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A Photo Review of 2015

The end of the year usually inspires reflection on the year that’s ending and a look forward to the one that’s approaching.

Maybe it’s getting older, but it seems like time moves more quickly now (I’m beginning to hear myself lamenting its rapid passage just like my mother did. I, however, prefer to think that I’m packing in 1000% more into my life, and this makes the days, weeks and months zip by in a blur). So it’s good to have this time to slow down and look back.

Photos are great for doing that. Think of them as moments of emotions frozen in time, that are re-released each time you look at them.

Unlike previous years, I didn’t have many new travel experiences in 2015 – or so it seemed until I started looking at my photos, a lot of which never made it to the blog because I didn’t post as often as I used to.

Still, whether I’m in Montego Bay or New York, I’m in a prime vacation destination. People, lots of them, leave home to see the things I pass by without noticing.

A Photo Review of New York

Take Times Square, for example. I avoid it as much as I can but every so often, it surprises me. Like the night I was hurrying through after seeing a play and saw this: two giant, colorfully illuminated lights wishing Happy Birthday to the late Bob Marley, the reggae superstar who would have been 70 last February 6th.

Times Square Marks Bob Marley's 70th

Times Square Marks Bob Marley’s 70th

Later that month, during Japan Week, I watched as a bride-to-be (winner of a contest) was dressed in a traditional wedding kimono, called uchikake, in Grand Central Station. Japan is a country steeped in culture and tradition so it was fascinating to watch this demonstration. 

On a personal note: I started learning Japanese this year. Hopefully, by the time I make it to Tokyo, I’ll know enough to get around.  

Bride-to-be being dressed in traditional wedding kimono

Bride-to-be being dressed in a traditional wedding kimono – Japan Week 2015

It goes without saying that the arts are big in New York. Here’s a look back at a few of the exhibitions I saw last year. 

I went twice to Columbia University’s Wallach Art Gallery to see Romare Bearden’s collages, drawings and watercolors that he based on Homer’s epic poem, The Odessy. I’m a Bearden fan – I even have one of his collages – but this piece touched me to the core. 

House in Cotton Field, Romare Bearden

House in Cotton Field, Romare Bearden

At the Brooklyn Museum, I revisited Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party, which is on permanent display. Each time I see it, I marvel at Chicago’s vision and her celebration of womanhood.

The Dinner Party, Judy Chicago

The Dinner Party, Judy Chicago

Also at BAM, I saw Kehinde Wiley’s, A New Republic – portraits of contemporary blacks painted against Old Master backgrounds, like the one below of Michael Jackson on a horse. I also breezed through (the museum was closing) Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Unknown Notebooks

Equestrian Portrait of King Philip II (Michael Jackson) Kehinde Wiley

Equestrian Portrait of King Philip II (Michael Jackson) Kehinde Wiley

I rush to see Cecile McLorin Salvant, who at 25, has been called a jazz “phenom.” The Grammy Award winning artist has a voice that recalls Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn and Betty Carter. She grabs hold of your attention whether she’s singing in English or French, her own compositions or jazz standards.

Cecile McLorin Salvant performing at Ginny's Supper Club

Cecile McLorin Salvant performing at Ginny’s Supper Club

When the Whitney Museum of American Art relocated to its new building in the Meatpacking District this spring, it hosted a Block Party that drew thousands of visitors. Although I hate crowds, I was curious to see the new space. Plus, the warm temperature made it the perfect weekend – the one where you linger over brunch, look at art and take long walks. 

Museum goers at the Whitney Museum's Block Party

Museum goers at the Whitney Museum’s Block Party

We waited on line for close to an hour (the museum handed out bottled water) however, by the time we got to the inaugural exhibition, America Is Hard to See, I was so over stimulated visually, I couldn’t appreciate anything I saw. I just wanted to get back outside. 

High Line Park

High Line Park

We walked the length of the High Line from the Whitney (Gansevoort Street, south entrance) to the north end at 34th Street. It was a glorious day to be out.  

In June, we saw Jamaican sprinter, Usain Bolt, run the 200 meters at the Adidas Grand Prix at Ichan Stadium. 

Usain Bolt after winning the 200m, Ichan Stadium

Usain Bolt after winning the 200m, Ichan Stadium

I love going to Coney Island but I prefer the quiet of the off-season when there are no crowds and I can hear the sounds of the waves crashing to shore, birds cawing overhead, walk the beach and look for shells.  

Luna Park, Coney Island

Luna Park, Coney Island

Coney Island beach. Where's Everyone?

Coney Island beach. Where’s Everyone?

Soon the hectic pace of summer gives way to the calm of fall. This year, we hosted Pope Francis, as well as more than 150 heads of state, including President Barack Obama, at the UN General Assembly.

