Searching for locations: Toronto, Canada

The touristy things

On the way to the Hall of Fame, we found an ice skating rink

The Hockey hall of fame

The hockey hall of fame is a very large exhibition which would take a whole day to see everything.  We sat through a very informative history of the game and the origins of the NHL, which for people who do not have hockey as a sport in their country, is saying something.

We follow the Maple Leafs, coincidentally Toronto’s franchise in the NHL, and we have been here before for a game, which they lost.  It didn’t matter, I was staggered by the energy and enthusiasm both the players and the fans put into making it a memorable experience.

I’m hoping for a repeat experience.
St Lawrence Market

We walked 1.8 km to the market and it was closed which is about right for us as we have a knack for turning up and the place is closed, for instance, the Canadian club distillery in Windsor, Canada.

Perhaps tomorrow, before or after the game.
Red Lobster

Ok, we’ve been here before and it was beyond any expectations anyone could have for a restaurant chain.

This was no different from the last.

What more could you want, scallops, shrimp, and a fried lobster tail all drowned in a superb garlic butter sauce.

Add a side of mash potatoes, and a 20oz glass of beer, and there is the definition of heaven on a plate.
St Lawrence Market, again

Snowing, but not heavily

St Lawrence market, everything is very expensive, crab legs $120 per kg, lobster, $50 to $80 per kg.  Oddly everything is quoted per pound, and it’s a good thing that we can convert lbs to kg.

It is, to say the least, a disappointment.
Ice Hockey at the Scotiabank Arena

There was a definite buzz in the air, and heading towards the stadium was both us, and many other Toronto supporters.  Blue Maple Leaf jerseys were in abundance.

We’ve been before, and the last time the Leafs lost.

What else is new?

They have had a very good season so far, and are second on the ladder overall, so it was not without the expectation that they might win this one.

 

Never have an expectation.

They lost.

But…

It was an incredible game that was none stop action.  It seems to me that you require a lot of skill and skating talent to play this game.  I certainly couldn’t, and freely admit that I’d probably last about five minutes.

The score didn’t reflect the play, but in the end, the Leafs lost 4 – 3, at the end of the three periods.
Souvenir hunting and other stuff

I woke tired and exhausted, not looking forward to walking around Toronto.

Got up early to do the walking.

Oh, did I tell you, this hotel has a laundry and it is the bugbear of staying in major hotels, not being able to wash clothes?

Breakfast is included, but it is the main meal of the day so we feast.  The selection is incredible.

We had to go back to the Maple Leafs franchise shop to exchange a Maple Leafs Jersey, which was no trouble.

So near to the CN tower, we go in to shop for souvenirs, of which there were plenty.  I liked the stuffed mooses and beavers.

We’ve been up the tower so it’s back to the Union Station and a short stay at upstairs, a little bar overlooking the Toronto Pearson train line.

Time for tasting some Canadian ales, the first a Mill Street tank house ale, the second a Mill Street hopped and confused.  Seriously, that’s what they were called.

The drinking mood music was old hits like Queen and a little bit of country and western.

good view of the trains, too.

Union Station

Like all main stations very large very tall ceilings and openings that lead to the tracks of which there are about 24, and an underground system

Much the same as all large railway terminals and probably far busier in times gone by.
Dining, but not necessarily dinner

Not far from the station, and opposite to clock tower belonging to the old city hall was a restaurant called Bannock.

There I had a Moosehead Cracked Canoe lager, a light ale, and a house special since 1929, a chicken pot pie, and it was very good.

Conversations with my cat – 80

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This is Chester. We’re back watching the Maple Leafs.

This isn’t going to be pretty. While they have won a few in the last week or so they have also lost, and by large numbers.

I know this is a mistake watching it with Chester, the eternal pessimist, because his initial statement, ‘You know Anderson’s going to let you down again’ even before the match started, is a sign of things to come.

Yep. There it is 21 seconds into the game the other side scores.

Damn.

He turns his head and gives me the look, “I told you so.”

Double damn.

Nothing worse than a smart-ass cat is there, and especially when he’s right.

The game progresses, and then the internet dies on me, leaving a frozen screen. Bigger fish to fry now, with the internet provider, where we are, the NBN, which is little more than a joke. Try streaming anything…

It’s the same result.

Pixellation, blank screens, endless loading signs and then a seized screen.

Good.

For once I don’t mind because I don’t have to listen to the negativity.

Yes, they score again. And again. And yes, once again we’re looking down the barrel of another huge loss.

“Just what is wrong with your goalie,” Chester asks.

“Too many games and not enough faith in the backup, I guess.”

