Battery Park

There is a nice walk at the end of Wall Street, it gets you to Battery Park, nowadays it is full of tourists who want to take the ferry to see the so called Statue of Liberty. Reformations are being done these days, and as we could not go inside, we decided to tke the Staten Island Ferry (free) which is much less touristic and see her from the distance.

The Statue of Liberty's real name is Lady Illuminating the World and was a present France gave the USA on their 1st anniversary as an independendent people (1876), though it arrived a little late (1886). You can see a smaller one in Paris.

We also saw Ellis Island which was where all the inmigrants had to go to get into the USA, we did this trip again at night and the views are fabulous, magnificent with all the lights. When we got off the boat, we visited the Seaport area which is now mainly commercial but still has the looks of a shipping area with short buildings and iron-looking blended awnings.

The last thing we visited and I recommend is Saint Paul, a small baptist church, the only pre-revolutionary that still stands. It is very closed to where the Twin Towers were standing, so they say that it miraculously saved itself. It was used as a help centre for workers and volunteers the nine months following the attacks and now it is somehow a hommage to it.
What do you think of this part? Is not it nice?
Leave your comments and tell us!!!


Wall Street: Where the money is.

Stock market
It has been very hot these days, with a lot of muggy weather, but we still love it here. We have visited the oldest part of town, Wall Street, so called because there used to be a wooden wall - you can still see the traces on the floor - that kept intruders out from Dutch limits when this city was still called New Amsterdam.

We visited the Federal Hall which houses now the National Park Service, but this was also the place George Washington took the oath as first president of the United States of America in 1789 ( you can see the statue on my right commemorating it). This building has also been the customs house and the principle of liberty of press in the USA got started here.
Federal Hall
Right across the street is the Stock Market, the place where brokers sell and buy and decide our present and future to a great extent. There are great security measures because there is a civil movement called Occupy Wall Street that wants to do so.

We also visited the Federal Reserve Bank, in which they keep many countries' money in gold bars. They explained us in the guided tour how this independent organism is different from any other bank and how they decide the monetary policy of the USA and tries to keep the balance between unemployment, inflation and welfare.

Do you see? It is really where the money is. Each gold bar is worth $700.000, and there are more than 150.000 gold bars here!!! Would you like to touch one? Come here!


In New York!!!

Home, in Brooklyn.
We have arrived in New York from Montreal, we have taken an Amtrak train which goes slowly and takes 11 hours to get here, but here we are!!! We have arrived to Penn Station, next to the Madison Square Garden- a huge events hall-, we took a taxi which is quite an experience, people (even more taxi drivers) drive very brusquely and get angry very quickly. Lots of people were in the streets and and lots of lights in the high buildings.

 New York has five boroughs, that is, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Harlem, Bronx and Queens, we are only visiting the first two, especially the first one. It is such a big city... and a lot of places, statues, buildings and so on move me because I have read so much literature in English that takes place here, but also, we are culturally colonised by the Americans, and this also seems part of our lives, as we have grown watching TV series and films that took place here.

Some days have passed and we have seen several places of which I am going to highlight those that I liked more. In the East Village, in Manhattan, we can find one of the cultural centres of the city, the Shakespeare theatre is there and there is a special place for me called Cooper Union which is a building that houses a school run on grants. It was founded by tycoon Peter Cooper who was a visionary (built ahead of his time and spread the Morse communication system) but did not know how to write or read because he was of humble origin, so he founded this school (which is the oldest building made with steal beams that stands up still) so that every girl and boy could study, there are grants for that. In its Great Hall, great educative and progressive lectures have been given (pro women and civil rights), prominent speakers from Mark Twain to many presidents of USA, including Pr. Obama.
The Great Hall
Also in the East Village, we find the Colomnade Row, so called because of the many columns in its façade in the Greek style. Now it is very old and not taken good care of, but they used to be luxury appartments in which tycoons like Cornelius Vanderbilt or writers such as Washington Irving, William Makepeace Thackeray and Charles Dickens lived.
Colomnade Row


Last days in Montreal.

We are leaving  in a few days and we have decided to rest a little bit, besides the weather is worse in a sense, it has started raining and also it is cooler. We have been wandering around the city a little, especially what they call the RÉSO (underground city), very useful when it rains but also, I am sure, when it is cold in the winter and it snows.

