Last weekend May 27-28, 2023 was Doors Open Toronto weekend when over 140 buildings and sites opened their doors and invited the public to explore some of Toronto’s most architectural, cultural and socially significant sites for free. This year’s theme is City of Sound.
I chose to explore The Second City Toronto, one of the newer buildings to avoid crowds and lineup, and the sound of laughter is appealing. I made the right choice visiting The Second City. There was no queue. Visitors could explore the front stages, back stages and take pictures. Knowledgeable volunteers and staff were on site to answer questions.
The Second City Toronto
The Second City Toronto is the biggest improv comedy theatre and training centre in Canada. It has nurtured performers whose wit and friendly faces have dominated the comedy landscape on both sides of the border for decades. The list of famous alumni includes John Candy, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Joe Flaherty, Dave Thomas, Dan Aykroyd, Andrea Martin, Robin Duke, Gilda Radner, and many others.
This year, The Second City Toronto celebrates 50 Years of Funny in June and invites visitors to explore its rich history and see the original flooring where John Candy made history.
City of Toronto website
Here’s my The Second City Toronto photos. For more door photos, visit Dan’s #ThursdayDoors.
I had fun exploring The Second City. As I left the building, I saw this attractive sculpture. Ah, how I’d like to have infinite energy!
Weekend Coffee Share
Have you heard of The Second City or John Candy? Who is your favourite comedian?
I’d love for you to share what’s been happening, simple joys from your week and/ or favourite public art photos from around the world in the comments or Weekend Coffee Share linkup #121 InLinkz below.
The last weekend of the month is when I do my monthly review. What have you been up to in the past four weeks? Here’s what’s been happening in my corner of the world and what I enjoyed in May.
Family & Fleurs de Villes
My sister visited our Toronto family for ten days. The weather was mainly sunny during her stay. We did family activities together, including multiple outings, BBQs and a Mother’s Day celebration. The ten days flew by. I’m grateful for the quality time we shared.
While my sister was here, we walked the Fleurs de VillesVoyage floral trail on a beautiful sunny day in the Bloor-Yorkville neighbourhood. We oohed and aahed over more than thirty incredible floral arrangements. It was my sister’s first time to a Fleurs de Villes event and she really enjoyed it.
I include a slideshow of ten of the floral designs below, five outdoors and five indoors. To me they are art and since the event is free, it’s public art. Click on the arrows to move through the slides.
Fitness & Friendship
It’s been lovely to get outside and enjoy spring. I continue my cycling, walking, strength training and yoga. After having so many beautiful bike rides and walks this month, I feel like a multi-millionaire. Spring is in full swing which means everywhere I look there are newly blooming flowers.
Some of my 8K walks are with friends. We choose a different route for each walk and since we are in a big city called ‘A city within a park‘, we often start and end in a park. I greatly appreciate our friendship and the green space to absorb the peace and natural beauty of the outdoors without leaving the city.
Last weekend I traveled by train to Montreal for a three-day visit. As I was in Montreal more for family than tourism, most of my time was spent with family. I took walks every day and enjoyed being in this dynamic city.
In the following gallery, top left, clockwise: Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral, a National Historic Site of Canada; The Cathedral dome seen from Dorchester Park; Murals in Montreal Central Station designed by Toronto artist Charles F. Comfort and carved by Sebastiano Aiello depict Canadian life, cultures, industry and passages of the national anthem.
On The Blog
The weekly Weekend Coffee Share and Photographing Public Art Challenge continued to thrive in May. Thank you to all who have shared updates, comments and/ or photos from around the world. I wrote my three ‘Postcards from Portugal‘. Here’s the links for May’s posts in case you missed any and want to catch up:
Today’s post is the third of three in my Postcards from Portugal series. The first post on Lisbon, Cascais & Sintra is here. The second post on Évora, Fátima & Tomar is here. As usual, when you see an image gallery, click on an image to get a better view and use the arrows to move through the gallery.
Upon arrival, I met two University of Coimbra students in their uniforms. They were fundraising for their upcoming graduation. The university campus has amazing art and architectural details in all directions. The walkway to the main courtyard has unique star-shaped tile design. I took time to look up, down, left, right and around to appreciate this incredible site.
