Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Looking for and finding the Swings!


After yesterdays time of rest, today I decided to go find the giant swings Barry and I saw from the taxi on Saturday. I could have done it the easy way by asking the concierge for directions, instead I decided to find them myself. I began by heading east towards the convention center. Montreal is a city filled with parks and lots of public art. The first I came across today was Victoria Square. A statue of Queen Victoria is surrounded by beautiful orange tulips. It is a monument made out of bronze and granite. The bronze was cast in England in 1869 and was inaugurated in Montreal in 1872. Across the street was a sculpture that had water spitting up from the sidewalk. 

A block later I saw Montreal's Convention Center. It definitely is much more colorful than Philadelphia's. The building is about two blocks long and two blocks wide.

Half a block further I came across the Chinese Catholic Mission and Church which was at the end of Montreal's Chinatown. The boundaries of Chinatown seem to be distinguished by gateways. This one is on the western side.

I was a block away from the swings when I came across some these sculptures secured on a flatbed. I do not know if they were being brought in or taken away. I also do not know where they were going to be installed. They looked like two firemen to me.

Then there they were, 21 multicolored adult size swings on the sidewalk that I had seen Saturday evening. I was excited because most of them were empty. When we drove by them in the taxi the area had been crowded, but not so on a Tuesday afternoon. I walked up to the a fuchsia swing, removed my back pack and sat down on the swing. It was comfortable. Swinging is like riding a bike. As soon as I sat down my legs began to pump. The next thing I knew I was not only swinging, but each time the swing moved I heard a musical tone. Each of these swings acts as a musical instrument. When all 21 are filled and swinging the melodies and harmonies are formed. 

The swing I used is the empty one on the right.

 Not only were there swings in this area but also free wifi. I was able to connect and actually send a tweet outside of the hotel! I sat on the bench in the shade for about 5 minutes, then decided I needed to locate a store where I could find postcards and a Canadian post office. I decided to walk towards the waterfront. My walk took me through the theatre district. 
Montreal's Contemporary Art Museum & Place des Arts

Montreal's Contemporary Art Museum

Theatre du Nouveau Monde 


As I neared the end of the district I ended up int the red light district which was a sign for me that I needed to go another direction. I headed back in the direction of the hotel and came across the northern gate for Chinatown.  I found an indoor mall near the Chinese Mission that had a Canadian Post Office where I was able to buy postcards. 

Graffitti Mural near the end of the art district and the beginning of the red light district

Hand painted fan in Chinatown

Now I had accomplished all of my tasks for the day and it was near five when Barry would be returning to the hotel. This time as I passed the convention center once again I came across my final public art for the day, the fountain sculpture "The Joust" Riopelle. The sculpture inaugurated in 2003 is set in a fountain encircled by a ring of fire. I did not return at night so did not get to see it in this state. You can click on this Youtube link for La Joute and see a video taken by someone else of the fountain in it's full glory; water spout, steam and fire.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Exploring Montreal, Canada

Yesterday I spent most of the day exploring parts of Montreal. My original intention was to attend Montreal Friends Meeting. However, since I do not have a car and did not want to pay the fee of taking a taxi that left me taking public transportation. I was a little anxious about doing this because I saw a news story about an English speaking person who was suing the public transit for their treatment of him (denial of service) as an English speaker. There is clearly tension here in Montreal between French and English speaking residents.

So I began my travels by asking the hotel concierge for the 36 bus stop. Google maps said it was at Rue Saint-Jacques and University, but I did not see it. He confirmed that there was no bus stop there and pointed to a bus stop further down the Rue Saint-Jacques street. I walked to the stop and found that it was not for the 36 bus, so I began searching for it. First I found it, but it was for the Eastbound bus and I was looking for the Westbound one. I decided to continue walking west on Rue Saint-Jacques street and finally found it!

A few minutes later the bus arrived. It was fairly empty, it was Sunday morning. I read the signs for the cross streets once the bus turned onto Rue Notre-Dame looking for my stop, Rue Rose-de-Lima. Of course the street I was looking for did not have a sign. I knew when we turned back onto Rue Saint-Jacques that I missed my stop. I asked the bus driver who confirmed I had. He told me to get off at the next stop which was the Metro and walk to the corner where I could catch another bus that would take me there. Fortunately that bus came in about 5 minutes and this time I asked the driver to notify me when we reached Rue Rose-de-Lima. Then I had a 12 minute walk to the Community Center where Montreal Friends Meeting is held. I knew I was going to arrive late, but in this situation late was better than not going at all. 

