April Smiles

Orange tulips and daffodils

Hello blog friends! How are you doing? I hope you’re well. Come on in so we can share a coffee or tea and our news. If we were having coffee, I’d share with you what made me feel positive and gave me five big smiles since I mentioned my Gratitude list. Heads up that there are lots of spring flowers in this post.

Smile #1 – Family and Friends

My family and friends are well. We stay in touch by phone, text, email, and the occasional virtual meetings. Most of my family members who are working are essential workers so they’re actually busier and under more stress than usual. Knowing that everyone in my circle is safe and in good health makes me smile.

Smile #2 – Health

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I was diligent about my health routine in April. I meditated every day, practiced deep breathing and yoga three times per week, and did strengthening workouts three times per week. I also walked outdoors five or six times per week, about one hour each time.

I’m mindful of keeping a safe distance from everyone else. Most of the time, it’s easy to do physical distancing because there is no one in my path when I go. My 5K walks let me see Lake Ontario, beautiful spring flowers, wildlife, and interesting murals and sculptures. They keep me in good spirits.

Smile #3 – Home

If we were having coffee, I’d share that in April, I baked my first Blueberry Coffee Cake. It would go well with our coffee or tea. I used Jean Paré’s easy-to-follow recipe from her Muffins and More book. She’s a Canadian and author of the Company’s Coming cookbook series that has sold over 30 million copies since 1981.

The cake was a success so I’d make it again in the future. The topping has cinnamon which smells very nice when I bake the cake. I included the recipe. Note that I used blueberries instead of cranberries. Raspberries work, too.

Smile #4 – Leisure

During this global pandemic, there is a huge amount of arts and entertainment available online 24/7 without extra cost. With my library card, I have access to more leisure materials than time to explore them all. In April, here’s some of what I enjoyed:

  • Books: I was happy to spend time away from the screen and read over 1,000 pages from three compelling books, Dear Life by Alice Munro who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013, Angela’s Ashes, a memoir and Pulitzer Prize winner by Frank McCourt and The Sisters Brothers, finalist of several literary prizes in 2011, by Patrick deWitt.
  • Films: My library card gives me access to a great collection of films and documentaries. I chose to watch three films in April: The Gold Rush, Modern Times, and Call Me by Your Name. The first two are Charlie Chaplin’s comedic masterworks. The third film won several awards in 2018 and its location reminded me of my wonderful time in Italy.
  • Languages: French and Spanish lessons on Duolingo are my fun brain exercises, 30 minutes/ day. I chose two languages that have similarities to challenge myself. They also remind me of my many trips to France and Spain. The happy memories make me smile.
  • Music: I listened to Andrea Bocelli: Music for Hope, One World: Together At Home, and Stronger Together, Tous Ensemble concerts, plus numerous classical concerts online at the Berliner Philharmoniker Digital Concert Hall, and music played by professional DJs on the radio.
  • Shows: The Cirque du Soleil Premier show on CirqueConnect and The Nutcracker ballet at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre were incredible to watch. Pre-pandemic I wouldn’t be able to watch them from front row seats. In April I could watch them in close details from home for free.

Smile #5 – Blogs

I wrote five blog posts in April and the “Oscar” goes to Life is Like A Box of Chocolates with the highest number of comments I received to date. Your comments brighten my day, thank you! Please keep them coming. I have fun reading your blogs and leaving my comments, too. Check out this page to see where I link up.

Tulips

Stay Safe and Healthy

So I had many good reasons to smile and feel grateful for in April. The recipe for me to be well emotionally, mentally, and physically is to stick to my health routine and spice up my day with a variety of leisure activities.

I expect to continue staying at home most of the time in May, except to go out for exercise walks and groceries. I hope this 3-geese sign brings you a smile. Stay safe and healthy everyone!

How was your April? What makes you smile? I’d love to hear your comments.

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

5 Circular Art Works To See

Hello blog friends! How are you doing? I hope you’re well and in the mood to see something new. Remember last month I took you on a virtual walk to see several Wave-themed art works? This week on one of my walks, I looked for art works with a Circular theme or a ripple effect to make my walk more interesting.

I’m sharing five sculptures and murals in alpha order of the artist’s last name. Let’s see if you can spot the circles or circular motion in the photos below.

Toronto Twister from A Series of Whirlpool Field Manoeuvres

Toronto Twister, 2017, Alice Aycock.

Designed by Alice Aycock, the Toronto Twister from A Series of Whirlpool Field Manoeuvres for Pier 27 (2017) is one of my favourite sculptures. It’s made of aluminum powder coated white structural steel. The white colour stands out against the blue backdrop of the lake on a sunny day.

