeared at Horseshoe Falls.
Rainbow arc extended from Horseshoe Falls to Rainbow Bridge.
Rainbow arch extended from Horseshoe Falls to Rainbow Bridge.
Rainbow arc across Niagara Falls to the Rainbow Bridge
Rainbow Bridge on the left is one of the three international bridges that connect the cities of Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada and Niagara Falls, New York, United States. The other two international bridges are Lewiston-Queenston Bridge and Whirlpool Rapids Bridge.
Horseshoe Falls with two rainbows.
Horseshoe Falls with double rainbows and an incredible volume of water flow. 20% of all the fresh water in the world lies in the five Great Lakes and most flows over Niagara Falls.
Lucky gull by Horseshoe Falls.
Lucky gull to see this view of Horseshoe Falls.
Walkway and railings at Niagara Falls.
Walkway and railings at Niagara Falls.
Lunch.
Lunch: Vermicelli with spring roll, grilled meat, peanuts and vegetables.
Rainbow at Niagara Falls.
Rainbow at Niagara Falls around 6 PM.

Ways to Experience Niagara Falls

I’d recommend first time visitors to experience the falls by:

  • Walking along Niagara Parkway at day time and staying late to see the falls illuminated every evening beginning at dusk (free).
  • Boat operated by Hornblower Cruise or Maid of the Mist.
  • Getting behind Horseshoe Falls. See Journey Behind the Falls.
  • Dining at the Skylon Tower. Its Revolving Dining Room restaurant silently rotates 360 degrees every hour, giving diners a constantly changing vantage point.
  • Helicopter or zipline if you’re adventurous.

If time permits, I’d recommend a longer stay to explore Niagara historic sites, parks, gardens, wineries, the Whirlpool Rapids, and Niagara-on-the-Lake.

I feel fortunate to have had many visits to Niagara Falls, one of the Earth’s natural wonders. This trip was by far the best: Perfect weather, no crowd, spectacular Niagara Falls with rainbows, girl time with my sister, good food, and beautiful Fleurs de Villes Niagara Falls floral trail.

To be continued…

What do you think of Niagara Falls?

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What Made September Special

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #39! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.

It was a mainly sunny week with daytime high temperatures around 19C (66F). I had a fun week that included a day trip to Niagara Falls. Today is the first day of October, a new month, so I took a look back at September and appreciated the month just passed.

Here’s my summary of what made September special.

Health

Sunnyside Park.
The weather was pleasant and nature was beautiful throughout September. It’s been a joy to go cycling, play disc golf, and take walks most days. These outdoor activities complement my exercises at home (meditation, language lessons, strength training and yoga).

Family Outing

View of Toronto skyline from Centre Island ferry dock.
My family and I enjoyed a visit to Ward’s Island on a gorgeous morning. This is the view of Toronto skyline from the island with swans in the foreground.

Friendships

Asters.
I chatted with a dear friend who lives in the USA on her milestone birthday last weekend. We both appreciated her birthday more since she recently recovered from a serious health issue. Asters are September birth flowers.
Christie Pits Park labyrinth and playground.
I had a fun coffee catch-up and a labyrinth walk with two local friends at beautiful Christie Pits Park on a sunny morning.
A yellow hibiscus.

Sisters’ Time

Leisure

Photography: I enjoy taking photographs when I go outside. I’ve shared many images of nature, buildings, flowers, murals and sculptures on my blog. Here are two additional artworks that I like:

Monument to Multiculturalism.
The Monument to Multiculturalism sculpture was designed by Francesco Perilli and the base by architect Nino Rico. The monument was unveiled on July 1, 1985 at Union Station entrance.
Humanity art installation is made up of 35 words that reflect what humanity means to Masai Ujiri. Ujiri is the president of Toronto’s basketball team Raptors.

Reading: I finished seven books in September and updated my Books in 2021 page. I love opening a new book and see where the story takes me.

Travel: My sister and I took a day trip to Niagara Falls and had a fantastic time. We enjoyed sunny weather, stunning waterfalls and beautiful flowers. Good food and good conversation again. More details in a future post.

