Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Puerto Vallarta lies on the Pacific Coast and is the chief port of Jalsico estado (state) in West-Central Mexico.  Over the years it has gone from a sleepy fishing village to the third largest destination in Mexico and hosts nearly 2 million visitors each year though its population is 300,000.  I have known people that have been going down there every winter for the past twenty years and I recently got to see for myself why they go back every year.  I suspect its chief claim to fame was when the director, John Huston, filmed “Night of the Iguana” 8 miles south of here in 1964 and the subsequent publicity helped put Puerto Vallarta on the map.  The movie starred Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr and Sue Lyon.  Richard’s girlfriend, Elizabeth Taylor accompanied him though both of them were married to others at the time.  How scandalous!

churchExplore the architectural wonder of the town’s centerpiece, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the focal point of a 12-day festival in December that marks the founding of Puerto Vallarta in 1851. White-washed villas with red-tile roofs, many capped with small domes sparkle in the hillside.  Spanish explorers had great influence on this region’s architecture, importing their arches, domes and courtyards.


For now, I will simply showcase five of the many sculptures that you will find when you stroll the Malecon (boardwalk) in the ‘old town’ region.

caballito de mar by rafael zamarripa, 1976Let’s start with the 1976 bronze of a boy waving while riding a sea horse by Rafael Zammarripa or the Caballito de Mar.  There are numerous sculptures lining the boardwalk, not all of which I took photos as they were generally encircled by tourists or they didn’t speak to me.  However, I might have paid more attention to some if I had done any research before my visit.  Poor planning on my part, I hate to admit.

 

the friendship fountain by james bottoms and ocatvio gonsalez gutierrez, 1987Next is the Friendship Fountain (Dancing Dolphins) created in 1987 by James (Bud) Bottoms, a Californian sculptor and environmentalist with co-artist Octavio Gonzalez Gutierrez, a Mexican sculptor best known for his Vallarta whale.  The use of dolphins is inspired by a Chumash Indian myth in which the Earth Goddess, Hutash creates a rainbow bridge, Wishtoyo, to help the Indians cross over to the mainland, along the way some looked down (despite being told not to do so) and fell off the bridge, to prevent them from drowning they were transformed into dolphins and since then the Chumash have considered them as brothers.

triton and mermaid by carlos espino, 1990
The Triton and Mermaid is a bronze sculpture fashioned by Carlos Espino in 1990 (born in Mexico City, May 3rd, 1953).  (Also found under the name “Neptune and the Nereid”, “Triton and the Nereid” or “Poseidon and the Nereid”). It depicts Triton, a merman, son of Poseidon and Amphitrite (God and Goddess of the sea respectively) reaching out to a Mermaid.

the subtle rock eater by jonas guitierriz, 2006Our fourth sculpture is a 2006 whimsical figure named “El Sutil Comepiedras”, (The Subtle Rock Eater) by Guadalajara artist Jonas Gutierrez moulded out of bronze, obsidian and stone.  When asked, the author states that he feels that negative emotions are like stones which we swallow through life. So this figure is certainly very artistically going through life digesting negativity at a rapid pace yet surprisingly unaffected so perhaps he is trying to help mankind by devouring all the negativity so that we can be spared.  One thing is for sure, you either love it or hate it!  I kind of think he’s cute!

 

xiutla folkloric ballet by jim dementro, 2006
I was utterly enchanted by the sculpture The Xiutla Fokloric Ballet in which a gentleman and his lady are dancing oblivious to the throngs of tourist with eyes only for each other.  This was also created in 2006 by Jim Dementro.  Xiutla means “the place where the vegetation grows” in the Nahua language of the pre-hispanic inhabitants. The Xiutla group was started in 1993 by Professor Enrique Barrios Limón, one of the foremost teachers of dance in Mexico. He used local Puerto Vallarta children to form one of the best troupes in Mexico, one which has toured internationally.  The sculpture captures the fluidity and grace of motion both in her dress and his stance.

Next week, I will highlight some of the restaurants in this beautiful City.  Thanks for visiting!

Festivals in 2019 every month – for when you win the lottery.

  1.   Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in Harbin, Dec 24, 2018 – Feb 28, 2019

    From December 24, 2018 to February 28, 2019, come experience the world’s largest ice festival in beautiful Harbin city, China


  2. On January 29th in Lerwick, the capital of Scotland’s Shetland Islands, a fire festival named Up Helly Aa will be held to mark the end of the yule season. Up Helly Aa! – that’s Scandinavian imagery, myths, sagas and a huge bonfire which takes place on the last Thursday of January every year to celebrate their Viking heritage. ‘Up’ refers to end of an event; ‘Helly’ is linked to holiday; while ‘Aa’ covers all.
    up helly aa


  3. Mardi Gras in New Orleans – Mardi Gras 2019 is on Tuesday, March 05, 2019.
    New Orleans
    Mardi Gras always lands on the Tuesday that is 47 days before Easter. It is always the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the start of Lent. Carnival season refers to the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras, and officially begins on January 6 every year. Although Carnival season lasts more than a month, the parties, parades and fun kick into high gear on the Thursday before Mardi Gras.


    4.  Carnival in Rio De Janeiro – March 1st – 9th, 2019
    rio
    The actual annual dates of Carnival differ and depend on the date Easter falls in that particular year, as Carnival will be 40 days before Easter. Easter is celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon in Spring.

    5.  The date of Holi is different every year in India!
    Related image
    In most of India, Holi is celebrated at the end of winter, on the day after the full moon in March each year. On the eve of Holi, large bonfires are lit to mark occasion and to burn evil spirits. This is known as Holika Dahan. In 2019, Holi is on March 20 and ends March 21st.  Holi, also known as the Festival of Colors, celebrates the end of winter and the beginning of spring. It’s fun, safe, and free. Just remember to BYOD (bring your own dye).