When I arrived at the community center I knew I was in the right place because I saw this sign. I entered as quietly as possible because I was now a few minutes late. There was a small group of chairs in a circle in the middle of the room. I sat down and immediately began centering. The first thing I needed to do was quiet my breathing which was heavy because of the hill I had to climb to reach the community center. Eventually I was able to center. I was surprised when the first message was given in English, so was the second and third. At the end of worship it was announced that there would be a period to share any thoughts that did not rise as a message during our time of worship. Several Friends shared including one Friend asking us to hold in the Light several Friends who were ill including the family of a member of the meeting who passed Saturday morning. At the rise of meeting I introduced myself to the group. There were only 11 of us present, two of us were visitors. The other person visiting was a Buddhist who as a result of reading a Parker Palmer book decided to attend worship. In my conversations with Friends it was suggested that I visit the Atwater Market which was not too far away. It sounded interesting so I decided I would go on my way back to the hotel. As I left the Community Center I saw that the second side of the meeting sign was in French but was not readable from the street. I wondered if that was related to why the majority of the Friends in that meeting seemed to be English speakers.
I was excited to see the lilac bush was blooming outside of the Community Center. I took a few moments not only to take this photo, but also to enjoy it's fragrance. I love the smell of lilacs. It is one of my favorite flowers.

I decided to walk from the Community Center to the Atwater Market because it sounded like it was close and easier than trying to figure out the bus routes that would get me there without access to the internet. I did not realize that it was almost one mile away. It was a nice, sunny afternoon so I enjoyed my walk. The walk also gave me an opportunity to enjoy the Montreal landscape. I saw These houses on Rue Saint-Jacques and thought that their mail delivery person must be incredibly fit from walking up and down these stairs six days a week.

Tulips blooming near the Metro station on Atwater.

Eventually I arrived at the Market. It reminded me of the garden center at Home Depot in Philly. There was stall after stall of plants and flowers. It is arranged so that there are several layers of stalls. The outside layer are garden stalls. The second layer is a mixture of garden, fruit and vegetable stalls. The third layer are food, butcher, fish, cheese, bakery, snack and beverage stalls with seating. The fourth layer is indoors. It has all the stalls except for the garden ones.

View of Market as I approached it from Atwater Street.

The rest of the Atwater Market reminded me of Reading Terminal and Pike Street Markets. There were food and grocery stalls that were selling vegetables, fruits, spices, fresh meats, sandwiches, pastries, bulk and packaged foods.

There was even a woman standing outside of the interior of the Market playing her violin with folks dropping coins into her case.

I purchased some fruit from the stand on the right. This is one of the times that I was thankful for having a gluten, corn and dairy allergy. There were so many wonderful looking sandwiches and pastry products that I may have purchased and eaten. People were leaving the market with bags and bags of products. I must confess that I did purchase a package of gluten, corn and dairy free carrot cake muffins which I have been enjoying.

Delicious looking mini pies. Good thing that they were not gluten & dairy free!

I walked around for a few hours taking in the sights then decided to head back to the hotel. I decided to walk to take in more of the scenes. I walked to Rue Notre-Dame and came across Marché Bleuet one of the natural food, cosmetic and supplement stores I researched on the internet prior to our arrival. I spent some time looking through the store. I purchased a raw food slice of mock cheesecake. During that process I put my newly purchased travel mug of tea on the counter which I failed to pick up. I did not realize this until I was four blocks away. I was glad to see it still sitting there when I returned. About five blocks away I came across a gluten free restaurant. Sadly it was not open on Sunday afternoon. They did not have their hours posted. When I returned to the hotel I went to le Kitchen Cuisine Sante's Facebook page which said they are open 11:00 am - 5:00 pm. I may try to get back there before we leave on Thursday.

I have been surprised at the length of the grass as well as the number of dandelions that are growing, blooming and seeding in the parks here. The city is clearly doing some maintenance as demonstrated by these limbs that have been cut and laid out from the trees in the same park.

I was very happy to finally reach our hotel. My shoulders were getting sore under the weight of the food in my backpack and my feet were tired. It was not until I returned to the hotel and looked it up on Google Maps that I realized that I had walked a little over three miles yesterday. I am glad that it was a dry and warm day. According to the weather forecast it will be one of the few days that it does not rain during our time here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Maninini'owali Beach (Kua Bay)

View from our room
Yesterday was our final day at the beach. We took full advantage of it. One of our goals this year has been not to repeat going to places we visited last year, except for Two Lady's Kitchen. There is so much to see on the Big Island that we could continue coming her for several more years and not repeat anything!

