Category Archives: Theatre

A Year of Travel 2018 Review


January 2018

Museum of Appalachia, Clinton, Tennessee
Museum of Appalachia, Clinton, Tennessee

January 2018 begins as it always does, with travel to Florida, bracketed by stops in Kentucky or Tennessee.  This year, I stopped in Nashville on the way south, and Knoxville on the way north.

I visited the Museum of Appalachia in Clinton, TN,  Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, and the Stones River National Battlefield.  Another interesting thing discovered:  Nashville has a replica of the Parthenon!


February 2018

Ha'penny Bridge, Dublin, Ireland
Ha’penny Bridge, Dublin, Ireland

I had booked a fare using WestJet and British Airways to travel to Dublin from London, Ontario.  A very cheap fare is US funds.  I arrived at the airport early to find a minor delay on departure, which grew as the afternoon wore on.  Clearly, I would not make my connection to the BA flight.  Westjet sent me on a two-hour taxi ride to the next airport.

I stayed at the Maple Hotel on Lower Gardiner Street.  Reasonable, considering the high cost of hotels in Dublin.  There are lots of bars to hang around, but I quite enjoyed the Palace Bar – a beautiful Victorian heritage pub on Fleet Street.

Temple Bar area was touristy as expected, but I liked Hanley’s Cornish Pasties in Merchant’s Arch.  The General Post Office and the Epic Museum are well worth your time, and I took in a show at the Abbey theatre.

Belfast, Northern Ireland
Belfast, Northern Ireland

I took a day trip to Belfast, Northern Ireland.  The guides from Wild Rover Tours were quite informative, and there’s some concern about the effects of Brexit.  There are currently no physical borders between the two countries.  I took a Black Taxi tour of “The Troubles”, and spent time at Giant’s Causeway.

April 2018

The Musée d'Orsay, Paris France
The Musée d’Orsay, Paris France

This trip I made a huge mistake, inadvertently booking “basic economy” on TAP airlines for a flight YYZ – ORY – OPO – YYZ.  Their carry-on restrictions are so tight, I had to pay an extra $140.00 for luggage.  Live and learn.

We were a bit late arriving in Paris, and there was a long wait for luggage, and then about two hundred waiting for a taxi.  I ventured forth and took the metro, arriving after the dinner hour at my hotel.

I split my time in Paris in two – for the first four days I stayed near the Opera, and for the last four days, I stayed near the Bastille.  It’s like getting two trips in one!

Everything in Paris is expensive, but there are lots of small streets to wander and take in the sights.  I visited the Louvre,  Musée d’Orsay, Palais Garnier, and stopped for lunch in a cafe in the Tuileries garden.  Versailles is an easy metro ride through the city, and a good afternoon was spent at Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Hotel Aliados, Porto, Portugal
Hotel Aliados, Porto, Portugal

Part two of this trip brought a stopover in Porto, Portugal.  Just as beautiful as Lisbon.


June 2018

Peggy's Point Lighthouse was built in 1915
Peggy’s Point Lighthouse

June brought me to Nova Scotia for a brief, unexpected trip.  We stayed in Halifax the entire time, except for a brief day trip to Peggy’s Cove.  I’ll be returning to Nova Scotia (by way of Newfoundland) in June 2019.

August 2018

Museum of Human Rights, Winnipeg, MB
Museum of Human Rights, Winnipeg, MB

Swoop Airlines launched earlier in 2018, and part of their promotion was a free flight two three different destinations – just pay the taxes and baggage fees.

I spent four days in Winnipeg and there’s lots to see.  Many historic buildings remain intact or a being renovated.  It’s easy to get around on foot and felt safe.  The underground walkways around Portage & Main are a disaster.

The Museum of Human Rights was free one evening, and I also went to the Dalnavert Museum.  Lots of places to eat and bars to attend.  I also took a day trip to Gimli, the Icelandic settlement not far north.

September 2018

Olkiombo Airstrip, Masai Mara National Reserve
Olkiombo Airstrip, Masai Mara National Reserve

September I spent three weeks in Kenya, Tanzania and the Netherlands.  More on that in another post.

December 2018

Jackson Square, New Orleans, LA
Jackson Square, New Orleans, LA

Lastly, a week in New Orleans.  The offseason, just before the holidays, so not very crowded.  Stayed at the Blake House on Charles Avenue.

Lots of exciting places to wander, and history to see.  I wasn’t far from the French Quarter which is an interesting place, although Bourbon Street itself is shit.

Dropped into the 1850 House Museum, the Presbytere and the Cabildo.

Interesting note:  Lafayette Square does not have a statue of the general and Lee Tower has nothing on top.  “Never turn your back on a Yankee”



Pensacola, FL

IHG Hotels has a program called “points breaks”.  Several times yearly a number of hotels are available for the bargain rate of 5,000 points nightly.  For my third time, I spent two days at a Holiday Inn Express in Destin, Florida.