In the photo below, note the distinct tiles on the roof, the beautiful columns, statues and carvings that frame the entrance. Then there is a small black iron gate at the entrance with some garments. The tradition is that once the students receive their final marks and pass, they throw their gowns as high up on the entrance as possible. Some of the gowns get stuck there.
The tour at the university is very interesting and shows beautiful art and architecture inside. Most rooms have gorgeous tiles (azulejos) on the walls, paintings on the ceilings and texture-rich furnishings.
The jewel at the University is the stunning Joanine Library with its rich baroque decor. However, no photography is allowed inside. I learned that there are small bats in the library. They eat insects and naturally preserve the books. Each night, all surfaces in the library are covered with fine leather to protect them from bat droppings.
From Coimbra I continued my journey to Porto (or Oporto), Portugal’s second largest city with a 2000-year history. The Historic Centre of Oporto, Luiz I Bridge and Monastery of Serra do Pilar is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I visited the Church of St. Francis and and walked the upper part of Porto to get a fantastic view of the city, the Clerigos Tower and the Duoro River.
A palace well worth visiting is the Stock Exchange Palace, renowned for its exquisite neoclassical façade and ornate gilded Arabian Hall.
On the last afternoon in Porto I enjoyed a Douro River Cruise to view the city from a new perspective. The boat passed by the numerous port wine cellars and under the magnificent bridges crossing the Duoro river valley. I visited a Port Wine Cellar for a tasting. It was a wonderful way to end my trip.
Weekend Coffee Share
This post concludes my three-part ‘Postcards from Portugal‘ series. Thank you for following along. For more door photos, visit Dan’s #ThursdayDoors photo challenge.
I’d love for you to share what’s been happening, simple joys from your week and/ or favourite public art photos from around the world in the comments or Weekend Coffee Share linkup #119 InLinkz below.
Today’s post is the second of three in my Postcards from Portugal series. The first post on Lisbon, Cascais & Sintra is here. As usual, when you see an image gallery, click on an image to get a better view and use the arrows to move through the gallery.
On Day 4, I headed to Évora, 140 km east from Lisbon. Évora is one of Portugal’s most beautifully preserved medieval towns and the whole city of Évora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Upon arrival, I headed to Évora’s main square, the Praça do Giraldo, and walked through the cobbled streets of this former royal town.
My first stop was the Roman Temple of Évora, built in the first half of 1st century AD and dedicated to Emperor Augustus, first emperor of Rome. This Roman Temple is Évora’s most iconic monument and is considered one of the best preserved Roman ruins on the Iberian peninsula.
My second stop was the Cathedral of Évora. Its construction, in the Roman-Gothic style, was started around 1280 and finished by 1350. Impressive art and architecture found throughout the Cathedral.
My third stop was the Church of St. Francis that is famous for its Ossuary chapel or Chapel of Bones. Built in the first half of the 17th century by Franciscan monks, the Chapel’s walls are decorated with thousands of human bones and skulls, which came from ordinary people who were buried in Évora’s medieval cemeteries. Above the chapel entrance: “Nos ossos que aqui estamos pelos vossos esperamos” or “We bones that are here await yours.”
Leaving the Chapel of Bones, I took a stroll wandering Évora’s small streets, admiring the art and architecture, and browsing souvenir shops. Évora is located in Portugal’s Alentejo region which is known for its cork cultivation. It’s a good place to buy all kinds of things made from cork.
On Day 5, I left Lisbon behind and traveled north through the scenic Portuguese countryside to Fátima, one of the most important Catholic shrines in the world, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Its Sanctuary welcomes millions of pilgrims from all over the world. Fátima’s fame is due to the Marian Apparitions that appeared to three shepherd children in 1917.
Here, I visited the Sanctuary of Fátima. It’s a huge U-shaped shrine complex built in neoclassical style, flanked by colonnades linking it with the extensive convent. I happened to be at the shrine complex on Palm Sunday morning. Hundreds if not thousands of people arrived to attend mass.