Yesterday we decided to spend the day at Maninini'owali Beach (Kua Bay.) The guide we have been using said that this was a lovely beach which was remote. "Powdery white sand and clear blue waters good for swimming. This is a top beach for fun in the sun and one of the most beautiful bays you will every see. Unfortunately, the new paved access road means this beach is often crowded." OK, so I have been to the Jersey shore and that is crowded. We assumed this beach could not be THAT crowded.

View of road through windshield.
Road sign on Park Access

We were correct. In fact, the beach was almost deserted. However, I am jumping ahead. The directions told us to turn off of the highway onto the Kekaha Kai State Park access road. We did and were very surprised because the road they said was paved must have been so 20 years ago because it was in terrible shape. We had to slowly creep along the road, even the four wheel drives were crawling along the road. It felt like it took us forever to reach the parking area. There were places along the road that were narrow, so we had to pull over to the side when a car approached that was leaving the area. It was one of the bumpiest rides I every experienced. Finally we reached the parking area!!!

View of beach from trail.

Green turtle resting on the beach
A second Green turtle swimming in the ocean
Barry in the ocean
As usual, we had to hike about a quarter of a mile from the car to the beach. There were actually two beaches in the area. The first beach we reached had people fishing with rods. I was not comfortable swimming around fishing wire and hooks, so we decided to walk to the second and smaller beach. I am so glad we made that decision. The second beach was empty. The best part was that a Honu, green sea turtle, was sleeping on the beach. We did not expect to see any Honus there. The biggest gift we experienced at the Maninini'owali Beach was swimming with the green sea turtles. Yes, there were green sea turtles in the water with us. No we did not touch them or interfere with them. We would be in the water and a turtle would surface near us, by lifting it's head. It was fun! Last year we swam with the tropical fish, but no turtles. We only saw the turtles at the black sand beach where it was too rocky to swim.

Maninini'owali Beach was more multicolored than white sand. In fact, non of the beaches I have seen in Hawaii have white sand beaches. I would call them beige.

Rainbow in the sky
When we left the beach and hiked back to the car we saw a mongoose, unfortunately it was too fast for me to get a photo. Getting back to the car was just part of the journey. We had to drive down the bumpy, crumbling, and pot hole filled road back to the highway. We crept slowly down the road. When we were a few feet away from the smoothly paved road right before the highway I noticed a rainbow. This was our first rainbow this trip. Last year we saw a couple in Waimea.

Barry and I returned to our room to eat left overs for dinner. Then we walked to the hot tub for our final night surrounded by warm water under the stars. This time the tub was occupied by a couple when we arrived. They soon left and we had the hot tub to ourselves for a while before a family and then a couple came. Even with all of this traffic I was able to get some time to float. There were even more stars in the sky this evening. I am not ready to return home!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Kauna'oa Bay and Mauna Kea Beach

Yesterday was focused on water and warm temperatures. Our time was focused in South Kohala where it was 81 degrees and sunny. We seem to have a pattern, slow easy days after a very busy one. We spent the morning in the room. When we ventured out we saw wild turkey, goat and mongoose. Unfortunately, I did not get any photos of these wild life.
Ground messages

The Hawaiians have a tradition of writing messages in the black-lava fields with white-coral. They have been doing this for decades. I like this tradition. I see it as an art form, one that continually changes. The coral they us is recycled, because it gets used over and over again. As a result messages do not last very long.

Our first view of the Bay and Beach from trail
Next view of the Bay and Beach from trail
Kauna'oa Bay and Mauna Kea Beach
We spent the afternoon at the beach, Kauna'oa Bay and Mauna Kea Beach. It took us a while to find the beach because it was about a quarter mile from where we parked the car and the trail was not well marked in the beginning. The guide said that Kauna'oa Bay and Mauna Kea Beach is "the most visually perfect" because it is crescent-shaped and blanketed in powdery white sand with calm, clear, shallow (under 10 feet) water.The water was wavy, but not too strong. Barry and I had fun bobbing in the ocean in the waves. I love the Hawaiian ocean.

Waves at Kauna'oa Bay and Mauna Kea Beach

As usual we ended our evening in the hot tub. This time I was able to float because we had the tub by ourselves for a while before a family from Wasilla, AK joined us. As I floated I looked up at the sky which was filled with stars for the first time this week. Earlier it has been too cloudy to see the stars, but not tonight! We have only one more night in the hot tub. I am really going to miss the 98-103 degree water!