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Wednesday 30 September 2015

I Promise It Will Always Be This Way

Dancing With Myself.

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Address: Lamport Stadium 1151 King Street W.
Date: Oct 2008
Website: www.jonsasaki.com
  Nuit Blanche is an evening of art and performances which started in France but is now popular in cities around the world, particularly in Europe.  Toronto is one of six Canadian cities that have held Nuit Blanche or White Night.   We attended the event in 2008 with close to one million others.
   One of our favourite performances was “I Promise It Will Always Be This Way”.  This piece consisted of a group of mascots rallying the crowds at Lamport Stadium.  Nuit Blanche runs from about 7 PM until 7AM the next morning.  As the evening wore on the mascots would get to test their endurance.

If I had the chance I'd ask the world to dance.

  We heard the music pumping as we headed towards the stadium. We walked inside and came out in the bleachers.  Dancing with Myself by Billy Idol was cranking out from the sound system and a group of mascots were keeping the crowd going.  There was a snowman, a cat playing a guitar, a bald eagle and many more.  We were instantly caught up in the excitement.  It's funny how if a group of University students were trying to get the crowd going by jumping and dancing around you might get into it, but dress those same students up in animal costumes with over-sized heads and they can easily whip the crowd into a frenzy.

Rock On Panther Man!
Gimme an R, Gimme an E, Gimme an S, Gimme a T.  What do I need?

  We arrived about midway through the evening and there were already a few mascots in dire need of a break  Just as we walked into the stadium, a bald eagle went and lay down on a bed and did not move for the rest of the time we were there.  Some of the performers may have been wondering why they got involved in all of this in the first place.  That was the point of the art experiment.  To see how things would evolve as the night stretched on.  To challenge both the performers and the audience.  We are not sure what we ended up taking away from it all, except that it was a memorable bit of fun. 

Oh Snow, Down I Go.

Map of Our World
Nuit Blanche (I Promise It Will Always Be This Way)

Post # 73

Friday 25 September 2015

Look Kids. Big Ben. Parliament.

Hey isn't that Big Ben and Parliament over there?

Location: Lambeth, London, England
Address: Lambeth Bridge
Date: Aug 2015
Website: tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/congestion-charge/congestion-charge-zone

   We had just finished walking along the Thames from the South Bank area.  We stopped at Lambeth Bridge and looked back.  Hey look !  Big Ben and Parliament!  Hardly surprising as we could see them any time we looked across the river during our walk.  Now driving in this area would be a different experience altogether.  The Griswolds had this experience in the movie European Vacation.  Chevy Chase (Clark Griswold) drove his family into a roundabout and was unable to get out again.

Lambeth Bridge

  They drove over Lambeth Bridge and past the pointed columns called obelisks and entered into the roundabout.


  Roundabouts may have been made famous in England, but they are becoming more popular around the world.  Instead of using traffic lights, the traffic from all sides enters into a circle.  The traffic already in the circle has the right of way.  You go around the circle until the road you want presents itself and you turn out of the roundabout.  Fairly simple unless you find yourself stuck in the inner lane of a busy roundabout.  The Lambeth Road roundabout is actually the least round of all the roundabouts we encountered.  It has more of an amoeba shape.  It is on a weird slope and has trees growing on it and also part of it has a bike only lane chopped through it.

There it is!  I know. I can't seem to get over to the left honey.

  We know that this is the same roundabout from the movie since it is the only roundabout in all of London that provides such a perfect view of Big Ben and Parliament.  If you found yourself stuck in the inner lane you would get that view each time you passed the Lambeth Bridge, again and again.  So even though the buildings surrounding it have changed since the Griswolds wreaked havoc across Europe in the 80s, we knew this was the right place.  One building which has not changed and is briefly noticeable in the film is the entrance to Lambeth Palace (pictured below).  Lambeth Palace has been the London residence for Archbishops of Canterbury since the 13th century.

Kids? Lambeth Palace.  And there's Big Ben and there's Parliament.

  There is a much rounder roundabout on the opposite side of Lambeth Bridge.  Chevy Chase would have been forced to drive through this one in order to get to the other side of the bridge.  He must have had only a simple turn to make and not ended up stuck in the inner lane.  Otherwise they would have spent the night circling this roundabout instead.

A Round Roundabout.

