May 28, 2012

Destination Provincetown

If you're fond of sand dunes and salty air
Quaint little villages here and there
(You're sure)You're sure to fall in love with old Cape Cod
(Cape Cod, that old Cape Cod)

If you spend an evening you'll want to stay
Watching the moonlight on Cape Cod Bay
You're sure to fall in love with old Cape Cod

I am so excited to share that we have just booked a beautiful apartment in a 162 year-old classic shingled Cape Cod house in fabulous Provincetown for a week of serious chilling out.

P'town is located at the tip of Cape Cod (check out this awesome aerial shot) and it was where the Pilgrims first landed the Mayflower in 1620 before ending up at Plymouth. P'town has been the premiere U.S. gay resort town since the 1970s (although gay and lesbian folks starting flocking to P'town in the 1920s). As gay author Reed Woodhouse has written, “To such an extent that Provincetown is, for anything, known for us, known for being one of the two or three places on the continent where gay people can be seen in something like their native habitat. It is one of our hometowns.”

Equally important, P'town is America's oldest continuous artists' colony-- I am sure the two are strongly linked--and there is also a thriving Portuguese community as well, due to immigration in settlement in the area in the 19th century.

We were last in Provincetown in July 2008. I wrote about that trip on this very blog. I can't believe it's already been four years (well, we did have that wedding and honeymoon thingy in 2009). We loved Cape Cod; it's easy pace, the quality of the light, the ocean breezes, the warmth of people and the sun's rays. P'town is especially lovely, as a safe haven for LGBT folks to wander about hand-in-hand. Its main drag, picturesque Commercial Street, has everything you need in terms of boutiques of all kinds and its east end is packed with galleries. The whole place is ringed with gorgeous beaches. What more could you want?

May 21, 2012

These are our adventures in the neighbourhoods

While we had originally thought we would run away for the Victoria Day long weekend we decided to stay in the city, to relax and spend some more time exploring the wonderful neighbourhoods of Toronto. Besides, we are planning a proper getaway over the summer so it made sense to stay put and just enjoy our new home.

I gave myself an extra day off, so we could start our long weekend on Friday. We walked up Queen Street West in search of some new shoes, with a quick stop at Nadege Patisserie for some pastries and a drink. Mmmm...We kept up our walk eastward on Queen Street into the Entertainment District, ending up at a lovely pub called Town Crier, just a block away from my office. The great thing about the pub is that they have a sort of hidden second floor that is like a hideaway. It was so cozy and welcoming, so we stayed for a refreshing pint.

We went for brunch with Toni at favourite spot Cafe Bernate and then hit the galleries in the Ossington Avenue radius. We then strolled around our 'hood Liberty Village and went home to relax.

We headed down to the city's excellent Harbourfront and walked around for a few hours. It was a perfect sunny and hot day, and the breeze off the lake plus all the action of tourists and locals like was really fun to take in. We found a great new bar called Bar Milano that offers patrons a marvellous upscale lake-view patio. We enjoyed a drink before heading on our way over to Church Street gaybourhood to check out some shopping. We decided to stop in and have more drinks and lunch at Churchmouse & Firkin

After breakfast at home we strolled through Parkdale and over into Roncesvalles, my current favourite Toronto neighbourhood. While we enjoyed poking our heads into various shops, delis, and bakeries, our aim was to have lunch. We had a few spots in mind but they were too busy. All was well as we stumbled across Pizzeria Defina and had a simply outstanding lunch, anchored by one of the best pizzas we've ever enjoyed plus a tasty grilled calamari starter. I topped this off with a lovely negroni so I was a happy camper indeed. Then it was back home to rest our weary feet and enjoy the last day of our extended long weekend.

May 15, 2012

The ties that bind

Last night we attended an alumni social hosted by the Toronto Branch of the Queen's Alumni Association.

The alumni gathering was held at P.J. O'Brien Pub in the St. Lawrence Market district. Located on the tiny, charming and historic Colborne Street, the pub was very friendly and the service was also quite good.

It was nice to meet some other Queen's alumni of varied ages and backgrounds, including from engineering, political studies, physical therapy, and business.

We were joined midway through the event by our dear friend Edward, up from Kingston for a conference. He ended up running into some fellow chemical engineering alumni so he was quite delighted. The three of us eventually decided to take our leave and we had an awesome dinner at nearby Osteria 55, a brand new Italian eatery. Both Mark and Edward had the Tongue ’n’ cheek (beer-braised veal cheek ravioli, sweet and sour cipolini onions and crispy calf’s tongue) while I opted for the duck confit pasta. The meal was excellent, service was delightful, and the chef was kind enough to say a few words to us. 

It was so nice to see Edward. While we are certainly enjoying our adventures and new life in Toronto we very much miss our dear Kingston friends. It was so nice to spend some time with one such very important friend.

May 13, 2012

Weekend Wanderings

On Saturday we continued our exploration of Toronto's neighbourhoods, taking in three distinctive areas. We started by walking from our condo north up to Little Italy. With the temperature hovering around 25 degrees Celsius, it felt like a warm summer day, and people were out and about taking in the beautiful day. We stumbled across Creme, a new bakery, and indulged in some very tasty gelato. Mark had a scoop each of pistachio and chocolate, while I had a small cup of mango.I was taken aback by the soaring clock tower of the fire hall (pictured at left) that dominates the neighbourhood and made it feel like we were in a small town.

Continuing eastward, we ended up in the adjacent neighbourhood of Kensington Market. The contrast was quite hilarious, as Kensington is-- like all bazaars-- a mess of sounds, bodies, and general chaos. We checked in two of our favourite vintage stores, Bungalow and Exile.

We then hopped on the Dundas St. streetcar and headed west over to Church St, to take in the Church Wellesley Village, ("Church Street") Toronto's largest LGBT neighbourhood. We don't actually visit Church Street all that often and we had fun strolling in and out of the fun stores unique to the area, such as Priape, and Out on the Street. We decided to go to landmark bar Woody's (featured prominently in the American version of "Queer as Folk") for a couple of beers and just enjoyed being able to stroll around hand-in-hand without worry.

On Sunday morning we joined our friend Dana for a wonderful brunch at The Academy of Spherical Arts,  a restaurant and upscale billiards lounge housed in a huge red brick building building that was once home to the largest billiards manufacturer in the British Empire.

May 9, 2012

Taking a Stand for Equality

In an interview on ABC news earlier today, Barack Obama expressed his support of marriage for same-sex couples, the first sitting President of the United States of America to proclaim equality for gays and lesbians.

"I’ve stood on the side of broader side of equality for the LGBT community. I had hesitated on gay marriage, in part because I thought civil unions would be sufficient, that that was something that would give people hospital vistitations, elements that we take for granted. And I was sensitive to the fact that, for a lot of people, the word marriage was something that evokes very powerful traditions, religious beliefs, and so forth. But I have to say, over the course of several years, as I talked to friends and family and neighbors. When I think about members of my own staff, who are in incredibly committed monogamous same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or Marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf, and feel constrained even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is repealed… At a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think that same-sex couples should be able to get married.”
Image credit: Human Rights Campaign