Writing: I wrote five blog posts and enjoyed hosting and blogging every weekend in September:

Gratitude

Humanity art installation.
East view of Humanity art installation. The artwork uses light to create a ripple effect with its words, symbolizing the need to spread more humanity.

Looking back, what made September special was the heartwarming social time that I had, either in groups with my family and friends, or one on one with my sister and my neighbour. On weekends, I enjoyed virtual coffee shares with my blogging community.

I’m grateful for all the good things that happened in September.

How was September for you?

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Doors in Morocco

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #9! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station. Imagine we’re sitting down in a “tea room” in Fez, Morocco and let’s chat.

A sitting area for tea in a carpet shop in Fez, Morocco.
A sitting area for fresh mint tea in a carpet shop in Fez, Morocco.

Organizing

The weather has been good, cool and sunny this week. Most mornings I do my meditation, body weight workout or yoga at home, then head outside to cycle and walk. In the afternoon, I work on tasks to organize my living.

One example of organizing my living is a routine that I do in the first week of a new month, such as:

  • Back up my blog and media files: To have a back up just in case.
  • Update my reading list.
  • Download and delete photos from my phone.

Travel Photos

From my photo archives, I select a sample of doors in Morocco for Dan’s Thursday Doors photography challenge and Denyse’s Share Your Snaps this week.

1. The Royal Palace in Rabat is the primary and official residence of the king of Morocco. The current palace was built in 1864.

The Royal Palace entrance, Rabat, Morocco.
The Royal Palace in Rabat.

2. Doors at the Mausoleum of Mohammed V in Rabat: This royal family mausoleum contains the tombs of the Moroccan King Mohammed V and his two sons, late King Hassan II and Prince Abdallah.

Royal Guard at the Mausoleum of Mohammed V in Rabat, Morocco.
Royal Guard at the Mausoleum of Mohammed V in Rabat.

3. Doors at the Al Qaraouiyine Mosque and University in Fez: Al Qaraouiyine Mosque is home to the University of Al-Quaraouiyine. Founded in 859, it is believed to be the world’s oldest continuously functioning university, and remains a vitally important center of Islamic learning.

Al Qaraouiyine Mosque and University, Fez, Morocco.
Al Qaraouiyine Mosque and University, Fez, Morocco.

4. Doors at the Royal Palace in Fez: The royal family maintains a palace in every city for each of their visits. The gigantic doors are made of brass and gold, surrounded by zellij tile work and carved cedar wood.

Doors at the Royal Palace, Fez, Morocco.
The Royal Palace in Fez.

5. Doors at Place Seffarine: This square is one of the oldest squares in the Medina in Fez, with little shopping stores full of Moroccan handmade goodies.

Place Seffarine, Fez, Morocco.
Place Seffarine in Fez.

6. Bab Agnaou Gate: One of the 20 gates and part of the walls built by the Almoravids in the 12th century. It’s a passage to the Medina of Marrakesh. The Medina of Marrkesh, a World Heritage site, is a labyrinth of small streets and alleyways leading to schools, mosques, souks, and houses.

Bab Agnaou Gate in Marrakesh.
Bab Agnaou Gate in Marrakesh. Note the storks and their nests atop the gate.

7. Plant-covered entrance at Jardin Majorelle in Marrakesh: Jardin Majorelle was the creation of French painter Jacques Majorelle. Famed designer Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé bought Jardin Majorelle in 1980 and restored it.

Jardin Majorelle in Marrakesh.
Jardin Majorelle in Marrakesh.

8. Doors at Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca: The Mosque’s doors are made of Canadian titanium. Everything else is made of local Moroccan materials.

Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca.
Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca.
Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca.
Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca.

Your Turn

  1. How did your week go?
  2. How often do you back up your blog and media files?
  3. Have you been to Morocco or any other country in Africa?

I’d love to hear your comments.

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BeaverTails and Red Roses

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #6! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.

This is a long weekend of celebrations here: Lunar New Year’s Day, the year of the Ox, on February 12, Valentine’s Day on February 14, and Family Day on February 15. I have a sweet treat and rosy or red images to share.

1. BeaverTails

Have you ever had a beavertail? I ate my first delicious beavertail in Ottawa, the capital of Canada, a long time ago. No, not the tail of a beaver. I’m talking about Canadian pastries, called Beavertails or Queues de Castor in French. They are fried dough pastries, individually hand stretched to resemble beaver’s tails, topped with either sweet or savoury ingredients.

