1. Thanks! And you’re welcome. I’ll try to deliver more interesting places to your laptop in the days and weeks to come.

  1. My cousins live in Toronto, and I am long overdue for a visit. When I was there last, we went to a museum, but I don’t think it was this one. Anyway, your informative and entertaining description of ROM is enough to convince me it’s worth a visit. I like your new blog. I’ll be able to travel vicariously through you.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it and I hope you’ll correct your Toronto deficiency. Thanks for the compliments.

      There are a few more focused museums in Toronto, but ROM is the big one. If you haven’t been for a while the Crystal addition wouldn’t have been there then, so it would have looked different. We also have a major art gallery (the Art Gallery of Ontario). That also went through a major addition a few years back. That addition was by Frank Gehry. The addition isn’t an out-there Gehry building like his signature buildings. There’s a reason for that. If I do a post on the AGO down the road (I’m not much of an art gallery sort of person so it likely won’t be right away) I’ll talk about it and the reason why the addition is much more subdued than the iconic Gehry buildings.

    1. What are you waiting for? Winter? You probably don’t want to visit in winter. But we’d love to have you here any time. (He said, presumptuously speaking for all of Toronto.)

  2. Joel, thanks for the wonderful tour; it sparked some lovely memories. My nephew lived in Toronto for many years, and I had the pleasure of visiting there many times. I was immediately struck by how clean, peaceful and civilized it was compared to NYC. My wife, nephew and I walked through High Park at night, something we would be reluctant to do in any NYC park, and saw nothing but smiling, friendly faces. This was over 20 years ago; I hope it hasn’t changed.

    1. The last time I walked through High Park at night was the last time I attended one of the Shakespeare performances there, which was a couple of years ago. There were a lot of people there then because of the performance. I always feel safe when there are a lot of people around. I’m not sure I’d feel as safe if I was walking through the park at night and there weren’t many other people there. That having been said, I can’t recall seeing any reports in the media of crime in High Park.

      I’m glad you enjoyed it (both the post and Toronto). I hope you’ll come back (to the blog and to Toronto).

    1. Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I hope one day you’ll have a chance to bridge those mile and visit High Park (and the rest of Toronto) yourself.

    1. Yes, it is a relaxing place to go.

      I’ve lived an hour and a half or so from Niagara Falls for all of my life. This was only the second time I’d visited the Butterfly Conservatory. I should go more often. It’s a bit down the road from the falls and from the downtown of the City of Niagara Falls, but it feels much farther from the experience of the honky-tonk attractions you’ll find in the City of Niagara Falls, Ontario (apart from the falls themselves).

  3. Another guided tour through Joel’s mind, er, through a nice place to visit. The owl and blue Morpho butterflies are so cool! Never heard of either. I am trying to imagine you, navigating your way through there, being bombarded by butterflies. Will have to remember this next time I’m at Niagara.

    1. Trust me when I tell you that you don’t want a tour through my mind, guided or otherwise, particularly if you’re allergic to dust. It’s a musty, cluttered sort of place.

      If you do visit my mind, at least give me some warning so I have time to clean up. It will still be a dirty old mind, but maybe I can make it a little less cluttered for you.

      As to the Butterfly Conservatory, if you’re in Niagara it is worth a visit.

  4. I’ve visited the Falls several times, both on the American and Canadian sides. In spite of the crowds and crazy traffic, they’re well worth seeing. The grandeur and power they exude are just breathtaking. I live in a city of waterfalls, we actually boast the second highest waterfall in New York State, but it’s Lilliputian compared to Niagara. In the presence of such a natural spectacle one can only stare in awe.

    1. Yeah, it’s hard not to be mesmerized when staring at the falls. They are amazing. I’m going to have to try taking them in from the American side. As I mentioned in my post, I haven’t done that. I’ll have to remember to take my passport the next time I visit.

  5. That is a spectacular sunset and I agree: as spectacular as it is it probably falls short of the real thing. California beaches are beautiful. I grew up a stone’s throw from the Atlantic, but the Pacific is a very different experience. The Eastern waters seem very tame compared to that of the West. When I was 19, I spent a whole summer in LA literally living on the beach. I loved waking up every morning to the surfers doing their thing.

    1. Yes, I have a particular fondness for California. I’m responding to this on my iPhone from the breakfast room of my hotel. The breakfast room has picture windows looking out over the ocean.

      The sky is blue. The ocean is calm. If I weren’t me all would be right with the world.

    1. I’m a conservationist. I like to leave natural stuff, like sand, where I find them.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the pictures. Thanks.

    1. Yeah, I love California. This is the first time I’ve spent any time in Carlsbad. (Met someone for dinner here a few years ago, but didn’t spend any time here. The town is OK, nothing special, but there are some good restaurants and the beach is terrific. Plus, it’s close to a lot of other stuff, as you’ll see in upcoming posts.

