3 Jun 2019

Hints of summer, a new resident at the Seidlitz bed and breakfast, and multiple short trips

Spring is sort of here... and is still here... and it is June already. Even with our chilly weather, we have still gone out to do a few things.

First off, we have a new person living with us! I know, eventually that statement is not going to surprise anyone... Staying with us this summer is Wendy's cousin's daughter (Christine). She volunteer's at the hospital with Wendy's manager. This opportunity for some healthcare system experience could prove useful for her future goals.

Hiking at one of Hamilton's many waterfalls

Although a month later than normal, our crabapple tree bloomed gloriously this May. It was so cold out that the blooms also lasted far longer than expected. Guess they were needed for insulation.

One day, Wendy was looking at a picture of her father (Ron) and his older brother (Roy) and decided to take a photo of their two grandchildren (Parker and Christine) holding the photo. This also gave me a chance to try out the portrait mode on my new phone (Google Pixel 3a, if you are interested).

We recently decided to go into Toronto to take in a Blue Jays game, stopping first at our niece's place nearby for lunch. Leanne, Scott, Elyse, and Brynn joined us at the game and sat in the next row from Wendy, myself, Ying, and Fanfan. The girls seemed to have a great time; the dads found the one discount beer stand on our level (hint, instead of buying an $11 beer, the same one costs $5 at the Dugout Deals stand on each level of the Rogers Centre).

Ying and Fanfan under the CN Tower

Scott photobombing our selfie

Elyse taking it all in

Brynn likes the camera

Fanfan also loves the camera
 Since the game was a "Junior Jays" event, the girls got to go onto the field after the game (the Jays won by a mile) and ran the bases. Fanfan wasn't completely sure what the big deal was, but she enjoyed it nonetheless.
On the field

Our spring flowers are in full swing now (yes, in JUNE), but they will soon wilt as the heat comes rushing in later in the month.

Last week Wendy took a trip with her manager to attend a conference in Detroit. It was purely a work trip, but she noted that her hotel was directly beside the border crossing as you come out of the bridge from Windsor. They decided to drive there, since it would be too much hassle to fly.

Another last minute trip was scheduled after Adam called us last week and asked if we could come up to North Bay on the weekend to attend the Annual Parade and Banquet for the Cadet Squadron where he is a civilian instructor. He acted as the MC for the parade, and this occurred in the hangar at his college. Over the course of the long day, we got the full tour (inside the aircraft as well - including the 727), and learned how he helped move all the aircraft around to accommodate the parade. We also got to meet many of the people that he has talked about over the last year.  If all works out, the next time we are up in North Bay, we may be able to get a guided tour of the NORAD facilities at 22 Wing, the air force base next to the college. Adam may  no longer be a civilian in the next few months, but that event may appear here in a later post.

The MC at work

The weekend ended with a nice breakfast at our hotel, where they said Adam could come to eat for free. Small towns are great!  Long drives home through Toronto cottage country traffic... not so much.

One last note, here is a photo to show Christine in her uniform at the hospital. Although we frequently drive in together to work, Wendy is the only one who see her 'at work'.

Coming up this week, I go to a conference in New Orleans that I stumbled upon only a few weeks ago. Wendy won't be able come along, as I will arrive Friday late afternoon and leave Sunday noon (I need to get back to teach on Monday). Too expensive for 1 day (while I am in conference). Looks like it will be a very interesting meeting (it is called the Teaching Professor Conference!), and the weather there is likely going to be very hot (30-35C, plus humidity).

Later this summer will see a short trip to Calgary and Banff, then a week at a rented cottage on Sauble Beach (Lake Huron). Glad I bought a new carry-on bag - it will likely pay for itself in the next several months!

