Strait of Messina, Italy: myth, magic and a controversial bridge

Strait of Messina, Italy: myth, magic and a controversial bridge

When Odysseus sailed the Strait of Messina he had a tough decision to make.  Sailing too close to Calabria would mean passing Scylla, a sailor-snatching sea-nymph with a body composed of ravening dogs.  Too close to Sicily and the  whirlpool mouth of Charybdis could suck down the entire ship. Navigating the water between mainland Italy […]

16.11.2011 · Filled under: Legendary Landscapes, Myths & Legends · Tags: , · 5 Comments »
Myth and water around Lamezia Terme, Calabria, Italy

Myth and water around Lamezia Terme, Calabria, Italy

We’ve been using Calabria as a back door to Sicily for a few years, preferring direct flights to Lamezia Terme to non-direct flights to Palermo.  Car rental is a lot easier at Lamezia, too. This time we stayed in the area for a few days to decompress and explore.  Our first stop is always the quiet […]

Summoning the so-called dead in Lily Dale, New York

Summoning the so-called dead in Lily Dale, New York

A black cat disappears into a bank of tiger lilies, prayer ribbons stir on a puff of air.  On Cassadaga Lake, afternoon sun glints off the water in darts of light that drift ashore like summoned souls. Spirit summoning has been going on for over 150 years at Lily Dale, home to the world’s largest Spiritualist community and over 40 registered […]

05.09.2011 · Filled under: Architecture, New York, Spirituality · Tags: , , · 4 Comments »
Lake Effect Diner, Buffalo, New York

Lake Effect Diner, Buffalo, New York

Pat and I are always on the lookout for a non-chain place to eat with great local food and plenty of atmosphere.  The Lake Effect Diner in Buffalo, NY, was a real find. It’s easy to love these old diners with their resemblance to old Airstream trailers.  Their exuberant lines just seem to shout holiday […]

12.08.2011 · Filled under: Architecture, Food, New York · Tags: , , · 1 Comment »
Al fresco art: Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition

Al fresco art: Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition

I always meet the most interesting people at the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition.  Fewer exhibitors this year, surprising since it’s the event’s 50th anniversary but half of Nathan Phillips Square being fenced off for construction may have had something to do with that.  As always, though, quality at this juried show was high. The TOAE […]

09.07.2011 · Filled under: Art, Canada, Festivals & Events · Tags: , · No Comments »
Why I’m toasting Russia’s Last Grand Duchess today

Why I’m toasting Russia’s Last Grand Duchess today

In Toronto’s North York cemetery, not far from the grave of hockey and coffee legend Tim Horton, “The Last Grand Duchess of Russia” lies beneath an Eastern Orthodox cross as white as a Russian winter. In this city of immigrant tales, the story of Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Olga of Russia is one of […]

14.06.2011 · Filled under: Art, Canada, Spirituality · Tags: , , · No Comments »
Messy lives, messy art: Abstract Expressionism New York at AGO

Messy lives, messy art: Abstract Expressionism New York at AGO

Tumultuous relationships, alcoholism, suicide.  For the Abstract Expressionists, messy lives made for messy art.  Sixty years later, their paintings still vibrate with the tragedy, passion and questing spirit that created them more than half a century ago. Several days after attending a media preview at the Art Gallery of Ontario, I’m still thinking about the show. Abstract Expressionist New York: Masterpieces from The Museum of […]

31.05.2011 · Filled under: Art · Tags: · No Comments »
Amsterdam for culture trippers

Amsterdam for culture trippers

Amsterdam charms with history, her lovely canals lined with houses that resemble gingerbread cookies piped with white icing.  And with more museums per square kilometer than any place else on earth, it would be easy to imagine the city as an open-air museum of Holland’s Golden Age.  But the spirit of adventure, tolerance and freedom that built […]

20.04.2011 · Filled under: Art, Destination Guides, Europe, Netherlands · Tags: , , · 5 Comments »
Investing in beauty: The European Fine Art Fair, Maastricht, Netherlands

Investing in beauty: The European Fine Art Fair, Maastricht, Netherlands

If TEFAF Maastricht is the mother of all commercial art fairs, she is a gracious hostess with a salon full of fresh flowers and the best-informed minds of the international art world. Often described as an incredible once-a-year museum in which everything is for sale, TEFAF this year hosted 260 of the world’s top art and antiques dealers showing everything from classical antiquities to crave-worthy jewellery by Lalique and […]

Song and sin in Santiago de Cuba

Song and sin in Santiago de Cuba

It’s easy to get into mischief in Santiago de Cuba.  Closer to Haiti and the Dominican Republic than it is to Havana, this city on Cuba’s rugged south coast is famous for its July Carnival and the earthy Caribbean street party atmosphere that pervades year round. Son, salsa–just about every Cuban music genre originated in Santiago’s narrow alleys. From Afro-Cuban drumming in Parque Cespedes […]

01.03.2011 · Filled under: Cuba, Destination Guides · Tags: , · 2 Comments »