    1. Wow, you’re sadistic, aren’t you.

      Fortunately, there weren’t any visible ships visible when I was there. It would be horrific to watch them sail of the end of the earth!

      Oh, the humanity! The horror! The horror!

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      I know that koi ponds are supposed to relax you and they did … until I started to get hungry.

    1. Yes, it was a great trip. And I still have more posts that I’ll be publishing over the coming days. As they say, stay tuned.

  6. Oh, the sea lions are so cute! The first time I saw the majestic West Coast was when I traveled to Oregon in 1986. We made frequent stops along Hwy 101, and that’s where I saw my first sea lions. I’m with you; I love that craggy ocean terrain.

    1. Thanks! I’m not much of an animal lover, but I saw the sea lions as a great addition to the scene. Maybe my nose was plugged that day or conditions carried the smell out to sea then, but, despite being there for a while, I wasn’t aware of a odor problem until someone told me about it after the fact.

      So, at least on that day, it wasn’t a problem for me. Maybe if I go back another day it will be.

  7. Seahorses are such odd-looking creatures, aren’t they? You didn’t mention Sea Monkeys…did you see any of those there? When I was a kid, Sea Monkeys were sold in all the souvenir shops for you to “grow” at home. I’m not sure what they actually are; maybe some type of shrimp? Anyway, I digress. Nice job giving us all the colorful highlights of this aquarium.

    1. Yeah, seahorses are odd looking, but the Weedy seadragon was even weirder looking in my opinion.

      I always thought that Sea Monkeys were an artificial novelty invented by a marketer. Turns out I was part right. I looked it up after seeing your comment. Sea-Monkeys is, indeed, a brand name, but it is a brand name attached to living creatures. They are brine shrimp sold in hatching kits as novelty aquarium pets. If there were any Sea-Monkeys at the Birch Aquarium, I didn’t see them.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the highlights of the aquarium.

  8. I thought I would find original buildings and reconstructed buildings a bit like a Hollywood set. But it was actually well done and rather fun for the whole family. My children were young back then and were prepared to visit places Joe and I suggested. So we concentrated on the shops, schools, homes and museums, and avoided the more violent aspects of life back then eg the prison?

  9. I’ve been to San Diego twice, once to take my oral exam for board certification in anesthesiology, and the next time, for a young relative’s funeral. Two somewhat somber events, both in San Diego (although I did pass my exam with flying colors). I’d like to go back and explore the city sometime soon…it’s really a gorgeous place with perfect weather. I like margaritas, so Old Town sounds right up my alley.

    1. San Diego is beautiful and the climate is about as close to perfect as I can imagine. However, I don’t like yo praise it too highly because the U.S. Immigration people might think I’m planning to retire there and spend all of my life’s savings in the States rather than just visiting and spending some of my life’s savings there. For some reason, they hate the former but, based on their usual tone when I cross the border, grudgingly accept the latter.

  10. What a cute picture of you and the giraffe! I suppose the expense of maintaining a zoo this large with such natural-looking settings is passed on to the customer. Sounds like the caravan safair made it all worthwhile. Have you ever been to the Chicago Zoo? It’s free, but not quite as large or diverse as this one. Another very enjoyable virtual tour!

    1. Thanks. The giraffe was the cute one. He/she was probably embarrassed to be seen me and would have left if I wasn’t feeding him/her.

      Yeah, the place is huge. The food alone for all of the animals must cost a fortune.

      I’ve never been to the Chicago zoo. I’ll have to go one day. The price is certainly right.

  11. Personally I’m not a “fan”. I find zoos to be man’s answer to his own guilt of destroying so much land and habitat on this planet. A cage or enclosure or large area encompassed by a fence is not my idea of freedom to roam. I life in captivity for an animal is much like man being incarcerated in prison, just enough is done to keep him alive so the funding keeps coming in. Man pats himself on his back for his achievements to show off to the world. Yes, look what he has done, he has destroyed habitat so now he makes amends.

    I’m sure that species preservation also happens in the wild, and when it doesn’t we call it extinction, which we can’t live with because then the rest of the world may never see an animal they never knew existed. I know, let’s hold a fund raiser, lets give a tax break, and lets feel better about ourselves because we caged animals which cannot roam free due to mankind.

    Sounds fun, but no thanks.

    1. Of course, I suspect that for most of the people visiting zoos (I shamefully admit, myself included) the conservation objectives of zoos are secondary by a wide margin to their entertainment value. Some of those people will self-righteously, but disingenuously claim they go to support the conservation aspect. On the other hand, other people are consciously and subconsciously entirely truthful when they make that claim.

      1. We are a society of “gawkers” and “well sayers” who like to, if only to themselves, think they are making a difference. One cannot fix what one has destroyed forever. I suppose that is the price we pay for moving forward.