    6.  Coachella, California | 12th – 21st April 2019 
    Image result for coachella california 2016The first major music event in the annual festival calendar, Coachella – California’s glossy, glam, palm-tree-peppered answer to Glastonbury – returns. Expect clear skies, designer-hippie ensembles and not a squelch of mud under foot.  If you can’t get tickets for this perhaps the next one might interest you.


    7.  Songkran Water Festival – Chiang Mai, Thailand – April 13-15th, 2019
    songkran-in-bangkok2
    Stay indoors on the 13th of April – if you happen to be in Thailand. Or step out if you love water… and getting wet! For it’s a given that you won’t escape the water pistols, the water balloons and buckets of water as the Thais celebrate Songkran, the Thai New Year.


    8.  The Ottawa Tulip Festival in Ottawa, Canada is the largest tulip festival in the world and it is held every year in May.  It will be held on May 10th-20th, 2019
    Tulips
    This festival is a celebration founded on international friendship with the 1945 presentation of 100,000 tulip bulbs from Princess Juliana of the Netherlands to Ottawa, Canada’s capital, given in appreciation of the safe haven that members of Holland’s exiled royal family received during World War II in Ottawa and in recognition of the role which Canadian troops played in the liberation of the Netherlands.

    The Canadian Tulip Festival is also a celebration of the return of spring, with over a million tulips in 50 varieties blooming in public spaces across the National Capital Region. The highest concentration of tulips can be viewed in the flower beds of Commissioners Park, on the banks of Dow’s Lake, where 300,000 flowers bloom.


    9.  Glastonbury 2019, England – Worthy Farm – 26th -30th June – 2019

    Glastonbury. This five-day bonanza offers dozens of live stages, attracting almost 200,000 people every year. The event hosts the absolute best of the musical world – names like Radiohead, The Smiths, Kanye West and Beyoncé have previously played here. The event also supports upcoming acts and promotes dance, comedy, theatre, cabaret and arts.


    10.  Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, Manchester, Tennessee  June 13-16th, 2019
    Related imageThe name of the four-day music and arts festival is one of the most recognizable in the world. Founded in 2002 on a sprawling farm an hour south of Nashville, Bonnaroo has since become synonymous with positive vibes, eclectic music, 24-hour programming, camping and high fives.  Artist line-up revealed in January.


    11. Running of the Bulls, Pamplona, Spain
    pamplona
    The  Running of the Bulls is a part of the San Fermin Festival, which runs in Pamplona from July 6 to July 14 in 2019 and every year.


    12.   Edinburgh International Festival , Scotland – 2 August 2019 to 26 August 2019

    Image result for edinburgh festival 2016 imagesEvery August, the Edinburgh International Festival transforms one of the world’s most beautiful cities, presenting three exhilarating weeks of the finest creators and performers from the worlds of the arts.

    Edinburgh’s six major theatres and concert halls, a few smaller venues and often some unconventional ones too, come alive with the best music, theatre, opera and dance from around the globe.  The Royal Edinbugh Military Tattoo takes place at the same time.


    13.  La Tomatina in Spain 2019 – Wednesday, August 28th, 2019
    Image result for La Tomatina in SpainLa Tomatina is the most popular tomatoes throwing festival in the world. It is being observed in the town of Bunol, Valencia, Spain each year on the last Wednesday of August. It is a festival held purely for fun. The festival attracts a large number of tourists in the town of Bunol during the celebration.


    14.  Burning Man in Black Rock City, Nevada
    burningman

    Burning Man 2019 taking place August 25th– September 2nd, 2019 in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada.  Their mission:  The Burning Man organization will bring experiences to people in grand, awe-inspiring and joyful ways that lift the human spirit, address social problems and inspire a sense of culture, community and personal engagement.  This is by no means your average festival!


    15.  Oktoberfest –  Munich, Germany
    Image result for oktoberfest 2016On Saturday, September 21st, 2019 the Schottenhamel tent is the place to be, if you want to catch the official opening ceremonies. At noon, the Mayor of Munich will have the honor of tapping the first keg of Oktoberfest beer. Runs until October 6th.


    16.  International Balloon FestivalAlbuquerque, NM -Saturday, October 5th – 13th, 2019Image result for balloon festival albuquerque new mexicoThe Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is an annual October festival that takes place in New Mexico. It was first launched in 1972 with just 13 participants. Today, more than 500 balloons take to the skies over Albuquerque each year, making the Balloon Fiesta the largest event of its kind worldwide.


    17.  Day of the Dead, Mexico is celebrated from October 31 till November 02, 2019.
    Image result for day of the dead images
    Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, where it is a national holiday, and all banks are closed.


    18.  Christmas Markets Dates – all over Germany
     25th November to 23rd December, 2019

    Image result for christmas markets in berlin 2016 imagesThere is an air of  festivity that fills the air the end of November and continues till Christmas. Heralding the approach of the festive season, the streets are brightly lit, Christmas trees adorned with tinsel and little red bells and stars line the streets and people are out late doing their Christmas shopping. Concerts are staged, both outdoors and indoors, classical and modern. Street plays performed, musicians show off their talent and generally there is very festive and happy air around. This is when Germany is at its colourful best – white snows, green Christmas trees, red tinkling bells and families out on the streets. Come, join in the festivities!


 

Loving Vincent and more

Happy New Year everybody, thank you all for hanging in there with me and I hope that 2019 is especially good for you all!


