Saturday, December 29, 2007

Year of the Rat 2008 Chinese Horoscope Predictions

What's in store for 2008 -- the Year of the Rat -- courtesy of the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

Read on for a bit of fun and perhaps some insight. Those of you with birthdays in the first few weeks of a calendar year should check the date of the Chinese New Year in the year you were born. Chinese New Year is a moveable feast, and so does not occur on January 1 each year; it can occur any time within a 6 week period. In 2008, Chinese New Year is February 7.

Rat: 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008

A good year is in store for you. You’ll be successful in romance, but don’t get yourself into tricky situations. Couples will strengthen bonds and there’s strong possibility of a serious union for singles. But tensions may arise: remember to accept your mate’s character. The third quarter may find you alternating between cynicism and dreams. Remember you need someone who appreciates you.

At the end of the year, singles may be attracted by someone unsuitable. You may change company or the kind of work that you do. Try to show imagination in the workplace, but be calm and flexible to avoid clashes with colleagues. Perseverance will pay off and you should be offered great opportunities. The beginning of the year should see your financial situation improve, and will be the right time for many Rats to buy property. Remember not to be too extravagant in the third quarter of the year.

Ox: 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997

Your standard of living will definitely improve in the coming year. It will also be a good time to reorganise your finances. Sentimental relationships should be healthy if you treat your mate well. Problems between you will arise about money or time management – you should be able to solve these by the end of the year. Singles should take more initiatives and can hope to meet someone exceptional in the third quarter of the year, and there should be weddings in the offing.

The beginning of the year will be favourable to your career. Hard work and perseverance will be key to your success. You’ll soon earn congratulations and you’ll make some interesting new contacts. Don’t overwork or be too pushy, and avoid gossiping. Don’t be absent minded or you’ll miss a golden opportunity. At the end of the year, choose your associates carefully for assured success. Meditation and reading may help you lead a more regular and less stressful life.

Tiger: 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998

This is a time of progress for all Tigers in terms of both career luck and wealth. Although you’re basically faithful and constant, you’ll dally in love at the beginning of the year. Your relationships will become unstable – not a good time for singles to engage their hearts. At work, you may encounter some difficulties at the beginning of the year. Stay strong and act without delay to take up challenges.

This attitude will allow you to turn the situation around, then you’ll be in a position to launch the projects close to your heart. By the end of the year you’ll have new professional opportunities to choose from. Rely on your own intuition to make your decision. You may perhaps have to move for your work. In any case, you’ll have to adapt, but it will pay off. Just make sure you handle your relationships with your supervisors, colleagues and friends wisely.

Rabbit: 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999

Your luck is still increasing. This year should be better than last year. At first, you’ll enjoy professional stability. After delays, you’ll be able to define new goals. You may turn to a more independent or more creative activity. The time is propitious for you to learn a new discipline and make contacts. You could embark on a new career. At the end of the year, you’ll be motivated and you’ll manage to establish good relationships with your colleagues.

Put money aside at the beginning of the year. Avoid lending money to someone close to you and take care not to get tricked in the second quarter. The end of the year may be difficult financially but you should be able to overcome this as long as you don’t gamble. The last month of the year however may be a good one for speculations. Singles will have numerous flirtations and unusual and unexpected romantic encounters at the beginning of the year.

Dragon: 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000

Luck will smile on the Dragon this year. You’ll prosper in many activities and you’ll be lucky in love. What follows might not seem the most golden of prospects, but remember that you are gaining wisdom all the while! You’ll be at your most seductive at the beginning of the year: beware of possible complications. If you’re in a relationship, don’t let it become monotonous. Singles can expect very good luck in the third quarter.

At work, be sure to solve problems one after another. You’ll need to fight to be accepted for your true worth, after that all will go well, until the end of the year when you may need to seek counsel. If you want to invest in real estate, the third month will be propitious. At the end of the year, be very careful in money matters. Time will bring a solution to any problems. You’ll also succeed in an important financial transaction concerning family possessions.

Snake: 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001

This year you should avoid burying your head in the sand. The stars will greatly favour your love life and you’ll be very emotionally involved at the beginning of the year. Your professional activities will risk of being put on the back burner, especially during the first two months. But by the end of the year, if you’re living as a couple, your relationship will be stormy. Be courageous and address the problem: you’ll realise that it’s probably just the result of a misunderstanding.

You’ll have to fight so as to assert yourself at work and you shouldn’t be too demanding. You’ll soon be able to take the initiative to expand or direct your role, and your input will be appreciated. You should seek the advice of competent person regarding your finances otherwise you may make a bad choice or miss an opportunity. You should be able to increase your capital by the end of the year.

Horse: 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002

This will be the year of adventures in love for the Horse. It will be up to you whether or not to choose short-lived and inconsequential affairs. Other aspects of the Horse’s horoscope look bright. In the first quarter you’ll be easier to live with than ever. Singles will fall in love time and time again in the second quarter but should keep their heads and wait patiently. The third quarter will be extremely favorable to a new amorous start.

The fourth quarter should permit you to get closer to your mate or partner. Those with creative careers will be especially favoured at work during the first three months of the year. But in the second quarter, you’ll have the impression of being misused. Stay patient and confident. You’ll find yourself in a whirl of social occasions which will bring you fruitful contacts. By the end of the year, you’ll be appreciated by your superiors and will feel clear-headed and enthusiastic.

Goat: 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003

Enthralling encounters are in store for singles; married couples might even expect second honeymoons. But then old conflicts will re-emerge. Take the responsibility to settle these with calm discussion – you will find this surprisingly easy. Good romantic prospects are in store the whole year – except you should guard against others who want to sow discord between you and your mate. Singles should still be having adventures at the end of the year but will probably not be able to identify any suitable long-term partners for the time being.

You’ll make slow but sure progress in your career, however you should be wary of taking too long over decisions and thereby closing the door to exciting possibilities. You’ll gradually set priorities, make decisions, become more proactive and then be able to make worthwhile proposals. Your financial prospects at the end of the year are excellent. It’s a good idea to join cultural or social clubs this year. You may also make an interesting voyage.

Monkey: 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004

You’re a traditionalist and you might feel uncomfortable in the liberal atmosphere that will prevail in this coming Year of the Rat. You’ll need to make sure this doesn’t upset your family relationships. But you’re also very resilient, so remember your sense of humour and be content. The end of the year may see problems in your relationships but you are well armed to overcome these. The first quarter is a time to be ambitious at work and might also bring about significant changes.