  Just in case anyone was thinking what fun it would be to take their rental car for a few spins around Lambeth roundabout we offer a word of caution.   London has a large area where vehicles incur a congestion charge. (See the website at the top of this post)  This charge is about 11.50 pounds and can be many pounds more if not paid properly and you receive a fine.  We did rent a car in London and we flirted with the western border of the congestion charge area.  We did make many wrong turns as we attempted to return to our hotel and we probably broke a few other traffic rules.  We also managed to never enter into that area and eventually reached our destination.
  Driving in London can be quite the experience on its own as most people need to adjust to driving on the opposite side of the road and sitting on the opposite side of the car.  If you are lucky you might even be able to take your attention off driving long enough to notice the view.
Kids?  We know, Big Ben. ... Parliament. 

Map of Our World
Look Kids. Big Ben. Parliament.

Post # 72

Sunday 20 September 2015

14 Interesting Icelandic Signs

Good Trip.
  1.  KFC
  2. Toilets
  3. Culture or Attraction Symbol
  4. Goda Ferd
  5. Sherlock Bjork
  6. No Tractors
  7. Frogs & Bananas
  8. Mad Kulor
  9. Blindhaed
  10. Tapas Menu
  11. Te & Kaffi
  12. Happy Or Not
  13. Posturinn
  14. Ut
 As we explored southern Iceland, we found that we encountered many Icelandic signs which peaked our curiosity.  Below is a list of our favourites and what we have learned about them.  Some of these may forever remain a mystery.

It's finger lickin gott. 

1) KFC
We did not notice very many American restaurants in Iceland.  We did eat a Kevin Bacon burger at a restaurant called American Style, but we had never heard of that restaurant before.  What we did notice was this Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant with the Icelandic version of their slogan "so good".  In this case it appears as "svooogott" and it is trademarked.  By the way, Bila Luga means that they have a Drive-Thru.

Please state the nature of your emergency.

2) Toilets
There are usually a few things that are important to know when visiting a foreign country.  For example, Iceland's emergency phone number is 112.  Another important thing is where to find the toilets.  We call this the washroom or restroom, but in Iceland it is the snyrtingar.  Thankfully in most places, such as Keflavik International Airport, they had not only the male / female symbols but wrote the word toilets on their signs as well.  We wonder how many calls 112 gets asking "Help! I really need to know how to spell toilet in Icelandic"?
I wonder what is along this little pathway?

 3) Culture or Attraction Symbol
You may see some signs which have a sort of flower pattern or swirl on them.  These point to attractions or places of cultural significance.  It could be a waterfall or a historic village or a cave believed to be full of trolls.  If you have the time, we suggest you pull over or head up the road and discover which it might be.  In the picture above, people and bikes can head down the road, people can use the little pathway on the right and an earlier sign states no cars past this point.  We still drove our car down the road as we thought this might be our hotel, which it was not.

4) Goda Ferd
Goda Ferd means Good Travels or Bon Voyage.  As we drove along the Highway 1 Ring Road we saw this on several occasions.   The other side of the sign would say Velkomin which means welcome.  So as you entered a town you were welcomed and on the way out you were wished a safe journey.  In the photo at the top of this post, Kronan is just the name of a store which is similar to Krona which is the Icelandic currency.

Elementary Miss Gudmundsdottir.

5) Sherlock Bjork
When we first saw this sign we were wondering what Sherlock Homes and the famous Icelandic singer had to do with it.  We have determined that the sign says roughly "Caution! Tobacconist" and that bjork means birch.  This sort of explains the image of Sherlock Holmes but we still have questions.  We looked in the window and it appeared to be a souvenir shop.  We never ventured inside so the questions remain unanswered.

Waiting for the weekend.

6) No Tractors
Weekdays between 7:30 until 9:00 AM and 4:30 until 6:30 PM you cannot drive your tractor into Reykjavik  We only encountered a tractor on the road once during our visit and it was well outside of the city.  We found it interesting that these signs were all over Reykjavik yet the amount of tractor traffic we saw was close to none.  Perhaps they were still standing from many years ago.

People aren't going to think there's a real frog in chocolate.  They're bound to expect some sort of mock frog.

7) Frogs & Bananas
Both packages looked chocolatey good.  One had a cartoon frog on it and the other had a cartoon banana.  We wondered if the frog was just a cute cartoon character added to the packaging as the chocolate was all in rectangle shapes.  We almost bought a pack out of curiosity but decided against it.    According to Google Translate we later learned that the package on the left reads "Volumetric Banana Rod" and the other reads "Volumetric Frog Bits".