Vincent van Gogh Signature
Mar 30, 1853 – Jul 29, 1890
“I dream of painting and then I paint my dream”….Vincent van Gogh…

“Loving Vincent” is a full length animated feature film in which every scene is hand-painted and is based on the Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh and his paintings.  Now I didn’t know that much about his life other than that he was an impressionist painter who was supported by his brother in his pursuit of his passion and that he had spent time in an asylum because he had a nervous breakdown and had cut off his ear.  Naturally there is a lot more to the man … genius or madman the line between is pretty thin.  He did not start to paint until he was 27 and died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound when he was 37.  He painted over 860 paintings, wrote 800 letters in that time and sketched over 1,000 pieces.  Incredibly prolific and disciplined, attributes I admire and wish I possessed.

“It is not the language of painters but the language of nature which one should listen to, the feeling for the things themselves, for reality, is more important than the feeling for pictures.”

This past week I watched “Loving Vincent” … released in 2017 – the film features 65,000 frames made by 125 painters over the course of 6 years.  It was a passion project for the filmmakers and was funded in part through a Kickstarter fund that helped to pay for the numerous painters and animators required.  It is fascinating to watch many of his famous paintings brought to life in this manner.

“Real painters do not paint things as they are… they paint them as they themselves feel them to be.”

Vincent van Gogh’s artworks provided endless inspiration for artists, but his tragic life story has also captured the hearts of countless musicians, writers and filmmakers too.  There are many movies on his life.  Don McLean’s 1971 hit song “Vincent” is inspired by van Gogh’s unique perspective on the world. He sings, ‘they did not listen, they did not know how… perhaps they’ll listen now’.

“The best way to know God is to love many things.”

His canvases with densely laden, visible brushstrokes rendered in a bright, opulent palette emphasize Van Gogh’s personal expression brought to life in paint. Each painting provides a direct sense of how the artist viewed each scene, interpreted through his eyes, mind, and heart.  His paintings were often completed relatively quickly, as his style was spontaneous and intuitive, which gave some viewers pause.

On this point, he once told his brother, “When anyone says that such and such [painting] is done too quickly, you can reply that they have looked at it too fast.”

Much of Van Gogh’s work has been lost, as many people who owned his work initially thought it to be worthless. His own mother is said to have disposed of full crates of his paintings.  Though it is impossible to assign an exact monetary value on an irreplaceble, unique artistic masterpiece “Starry Night” which is arguably Van Gogh’s most famous work of art is estimated to be worth well over 100 million dollars.

“It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.” 

In 1987,  “Sunflowers” sold at auction for the incredible amount of 39.9 million dollars.  Even though Van Gogh himself lived in poverty most of his life and sold only one painting in his lifetime he has since become one of the most loved artists of his time.  A sad reminder that most artists never get to reap the rewards and fruits of their labour.

“In the life of the painter, death may perhaps not be the most difficult thing. For myself, I declare I don’t know anything about it. But the sight of the stars always makes me dream.”

In May, 2015, Vincent Van Gogh’s painting, “L’Allée des Alyscamps” sold  at a Sotheby’s auction for $66.3 million to a private collector from Asia. This is roughly 6 times the price it drew in 2003 when the hammer fell at $11.8 million.

In November of 2017, The 1889 painting, “Laboureur dans un champ,”an oil canvas by Vincent van Gogh fetched $81.3 million in an auction just short of a record sale price for the artist.

cafe “Café Terrace At Night” (1888) is my personal favourite of his works; it is a powerful scene which pulls you into it as if you yourself were strolling the cobblestone streets.  The cafe in Arles still exists today and is a mecca for his many fans visiting the south of France.

Describing this painting in a letter to his sister he wrote, “Here you have a night painting without black, with nothing but beautiful blue and violet and green and in this surrounding the illuminated area colors itself sulfur pale yellow and citron green. It amuses me enormously to paint the night right on the spot…”

More Vincent van Gogh Artwork

Fourteen Sunflowers in a Vase (1888) The Bedroom (1889) Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear (1889) Starry Night (1889) Church at Auvers (1890) Paul-Ferdinand Gachet (1890)

Portrait of Dr. Gachet — Vincent van Gogh

Sold way back in 1990 for $82.5 million USD (approximately $148-$152 million in today’s money), Vincent van Gogh’s Portrait of Dr. Gachet was painted in 1890 — the same year van Gogh died. An auction sale, this work sold for much more than Christie’s anticipated — low estimates were predicted at $40 million, and some thought that was too high. Japanese businessman Ryoei Saito thought otherwise and won the auction; however, Saito died in 1996 and the whereabouts of the portrait is unknown though he is stated to have claimed he wanted the work cremated with him.  If true, a tragic loss to the art world.

The #LovingVincent UK Premiere will be broadcast to cinemas nationwide live from the National Gallery on 9th October: www.lovingvincent.film

 

Vincent van Gogh Signature

Lighthouses of PEI

There are 63 lighthouses on PEI according to a 2016 census with 35 still active and 7 which are privately owned.  How cool would that be to live in a lighthouse!  In no particular order are 10 favourites with location and a bit of history.

  1. West Point Lighthouse
    img234Located at 364 Cedar Dunes Park Road in O’Leary.  West Point is the tallest lighthouse at 60 feet, 8 inches and likely the most photographed.  Since it was restored in 1984, it operates as a museum and Country Inn open mid-June till the end of September.  Distinguished by it’s black horizontal banding.  This is the only Island lighthouse that had a dumb waiter which transported oil from the first floor to the fourth floor lightroom.  Due to some unusual unexplained happenings, the West Point Lighthouse had made a list of Canada’s most haunted places.  So for you adventurous types, another
    reason to go and check it out.