Rapid progression will continue, and you should find your leadership qualities coming into play. This would be a good year to take up professional training, and perhaps also to further other extra-curricular activities. Don’t hesitate to ask for a pay raise at the beginning of the year. In the second quarter it would be best to seek advice to reorganise your assets. In the third quarter, think twice before making an important transaction.

Rooster: 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005

The Rooster is a positive and optimistic sign. You may sometimes not be very sensible, but you can always keep a sense of proportion. These qualities will help you a great deal this coming year, because you will probably do some silly things. Singles will meet someone very important at the beginning of the year. Those in a relationship will have problems in the second quarter and should be careful not to let them get out of proportion.

Things will go well for some months – in fact you will enjoy domestic bliss – and then this cycle will repeat itself at the end of the year. Your career will show positive development as long as you can rise above rumours and are not impatient. You may encounter problems which are of your own making – perhaps something that you did in the past – but you will be able to tackle this. That will be an important marker for you.

Dog: 1910, 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006

This year should be fruitful and happy for you if you can match your inventiveness and passion at work with equal spirit in your home life. It will be a time for strengthening relationships and for babies. Singles can hope to find a mate – perhaps even on a holiday romance. And if that is short-lived there’ll still be hope for something more enduring to follow soon.

If you’re married, make sure you keep on top of things with your in-laws as there’s potential for trouble from that part of your life. You should also take special care with your family accounts to avoid possible arguments. You’ll be brimming with ideas at work, and if you don’t get too carried away with flights of fancy you should reap good rewards. You’ll find the guts to overcome obstacles and will learn good lessons in the process. Just don’t let yourself be too forthright with your superiors!

Pig: 1911, 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007

You may have some financial difficulties ahead but you should not despair. You certainly won’t be brought to ruin, you just need to be patient for the long term for this part of your life to give good returns. In the meantime you would do well to remain thoughtful and groom your interests in cultural pastimes. Other areas of your life however will be more than satisfying.

Singles can expect to be whisked into a glorious romance, perhaps with someone who you have had your sights set on for a while. Married Pigs should experience a new lease of joy in their partnership. You’re in a good position to build on your experience at work this year, and you’ll enjoy good professional relationships. It’s the ideal time for you to focus on what you really want and to go for it, but don’t be greedy. And don’t overwork yourself!

Disclaimer Feature articles including this one, compiled by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), are for reference only. Whilst the HKTB has endeavoured to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty or guarantee, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy. The HKTB accepts no liability for errors or omissions.

If you plan to travel to China or other Asian countries in early February, it's a good idea to book your hotels, etc well in advance for this very busy time of year.
To see pictures and travel information for Hong Kong and surrounding Hong Kong Islands, pop over to my photo site

To see what's in store for visitors to Hong Kong in the coming months and for Chinese New Year Celebrations, see Hong Kong Tourism Board.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Winter Getaway Puerto Plata Dominican Republic

I've booked my holiday in Puerto Plata DR! Yes, it was on impulse, prompted by a very good (read Cheap -- under a thousand dollars, all taxes and single supplement included at a 4+ star resort) all-inclusive package from Toronto. Catch is, I have to be ready to travel in 10 days.

What started out as my comparing possible winter getaways to Turks and Caicos, Bermuda or Costa Rica turned into Puerto Plata. (See earlier posts for comparing air fares and Bermuda vs Turks etc. )

Bonus! This vacation package is on WestJet, a Canadian carrier with a good reputation. This will be my first flight on Westjet and I am looking forward to seeing for myself if the service is as good as others maintain.

I've been to the Dominican Republic but this time, rather than stay in Sosua, I want to check out the resorts at Playa Dorada (see Puerto Plata hotels, resorts), the large complex closer to Puerto Plata. This trip, I plan to take as many excursions as I possibly can in the all too short week I will be there.

I hope the whales aren't following their calendar as I arrive about a week before the start of the official whale watching season at Samana. I'm also early for the Cabarete Windsurfing Championships, and Carnaval. Taking my holiday a few weeks before these major tourism draws is likely the reason I was able to get such a good price for my trip.

This is a trade off I can easily live with.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Free Parking Port Credit, River Ice starts to form, Snow on Shawnmarr

Here's one of the parking meters in Port Credit, all nicely wrapped up for the holidays! The 'free Parking' in December is courtesy of the Port Credit (Ontario, Canada) Business Association, and a real help when shopping in the busy little village.

The lamp posts, too, are nicely done up in a simple, old-fashioned style, though they look their best at night with the twinkle lights on.

Along the Credit River near the landmark lighthouse (replica), these mallards steer clear of the ice sheets that are forming on the surface near the river bank next to the library.

A closer look at the encroaching ice, looking east towards Port Credit Memorial Park. Summertimes' canoers are gone for the season.

On Shawnmarr Road, in the townhouses, there's precious little snow still. And that's the way I'd like it to stay!

I took these photos the first week in December. A week later, the snow depth is about the same. See more pictures of Mississauga here. and of the Shawnmarr Road area at this blog post for December 2008, before and after the storm.

Map of Port Credit

View Larger Map

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Lake Ontario Port Credit Canada Late November

No earth shattering news to report, just a few pictures of Port Credit - Mississauga from the past few weeks, starting with one from mid November, on the Lake Ontario shoreline at Rhododendron Park.

The long pile of shells was left by summer's stormy waves. (See what the Lake Ontario shore looked like in May on my earlier post).

Here's a close up of the shells. I was told they are zebra mussel remains.

I believe this is a type of maple, from the leaves. In any event, I love the color!

The picture above was taken a few weeks later, the end of November. It's the willow tree on Lakeshore Road at the entrance to Rhododendron Park (same page in the blog as the lakeshore above). I must be a creature of habit when I go for a walk, as I seem to have the same pictures in different seasons!

This grey squirrel stood stock still for more than a minute, but I knew if I moved closer for the better shot, he'd be off like one!

So that's the pictures from mid to late November. Now I'll post the ones I took today.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Travel To U.S. From Canada Take Your Photo ID

Update April 2009
The date for requiring passports for land and sea crossings to from US Canada changed several times. The current date is June 1, 2009. (Air travellers already need a passport).

Canadians see this link for details.
US (Americans) see this link for details.

Original post backgrounder:
As of January 31, 2008, travel to the U.S. from Canada, by land or sea, means making sure you have the required documents, or you won't be allowed in.

Since last January, the U.S. has required all air travelers show passports when entering the U.S.A., or when just flying through the U.S. in transit to a winter sun destination. But since many of those travelers who were just passing through were heading to countries that DID require a passport to enter, this wasn't a huge issue. They already had one.