One of the BeaverTails stores is located in Pier 6 building, the oldest building in Toronto’s Harbourfront area. I think its red exterior and doors are suitable entry to the Thursday Doors and Sunday Stills photography challenges this week.

Pier 6 building entrance.

The glass panes of the front door are half covered with BeaverTails menu, notices of store opening hours, and covid-19 protocols. The plaque on the right of Pier 6 building explains its architecture and history since 1907.

Pier 6 plaque.

I like how an ordinary storage shed, on the left side of Pier 6 building, is transformed into something eye-catching with a coat of red paint and a few Canadian symbols: Moose antlers, beavers, a heart, oars, rolling pins, apples, evergreen trees, and leaves.

The back of Pier 6 building is mostly glass doors and windows. They are open in nice weather and are glass for a good reason.

Pier 6 back doors and windows.

The reason is this view of the Toronto Harbour and the boats that dock along the pier. In a few weeks, boat crews will start cleaning up and getting their boats ready for boat tour customers.

The boats will be in pristine conditions, especially their doors and windows, so passengers can have a good view of Toronto from the water. Rentals of bigger boats are also available for special events.

Views from Pier 6.

If you haven’t had a BeaverTails pastry, I recommend to try it at least once. I have no affiliation with the company. Currently, there are eleven BeaverTails choices. They’re big and inexpensive treats, perfect for sharing with your Valentine.

Plus for about US$5, you can claim that you’ve had a Canadian BeaverTails pastry, like this fun fact about President Obama’s visit, and tick off this item on your bucket list.

2. Red Roses

Terri’s Sunday Stills Rosy Red prompt also reminded me of my visit to a rose plantation in Ecuador before the pandemic. Although roses are not native to Ecuador, the country has a perfect environment for rose cultivation and is one of the world’s major producers. Here’s a small sample of about 500 rose varieties in Ecuador:

Roses ready for shipment from Ecuador.

Ecuadorian roses have long stems with perfect petals. They come in so many colours and names that it would be hard to choose which to buy. Take a look at this exquisite arrangement of real red roses or a single rosy red rose. Both say Happy Valentine’s Day loud and clear.

Red Ecuadorian roses.
Pink Ecuadorian rose.

All flowers are shared on Cee’s Flower of The Day.

3. Finding Calm

My guest post 21 Quick Ideas To Find Calm went live on Min’s Write of the Middle blog in Australia on Monday February 8. Give yourself the gift of health by finding calm and taking care of yourself everyday. I hope you find at least one of my 21 quick ideas useful. Have a great weekend!

I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking with Life This Week, The Weekly Smile.

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The Best Markets and Blog Parties

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #5! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself with a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station, and let’s chat.

1. The Best Indoor Food Markets

One of my recent bicycle rides was to St. Lawrence Market, which was constructed in 1803, and was named the best food market in the world by National Geographic in 2012.

The St. Lawrence Market Complex consists of the South Market (Main market), the North Market (Saturday Farmers’ market), and St. Lawrence Hall (Offices and rental venue).

St. Lawrence Market, Toronto, Canada since 1803.
St. Lawrence Market, Toronto, Canada since 1803.
St. Lawrence Market doors.
St. Lawrence Market doors.

St. Lawrence Market reminds me of the Great Market Hall or Central Market Hall, the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest, Hungary, built in 1897.

Great Market Hall, Budapest, Hungary since 1897.
Great Market Hall, Budapest, Hungary since 1897.

Both markets have similar interior layouts. St. Lawrence South Market has two levels: The main and lower levels of St. Lawrence South Market contain over 120 specialty vendors, known for the variety and freshness of their fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, grains, baked goods and dairy products, as well as for the uniqueness of the non-food items for sale.

Side view of the South Market two levels.
Side view of the 2-storey St. Lawrence South Market.

The Great Market Hall has three levels: Most of the stalls on the ground floor offer produce, meats, pastries, candies, spices, and spirits. The second mezzanine floor has eateries and tourist souvenirs. The basement contains fishmongers, vegetables stalls, and a few specialized butcher shops.