It’s hard to explain wat’s going wrong. I don’t know the ins and outs of the Toronto team because we’re not there. It’s the lot of a supporter whose 12,000 miles away.

Perhaps our year will be next year.

Chester doesn’t think so. Halfway through the third period, he walks off, the internet giving up the ghost. We all know how this end, don’t we, he says.

Yes. We do. The food you hate the most is in your tray.

Revenge doesn’t sound as good as it did in my head a few minutes ago.

Triple Damn.

That’s two days of my life I won’t get back

Yep…

I just spent 26 and a half hours in planes and in airport terminals getting home, and lost two days in the process.  The 15th of January just didn’t exist for us.

This is what happens when you fly from Vancouver in Canada to Brisbane Australia, via Shanghai.  The thing is, everywhere way, way overseas is a two-stop run.  We have to break our journey somewhere, like Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Shanghai, Abu Dhabi, and for the sake of managing delays at the originating end, we usually end up with a mid airports stay of five to ten hours.

It all means that when you finally arrive in Australia, you are tired, and look it.  I feel sorry for the Immigration officials who must rarely see people looking good on their arrival.

This time we were fortunate to get back in the morning.  To save being picked up by relatives we arranged for a limousine service, and it worked out well.

I couldn’t say the same for some of the pickup services overseas, but that was more the fault of the travel agent here than anything else.

It only reinforced my thoughts on travel agents, some are excellent, and some are complacent, relying too much on travel wholesalers whose knowledge of the products they sell is appalling.

The original bookings were fine, the agent we used knew her stuff.  But she left and someone else took over, and not so good I’m afraid.

However…

On the whole, it was an incredible expedition, from temperatures of 30 plus celsius to temperatures of -21 degrees Fahrenheit, and rarely above 6 degrees Fahrenheit.

The highlight:  Lake Louise in Canada.  Everyone should see this place in Winter at least once in their lifetime.  Certainly, my wife’s 65th birthday, spent there, was something she will never forget.

And the sleigh ride, in -14 or -15 degrees, well, we might be eligible to be declared start staring mad, but seeing the frozen waterfall was just another of those magical moments that reinforces why we should be preserving the planet, not trying to destroy it.

But…

We’re back home and glad to be so.

 

 

It’s dark, it’s late, we’re waiting for the rain…

Yes, it’s dark and late at night on this side of the world, and I’m guessing where you are, it’s probably winter, the sun’s gone, the day is cold, even freezing, and you’ve got better things to do than go outside and shovel snow

Here, in the so-called land down under, which surprisingly a lot of people from the other side of the world do not know about…

Now, hang on, that can’t be true, because we all know the world is round and there had to be something or somewhere opposite.  I know that north we have China, and Europe, and further away, the United States.

Been to China, and Europe and the United States, so I know you’re all there, somewhere.

And, as you can see, the impending rain and the rather warm night has amped up the boredom factor and pushing me to do anything other than writing.  I have three jobs I’m supposed to be doing,

  1. Writing the next Walthenson case, the next Private Detective novel
  2. Writing several episodes of a serial story about surveillance going wrong, and
  3. Finishing off the last of the edits for “Strangers We’ve Become” the last before publication (Yea!!!!)

None of them is appealing to me at the moment.

Instead, I find myself looking at what is showing on Winter TV in the US and Canada, trying to find out when Murdoch Mysteries restarts, what’s going to happen next in God Friended Me, and curiously interested in a show called Emergence.

Fascinating, they are, but no Murdoch yet.  Guess I’ll have to settle for Masnifenst, series 2, FBI, and something called Lincoln Rhyme.

Then there’s one of my favorites, Elementary, on the re-runs.  I’m a Sherlock Holmes nut, but what’s getting me is the fact Lucy Liu has blondish hair.  Sorry, it’s distracting.

There’s the InBetween I’m watching again, you know, that spooky place between life and death, much the same as saying I see dead people, hang on, didn’t Bruce Willis say that once upon a time?  It was interesting, but will. there be a second series.

But, the thing I like most about northern winters, the ice hockey.  Yes, we are huge Maple Leaf fans, and even though they are having an up and down year so far, and a change of coach which doesn’t seem to be helping, we are glued to the TV watching the live-action.  Fortunately, that’s on at about 9 am or 10 am here so we can watch it at a respectable hour.

Good thing, then I’m almost retired, except for the writing thing.

There’s more, but I better get back to work.

 

 

Searching for locations: Waitomo caves house, North Island, New Zealand

A relatively unassuming lane leads to what could be described as a grand hotel, called Waitomo Caves Hotel.