Since my office is close to the UN and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where the Pope celebrated mass, I had to plan ahead to avoid street closures and ‘frozen zones.’ I’ve never seen Fifth Avenue so deserted. 

Fifth Avenue closed for the Pope's visit

Fifth Avenue closed for the Pope’s visit

The first Sunday in November, the city slows down for elite and everyday runners and wheelchair athletes who come from all over the world to participate in the New York City Marathon.  

Wheelchair athletes

Wheelchair athlete – I doubt this is as simple as it looks

Marathoners

Marathoners, photo taken from my window 

New York does it up big for Christmas and the UNICEF Snowflake Star at 57th Street and Fifth Avenue is an important symbol of the season. 

The Star

The Star

A Photo Review of 2015’s Memorable Eats

Aren’t these cupcakes eye-catching? 

St. Patrick's Day Cupcakes

St. Patrick’s Day Cupcakes

When I lived in DC, my colleagues and I would go to Cristfield Seafood for lunch every payday. My favorite thing on the menu: a cup of lobster bisque and a shrimp salad sandwich. The salad was so stuffed with shrimp, I’d save half for dinner.

I returned to Cristfield’s after my White House tour and was pleasantly surprised to find the bisque and the sandwich taste exactly the same as they did the last time I had them – more than 10 years ago.

Shrimp Salad Sandwich

Shrimp Salad Sandwich

Whenever we visit my friends in Toronto, they always have a hot, new restaurant for us to check out. Last time, it was Quatrefoil and I selected this entree.

Year in Review - Quatrefoil Restaurant, Toronto

Salmon Meal, Quatrefoil Restaurant, Toronto 

The first time I had bangers and mash was at The Shakespeare in New York City, just before my trip to London. My writing group had one of our social events here. 

Bangers and Mash, The Shakespeare

Bangers and Mash, The Shakespeare

My 2015 Travels in Review

So where did I go in 2015? I visited Toronto a few times but my major trip was to London. I’ve written several posts about London, Stonehenge and Oxford. Stay tuned for my posts about Edinburgh, where I spent a day. 

If you read paperbacks, I’m sure you recognize the logo. This plaque marks the location where Penguin published its first paperback. 

Penguin

Penguin

Ede & Ravenscroft, London’s oldest tailor and robe makers, has been around since 1689. In case you’re wondering, they also do women’s clothing.

Ede & Ravenscroft Royal Robe Makers

Ede & Ravenscroft Royal Robe Makers

This needs little explanation.

Look Right

Look Right 

Red phone boxes similar to these probably made their way to all of Britain’s colonies – we had some in Jamaica. But with cellphones so ubiquitous these days, phone boxes are not so necessary anymore. After I took this photo, I noticed that there was a guy sleeping in the middle booth. 

Iconic Red Phone Booths

Iconic Red Phone Booths

I look forward to flying into Laguardia Airport for one reason – this incredible view of New York City.

Aerial View of New York CityAerial View of New York City

Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog and for taking this look back through 2015 with me. 

In appreciation for your support, I’d like to offer you a chance to win one of ten GPSMyCity‘s Self-Guided City Walks Apps. The app is available on iOS and Android and you can select one for the city of your choice (Please check the GPSMyCity for a list of cities). 

If you’re one of the ten lucky winners, you’ll receive a promo code that will allow you to download a full, FREE version of a City Walks app. The app includes a detailed, fully functional city map and several carefully selected self-guided city walks.

 
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Linking this week with Travel Photo Thursday, hosted by Nancie at Budget Travellers Sandbox, Jan at Budget Travel Talk, Ruth at Tanama Tales, and Rachel at Rachel’s Ruminations. Be sure to check them out!

Budget Travelers Sandbox

Exploring Toronto’s PATH

My university had one – an extensive underground walkway that connected all the buildings on campus so there was little need to go outside on those bone-chilling cold days. We called ours the tunnel.

Toronto's Path

The PATH

On a recent trip to Toronto, I discovered a similar underground walkway in the downtown area. Known as the Toronto PATH or simply the PATH, at 19 miles, this network of subterranean pathways vastly surpasses my former school’s tunnel.

Its main artery runs along Yonge and Bay Streets, as far north as the Toronto Coach Terminal on Dundas Street and south to Queen’s Quay. This conduit, through which 200,000 people pass daily, connects retail, business, entertainment and public transportation hubs. Add visitors and residents and the number rises.

The PATH’s impressive 4 million square feet of retail space earned it a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest underground shopping complex.

Toronto's PATH

The PATH, TD Centre Food Hall

Each letter in the PATH’s four color logo is a directional code pointing you south (red P), west (orange A), north (blue T) and east (yellow H). In addition, there are other signs to office buildings and major centers.

To me, the PATH is ambitious and intimidating — ambitious because of Matthew Lawson’s vision. Lawson, the 1960s city planner, was able to get a few developers to buy into the idea of including underground shopping in their complexes. This expanded the original and limited 1900s underground walkway that connected Eaton’s department stores, and the newer Union Station to the Royal York Hotel leg.