 


North Cape Lighthouse2.  North Cape Lighthouse – The biggest advantage of traveling through the western portion of Prince Edward Island to the northernmost tip is that it is much less frequented by tourists. The seacoast is spectacular and the fishing towns like Tignish have lobster, never a bad thing.
North Capes historic lighthouse was built in 1866 and still warning mariners off the treacherous rock reef at its base. The lighthouse is located on a narrow peninsula jutting northeast into the sea and exposed to the elements.  View the fabulous natural rock reef, walk along the beach at low tide, and check out the hundreds of inukshuks that have been built by previous visitors or build one yourself.  Fenced in and not the most attractive of lighthouses but the location is stunning.  Today the lighthouse is almost dwarfed by the giant telecommunications tower adjacent to the lighthouse, as well as the giant windmills at the Atlantic Wind Test Site.



3.  Cape Bear Lighthouse
– 42 Black Brook Road, Cape Bear. Cape Bear is located on the southeastern tip of Prince Edward Island. The coast consists of generally rugged red sandstone cliffs and small secluded beaches. Its high banks offer a good location for viewing seal. The Cape Bear Lighthouse has been in existence since 1881. The lighthouse is a square three story tower with a warning beacon on top. It has gabled windows at each level on three sides of the structure and is open to the public.  The Cape Bear Lighthouse is operated by a volunteer non-profit group, the Northumberland Community Development Corporation. It is open to the public during the summer months. Visitors can climb to the top of the tower to learn about the lighthouse and area. One of the highlights of the museum is a re-created telegraph office.

The "Cape Bear Light" painting captures the Cape Bear Lighthouse

claim to fame – received distress signal from the Titanic which sank off the coast of Newfoundland in 1912.

Painting on the right is by James Charles who gave me permission to post.  Prints are available from the artist.  Click on photo to visit his website.

 


 

4.  Panmure Island lighthouse – Octagonal in shape Panmure was the first wooden lighthouse on PEI – built in 1853 on Route 347 – 62 Lighthouse Road, Montague – In 1984 the Panmure Head lighthouse was recognized as a heritage site and the light was automated in 1985 when the lighthouse keeper retired.  In 2013 it received Official Designation as a Heritage Site.  Panmure Island LighthouseIn December of 2015 the Panmure Island Lighthouse Association, a community volunteer non-profit group, took over ownership of the lighthouse.  The beach, during the summer season has bathroom facilities and a little ice cream shack. It’s incredibly picturesque and not at all crowded.

 


 

5.  Wood Islands Lighthouse  173 Lighthouse Rd, Wood Islands.  Built in 1875-76, the Wood Islands Lighthouse is a well preserved three storey tower clad in cedar shingles with an adjoining one and one half storey keeper’s residence.  Great place to check out while you are waiting for the ferry to Nova Scotia. There is plenty of space to sit and relax and enjoy the view.  Interactive displays on rum running, sea glass, fishing, knot tying, audio interviews with lighthouse keepers, and a climb to the top of the light for some fantastic photo ops but be forewarned as the stairs are rather steep. Wood Island Lighthouse

In 1984 the bottom floor of the tower was renovated when a generator and fog alarm equipment were installed. Recognized as federal heritage building in 1992, it was moved inland 70 m (230 feet) in 2009 because of erosion.

In 1998, the Wood Islands and Area Development Cooperation opened the lighthouse to the public. Visitors will find a gift shop in the lighthouse along with a period bedroom, kitchen, and keeper’s quarters.  It also houses a collection relating to the history of the Norththumberland Ferry Service.  On September 25, 2013, the lighthouse was awarded a Provincial Designated Heritage Place plaque and certificate.


Seacow-Head6.  Sea Cow Head Lighthouse – 198 Lighthouse Road, Bedeque, PEI
photo reprinted with permission of the photographer Stephen Des Roches.  Please click on photo to visit his website.

Built in 1864, this octagonal wooden lighthouse has seen better days. What it does have going for it is great views of the Confederation bridge, it is very close to Summerside,  and has nice looking cliffs nearby. On the downside, the Lighthouse paint is peeling off and the parking area is just a circle of red dirt.

Automated in 1959, Seacow Head Lighthouse has been recognized as a heritage of Prince Edward Island place since October 2012.  Managed by the Canadian Coast Guard.  Mr. M.P. O’Raneghan, keeper of the Seacow Head light, was notable for his long tenure. He was appointed to Seacow Head on 21 April 1873 and served there at least 42 years.

The lighthouse appeared in several episodes of the television series Road to Avonlea


7.  Point Prim Lighthouse–  Point Prim Lighthouse has guided vessels through the southeastern entrance to Hillsborough Bay at the outer approach to Charlottetown Harbour since 1845 and is located at 2147 Point Prim Road, Belfast standing 18.2 m. tall. It is one of only a few circular brick lighthouses in Canada. The harsh weather took a toll on the brick and it had to be shingled just two years after construction. Automated in 1969.  In 2017 – With nearly $400,000 in federal funding, P.E.I.’s oldest lighthouse underwent a much needed makeover and now has washrooms.   Point Prim Lighthouse 1The parking lot was expanded and an open-air pavilion built for hosting events. The upgrades also included stonework along the shoreline to address erosion.  It is about 1/2 an hour drive from Charlottetown.  Open daily from 10 am – 6 pm in season.  Both the chowder house across the street and the bottle house down the road are worth a stop.  The lighthouse is leased by the Belfast Development Corporation and operated by the Point Prim/ Mount Buchans’ Women’s Institute. One of the interesting artefacts on display is an old fashioned fog alarm that is still in working order.


