Fit And Fun Walk: Waves

Greetings! This week I took a cue from Mother Nature and decided to do a Wave-themed walk to photograph wave-themed artwork that has been installed in the last ten years in downtown Toronto. The city has been growing so there are always new things to discover. On this beautiful sunny day let me share some interesting artwork with you.

The Real Waves

Here we are at the start of Yonge Street where the 0 km Toronto sign is located on the sidewalk. Yonge Street used to be listed as the longest street in the world in the Guinness World Records until 1999. Can you see the small waves in Lake Ontario and the shadow of the curved railings?

Waves at the start of Yonge Street and in Lake Ontario
Waves at the start of Yonge Street and in Lake Ontario

The WaveDecks

Further west along the waterfront there are three WaveDecks named Simcoe WaveDeck, Rees WaveDeck, and Spadina WaveDeck. The WaveDecks are meant to give urban dwellers a feel for life at the lake.

Simcoe WaveDeck opened in June 2009. The design of this and the other WaveDecks was inspired by the shoreline of Ontario’s great lakes and the Canadian cottage experience.

View of Simcoe WaveDeck from the lake
View of Simcoe WaveDeck from the lake
Street view of Simcoe WaveDeck
Street view of Simcoe WaveDeck

Rees WaveDeck opened in July 2009. The wavy benches and wooden path are right by a small marina where canoes, kayaks, and sailboats launch in late spring through to fall.

Street view of Rees WaveDeck
Street view of Rees WaveDeck

Spadina WaveDeck opened in September 2008. It has received numerous design awards. On a spring day, it’s nice to sit on the curved bench facing the lake while mallards and ducks swim below our feet.

View of Spadina WaveDeck from the lake
View of Spadina WaveDeck from the lake

Wave Side Sculpture

From Spadina WaveDeck, we head north west to see the Wave Side sculpture designed by Toronto-based artists, Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins. This artwork was made of stainless steel and was installed in 2011. It references a wake of waves, the ribs of a ship, and the shape of the waves inspired by ship curves.

Wave Side, 2011 by Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins
Wave Side, 2011 by Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins

Shoreline Sculpture

Now we head east to see the Shoreline Commemorative sculpture designed by Paul Raff, a Canadian architect and artist. This artwork was made of glass, bronze, limestone, and sandblasted brick and installed in 2014.

The text on the red brick wall states: “For 10,000 years this was the location of Lake Ontario’s shoreline. This brick wall stands where water and land met with a vista of horizon”.

Shoreline Commemorative, 2014 by Paul Raff
Shoreline Commemorative, 2014 by Paul Raff

Why Do These Waves Make Me Smile?

  • They are accessible and free to the public.
  • They enhance the public space appearance.
  • They soften the angles of concrete buildings.
  • They connect the land and the lake.
  • They are about water movements and water is essential for life.

I hope that despite the grim pandemic news you continue to stay healthy and find bits of joy in your day. I also hope you enjoy the virtual walk with me and find the artwork through my lens interesting. Be well!

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Glass Vessels That Bring Joy

During one of my recent walks in the city, I stopped by Harbourfront Centre to see an art exhibit of glass vessels. Glass vessels have been so integral in our lives. It’s hard to imagine what we would do without them: Drinking glasses hold our water and wine, vases beautifully display flowers, bowls contain tasty snacks, jars store our food, and bottles keep perfume and serum…Just to name a few.

At the exhibit, the work of two artists, Nadira Narine and Jared Last, caught my eyes. I’m sharing some photos of their collections. The items were displayed behind glass vitrines (another form of glass vessels?) so please excuse the glare and reflections in my photos.

Nadira Narine’s glass vases

At first glance, the vases look like they are made of clay but a closer look shows the beautiful glass work by Nadira Nadine. I like the warm colour combinations which likely come from her cultural roots as she was raised in Panama City, Panama.

Glass art by Nadira Narine

Her bio explained that she’s been living in Canada for the last seven years and she explores objects and memories from her childhood for the purpose of self-exploration and a sense of connection to home.

Glass art by Nadira Narine

Jared Last’s glass bowls

Jared Last’s bio explained that he’s a Toronto-based artist who has been working in glass since 2011. He holds a BFA in Glass from the Alberta College of Art and Design where he graduated with distinction in 2016.

Glass vessels by Jared Last

Jared’s glass bowls with deep colours and black wavy lines are eye catching. I think each of them is a conversation-starter. They reflect his interest in colour, pattern, architecture and the unique optical properties of glass to create both functional and sculptural works.

Glass vessels by Jared Last
Glass art by Jared Last

What made me smile when I viewed the exhibit?