People carried flowers or local tree branches and candles of different lengths (the long, 5 ft candles are for adults, shorter candles are for children). Some people ‘walked’ on their knees. Some came with folding chairs for a long stay. It was clearly a spiritual experience for the pilgrims to be there. The nearby market sells all sorts of trinkets, souvenirs and candles in the shapes of various body parts.
From Fátima I continued my journey to Tomar, one of Portugal’s historic jewels. Upon arrival, I had lunch in a small eatery near Tomar’s main square before visiting the hilltop Convent of Christ, former seat of Knights Templar and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Construction of the Convent of Christ in Tomar began in 1160 in Manueline architectural style. Click here for a history summary of this large monumental complex. Once again, impressive art and architecture found throughout the Convent.
I stayed overnight in Tomar and left for Coimbra the next morning. More to follow.
I traveled to Portugal in the last week of March and first week of April this year. It was my second time visiting Portugal. On this trip, I explored eight cities and towns and had a wonderful time with many new experiences.
Today’s post is the first of three in my Postcards from Portugal series. As usual, when you see an image gallery, click on an image to get a better view and use the arrows to move through the gallery.
I began my adventures in captivating Lisbon, one of the oldest cities in Europe, and known as the city of seven hills. Since it was my second time in Lisbon, I chose to revisit a few favourites at a leisurely pace. On Day 1, I took the metro to Rossio Square which is the liveliest area in Lisbon and the meeting place for the people of Lisbon and visitors.
On the perimeter of Rossio Square and its surrounding streets, there are many shops, bars and restaurants. I walked past Rossio railway station, to Restorers Square and all the way to the top of Edward VII’s Park to enjoy a magnificent view over the hills of Lisbon and the Tagus River.
On Day 2, I headed to Commerce Square and the riverfront to see the Belém Tower, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On my first visit to Portugal I had toured the interior of Belém Tower so this time I just admired its Portuguese Gothic (Manueline) exterior and the river views.
Near the Belém Tower is the 52-metre (170 ft) tall Monument to the Discoveries. It’s shaped like a ship, with 32 figures lined up on a stylized prow, representing personalities from the 15th and 16th centuries following Prince Henry, the Navigator. Only one of them is a woman, Queen Phillipa of Lancaster, who was Prince Henry’s mother.
My next stop is the Monastery of the Hieronymites or Jerónimos Monastery, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and also in Portuguese Gothic (Manueline) style. I toured the monastery’s main church, the Church of Santa Maria. Its unique nave has six columns which are perfectly sculpted. The tombs of Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama and poet Luis de Camões are in the church.
On Day 3, from Lisbon, I headed to Cascais, a seaside town located on the Atlantic coast, about 25 km west of Lisbon. Historically, Cascais was the summer retreat of the Portuguese nobility. The trip from Lisbon to Cascais offers beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean, especially from Estoril to Cascais.
I got a good stroll around Cascais, along its palmetto tree-lined main street that leads to the beachfront promenade. There are many eateries and shops on the main street and food and souvenir stalls by the beachfront. The promenade has beautiful cream and black wave design as this is a seaside town. The beach and the main square started filling up with people by mid-day.
From Cascais, I continued north to Sintra, the ancient summer retreat of the royal court, highlighted by lavish romantic castles and stunning monuments. Since I had visited Pena Palace on my first trip to Portugal, on this trip I chose to visit Sintra National Palace, a 15th-century royal residence and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The palace contains one of the largest tile collections in Portugal.
On Day 4, I headed to Évora, 140 km from Lisbon. More to follow.
Weekend Coffee Share
I’d love for you to share what’s been happening, simple joys from your week and/ or favourite public art photos from around the world in the comments or Weekend Coffee Share linkup #117 InLinkz below.
The last weekend of the month is when I do my monthly review. What have you been up to this past month? Here’s what’s been happening in my corner of the world and what I enjoyed in April.
Week 1 of April was the second half of my adventures in Portugal that I started in the last week of March. I had good weather throughout my trip, with daytime high temperatures ranged from 20C to 27C (68F to 81F). My itinerary included Lisbon, Cascais, Sintra, Evora, Fatima, Tomar, Coimbra and Porto.