8.  Souris Lighthouse  – 134 Breakwater St., Souris. Built in 1880, Souris East Lighthouse is a white and red square tapered wood constructed tower on the cliff of Knight Point overlooking the town of Souris.  Lighthouse PaintingThe Souris East light station was the last of the 76 on the island to be automated. On June 18, 1991, keeper Francis McIntosh was officially replaced by technology. This is the only lighthouse where you can actually go outside on the top observation deck. Beautiful views of the town and the ferry going in or out, wonderful photo opportunity but again as in most lighthouses the stairs are rather tricky and steep. The Lighthouse contains a large sea glass interpretative display about the history and formation of sea glass.  Run by the Souris Harbour Authority.

 


9.  East Point Lighthouse built in 1866 –  East Point Lighthouse 1At the end of Lighthouse Road in Elmira.  It is situated on the extreme eastern end of Prince Edward Island where the mighty tides of the St. Lawrence and Northumberland Strait meet to create a show of nature’s force. The most spectacular part of the convergence takes place at high tide for great photo ops. The lighthouse is well preserved and there is a small gift shop and cafe/bar adjacent, serving great local beer and plenty of parking.  Many visitors come to the site to view the spectacular scenery and tour the lighthouse during the summer months. The Friends of Elmira, a local non-profit group, operate the lighthouse during the summer.


 

10.  Indian Head Lighthouse – Indian Head Lighthouse in Summerside was built in 1881. Because of the small landmass it had to sit on, it was built with a keeper’s residence on the ground floor with its light jutting out of the roof of its octagonal structure. Despite the fact that there was a residence, none of the keepers who manned the light ever lived there full-time. Most rowed or sailed back and forth to the light every day.   In 1997, the lighthouse was decommissioned when Confederation Bridge opened to traffic.Indian Head Lighthouse print

In recent decades, a helicopter has typically been used to access the lighthouse when maintenance or repairs are required.  Still fully operational but not really accessible though if you wait till low tide you can walk out over the boulders to the lighthouse.  Not a beach walk for sure. Plans are afoot for the City of Summerside to take ownership of the lighthouse and promote as a tourist attraction for the City.


LIGHTHOUSES TO MAKE THE NATIONAL HERITAGE LIST ARE:

1. Brighton Front Range in Charlottetown.

2. Cape Bear in Murray Harbour.

3. Cape Tryon Lighthouse in Park Corner.

4.  Covehead Harbour Light.

5. Northport Rear Range.

6. Panmure Head Lighthouse.

7. Point Prim Lighthouse.

 

The smallest Province in Canada

I was born in the smallest province in Canada – Prince Edward Island, although we moved to Ontario when I was two years old we have always gone back periodically for visits to our relatives.  When I was sixteen, a friend and I travelled by train then bus to Charlottetown (cradle of Confederation) and couldn’t believe how friendly everyone was down there or talented for that matter.  All my cousins and their kids play some kind of musical instrument and sing.  I loved when we all got together and had old fashioned square dances or ceilidhs (kitchen party).  They are some of the warmest and happiest memories for me.

I feel it is my duty to give you a little taste of what life is like on the Island at least in the summer months, as there and elsewhere in Canada we are now moving into the snow season which lasts up till March, early April.  Here is the Reader’s Digest Condensed version of nuggets regarding PEI.

 

The floral emblem of PEI is the Pink Lady’s Slipper established in 1965.  This perennial orchid grows from a height of six inches to 15 inches (15-40 cm).  You can find her in early summer in mixed woodland and bog areas of the Island.  These are rare flowers and you are not allowed to pick them.  Other names for it are Whip-Poor-Wills Shoe, Stemless Lady’s Slipper or Moccasin Flower.  The Lupins or lupines above grow wild and populate the ditches and meadows unfolding a carpet of colour in early summer.

 

Showy Ladyslipper

This is the land of Anne (of Green Gables fame) and is a popular destination for the Japanese tourists who think of her as a role model who personifies virtues that they admire.  The musical play based on the book has been running in Charlottetown every summer since 1965.

Lucy Maude Montgomery published 20 novels, over 500 short stories, 30 essays, an autobiography and a book of poetry. Many of them are still read around the world.

Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables has been translated into 25 languages and the historic site of Prince Edward Island National Park, which is technically Anne’s birth place, sees over 125,000 visitors each year.

Province House

The birthplace of Confederation and the seat of PEI’s provincial legislature since 1847, Province House National Historic Site is Charlottetown’s most significant cultural landmark. A magnificent example of neo-classical architecture set in a beautiful and quiet garden you can learn about the history of the Fathers of Confederation and see how the house remains a centre of political life for Islanders today.  

Fun Facts about PEI  LOBSTER

 

  • The famous P.E.I red dirt actually gets its colour from the high iron content which oxidizes when exposed to air.
  • The Confederation Bridge, completed in 1997, connects P.E.I. to New Brunswick and it is the longest bridge in the world over ice covered waters!
  • Potatoes are big in P.E.I. as it is the number one crop in the province!
  • Ten million world-class Malpeque oysters are harvested annually.
  • PEI is known for it’s lobster suppers and homemade pies and internationally renowned mussels.
  • Seaweed from PEI’s famous beaches (Irish Moss) ends up in your shampoo, cheese and ice cream.
  • P.E.I. is so small that it accounts for only 0.1% of the total area of Canada!
  • Prince Edward Island’s flag was adopted on March 24, 1964.  It mimics the province’s shield, showing an oak tree and three saplings.  The Oak is known as the “Oak of England”  the saplings represent the three counties of the province:  King’s, Queen’s and Prince
  • Charlottetown is the capital of Prince Edward Island. In 2017 it had a population of 36,000 plus.
  • The Mi’kmaqs were the first people to live on Prince Edward Island. They called the island Epekwik – meaning Resting On The Waves.
  • The island was named Prince Edward in 1799 in honour of Queen Victoria’s father – Edward, Duke of Kent.
  • Charlottetown takes its name from Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III.
  • The population of PEI is approximately 153,000. About 46% of the population lives in a city or town; the rest of the population lives in a rural setting.
  • Prince Edward Island is 220 kilometers long by six to sixty-four kilometers wide. There is no place on the island that is more than 16 kilometers from the sea.
  • The 273 kilometer Confederation Trail – is open to walkers, cyclists, runners and wheelchairs in the summer and snowmobiles in the winter. It takes you from one tip of the island to the other on old railway lines.


