Travel 13 results

The Ex-Press goes places… then writes about them.

Hello Tokyo, How You’ve Changed

Globe Trot: Tokyo Returning to Japan's teeming metropolis after a 60-year absence offers a distilled glimpse of technological progress and the immutable Japanese character By Charley Gordon (November 22, 2016) In the busy Asakusa neighbourhood of Tokyo is the Senso-ji Temple, a major attraction.Thousands of people jam the narrow street leading from the gate to the temple, which is lined with dozens of shops selling just about anything. Not everything sold relates to religion. In fact, there is a store that sells cookies that are made right in front of you by a machine. Japanese, unlike North Americans, don’t eat on the streets but those cookies are a temptation. Hence a sign, in the kind of Japanese English that has always held a peculiar charm:"This street is not able to eat while walking."After being away from Japan for 60 years, it was encouraging to see that some things haven’t changed. The Japanese do things their own way, no matter how much Western influence they ...

Close encounters on the third base line

Sports: Jays' Spring Training in Dunedin Whether you're sponging up the baseball, sponging off the spilled beer, or buying a sponge in a seaside tourist shop, catching Blue Jays spring training in Dunedin is a ball fan's beery version of Valhalla By Jay Stone DUNEDIN, Fla. — On my first day in Dunedin this year, I went to a spring training baseball game and saw a pitcher named Pat Venditte, who can throw with either arm. He has a special six-finger glove with a thumb at each end, and he can put it on whichever hand he wants and throw with the other arm.Venditte, who is in the Toronto Blue Jays camp, has been in the league for a while — he was with the Yankees two years ago and Oakland last year — and there’s even a rule named after him. It says that he has to declare which arm he’s going to throw with against a switch-hitter. This keeps baseball, which is kind of a leisurely sport anyway, from becoming an endless game of chicken, with Venditte moving his glove from ...

Pop This! Las Vegas!

Podcast: Pop This! Packed with miniaturized monoliths and Disneyfied recreations of the Old World, Las Vegas sits at the intersection of generic sin and stand alone silliness, making for a perfect expression of popular culture Featuring Lisa Christiansen and Andrea Warner. Produced by Andrea Gin. A sampling of what you might hear in Episode 15: Visiting Las Vegas I was at a birthday where they had exotic animals.One had teeth that looked like they were made out of clarinet reeds.Las Vegas... has a lot of ladies and dudes on the prowl.And Mariah Carey.I'm worried that I don't like magic shows or Cirque du Soleil. But I do like food.Then you have to go to the Cosmo. [The Cosmopolitan] hotel has the best restaurants, and they have nice drinks at the gambling machines.Gambling machines...?Go to the Spanish restaurant run by José Andrés.They have cool old records as wallpaper.That's what I want. I want the secret Vegas.Go to the Thomas Keller ...

Hiking back in time on Burgess Shale

Travel The world famous Burgess Shale Slope offers a visually stunning hike that pays off with a teeming selection of rare invertebrate fossils, sealed into the geological timeline by an underwater avalanche of fine mud By Alan King FIELD, B.C, -- Science fiction writer H G Wells didn’t know the half of it. Time travel sometimes takes more than imagination and clever engineering; it can take a lot of nimble, arduous footwork, the kind that gets you up to 7,500 feet above sea level.Unlike Wells’ lucky Time Traveller who was effortlessly transported millions of years into the future where he met some strange life forms, my son Christopher and I went back half a billion years in the other direction to the Burgess Shale -- an ancient fossil bed where the life forms are even stranger. Its location is a swath of scree 11 km up the side of Mount Wapta, a spectacular hunk of geology looming majestically over Field, British Columbia.The fossils here are from the Cambrian ...

Will Ferguson’s Road Trip Rwanda – The Ex-Press

I told someone I was going to hear Will Ferguson talk about his new book Road Trip Rwanda. “How can he be funny about Rwanda?” was the question. By Charles Gordon Good question. Without having read the book, I knew the answer, as anyone who has ever written humour should. He would be respectful of Rwanda — especially Rwanda — and he would make jokes about himself.Indeed, it turned out that way. In Road Trip Rwanda, Ferguson, a multiple Leacock Award winner, portrays himself as a well-meaning goof, eager to learn but not always getting it, friendly but bumbling. The Rwandan people, on the other hand, get a sympathetic portrayal.It’s the only way to do it. Even Bill Bryson, who can be much more acidic, tends to give the locals the benefit of the doubt. Occasionally a writer doesn’t do that — I think of some stuff Dave Barry wrote about China, where the main joke seemed to be that China wasn’t like America, and therefore weird — and it’s a mistake.I ...