The Toronto Twister from A Series of Whirlpool Field Manoeuvres for Pier 27, 2017, Alice Aycock.

The Twister is 25 feet tall at its highest point. Behind it is a series of whirlpool field manoeuvres that look like giant flowers. I love the sense of strength and movements in this installation.

Between the Eyes

Between The Eye, 1990, Richard Deacon.

Designed by Richard Deacon, the giant Between the Eyes sculpture (1990) is made of zinc sprayed steel, stainless steel, cement, and granite face base. I used to think of it as two whisks joined in the middle.

Between the Eye, 1990, Richard Deacon.

For a hard steel structure, the curves did give me a sense of plasticity. On this sunny day, I approached the sculpture from two different angles, looking south to the lake and looking east through the end circle.

Metropolis

Metropolis nail mural, 1977, David Gerry Partridge.

Designed by David Gerry Partridge, the Metropolis nail mural (1977) is one of the most popular attractions in the lobby of Toronto City Hall. The mural consists of nine panels made of aluminum sheathing over plywood, with over 100,000 copper and galvanized nails. Yes, nails!

Side view of Metropolis nail mural, 1977, David Gerry Partridge.

I love Partridge’s unique sculpture technique using nails to design the Metropolis mural. Partridge passed away at age 87 in 2006 so this mural is one of his legacy art works in Canada.

Nautilus Gateway

The Nautilus Gateway, 1992, Judith Schwarz.
Shadow of the Nautilus Gateway, 1992, Judith Schwarz.

Designed by Judith Schwarz, the Nautilus Gateway (1992) is a steel and bronze sculpture. Schwarz, a Canadian visual artist, has created public commissions in both Vancouver and Toronto, Canada. I like both the sculpture and its shadow on the sidewalk.

Heavenly Waters

Heavenly Waters mural, 1997, Wyland.

Designed by the artist Wyland, the Heavenly Waters mural (1997) was #70 in Wyland’s Whaling Wall series of outdoor art. He started painting the series in the 80s and finished his 100th mural in June 2008 to share his love of marine life with 100 communities around the world.

I’m thrilled that Toronto has one of Wyland’s murals at an unusual location. It’s on the side of the Redpath Sugar Factory. On the left of the above photo is where big ships dock to load or unload sugar.

I love the circular movements of the whales and how the water colour gets darker in the depth of the ocean. The Heavenly Waters mural reminded me of the real whales I saw on Canada’s West Coast last September. Very happy memories!

Whales in British Columbia.

I’m grateful for a sunny day, a nice walk, and interesting visual arts. The experience makes me smile and feel positive. Thank you for coming along with me. I hope you enjoy the circular-themed art works through my lens.

How did your week go? What makes your day interesting? I’d love to hear your comments.

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

Life Is Like A Box of Chocolates

Hello blog friends! How are you doing? I hope all is well with you. Forrest Gump’s expression “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get” came to my mind this week. If we were having coffee or tea, I’d share what made me smile and feel positive since my Trumpeter swan sightings last week.

It’s also time for the fourth Wellness Weekend link-up in 2020. The optional prompt is Water Sports. I hope you join me and my blogger friend, Leslie, to share what helps you stay healthy these days.

Family and Friends

I did my round of calls, email, and texts to my family, friends, and neighbours. Everyone has a story and I’m listening. Sharing our thoughts and updates was like sharing a box of chocolates. We were able to make each other smile or laugh out loud. I feel grateful that I’m with a group of optimistic people and everyone is well so far.

Three crocus colours

Family members and friends who are working shared their experience of working from home or how their employers arranged for physical distancing in the workplace. My nieces and nephews who are students shared their online learning experience and social life while schools are still closed. Friends who care for elderly parents shared how they’re managing it. My neighbours shared their early “senior hour” shopping experience.

Health

I’ve been diligent about my fitness routine to keep me emotionally, mentally, and physically healthy. Here’s what I do to stay calm and feel positive:

  • Daily meditation, 15 minutes/ day.
  • Deep breathing at meditation, yoga, bedtime, or any time.
  • Outdoor walks with physical distancing 5-6x/ week, one hour each time.
  • Strengthening workouts 3x/ week, one hour each time.
  • Yoga 3x/ week, one hour each time.
Gulls by the lake

My outdoor walks are like a box of decadent chocolates. I love my time by the lake where I see open space, hear the sounds of water and bird life, and feel what the weather brings. The birds and waterfowl are very active. Their antics and conversations made me smile.

Nature

Tulips

Nature continues to show her best in spring time and delight me with her transformation from one day to the next. Daffodils and tulips started to bloom this week, adding more colours to the existing crocuses and hyacinths. I feel grateful to be able to walk outdoors with my senses all engaged.