Inside the Great Market Hall.
Inside the Great Market Hall.

Both St. Lawrence Market and the Great Market Hall are amazing indoor markets to explore, browse or buy and savour fresh food.

Now that we’ve got our fresh pastries from the market, let me tell you about my upcoming guest post and my blog party wondering.

2. Guest Post

I’m excited to share my guest post titled 21 Quick Ideas To Find Calm in 2021 on Min’s Write of the Middle blog on February 8, Brisbane time, in Australia. Min is passionate about health and well-being, self-investment, and mindfulness. Her Gems of Zen series is about lifestyle choices to achieve a sense of Zen.

I’ve known Min in the blog world for some time now as we both link up with some of the same blog parties. I’d like to thank Min for the opportunity to share my ideas on her blog. It’s cool that my blogging voice gets to travel to Australia before I visit the country IRL. See how blog parties open doors to new adventures?

3. What Attracts You to A Blog Party?

Coffee Share party #4 was well-attended with 35 bloggers. Thank you for your participation! Now that we’ve had four blog parties in January, I wonder what attracts bloggers to a blog link-up. Is it simply a nice place to hang out with other bloggers or is there more that attracts you to it? Such as:

  • The blogs at the link-up.
  • The dates and time when the link-up is open.
  • The new visitors and comments that you receive.
  • The reciprocity among participants: You visit a blog, leave a comment, and the blogger visits your blog.
  • By word of mouth from a blogger you follow.
  • The host’s responsiveness to reply to comments on his/ her blog and leave comments on your blog.

Perhaps the best blog parties are those that keep bringing you back.

Your turn

I’d love to hear your comments on:

  1. The best indoor markets.
  2. Writing guest post.
  3. What attracts you to a blog link-up/ party.

Linking with Life This Week, The Weekly Smile, Thursday Doors.

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Hiking to Devil’s Cauldron Waterfall

Welcome to the second Wellness Weekend link-up in 2020! I hope everyone had a nice Valentine’s weekend and your wellness plans for 2020 have been going well. The optional prompt for February is Hiking so I’m sharing a moderate hike to the Devil’s Cauldron waterfall. My sister and I completed this hike when we were in Baños, Ecuador.

Where is Devil’s Cauldron Waterfall?

Baños (full name Baños de Agua Santa) is located about 180 km (112 miles) south of Quito. This town is known for its waterfalls, hiking trails, and hot springs. The Devil’s Cauldron waterfall (El Pailon del Diablo) is 18 km from the town centre. It’s one of Ecuador’s most powerful waterfalls and one of the top rated attractions in Baños.

How challenging is this hike?

I classify this hike as Moderate because although the path is clearly marked, it has uneven surfaces. It also involves stairs and a suspension bridge. As long as you watch your step and are not afraid of heights or suspension bridges, the hike is rewarding.

Let’s hike together!

We started following the Green River (Rio Verde) to the Isla del Pailon entrance. While there are other entry points, this entrance lets us see the full height of the waterfall. Entry fee was $2 per adult and $1 per child.

Green River (Rio Verde) in Banos, Ecuador
The Green River (Rio Verde) in Baños, Ecuador

The water flow was strong, rushing by the black volcanic rocks seen along the river banks. On the right of the photo below, the walking path is behind the low lichen-covered stone wall. We soon understood why the wall is essential for our safety.

The Green River flows towards a cliff
The Green River flows towards a cliff

We followed the stone path and reached the suspension bridge. On the left, we saw the side views of the Devil’s Cauldron waterfall which plunges some 80 meters (263 feet) over a sheer cliff to the rocks below.

Side view of Devil's Cauldron waterfall
Side view of Devil’s Cauldron waterfall

It’s necessary to cross the suspension bridge to see the full view of the waterfall and to understand why it’s called the Devil’s Cauldron. The maximum capacity of the bridge is 50 people. Of course it swayed as people got on it. Crossing the suspension bridge was stepping outside my comfort zone but I did it!

Suspension bridge at Devil's Cauldron waterfall
Suspension bridge at Devil’s Cauldron waterfall

At the other end of the suspension bridge, we faced the Devil’s Cauldron waterfall. It is beautiful and powerful. Its appearance and sheer force are mesmerizing. People who stood at the Lookout platforms below looked so small next to the waterfall.