I used local transportation systems to get around, walked to explore every day, visited several incredible UNESCO World Heritage Sites, met other travellers, savoured Portuguese cuisine and enjoyed Port wine tasting in Porto. I returned home with wonderful memories and many photos. I’ll publish my ‘Postcards from Portugal‘ starting next week.
Week 2 was a fantastic homecoming week. The highlights include Easter weekend with family and catching up with friends. During week 2, Toronto set new temperature highs (26C-28C) a few days in a row. Suddenly we had summer weather in mid-April. I enjoyed seven consecutive fun outings that include bike rides, walks with friends, bird and turtle watching, and seeing spring flowers in bloom.
Week 3 highlight was the viewing of cherry blossoms or Hanami Sakura. The warm temperatures in week 2 encouraged cherry trees to bloom early this year. The cherry blossoms are spectacular but peak bloom lasts only about a week. Such fleeting beauty. I feel grateful to see these delicate flowers every spring.
Week 4 highlight was an evening walk to see public art at the Lumière: The Art of Lightfestival. This free outdoor light exhibition allows visitors to explore Trillium Park and experience sixteen light art installations developed by Ontario artists. The theme Renewal of the exhibition celebrates the change of seasons from winter to spring.
To see some of the light exhibits, use the arrows to move through the following 8 slides. For more information about the artwork and artists, click here.
On the Blog
The weekly Weekend Coffee Share linkup and Photographing Public Art Challenge have been going well in April. Thank you to all who have shared updates, comments and/ or photos from around the world. Here’s the links for April’s posts in case you missed any and want to catch up:
This week I resumed organizing my digital images. Today’s batch includes five utility boxes designed and painted by three Toronto-based artists. I organized these images under the Outside the Box | People theme and listed them by artist’s last name below.
Gary Taxali’s Designs
Gary Taxali is a Canadian contemporary fine artist and illustrator known for his iconic retro style pop art and illustration. The following two “Good Fun” boxes have subtle differences between them.
Colin Tea’s Design
Colin Tea is a Toronto-based artist who is also known as Colin Turner Bloom. The design is meant to transport those passing by into the tranquility and beauty of nature.
Madeline Yee’s Designs
Madeline Yee is a Canadian illustrator and animator. The designs on two back-to-back boxes feature people activities in the neighbourhood.
Weekend Coffee Share
I enjoyed checking out the designs on these boxes and discovering Toronto-based artists. I usually look up the artists after my walk to learn more about their art portfolios.
Did you like any of the above designs? For more door photos, visit Dan’s #ThursdayDoors photo challenge.
I’d love for you to share what’s been happening, simple joys from your week and/ or favourite public art photos from around the world in the comments or Weekend Coffee Share linkup #115 InLinkz below.
It was my first week back from Portugal and back to the familiarity of home. I resumed my exercise routine, chatted with family and friends, booked coffee and walk dates, restocked the refrigerator, did laundry, and caught up on emails and blogs.
It was also a week with plenty of sunshine and unusually warm temperatures. The daytime high temperatures reached 29C (84F) on Wednesday and 31C (88F) on Thursday. I was happy to cycle to some of my favourite places in the city. I also took daily walks, met friends and together we enjoyed spotting spring flowers and watching birds and turtles.
Seven Fun Outings
Here’s a selection of my nature photos from Toronto, taken in the past seven days.
To continue my floral theme, for the Photographing Public Art Challenge (PPAC) this week, here’s a mural painted by Alexandra. It was on the side of a flower stall in Rossio Square in Lisbon, Portugal. Obrigado means thank you.
Weekend Coffee Share
How was your week? I’d love for you to share what’s been happening, simple joys from your week and/ or favourite public art photos from around the world in the comments or Weekend Coffee Share linkup #114 InLinkz below.
I’ve been away for about two weeks and have some catching up to do. Reflecting on the month just passed, here’s what’s been happening and what I enjoyed in March.
1. Sisters Time
My sisters and I had a fabulous reunion in the first week of March in Charleston, South Carolina in the United States. We had fun catching up, exploring and discovering Charleston together. I am grateful for the wonderful quality time we shared.