I drove due north on I-75, then travelled west on HWY-10, a boring journey only rivaled by the trip from London, ON to Detroit, MI on HWY-401.  There were two surprises along the way.  There are cotton fields along the way, and west of Tallahassee there’s a time change.

Destin is one town among a number along the panhandle, frequently referred to as the Emerald Coast.  Truthfully, not much there.  A short trip to nearby Pensacola proved quite interesting.


Fountain in Plaza Ferdinand  VII, Pensacola, FL

The architecture on Palafox Street reminds me of Ybor City in Tampa.  Exterior galleries on the street and balconies above, with intricate fretwork.  The street contains more than a few interesting visuals.

Original storefront showing the tile entrance

The above are two examples.  The first shows how the original storefront has been maintained, down to the original store’s name in the tile.  The second photo shows a new business that has had their name incorporated into the tile store front.

Saenger Theatre
Saenger Theatre

What at first glance I thought was a storefront was actually the beautifully restored Saenger Theatre.  Originally opened in 1925, it was finally closed in 1975 and donated to the City of Pensacola.  It was re-opened after restoration in 1981.

Fountain in Plaza Ferdinand VII, Pensacola, FL

Plaza Ferdinand VII is a small park on Palafox Street.  It was here, in 1821, that General Andrew Jackson received West Florida from Spain.  The park has a bust of General Jackson and an obelisk in the centre.

And finally, on your way out of town:

Marlin Sign
Visit Pensacola Beach with a 1960’s flair

Make a slight right turn and visit Pensacola Beach.  Cross over a long bridge, pay a toll, and you’re there.  From here you have easy access to Gulf Islands National Seashore.


Stratford, ON September 2014

Every year I spend a few weekends in the historic town of Stratford, Ontario, which is located about two hours from my home in Toronto.

Located there is the world famous Stratford Festival, which began in the 1950’s in a tent, with Sir Alec Guinness in the role of Richard III.  Over the years, it’s stages have also been graced by Christopher Plummer, William Shatner, Peter Ustinov, Christopher Walken, Maggie Smith, Colm Feore and Brian Dennehey.

The season is winding down now,  This year I have seen King John, King Lear, Crazy for You, Man of LaMancha, Hay Fever, Mother Courage and The Beaux’ Strategem.

Lots of Shakespeare, some Noel Coward, two broadway musicals and a Restoration comedy.

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Warren, Ohio 2013


Once I left Cleveland, OH I had a specific destination in mind.  I love museums, and have a fondness for automobile museums.  I’ve been to both the Chrysler and Ford museums near Detroit.  While researching, I found the National Packard Museum.

Having left Cleveland in disgust over the traffic situation (many, many roads closed for the filming of Captain America), I took a leisurely drive to Warren, OH, the birthplace of Mr. Packard.  It was here that the Packard Automobiles were first manufactured.


Warren, OH is a small town near the PA border, steeped in history.  The National Packard Museum is quite small, mostly confined to two large public rooms.  The first room houses some displays, signs, check-in and the gift shop.  The larger room houses the automobile collection.  It was a bit crowded when I was there, although with cars, not visitors.

The wonderful people at Best Western had given me a free night which I had to use before it expired, so I stayed at the Best Western Penn-Ohio Inn, located in Hubbard, OH.  A very nice choice.  Welcoming (with cookies!), spotlessly clean, and an indoor pool.  I never actually went in to Hubbard, but ate at a local restaurant which wasn’t so good.

PA is just minutes away, so my stop the next morning was in the town of Sharon.  Another place that reeks of turn of the last century beginnings.  There, I found Ryer’s Shoe Store.  Self-promoted as “The World’s Largest Shoe Store”.  They had a good sale on ECCO shoes, and in PA clothing and footware are exempt from state taxes.  Bonus!

Next stop:  Jamestown, OH

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Future Travel:

August:  Fort Wayne, IN; Little Rock, AK; Oklahoma City, OK; Albuquerque, NM; Colorado Springs, CO

November:  Istanbul, Turkey

April:  Amsterdam, NE; Lisbon, PT

Summer Travels Begin

I’ve been back in Toronto since mid-April.  It’s a great time to watch the city transform into summer, however we have had an unusually cold spring.  As I write this it is a chilly 10C and there’s been light rain all day.

Last week was my first venture out of town; one of several I’ll make to the lovely city of Stratford, Ontario.  It’s just slightly over two hours driving one way.

The city is home to the exciting Stratford Festival. one of the greatest classical theatres in North America.  This year marks my fortieth year of attending performances there.  Thursday I attended performances of The Three Musketeers and Blithe Spirit.  There’s nothing like some Noel Coward to end your day with a smile.

I’ll be back before the end of June for two more productions, and probably several times more before their season ends this fall.

This looks like a good year for a summer road trip.  Over the coming months I’ll be in Cleveland, Fort Wayne, Saint Louis, Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Little Rock.  More to come, for sure.


Stratford Downtown
Stratford Downtown

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