Devil's Cauldron waterfall, Baños, Ecuador
Devil’s Cauldron waterfall, Baños, Ecuador

We continued to descend the path to the lower level. When we stood at the Lookout place, we could feel the mists, see the curtains of water, and hear the thundering sounds of the powerful waterfall plunging straight down to the bottom.

Devil's Cauldron waterfall
Devil’s Cauldron waterfall

We could see the rocky bottom where water was churning before it settled into a smoother flow and another suspension bridge looking like a thin stick at a distance.

It’s amazing that the stone path was carved out of the cliff side to allow visitors to get close to the waterfall. The surrounding scenery was also beautiful with cascades running down the mountain sides.

Cascades near Devil's Cauldron waterfall
Cascades near Devil’s Cauldron waterfall

We walked back to cross the suspension bridge and exited the same way that we came in. On our way out, we stopped to admire a variety of pretty flowers grown along the path. I’m sharing a small sample below.

Gratitude moment

I’m grateful for another amazing day and another wonderful hike in Ecuador with my sister. Altogether we did about 3 km return trip with stairs and suspension bridge crossings. We learned something new about the Devil’s Cauldron waterfall. The hike and nature gave me new energy. I’m looking forward to our next hike.

Click here to join in the Wellness Weekend 2020 link-up and share your wellness-related post. As your host, I will read your blog and leave a comment.

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A Walk Among the Roses

Valentine’s Day is almost upon us and in my part of the world, roses and chocolates are common gifts on that day. If you’re buying or receiving long stemmed roses in Canada and the United States, chances are the roses come from Cotopaxi in Ecuador.

An Ecuadorian red rose
An Ecuadorian red rose

Where is Cotopaxi?

Cotopaxi is one of South America’s most famous volcanoes and one of its most active ones. It’s located 60 km south of Quito and is within the famous “Avenue of Volcanoes” in Ecuador, a long stretch of 320 km (200 miles) comprised of tall peaks and volcanoes.

At the base of Cotopaxi volcano, there are many rose plantations or rose farms (seen as white buildings in the photo below). My sister and I took a walking tour in one of the plantations and learned how Ecuadorian roses are cultivated and exported to other countries around the world.

Snow-covered Cotopaxi volcano and rose plantations near its base
Snow-covered Cotopaxi volcano and rose plantations near its base

Why Roses Thrive in Cotopaxi?

  • Climate: Ecuador has the perfect conditions for growing roses. Ecuador is right on the Equator which means constant temperatures year round. During the day, it is around 20C (68F) and during the night, it cools down to 4C (39F).
  • Altitude: The roses grow in Cotopaxi at about 3000 meters (10,000 feet) above sea level. The intensity, luminosity, and the 12 hours of sunlight ensure the roses grow beautifully.
  • Volcanic soil: The soil in Cotopaxi is rich in minerals, allowing the roses to grow very tall with thick, strong stems, the largest blooms, and in the most vibrant colours.

What Does a Rose Plantation Look Like?

A rose plantation has many rows of white plastic-covered houses. Inside each house, many rows of Ecuadorian rose varieties grow more than 2 meters (6.5 feet) tall.

Rose plantation

Automated irrigation and heating systems control the temperature and relative humidity to ensure the optimal conditions for the plants. The rose buds are kept in perfect shape with nets.

Ecuadorian rose buds in green nets
Ecuadorian red rose buds in green nets

There are about 500 rose varieties in Ecuador. The rose plantation that we visited offers about 40 varieties. I attach a sample of six different roses here.

Once the roses are ready for harvest, they’re cut and placed in a pre-cool area where the outdoor heat is removed from the flowers as they arrive from the field, swiftly halting the opening of the flowers.

Next, the roses are placed in containers in a large hydration and packing cold room where temperature is kept between 0.5°C and 2°C guaranteeing quality prior to shipping. Rose production and international shipments are planned in time for special holidays such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.

Roses to go
Roses to go

How Are Roses Used Locally?

