Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Tadoussac: where whales enjoy to be watched

Tadoussac is a small village in Québec at the confluence of the St. Lawrence and Saguenay rivers.
It looks just like a bunch of colorful wooden houses thrown along the Saguenay fjord, but it actually holds the record of the oldest European settlement in Canada.
And, besides this, it holds at least a couple of surprises.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Down from the Rabbit's hole in Valentino Park

I wasn't planning to visit this place yesterday.
And actually I wasn't even planning to write a post about it.
But sometimes unplanned things turn out to be beautiful surprises: just like Alice, you get curious and follow the Rabbit down in the hole, finding out a new realm of wonderland... even when the "wonderland" is actually a place you know already pretty well.
But sometimes there are days, special days, when you simply get able to see things with new eyes, under a new light, with their beauty suddenly exploding, like a firework that turns the everyday sky into a feast.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Cinema Museum in Turin - a Mole full of dreams

Mole Antonelliana is a peculiar building.
It makes Turin's skyline pretty unique, and, when you see it for the first time, it makes you wonder what the heck it is.
It should have been a Jewish synagogue, but, for its shape and its mass, it doesn't really look like a synagogue.
Well, it doesn't actually look like any other kind of building in the world.
Alessandro Antonelli, the architect who designed it, was a sort of crazy genius, and it would have been really interesting to take a peek in his head and find out what he was wondering about when he conceived his masterpiece.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Central Park - 10 things we saw and one we missed...

Going to Central Park is not simply like walking through a city park.
It's actually more like stepping into some kind of parallel world: one moment you are in middle of Manhattan's skyscrapers and traffic, and the moment after you are surrounded by this green little big universe with its own soul and personality.
It is indeed the green lung of NYC, because it's so big that it could surely work fine even for such a huge metropolis like the Big Apple - and it surely provides also a metaphorical chance to breathe, to take a break from the syncopate rhytms that rule outside of it.
It's like an oasis. And I know this is something that could be said for almost every city park in the world, but here this contrast is even more sharp and evident.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Torino and its Magic - Some hints about the mysteries of a mysterious city

Torino is defined to be a magical city.
There are tons of books and even tours about this aspect, and there are plenty of legends and credences that justify such definition.
But is it magical just because it is charming and bewitching, with an arcane and suggestive halo which can become very attractive for some, or because it actually hides secrets from occult science, both from white and black magic?
I'm not going to answer to this question, simply because I haven't found an answer myself yet: I am a totally rational and concrete person, but still I admit I get charmed by such topics. Like, I don't believe it, but it would be bewtiching to - somehow as when, during your childhood, you have already found out Santa Claus doesn't exsist, but a tiny part of you still hopes it's not your parents that bring the presents under the tree.
So - here is an overview of some of the legends, the myths and the facts that have contributed to create Turin's magical halo. Then feel free to make your choice - whether to believe them or not.
After all it wouldn't be wrong to state that magic is just in the eye of the beholder: if you believe it, it does exsist; if you'll look for it, you will find it; prodiges do not show up to everyone, but only to those who will follow an effort, a path to look for them. And this surely applies to Turin's magic - both the esotheric one, and the one related to the sheer charme of its discrete and regal beauty...

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Black Cat & the City

Have you ever fallen in love with someone completely different from you? With someone so different that, before getting to know him for real, you'd always thought you would have hated him?
I have, and it's happened at first sight.
I'm talking about New York City, also known as THE City - which I've always thought it was somehow snooty and stilted, but now I do get it.
New York is "the" City for antonomasia because it has the quintessential charisma of urbanity. Sure, it is big and it is loud but it does it with a style: that's not chaos, that's dynamicity and it actually melts in harmony as a feature of a city that is the center of the world, that neverendingly creates and is on the moving.
I've never thought I could have been a NYC girl: I'm all for cosy atmospheres, Old Europe, silence and quiet, places that makes you feel like you are stepping back in time, and I thought that the Big Apple, so modern, so rampant couldn't really be my cup of tea.
Still I thought it was a "must" to visit it for once in a lifetime, so I was curious to see it.
And I'd say it's been the biggest positive surprise in my life as a traveller so far.
That's why, basically, I sometimes end up choosing to visit places that don't really appeal me at first: I like giving myself the chance to get surprised, and I like getting confronted with something quite different from my usual destinations, because it might help to reveal some new parts of myself.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