Now, effective January 31, 2008, American law requires that visitors arriving by land and / or water (cruise ships, ferries, etc.) also must have a government-issued photo ID. The photo ID requirement offers several options to enter the U.S. by land or sea:
  • THIS: driver's licence AND a birth certificate or citizenship card (2)
  • Or THIS: Under 16: Birth Certificate (1)
  • OR THIS: Valid Passport (1)
To enter by air, you still need a passport. But even those Canadians who drive from Canada to spend the winter in the southern US. and don't carry a passport should consider getting one. Though it's not required yet, it likely will be at some point, and sooner than later. These 'Snowbirds' who drive south could find themselves having to fly home in the event of an emergency, and trying to arrange a passport or travel documents while out of the country would be a hassle you don't need.

See more information about passports for Canadians, and also an earlier post about frequent land crossers special card.

If you're planning a trip, why not check out my travel tips section.

Monday, November 05, 2007

comparing Air Transat, Air Canada Fares to Costa Rica

Update Traveled Transat Costa Rica
Today I ventured back to the Air Transat site. I had looked earlier under their packages for 'Latin America' (assuming that would include Costa Rica, silly me!) and found the link inactive. So when I looked more closely today, I clicked the 'South' link -- and there was Costa Rica.

The Transat site is easy to use - pick your departure city, enter dates in the easiest-to-use calendar I've seen, and choose a destination, scroll down and click GO.

Up come 34 possible tour packages (with fast loading itinerary and hotel details, pics and info) for February 5 departures to San Juan CR. I noticed one for Costa Rica Eco-tour, for 8 days, 7 nights, air, airport pickup and delivery, tour, hotel, most meals, and taxes. I looked at the itinerary, then curious as to what the single supplement would be, I clicked through to the Book Now pages. When I entered my data, I got an alert asking me to call the 1-800 number to book.

So I called, waited a minute or two for a person to answer, and told her my story. It seems this tour, plus another one I hadn't yet looked at called the Costa Rica Natural something - also 8 days, 7 nights, most meals, etc as the eco-tour one -- had to be booked via phone. If fewer than 6 people booked these tours, they'd be cancelled with the cancellation notice (or confirmation notice depending on how you look at it) delivered no later than 30 days before departure.

The booking agent stressed that the tour could get the required minimum bookings next week, next month, etc and I'd be among the first to know. But it did give me pause for thought : Fast forward to January 6, 2008. In comes a call or email from Transat saying "gosh -- too bad." And me scrambling to book something else or stay home.

She gave me fares for both tours, and both were only $250 or so above the double/triple occupancy, and told the air only price.

So here's where I stand right now.

Transat tours: Eco $2,169; Natural wonder $2,219. Drawback -- no final confirmation until 30 days prior, and one day less than another tour I am considering.

FIT (foreign independent travel -- a DIY holiday): Land only tour Costa Rica (day longer than Transat) including taxes and single supplement $1,280; Transat air only $600 including taxes; Air Canada air only Feb 6 return Feb 16 $950; Return Feb 18 $875.

Total FIT
Transat flight -- $1,280 + $600 = $1880 (9 days, 8 nights), extra night hotel*, departs 6:35 am
Transat flight -- $1,280 + $840 = $2,120 (9 days, 8 nights), extra night hotel*
Air Canada flight - $1,280 + $950 = $2,230 plus extra night(s) hotel*, departs a more civilized 9:15 a.m.
Air Canada flight - $1,280 + $875 = $2,155 plus extra night(s) hotel*
Total Transat holiday (Nolitour) $2,169 or $2,219 (8 days, 7 nights)

The difference between the lowest and the highest is about $350. Not a huge amount, to be sure, but that would pay for optional tours, tips, extra meals, etc.

With Transat, you can upgrade to a premium class for $240 tax-in return. this might be worth it as Transat, from my experience, crams seats more tightly than even Air Canada dares to. But they did offer seat selection for a few dollars and that is well worth it . (After a horrible 5 plus hour flight to Acapulco, I paid more for a roomier seat to Puerto Plata DR and got upgraded to first when they sold my seat twice.)

* Have to find out what extra nights cost, to see if worth it to stay extra nights to save on air fare. I suspect staying is the wiser option. After all, there must be something to do in San Juan, even if it's only to lie around the pool sipping rum punches and thinking of snow in Toronto.

Again, I'll sit on this for a few days and mull it over, and go have another look at the itineraries for all three land tours. They are fairly close, though the eco-tour includes white water sstuff that I could most likely do without. I do want the volcanoes, the spa and the cloud forest, etc. I can give the turtles a miss (I've done that in Sri Lanka and in Sabah), and I don't require a lot of beach time. An afternoon snorkeling will do nicely.

PS December 11/07
I haven't booked anything yet. I've mulled it over and am still not sure which way to proceed. Still thinking of Bermuda, but maybe when it's warmer.

PPS December 26, 2007
Finally booked my trip and it's to Puerto Plata Dominican Republic!
I'm as surprised as you are :-)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Costa Rica Best Holiday Place

Update: Finally got to Costa Rica - See this post 
Last night I checked into visa requirements for Bermuda, Turks and Caicos and Costa Rica, the three destinations I am considering as my winter vacation. (See previous post for other info).

Tourist visa requirements at the Turks and Caicos tourism info site say 'no visa for 30 days except for some eastern bloc countries'; Bermuda is good, too, and Costa Rica, ditto. This means no additional fees for visas, or passport photos, etc. for any of them. It's always a good idea to carry two extra passport size photos, though, just in case you need them, like if you lose your passport on your trip. I talk about this and much else on my travel tips section on my website.

So, looking again at Costa Rica, the search engine results showed a site talking about medical tourism to Costa Rica, and the penny dropped. In my quest for an interesting and warm winter vacation spot, I had totally forgotten about Jurassic Park and the dinosaur connection, which came to mind when I saw the medical tourism site.

Ah, the movie came out a long time ago, and others have claimed my attention long since. But when Jurassic Park was all the rage, I remember reading articles about Costa Rica, and some of them were about how tourists were flocking to Costa Rica for inexpensive medical and cosmetic procedures. They discussed how safe Costa Rica was, how the doctors were board certified and North American or European trained, etc. I filed it away and promptly forgot about it.

Until last night. All of a sudden, my winter holiday has taken on a whole new aspect. Two weeks away is about right to have some (ahem) work done, and no one would be the wiser. I'll give that some thought :-)

About hotels: Bermuda is too rich for my blood, and the Turks is turning out to be the same as Bermuda. Turks hotels start at about $183 US /night, and that's basic. Costa Rica seems to meet most of my requirements for a good holiday -- interesting things to do, including looking for dinosaurs, good value for money, decent weather, and now, apparently, the chance to have a little Nip and Tuck. I'l let that simmer for a while then think about booking.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Costa Rica My Next Holiday?

