Friday, May 29, 2015

Past POIs - Cherry Blossoms at High Park [Toronto, Ontario]

Every year around April/May, a lot of people go and view the Cherry Blossoms at High Park when they are blossoming.  Usually it happens for two weeks in Spring, but you can go to Sakura In High Park and they provide you with a lot of information on when it may happen, if it has happened, and what it currently looks like.

The history goes, back in April 1, 1959, Toru Hagiwara who was the Japanese ambassador to Canada, gave Toronto 2,000 cherry blossom trees for supporting Japanese refugees after the Second World War.  A lot of these trees were planted in High Park.  In fact, following this, there were three other donations of cherry blossom trees to High Park.  Once in 1984 (along a pathway west of the Children's Adventure Playground), another in 2001 (along the east shore of Grenadier Pond), and again in 2006 (near the original 1959 site).  For those interested, there are 3 plaques in High Park that commemorate the tree planting events (time to go search for them)!  Interesting fact, the Sakura is the national flower of Japan.

If you aren't into crazy crowds, I found out this year that you can visit Robart Library at University of Toronto.  There aren't as many, I counted about 30, but you shouldn't have a problem getting some good pictures without the massive crowds that are drawn to High Park.

This event and location is now cemented as one of my most memorable and cherished moments in my life.  Two years ago, this was a place that I went to on one of our first dates with my girlfriend at the time.  Two years later, this was the day that I would propose to her.  Who knows, maybe a year later is when we will get married together!

Come back next Friday for another Past Point of Interest!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Future POIs - World of Coca Cola [Atlanta, Georgia]

Going up as a child, Coca Cola was one of the drinks that I've always had and to this day, I still do although not as much as I did as a child.  My mom told me that I was given Coke as a few month old child and when I was older and I wouldn't take my medicine, they would try to give me medicine by putting it into a Coca Cola can.  That didn't end well because you can fool a child by the can, but not by the taste.

From Wikipedia
When we go to Atlanta, World of Coca Cola is the second big attraction that we plan to see while we are there and it happens to be right next to the other place which is the Georgia Aquarium.  This attraction will provide guests with the history behind one of the world's most famous beverages, there is a 4D movie, you can see the bottling process and get to try over 100 beverages from around the world!

From Wikipedia (Product Tasting Area)
In 2015, the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta hit 25 years of age.  This new attraction actually replaced the old version at Underground Atlanta which was built back in 1990.  Did you know that Coca-Cola dates back all the way to 1886?  Yes, the company is over 125 years ago.  It was actually created by an Atlanta pharmacist Dr. John S. Pemberton who developed the syrup and his partner Frank M. Robinson designed the name and trademarked logo.  Back in the early days, the average daily sales were 9 servings a day, today, the number is estimated to be 1.9 BILLION servings a day worldwide.

Come back next Monday for another Future Point of Interest!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Past POIs - Cheltenham Badlands [Caledon, Ontario]

This is an interesting site that I saw awhile back and while it is interesting to see, unfortunately due to popularity and people's lack of obeying signs, the site is currently closed.

Located in Caledon, Ontario is Cheltenham Badlands, a place that looks like what I would imagine Mars looks like with the red sand which is actually iron oxide from the Queenston Shale.  The site is actually owned by the Ontario Heritage Trust.  Long ago, this was actually a river, you can apparently tell that this is true if you walk the path but unfortunately, even when I visited 3 years ago, it was closed off due to environmental damage by humans.

Come back next Friday for another Past Point of Interest!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Future POIs - Biltmore Estate [Asheville, North Carolina]

Biltmore Estate is a site that is located in Asheville, North Carolina which I was told to visit by my manager to visit.

Courtesy of
This is is North America's largest privately owned estate with over 8,000 acres, with the house being 178,926 square feet (16,622.8 m2) of floor space.  Construction started in 1889 and was completed in 1895 and has always been owned by the Vanderbilts.

Courtesy of
It has some of the craziest things that I have heard of for a house.  There is a library with over 10,000 books, a banquet hall with a 70-foot ceiling, and 65 fireplaces among other things.  The grounds are designed by Frederick Law Olmsted who designed Prospect Park and Central Park in New York City, University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University as well at many other public parks and parkways (check Wikipedia for details, he holds an impressive list that would be too long to list).

Courtesy of
Besides the house, there is a winery and a farm.  It costs $60 USD to visit the estate at the door, if you book online ahead of time you can save up to $10 USD.  This price includes the visit to the estate, access to the house for the bottom 3 floors as well at the basement.  There are optional outdoor activities available at the estate including biking, carriage rides, fly-fishing, hiking, horseback riding, land rover (you rent a Land Rover and explore the estate, how crazy does this sound), river float trips, segway tours and sporting clays.

Courtesy of
A brief visit would last about 2-3 hours but it is entirely possible that you would spend your entire day here give how big the site is and how many things you can do.

Come back next Monday for another Future Point of Interest!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Past POIs - Ice Hotel [Quebec City, Quebec]

During a February road trip, we went to the Ice Hotel in Quebec City, also known at the Hotel de Glace.

