Sunday, 29 July 2018

A new whirl 2018.07 edition

Greetings! Today I'm sharing some of my new experiences in July. They fall into two main categories: Art and Food! You can tell that I have my priorities straight, art for the mind, and food for the body :)


In July I saw a lot of interesting art work, both while I was in Quebec City, and after I returned home. Quebec City's Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, steeped in history so no matter where you look, there is art and historic architecture to explore. The city itself is situated in a picturesque setting with hills, the St. Lawrence river, and the surrounding mountain range. I shared some of my photos from Quebec City here.

In July I also led a 'virtual' discovery walk in Toronto to explore the twelve (12) outdoor art installations on King Street as posted here. Since my last visit to King Street, four new winners were added. They're designed by Ryerson University students. Resonance and Imprint are installed in the Entertainment District at King Street West and Simcoe Street. Parcade and Caravanserais are installed near St. James Park, at King Street East and Church Street. Here's a closer look at the four winners:

Resonance: A colourful grid with drums made from straps and buckets from local stores. When you smack the hand prints, the drums light up with green and blue lights.

Imprint: This life-sized interactive installation encourages passers-by to create 3D art or impressions by pressing into the pins. You can press your whole body into it.

Parcade: An interactive video arcade made from plywood and acrylic. The 'Countman' game uses little beads to tally your count of things like birds, bikes, or dogs in St. James park. The 'Tree-Thousand and One' game helps you identify the different types of leaves you can find in the park, and the 'Squirrel Racer' provides a fun way to map out the park.

Caravanserais: A wooden seating in the shape of a car parked along the street where tired urbanites can take a rest. Back in the days of horse and carriage, a caravanserai is the term for a roadside inn where weary travellers could park their caravans and steeds after a long journey.


While in Quebec City, we tried a new-to-us restaurant called La Piazzetta on rue St-Jean and liked it so we returned with our friends. We had thin crust pizzas, regular crust pizzas, salad, and pasta. Everyone was satisfied with their food order which is a good sign.

In Toronto, I tried Japanese sushi and maki rolls at Gonoe Sushi. I enjoyed my food order which came with a bowl of miso soup and a small salad. I've been looking for a Japanese restaurant to substitute for those that I used to go to but have been closed after the owners retired. I now have Gonoe Sushi as an option.

There you go...Exploring new art and food is my new whirl in July. I've documented my previous adventures in March, April, May, and June below.


Your turn...What's new for you in July? Which of the four art installations do you like the most? Do you have a favourite pizza place or sushi bar to share? I'd love to hear your comments.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Art on King Street

Greetings and welcome to my virtual discovery walk! Today I'll take you on a 2.5 km (1.6 miles) walk, and introduce you to the new public art installations on King Street, between Bathurst Street and Jarvis Street.

King Street is one of the main streets running east-west in downtown Toronto. It cuts through the Financial District, the Entertainment District, and the Fashion District of the city. The King streetcar route is the busiest surface transit route in the city, with about 65,000+ riders per day.

Earlier this year, Toronto launched a competition called Everyone is King to seek out design ideas to create attractive public spaces on King Street for everyone to enjoy. Twelve winners were announced and the winning art projects were installed in the spring. They are all available in time for the nice summer weather.

Here's a closer look at the 12 art creations that visitors can explore along King Street:

1. #WouldYouRatherTO invites physical and digital interactions that bring people together through friendly banter. Answer a "would you rather" question by spinning one of the two-coloured buoys to the colour of your choice. Snap a photo and share your own question with the hashtag #WouldYouRatherTO for a chance to be featured.

2. The Spark invites users to pedal together to light the Spark. Only when all four bikes are in use will the full effect be revealed.

3. The Present Moment includes an eye-catching road mural and country chairs. It invites passers-by to stop and relax in the midst of a bustling city, to observe the lively street and to reflect on the beauty and tranquillity that can be found wherever we seek them.

4. King Street Causeway is comprised of interlocking hexagonal modules at varying heights. During the day, it's a place for pedestrians to sit and relax, By sundown, the illuminated crystals reflect and transmit an infinite colour spectrum catering to Toronto's vibrant nightlife.