Highway 17, the road not taken — sadly

Travel: Ontario's Highway 17 Highway 17, which is the Trans-Canada Highway in Ontario, is surprisingly untravelled -- mostly because Canadians know other countries better than they know their own.  By Charley Gordon If you’re tired of the predictable travel articles about beaches in Asia, castles in Europe and gourmet food just about anywhere, this is the travel article for you. It’s about good old Highway 17, the one you can drive for four days and still be in Ontario.Highway 17, which is the Trans-Canada Highway in Ontario, is surprisingly untravelled. This is not because of the scenery, which is often magnificent, or the road itself, which is well-maintained and easy to drive. It is mostly because Canadians know other countries better than they know their own.It’s a safe bet that more Torontonians have been to Bangkok than to Sudbury. For them, the north begins around Orillia and ends before North Bay. On their summer travels, they don’t get to ...

A Magical and Mild Adventure in Valencia

An ancient city inside a new one beckons Jay Stone to the surprise-filled birthplace of paella By Jay Stone VALENCIA, Spain — We came here by chance, the way people used to travel when they were in their 20s and it was all about moving and a destination was just a name to drop, a place to rest on the road. We came in that spirit. We stayed for the paella.It was invented here, in this bustling city on the south coast of Spain (the Valencia orange was invented in California). It’s delicious too, although I’m not the one to ask. It was delicious everywhere. I like to think I have good taste in movies, but I don’t have any taste in taste.So, Valencia: magical, all the more so if you don’t expect anything except a place to stop 3½ hours from Barcelona because 3½ hours is about all you want to do. An old city surrounded by a new one: outside, there’s the famous City of Arts and Sciences — an IMAX theatre, an aquarium, a science museum, an arts complex all in ...

Dispatches from Abroad: The Gentle Yens of Girona

Jay Stone explores an ancient Spanish city to discover a slow parade of humanity on cobble stone streets and the prosthetic digits of Edward Scissorhands By Jay Stone GIRONA, Spain -- There's a great lassitude that settles over Spain on a Sunday -- or perhaps, that settles over the visitor to Spain on a Sunday -- that is somehow ideal if you wash up in Girona. It's a medieval city just east of Barcelona whose historic district, all cobbled streets and narrow alleys, were built circa 1000. Little wrought iron balconies are set in the stone walls, and I saw an older couple sitting at a bistro table, having lunch together and each looking at their own cell phone.The stores aren't open, but the museums are free -- a mixed blessing -- and so you climb the steep steps behind the cathedral to the famous Jewish quarter, or El Call, one of the oldest in Europe. Once again, Jewish people have their historic roots on a hill all the better -- at least in this telling -- to come down ...

Dispatches from Abroad: Dilly Dali-ing in Cadaques

Jay Stone ventures into the Spanish mountains to visit the very real birthplace of the seminal surrealist By Jay Stone CADAQUES, Spain -- This pretty-as-a-postcard town lies at the end of a long twisty road up and down a mountain a couple of hours southeast of Barcelona. You wouldn't get here by accident, but it's worth the drive: whitewashed buildings on gently rising hills, tucked around a small harbour with cafes and restaurants that crowd against tiny beaches. Everything is white and blue, cobbled and ancient. You could stay here forever.To get here, you pass through Figueres, where Salvador Dali was born and lived for a while, and home to a museum dedicated to his honour. Its thin curved corridors are lined with his bizarre constructions -- headless dolls, outlandish jewelry -- and even more bizarre tourists, who arrive in groups to press their noses against glass cases and to take photos of everything that doesn't move. Dali once said that the only difference between ...

Dispatches from Abroad: 4 Cats, one full stomach

Jay Stone fills up on Barcelona's rich culinary history, where 4 Cats on the menu isn't a PETA call to action, but the promise of tasty delights served on lampshades By Jay Stone BARCELONA, Spain -- The two big things to do here are to eat and to go to art galleries, and if you can eat where the painters used to hang out, it's a huge time-saver. This comes in very handy when siesta runs over its limit.And so we arrive at 4 Cats, a famous cafe on a little alley called Montsio, just off the big Portal de L'Angel, one of the city's main streets. 4 Cats is 118 years old, although it was closed now and then for civil wars, artistic revolutions and so on. Still, it's pretty legendary: a charming bistro with a coffee room in front, a tiled bar in the middle, and a big room in the back with apricot-coloured walls, rows of tables on the floor and a wooden mezzanine that fills up at every meal.It was opened in 1897 by four painters who were paying homage to Le Chat Noir cabaret in ...