    Stay tuned for some more information on the beautiful lighthouses that dot the countryside.  img232 - Copy

 

The Sydney Opera House

Way back in January of 2012, my husband and I took three months off work and traveled to the South Pacific.  We flew to Victoria, Vancouver Island for a short visit to our family in Sooke – then made our way to Fiji via Los Angeles where we stayed at a resort to decompress and have our worries and cares melt away.  After that rejuvenation we were off to New Zealand for two weeks (not enough time I’m afraid, poor planning that) and then to Australia.  Perth, Cairns, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide which I will delve into on another day – primarily I just want to tell you about the iconic Sydney Opera House which you see in most advertisements for Australia.                                Here are some interesting tidbits.

There are more than 1 million glazed white granite roof tiles covering approximately 1.62 hectares sitting over the structure. Imported from Sweden. The highest tip of the Sydney Opera House reaches 67 meters above the water – the equivalent height of a 22 story building. Over 350 kilometers (217 miles) of steel cable was used in the Opera House’s construction, which is long enough to reach from Sydney to Canberra.

There are 6,233 square metres of topaz coloured glass used in the construction of the building. The glass was made to order by Boussois-Souchon-Neuvesel in France in a shade used only by the Sydney Opera House.

The design of the Sydney Opera House was inspired by nature, its forms, functions and colours. Jorn Utzon, a Danish architect who won the design competition (a story in itself) was influenced in his designs by bird wings, the shape and form of clouds, shells, walnuts and palm trees. He looked upon nature for guidance when designing, as nature over time combined both efficiency and beauty, hand in hand.

The Opera house had originally been projected to cost $7 million AUD, but by the time it was finished, it had cost a whopping $120 million AUD.

It was initially estimated that building Sydney Opera House would take four years. Work, however, commenced in 1959 with 10,000 construction workers on site. It was officially opened in 1973 by Queen Elizabeth – 24 years after breaking ground.

It is one of the most elaborate entertainment venues in the world and has hosted some of the biggest names in the entertainment world. It is home to Opera Australia, The Australian Ballet, the Sydney Theatre Company and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

The House hosts 3,000 events every year.  200,000 people take a guided tour of the building.

The Concert Hall’s Grand Organ is the largest mechanical version of this instrument in the world, with 10,154 pipes. It took ten years to build.

15,500 light bulbs are changed every year at the Opera House.

In 1997, French urban climber, Alain “Spiderman” Robert, using only his bare hands and feet and with no safety devices of any kind, scaled the building’s exterior wall all the way to the top. (Remember that 22 story height earlier).

The Sydney Opera House celebrated its 45th anniversary this year (2018)

Bridge

The Sydney Harbour Bridge has fantastic views of the Opera House, all you need to do is climb up to the top, do you see the line of people inching their way up it in the photograph above??  I wanted to try this but my husband wouldn’t accompany me and it is rather expensive – perhaps a helicopter tour would be just as good, non!

 


 

10 Tidbits on Mount Rushmore

Located near the Badlands of South Dakota sits a majestic monument to the progression of the U.S. from its formation as a country to the great nation it used to be circa 2016 represented by four of the most recognizable faces of past Presidents.

Mount RushmoreGeorge Washington (1789 – 1797) was chosen because he was the nation’s founding father and first President.  President Washington laid down the ground work for what  today is known as democracy. He led his countryman to the American Revolution to win freedom against Great Britain. For his accomplishments he is the most prominent face on Mount Rushmore.  (This may soon change with the face of Donald Trump being carved into the space by George Washington – just kidding, I hope).

Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) was chosen to represent expansion, because he was the president who signed the Louisiana Purchase and authored the Declaration of Independence.  He put together and wrote the document that not only inspires democracy in the U.S., but around the world. Writing the declaration of independence is a pretty big accomplishment which definitely made the third President a strong candidate to have his face engraved on Mount Rushmore.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) was chosen because he represented conservation and the industrial blossoming of the nation.  President Roosevelt, the 26th president brought the right kind of leadership to the country as the century turned. The U.S. experienced quick growth from an economic standpoint and President Roosevelt was there to guide it. He was one of the reasons the Panama Canal was built, connecting the east to west. He also helped eliminate corporate monopolies and was a strong advocate for the common working man.

Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865) was chosen because he led the country through the Civil War and believed in preserving the nation at any cost.  President Lincoln was the glue that kept our nation together during one of it’s most trying periods, the Civil War. He was behind the abolishing of slavery which was probably his biggest accomplishment as the 16th president of the United States.