5. Ziggy - This painted zigzag tubular steel frame is simple and playful. It hopes to connect and bring people together as the structure allows people to lean on and hang out.

6. Woggle Jungle - Colourful foam noodles are clustered together to create a cheerful environment for rest and play, for adults and children alike.

7. Everyone is (A) Kid aims to engage the child in all of us to rediscover King Street. The bright yellow milk crates create a cheery moment in the daytime, and are softly filtered by the street lights in the evenings.

8. Watch Your Step! is an abstract geometric road mural composed of brightly coloured triangles. The use of colour creates a sense of movement and visual depth.

9. The King \ St exhibits the city's first modular urban green park. It showcases a unique material made from recycled automotive textile waste and enables real grass to grow. When viewed from above, the design spells out "KING ST". At ground level, the letters act as 'rooms' with seating and benches of various heights. Users can also charge their phones while enjoy using Canada's first smart bench.

10. King's Buried Treasure is a road mural that depicts a stream, edged with rocks, pebbles, mud, and brush, resurrecting the lost creeks of King Street. Animal footprints are painted onto the road using a super hydrophobic solution. This animated feature is invisible in dry weather and visible when it rains.

11. Face To Face or Tête à Tête is shaped like boomerangs, in striking blue and orange, one table angles toward the street, and one toward the side walk. It invites users to watch the passers-by or to gather for conversations.

12. Asphalt Poetry is a ground mural. The poem The City by Ronna Bloom is presented on the ground. To see the entire poem and how it looks on King Street, please click here as I didn't get a good photo with my camera. If I'm able to take a good picture later on, I'll update this post to include it.

We've just finished our 2.5 km walk. Do a return trip and we'd get 5K done, no problem! If you don't feel like walking back, hop on the streetcar and rest your feet. This type of discovery walk gets high scores from me for fitness, entertainment, art, social, and travel if you haven't visited King Street recently. I hope you enjoy it.

Which of the above art installation(s) do you like? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Summer fun list update #1

Greetings! It's been about four weeks since I posted my summer fun list. Today I'm doing a quick check-in to review my progress. 

My Summer Fun List Update #1 (June 21-July 20):

1. Visit farmers' markets, local parks, or beaches: In progress. Since June 21, I've made three visits to farmers' markets, and spent time at the local parks or beaches almost every day. This summer has been hot, hot, hot which makes going to a park or a beach a welcome relief.

2. Attend summer festivals: In progress. I've attended three summer festivals in four weeks. I think that just shows how many fun events are out there. Two of them were in Toronto (HTO Wave Pendulum, Barbados on the Water) and one was in Quebec City (Festival d'été de Québec).

3. Go to outdoor concerts: In progress. Some of the outdoor concerts were individual shows, and some were parts of the three music festivals that I mentioned in #2 above. I attended four separate performances by Mike Branton, Amanda Rheaum, Elan Trotman, and Jordan John. All of them were excellent.

4. Watch new-to-me movies: In (slower) progress. I attempted to watch three movies but only saw one comedy, I Feel Pretty, in its entirety. I enjoyed Amy Schumer's acting in the movie.

5. View art exhibitions: In progress. I saw plenty of beautiful arts and architecture in Quebec City, plus three art exhibitions in Toronto. I'll write about a number of fun outdoor art installations that I saw in my next post. Hope you'll return to my blog to check it out.

6. Enjoy BBQ gatherings with my extended family: In progress. We enjoyed one family BBQ gathering in June. We have another BBQ scheduled this month. Good food, good company in good weather, what's not to love?

7. Meet up with friends in Quebec City in July: Completed! We had a wonderful time in Quebec City. I wrote a post about the trip and included some photos here.

Le Château Frontenac hotel, Quebec City

8. Celebrate my cousin's wedding in Paris, France in August: Pending. I look forward to this trip. I'm also planning a side excursion from Paris.

My summer has been full of fun activities so far. I look forward to enjoying the rest of the season.