The PATH Map

The Map

Intimidating, because it is so extensive – I felt like I was walking a maze. Despite finding my way from my office to the hotel the first day, the next morning when I tried to reverse my route, I got turned around several times. I realized only when I found myself in the same spot I had been a few minutes earlier. After the third time, I gave up in frustration and headed to the closest exit, even though it was raining.

As soon as I got outside, I oriented myself by looking for a familiar building and was in my office a few minutes later. I’m not one to give up easily and felt a delightful sense of accomplishment the next morning when I didn’t get lost.  

Some PATH Stats:

  • 1 railway terminal
  • 2 major department stores
  • 2 major shopping centers
  • 5 subway stations
  • 6 major hotels
  • 20 parking garages
  • 50+ buildings and office towers

Have you explored Toronto’s PATH?

Linking up with Travel Photo Thursday that Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox organizes.
Click the link to view other photos from around the world.

 

Toronto: Revisiting a Favorite Haunt

Even though I’ve visited Toronto countless times, I always look forward to each new trip. So when I found out that this favorite haunt was in my work future, just the thought of traveling there made returning to the nine-to-five world attractive. I couldn’t wait to start so I could get on the plane.

In addition to seeing family and friends, I’d be staying downtown – something I hadn’t done since my days at university when I’d crash at my aunt’s and roam the city for hours. I had done that so often, I felt I knew that part of Toronto like the back of my hand.

Time has changed the entire downtown façade now and nothing is how I remember it but I was eager to see if I could find something that I recognized, something I could share with my aunt, who returned to live in the UK more than 20 years ago.

Toronto: Revisiting a Favorite Haunt

My suite at 1 King West

Unfortunately, the trip that I envisioned did not materialize. I’ll tell you why: the weather. The temperature went up and down about as often as the elevator in my hotel. When they started talking snow, I was ready to pack my bags for someplace warm. Believe me, I was not happy.

The bright spot during the trip was my hotel, 1 King West. Located in the heart of Toronto’s financial district, it is close to my office, the Eaton Center, the Bay and Yonge-Dundas Square. And from my suite on the 31st floor, I had an unobstructed panoramic view of the city.

I saw the sun as it broke the horizon in the mornings painting the sky streaks of red, then in the evenings as it slipped quietly away, giving space to millions of beads of streetlights and headlights to try to match its luminosity.

I spent the first few evenings just looking at the sunset. When I finally made it to the Eaton Center, Toronto’s largest mall, I was so overwhelmed by its 330 stores, I wanted everything and nothing. Nothing jumped out at me and I walked out without buying a pin.

Realizing the mood I was in, I gave up and followed the signs to the extensive food court on the lower level and let my nose take over. I settled for an Indian dish of chicken curry that actually sounded and had a better aroma than taste. But get this, they served it on real plates! I opted for real silverware too. Plastic is also available. Unfortunately, most of my meal went into the garbage. 

As I walked back to the hotel, I tried to remember Yonge Street as it was during my early visits. Except for the name, I could have been in any city anywhere. I should take some photos for Auntie, I thought. But where would I start?

Further Reading:

[simpleazon-image align=”none” asin=”1492971502″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Ol9fZp9eL._SL160_.jpg” width=”107″]

Linking up this week with Nancie’s Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox.

 

The Best of Travel 2012

I spent most of 2012 traveling around Jamaica and did a two-part review a few weeks ago but it’s great pull out the photos again and reminisce. Thanks to Michael  at Strux Travel, for helping me see my year in a whole new light. Here then is my Best of Travel 2012.

Best Domestic Travel Destination 2012

Blue Mountain travel

Blue Mountain

Hiking isn’t the first activity I’d pick to do on vacation but Jamaica’s Blue Mountains have always fascinated me. Last year, I decided to try to catch the spectacular sunrise I’d seen on a travel show several years ago. My guide and I left at 2:00 a.m. on a freezing cold Friday so that we’d be at the peak by daybreak. Unfortunately, sunrise caught us a few hours from the summit. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement so I’ve made a promise to myself to return.

Best International Destination 2012

Travel to Toronto

Shrimp and vegetable

My best trips are the ones where I connect with friends or family, or make new friends. In 2012, I returned to Toronto for the first time in nearly 5 years. Toronto was a second home for me during my years at university in Ottawa — it was where I’d go when I needed to escape. I still have close friends and family there so when I heard my godson was graduating high school, I knew I had to attend. I also knew I’d see my friends from school and we’d do what we always do when we get together: cook, eat, drink and talk about life at university. One of my friends is an amateur chef who used to cook us these fabulous meals when we were at school. We still depend on him to deliver.

Travel to Toronto

Variety of food, toronto

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