Yesterday evening, NosyNeighbour and I walked to the Dollarama to pick up a few items. We saw lots of changes in the neighbourhood. Some we’d already read about, but some were new (at least to us).  Read the rest of this entry »

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The new blow dry bar still says opening soon. But it looks like it will soon have a new neighbour.

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Across the street, Vittoria has moved in to the former Lapointe’s location.

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It’s official now because I’ve blogged about it. Nestlé Tollhouse is now open.

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Dirty window graffiti. It was difficult to photograph, but somebody left a clean-finger-on-dirty-window message for Ashcroft. Do you have one for a developer? It could get the windows cleaned at the very least.

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Nope, he’s not cleaning the window.

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But something new is arriving.

I wasn’t sure what to expect this year after the stress of registration. Bike New York had hired a different company and their servers crashed for the first four hours.

So I was pleasantly surprised when the staggered start was on  time. Central Park also had no bottlenecks.  But all that was waiting at Astoria Park. With only one exit and all riders being forced through it, we waited more than 20 minutes trying to get out.

After that it was smooth sailing under sunny skies. Even the wind wasn’t too bad. We made it to the festival and waited in line for our free TD souvenir photo. Another few miles and we hit the growing line for the ferry. But the TD crew was walking through the crowd handing out free Popsicles to help keep us cool. We chatted to a few people along the way, some from Detroit, Philadelphia,  Australia and even a few locals.

Despite the hiccups,  the overall experience was great. And this time on the ferry I looked not just at the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline,  but also at the Verrazano Bridge behind us.

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Today’s plan was to find some shirts for NosyNeighbour,  a hat for me, and various accessories for our Dahon folding bikes. 

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We arrived at Century 21 shortly after it opened and found some good deals. After dropping off our puchases,  we walked through the Financial District to City Hall and then along Broadway to East 13th Street, to bfold, a bike shop recommended by a guy at the Bike Expo.

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You would never find it walking down the street. It’s jam packed with folders and the most helpful guys. In addition to the big apple tires,  we picked uo the xooter rack and a Thule bag. We also learned a bit about the guy who referred us. We knew he had worked at the store. But we didn’t know he’d sold his violin to buy his first Brompton. We may check out his foldiefoodie tour next time.

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We walked over to Union Square for a quick bite and munched on our pies while we people watched. There was a lot to take in. A tour group were listening to the guide talking about the history of the neighbourhood,  while a hundred people were getting pumped for the New York Marijuana Parade. Methi ks they were gojng to be leaving a bit late and maybe inthe wrong direction.

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After a bit of a hiccup getting on the N whe we needed the R, we eventually made our way back.  NosyNeighbour replaced his tires while I surfed and wrote drafts for the blog, but only after I’d found tge tablet,  which was hidden in the safe.

So,  to kill some time,  we took the free  ferry to the Brooklyn Ikea for an ice cream and a pass by tge Statue of Liberty. The Ikea bistro was ceazy busy. And at leasf now with Ottawa’s bigger Ikea,  I dobt need to shop for stuff here.

Time killed, we returned back to the hotel having walked more than 17,000 steps.  We visited Ulysses’ for supper, sharing some spring rolls. NosyNeighbour gad fish and chips,  and I had the Stone Street salad with chicken. Here’s hooing we’re well fueled for tomorrow.

We spent longer than expected at Woodbury Commons.  Ironically all of our puchases were made at the first store, Northface, which had opened a bit earlier.

Then we set off for Manhattan,  but undecided about which bridge to cross. While we were driving, I used the Garmin to fing a Petco. We’d been looking for a replacement cat harness for our cat, and Petco was the only place I knew of that carried the figure 8 style that works withnour highly active urban cat.

But finding our way back to the Tapanzee bridge was a challenge.  And then we had conflicts between the Garmin and car GPS. What should have been a cheaper route became expensive when we crossed the Triboro
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But eventually things work themselves out and we arrived.  After unloading the car, we headed off to Basketball City to pick up our tour packets. We meandered through all the exhibitors and then ate shawarma before returning to the hotel.

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After a quick change,  we set off to Terra Blues to Greenwich Village via the R line. The first band, Saron Crenshaw Trio, played an acoustic set.

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The second group  Michael Powers Frequency,  was plugged in but not too loud. We stayed for a few songs but didn’t feel the connection that we’d had with the first band.