Roses are sold in local markets or flower stands along the roads for a very inexpensive price. They are also given as complimentary gifts to visitors at the plantation. The local haciendas have rose arrangements in their reception areas and some give a long-stemmed rose to welcome their guests upon arrival.

Roses at Hacienda La Cienega
Roses at Hacienda La Cienega reception desk

Some hotels have more formal flower arrangements and gorgeous fresh roses on display, like this hotel in Quito.

Roses at a hotel in Quito
Roses at a hotel in Quito

Where To Buy Ecuadorian Rose Souvenirs?

The souvenir shop on the plantation site sells all kinds of rose products. For example, dyed roses, dry rose petals, rose-scented lotion, rose-flavoured tea, and since Ecuador also produces cacao, rose-infused chocolates as well.

A popular store chain named República del Cacao has locations in Quito, at Quito international airport and in major cities where you can buy Ecuador chocolates, cacao products, Panama hats, rose-related souvenirs, etc.

Blue roses

It was a real treat to walk among the beautiful Ecuadorian roses and receive them so freely during our stay in this area of Ecuador. I’m closing this post with a photo of a cute pair of llamas that we saw upon leaving the rose plantation.

Happy Valentine’s Week!

Two llamas

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Papallacta Hot Springs: A Delightful Stay

During my travels, sometimes I discover places that exceed my expectations. The Termas de Papallacta (Papallacta Hot Springs) resort in Ecuador was one of them. Our stay there turned out to be one of my 10 favourite experiences in Ecuador. Let me share some of my photos and brief descriptions with you.

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Where is Papallacta?

Papallacta is a small town about 70 km (43 miles) east of Quito, the capital of Ecuador. Papallacta is located at an altitude of 3,250 metres (10,600 feet) in the Andes, at the edge of the Cloud forest.

Cloud forest

Where are the Papallacta hot springs?

Papallacta hot springs are located on the banks of the Papallacta river in between Antisana and Cayambe-Coca Nature Reserves. Two nearby volcanoes, Cotopaxi and Antisana, create thermal baths which vary between 30°C and 70°C (86°F and 158°F).

Active Antisana volcano

How to get there?

By car it’s about an hour drive from Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International airport (UIO), and about 1.5 hours from Quito’s city centre. Visitors can also book day tours or take local buses to Papallacta.

Where to stay?

I recommend the Termas de Papallacta (Papallacta Hot Springs) resort for its location and amenities. The resort has a large public bathing complex, a hotel, and a separate spa complex. The natural hot springs in Papallacta feed the thermal pools in the hotel.

Termas de Papallacta Resort

What to enjoy at Termas de Papallacta resort?

Thermal pools: Termas de Papallacta resort offers three different sets of pools:

  1. Private pools right outside the hotel cabins and rooms: These shallow pools, surrounded by rocks and pretty flowers, are free and exclusive for guests of the resort.
Papallacta private pools
  1. Public thermal bath complex (the Balneario): This complex has at least ten different pools with varying temperatures. These pools are open daily to the public with admission fees. For hotel guests, entrance is free.
  1. The Spa complex: This complex has five thermal pools equipped with various water jets, bubbles, water spouts and one polar pool. The pool area has garden-like setting of flagstones and flowers, with plenty of lounge chairs. These pools are open to the public at higher admission fees than the public baths. For hotel guests, the spa pool entrance fees are discounted.
Papallacta spa pools

The entrance fee for the Spa complex includes a locker, bathing cap, and towel. The change rooms in the Spa area are more luxe than the public bath complex, with heated floors, complimentary shampoo, conditioner and blow dryers. Bathrobe rental is extra.

If you’re spending just one day at Termas de Papallacta, I’d suggest to pay for entrance to the public pools at the Balneario or for the pools at the Spa complex. At the pools the temperature ranges from 36°C to 38°C (97°F to 100.4°F).

Hiking trails: Termas de Papallacta owns a protected area of approximately 200 hectares, called Canyon Ranch, located at the entrance of Cayambe-Coca Nature Reserve. Visitors can explore the hiking trails on their own or for a few US dollars, book a guided hike at the Exploratorium in the resort.

The Exploratorium is a research centre that provides information on the different species of flora and fauna found around Papallacta, some unique to the area. Up in the highlands, the cool air is great for hiking and makes lying in the hot pools that much better.

