Wild At Heart
Just celebrated by birthday this week by going to my favorite local restaurant, Nick’s Sea Breeze Inn for their Italian buffet and then went to see the movie “Immortals” (a big disappointment) before heading home to a power outage which took out the lights. Despite such a humble day, I did enjoy the weekend.
I started out by catching Sass Jordan
in concert. It was a brief show but really high powered. She had a great set of lungs and put on an awesome show. Here is a picture of her afterwards signing autographs.
After this I went to my hotel which left a bit to be desired. I went through my Entertainment book and got a really good deal on a Knights Inn
. The room cost me about $24 which is a great deal for any room nowadays. While I just wanted a place to crash, I also wanted to watch the end of the Patriots/Broncos game but the TV didn’t work and the front desk clerk wouldn’t change my room. It was also the first hotel I ever stayed at that didn’t offer a wake-up call. However, it was a comfortable bed and I did some reading and luckily woke up early to take advantage of a continental breakfast. Nothing special, just juice, toast and muffins and a working TV to watch the news.
I also learned that while the Megabus
offers really good rates to travel if you are looking for a one way trip or somewhere week long. Trying to use it for a stay over trip can make for a hectic trip esp trying to places not on the line. Toronto is a nice city to go to with all the mass transit nearby but Rochester isn’t. That is something to take into account when booking trips with them. I got $15 round trip by booking early enough so definitely a money saver but would have liked earlier departure and later leave times.
I started my day early at the Royal Ontario Museum
for their new Mayan exhibit
. I took the subway which is a great way to travel in Toronto. I especially like the way the museum stop is decorated as shown below.
If you are not familiar with the ROM, it is one of the nicest museums in this part of the country. Only the Smithsonian in DC and the Henry Ford in Detroit come close (maybe the Field in Chicago would also compare).
I got my tickets and headed for the exhibit which is in the basement level. The Mayan culture is very unique to me due to the mixture of modern culture and god worship. There is something very intriguing and mysterious about such a powerful culture that worshiped animals, had bloody sports and some strong architecture. They have one of the most interesting styles of writing in the world through their glyphs and were very advanced with mathematics and astrology among other things. Despite all there advances, they were brought down by a mix Spanish invaders, ecological disasters (including droughts) and other divergent forces. No one knows for sure what the biggest contributor was, but such a magnificent society was brought down. The culture has left a major impact on the culture of South America and Mexico while today’s Mayans struggle to find place in this world.
To me, their ancient civilization is second on my list only to that of mythical Atlantis
. The idea of these massive palaces and temples located in a jungle setting similar to a Tarzan movie set with jaguars and other exotic animals mixed with essentially a tribal dressed population with brillant colors and designs just combines the best of all my favorite worlds. The exhibit contains a nicely laid out path through the various aspects of the Mayan culture. My favorite sections dealt with how we deciphered their ancient glyphs (each glyph represents different letters, moods and ideas and went undeciphered for 200 years), their ball courts (got to love any sporting event where the losers could be sacrificed) and the many aspects of death in Mayan society. Most of the exhibition’s objects (around 250 items) have been hand selected from numerous Mexican museums in the Yucatan Peninsula region where the Maya mainly lived, while a few are from the ROM’s own collection.
I’m sure the exhibit will get a lot of traffic this year from people who are caught up in the 2012 doom prophecy from the Mayan calendar
. Of course, there are Mayan dates recorded after 2012 so I’m not sure who would be around for those events but you can learn more about it at the exhibit. They also have a lecture series you can attend and if you want more about the end of the world, check out their Monday, March 19th lecture
“The End of Time: The Maya Mystery of 2012” by Colgate University professor of Astrology and Anthropology Anthony Aveni. The Tuesday lecture is sold out so hurry and sign up if this interests you. The info can be found on their webiste http://www.rom.on.ca
Along with the Mayan exhibit, I also strolled through the museum. The museum was hosting a celebration of the Chinese New Year the day I was there so I took in some Tai Chi exhibitions, sampled teas, listened to the Toronto Chinese Orchestra
and other themed events which were quite fun.
Around 2005, they added an addition which you can see on the pictures above called “Crystal” by Michael Lee-Chin
. Added to the front, this allowed them to protect the historical aspect of many of the exhibits but giving them a lot more room for new exhibits and bringing some stuff out of storage. I always enjoyed their classic Roman period rooms, the native Canadian heritage area as well as numerous other permanent exhibits. However, it the new area, I really enjoyed the dinosaur exhibit
. The exhibits has a bunch of actual skeletons and molds on display. The picture below shows one such denizen of the gallery with a sign that shows how much of the skeleton is real bone and how much is casts to make a complete show piece.