Update January 2010
I just got back from a spur of the moment cheap flight deal to Costa Rica! I am so glad I had researched the trip 2 years ago. When I saw an ad in a Saturday paper for a sell off from Toronto to San Jose, I called to check if it was still available. It was. It took me less than an hour to find a hotel online ( that had a room, then call back Flight Centre, book the LAST seat, call back the hotel free from Canada and USA, and in 3 days I was on the plane.

Will post pics and info soon as possible, but now back to our original program. And yes, Costa Rica is wonderful!!
I'm still comparing Bermuda, Turks and Caicos and Costa Rica as winter holiday getaways. I had an idea of flights and flying times (see previous posts), and so I started researching hotels and tour packages.

A preliminary result for a group tour through Costa Rica had not been encouraging. With the single supplement, it was rapidly pricing itself out of my budget. But by chance, through a typo on Flight Centre's website, I googled the typo to find what airport they were talking about, and came across the Go Visit Costa Rica site, and I spent a happy hour looking around.

That day's featured tour seemed just the trip for me. The rates are posted for one, two or three travelers/room, so you know what to expect, and it's still reasonable for what's included. I checked the itinerary of a few other tours. One starts in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and focuses more on Nicaragua before ending in San Jose CR. That one was particularly tempting, as it's been a long time since I've been to Honduras. Plus, road trips are one of my favorite things!

Then, I delved into the weather -- still on the same site. Turns out that mid February is an excellent time to travel there.

My former travel agent daughter sent me two more tour operator sites that she particularly liked, so I checked them out. They have set departure dates. Yes, I can work around them, and yes, I can add on days. But I prefer tours that uptake any day of the week. Plus, the GVCR site had a toll free number for the U.S. and Canada. Always a plus to talk to a real person.

I'll go back and research a bit more before deciding. But for an interesting trip that involves a bit of beach time, spa time, road trips, wildlife, volcanoes and cloud forest canopy walks, and meals and drinks are cheap, it hits all my buttons. A Spanish speaking guide comes along, so language is not a barrier, though it's a good chance for me to dust off my Spanish and jump in.

To be fair, I really should check more about Bermuda and Turks, but gosh darn it -- I am leaning towards Costa Rica, even though it's the longest flying time from Toronto.

Later! Gotta go check on visas.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Bermuda Winter Getaway : Comparing Flights, Weather,currency

After checking the flights and air costs from Toronto to Costa Rica and the Turks and Caicos, (see my previous post), I checked for flights to Bermuda (BDA is the airport code; flights land in Hamilton, Bermuda).

I went directly to the Air Canada site, as I knew it was one of their destinations. Still using the random dates for travel of February 8-15, the Air Canada fare, tax included, is $545.00. That's the lowest of the three, and no free food en route. I miss free food, as bad as it sometimes was. Canadian and U.S. dollars, among others, are on par right now.

Bermuda is further east into the Atlantic, and the Turks are just north of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Flying time from Toronto to Bermuda is given as 2 hours, and to the Turks as about 3 hours. Costa Rica, south of Mexico and north of Panama, is about 5 hours.

One of the Bermuda sites I checked listed a few package tours, which included air flight and hotels, but no meals or drinks.

To recap:

Destination: (via Air Canada from Toronto)
Bermuda flight : $545.00
Turks and Caicos flight : $1,237.00
Costa Rica flight : $974.00

Flying time:
Bermuda : 2+ hours
Turks and Caicos : 3+ hours
Costa Rica : 5+ hours

Bermuda : Bermuda dollar BMD is on par with US/ CAD
Turks and Caicos : U.S dollar; no difference.
Costa Rica : Costa Rica colon CTC : 517 colones = $1 U.S.

Weather in February:
Bermuda: pleasant but not hot.
Turks and Caicos : hot, maybe rainy. Will have to check rainy seasons.
Costa Rica : depends on mountains or beaches, and also if it's the rainy season.

On the surface, Bermuda seems a good choice time and money-wise. Last night I checked for hotels in Bermuda. I've stayed at the big chain resorts in the past, so I thought I'd look for something a little different. A few interesting possibilities, including some with housekeeping suites (great for making snacks, or breakfast, when you don't feel like getting dressed and going out in public). Even though February is still off season, the prices would be about $200/day, not including my spa time. Spa treatments run around $80-$100 each.

As a relatively small island nation, prices in Bermuda are high compared to Toronto, since most goods are imported. (Not as bad as the Caymens, though, where, at one time anyhow, a box of Special K cereal cost $8 U.S.)

I would budget about $100/day for meals, though it's just a working amount for now. I think Turks are expensive, too, but I will keep an open mind. I don't mind splashing out a few bob, as they say, for something I really want, or will really enjoy. But all things being more or less equal, I am going to go for value for money every time.

Tonight, I'll look for hotels and packages to Costa Rica, and try to find some possible resorts in Turks, and get back to you.



Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Shopping for a Winter Getaway Vacation : Turks, Costa Rica or Bermuda?

Though the weather's been wonderful in lovely downtown Mississauga and environs, I know it can't last. Just one rainy, dark day this week was a harbinger of the dreary winter to come.

And, though I feel like I'm chained to my iBook and will be for some months, I decided to shop around for a winter getaway as a reward for my hard work. Ideally, this vacation will be someplace warm, and someplace I haven't been before, and someplace not too far from home (Canada). Sometimes, I just fon't feel like a long international flight.

Turks and Caicos, I think, or maybe Bermuda. It's been so long since I was last in Bermuda, it would feel "new". Or, at the outside mileage-wise and flight time-wise -- Costa Rica.

Regular readers will know that, for value for money, my first choice is Asia, and my first love is Hong Kong. There's so much to see, I'm never at a loss for things to do. But I want somewhere close to home this winter.

So last night I checked out a few sites to find sample air fares so I could plan a budget. Randomly, I chose February 8 as my departure date, and started filling in flight checkers.

The airline code for Turks and Caicos, I found out, is PLS. Now, call me dim, but that is the most unintuitive code I can imagine. The key, apparently, is Provodenciales, the capital. Flights via the site I was using were all on U.S. carriers, so any flights from Toronto meant a stop in a U.S. gateway city and a change of planes. This is not good: One extra arrival and departure, one extra airport check in, one large hassle and a lot of extra time. And the cost? $951.00 U.S., tax in.

So I checked Air Canada: A direct, non-stop flight from Toronto, including one meal (which Air Canada usually only springs for on international flights) with taxes included came in at $1,237.00 CAD (The Canadian dollar is roughly on par with the U.S. dollar right now).