How are things going with you? What good things happened? I'd love to hear your comments.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Postcard from Quebec City

Bonjour mes amis! One of the items on my summer fun list as written here is to meet up with friends in Quebec City in July. For this family vacation, we decided to fly to Quebec City and stay close to Old Town Quebec where most of the attractions are. We've been to Quebec City before, however, some of our friends have not, so this is an opportunity for us to re-visit some of our favourite sights in this beautiful city and create new memories with friends.

We had a record-breaking heat wave the entire week that we were there. The daily high temperatures were about 35 Celsius (95F). With humidity it felt like 45 Celsius (113F) but we kept cool and carried on. We did most of our sightseeing either early in the morning or later in the afternoon into evening, and stayed indoor during the day. Coincidentally, Canada's 151st birthday and the Festival d'Été de Québec (FEQ) were on in the same week so we enjoyed great celebrations and music as well.


Quebec City or Ville de Québec is the capital city of the Canadian province of Quebec, on the Atlantic side of Canada. It's about 800 km (450 miles) north east of Toronto.  You can get there by planes, trains, automobiles, or boats as the city is right by the St Lawrence River. The airport code is YQB.

  • Quebec City is a walkable walled city with a unique European feel and is incredibly well preserved after 400 plus years. It's the only walled city north of Mexico.
  • It's a mostly French-speaking city with visible signs of French culture, architecture, and cuisine, including the quintessential poutine. Want French patisserie and boulangerie? Check! Enjoy un petit café? Check! If you don't know French, no worries, as staff in the tourism industry are bilingual in English and French or multi-lingual.
  • Charming Old Town Quebec is a UNESCO World Heritage site, perfect for me to wander, browse, and admire several national historic landmarks in a compact space.
  • It's a city where I feel like a kid, excited to walk along the ramparts, touch huge cannons, climb uphill to the Plains of Abraham to get a good view of the St Lawrence River below, listen and watch the street artists perform under the statue of Samuel Champlain, or take a peek at the artisan shops. The combination of hills and river offers some spectacular scenery (plus good workouts for the legs and lungs!). Oh, if you're not into hills or walking, no worries, there are funiculars and horse-drawn carriages which are attractions on their own.
  • It's so Europe and so close that I can visit and enjoy without leaving Canada.
Without further ado, please see some of my photos below. Click on the images to enlarge them.

HISTORIC LANDMARKS: Too many historic landmarks to list here, however, every time I go to Old Town Quebec, I always visit Le Château Frontenac hotel (dated back to 1893), Dufferin Terrace, the Plains of Abraham, the Citadel, and the various gates such as Porte Saint-Jean, Porte Kent, Porte Saint-Louis that are part of the fortifications.

Le Château Frontenac celebrating its 125th year

Dufferin Terrace and St Lawrence River

Plains of Abraham and the Citadel

Porte Saint-Louis, part of the fortifications

View of Porte St-Jean Tower

Cannons along the rampart

Grande Allée Drill Hall completed in 1887

Notre-Dame Basilica Cathedral dated back to 1647

Notre-Dame Basilica Cathedral interior

STREET VIEWS: There are plenty of eateries, art galleries, and shops along Grande Allée Est, rue Saint-Jean, avenue Cartier, all the small streets in the Old Town, and rue du Petit-Champlain in Lower Town. Quebec City is also dotted with welcoming greenery, fountains, art statues, and flower beds.

Grande Allée Est lined with eateries

avenue Cartier and its funky street lamp shades

rue du Petit-Champlain from Escalier Casse-Cou

Hilly rue Sainte-Ursule towards rue St-Jean

Parkette across from Hotel de Ville

Tree-lined sidewalk along Grande-Allée Ouest

Splash pad in Old Town Quebec

Another tree-lined sidewalk with old lamp posts

Pretty summer flowers

FESTIVAL D'ÉTÉ de QUÉBEC (FEQ): Quebec City summer festival is an annual 11-day music festival. This year, it's on from July 5 to 15 with a great line up of performers at various stages in the city. We were able to join in some of the performances and let me tell you, this city knows how to celebrate!

All in all, I've again had a wonderful time in Quebec City and another amazing trip this year. I'm now back at home enjoying summer in my city, and plotting my next adventure.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about Quebec City.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Wellness Wednesday July 11

Welcome to our 7th Wellness Wednesday link up in 2018! Today I'm providing updates on my June wellness goals, setting goals for July, and linking up with a group of terrific bloggers who are also on the wellness adventure.

