Pikes Peak with Claudia and Scott

Have you met Claudia at The Bookwright? No? Pop over to have a look, I’ll wait…

Claudia and her husband, Scott, live near Denver and very kindly offered to pick us up and take us to Pikes Peak for the day. Colorado has 54 “Fourteeners” and at 14,115 feet Pikes Peak is only the 31st highest! But don’t worry, there’s a road all the way up (or a cog railway) so no climbing was involved. Not only that, you can eat donuts at the top – it’s amazing that they cook at such high altitudes.

It was, as you might expect, a tad chilly – but as you can see below, we all look very happy to be there.

Not far from Pikes Peak is Garden of the Gods, a park with magnificent red sandstone rock formations, many of which are over 300 million years old. We stopped off there on the way back to Denver.

We must have behaved ourselves, because next day Claudia and Scott offered to take us out again! This time, we visited the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The gems and minerals section was particularly impressive.

As was the Sky Terrace with its views over City Park towards the Rocky Mountains.

What an amazing two days! This was the fourth time that we have met up with fellow bloggers, and all have turned out to be lovely people. Many thanks to the wonderful Claudia and Scott for giving so generously of their time to show us around.

That’s almost it for our Summer 2016 road trip – we flew home the next day. However, we didn’t have to be at the airport until early evening so there was plenty of time for one last visit – Denver Botanic Gardens. Coming up next!

Niagara

Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls

On the Wednesday of our week in Toronto, we caught an early bus out to St Catharine’s where we were met by fellow blogger Birgit of BB Creations and her husband Michael. This was the start of a wonderful day on which we had a pair of fabulous tour guides all to ourselves!

After a short drive from St Catharine’s, we parked by the Skylon Tower at Niagara Falls.

Perhaps remembering our fleecing at the CN Tower we didn’t go in, but walked down to the Falls which are, of course, best viewed from the Canadian side.

These guys seem to be thinking “seen it all before”.

Above the Falls, this building is the first major hydro-electric plant in the world – one of the investors being Sir Henry Pellatt of Casa Loma, subject of an earlier post. Opposite is a statue of Nikola Tesla, engineer and inventor, who was also involved.

After visiting the Falls, we drove to Niagara-on-the-Lake, making a few stops along the way. One was at Brock’s Monument, Sir Isaac Brock being a hero of the War of 1812. Some of the figures at the base were quite strange (and I don’t mean me and Birgit!)

We also stopped at the tiniest chapel I have ever seen, the Living Water Wayside Chapel.

Then we arrived at Niagara-on-the-Lake for a convivial lunch and a wander around this pretty town.

The fort seen in the gallery above is Fort Niagara, on the American side of the Niagara River. During the War of 1812 the British and the US managed to “swap” forts, with the former capturing Fort Niagara and the Americans capturing Fort George on the Canadian side. We visited Fort George – I’m not sure it was strictly open (there was a lot of work going on), but we wandered through without challenge anyway.

After that, it was time for Birgit and Michael to take us back to St Catharine’s to catch our bus. It’s also time to close my tales of Toronto – this must have been one of the most sociable breaks ever. Not only did we meet fellow bloggers Birgit and Jill, we met up with old friends from Glasgow too. So thanks Birgit and Michael, Jill, Stewart and Edith, and Amr and Anney for giving us such wonderful times.

Our next venture “abroad” was to England – coming soon, Northumberland.

Toronto: an urban walk

Monteith Street, Toronto
Monteith Street, Toronto

On our third day in Toronto, I was excited about meeting fellow blogger Jill from My Spanglish Familia. The rendezvous was a café in Little Italy – about 45 minutes walk according to Google Maps – so off we set.

Our starting point was Monteith Street in the Church-Wellesley Village. That’s our B&B above, the Downtown Home Inn, the first house in the row past the purple flag. We had the apartment at basement level which I can recommend as spacious and comfortable – it also meant we had our own kitchen which was handy on occasion. I wouldn’t book any of the other rooms because they all have shared bathrooms and ensuite facilities are one of my red lines. If that means I’m not a true traveller, too bad!

The Village itself is very gay-friendly with rainbow lines at road junctions and some fabulous murals.

Our route took us along Wellesley until we hit Queen’s Park, home of both the Ontario Legislature and the University of Toronto – some beautiful buildings here.

Cutting down onto College Street, we passed a rather splendid looking public library. I’m always interested in those!

Still, no time to go in – on we pressed to meet Jill. And it was just like talking to someone I already knew – which, of course, I did since we’ve been commenting on each other’s blogs for a year now. After a good blether over coffee, we walked to Kensington Market where we enjoyed lunch at a Mexican restaurant (very good, not at all like Mexican food at home, but – Jill being something of an expert – I know to be much more authentic).

She also introduced us to churros – fried dough stuffed, in my case, with chocolate, Mmmm – that’s what I’m clutching in the photos below. I couldn’t actually eat it straight away because I was so full from lunch!

After the churro stop, Jill headed home to collect her children. We took a further stroll round the area enjoying its quirky sights. I can’t remember now which of these are Kensington Market, which Little Italy and which Little Portugal but they’re all quite close together.

Footsore by now, we retraced our steps home. This was one evening when our kitchen came into its own – we didn’t feel like another full meal out, so we purchased pizza slices and beer from local takeaways and consumed them with our feet up.

Many thanks to Jill for making the time to meet us for a few hours – it was a lovely, sociable day.

Linked to Jo’s Monday Walk – check it out for more walks around the world.

Postcard from Toronto

Toronto from Ward's Island
Toronto from Ward’s Island

Well – not exactly a postcard from Toronto, because we arrived home last night, but a holding post until I get time to write up our visit in full. We had an amazing time, not only sight-seeing but also meeting old friends from Glasgow and meeting online friends in person. It was a pleasure to spend time with Jill of My Spanglish Familia

Anabel and Jill
Anabel and Jill

– and Birgit, and her husband Michael, from BB Creations.

Birgit, Anabel and Michael
Birgit, Anabel and Michael

To be continued…..

Reflections Enroute: Meeting Corinne and Jim

Corinne and Jim Vail of Reflections Enroute
Corinne and Jim Vail of Reflections Enroute

Although I’ve made friends in real life with people first encountered on Twitter, until recently I had never done the same via blogging. I was delighted to learn a few weeks ago that Corinne and Jim Vail of Reflections Enroute were about to pass through Scotland, and I hoped that their itinerary would allow us to meet up. It did!

Corinne and I first chatted over last year’s A to Z Challenge where we both wrote about places we had visited (some were the same, e.g. X for Xian) and I formed the impression that we would get along. Fortunately, I was right. John and I had a lovely evening in Glasgow with Corinne and Jim, sharing some of our favourite Scottish beers and food.

What will you find on Reflections Enroute? In Corinne and Jim’s own words:

 [We are] an American couple living in Germany, and we make it our priority to travel as often as possible.  Taking advantage of living in the center of Europe, we take weekend jaunts to new cities, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and other historical treasures visiting as many smaller destinations as we can.

If you haven’t already done so, I recommend you pop over and take a look.

Until we meet again, Corinne and Jim, slàinte mhath!*

*Gaelic for good health, often used as a drinking toast, as in cheers!