Okay . . . a little pricey, considering a week in the Dominican Republic (which is further south from Provo) is about the same amount with an all inclusive package for hotel, meals and drinks. And I have no idea how much hotel and food and drink would cost in the Turks. I don't think the Turks are cheap, though, at least not Asia cheap.

Let's try Costa Rica. The flights arrive at San Jose; the airline code is SJO (See? Intuitive!) The U.S website flights were priced at $600-$1100 US, and Air Canada came in at $974.00, no meals included. And no idea as yet as to where I could stay, or eat, or tour and sightsee.

I did find a website offering land-only tours of Costa Rica (airfare is extra) for $$2,200.00 plus a $435.00 single supplement. Figure about $3,000.00 once you add in the meals not included, and perhaps an extra night in a hotel waiting for your flight, and any drinks and tips, and my one week getaway is up to about $4,000.00.

Now I don't know about you, but for that kind of money, I'd rather go to Hong Kong for 2-3 weeks. Value for money: it always comes down to that. That's what I spent to got to Hong Kong and Borneo for two weeks, with lots of domestic travel, tours and hotels and meals included.

And so, tonight I will check for all-in packages to Costa Rica, and perhaps Bermuda. Usually, I can get out of the single supplement by booking air and hotel myself. After all, the tour operators prices are based on blocks of pre-costed units. Hotels don't charge single supplements -- they charge by the room, just as airlines charge the seat. And if a hotel offers all-ins to group tours, they are happy to add in the cost for single customers.

Now, I'd better get back to work.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Eda Neuheimer

This is not the usual travel blog post, though my friend Eda Neuheimer was a great traveler, and has taken the ultimate trip. Rather, I am posting this note on the public blog for those who may be looking for Eda, thinking she seems to have fallen off the face of the earth. She has.

A sad day, today. I learned that I have fewer friends than I did yesterday, but one more angel: After some weeks of wondering why Eda's emails had stopped and my phone messages to her weren't returned, I finally contacted her employer, Peel Board of Education, in Mississauga. Through them, I learned that Eda died on / about August 23, 2007. At home, alone in Mississauga, Ontario, she had 'slipped into a diabetic coma' and never recovered'.

In Eda's memory, the staff at Elm Street School, in Mississauga (where Eda taught for a number of years) has planted a tree, and will contact me when the memorial plaque is ready to be placed.

To those online students she tutored, I apologize for breaking the news so bluntly and in such a public medium, but I wanted you to have some means of finding out what happened to your teacher.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Helen's Fish and Chips Port Credit Ontario

July 2008 Updated review at New Owners Helen's Fish and Chips.

One little gem of a diner in Port Credit is Helen's Fish and Chips. You could drive along Lakeshore past the lighthouse every day and still not notice it tucked back behind Starbuck's.

In fact, it was because of a stop for coffee one blustery day last March that I first came across it at the back of the parking lot. When I saw the sign for fish, I forgot about coffee and veered into this little resto below. It's just west of the lighthouse and bridge, on the south side of Lakeshore. Parking in the lot to the left in this photo, or out front as shown.

Now, the quirky thing about Helen's is that it does NOT accept any currency except cash. This means no credit cards, no debit cards, no cheques (checks). No exceptions. (The priciest dish is about $12 or so) Scramble through your pockets and wallet, and come up with hard cash. It's usually worth it.

I say 'usually' because I have had fabulous lunches here, and sometimes less than fabulous (ease up on the oil, fellas!). The fish and chips plate in the picture below is cod with Greek salad. The week before, I had an almost identical meal, except with halibut. I prefer halibut, and will not ask for cod again.

The first time I had the Greek salad, it was so delicious, I couldn't stop eating it; The next time, the dressing was too oily, with none of the classic tang. Chips are not salted, though, for which Helen's is to be commended.

The menu is posted on signs above the open kitchen, with daily specials on the blackboard. There are no substitutions allowed, though if salad is part of the special, you get your choice -- Greek, ceasar, slaw, etc. The menu allows for many variations, though, so you can usually find the combo you want.

Place your order at the counter. If it's really busy, they assign you a number. Get your table as fast as you can, and wait till it's called. If it's not too busy (say, a weekday mid afternoon), take a table and listen for your meal to be called by name.

Helen's also serves liquor, beer, etc, and there's a cozy bar area at the front. Not a late night place by any means -- I think it closes around 8p.m. I'll check when I go by later this week.

And on a blustery day, forget the fish -- try a bowl of steaming hot soup instead!

March 26, 2008 Update:
On Tuesday, April 1, 2008, Toronto's CityTV show Breakfast Televison (BT) host Jennifer Valentyne and crew are filming at Helen's Fish and Chips. Come on down, Everyone!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Russell Girl Filming in Port Credit

Update June 2010 filming - Two movie shoots in Port Credit:
See Lost Girl and Covert Affairs posts.

original  post:
It seems there's always something interesting to see when you go for a walk in the village of Port Credit in Mississauga. Some days, it's nothing more exciting than mallards swimming at the marina; other times, it's something wonderful like a Jazz festival.

This week, the excitement level is closer to the 'Jazz festival' rating: The Russell Girl, a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie for CBS that's in production in Toronto is doing some location shoots here in Port Credit, about 3 blocks from my home. (Look for the pylons and you'll find it.)

Signs around the neighbourhood direct cast and crew to various camps, like the Crew base camp set up near here (photo below). Others direct them to the feeding and waiting area in a local church. Everyone seems to take all the activity in stride, save a few impatient motorists who were honking horns to hurry along a crew member trying to remove pylons along Lakeshore.

The Russell Girl cast includes Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Jennifer Ehle, Tim DeKay, Henry Czerny and Amber Tamblyn, who plays "Sarah Russell, a 23-year-old aspiring medical school student who makes a rare visit to her small hometown." The houses being used for the small town location are right from central casting -- ie they couldn't be more perfect. As I walked down the street (where the night before, the big light on a crane was simulating daylight), I noticed each house had a 'new' old fashioned mailbox out front, including one with 'Russell' stamped in red letters. Another front yard had wonderful new astroturf-style grass -- we've had a very dry summer here and it must have needed help.

When Russell Girl wraps, we'll be back to looking for excitement from simpler things, like these Canada geese on a pond in Saddrington Park.

Update January 25, 2008
Half-page ad in the Toronto Star today for the premiere to air Sunday January 27, 2008
Great picture of Amber Tamblyn standing on the tree-lined street in Port Credit!

Update March 21, 2008 Good Friday in Mississauga.
On the street where the Russell Girl lived, Port Credit, Ontario

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mallards, Condo Views, and Mississauga Lakeshore

(NB: If you came here looking for Lakeshore Mississauga Port Credit Canada Day fireworks and party etc. the info is posted HERE!!!.)