The optional prompt this month is Emotional health care tips. I'll share what I do to stay emotionally healthy. I look forward to reading any tips that my fellow bloggers or readers may have to share.

June wellness goal updates:
  1. Meditate 15 minutes daily: I continued to meet this goal in June. I feel that I've got a good habit doing this by now.
  2. Exercise one hour daily: I achieved this goal by walking, running 5K, yoga, or working out in the gym, both at home and abroad in June. The hotel that I stayed at in Warsaw had a fitness centre which made it convenient for me to get my workouts done.
  3. Smile or laugh daily: I had an excellent June as written here and many reasons to smile or laugh daily.
  4. Take online French and Spanish lessons daily, fifteen minutes for each: Yes! I've been doing this throughout the month of June.
July wellness goals: With warmer weather and upcoming cultural, social, and travel activities in the summer, I'll stick with the same four wellness goals that I had in June:
  1. Meditate 15 minutes daily.
  2. Exercise one hour daily.
  3. Smile or laugh daily. 
  4. Take online French and Spanish lessons daily, fifteen minutes for each language.
What I do to stay emotionally healthy:
  1. Move my body daily: Physical activities such as walking improve my mood. When it comes to physical movements, I believe it's the consistency that gets results. Once I establish my fitness routine, I move on to increase the intensity, and introduce small changes to my routine to keep things fresh and to moderately challenge myself.
  2. Do the things that make me happy: I identify the list of 18 FEASTs at the start of this year and I make time for them. FEAST stands for Fitness, Entertainment, Arts, Social, and Travel.
  3. Be more mindful: I pay attention to what surrounds me and try to notice my thoughts and feelings. I find that my daily walk near nature is a great setting for me to be more mindful. I also make time to meditate 15 minutes daily. I'm mindful of the win circles.
  4. Practice deep breathing: Deep breathing relaxes my body. Try to breath in deeply, then exhale slowly and visualize the breath through your body. Do this a few times and I guarantee your body is more relaxed. I do deep breathing at night to help me fall asleep which leads to the next point.
  5. Sleep well: We know adequate sleep is important for our mind and body. When we don't have enough sleep, we feel tired and become cranky. I'd say that when I make time to do the above four steps, it's guaranteed that I'll sleep well.
Now your turn...How are you doing with your wellness goals? What do you do to stay emotionally healthy? Please share below.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Postcard from Warsaw, Poland

Greetings! Back in May and early June, I took a trip to the Baltics and Poland. I shared a map of my itinerary here. You might like to see some photos and read about my fun time in Tallinn here, in Riga here, and in Vilnius here.

From Vilnius, I headed south by bus towards Warsaw, Poland's capital. The distance is about 468 km (292 miles), the longest of the three bus rides that I took on this trip. Similar to the rides through the Baltic countries, the road condition from Vilnius to Warsaw is very good. Again there is no passport control at the border since Poland is also in the European Union. The weather continued to be warm, with a small chance of showers in the forecast for my first morning in Warsaw.


Poland is much bigger geographically and has significantly higher population than each of the three Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania). Located in Central Europe, Poland's population is about 38.5 million people. Its official language is Polish, and its official currency is the Zloty. Warsaw, Poland's capital, is a sprawling city with about 2.8 million people.

After having spent about a week in the more relaxing Baltic capitals, I kind of braced myself for the bustling pace of an urban centre. Fortunately, I arrived on Poland's Children's Day, Friday, June 1, and most of the local residents were enjoying the long weekend so Warsaw was quieter and had less traffic than normal.

WARSAW'S TOP SIGHTS: Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Warsaw Old Town is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It has suffered almost complete destruction during World War II and survived. Today it's a bustling tourism hub with its cobbled streets, reconstructed medieval buildings, and lots of Polish eateries and shops.

At the entrance to Warsaw Old Town, the Royal Castle, the former residence of Polish kings, is located in the Castle Square. This massive brick building is a copy of the original blown up by the Germans in World War II.