  12. I’ve heard that the San Diego Zoo is exemplary among zoos, but the tone of your post sort of sums up how I feel about zoos in general. I wonder how the health and longevity of captive animals compares with that of animals in the wild.

    1. I haven’t been to a lot of zoos, so I don’t have a large sample size, but from what little I’ve seen and from what I’ve read I think the San Diego Zoo ranks up there among the best. I enjoy the better sort of zoo, i.e., with reasonably large, as natural as possible animal enclosures, but I can’t help feeling a little guilty about enjoying them.

      Then again, I feel guilty about a great many things—guilt feelings are, along with neuroses, the core of my being—so that’s not much of a gauge.

  13. Last year I went to the Philadelphia Zoo and I had a good time. But then it hits you .. these animals are put on display like some sort of museum in a space comparable to the wild is a closet. Imagine a human being, being stuck in a confined space for the enjoyment of others. I’m no longer a fan of zoo’s but what can we really do. On the plus side, they do take care of the animals and feed them and clean them but then again they are meant and built to be in the wild.

    This reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut’s, “Slaughterhous Five” when the main character, Billy Pilgrim is put on display for the Tralfalmadorian’s (aliens) and stripped away of everything while they watch him in this ‘natural’ habitat and also watch him mate.

    All in all, it’s humiliating.

    1. I vacillate on this. Yes, the animals are confined and put on display for human visitors’ enjoyment, but I don’t complain about people who keep pets for their enjoyment. And, most zoos have professional zookeepers who know more about animal welfare than most pet-owners.

      (Full disclosure: I don’t own any pets. Other than some turtles that I had as a young child, which didn’t live long, I’ve never had pets.)

  14. I go back and forth on the issue of animal rights, as well. That being said, I confess I really do love a great zoo. There’s on in Omaha that’s fabulous. Still, even if I was provided with a nice “house” and free food, I doubt I’d like people peeking in on my business.

    1. I admit to being a human-chauvinist. I rarely get terribly riled up about animal rights. Nevertheless, I do tend to vacillate about how I feel about the justice of zoos, despite generally enjoying a good one.

      And, you’re right. I wouldn’t be too happy about every Tom, Dick, Harry, Theresa, Darlene and Heather watching my every move. That’s the government’s job.

  15. Hello Joel it’s 4EVERGREEN from BC…=) ok, I know I said we need to understand earth surface before we explore…I think I’m going to stick with that: for two reasons. First reason is, we’re still hypocrites. When we go to public places, we trash it. We litter. However, we we’re not taught this at home. Earth is home and we humans have no manners…how are we suppose to go to another house (planet) with out a proper way of acting? My second reason: we need to finish our breakfast. Earth is a big bowl of captain crunch or cookie crisp that needs to be finished. We can’t be eating cereal but stuffing pizza or hotdogs in our mouth…pizza and hot dogs is lunch that’s what space is, space is lunch. It’s ok to read about lunch during breakfast but I don’t want samples until I’m finished with what’s in front me. Joel, I LOVE the thought of exploring space but we’re still popping up with species out the ocean we’ve never seen before…=/ nice post. I like the photos…have you been to the observatory here in Los Angeles? It’s a pretty dope museum with amazing views of LA…

    1. Thanks for your comment. I love your food analogy.

      However, I’m not sure I understand why our follies here should prevent us from trying to get a better understanding of our cosmic neighborhood. For one thing, while there is considerable intersection between the two sets, the set of people who are most guilty of befouling our planet is not the same as the set of people who want to look beyond.

      What’s more, looking at “unspoiled” planets (unspoiled by human forces, but possibly spoiled by other natural forces) and other cosmic bodies might give us a greater appreciation of our planet and it’s fragility.

      Or it might lead us to falsely (falsely in other than the very, very, long-term) believe that it’s OK to trash our planet because we can just pick up and go somewhere else.

      The debate continues.

      (I’ve never been to the observatory. I’ll have to correct that deficiency one day.)

  16. We have Apollo 10 in the Science Museum, London. It’s awesome. My $2 on space exploration:

    The argument for is 1) mobile phones and 2) electric cars both of which require increasingly rare minerals, 3) strip mining to get these minerals which is massively damaging to our planet’s environment and over time will become more difficult and more damaging and 4) global warming which makes 2) necessary. 1) Mobile technology is not going away and while there are negatives, it is transforming lives in a lot of positive ways.

    Minerals that are rare on Earth are likely to be much more common at different distances from the Sun – think of the early Solar system as a giant centrifuge. So mining these minerals from space should be possible and may prove cheaper in the long run particularly if there is little environmental impact.

    There is a separate argument about being able to protect the Earth from comets, asteroids etc.