Today's blog is a photo blog with some Mississauga pictures I took last week. (I'm in the middle of moving my photo site to a CMS system, so I am tied up with that) I hope these will suffice. More travel news coming soon!

This first picture below is of two mallards swimming alongside the pier at Snug Harbour (the popular restaurant near the lighthouse -- I voted for their chef's entry in last weekend's fundraiser chili contest -- great chili!) The water on the marina side (not the Credit river side) was so clear, I couldn't believe it!

Just behind Ten Restaurant in Port Credit, there's a block of really nice looking terraced condos. I took this photo from the east patio entrance looking south towards Lake Ontario.

Go to the end of the sidewalk in the above photo, and you come to the seawalk. This is the view looking east to Toronto. This spot always catches the cool lake breezes -- feels like the AC is on.

The photo below is from the same location as above, just looking more to the north and closer to the water.

I just loved the colors of the goldenrod and the purple loosestrife growing in the stones along the Snug Harbour pier (near the mallards in the top photo.)

West from the Credit River mouth / harbour area along the lake, the latest bloom of algae to come ashore was vivid green. A few days later, on the weekend when a group of us were cleaning up litter and stuff from Rhododendron Park, the algae was yucky brown, and smelling much like compost. Also notable were the mounds -- literally 18 inches high and 3-4 feet across in places -- of what I was told were zebra mussel shells. The shells were white and translucent, and empty of actual mussels.

So that's it for today. My tech support in Australia is awake soon, so we can get working on getting the photos to appear on my photo site. Ah, the irony. I can only imagine the disappointment and perplexity of someone surfing images today, and clicking on one for my site, then coming to the site and finding little boxes of text saying what is in the picture. Irony reigns!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Working Men Aid Crosswalk Safety in Mississauga

On this very fine last day of summer, I was walking east along Lakeshore Road in Port Credit. At Mississauga Road, I couldn't help notice that the crosswalk positively gleamed in the bright sunshine. It almost hurt to look at it. It was the whitest crosswalk I had ever seen. Obviously, it had been freshly re-painted and it looked wonderful. This is a busy intersection and it would do a lot to increase the safety for pedestrians here. I continued walking and soon found the working men responsible for the newly painted crosswalks, and stopped to watch and see how they did it.

The men first measured and marked the width with spray paint at both ends of the crosswalk, then placed a thin chain flat on the street between the opposing curbs, and ran a thin line of spray paint to mark it. At that point I asked one of them how they planned to paint the grid (after I told them I was a big fan of their work at Mississauga Road). Did they perhaps use a stencil? No - they measured the grid themselves to customize it according to street width.

Two men continued marking out the crosswalks on both sides of Lakeshore Road (just west of the lighthouse in Port Credit), finishing with laying metal strips crosswise to act as a straight edge for the stripes. Men working in the back of the truck were mixing a bucket of paint. Then they began to fill in the stripes. In the picture above, a metal rectangle with no bottom is laid on the street and filled with plasticized white paint. It's then pulled across the width to 'paint' in the stripes. The paint has to be applied in dry and fairly warm weather, and dries in about 10 minutes, tops. To give the crosswalk additional safety and visibility, the freshly painted stripes are immediately sprinkled with a generous amount of glass beads. The beads adhere to the wet paint and are set fast. (The man in the upper left corner of the picture is scattering the glass beads.) These beads are recycled from broken windshields. Cool, eh?

Here is a closer look at the stripe. Notice the metal strip guide in the lower right. (Sorry about my shadow -- there was a lot of traffic just a few feet in any direction, so I had to watch out. Drivers intent on getting into the Starbucks on this corner for their caffeine fix are not to be trusted!)

Here's another view of the newly painted crosswalk. The work men painted one lane on one side of Lakeshore, then crossed over and painted one lane on the other side of Lakeshore. By alternating and blocking off the new painted lane, the wet paint wouldn't be ruined by traffic.

As I walked back to Mississauga Road and was waiting to cross, I looked down. Sure enough, some passing cyclist had left a perfect tire print gouged into what must have then been wet paint. It had left a mark in the plastic paint and glass beads mixture just as if it had been fresh cement. The paint apparently lasts for 5-10 years before it needs re-painting, so that bike tire impression will last a long time.

What, you may well ask, does any of this have to do with travel? Well, I have seen a lot of this style of zebra striping crosswalk in other cities around the world -- Australia and Hong Kong come to mind -- but I can't recall seeing many in Canada. Nice to know that my 'home and native land' is getting with the safety program when it comes to crosswalks!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Monaco Yacht Show, Princess Grace Celebrations This Fall

If you're a yachtie, you may already be planning to be among the expected 24,000 visitors in Monaco for the Monaco Yacht Show, September 19-22, 2007. Even if you're not 'with boat', but will be traveling though Europe, why not drop by and get a glimpse of the good life.

This year, too, Monaco is marking the 25th anniversary of the death of Princess Grace of Monaco, October 16-26. (Events are being held in New York, as well.)

It's been more years than I care to count since last I was in magical Monaco. If you can, you should go. I traveled there during early May, when hotel rooms could still be had, before being turfed out in favor of the glitterati attending the Cannes Film Festival, and the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix.

Ah, Good times!

Friday, August 17, 2007

South Thompson River Pictures Late Summer

My friend Sheila, who lives in Kamloops, B.C. (Canada), sent me two pictures she took last week, and I share them here, with her permission.

Sheila says, "They're taken just upriver from Monte Creek, which is east of Kamloops, heading towards Shuswap Lake. "

"We'd been boating up the South Thompson river for about 15 minutes after we left Kamloops when I took the first photo. The mountain is on the north side of the river.

"Later, at about 8 p.m. when it was just getting dark, we were floating back down river, facing towards Kamloops, very close to Monte Creek, when I took the second photo."

Seeing these photos reminds me of the road trip Sheila and I took in this area last summer. She left the Trans-Canada Highway near here to take a road less travelled that runs along the north river bank, through reserve lands.

Seeing these photos also reminds me to get busy and scan the photos I took in and around Kamloops!

If you'll be traveling to the Kamloops area, look for the Kamloops Mounted Patrol around town. Men on Horseback always make for a great photo op.