  1.   The construction of Mount Rushmore National Memorial took 14 years, from 1927 to 1941.
  2.   Historian Doane Robinson conceived the idea for Mount Rushmore in 1923 to promote tourism in South Dakota. In 1924, Robinson persuaded sculptor Gutzon Borglum to travel to the Black Hills region to ensure the carving could be accomplished.  The mountain that Borglum chose to carve was known to the local Lakota as the “Six Grandfathers.”  It had also been known as Cougar Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain, Slaughterhouse Mountain, and Keystone Cliffs, depending who you asked.
  3.   The mountain itself, at an elevation of 5,725 feet (1,745 metres), was named in 1885 for Charles E. Rushmore, a New York lawyer. The memorial, which covers 2 square miles (5 square km), was designated in 1925 and dedicated in 1927.
  4.   Despite dangerous conditions, not one of the 400 men who worked to forge the monument died during the entire project.  The men who worked on the mountain were miners who had come to the Black Hills looking for gold.  Although they weren’t artists, they did know how to use dynamite and jackhammers.

    The average workers salary on Mount Rushmore was .45 to .75 cents an hour. Talk about some affordable labor. The chief carver Luigi Del Bianco was paid $1.50 an hour.

  5.   Construction on Mount Rushmore—consisting of 90% dynamite blasts—began in 1927. The four faces of the presidents were slowly finished between the years of 1934 and 1939. Borglum died in 1941, leaving his son, Lincoln, to head up the project. But that didn’t much matter—construction ended in October 1941 when the project ran out of money. (The U.S. entered World War II not long after, which likely would’ve ended construction on the site anyway.)
  6.   The head of George Washington is 60 feet tall with a nose that is 21 feet tall. Theodore Roosevelt’s head is slightly smaller, Abraham Lincoln’s is slightly taller. Each of the eyes on Mount Rushmore are about 11 feet wide. Each mouth is about 18 feet wide.  Imagine climbing 506 steps to reach the top of Mount Rushmore-this was how many steps the workers had to climb each day!   The height of a six-story building!
  7.  A cave called the ‘Hall of Records’ sits behind the monument and contains a vault of 16 porcelain enamel panels with text of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, biographies of the 4 presidents and Borglum, and history of the U.S.

  8. The ‘Hall of Records’ played a role in the plot of the 2007 movie National Treasure: Book of Secrets, starring Nicolas Cage.  Mount Rushmore was also used as a key backdrop in the 1959 Cary Grant movie North by Northwest, directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
  9.   The total cost of creating the Rushmore sculpture was $989,992.32, which included wages for 400 workers.  About 84% of it was paid for by the federal government.  Less than a million but irreplaceable!
  10.   Mount Rushmore National Memorial is open yearround with only the Sculptor’s Studio closed from October – April. Visitors in the winter will find it far less crowded –  roughly 5% of the visitors coming through the gates during December – March that would come through in July or August.  The day we were there it was very foggy and we were lucky to get a shot of it at all.

             This giant monument is celebrating its 78th anniversary in 2019

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Capilano BridgeOne of the attractions of the beautiful City of Vancouver, BC is the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver.

Vancouver is a beautiful city—whether you’re talking about the mountains, forests, and ocean or the glistening modern skyline of glass skyscrapers. There’s a reason so many films and TV shows are shot on location in and around Vancouver. If it’s scenery you want, this is the place.


Only 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver across the iconic Lions Gate Bridge to North Vancouver lies the  Capilano Suspension Bridge, originally built in 1889 hanging 450 feet (137m) across and 230 feet (70m) above Capilano River offering breathtaking views to the canyon floor below.

This is a popular tourist site so plan accordingly to avoid long lines.

The park offers more than just the bridge. Its surrounding 27 acres celebrate nature, history and culture in unique and thrilling ways.
On Treetops Adventure venture from one magnificent old growth Douglas-fir to another on a series of seven elevated suspension bridges, reaching as high as 110 feet (33m), for a squirrel’s eye view of the forest. Guides, signage and interactive exhibits throughout the park help you in your understanding of rain forest ecosystems and their sustainability.

The view from the bridge is spectacular, and while there is minor bounce, it’s relatively easy to navigate. The bridge is reminiscence of the one in Indiana Jones’ Temple of Doom “Hang on, lady. We going for a ride”. Equally, or even better, is the single-file walk on Cliffwalk, which follows a granite precipice along the river with a series of narrow cantilevered bridges, stairs and platforms offering views at every turn.
There are other trails on the other side of the suspension bridge.
  • There are 9 different types of trees in Capilano Suspension Bridge Park! There are 2,014 Douglas fir, 157 Western Red Cedar, and 144 Western Hemlock.
  • The suspension bridge can hold 97 elephants. That’s 203 moose, or 4520 beavers.
       HISTORY

CapilanoIn 1888, a Scottish civil engineer and real estate developer named George Grant Mackay purchased 24 square kilometres of old growth forest on both sides of the Capilano River just north of the city and built a cabin at the southern edge of the canyon. The 65-year-old engineer hired two local Coast Salish natives to help with the construction of the first bridge in 1889 that was made from hemp and cedar planks.  Ten years after Mackay’s death in 1903, the bridge was replaced with one made of wire cable.

Rae Mitchell, bought the bridge in 1953. In 1956, he rebuilt the bridge completely, strengthening the cables and the anchors.  In 1983, Mitchell sold the Capilano Suspension Bridge to his daughter, Nancy Stibbard who is still its present owner.

Tickets are rather pricey, a little under $50.00 but if you have young ones under 6, they can get in free.  I think this is worthwhile if you are going to do some hiking while you are there and maybe pack a picnic.  You definitely want to arrive early to avoid all the shuttles and crowds.

Note:  There is another similar bridge not far away, called the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. In addition to being free and “just as nice as the Capilano bridge,” the Lynn Canyon bridge leads to some of the best walking trails in the area and is far less crowded.