We decided to go and visit a special Star Wars exhibition called Identities in which they revise the different characters in the famous series, as well as yourself's explaining how identity is built. As you can see, there are many props and costumes from the films. It was very nice but a little expensive (73 Canadian $ for a family of 4). It was held in Montreal's Museum of Science and the rest of the exhibitions were also included in the ticket.

Another of the things that we saw, and I strongly recommend, especially for those who follow Fernando Alonso in his races is to visit the Gilles-Villeneuve F1 Circuit. You have to get to the Park Jean-Drapeau and get the bus to "La Plage" (the beach); it goes on the circuit and gets you to the beach (nothing to do with Andalusian beaches), there you can walk around the circuit, as well as skate or cycle, and see the void boxes where the teams of mechanics usually are. In the photo you can see the Casino of Montreal.

On the last day, we had to clean and wash the clothes, so we stayed at home and made a barbeque. In the afternoon, we rented a pedal boat and sailed along the Lachine Channel which was built to stop the turbulent waters of the river Saint Laurent.

Tomorrow we are taking a train to New York, quite an experience in itself, 11 hours across Canada and a national park in the USA, I will tell you about it!!!


Missing in Québec!!

I have forgotten something very special about our trip to Québec. I have added a one last paragraph and photo. I hope you like it!!!


At the capital of the "province"...Québec

Chateau Frontenac
I have to tell you, I loved Québec. I think it is a superb city with all the charm a city can have, not only for tourists, but also, for the people who live there. We had very little time to be there (because we had a problem with the car we had rented and had to change it), but I think we made the most of it!!

I'm going to show you some photos of sites I liked at the centre of the city which you can walk in a small space of time. Where shall I start??
  • The photo you see on top is at the top of the city, it is called the Chateau Frontenac and it is a magnificent hotel which started to be built at the end of the 19th century by the Canadian Pacific Railway,  just like the best hotel in Ottawa , and was finished just 30 years ago. It's an impressive building, with its towers and its roofs, don't you think it could also be in France? If you come, do not miss the opportunity to go inside, there is a Starbucks Café and some other nice boutiques at the "rez-de-chaussée". In front of it, street artists make their shows which adds even more glam & charm to the castle.
  • Many horse-run chariots can be seen around the city, so there are fountains especially for them, this also adds a romantic touch and also a "mauvais" smell!!
ph. by Ana García
  • We wanted to see the Changing of the Guard Ceremony, but it was so early (at 10 am) and the parking lot was full, that we missed it, but we saw the Citadelle (fortress) and the Plains of Abraham where the battle which decided that Quebec was under British rule took place. It only lasted 25 minutes but it decided the political system of one of the biggest countries in the world.  It is a huge park nowadays for citizens to enjoy. 
  • We did get in time to a guided tour of the Hôtel du Parlement (which houses the National Assembly) in Spanish- for the first time!! here everything is in English and French, the two official languages of Canada, so I am all day long translating!! We loved our personal guide, "Pepe", he explained everything so well and did it just to an audience of 4, my family!! (apparently there were no more Spanish-speaking people fot the only tour in Spanish of the day!!) He explained how, just as in Ottawa's Parliament, it is the house of the people of Quebec and how they are all represented through symbols ( Lions for the British, "fleur de lys" for the French and the maple's leaf for the Canadians). He also explained to us how they had eliminated the Senate and formed comissions from the 125 people chosen (we could copy that in Spain!) You can eat at the restaurant inside the building.
  • I also really liked the oldest part of the city, next to the port, near it, there is a funicular which is working since 1879 and takes people up and down from here to Chateau Frontenac. On the downtown part, is the "Rue du Petit-Champlain" which has been reserved to show the artists' talent.

  • Once in Quebec, everybody has to go and see Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré which is a very nice church; but it was so late and, as you know, we are travelling with children, so we decided to see the Montmorency Falls (or "chute" in French). As you can see in the photo, it is magnificent, it has 30 more metres in depth than the Niagara Falls. We stepped down 1000 steps or so and then, back up again, but it was worth it!
Montmorency Falls,
 by Ana García
There is much more to it, Quebec is very nice to walk around, we loved it!!! What do you think of it? Leave your comments!! I love them too!!


Going for the real Canada...