Hotel rooms: The hotel rooms are made of preserved wood with private bathroom and heated flooring. The rooms are situated around the thermal water pools for exclusive guest use. There are also bungalows for families and cottages separate from the hotel area.

Papallacta hotel room

Spa services: My sister and I booked a spa package which includes 30 minutes in the Spa thermal pools, a 20-minute steam bath in a thermal grotto, and a 30-minute back and neck massage. The steam bath grotto has hot water trickles over rocks and eucalyptus leaves while guests relax on deck chairs. There is an area for guests to rest before the massage.

On-site bar and restaurant: The hotel restaurant offers Ecuadorian and international fare using ingredients from the organic kitchen garden. I enjoyed the quinoa soup and local fresh trout, the restaurant’s specialty dish, for dinner.

My Conclusion

Termas de Papallacta resort offers the perfect pairing of recreation and relaxation. I can hike then rest or rest then hike in a magical setting. This is a stunning area for nature walks, mountain views, and hot springs. If you’re in Quito, consider a visit to the Papallacta Hot Springs. I highly recommend it!

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Hiking to Peguche Waterfall

Welcome to the first Wellness Weekend link-up in 2020! I hope the first eighteen days of January have gone well for everyone and you’ve got some time to warm up before tackling your New Year’s plans with gusto.

Why Warm Up?

A warm-up is helpful at the beginning of a fitness session to get our mind and body ready for subsequent and more intense activities. In my previous post, I shared that one of my ten favourite experiences in Ecuador is hiking. The first hike that my sister and I did is an easy hike to Peguche waterfall near Otavalo. It’s our warm-up hike to prepare us for more strenuous hikes later on.

About Peguche Waterfall

Peguche waterfall is 5 minutes northwest of the city of Otavalo which is located 110 km north of Quito and 2530 meters above sea level. Peguche waterfall is a sacred place in the culture of the indigenous peoples of Otavalo.

I categorize this hike as Easy because the trail is flat and well-defined. The length of the trail is just right (about 3 km return). There are a few points of interest along the way, and the highlight is a beautiful waterfall. Otavalo’s spring-like climate in December also makes it ideal for hiking. So we headed to Peguche trail.

Welcome sign to Peguche waterfall

Once we entered the Peguche trail, we were surrounded by beautiful tall trees and lush green shrubs. The winding path was easy to walk on. Mosses and lichen covered the low rock walls that protect the trees from foot traffic.

Trail to Peguche waterfall

The trail is about 1.5 km long. It took us about twenty minutes to reach the bridge that faces the waterfall. Peguche waterfall is a beautiful waterfall of 18 m in height, formed by the river of the same name, which starts at Lake San Pablo. The lush green vegetation embraces the waterfall. The clouds moved in and out to give us some sun.

Peguche Waterfall

We stood on the bridge for a while to enjoy the views before walking up the paths along both sides of the falls to reach the Lookout platform (Mirador), and onto some big rocks to get closer to the waterfall. We could feel great volumes of mist from the powerful waterfall.

Peguche waterfall

The local people name Peguche waterfall Forest Protector (Bosque Protector), because all of the trees get their water from the waterfall’s mists and the downstream gushing water. On the night of the summer solstice, the waterfall becomes the privileged place for community ritual bath, as a first step to celebrate the Festival of the Sun (Inti Raymi).

Peguche waterfall downstream

As we walked along the trail, I could hear bird songs and spotted a number of plants with pretty flowers. There were also lots of ferns and orchid plants that cohabit with tall eucalyptus trees. The sun came out and everything glowed.

Peguche trail

Outside the Peguche trail, to the left is the Sun Dial (Inti Watana) site, also known as the Solar Calendar. The site includes a round adobe wall with a sun dial in the centre. People from different communities come together to offer their crops to the Sun god (Inti), and celebrate the summer solstice here.

Inti Watana in Peguche
Sun dial in Peguche

It was a nice short hike on a beautiful morning in Peguche. Altogether we did about 3 km return trip (about 2 miles). We learned something new about Peguche waterfall. The warm-up hike and nature gave me new energy. I looked forward to more hiking in Ecuador. Happy trails!

Trail from Peguche waterfall

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