Clipart Of A Leaf Inspirational Maple Leaf free graphics Flower Leaf Pinterest……………………………………………….the end!          Totems

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia is one of those cities that’s worth visiting simply because it’s so beautiful.  When someone mentions Savannah the image that first pops into my mind is the sight of all the moss-covered oak trees that languidly shift ever so lovingly in the southern breeze.

The second might not be overly familiar to some … but it is the Daiquiris drive-throughs where you can pick up your favourite concoction at the window a la Tim Hortons.  When we first walked in through the doorway (there was one across the street from our hotel so we didn’t need a car) there was a row of giant slurpee like machines where you had to make the difficult decision of what flavour you wanted your alcoholic libation in.  Daiquiri Drive throughSweet mother of …..I felt like I had died and gone to heaven.  What does MAAD think about all this?  One-eyed Lizzy’s on River Street also makes exceptional margaritas!  If you have time you should also make a trip to Tibee Island and have dinner at the Crab Shack.


A little background on Savannah – not that big, easy to navigate and very pretty squares.

The 22 squares in Savannah today provide locals and visitors alike with a little greenery amid all the businesses and historic houses. At one time there were 24 historic squares, but two were lost due to city development while others, such as Ellis Square, were redesigned and made even more appealing.

Savannah was established in 1733 by General James Oglethorpe and was the first colonial and state capital of Georgia.  Oglethorpe named the 13th and final American colony Georgia after England’s King George II.  Plus, Savannah is a port town so there’s also pirate history and … it’s haunted!   How much more can you ask for?

If you like architecture, you’ll really like Savannah, something visually noteworthy is pretty much everywhere you turn.  Forsyth Fountain.jpgThis is the fountain in Forsyth Park, which is definitely worth a stop.  You’ll enjoy a short walk to the fountain and those gorgeous live oaks along the way.

Forsyth Park in the historic district was laid out in the 1840’s. The land for the original space was donated by William Hodgson. In 1851 John Forsyth, the 33rd Governor of Georgia donated an additional 20 acres, bringing the total size of Forsyth Park to 30 acres. The Park was named after him and still retains his name today.

The Forsyth Park Fountain

Perhaps the most well known feature of Forsyth Park is the large fountain that sits at the north end. The fountain was built in 1858. It resembles a few other fountains found around the world, including fountains in Paris and Peru.  On any given day you can find many people, especially locals, lounging on the benches, taking in the scenery and people watching.

Every year on St. Patrick’s Day the city of Savannah dyes the water in the fountain green.  We just happened to be there at that time but it wasn’t planned.  The ceremony when the water is dyed is a popular event attended by hundreds, sometimes thousands of local ‘Savannahians’, many of whom are of Irish descent.


The Mercer Williams House

Thanks to the 1994 book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, the Mercer Williams House has become one of those ‘must-see’ attractions for many people coming to Savannah. Even before the book came out the house was a beautiful fixture on Monterey Square.  The Mercer House was designed by New York architect John S. Norris for General Hugh W. Mercer, great grandfather of  the songwriter and co-founder of Capitol Records, Johnny Mercer. Construction of the house began in 1860, was interrupted by the Civil War and was later completed, circa 1868, by the new owner, John Wilder.

In 1969, Jim Williams bought the house and restored it. Williams was a noted antiquities dealer. He also enjoyed restoring old homes, the Mercer Williams House being one of them. It was in this house that Jim Williams allegedly shot Danny Hansford in 1981 killing him. Williams was tried four times, finally being found innocent of all crimes. Williams died in the house of a coronary brought on my pneumonia in the same room as Hansford.

Bird Girl
If you are looking for the statue of the Bird Girl from “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”, you could have found it in Bonaventure Cemetery prior to Midnight’s fame.  Now you can find her in the Telfair Museum.

 

There is much to see and do in Savannah and should be enjoyed at a relaxed and leisurely pace.  Visit www.savannah.com for more information or www.visitsavannah.com and receive a free guide.  I would love to visit the City again in the future but for the time being I think I will make myself a daiquiri and relive the time I was there.  Enjoy and explore.  Bon Voyage!

A peek at a few of the many castles in Scotland

Today, I came across a box I had set aside with trinkets and guides and photos from when my husband and I took a month-long trip to Scotland.  When we returned to Canada, his mother who had emigrated here in the sixties remarked that we had seen way more of Scotland than she had in her lifetime!

It was a fantastic trip even though it rained most of the time – a lot like Vancouver that way so we were kind of used to it.  Besides, a lot of the castles and museums and galleries and pubs were indoor; so when it started to rain heavily we just popped inside and when we came out – it was still raining, who am I trying to kid!  Never-the-less a great trip which we hope to repeat again in the future.

One of the many things I had been looking forward to were seeing some of the many castles in Scotland – after a few weeks however, I was complaining about turning a corner and wasn’t there another blasted castle in front of us.  Lesson in this, be careful what you wish for, Ha! Ha!

I am going to break down our trip for the moment and just concentrate on some of the Castles we did see and which ones were worth the price of admission – some were free!  In the future, I would like to re-visit some of these castles and take photos with a drone as they are spectacular seen from a height.  When we first visited all our photos were on film, can you imagine, so we didn’t have the luxury of taking 15 shots of a castle and then deleting all but that spectacular shot that you did get by having a digital camera.

I’ll start with one of the nicest – and more a beautiful country manor than a castle.  We headed out from Glasgow down to Ayr which is about 45 minutes depending on who is driving – so a nice day or afternoon excursion.   Please click on link below for synopsis of castles we visited.  I hope you enjoy and that you will plan your own excursion over there as it is a beautiful country and the people may appear standoffish to start but are very friendly when engaged  – especially about their history and culture!  If you incorporate a side visit to Wales and Ireland – even better!

Castles of Scotland booklet