I like that since you really know what you are looking at. Here are a few more pictures from that area that I enjoy.
I also enjoyed the expanded African and island culture exhibits in the “Crystal” 3 floor area which are beautilly arranged. I can imagine spending a whole day in the building and probably would have if I wasn’t on a tight schedule. I did manage to spend some time for a quick bite on their 5th floor restaurant called the c5 Restaurant Lounge
. I tried a stuufed pepper dish (seen below) from there themed Mayan menu. I was a bit disappointed they were not cooking traditional Mayan food but just Latin-inspired choices, like tamales and tacos, but it was still a tasty dish. The menu does change daily and you can see the menu online.
After my lunch snack, I left the ROM wishing I had more time. The Mayan exhibit was wonderful so give yourself a good hour and ½ to 2 hours to go through and enjoy it
. This is the type of exhibit worth traveling for and if you have never been to the ROM, it is definitely a museum you will want to take in. I am working on an interview to be published shortly on this blog with one of the members of the ROM so keep an eye out for it.
Notice, even the bike racks outside the ROM are cool.
A couple of subway stops south is the entertainment district which house the TIFF
(Toronto International Film Festival). I saw the inaugaral exhibit last year with Tim Burton and their Grace Kelly exhibit is just ending this weekend. I was here for their free exhibition on Canadian costume designers entitled “Otherworldly: The Art Of Canadian Costume Design”
. The exhibit is focused on the horror and sci-fi/fantasy films and covers an interesting group of movies from the uber-cool “Orphan” and “Splice”
to the not so cool “Ginger Snaps 3” and Johnny Mneumonic”.
Still, despite the merits of the movies, even films like “Repo! The Gentic Opera”
have some cool costume work despite lack of appeal to mainstream audiences.
The biggest area was probably for the Terry Gilliam film “the Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”
which is know as the last film of Heath Ledger. Upon his death, Gilliam brought in Jude Law, Colin Frith and Johnny Depp to shoot his unfinished scenes and we had numerous costumes, including Depp’s clown outfit on display.
Overall, while a small exhibit, they have some nice stuff on display. They also have costumes from “Saw VI”, “The Thing”, “Skinwalkers” and “Bulletproof Monk”
(see below). If you enjoy costumes or cult sci-fi movies, this is definitely a side trip you will want to check out.
The exhibit runs thru to March and fantasy fans might want to go up on March 12th to see “Game Of Thrones” writer George R R Martin
who will be given a tlk at the facility. They do tend to get a lot of celebrities to stop by. The day after I was in town, they had my babe Juliette Lewis doing a talk so make sure to check out the “In Conversation With…” section before planning your trip.
Also, special thanks to Recchia Pimentel
for the press photos of this exhibit.
They are running a feast of Eastern Bloc Science Fiction films
over the next few months with popular films like “Solarus” and “Stalker” to lesser known films like “In The Dust Of the Stars”, “The Silent Star” and “Ferat Vampire” that will be a treat to science fiction fans going to see this exhibit. Check out their web page for movie and exhibit hours, http://www.torontointernationalfilmfestival.ca/ when in town.
Across the street from the TIFF are some great restaurants and this time I checked out Hush
for dinner. Prices average just shy of $20 here and I tried the Seafood Linguine
which has lobster, shrimp and and various vegetables over, what else, linguine. I have yet to be disappointed by any of these places in this area and would so far recommend them all. You can check out the menu at http://www.hushrestaurants.ca/ and know you are getting a good meal.
To summarize the weekend in Toronto, feel free to look for good discounts in Toronto. The Detroit Entertainment books website has good discounts all over the country for hotels. For travel, you can drive or fly, but also have options for train and mega bus which could save you money, esp for a long trip. Toronto has great mass transit including subway and trolley for getting to the best attractions in the city. The Royal Ontario Museum is someplace you need at least a day to see and the Mayan Exhibit is well worth it. The TIFF is a great place for film fans and run many great movies and exhibits for the film enthusiast. They are also across the street from some excellent dining. Toronto is one of my favorite destinations and I wish I was a few hours closer because I would practically live there if I could. Hope you find this useful and enjoy you weekend.