More photos of South Thompson River at Cherry Creek area and Kamloops Lake

Update June 2008: See Sheila's new blog about RVing with pictures from B.C. Now that she is able to post her own photos, I guess these are the last I'll get from her!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Allowable Airline Carryons Still Hit and Miss

When it comes to allowable airline carryons, the saga continues. 
Update December 28, 2009

Latest TSA Rules - note that wording changed re: no restroom visits last hour of flight time to now be 'at discretion of crew'.
Last year, all the security changes in airline security allowed carryons had to be covered in several blog entries, (also here) including one about my mother's trip within Canada. This week, she got back from her annual trip west. She took the same airline as last year, to the same destination, but amended her carryon liquids according to current guidelines.

She placed her toiletries in a clear ziploc bag, though she added her own personal touch: Inside the large ziploc, she added three smaller non-ziploc, though perfectly clear plastic bags. In one, her dental items; in another, her hair items -- travel size shampoo, conditioner, etc. from the drugstore; and the third contained her makeup items.

Her lunch, she kept cold with a small, blue freezer gel pack. She disposed of the water bottle she brought from home to tide her over until she could buy a new one after passing security.

My mom travels light -- there wasn't much. When leaving Toronto Pearson (YYZ), security looked at her large ziploc bag with the three smaller clear bags within. They did not open it, nor did they comment. The contents were obvious. Her frozen gel pack likewise escaped comment, and off she went to Kamloops, B.C. (YKA).

After several weeks, she headed back to the small Kamloops airport for her flight home. Well, for some reason, security gave her a hard time. Not sure if the staff (one officer in particular, the same one who gave me a hard time a year ago ) are a tad overzealous, or rigidly by-the-book conscientious, or just general twits.

Her frozen solid gel pack to keep her lunch cold -- confiscated.
Her ziploc bag with toiletries -- the security lady unzipped it, emptied out the three smaller, non-ziploc bags, then repacked the contents of each in their very own smaller ziploc bags. When mom pointed out that Toronto staff had allowed these carryons as is, the Kamloops staff replied," We don't care what they do in Toronto. This is how we do it here."

All this wonderfulness in the security check for a fully booked flight on a very small plane.

My mother had something new for her return trip, something that hadn't been with her for her flight from Toronto: A small jar, the lid held fast with tape, the contents something shredded, and off white in colour.

Mom kept her mouth shut as the security person silently picked up the jar, held it to the light, jiggled the contents. She never asked mom what it was, but appeared to be checking for the amount of liquid it might contain. (Last year, Winnipeg security confiscated the orange she brought for a snack.)

The small jar contained fresh, ground horseradish, from my brother's garden. Mom said to me later, "For all the guard knew, it could have been some sort of explosive, and I almost said as much when she put the jar back in my bag. But I kept my mouth shut. I'd had enough trouble"

But the staff was not done with her yet. As she moved away from security, another guard, who had been looking on, told her there was no more room for backpacks in the cabin, and she would have to check it after all. Ergo, this whole exercise was moot.

So she handed over her backpack, making sure they would get it to her in time to make a tight plane change in Calgary. But no -- she couldn't board yet! Not after the second lady looked at her boarding pass and noticed mom had been given a window seat in an exit row.

"Are you able to open the door in an emergency?" she asked my octenagarian, very fit mom.

"Yes," said mom. "I've sat in that seat before."

"But are you sure you could open the door if you had to?"

"Yes," said mom. "If I had to, I could fly the plane!"

Amid laughter from the other passengers who had all been listening, mom finally got to board the plane.

Now, I consider current security regulations a tad paranoid, a bit of a red herring and generally ineffectual. But what annoys me more is, after jumping through all the allowable carryon hoops, there's no consistent application or enforcement, at least not in Canada, on domestic flights. I can only imagine the carry on hassles on international flights, or with different airlines.

Passenger inconvenience coupled with ever increasing fares and security surcharges are not at all conducive to tourism. Knee jerk regulations in the guise of safety do none of us any favours, except maybe the vendors of water and toiletries.

See currrent regulations in Canada and previous blog entries.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Dim Sum at Sun Sun in Mississauga, Canada

As promised, here are the photos from our dim sum earlier this week. While there are a number of places in Mississauga offering dim sum, some of them only serve it on weekends.

We always go to Sun Sun in the Mississauga Chinese Centre as here it is served every day, and we really like their food. On the weekends, they offer a greater variety of dishes, but, even on weekdays, there's enough to keep us happy.

Sun Sun Chinese Restaurant Mississauga

Here's the notice in the Sun Sun entrance with hours and specials.

We often get a large, plain congee (rice soup) to take home, and while it is usually very good, one busy weekend, it seemed 'thin'.

Tea, Bok choy, Dumplings at Sun Sun

Here's the picture of the first few items from the first few carts. After that, we were too busy enjoying our meal to take photos.

The steamer near the chopsticks holds 'pork shu mai' (though I don't know how to spell it correctly). These we get whenever offered. Clockwise, the green is steamed baby bok choy.

The small brown rolls (about the size of cabbage rolls) we hoped contained bean curd, but found they were filled with seasoned pork. In any case, they were delicious.

The white dumplings are shrimp and chives in rice wrappers. These, too, are a great favourite. A small cup of piping hot green tea completes the photo.

The Sun Sun servers speak English with varying degrees of success, and may not always understand what you are asking, so a little body language will go a long way.

And you don't have to order dim sum -- you can always order from the menu, though on weekends when there's a line up at the door and the kitchen is pretty busy, it might be better not to.

For dessert, we ordered one bowl of bean curd (tofu) steeped in a simple sugar. Light, gelatinous and fairly bland, it is not one of my favourites (I prefer mango custard), but it was a fine end to the meal.

(I posted about this dim sum last fall; see earlier post)

Map Location Mississauga Chinese Centre

View Larger Map

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Mississauga's Oriental Food Centre a great shop for produce

Yesterday, after another great dim sum (more on this tomorrow) at the Mississauga Chinese Centre on Dundas east of Cawthra, we stopped in at the Oriental Food Centre to pick up a few things that we can only get at an Asian grocery store.

Did we luck out on the lychees!

Exterior Oriental Food Centre Mississauga

I thought luchees must be in season as I'd seen them at mainstream grocers that week, but they looked so sad and beaten up, I gave them a miss.

But here, at the Oriental Food Centre, they looked fine, and better still, they were being sold in bags (about 3-4 lbs) for one dollar!

As soon as I got home, I emptied the bag into hot, soapy water, as lychees in the husk can get mouldy in a heartbeat, and this morning, I shelled them all to keep them from spoiling and popped them in the fridge.

It's fast and easy to shell a lychee fruit -- just make a split in the shell and squeeze the meat into a bowl. Your hands never touch the insides.

And Oh, what a lychee feast we are having! Replace the pit and stuff in some creamy cheese, or chop them and mix with crushed ice in a glass, or put them on ice cream and add a splash of fruit liqueur, or just eat them out of hand.