The Royal Castle, Warsaw, Poland

A covered walkway links the Royal Castle with St. John the Baptist Cathedral. Originally built in the 14th century, St. John's is steeped in history. The last king of Poland, Stanislaw August Poniatowski, was crowned and eventually buried here. The details in the stained glass windows are simply amazing.

St. John the Baptist Cathedral, Warsaw

Stained glass in St John Cathedral

The Old Town Market Place is the centre and oldest part of Warsaw Old Town, with a mermaid statue. This medieval square was blown up by the German Army immediately after the Warsaw Uprising in 1944 and was reconstructed after World War II.

Mermaid statue in Warsaw Old Town

Warsaw Old Town Market Place
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a monument dedicated to the unknown soldiers who have given their lives for Poland. It is open 24 hours, and the guard is changed every hour.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Warsaw

Guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The Monument to the Ghetto Heroes is a memorial that honours those who died during the unsuccessful Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943.

The Monument to the Ghetto Heroes

Green park space in former Warsaw Ghetto

POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews is a museum on the site of the former Warsaw Ghetto. The Hebrew word Polin in the museum's English name means either 'Poland' or 'rest here'. Within walking distance from the museum is Umschlagplatz, the departure point for Jews transported to Treblinka, with a memorial to the more than 300,000 dead. I'd encourage visitors to spend time exploring this neighbourhood and visit the museum which has a beautiful interior design and excellent exhibits.

POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews

POLIN words on the glass panes

Lazienki Park is the largest park in Warsaw. Lazienki was acquired by King Stanislaw August Poniatowski in 1764 and transformed into a glorious park complete with palace, amphitheatre, and various buildings. Within the Lazienki Royal Gardens, there is a massive bronze sculpture of the famous Polish composer and virtuoso pianist, Frederic Chopin. It was here that the brief rain showers caught up with me and you can see the rain bubbles in the reflecting pond below the Chopin statue.

Chopin Statue in Lazienki Park, Warsaw

If you're a Chopin music fan, the city of Warsaw has brought Chopin to the people by placing fifteen musical benches at key sites connected with his life. Made of cast iron and polished black stones, these Chopin benches feature a button which when pressed play a thirty second of Chopin melodies. They also come equipped with a route map, brief explanations in Polish and English as to the site's relevance to Chopin, and a bar code which when scanned, you'll be rewarded to free access to Chopin music, facts, figures, and photographs.

Palace of Culture and Science is the tallest building in Poland. It was constructed in 1955 as a Soviet 'gift' to the people of Poland. With 3,288 rooms, if one was to stay in a room each night, it would take about nine years to go through the building.

Palace of Culture & Science, Warsaw


In addition to exploring Warsaw historic centre, I also took a side trip to visit Wilanow Palace, known as 'Polish Versailles'. The Wilanow Palace is one of the most important monuments of Polish culture. It was built in the late 17th century in Baroque style as a summer residence for King Jan Sobieski III. It survived the two world wars that swept through Poland and has remained unchanged from the 17th century to the present day. I'd encourage visitors to spend at least half a day to visit the Palace, its lovely gardens, and surrounding park.

Wilanow Palace, Warsaw, Poland


During my stay in Warsaw, I had delicious dishes at the various eateries. I remembered to take photos of the beet salad, soup, and dessert but forgot to take photos of the pierogies (filled dumplings)!

If you're into shopping for souvenirs, there are many shops in the Old Town. Something unique is the striped flint stone usually designed with silver. Amber is also popular here.


I greatly enjoyed my first visit to Warsaw, Poland. It's truly remarkable that Warsaw has not only survived virtual destruction at the end of World War II but thrived. As a result, there are many fascinating neighbourhoods and landmarks to explore. Although I chose to walk when I was there, Warsaw has two subway lines, an extensive bus and tram network, and some dedicated bike paths. Excellent museums are available to interpret its complex history, from the tragedy of the Jewish ghetto to the joys of Chopin's music. I hope you enjoy reading my trip recap and viewing my photos.  

Did any of the information or photo surprise you? Would you add Warsaw to your list of cities to visit? I would love to hear your thoughts.