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Interesting ride back in the subway. Ended up on the car with sketchy scruffy guys sleeping on the seats.

We’ve participated in the Five  Boro Bike Tour a number of times.  It’s a great reason to plan a trip to New York and get out o  the bike early.

The last time we left a day earlier and spent the night about an hour outside the city, close to the Woodbury Commons Outlet Mall. it worked outvreally well because you shop for a couple of hours in the morning and don’t arrive as tired as you would after eight hours of driving.

We dropped off our high-maintenance cat at the Pussycat Hotel, which is conveniently located on our way. Then we drove through the Adirondacks on our way to New Windsor. It’s close to Westpoint and has an I ternational airport. We stayed again at the Days Inn,  a bargain at US $67.

Since I’d packed a small cooler, we didn’t need to go out for supper. But we did head out to the local Walmart for a few supplies (beer, chips, fruit, pantyhose). It’s a 24-hour super center,  but later in the evening, the number if open checkouts dwindles.

I found a cashier with no line up but her light was off. So I asked if she was open. She said if it were a small order, sure. I put all our items on the conveyor belt. She asked who was paying. I said he was. And she replied that she wouldn’t have to ask him for ID.  Hahaha! Good one!

This morning I met my walking buddy and headed along the Byron Path into Westboro.

After heading along the path near the parkway, along the proposed LRT route, we returned through Westboro.

Lapointe’s Fish is now closed and I can’t say I’m surprised or sad. Service wasn’t great and coupons sent to the neighbourhood weren’t valid at this location.

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A bit further up the street we noticed a police incident at BMO.

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Bank robbery?

It’s been such a long time since I’ve blogged about the neighbourhood. I’ve taken photos, then get sidetracked doing other things. Who knew I’d be so busy in retirement.

Just on the edge of Westboro, Illume coffee shop has closed. I can’t say I’m surprised. We tried to give them business but found a new employee there every visit, and only learned by chance that they offered a frequent buyer card. Not once we were told by staff. A “For Lease” is in the window now.

The building/lot at 270 Richmond Road is for sale, obviously to be redeveloped. The Miele vacuum cleaner business is moving elsewhere. I wonder whether Kitchenalia will be next.

It took two walk-bys before I realized a change a bit further west. World of Tea used to be just west of the bank. It now says Opium Decor. When I first glanced at the sign I thought it said Opium Dealer. World of Tea seems to have moved to 220 Bank Street.

Pietro’s corner is now open, although it was closed Easter Monday when we walked by. It’s too bad for them because a lot of people were out. It seems they are closed every Monday, but when we glanced in the window we saw a man who looked like a customer standing at the counter.

Beside Pietro’s is a new sign. Another commercial tenant. Opening soon is …. Fendi Hair Lounge and Blowdry Bar. After some sleuthing, I’ve discovered it’s Fendi Salon, which is located on Bank Street. It looks like they plan to open May 1. Can’t say I’m a big fan of their web site. But I’m probably not their target audience.

Digging has also begun beside the LCBO.

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Happy Spring!

We’ve visited many times but still not seen all it has to offer. We typically stay in Freising, near the airport and home to the world’s oldest continuously operated brewery, Weihenstephan.

But this time we found a good deal near the train station with underground parking at a reasonable rate. The Augusten Hotel was a quick walk from the Altstadt and our favorite Brauerei,  the Augustiner Keller.  While there is an Augustiner restaurant in the Altstadt,  the Keller has a huge biergarten in nice weather and a massive hall and cellar area year round. And it’s where locals go, meaning no English tourist menu.

On the walk up to the door we saw a chalkboard sandwich sign indicating an event wad taking place. Once we  got inside, we discovered the big hall was for the party and only the snug and small area at the entrance were available.

I quickly spotted two empty seats at a table with a couple in their late 50s. Using my best German,  I asked if they were free. Germans and Austrians aren’t shy about sharing a restaurant table. And we were in luck.  After they had received and eaten their meals, I asked the woman where they were from. 

They were from a small village near Salzburg,  where they run a pension.  Surprisingly,  their English was pretty much non-existent. I suspect they had the hotel vocabulary down pat, but not social.

So I spoke in German with the woman and NosyNeighbour used his translator app and the free wifi to communicate with her husband. Eventually NosyNeighbour downloaded a translator app for the Austrian’s iPhone as well. It was fun to watch them speak to their phones and then show each other the translation,  especially in a noisy hall.