  • The glass vessels are visually interesting with beautiful colours, designs, and shapes.
  • The displays give me ideas to arrange my own glass vessels at home: a single item, a pair, or a group of similar items.
  • I learn about the artists and their portfolios, and look forward to seeing more of their work in the future.
  • Admission to the exhibit is free to the public, making art accessible to everyone.
  • The exhibit is on until June 7, 2020 which gives people lots of time to visit and revisit.

Here’s a glass bottle that I bought in Denmark during my travels. It continues to bring me joy:

My glass bottle from Denmark

What do you think of the exhibit? If you have a favourite glass vessel of your own, please feel free to share it in the Comments. Comments with links or images attached will be moderated.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Do You Love the 80s?

I hope you love the music, art, film, and fashion of the 80s. The Awesome 80’s was the theme of the 15th annual Ice Sculpture Festival in Toronto’s Bloor-Yorkville neighbourhood on February 8 and 9 weekend. It’s a family-friendly event and admission is free.

Over 70,000 lbs. of crystal-clear ice were carved into magnificent sculptures inspired by the music, art, film and fashion of an awesome decade. All things 80’s are retro-cool again! I’m sharing some of the ice sculptures on display at the festival.

The Main Ice Exhibition included an 80’s sculpture, a Boombox, an Elton John silhouette, Converse sneaker, Madonna – Desperately Seeking Susan, Leg Warmers & Heels, Andy Warhol, a Roller Skate and Eddie Van Halen.

The Main Ice Exhibition at icefest 2020

The Back to the Future sculpture was in the Photo Opportunity area for many photos and Instagram moments.

Back to the Future ice sculpture

The Terry Fox Run Walk Wheel Ride sculpture was #1 winner of the ice carving competition.

Number 5 (not Wall-E) and Van Halen’s The Flying V Guitar sculptures were #2 and # 3 winners of the ice carving competition.

I loved the colourful Icefest Lounge where visitors could take a break while listening to the curated selection of songs from the 80s. It made a huge difference when professional DJs played live.

Icefest Lounge

February is Heart month so volunteers from the Heart and Stroke Foundation were at Icefest. For a donation of $2, visitors could sample tasty maple syrup taffy or play vintage arcade games, including Pacman, at the Icefest Arcade Tent.

Icefest Heart sculpture

There were about thirty-five sculptures and I took photos of all of them. Just in case you don’t like the 80s, I share just a few in this post. I love the 80s!

What about you? Do you love the 80s?

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

5 Fun Activities for the Holidays

Holiday decorations

My blogger friend, Leslie, invited me and other bloggers to share my holiday fun list with her on November 21, and a quick update on how I did on my list on December 21. I call my list a Fun list since I don’t ever have a bucket list.

Now I’m challenging myself to have fun this holiday at either no cost or low cost and to be environmental-friendly as much as possible. I also want activities that engage my senses. So I come up with the following five for the period of November 21 to December 21.

5 Fun Activities for the Holidays

1) View the holiday light displays: The big banks and major department stores downtown always put up dazzling holiday displays, some with fairy tale themes. City Hall also has a real 15-metre (50-foot) Christmas tree that will be lit up at the end of November. I plan to do a 30-minute walk to get there and enjoy the visual treats for free.

2) Listen to live holiday music: I usually go with my friends to the Cavalcade of Lights event in November and/ or the annual holiday concert in December at City Hall. Both events offer wonderful music performances and are free to the public. Again I plan to do a 30-minute walk to get there.

3) Bake a Ration cake: I found this Second World War Ration cake recipe here. It would be fun to make it for the holidays. The cake is low cost as I already have the ingredients in our pantry. The kitchen will smell good. If the cake turns out well, my family and I will satisfy our taste buds with the yummy treats. Win-win-win.

4) Give food and hope: It’s a sad reality that we have people who rely on food bank because they have nowhere else to turn. I plan to donate online or buy food items and donate at a local grocery store. I’ve got the list of food items that our local Daily Bread Food Bank always needs because of their high nutritional value (e.g. baby food and formula, peanut butter, canned fish and meat, canned fruits and vegetables, rice, grains, lentils, beans, dried pasta, pasta sauce, canned tomatoes, cans of soup and stew, powdered, canned and tetra pak milk).

5) Walk to show the Earth some love: It would be fun to map an outdoor route with a few points of interest and walk it with my family or friends. We bring a warm beverage like hot chocolate or hot apple cider in our reusable travel mugs and enjoy it during or at the end of our walk. I keep my fingers crossed for reasonable weather between November 21 and December 21 so that I can complete this activity.

How about you? What do you have on your holiday fun list?