[My Top 10] - Boston, the (new) England [part 2]

 [read here Part 1!!]
My love for Boston couldn't be squeezed in just one post!
So read here the rest of my 10 reasons why I've enjoyed this city so much.

[6] Hiring a car and wandering along Cape Cod peninsula
Oh, well...
Actually I'd love to have plenty to write about this point!
Cape Cod is a beautiful region and it combines all my favourite ingredients: wild beaches, open ocean, lighthouses...

Cape Cod

But unfortunately the day we had chosen to hire a car to explore this amazing peninsula has been doomed by an everlasting rain - so we could enjoy just the half of the beauty of the region, just by seeing it through our car's windows, and not by living it fully.
But alas, what we saw has been gorgeous anyway, so I truly recommend everyone to do the same - hoping that you'll be luckier that we've been!

[My Top 10] - Boston, the (new) England [part 1]

Boston has basically been my first approach with the Usa (if we do not count my layover in Newark airport when flying back from Canadat), and I think that for an European it actually represents the ideal place from where starting to explore the States, as it brings along a sort of cultural (and visual) mediation between the Old and New Continent.
Boston is the oldest American city and it still keeps a strong connection with its roots, a very marked British appeal.
So how could I not fall in love with it? ;)
What has mostly impressed me has been that, for being a big and important American city, it is incredibly cosy and quiet. Maybe it's because the most distinctive aspect of Boston is not connected with productive activities or with power & money, but basically with culture and knowledge: its universities, its important history...
I like this, and it definitely makes Boston a city where I'd enjoy living - and here follow 10 reasons why I would...

[1] Beacon Hill
This quarter is a small, charming and cosy jewel.

boston beacon hill

It's one of the areas where you definitely can sense the most of the British roots of Boston. Its Victorian houses, its elegance, the old streetlamps and the pebble-paved alleys... all is SO Brit here, and basically you can tell you are in the Usa instead because everything is just bigger ;)

Boston Beacon Hill

Or because in one of these alleys you can find a stars & stripes flag and a parked pick-up truck!

boston beacon hill
Pic taken by Tabby Cat
Beacon Hill is made of a lower part, which is flat and mainly hosts lovely antiques & craftmen shops plus restaurants/cafés; and of an upper part, which is just residential and goes steep - that's on the hill from which it gets its name.
It's enjoyable to wander and get lost in both of them, as you can either end up buying something pretty or daydreaming about your ideal home :)

[2] Common Park & Public Garden
The Common has been the first thing I've seen of Boston, as it was close to our hotel - and it's been pretty strategical as it's also the point where the Freedom Trail starts (see next), so I would recommend everyone to begin visiting the city from here.

boston common park

It's the oldest public park of Boston and it's a very nice place where having a relaxing stroll.

Boston Common Park

It was so funny to see children (and some adults as well) splashing in the Frog Pond - which is a large and shallow pool, that during winter becomes an ice-skating ring and during summer... a refreshing shelter!

Boston Common Park

Boston Common Park

Parallel to the Common Park there is the Public Garden: they are basically simmetric and just divided by Charles Street - and actually at first I had thought it was all the same place.

Boston Public Garden

And perhaps I'd say it's like they are two different sides of a same thing, like the masculine VS feminine part of a whole: the Common is male, dedicated to physical activities and dotted with war memorials; while the Garden is definitely female, with its artsy botanical beauties and the Swan Boats sliding over the lake.