Other highlights include the two young Japanese women who ordered by pointing at NosyNeighbour’s sausage plate, and the group of middle aged guys who kept singing German football songs.

The next day we walked to the BMW museum and BMW world.  It was about an hour and it was interesting to pass through sleepy neighbourhoods on a Bavarian Sunday morning.

Despite the low cloud cover we also went up the Olympic Tower, which is also home to a small rock music museum.  Ir was reaaly cold and windy at the top. I imagine the view on a vlear day would be spectacular.

Our last evening was spent at the Löwenbrau brewery restaurant.  The reviews were mixed. Our waitress was a crusty old German woman with no personality.  The food was okay. But itnjust couldn’t compare with our experience the day before.  And I somehow managed to lose my pink angora gloves.

Our return flight was in late afternoon, and we planned to arrive at the airport early enough to do a tour, check out the observation floor and grab a meal at the airport micro brewery.  Yes, it’s true, and even includes a biergarten in nice weather.  But it wasn’t meant to be.

I suppose the first clue was the Liufthansa email that arrived on Sunday, which only had one of our names. Then at the airport, we needed to get boarding passes and check our bulky luggage. 

The check in agent found a problem with our tickets. They weren’t joined, and I appeared in two reservation systems. While she tried to resolve the issue, we took advantage of the airport’s free wifi and patiently surfed.

Eventually she handed us our boarding passes but indicated she wasn’t able to assign seats. We were to report to the gate, wherevthe flight manager would assign the seats. This process had already taken more than an hour.  I asked if we were going to make the flight because the pilots’ strike had bumped people over the weekend.  She indicated that the flight was full but they weren’t looking for volunteers. 

We went through security immediately and waited at the gate for the manager to arrive.  I spoke German to her and asked if we had time to grab a bite to eat, given that it was now after 2 p.m. She said that would be fine.  Appropriately,  the closest restaurant had a special of beer, pretzel and Weiß wurst.

Hunger satisfied,  we returned to a packed gate area to pick up our boarding passes.  Result! Row 15 in Business Class!

Lufthansa is one of the best airlines I’ve flown. The service and food is excellent,  even when the splash red wine on you. That accident brought an offer of a free bottle of champagne or wine to take home,  but I like beer better. So she returned with a plastic bag of nice German beer and some 1st class freebies.

But wait,  it gets better.  My seat wasn’t working properly.  It didn’t really bother me because on the return flight I want to stay awake.  But I wanted them to know so that it could be fixed gor the return overnight flight. When they couldn’t fix it they were going to offer me more compensation.  But I just didn’t feel right folliwing up on that.

Icing on the cake for the Best. Ski. Holiday. Ever. 

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In the end , we decided on a 5-day pass after seeing a weather forecast with little chance of precipitation. The pass covers St-Anton, St-Christof, Stuben, Sonnenkopf, Lech, Zürs and Warth Schröcken. A series of ski buses connect the ares, but parking is free and always available for early risers.

The first day we stayed local, covering Rendl, the main St-Anton side and St-Christof.

The second day we drove to Zürs and made our first attempt at the Weiß Ring, but the double chair at Zug was kaputt. After climbing up to the road we hopped in a packed ski bus back to Lech and checked out the new connection to Warth and Schröcken, where we finally found the sun.

The third day started  by going to top of Valluga II, where we met a German / Slovenian couple. From the top, we skied the Weiß Rauch route, Stuben and St Christof. In the evening we checked out the free ski show. Very entertaining.  And now we know why we heard fireworks every Wednesday.

The fourth day we headed over to Sonnenkopf. Unfortunately it wasn’t living up to its namesake, literally sunny head.  And it was full of kids because  of a school holiday in Tirol. After eating lunch at the top, where we saw penis snow art, we drove to Alpen Raus for the afternoon. After so much skiing, we paid a well-deserved visit to the Arlberg Wellness centre in the evening.

Our last day was the Best.Ski.Day.Ever. We drove back to Zürs to try the Weiß Ring and Warth tour again. This time going down Wildepiste 33 we saw a helicopter rescue (hope they bought the rescue card) and discovered another unique lift on the Warth side: a double-ended chairlift that served two sides of the mountain, with skiers disembarking from both directions at the top.

We finished our tour with a pint on the hill just before our return to Zürs. Best.Ski.Day.Ever

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