Post Germany

Before our trip to Germany, I searched out some historic photographs of the cities where we would visit, with the aim to attempt to recreate some of the camera angles and to see what had changed over the last 70 odd years. This gave us a "mission" to complete while being tourists, and it provided some historical context for what we would be seeing. I recently went over some of my photos and finally pieced together a few composites. We appreciated the history we saw and this simple task made the views much more powerful for us.

The first one was in our first stop, Munich. After a busy morning touring the Munich Residence, we decided to see if we could find this old building somewhere near the Hofbrauhaus. That was all the information we had, but we were successful! Surprisingly, the cafe in the 1941 photo is still there and still a cafe! Having found it without any doubt, Wendy and I used the picture on my phone to attempt to position ourselves at just the right angle. I imagine this caused some chuckles from the many people sitting around this small busy square. The street cobblestones look similar, although the drain in front of Hitler was filled in sometime over the years. In 2019, to the right of the frame is the front door of the Hofbrauhaus beer hall (great beer!), and to the left of the frame is.... the Hard Rock Cafe! Go figure.  A little bit of Photoshop was all it took to bring this to life.

Just outside the Hofbrauhaus in Munich, 1941 and 2019.

In Berlin, the next mission was to find the Brandenburg Gate. OK, I agree that finding it is not a big stretch, but the angle was much more challenging for this location due to the number of people, bicycles, and street performers. We entered from the far side of the gate and the first thing Wendy said was, "Is that a nude man?". I had to agree that it appeared that way. On closer inspection, the 'nude dude' was actually wearing a thong but nothing else - he was demonstrating for some purpose, all of which was a mystery to us (and to most of the indifferent crowd). Not sure if this is a common occurrence in the area, but it certainly made us shake our head. Hope he had sunscreen.

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, 1945 and 2019

Here's a different angle, if you are interested... had to be encouraged to go over to take the picture.

From what we could tell, he was not particularly young...

30 Apr 2019

Final day in Barcelona and a hint of Canada

Today Wendy and I went to the Barcelona Cathedral (only about 150 m away) and took a look inside after going through a long line and some perfunctory security. Huge cathedral with beautiful stained glass. We paid 3 euro each to take elevator up to the tower for a great view of the city. 

Next stop was the Museum of the History of Barcelona (essentially an archaeological dig under the cathedral showing the old Roman ruins). Surprisingly quite interesting. We thought this would be a good rainy day event - weather reports suggested it was supposed to pour all day. Sunny and hot was what greeted us this afternoon!

We later went to the old Roman temple inside a small enclosed area (to preserve it). Interesting, and luckily free. This was also less that 150 m from our hotel. 

Trying to get some mileage out of the metro passes we bought, we headed to Placa Espanya and went to the Las Arenas - a modern shopping mall built inside an old bull fighting arena. After lunch and shopping, we walked over to the Magic fountain before heading back on the crowded subway to the hotel. All in all, a nice quiet day for our last in Barcelona. 

Wendy acting like the typical tourists we see. She is in front of a moving Ferris wheel of bras... we have seen many of these on this trip...

Magic Fountain... too hot to watch it for more than a few minutes

We even found out that they have a Tim Hortons here in Barcelona! I guess this is our clue that it is time to head home.

Tomorrow - Lisbon! Unfortunately, just the airport in Lisbon...

29 Apr 2019

Chocolate, Sagrada Familia, Chocolate, and a market

Our second last full day in Barcelona started (after hot chocolate/coffee and pastries!) with a long walk to the Sagrada Familia - subways were on minimal service all day due to protests/strikes. So much for buying a 4 day metro pass, as Wendy and I have only used it once so far.
Like drinking a chocolate bar
Gaudi's still in construction church was absolutely spectacular.   We took the elevator up the Nativity facade but walked down all 480 spiral staircase steps.

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Getting ready to become dizzy

Nice views on the way down
On the way back, we went to the chocolate museum (with a Game of Thrones dragon in chocolate) then had a siesta.

Later in the day we went to the Boqueria Market and wandered around before coming back for a quiet dinner in our room.