Friday, May 31, 2013 Home

TBEX: Opening Night Party in Toronto

Friday evening – after the workshops and tours, but prior to the opening of main conference at TBEX – brings the always greatly anticipated opening party. It was held at Roy Thompson Hall, home to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, but not in the main hall itself. (I would have loved to have attended a concert here.)

While I knew it would be impossible to top the fabulous food fest that Vail Resorts put on for us last year, I was disappointed to find the space hard to move around in, the food tables widely scattered, few tables to mingle around, and music too loud for conversation.

None-the-less, the party provided some very memorable food moments – from the strangely sublime (cheddar cheese wrapped in chilled maple syrup by Ninutik) . . . 
. . . to the distinctly disturbing (a gummy bear carving station).
Since it was impossible to have a conversation without shouting, we left early. This had the benefit of allowing me to be out taking pictures during Toronto’s short blue hour! 

Next post: Featured speakers, keynote addresses, and breakout sessions (Day 1)
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Daily Snapshots: Touring Toronto

It's a beautiful summer day - sunny, hot, and humid - perfect for a morning photo tour and an afternoon filled with art and architecture! 
The evening party includes a gummy bear carving station, but the music is too loud so we leave in time to catch a few blue hour shots. It's a lovely way to end the day!

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TBEX Photo Walk in Toronto

I am in Toronto for this year’s TBEX travel blogging conference and my first conference activity is a guided photo walk led by Toronto photographer David Goorevitch

The group is too large (25 of us were allowed to register) and spans a huge range of interests and abilities, but our guide, David, gamely gathers us together and off we go.

We start shooting even as we are leaving the conference center, as the enclosed walkways connecting the Metro Convention Centre (where TBEX is being held) to Union Station provide lots of interesting images. 
 Union Station itself is a classic, although it clearly needs some updating.   
 
Outside we find ourselves in the midst of a construction zone, but then, most of downtown Toronto seems to be a construction zone, with new towers being erected on every vacant lot and street work underway everywhere else.  
 
 
 So we say good-bye to Union Station (and a few characters arriving for a weekend clown conference) and head out into the construction to admire a few of the city’s gleaming towers.   
 
 
 
We escape the chaos on the street by ducking into Brookfield Place, which is famous for the soaring cathedral of glass and steel designed by Santiago Calatrava.       
 
It’s a fabulous place to shoot.

We continue our tour along the streets, only occasionally stopping to re-cross the same street several times in order to get great shots without getting run over.
 We walk by the Art Deco façade of the former Toronto Stock Exchange building, which has been incorporated into the Toronto-Dominion Centre. Today it serves as the home of the Design Exchange, a museum focused on contemporary Canadian design. We don’t have time to go inside, which is disappointing because the trading floor and murals have been preserved and sound impressive.
 The next stop is around the corner at the Toronto-Dominion Centre itself. Here we have a bit of time to photograph the exterior of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s  http://www.miessociety.org/legacy/   stark but elegant structures.
The original buildings from the late 1960s include the single story Banking Pavilion as well as the Toronto-Dominion Bank Tower and the Royal Trust Tower. The simple black glass and steel structures contrast with the more fanciful towers that dominate the rest of the financial district. However, they engage in a conversation with those other buildings as those more decorative buildings are reflected in the dark skins of the van der Rohe buildings.  

We don’t go inside now, but I know I’ll be back as one of these buildings is home to the very fine collection of Inuit art that makes up the Toronto-Dominion Gallery of Inuit Art.

The complex also includes a grassy courtyard, a rarity in the heart of the city’s financial district with its stratospheric real estate prices.
A short walk takes us to the Roy Thompson Hall and Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church.    
 
 
It’s a good place to reflect (both figuratively and literally) on the city’s architectural mix.

A quick trolley ride takes us to the Queen’s Park area (which includes the provincial parliament building), but we are running late so don’t linger. 
Another short transit trip takes us to the Kensington Market neighborhood. This lively, low-rise neighborhood is noted for its hippy vibe, street art, funky shops, and global food scene. We only get a glimpse of the area, but it’s enough to convince me this is the antithesis of downtown Toronto and its glass towers.
 
And it’s a fun place to take pictures.  
A quick walk through the neighborhood take us to the trolley – and the edge of China Town. 
A little more walking and then we are at the CN Tower and the convention center. . . and the end of our tour.  
There may have been too many people and too ambitious an itinerary, the photo walk provided a great introduction to the city and to some sights I might not have found on my own. And, of course, there were good tips on how to improve my photos. It made for a very worthwhile morning.

Next post: The Atrium at Brookfield Place
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Toronto-Dominion Gallery of Inuit Art

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013 Home

Daily Snapshots: First Impressions of Toronto

The rain that was falling when we arrived quickly turned to hot sunshine, allowing for a bit of neighborhood exploration. 
Which continued into the evening.

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Sunday, May 26, 2013 Home

Return Trips: Museums and More in Toronto

I’m not sure Toronto belongs on this list, as my one previous visit (in 1994) left me ambivalent about this city.  I loved the museums, but recall the rest of the city as a bleak, unwelcoming mass of large buildings. On the other hand, my husband loves Toronto because since it is a great city for Inuit art, so it was inevitable that I would have to give it another chance one day.

That day is coming quickly, as this year’s travel blogger’s conference (the TBEX conference)  is being held in Toronto.
Join me at TBEX
I learned so much at last year’s conference in Denver      that I knew I would attend again no matter where the next conference was held.

So I am going to Toronto again.

It’s clear from the program that the conference will again be fabulous and I am looking forward to  meeting and learning from others. There are LOTS of great sessions to attend. But there will also be time to explore Toronto on my own.

I have been sorting through the city’s museums and other attractions and wondering why none were offering complimentary admissions like they did in Denver (where I had wonderful experiences at the Denver Art Museum, the Kirkland Museum, and the Denver Botanic Gardens). Now Tourism Toronto has come to the rescue! They are providing conference participants with complementary access to a number of attractions. While few places were on our “must see list” (the CN Tower, the McMicheal with its collection of Inuit art and painting by the Group of Seven, and Sebastião Salgado’s Genesis show at the Royal Ontario Museum (which also has a great collection of work by Inuit artists and the Group of Seven), now we’ll check out some other places that we would not have visited otherwise.

Of course, I am also hoping it will be spring in Toronto, with enough warm sunshine to entice me into some of the cities green spaces. And if the weather isn’t good, there are more than enough museums, restaurants, and shops to fill my free time.

Good weather or bad, I don’t think I’ll have enough time to fully explore Toronto.


Other Places Worth a Return Trip

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Saturday, May 25, 2013 Home

Como Park is in Bloom, Saint Paul


While spring has been slow to come this year, the trees have (finally) burst into bloom.  
 
 
It is still too cool and rainy to come to the park for a picnic or a concert, but the flowers are enough to make up for that.

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