2. Friends Time
Last year I started my Tour of Indie Cafés and enjoyed discovering a dozen cafés with family and friends. I decided to do a second tour with a selection of new-to-me indie cafés this year. A friend joined me for a 8K walk then we kicked off the 2023 tour at Neo Coffee Bar known for their coffee drinks, tea and pastries.
3. Winter Stations
I cycled to Woodbine Beach for a beach and art walk on a gorgeous sunny day. I enjoyed viewing the Winter Stations public art exhibition with the theme Radiance. To see the winners of the 2023 Winter Stations competition, use the arrows to move through the following 7 slides.
In my corner of the world, Spring officially arrived on March 20 with sunny skies and daytime high 6C (43F). I was delighted to spot some pretty crocus flowers, dwarf irises, snowdrops and winter aconites on the first day of Spring. Birds are active and their vocals fill the air. I’ve been enjoying longer bike rides and long walks. Time in nature is always a happy time for me.
5. Exploring Portugal
I recently returned from Portugal. I had a wonderful time revisiting this beautiful country. On my previous trip, I explored Lisbon, Sintra and the Algarve. On this trip, I revisited Lisbon and Sintra, then continued north with a few stops until reaching Porto. Watch this space for my travel ‘postcards’.
When the COVID-19 pandemic started in March 2020, a few of my planned trips were cancelled. I am grateful for the opportunity to travel abroad again. I look forward to enjoying more travel adventures this year.
Weekend Coffee Share
I’d love for you to share what’s been happening, simple joys from your week and/ or favourite public art photos from around the world in the comments or Weekend Coffee Share linkup #113 InLinkz below.
As mentioned in my previous post, my sisters and I had a reunion in Charleston, South Carolina in early March. The Charleston Historic District is a photographer’s dream and anyone interested in architecture and history would enjoy wandering there. During our stay, we walked every day and admired many beautiful and historic homes and buildings.
Since I live a car-free lifestyle, I love that the Charleston Historic District is walkable and the streets are kept clean. Even though the Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) operates three routes on the Charleston peninsula and the ride is free, we chose to walk and explore at our own pace.
Today’s galleries include photos of Charleston-style houses, doors and gates in The Battery and King Street neighbourhoods. I love the house architecture and unique black iron gate designs. Click on an image in the gallery for better view and use arrows to move through the gallery.
I learned about five distinguishing features of a Charleston single house: 1) A long, narrow shape 2) A wider side 3) A faux front door 4) A porch, and 5) A consistent interior layout.
The Charleston single houses have tall, narrow fronts and are typically only one room wide on the home’s street-facing side. From the side, however, they can be the width of several rooms. Although single houses appear to have a centralized front entryway, this door actually leads to a small piazza or porch.
The piazzas always appear on the side of the house with the front door which, to take best advantage of local winds, will be the south or west side. The true entryway was typically placed along the porch, so the house residents could have more privacy entering and exiting their homes.
The Charleston double house faces the street at its full length—rather than just one room’s width. Charleston double houses are less common than single houses.
This gallery includes photos of gates at different heights. Some gates are flanked by green plants or lion statues. The gate with the lamp atop is the entrance to the historic Edmonston-Alston House circa 1825. The pink house adds privacy with green plants on two of the three archways. The double wooden doors in the last photo are solidly handsome.
This gallery includes three narrow single iron gates and three wide double gates. Two of the single gates are slightly ajar. The hanging planters with pretty flowers and the red bricks are lovely to see.
Weekend Coffee Share
I spotted this mural near Charleston City Market and thought it was perfect for today’s Weekend Coffee Share and Photographing Public Art Challenge.
What do you think about Charleston-style houses? Did you see any door or gate you like? For more door photos, visit Dan’s #ThursdayDoors photo challenge.
Please note that there will be no linkup on March 31 as I’ll be taking a blogging break next week. I’ll return with a fresh post and resume hosting Weekend Coffee Share on April 7. Thank you.
I’d love for you to share what’s been happening, simple joys from your week and/ or favourite public art photos from around the world in the comments or Weekend Coffee Share linkup #112 InLinkz below.