Monday, 16 November 2015

Discovering the city via metro

Panama City's metro is less than two years old.

Panama City, Panama is the latest place I have been using the metro. It is especially easy here with just one metro line so far, although expansion is planned. At 35 cents US per ride with a rechargeable card it has to be one of the cheapest metro services in the world.
As a big fan of public transport, I especially like a metro system because, while you need to know where to get off, the service will stop at every station making for easier navigation than with buses.

 A metro station in Montreal, Canada, outside and inside. 

A metro runs totally or partly underground.

A metro entrance in Madrid, Spain.

Going back to the surface in Lisbon, Portugal, left, and Panama City, below.

There is often a stretch of line above ground.

The line runs at ground level between 6 of 14 Panama City stations.

In Sydney, Australia stunning vistas open at the Circular Quay platform.

Having opened in April 2014, Panama City's metro is new and clean and apparently safe, with a police presence in each station. It is to be hoped that in time art will be added as in other cities. 

Decorative walls of station platforms in Lisbon, left, and London, England, below.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Taking a book, leaving a book

Choosing a free book in Lethbridge, Alberta. 

Locations for free exchange of books are popping up all over. Friends have been sharing books ever since literacy and books became commonplace and book exchanges are often provided for members of specific groups. 

I have noticed informal book exchanges in Edmonton high-rise apartment buildings, a rural Alberta seniors’ organization, and an Arizona retirement village.

Hardcover section in Edmonton apartment building.

A new form of book exchange started in Wisconsin in 2009 and has been spreading ever since. This is the Little Free Library – a public location where those who stop by can leave books they have read or take those left by others. 

I have seen small free libraries in shopping centres in two Australian cities. Many free libraries are in people’s front yards and they are often constructed of repurposed materials.

The first Little Lethbridge Library. 

Recently in Lethbridge, Alberta, I visited the first Little Lethbridge Library which features a book repository beautifully crafted by clients of the local Ability Resource Centre. Several community organizations are involved in the project including the city library system and more of these micro libraries are planned for Lethbridge.

In Edmonton's Paul Kane Park.

In Edmonton, a project by the Oliver Community League has created 10 such libraries using old newspaper dispensers redecorated by artists and other community members. 

Checking on today's books.

I recently visited the two of Oliver’s little libraries, located in Paul Kane Park and outside the Robertson-Wesley United Church. 

This Little Library stands outside an Edmonton church. 

While literacy promotion is usually a goal of these projects, it is not just about the books. Sharing books can promote conversations and contribute toward community building.

Read more about Little Libraries.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Visiting the local market

A girl helps at family market stall in Tumbaco, Ecuador.

Whether a farmer's market at home or an outdoor market in a holiday location, it is enjoyable to wander, browse and shop in a more traditional way than the supermarket or the mall. 

Alberta has an extensive system of farmers' markets. 

In Lethbridge I buy Taber corn while my friend selects other veggies.

Among the Alberta farmers selling at the markets are many Hutterite families.

The Hutterite women, men and children all wear distinctive traditional clothing. 

I have also visited markets in other provinces. 

British Columbia's Okanagan Valley has many markets, with a focus on the area's wonderful fruit.

Prince Edward Island

is known for its potatoes, of many varieties.

Most farmers' markets also include the work of local artisans. 

The market usually has plenty to eat on the spot. Here in Ontario's famous St. Jacobs Farmers' Market

You may have to queue. 
Two of my sisters in law enjoy St. Jacobs food. 

When I spent a summer in the Netherlands I shopped at an outdoor market in central Enschede.

While Holland is famous for cheese you can also get plenty of fish, fruit and veggies in the market.

On a visit to Norway you can't miss this fish market in Bergen harbour.

If you are looking for textiles, the Otavalo Market in Ecuador is the place to be. The local people are famed for woven textiles, usually of wool, that are made into clothing, blankets, tablecloths and more.

Otavaleña vendor in traditional clothing sorts her wares.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Observing public outdoor sculpture

Jón Gunnar Árnason's Sólfar: Sun Voyager, 1990, inspires in Rekjavik, Iceland.

Public sculpture contributes to the uniqueness of a city or town. While the public art of larger cities may be world famous there are some intriguing examples to be found even in small centres. Here are a few of my favourites from my travels over the last few years. 

Jeff Koons' floral Puppy, 1992, draws both adults & children at Spain's Guggenheim Bilbao Museum. 

Talus Dome by Ball-Nogues Studio, 2011, graces river valley in Edmonton, Alberta. 

Goddess of Flight, 2010, by Fiona Sutherland greets passengers at Nelson Airport in New Zealand.

Some whimsical outdoor sculptures can be found in the city of Enschede in The Netherlands.

In Canmore, Alberta, Canada. 

In Benalmadena, Andalusia, Spain.
Two views of the human head: from Canada and Spain. 

Below is a recent find on the main street of the small Alberta town of Sylvan Lake.

Peace & Harmony by Darcy Fullerton & Mary Grace, 2002, invites us to come together as friends.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Treasuring the autumn leaves

In September and October I can think of no better place to be than Canada where the leaves of deciduous trees change from green to shades of gold, orange, bronze, red and even purple. 

When we returned to Canada in 2006 after living 9 years in the United Arab Emirates, it was a great pleasure to experience autumn again and I have treasured it ever since. 

Autumn delights in the city as well as the country.

Elm lined street in Edmonton.

Hamilton, Ontario in the autumn.
Maple leaves in Montreal.

The bright leaves are especially lovely under a blue sky.

On the ground the leaves dry out and give a satisfying crunch underfoot. 

Farewell to summer. Autumn is here with cooler temperatures and shorter hours of daylight. Soon we will see only the bare branches of winter. 

If you live where the leaves change colour, be sure to take a walk while there is still time to enjoy the shades of autumn.