A bunny

Oh, I spotted a bunny in a bush. S/he moved slowly around for a while before hopping away. I live near the centre of the busiest city in Canada so seeing bunny in the wild is a rare sighting that made me smile. I usually see them in the suburbs or more rural areas.

Shopping

Grocery shopping has been like a box of chocolates. The grocery stores continue to tweak their directional signs, the queue location, and in-store procedures so every trip is a mini-adventure. The stock inventories are inconsistent. I never know what I’m going to bring home with me.

Basmati rice bag

Example: No long grain rice from Thailand? Buy Basmati rice from India. I’ve never had such a colourful rice bag with a zippered top before. Now I own one. The rice was good, and I have two rice brands to choose in the future. I feel grateful to be home in my familiar surroundings while having opportunities to try food products from faraway places.

Water Sports

Being close to one of the Great Lakes means I’m close to popular outdoor water sports such as canoeing, kayaking, sailing, power boating, and stand-up paddling. The season usually starts in May and ends in late September.

Canoes and kayaks

The bright colours of the canoes and kayaks made me smile. They look like cheerful chocolate wrappings. Even though it’s still chilly to be out in the lake at this time of the year, the canoes and kayaks lying in the sun are like a promise of the summer fun to come. Something to look forward to.

How did your week go? What helps you stay healthy? I’d love to hear your comments.

Click here to join the Wellness Weekend link up and share your wellness updates.

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

Life and Trumpeter Swan Sightings

Trumpeter swans

Hello blog friends! How are you doing? I hope all is well with you. In my March Wrap-Up post, I wrote about keeping a routine. This week I took a few cues from nature and mapped out a number of activities that made me smile and feel positive.

Family and Friends

Three sparrows

Nature: Three sparrows stood on a wooden handrail and chirped almost non-stop to share their news. They were so busy “talking”, they let me take a group photo. Their brown feathers blend them well with their habitat.

Me: I made my round of phone calls and texts to touch base with my family and friends. Wished one of my dear friends a happy birthday. Sent an email to my friend in Finland. Had a fun virtual party with my extended family, and a good phone conversation with my cousin who lives in France to share updates. Also did hand clapping every evening at 7 PM to show my support for the essential health care professionals and front line workers.

Health

Canada geese and ducks

Nature: Two Canada geese and two ducks swam happily in the calm harbour. They are exercising or meditating while physical distancing, LOL.

Me: I did my daily meditation, three yoga sessions, and three workouts at home using my own body weight and a Theraband resistance band. Also did short walks outdoors by the lake when there was no one around, just the birds.

Leisure

Nature: A variety of spring flowers are showing up in different colours, shapes, and sizes. Each is pretty on their own. The skies change daily, from clear and sunny to clouds and short showers. Why not try different leisure activities?

Me: Nature is my endless source of art and inspiration for sure. What else did I do from home and all for free?

  • Visited art exhibits at the Virtual Museum of Canada.
  • Wrote one blog post to wrap up March.
  • Read the thought-provoking Dear Life book by Alice Munro.
  • Took daily French and Spanish lessons on Duolingo.
  • Watched Charlie Chaplin’s comedic masterwork in The Gold Rush movie.
  • Watched the amazing Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet The Nutcracker at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre (Russia’s most famous theatre).
  • Watched an incredible Cirque du Soleil Premier show at CirqueConnect.

Trumpeter Swan Sightings

About ten days ago, when I was at the Toronto lakefront, I saw two Trumpeter swans flew by and heard their call to each other. This week I got to see them up close in the marina, right under my feet. Their black bills distinguish them from other species. I saw the tags, P24 and T63, on their wings.

The bright yellow numbered wing tags mean the Trumpeters are from Ontario. They are tagged by volunteers, often when on their winter feeding grounds. The two swans lingered near me for a while then swam away gracefully.

Two Trumpeter swans

Did you know that the Trumpeter swan is North America’s largest wild waterfowl and that it was almost driven to extinction early in the 20th century? The All About Birds web site gives an excellent overview of Trumpeter swan and clear audio of their unique sound.

Biologist Harry Lumsden began a provincial reintroduction program in the early 1980’s to re-establish the Trumpeter swan population in Ontario. With a lot of staff and volunteer efforts, the restoration of the Trumpeter swan in its former habitat and range has yielded good results.

I consider myself fortunate to be so close to these magnificent birds and to spend a few moments captivated by the sights and sounds of a pair of Trumpeter swans. They made me smile and gave my week a nice ending.

How did your week go? What wildlife have you seen recently? I’d love to hear your comments.

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

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?

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