This busy supermarket apparently has a very high turnover, which means that produce is not only fresh as possible, but very well priced.

Beautifully ripe pineapples from Costa Rica were 2/$5, and and extravagant bunches of fresh coriander just 99 cents each.

A friend of ours who loves to boil up a mess of crab from time to time always buys it here.

Good thing we'd just finished dim sum, or we'd have gone wild.

Related: Oriental Food Centre Mississauga
Pictures Tropical Fruits chirimoya, passion fruit, mangosteens, longans, more. Mississauga Chinese Centre

PIctures, information on Chinese shopping centre, restaurants, dim sum

Books About Tropical Fruits on

Handy Pocket Guide to Tropical Fruits (Periplus Nature Guide) Tropical Fruit The Great Exotic Fruit Book: A Handbook with Recipes

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Osmow's :: Best Shawarma in Mississauga

Here's one of the best spots to get shawarmas in -- well, probably in the world. This is Osmow's, located just south of Thomas Street on Queen Street (Mississauga Road becomes Queen Street in Streetsville). Turn down the side street and park in the back, then enter through the back door or walk around the front.

The smallish interior was fully and very smartly renovated in January and February 2007. You can eat at the counter or at one of several small tables. At first, we'd usually stand and shuffle for 20 minutes or so with all the others who are getting take out, but then we got smart and called our order in ahead of time. The shawarmas are beautifully crisp on the outside and drippily sauced on the inside, and make the best fast food dinner or late night snack. And all this for a flat $5 each. Bargain!

When we lived in Streetsville, it took us 15 minutes to walk to Osmow's. From here in Port Credit, it takes 20 minutes to drive up Mississauga Road, so it's been a few months since I've had my fix.

The address is 251 Queen Street -- but just look for Thomas, then park and walk. And if you're in a hurry, phone ahead : 905-826-6021

Update September 2008
Just brought home a shawarma - we forgot to phone ahead, and so had a long wait on a Sunday afternoon.

Not as good as in the past; the double wrap pita now carries a 50 cent fee (not a deal breaker - prices have risen generally everywhere) but the shawarma sandwiches proved NOT to have double wrapping. We even asked and inspected before leaving the restaurant.

The wrapping now is wax paper only - not foil, which keeps the shawarma hot for the 20 minute drive home. Would have paid more for foil as cold shawarma not as tasty as fresh baked, and sauces leak through wax paper.

And finally, it really concerns me when staff go from handling money, telephones, computer and boxes and bowls to handling food without first (at least) rinsing their hands. As well, the cooks tended to do same - handling common elements then using their hands instead of tongs to add various toppings.

Could be an unusually busy day, but will keep an eye out for this to become a pattern. Let me know what you find if you go.

More places to eat in Mississauga :: See Snapshot Journeys Mississauga restaurants or use the search box to find restaurants and pubs on this blog.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Rattlesnake Point :: Halton Conservation Area

One day last week, I took a drive (on the back roads) about 45 minutes northwest of Mississauga to Rattlesnake Point -- part of the Niagara Escarpment -- just west of Milton. The photo below was take from the upper cliff trail at Pinnacle Point, looking roughly southwest, towards Lake Ontario.

This was my first visit to this conservation area park (admission $5 for the day, though you can get season's passes that include all 5 parks). From the gated entrance, where I picked up a trail guide, I followed the road to the furthest parking area, circling almost back to the entrance. A short walk through primeval woods took me to the amazing views from the top of the rock climbing area.

The stair access to the lower cliff face was blocked off this day as a film shoot was in progress. You can see some of their gear in the photo above.

The Niagara Escarpment is a series of parks with waterfalls (of which Niagara is the best known), woods and wildlife, cut through by the Bruce Trail. See, too, my photos of the waterfalls in the adjoining Conservation Hamilton area.

Update March 2008: More photos on my site for Rattlesnake Point.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Chinese Lantern Festival in Toronto

Toronto's waterfront at Ontario Place is once again the site of the Chinese Lantern Festival (July 19- October 7), and I, for one, plan to take it in this year. For sure. Really. If I can find someone to go with me. (Lanterns, by definition, are best viewed at night, and I don't relish the idea of wandering about the waterfront on my own after dark. Not that it's particularly dangerous -- just not a good position to put oneself in.

There are 40 giant lanterns , some of which I have seen through the GO train windows, and those glimpses of fabulous colors and shapes make me want to see more. After all, bigger is better, right? And these ones dwarf most Chinese lanterns, like the ones in the photo below.

I took this photo in Hong Kong, at the Star Ferry terminal promenade area, on a dark and rainy evening. They were easily the loveliest objects on the waterfront, and, given Hong Kong's fabulous skyline, that's saying a lot! Check the festival web site for details.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Waterfront Trail in Mississauga :: Lakeview and Port Credit

Update July 2008 more pictures Waterfront Trail Mississauga- Port Credit.

The other night, my friend Megan (
see June 27 post and photos) and I went for a walk along the Waterfront Trail section east of the Credit River. This was in the midst of a heat wave, and over by the gazebo (in the middle of the photo), the breeze off Lake Ontario felt like air conditioning on full blast! It was a slice of heaven!

After each of us slurping down a fast-melting ice cream in a waffle cone, we drove a few blocks eastward, to Lakefront Promenade, then headed into the park and marina area. The most dramatic view of what's left of the Lakeview Generating Station (that was blown up last week) are from the street where there is no parking or place to stop and take photos. From that angle, the various 'layers' of the implosion run in a row, all neat and tidy.

Though it was getting dark, we climbed the hill just across from the rubble, and got this end shot. It seems so strange to have this 'mountain' where none existed.
The haze whited out the definition, but you get the idea.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Mississauga :: Clouds of Summer

Last evening, I set out for a short walk to the park and lakeshore, since it had been a week or so since I had last gone that way, and I wanted to see what, if anything, had changed. Coming out from under the tree canopy part of the trail, I could see the setting sun behind the clouds.

A few minutes later, and accompanied by a scampering chipmunk, I took the second photo when the clouds again shifted.

Later that night, as I was watching the news, I was surprised to learn that those clouds were likely remnants of the heavy rains and thunderstorms earlier that day, just northeast and east of Toronto. Here, to the west of Toronto, it had been dry and mostly sunny.

These widely varied weather conditions within a fairly small geographic area always surprise me: Toronto could be having a day-long driving snowstorm (usually due to lake streamers), yet in Mississauga, only 20 km or so west, it will be bright and sunny. Snow? What snow?

It's supposed to get very hot the next few days. Would that the nearby lake was suitable for swimming!