Boston Public Garden

Plus it's mostly loved by children, exp. for the cute sculpture Make Way for the Ducklings, which portraits the feathered charachters of a childhood book by R. Mc Closkey.
These ducklings are SO loved by children that it's basically impossible to take a picture of them without a storm of kids hanging all over...
Except if you are together with my friend Siamese Cat, who, being a teacher, has been able to make them respect discipline for the 5'' we needed to snap the picture ;)

Boston Public Garden - Make Way for the Ducklings

 [3] Freedom Trail
The Freedom Trail is a 4 kms long path of red bricks, starting from the Boston Common and arriving till Bunker Hill Monument and leading you to the discovery of the history of American Revolution through the salient places that have witnessed it.

Boston Freedom Trail

It's like walking through one of those chronological lines you find on history books, but, instead of just reading a meaningless list of events, here you can have a visual evidence of the most relevant facts, may it be through monuments, places or museums.

Boston Freedom Trail

The path it's easy to be followed by yourself, which is what we've done, and that's the best option if you prefer to take your time for a deeper look to what you'll find most interesting. But if you prefer having someone who can help you getting more knowledge about the historical facts that this trail has witnessed, there are lots of guided visits available.

Boston, Freedom Trail

Things you can do along the Freedom Trail and history behind them do deserve longer details - so stay tuned as more will follow!

[4] Harvard
As I've said above, the greates richness of Boston is knowledge - and Harvard University surely is one of the universal symbols of it.
The first place you meet when you get off the metro is Harvard Square, which is the place that mostly can give a dip in a Brit atmosphere: the streetlamps, the hanging flowers, the red bricks... and, all in all, the feeling.

Harvard Square, Boston

 It's a colorful jigsaw of little shops, cafés and bookstores, and it really is the heart of Harvard - the point from where you can start your exploration.
From here you can enter the University ensemble, sneaking through the iron gates that lead to the campus.
And, wow, you really feel like you are stepping inside a legendary place!
Well, Harvard is legendary: if not the most prestigious, it surely is the oldest university in the Usa, and walking along its yard really makes you feel surrounded by a mythical halo.


 In the Johnston Gate you can find the two academic buildings, the Massachusetts Hall and the Harvard Hall: they are massive and they do look like two temples, which after all is what they are - temples of knowledge, and (hopefully) also of wisdom.


It's been so nice to relax in the green and neat courtyard, pretending for some minutes to be a student. 
Tradition says that touching the show of mr Harvard's statue will bring you a fast and lucky graduation - pity that I'm already done with my studies!

Harvard, the lucky shoe

But this tradition is actually peculiar, because the sign on the statue hides three lies:
1) John Harvard was not the founder of the University, he was just a benefactor;
2) The University was actually founded two years later than what the sign claims;
3) We are not even sure that the guy portraited IS mr Harvard!!

Harvard, the three lies statue

[5] 75 Chestnut
This cosy restaurant is situated in one of the alleys of Beacon Hill and it indeed suits the surroundings, as it totally has the kind of shabby-chic elegance which I find so warm and welcoming; but it truly deserves a mention apart because here we had one of the best meals of the trip.

Chestnut Road, Beacon Hill, Boston

Wine was tasty, place was pretty, food delicious and the waiter hot - what more can you ask for?? ;)
I had a tower of starters, which was actually a complete meal, as it consisted of three dishes with big portions in.

75 Chestnut, Beacon Hill, Boston

 There were crisp fried calamari, roasted garlic bread and eggplant ravioli.
Everything was superb, but my heart cried when my stomach didn't have anymore room for the marvellous raspberry & white choc cheesecake I chose for dessert.

Cheesecake - 75 Chestnut, Beacon Hill, Boston
Such a pity, it was one of the best cheesecakes I've ever tasted!
Well, yet another good reason to come back :)

[part 2 is here!!!]