Click here to share your plans.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

On Nature’s Edge in Tofino

After having a wonderful time in Victoria, I took the Vancouver Island Connector bus to Parksville and stayed there for two nights. Parksville is about 150 km north of Victoria, a perfect mid-way place to break up my full day trip from Victoria to Tofino and to meet up with three fabulous blogger friends as mentioned here.

From Parksville I continued my bus journey to Tofino, a small coastal village at the western edge of Vancouver Island. The driving distance from Parksville to Tofino is about 170 km (105 miles). The winding road and Kennedy Hill upgrades along Highway 4 meant the ride would take about four hours. The picturesque scenery made up for the time delay.

From Victoria (A) to Parksville(B) and Tofino (C)
From Victoria (A) to Parksville (B) and Tofino (C)

Tofino is situated in the traditional territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation of the Nuu-chah-nulth peoples, who have called the area home for over five thousand years.

Welcome to Tofino

It is surrounded by the vast, breathtaking expanse of the UNESCO Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Region. Being in Tofino means being close to nature, the ocean, the rainforest, the mountains, the islands and inlets.

Lone Cone Mountain
Lone Cone Mountain, Tofino, BC, Canada

I stayed at a hostel situated at the waterfront in Tofino, overlooking a harbour on Clayoquot Sound. The views were breathtaking and ever changing as the wind moved the clouds. They filled me with a sense of wonder.

Morning view in Tofino
Morning view in Tofino, BC, Canada

The green domes in the photo below housed my “neighbours”, an eco-lodge operated by WildPod for luxury waterfront glamping. One morning I saw a family of sea otters came right up to the pier and the rock wall to say hello.

On nature's edge in Tofino
On nature’s edge in Tofino, BC, Canada

Tofino centre is grid-like and very easy to navigate. There are many shops specialized in outdoor activities such as surfing, stand-up paddle boarding (SUP), sea kayaking, scenic flights, whale watching tours, bear watching tours, and hot springs tours.

Tofino marina
Tofino Marina

I was drawn to the many public art works seen throughout Tofino, such as the Weeping Cedar Woman created by artist Godfrey Stephens to protect the ancient rainforests of Clayoquot Sound and Meares Island, and the Totem pole in Anchor Park, created by Master carver Joe David.

Weeping Cedar Woman, Tofino
Weeping Cedar Woman by Godfrey Stephens, Tofino, BC, Canada
Totem pole by Joe David, Tofino
Totem pole by Master carver Joe David, Tofino, BC, Canada

I took the self-guided Tofino Art Gallery Walk that featured five individual artist owned galleries, each a five minute walk apart. The bigger gallery of the five is Eagle Eerie Art Gallery by Roy Henry Vickers, a world-renowned Canadian First Nations artist.

Roy Henry Vickers Art Gallery, Tofino
Roy Henry Vickers (Eagle Eerie) Art Gallery

Within walking distance from Tofino village centre is a network of hiking trails that go through ancient forests and lead to various beaches. I’ll share one of my hikes in another post. I leave you with a view from my bed in Tofino. At night, the sky glittered with millions of stars. I’m so grateful.

View from my room in Tofino
View from my room in Tofino

Have you been to Tofino? What were your impressions?

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

A Whale of A Time in Victoria

I mentioned in my September Wrap-Up post that I traveled to Vancouver Island. My itinerary included Victoria, Parksville, and Tofino. All three stops are in the Province of British Columbia, on the West Coast of Canada.

From Toronto to Victoria, the flight time is about five hours. I had been to Victoria before so on this trip, sightseeing-wise I intentionally chose to do things that I cannot do in Toronto and skipped a few things that first time visitors to Victoria might do.

Be close to the sea

I strolled the Causeway circling Victoria’s Inner Harbour, to the docks at Fisherman’s Wharf, and walked James Bay Unity Wall and Breakwater. The sea air was refreshing, the views were wonderful, and there was always something in the surroundings to engage my senses. When I arrived at Fisherman’s Wharf early in the morning, most of the shops were still closed, the water was so calm, it mirrored everything.

Fisherman's Wharf in Victoria
Fisherman’s Wharf, Victoria, BC, Canada

Snap pictures of totem poles

I loved the totem poles at Thunderbird Park. I had seen them on my first visit to Victoria years ago and wanted to see them again. I was unsure why my obsession with the totem poles. I just took a lot of pictures. I think they are expressive, visually captivating, and unique artworks.

Walk the history

I attended the 30-minute guided tour of the British Columbia Legislature. It was time well spent to learn about the history of the building, and to see the beautiful building interiors, including the stained glass windows that celebrate Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee (1837-1897) and Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee (1952-2002).