The original hotel was built in 1908, and it was later extended in 1928 it was extended.  Part of it is ‘Victorian’, based on an eastern Europe mountain chalet, and part of it is ‘Art Deco’, the concrete wing, and a feature, if it could be called that, is none of the four corners are the same.

Views from the balcony show part of the surrounding gardens

and the town of Waitomo in the distance.

In gloomy weather, it does look rather spooky, and I suspect there may be a ghost or two lurking somewhere in the buildings.

I’ve always wanted to be in a disaster movie

But not one where the plane crashes, though the figurative kinds of disasters always seem to feature, aeroplanes, airports, and passengers.

Certainly, every time I go near an aeroplane there’s a plethora of detail available for the next plotline, or even a short story.

It seems almost inevitable when travelling anywhere on a plane that something can and will go wrong.  Not necessarily with the plane, but that happens too, but rarely, if ever, have I been on an overseas flight that has not left or arrived late for any one of a multitude of reasons.

The last was just one in a long line of many…

It is not always a problem with the aircraft that causes delays.  Whilst often it is a case of technical difficulties, but this time it wasn’t.

We are missing a passenger.

Yep, on a plane that carries 301 passengers, we were missing the one.  And because they have not made the boarding cutoff, their baggage has to be offloaded.  Since there are 300 plus other bags to sort through, it will take time.

Scheduled departure time 8:45, an announcement about the offloading was at 8:35, it’s now 8:50.  Ok, now we’re closing the front door.  Let’s see what happens now.

8:52, the captain says we’re sorted, but…

Oh, the dreaded we’ve missed our slot and now have wait for the next.  Last time that happened, in France, we waited an hour.  In New York, Newark actually we just pulled over to the side of the taxi area and switched off the engines.

This is Brisbane, not so large an airport so it may not be a long wait.

9:01, we’re pushing back.  Finally a slot.

But…

There are five other planes in front of us, so it’s all adding up to a delayed arrival.  9:15 and still taxiing.

9:30, 45 minutes late we finally take off.  Let’s see how this affects our arrival time.  The flight time is advised to be 2 hours and 25 minutes.  This means if the flying time is correct, we should be landing in Auckland at 13:55 pm, local time.  New Zealand is, by the way, two hours ahead of Brisbane.

11:45, (or 13:45 local time) we commence our descent.  Landed at 14:10 local time.

It could have been worse.

What am I saying, we have now to negotiate immigration and then find our baggage?

Searching for locations: Central Park, New York

It’s a place to go and spot the movie stars, or perhaps their dogs.

It’s a place to go for long walks on idyllic spring or autumn days

It’s a place to go to look at a zoo, though I didn’t realize there was one until I made a wrong turn.

It’s a place to go for a horse and carriage ride, although it does not last that long

It’s a place to go to look at statues, fountains, architecture, and in winter, an ice skating rink

I’m sure there’s a whole lot more there that I don’t know about.

I have to say I’ve only visited in winter, and the first time there was snow, the second, none.

Both times it was cold, but this didn’t seem to deter people.

But…

We decided to go visit another part of the park, this time walking to West 67th Street before crossing Central Park West and into the park where Sheep Meadow is.

Once upon a time sheep did graze on the meadow, but these days it is designated a quiet area inspiring calm and refreshing thoughts, except for a period in the 1960s where there was more than one counter-culture protest, or love in, going on.

And, there’s the sign to say it was Sheep Meadow,

and that’s the meadow behind the sign,

Well, I don’t see any sheep, but of course, that’s not why the meadow is named or should there be any sheep on it.  That greenery that can be seen, restoring for the spring, was a very expensive addition to the park.

As a matter of fact, there is nothing was on it, because signs were up to say the meadow was closed for the winter, a new and interesting variation on the ‘Don’t Walk On The Grass’ signs.

I’m sure I could climb the fence, or, maybe not.  I’m a bit old to be climbing fences.

So, unable to walk on the grass, we tossed an imaginary coin, should we go towards West 110th Street, or back to West 59th Street.

West 59th Street won.

and, just in case we had any strange ideas about walking on the grass, the fence was there to deter us.  Perhaps if we had more determination…

One positive aspect of the park is that you could never get lost, and the tall buildings surrounding the park are nearly always visible through the trees, more so in winter because there is no foliage, maybe less so later in the year.

There is also a lot of very large rocky type hills, or outcrops where people seem to stand on, king of the mountain style, or sit to have a picnic lunch, quickly before it freezes.

Yes, it is cold outside and seems more so in the park.

I wondered briefly if it ever got foggy, then this place would be very spooky, particularly after the sun goes down.