Che mural, Havana Cuba
Che mural, Havana Cuba
  • Meeting Sean Pinchin!
    • 22/09/2011
So i was so excited after meeting Stuart Pinchin that i did a facebook search for other pinchins...
When i've googled "pinchin" in the past, one of the top results is always Sean Pinchin, because he's a professional musician. I didn't realise though that he lived in Toronto! And he had a lunchtime gig on Sunday!
So i went to watch. He is an exceptional guitarist and has good advice if your being bothered by a bee - blow on it, they don't like the turbulence.
So we had a chat at the end, with the same now familiar amused and amazed reactions.
You can check out Sean's music on his website www.seanpinchin.ca

stuart pinchin meets sean pinchinsean pinchin live
  • Food for thought
    • 22/09/2011
Saw this commentary next to some paintings of natives living on the land, which seemed pertinent in light of recent conversations...
nice painting of natives and mountains
[click image to expand] the text reads...
"Looking at this painting of an Indian encampment, I can't help but consider what the Aboriginal world experienced as a result of the greed that drove them from their homeland.
This is an idealized image of Canadian history that does not show what happened to the people who were living in the camp.
Are we to believe that they willingly gave up their way of life?
I can't see how Aboriginal people were divested of their homeland and forced to live on reserve lands, where their ceremonies and languages came under attack.
And I can't see how they described the land around them, but it would have been seen in their ceremonies and heard in their beautiful language.
I can't see the pain their leaders must have felt when they realized that when they signed treaties with the government they gave away their homeland.
Could they really sell the water, the plants, the mountaints and the animals?

Today i also saw some more tarsands related stuff today also, posters on lampposts rallying for a sit in protest, and a huge billboard payed for by the Canadian Oil Producers Association with the slogan "Water - every drop counts". carried the web address www.oilsandstoday.ca - Oh i see its trying to promote how environmental conscious the oil companies are... clever PR. Remember www.tarsandsaction.org
  • More Toronto Sightseeing
    • 22/09/2011
casa lomabear at zooRoyal Ontario Museum has a new bitTwo Door Cinema Club at Kool Haus
The second half of my week in toronto, also action packed

First up i needed somewhere to sleep, and i was rescued by Dina, another wonderful couchsurfing host, who offered me her place at very short notice.
A friendly and caring indie music loving teacher who only sleeps 3-4 hours a night...
She was also hosting an entire french family with two small kids and a baby, who engaged in fiercely competitive games of Jenga.

During the day i went to Casa Loma. This is an extravegant fairytale castle style mansion overlooking downtown Toronto, built in the twenties by a rich businessman, who was then made bankrupt and lost it all.
I suppose it makes a good proxy for the real chateauxs that people tour round in Europe, but overall = tacky.
Canadians are so much more down to earth, they don't flip out with excitement about you being foreign like in the US. And they don't feel the need to put their national flag on every available object. I guess they aren't so insecure?

Second up i had a ticket to see Two Door Cinema Club at a venue called the "Kool Haus". It was jam packed full of students - i shouldn't have been surprised having just found out that there are 100,000 in the city!
But it did make me feel really really tall! I felt like an island.
Good gig though, although the singer messed up the first line of the first song!

Monday i went to Toronto Zoo. In the rain. So not only did i get the usual zoo experience of watching animals sleep and look miserable, but i got soaked whilst they sat under their shelters. Oh and none of the cafes were open, because apparently every tourist attraction practically shuts down after the Labour Day bank holiday.
Tuesday i went to the Royal Ontario Museum, and Toronto Islands. Both of which were nice but won't get in my top 10 memorable things.
The ROM had exhibits of native things, Canadian things, far eastern things, and Bollywood posters??!?
Did make me think that i want to know more practical things. How to work with wood etc. Everything is so mass produced, mass reliance - what happens when there is an oil crisis and the machines stop working...
The islands were a pleasant walk through leafy green glades, with waterways of lillipads, waterfowl, weeping willows, and bridges that monet would have painted. And a frisbee golf course

In the evenings Dina took me to an open mic night, where the standard ranged from the stereotypical guy like me singing oasis songs out of tune, to pro musicians (some girl who was in Broken Social Scene), back to crazy old women basically doing karaoke and not knowing the words, and finishing with an act named "Truth", which was a guy at the piano singing the worst song i've ever heard, "Let me love again... and again and again and again" (i think he said again about 17 times). He had been waiting 6 hours to perform! Scary.
And the next evening to a comedy sketch / improv show at a venue called Second City. I forgot to mention that both my couchsurfing hosts were in improv comedy groups! Anyway, it was excellent, including a cameo from Ryan Stiles (Herb in Two and a half men). And i had a drink consisting of hot cider and Goldschlager, which was nice!
  • First few days in Toronto
    • 17/09/2011
view from the CN towerso much cool graffiti in torontotramsCN towerlake ontario


So lots to write about my first few days of the Canadian Experience! Toronto has lived up to it's billing so far as a friendly, lively, pleasant city.

On the plane i chatted to a businessman from Kraft on his way to a meeting. He expressed some jealousy of my trip and then said i should get in touch afterwards for a job! Probably just a pleasantry mind.

I hadn't booked anywhere to stay - hostels were packed out due to it being Toronto International Film Festival week so i headed to a Union station via the enchanting trolley bus to get some wifi - fortunately finding a place which must have had cancelled bookings since that morning. Although i did get an emergency couch offer later!

So First night i stayed in the Global Village hostel and went out to a gathering of Couchsurfing at a nearby pub, a nice mixture of locals and other travellers.
There i discovered that Chips, Cheese & Gravy is a national dish over here (Poutine). Amazing!

Then i spent the next two nights couch surfing in Chinatown with a computer scientist named Dustin. I cooked toad in the hole, (my first yorkshire pudding for three months. and the first time i've cooked since i left the UK!) and we went out for beers, where amongst a wide variety of topics we discussed our cultural differences and some interesting things about south east asia which will save me some confusion next year!

Walking round Kensington Market, Queens St etc it has the feel of another one of those creative bohemian neighbourhoods, lots of fresh food shops, independent clothes shops, art supply stores, tattoo parlours, record shops, bicycles everywhere, street art. Ranging from amazing murals to graffiti and "rid your life of negative thoughts" scrawled hastily on the pavement in chalk.

I cut my fringe as it just wouldn't stop jabbing me in the eyes. And the temperature is about 10 degrees lower. Trousers and hoody required.

On Thursday i went up the CN tower, which is the tallest structure in the world until recently (553m). Nice view, but i think the wow factor of being up tall buildings above cities has worn off after New York.
It does have a glass floor which you can see straight down to the ground through though, which is cool.
Overall and despite the film festival i haven't seen huge crowds of camera wielding tourists which is nice. I guess because summer holidays are over! hahahaha

More adventures coming up!

(Oh and Canadians do say "aboot")
  • Canada
    • 16/09/2011
i'm in Toronto.
I will be until Tuesday.
more to follow


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