British Columbia Legislature
Legislature building, Victoria, BC, Canada

I also followed the seven Signs of Lekwungen to learn more about Victoria’s history. The site markers are bronze castings of original cedar carvings, conceptualized and carved by Coast Salish artist, Butch Dick. The markers depict spindle whorls that were traditionally used by Coast Salish women to spin wool. The spindle whorl was considered the foundation of a Coast Salish family.

Signs of Lekwungen by Victoria's City Hall

Visit the “superlatives”

I walked through Victoria’s beautiful Beacon Hill Park to see the Spirit of Lekwammen, the world’s tallest totem pole at about 38.89 meters (127 feet 7 inches). I also walked the narrowest street in Canada named Fan Tan Alley, and had a yummy snack in Victoria’s Chinatown, which is the oldest Chinatown in Canada and a National Historic Site.

Meet someone famous

I “met” Our Emily, a bronze statue created by sculptor Barbara Paterson. The statue honours the renowned Canadian artist and Victoria’s famous citizen, Emily Carr. The sculpture features Emily Carr seated outdoors with her sketchpad. Her Javanese monkey, Woo, perches on her shoulder and her dog, Billie, stands nearby. The building behind the statue is the also famous Empress Hotel.

Our Emily sculpture by Barbara Paterson
Our Emily sculpture by Barbara Paterson

Go whale watching

The weather was beautiful as I boarded the boat for my whale watching tour. It took about 40 minutes of travelling South to come across our first sighting. It was two humpback whales whose large blows were visible in the distance.

The pairing looked like a mother and calf. Initially they were a little spaced out from each other but eventually the mother soon caught up with her calf. The two flicked both of their tails up in the air in a synchronized dive. What an unforgettable sight!

Humpback whales

We continued watching this pair until we spotted another couple of humpback whales further away. These two were making large blows, swimming leisurely, and then captured our hearts with a few tail flukes.

See the seals and sea lions

The whale watching tour included a visit to the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve where we saw the Harbour seals and California and Steller sea lions hauled out on the rocks. Some were sleeping in the sun while others were engaging in power struggles for the top of the rock. The Harbour seals blended very well with the rock colours.

Seals and sea lions

Conclusion

I had a whale of a time in Victoria 🙂 All of the activities mentioned were free, except the whale watching tour. I’d love to see whales in the ocean again. This trip was also the first time I took all my photos with my phone. They turned out better than I expected.

Have you been to Victoria? Have you ever watched whales in the ocean? What were your impressions?

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Postcard from Kingston

In August, my family and I took a train trip to visit Kingston and stayed at Queen’s University campus for a few days. Kingston is a historic city. It was named the first capital of the United Province of Canada on February 10, 1841. It’s located midway between Toronto and Montreal.

Map of Toronto-Kingston rail route
Toronto to Kingston by train

We have visited Kingston a couple of times and have been on the Thousand Islands cruise which departs from downtown Kingston. During this stay, we explored a bit of history, nature, and arts. Below are the highlights.

National historic sites

We visited three national historic sites: Kingston’s City Hall built in 1844, the Shoal Tower built in 1847, and the Murney Tower built in 1846. Shoal and Murney Towers are part of the Kingston Fortifications. In 2007, the Rideau Canal and Kingston Fortifications were recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Kingston City Hall
Kingston City Hall
Shoal Tower in Kingston
Shoal Tower in Kingston
Murney Tower in Kingston
Murney Tower in Kingston

Nature

Kingston’s waterfront pathway spans over 8 km along the Lake Ontario shoreline. We enjoyed strolling along the waterfront and saw many kayaks and sailboats on the lake and many windmills in the distance. The Breakwater Park is one block from where we stayed on Queen’s University campus so it was very convenient to get my morning walks done.

Kingston's waterfront
Kingston’s waterfront
Kingston's waterfront pathway
Waterfront pathway by Breakwater Park in Kingston

Visual Arts

We visited the Agnes Queen’s Art Gallery on Queen’s University campus. Admission was free. There were various types of artworks on display, some are more contemporary than the others. I liked one of Sarah Robertson’s paintings and Claude Tousignant’s bold geometric style.

October, Ottawa Valley painting by Sarah Robertson
October, Ottawa Valley by Sarah Robertson
Horizontal Ultra Orange by Claude Tousignant
Horizontal Ultra Orange by Claude Tousignant

Queen’s University also has many beautiful limestone buildings worth browsing. Kingston’s nicknames are The Limestone City, or K-Town, or YGK. Aside from the above sightseeing, we met with our friends in Kingston to catch up. It was a nice and fun trip that was part of our wonderful summer 2019.

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