Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Ex

We used to have to take our kids to the CNE every summer until they became teenagers and then they went by themselves.   Friday night was our first visit in almost 20 years.  Our main reason for going - the free Don Mclean concert, and what a smashing performance it was!  Before the concert we checked out old haunts like the Better Living Centre and the Food Building.  They were a bit of a disappointment - I used to think of these places during the CNE as sources of new ideas and showcases for innovation.  Now the Better Living Building has a farm and a casino. The Food Building is giant food court and the Direct Energy Centre one big mall with so called "international goods" which you can find all over Toronto.  

What hasn't changed is the midway with the rides and the money swallowing game booths.  There also seems to be lots of shows and celebrity chefs.   The skating shows and the horse shows are still attractions.  It's definitely worth going if you're young enough to enjoy the rides or if a performer you like is appearing at the multiple concert venues on the grounds.  Check out the CNE website for what's on.  Below are some snapshots of the CNE 2012.

 The Midway


Anna Olsen - celebrity pastry chef

One of many "international" shops

Prize-winning sandcastle

Sand angel

Fountain still pretty

Kendel Carson and Dustin Bendall - the opening act - great fiddling from Kendel!

Don Mclean!

Lit up fountain

Ferris wheel at night

Dufferin Gates 

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Chicago - Interiors

With a guide book in hand, we visited a number of buildings in the Chicago downtown loop.  The interiors are pretty spectacular.  One of the most memorable building was the Chicago Cultural Centre with its two Tiffany domes.  It was also the former home of the Chicago Public Library and is truly quite a unique building.  It now houses the main Visitor information centre in downtown Chicago.  Entry is free and there are often free concerts in one of the gorgeous domed halls.  We were lucky to happen upon a rehearsal for a lunchtime concert.

The Tiffany dome inside the concert hall of the Chicago Cultural Centre

Concert Hall
The hallway outside the concert hall

The second Tiffany dome at the Cultural Centre

The interior of the Chicago Board of Trade Building - textbook art deco!

The stunning Frank Lloyd Wright designed lobby inside The Rookery Building at 209 South LaSalle Street

Looking down and then up the even more spectacular Oriel Staircase designed by John Root inside the Rookery Building (you may not be able to see this as it is closed to the public)

Inside the Private Bank on LaSalle Street

The lobby ceiling of the Palmer House Hilton

Peacock Doors at the Palmer House Hotel
Declarations of freedom of the press inside the lobby of the Chicago Tribune Building

The skylight in the library reading room at the Chicago Art Institute
The lobby entrance of the beaux arts Hilton completed in 1927

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Chicago - Awesome Architecture!

I visited Chicago several years ago and still haven't got over how smashingly striking the architecture in that city is.  I haven't been to any place since that blew me away quite like Chicago did.  Few words are needed here, just look at the photos.  I will post photos of the interiors of some of these buildings in the next post.

You can start with the amazing egg sculpture in Millenium Park - you could spend hours just snapping pictures of it from every angle - and admire the reflection of Chicago's buildings.
Take a walking tour, guided or by yourself and look at the abundant and resplendent art deco buildings - or any old building for that matter. Most of them are within blocks of each other.  

The Chicago Board of Trade Building 1920-24 textbook art deco

This one below, the Reliance Building, was built in 1890-95!  It was one of the first skyscrapers to have plate glass windows covering most of its surface.

The famous Wrigley Building (1920-24) with its two towers and bridge in glazed terracotta.  Supposedly the building is hand-washed on occasion to preserve the terracotta!

The iconic Chicago Tribune Building and entrance completed in 1925 (neo-gothic) 

The NBC Tower - considered one of the finest reproductions of the Art Deco style (1989) 

The Crain Communications "Smurfit-Stone Building" (also known as the "Vagina Building") with the Trump Tower in the background

This building is just called 333 Wacker Street.  You wouldn't know it's so spectacular when you're at street level.  This view was from the river when we were on the boat.

Be sure to take the river cruise with the Chicago Architectural Foundation with knowledgeable docents giving you background details on buildings and history. 

See the buildings from an entirely different angle.  Note condo on the right with boat garage below.

The two round towers of Marina City beside the river - the bottom floors are all garages

Lake Point Tower condo on the Lakeshore

Amazing juxtaposition of buildings showcasing each other everywhere you turn

The buildings look surreal near sunset
Chicago skyline - the tallest is of course the Sears Tower

Next post: the interiors

Saturday, 18 August 2012

The hunt continues - Eugenia and Hoggs Falls

As the weather gets cooler, I'm able to continue my hunt for waterfalls nearby.  There is a neat website Great Lakes Waterfalls which lists all the major waterfalls in the Great Lakes area.  We visited two falls about an hour from Toronto, half an hour south of Owen Sound.  Hoggs Falls and Eugenia Falls are within hiking distance of each other but we didn't hike because we didn't want to do a return trip on the same route to get back to the car.  Now I wished I had the forethought of a colleague of mine who had arranged for a pickup at the other end!  I didn't get in my share of exercise but did get some neat photos.

Hoggs Falls is much smaller than Eugenia Falls but was much more fulsome because the water going into Eugenia has been diverted for hydroelectricity.  We read too late that the fall is best seen in the spring - duh!  But to look at it positively, if we had come in the spring, we wouldn't be able to walk on top of the falls or take pictures of water rushing over the falls right at the rim.

It was an easy scenic walk to Hoggs Falls with light filtering through the forest 

                                                                                  Upstream from Hoggs Falls

Hoggs Falls

Eugenia Falls

Top of Eugenia Falls
Three feet from the edge of the falls!

Picture this in the spring

Green as far as the eyes can see

Stop by for a cone at the Beaver River Grill and buy some preserves from the Pickle Guy

An unexpectedly huge wind farm between Shelburne and Fresherton - felt like an alien world!

Surreal!  Watching over the cows...