It's a mad, mad, mad, mad kulor

8) Mad Kulor
We would expect mad kulor to be used in a sentence such as the following.  "When we saw the northern lights, the sky was lit up with mad colour".  Mad kulor actually means food colouring and is a kind of brown sauce or gravy.  It may also be a carmelized sugar.  We also read somewhere that you only need to add a few drops to a meal so we are unsure of its intensity.  Perhaps it can help you consume your froska bitar.

Watch out.

9) Blindhaed
This means that there is a steep hill ahead where you cannot see oncoming traffic.  Since the road is gravel and barely wide enough for two cars be sure to take it slow and hope that others coming over the hill do the same or you may end up like this highway reminder (below).

That scratch was there when you rented the car to us.

Throw another roo on the barbie.

10) Tapas Menu
This menu caught our eye but did nothing for our stomachs.  While you may not be interested in puffins, horses or minke whales as part of your meal, at least they are local..  We wondered why they offered kangaroo and what exactly does "a la Crocodile Dundee" mean. What is Paul Hogan up to these days anyways?

I want to go to there.
11) Te & Kaffi
This one we are sure that all of you in need of your caffeine fix can figure out.

:) or :(

12) Happy or Not
The Happy or Not company is supposedly worldwide, but this is the first time that we had seen them.  You push one of the 4 buttons from smiley to frown in order to answer the question above. The results are then recorded for the company to get the anonymous data.  This sign was in a gas station and says roughly "How did you like the service today?"  The airport had lots of them asking things like how was your experience at passport control or baggage claim

Posturinn Pall with his black and white kottur.

13) Posturinn
This is an Icelandic post box which is fairly obvious even without reading the writing.  If you are familiar with the British show Postman Pat it translates to Posturinn Pall in Iceland.

Get út of here.

14) Ut
While attempting to exit the parking garage we noticed this sign.  No someone had not rubbed off the O in front.  When there is the accent above a U it is pronounced like two Os as in zoo.  This would read "oot", which is very close to the English "out".

Well, that is our interesting Icelandic sign list.  Over and út.

Map of Our World
American Style

Post # 71

Thursday 10 September 2015

Longitudinal Centre Of Canada

Meet me in the Middle.

Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Address: Trans-Canada Hwy (MB-1) and (MB-206)
Date: Oct 2014

  Somewhere between the eastern edge of Newfoundland and the western side of British Columbia is the longitudinal centre of Canada.  We had flown to Winnipeg, Manitoba and when we heard that the longitudinal centre of Canada was a short drive to the east, we set out for a drive.  We did this despite the fact that our actual destination was in Saskatchewan to the west.  The drive took us about 20 minutes from Winnipeg until we reached the signs.  The nice thing about the Trans Canada Highway is that it is not very busy and the Manitoba terrain allows so that you can see the signs coming from quite a distance away.

  There are actually two brown signs on each side of the highway.  Two on the east side and two on the west side so no matter which way you are headed you will pass them.  We slowed down with our camera ready and fired a few shots out the window.  Since we were headed west we had to head down the highway a bit for the next chance to turn around.  As we passed the signs again we fired away.  The end result is that the picture at the top of this post is the best one of the bunch.
  The reason that there are two signs is because Canada has two national languages, English & French.  That means there is one sign that reads Longitudinal Centre of Canada and another which says Centre Longitudinal du Canada.  We are not sure why they did not combine them into one sign with both languages as is usually the case.  Perhaps they could not agree on the actual spot.  Is it the first sign?  The second sign?  Or somewhere in between?  At any rate we drove past them all.
  The signs mark the point 96 degrees, 48 minutes of arc and 35 seconds of arc.  Don't be confused thinking that the ' and " mean feet and inches.  There does seem to be some debate as to if this is the actual spot, but we will trust the highway signs as they have always helped us get where we were headed.  Also debated is the exact centre of Canada.  This would be where the longitudinal centre meets the latitudinal centre.  Since the majority of Canada is unpopulated, this is located somewhere up in the territory of Nunavut. It is well above any of the provinces and not anywhere you could drive to.  We would place it roughly in line with the country of Iceland.
  Next time you are in Winnipeg, Manitoba or headed that way, maybe we will meet you in the middle.

Map of Our World
Longitudinal Centre of Canada

Post # 70