Supérieur Lake
Memphrémagog, by L. Belmonte

This week-end we have visited some nature, and we found out that this is how we thought Canada would be!!! On Saturday, we went to a lake called Memphrémagog, yes, that is its name, but it is quite easy to remember, you will see: Magog is the name of the city where the lake is, and Memphré is the name of the monster which supposedly dives in the lake; just like the famous Nessie, nobody has actual document of it, but it keeps people visitting!! It was a very hot day and people were bathing in the beach of the lake; there was also a festival, they are always on festival in the summer!!!

On Sunday, we went to visit the Laurentians, which is a group of up to 9012 lakes and many small villages which surround them,  we visited many of them: Val Morin, Val David, Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts (which is the biggest) and Saint Faustin. They are nice tiny villages, and most of their houses are quite spread so you do not get the impression you are actually in a village, at least, not in the way villages are in Spain.

Among these villages, we saw the Supérieur lake, all around it, there were houses with private beaches and harbours, we found a very small portion of public beach which took more than one hour to find. We suffered a thunderstorm and we had to stop and decided to give a go to a Canadian McDonalds, it is not quite as in Spain, for instance: you do not get ketchup sachets but you have to fill a tiny gobelet (cup) from a huge ketchup bottle they have next to napkins and so on. Also, the children's French Fries are much smaller than in Spain.

Nice, small villages which expand themselves along narrow roads surrounded by so high and dense woods that you can not get through on foot!! Well, we had the feeling that this was the real Canada we were looking for!!

Do you like this Canada or the other, of the cities and so on, best??
Leave your comments and tell me please!!


Visitting around Montreal...again

Atwater market
It is so hot these days here in Montreal...one cannot imagine how they get to -30ºC or more in the winter, so we are taking it easier now. We leave the house not so early, we are over jet lag and we visit something in the morning and then get back, have lunch at home, rest for a while, take another shower and then, get back to the city again.

Some things that I liked around here: 
  • The Lachine Channel, which is very near  to where we are staying. It is a channel along a part of the city of Montreal, and it is also an urban park along the channel. It was originally built to calm down the  waters of the river Saint Laurent. . You can find people  doing sports at all times along the channel, people love doing sports, just look at how many medals they are getting at the Olympics!!! The tower you see at the back, is the Atwater Market, an Art Decó building which was almost closed up and the people convinced the mayor to rebuild it and now it is the  center of the neighbourhood's life!!
  • Another day, we went to visit the Olympic Park, Montreal organised the 1976 summer Olympic games and has added value to that park they built with a biodome, another stadium and very soon, a planetarium. We visited the Olympic stadium and the Olympic pools which are actually the place for Canadian swimmers to train!!!

Olympic swimming-pool
  • Montreal has a lot of cultural life, so they have built this magnificent Place des Arts, which is where lots of theatres and art galleries are, also their Museum of Contemporary Art is there. Part of these galleries and theatres are actually under the ground, in fact there are more than 30 km underground so that people can go shopping, to restaurantsor even to the gym!!! This is great when it is so cold in the winter!! They call it RESO.

I leave you with a photo from La Place des Arts...Kisses from Montreal!!!



Parliament of Canada
We have been for a day and a half in Ottawa, it is the capital city of Canada and we really liked it. It is much more similar to the USA, it is much more anglophone too, that is, they speak much more English than French as in the rest of the country except for the province of Quebec, which is where Montreal is. It was so hot there that when we arrived, we stayed at the hotel for a while and went out quite late for here's timetables but we still arrived to see the last guided tour to the Parliament Hill of Ottawa.

A young woman showed us around and explained how that place is the house of all the Canadians and how it is represented through shields, colours and other symbols. In this place, you are also reminded that Canada is part of the Commonwealth and how the Queen Elizabeth II is also the head of state which signs the laws ( if she is not at the country, the governor does for her).
The following day, we went to see the Canada Science and Technology  Museum, at which we had a great time and learnt about electricity and other things, especially how the Canadian people have struggled to make their lives easier in such a difficult climate; one of their greatest achievements has been the telephone which was created and patented by Alexander Graham Bell who thought this would be good for deaf people who he worked with.

Ottawa has a very nice ambience, we had lunch at a diner called Zack's, the food was great, we had a salad and a Canadian hamburger and then, a mini-brownie which was simply delicious, we really had a great time but we left soon because it was really hot, probably as hot as in Seville.

Have you been to Ottawa? Leave your comments!!