    1. I suspect that the economics of space mining are not at all favorable today. Of course, that will change as the cost of space travel and transport go down and the value of minerals go up due to decreasing supply and increasing demand.

      Protection from large colliding bodies is a whole other argument. What is the value of protection from an incident that is highly unlikely to happen, but still possible, within the lifetimes of several generations to come (possibly not until after the human species goes extinct for other reasons), but if it does happen it could wipe out not just our species but many, if not all others as well, such as happened to the dinosaurs?

      I don’t know the answer to that “what is the value” question, but it has to provide more value than some of the other activities we engage in, such as devoting a lot of resources to devising more effective ways to kill each other.

  17. I think there’s a very obvious reason why there hasn’t been more space exploration: the technology is too primitive. It takes 99 tons of rocket and fuel to put one ton of useful payload into Earth orbit. We won’t get very far until we come up with a more efficient system.

    1. But why is it so primitive? The way of most of our other technologies have progressed, there has been rapid advancement as usage increases. I suspect that if we did much more of it the technologies would advance rapidly.

    1. I absolutely degree. Plus, the wars that defense spending funds kill and maim people by intent. In contrast, while there might be the occasional deadly accident in space exploration or possibly even in the manufacturer or launching of unmanned space projects, those accidents are rare, and they accidental (that’s why they are called accidents), not by intent.

  18. Ooh! I remember that garden and you’re right. It’s quite lovely and a looooong way from where I am right now. Still, a sweet and cozy place to visit on a nice day.

    1. Yeah, it was lovely. And the weather was very nice the whole time I was in Copenhagen. (I’m in Stockholm now, although I still have a lot of places I visited in Copenhagen to write about before I get to anything in Stockholm.

    1. I’m so glad you liked the post. I was a little nervous writing it (I’m a little nervous about everything, but this in particular) because I revealed something of myself rather than just about the place. Revealing stuff about myself makes me uncomfortable unless I do it in a self-deprecating, jocular way.

      Yes, my esteem for the Danes rose after visiting the museum (not that it was low to start with).

    1. Yeah, it is pretty.

      There wasn’t a lot of visible security in the main part of the castle — just a few unarmed, mild-mannered, non-threatening staff standing and/or wandering around and some ropes or other markers that you are supposed to stand behind. Of course, I don’t know if there is any invisible security because, if there is, it is, well, invisible.

      Down in the treasury, all the expensive stuff is behind glass that I assume is bulletproof. There are probably alarms too.

    1. Glad you liked it. Personally, I don’t do serene very well. And I don’t so much contemplate life as worry about it. But I thought the sculptures were kind of cool despite their religious theme.

  19. Joel, You make me think of one of my favorite two people. Rick Steve’s (who does travel shows and books) and the late Rodney Dangerfield, Although you are ever so tame compared to some of his lewd jokes. No matter … the point is I believe you should consider creating travel shows of your own to include your humor and wit. It would really be welcomed by those of us who love PBS shows.

    1. Thanks, Theresa.

      Rick Steve’s Scandinavian travel book was on my iPad before and during this trip. I could work on being more lewd.

      If you like my wit and humor, be sure to tell your family and friends about my site. Remember to tip your server. I’ll be here all week

  20. Excellent! Lots of great church buildings took a _very_ long time to complete, because of war, budget crises or labour shortages eg Cologne. But when a building goes on for decades and even centuries, is the original architect’s design preserved?

    This is a good example. The Marble Church started in 1749 and wasn’t completed until 150 years later, during which time architects came and went, and architectural tastes changed. Whose tastes triumphed here?

      1. Cool. I wonder about that ship, too and if ever I do travel to this country, I will stop in to feel and be surrounded by the sheer magnificence of it. Your descriptive talents are undeniable.

        1. Thanks! You might have to look hard to find someone who denies that I have any descriptive skills, but that’s only because you’d have to look hard to find someone else who has read my writing.

    1. I’m glad you thought that the opening sentence was almost Biblical because I’ve been thinking of writing a new bible, something much, much, much less fictional than the existing ones.

  21. It sounds like there were an awful lot of rooms tucked away in corners just waiting to be missed! I’ll bet you were glad to have that app. 🙂 Those terra cotta figures are cool looking, btw. Thanks for sharing!

    1. You’re welcome!

      There was some cool stuff there. But I might of given the wrong impression. There were a few rooms that were tucked away, not a lot. No more than half a dozen. It is not a huge museum.

  22. I like the bit about the city walls rant. The important part was how you got into the place. Underground, bridges … no trolls in sight, yet the poor baker has to lean in this unlikely position forever. This museum is more my kind and I would have enjoyed visiting to see the mannequins.

    1. Thanks. I like to rant. It exercises my inner curmudgeon. My outer curmudgeon doesn’t like to exercise. It lies around on the couch all day playing solo Scrabble against its iPad.