Me in the Pirate Room.
Initially I thought that it would be neat to sleep over but after looking at the cost and what it means to sleep there (over $200 a person/night, or $400+ per night), I easily said no and we just paid to visit the site instead.  Do note that the price is high because they actually rent a room at a nearby hotel for you as well in case you don't like it and to shower and other things (the ice hotel only has toilets).  Also, you aren't sleeping on a block of ice, you will sleep on a mattress that is placed on top of an ice block with an arctic sleeping bag.

Ice Slide featuring Olaf.
For $18 (price may vary), you get a tour of the complex which gives you some background on how they build the structure and some of the types of rooms that they have there.  It is a bit steep in price but I think it is worth a visit.  After the tour, you are free to explore the site on your own (you can visit all the rooms and the areas).  Besides the rooms, there is a great hall where you can mingle with people since there is music and a bar, there is a chapel, and even a slide as well.

The hotel itself is built every year starting in roughly December, open to guests in January and torn down in April.  It takes roughly a month and a half and 60 people to build with a combination of snow (over 15,000 tons) and ice (over 500,000 tons).  Although it is called the Ice Hotel, the interior temperature is not as cold as you would think since snow is actually a good insulator keeping the temperature at roughly -2 C to -3 C (28 F).

Come back next Friday for another Past Point of Interest!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Future POIs - Blue Ridge Parkway [North Carolina and Virginia]

I don't normally travel to do drives (well, excluding the autobahn), but this is one that I have been told about so I'm optimistic that this one may change my views on scenic drives.

Courtesy of wikipedia
During our June roadtrip, we will be passing by the Blue Ridge Parkway which is a 469 mile long parkway that goes from Shenandoah National Park near Waynesboro, Virginia (Mile 0) to Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Mile 469).

Courtesy of wikipedia
Construction began in 1935 and took over 52 years to complete (in 1987).  It is the longest linear park and belongs to the National Park Service.  It is named after the Blue Ridge, a chain of mountains that is part of the Appalachian Mountains.

Courtesy of wikipedia
Come back next Monday for another Future Point of Interest!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Past POIs - Montmorency Falls [Quebec City, Quebec]

During a winter trip to Quebec City, we stopped by Montmorency Falls and it is pretty cool to see falls during winter time.

Base of Montmorency Falls (everyone is on the frozen falls).
The falls are 84 meters (275 ft) high and 46 meters (150 ft) wide making it the highest in Quebec and 30 meters (98 ft) higher than Niagara Falls!

View from the suspension bridge.
It is part of a national park (Montmorency Falls Park) and within the area, there is a suspension bridge, two sets of stairs going to the base and an aerial tram that brings people from the base to the top of the falls all give you different perspectives of the falls itself.

View of one of the sets of stairs (you can see the bottom is completely covered).
During the winter, there is a hump that is created by the mist of the falls which we went sliding down which was a lot of fun.

Ice climbers!
Make sure to come back next Friday for another Past Point of Interest!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Future POIs - Georgia Aquarium [Atlanta, Georgia]

Aquariums and underwater life has always seemed interesting due to how little we actually know about it given that we have not uncovered everything there is underwater.  Did you know that there is a fish with a transparent head?  Shrimps that just by snapping their claw emits a bubble that travels as fast as a car (up to 62 mph)?

Courtesy of Wikipedia
I don't know why it is so interesting but I have always liked going to aquariums and in June, I finally get to go to the Georgia Aquarium which is the largest aquarium in the western hemisphere built in 2005 and was actually the largest in the world until 2012.

Courtesy of wikipedia
The aquarium has over 100,000 animals, spanning 500 species and all within 10 million gallons of water.  Surprisingly all funded by donations.  Some of the main things to see are the whale shark and the beluga whales.  This is the only place outside of Asia to have whale sharks!  All of them were imported from Taiwan.

Courtesy of wikipedia
There are six galleries, Georgia Explorer, Tropical Diver, Ocean Voyager, Cold Water Quest, River Scout and Dolphin Tales.  The only one to make note of is the Dolphin Tales exhibit, this is a indoor dolphin stadium where they have shows from time to time so make sure to check the schedule.  The rest you can do at your leisure.  There is also a movie theater for those interested.

Come back next Monday for another Future Point of Interest!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Past POIs - Taughannock Falls State Park [Tompkins County, New York]

Taughannock Falls State Park is a state park in the United States that we went to as part of our Watkins Glen long weekend trip in May 2014.

View from Rim Trail
It is a very easy and flat park to walk through and there is only one path to get to the base of the waterfall (it is actually the end point).  There is a circular path at the top where you can walk around the falls which gives you a different view of the falls although I'm not sure if it is worth it (it is an okay walk although there isn't much to see).

View from Rim Trail
The main attraction is at the end of the walk which is a waterfall that is 215 feet high (66 meters) which is 33 feet (10 meters) higher than Niagara Falls!  This also makes it the highest waterfall in the northeastern United States.  To get there, just walk along the main trail which is about 1.4 km (0.75 miles) in.

Part of the Gorge Trail
There is camping available if you like (76 campsites, 16 electrics, 60 with no utilities) and 10 cabins.  The park itself is free to visit.

Come back next Friday for another Past Point of Interest!