Night at the Museum – Books and Brews

My wife went out on a limb and purchased tickets for the Books and Brews Book Club event as a Father’s Day gift.  As it turns out it was a perfect gift as I like to read and drink beer. I had never been part of a book club before so I didn’t know what to expect, I have to say that I was very pleased with my first experience.

As the name of the event suggests it was a combination of  some beer, wine and light snacks provided by Mahtay Cafe and Lounge located here in St Catharines , and books that have a consistent theme. This was the first event of this type that was put on by the St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canal Center and from my limited knowledge of book clubs, this event  appeared to be a wonderful success.

The first reading selection for this club was a great book written by Joseph Boyden called the Three Day Road. It is a story of war, tragedy, and in the end some redemption. It is a story of diversity and of the hardships faced by indigenous peoples of Northern Ontario in the early part of the last century.  Mr. Boyden does an excellent job in drawing the reader into the lives of the main characters Xavier and Elijah  as they enlist and head off to the First World War to fight fight as warriors for King and country.

Our first meeting took place on July 19th 2016 and the chosen location for this meeting couldn’t have been better.   The setting for this meeting, of our freshly minted book club, was in the museums exhibit entitled “Doing Our Bit: WWI from St. Catharines to the Western Front”.  For me, discussing this book surrounded by artifacts of the era in which this story takes place served to reinforce the enormity of the conflict and the hardship the main characters had to face. I have to thank the Museum Curator Kathleen Powell for an informative curators tour of the exhibit  prior to our book discussion, accompanied with some wonderful tasting craft beers. The exhibit itself gives a good cross-section of what life was like for those Canadians that went off to fight an empires war. If you haven’t seen this exhibit yet I highly recommend that you do so.

I found, as I’m  sure most in attendance did, the question and answer discussion very insightful specifically with the answers that were given by participants. I found that discussing this book was for some, a window into a history they had never known or knew even existed. I am not speaking of the history of the war itself but of the treatment of indigenous peoples, while in the service of Canada.

I am looking forward to the two follow on meetings in August and September where we will be discussing Emancipation Day written by Wayne Grady and The Danger Tree written by David Macfarlan. I think a book club in the museum is a great idea and whoever came up with the idea should get a pat on the back for a job well done.

Foot steps into the Wind: what we are all about!

To me traveling, or a better term to use would be “the traveling spirit” is more than just about going to see different places. Having the spirit of a traveler or adventurer, is about many different things rolled into a single package.

Being an adventurer does not always mean that you have to climb the tallest mountain, or swim to the bottom of the deepest ocean. The spirit that I speak of can be found right outside your front door.

Foot Steps int the Wind is about fostering that adventurous spirit. It about traveling for sure, however it is also about history, good food, its about people, art and culture. Its about enjoying life, learning a thing or two and staying safe while doing so.

My vision of a traveler is someone that is well rounded and conscientious of how and where they are traveling. It is of a person that is knowledgeable, about the current facts of where they are going as well as the historical context and why that is important. Foot Steps into the Wind is about enriching and enjoying life.

The Winged Victory of Samothrace

One of the most beautiful pieces of history that you will see on display at the Louvre is The Winged Victory of Samothrace or The Nike of Samothrace.

It was on my first visit to the Louvre that I met her, she is truly a breath-taking sight to behold when you first see her. She meets ever visitor to the Louvre with the same defiant yet elegant stance. This image of triumphant spirit has graced her honored position in the Louvre since 1884 and is a sculpture known the world over.

This wonderful beauty was first discovered by armature french archaeologist  Charles Champoiseau in April of 1863 on the Greek Island of Samothrace, which is located in the northern Aegean Sea. The statue contains a partial inscription on the base that includes the word Rhodios (Rhodes). For those that are into history you will know that at one time, Rhodes  was the strongest naval power in the Aegean sea. The inscription would then date the statue at 288 BC at the earliest.

It is thought that the statue was commissioned to commemorate a naval battle. The most likely one is thought to be the battle of Cos that took place in 255 BC in which Antigonus II Ganatas of Macedonia was victorious over Ptolomy II of Egypt.

Winged Victory of Samothrace

Winged Victory of Samothrace

The statue itself stands about eight feet high and is made of grey and white Thasian and Parian marble and was originally part of a temple complex that was dedicated to Greek Gods on the Island of Samothrace.

As previously mentioned this statue is known the world over and has been the inspiration for other works. She has been copied several times. Likenesses of Nike can be found at the Ohio State University, Connecticut Collage at Syracuse University and The Estrugamou Building in Buenos Aires Argentina, just to name a few. She has also been made the subject of poetry and song and she has been used as a symbol of freedom throughout the ages.

I hope to see her again one day, perhaps next time I am in Paris…

Just a sad short rant about graffiti !

One of the items that I found to be what I would call a crime against all those that love Rome, on many levels, is the amount of unsightly graffiti, that has been plastered all over the city.

I know that with every large city there are many difficulties to over come, poverty, immigration and homelessness just to name a few. I have to ask myself why would anyone want to deface a lovely place such as Rome. I know I am perhaps spitting into the wind with this lament. However it pains me to see things of beauty defaced out of sheer stupidity and selfishness. Before my last trip to Rome, I heard of a man that had carved his initials into the Colosseum, he ended up getting arrested.
However his scrawl will now be part of the monument for ever. He had no right to do that.. Horrible.
To the people that live in Rome, I suppose to them it is just a city and nothing more and that we tourists are nothing more than a seasonal inconvenience.
I know people may lash out with graffiti when things are difficult, but in the end it serves no purpose. There is no added value to the city because of the graffiti so why waist your time in doing it in the first place.

Like I said just a rant and thanks for reading.

Paris The City of Light – trip to The Louvre

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My bucket list keeps getting shorter. There is one more tick in the box. I can now honestly say that any trip to Paris is not complete until you have been to The Louvre.
The Louvre was originally a fortress built in the 12th century. Over its long and illustrious life it has been a royal residence, an Institute for the Humanities, a Royal Institute for the instruction of Painting and Sculpting, and in its current incarnation a museum.
Prior to our departure for Europe, we decided to pre order our tickets for the museum through an organisation called FNAC . FNAC is an international entertainment retail chain offering cultural and retail electronic  products. We ordered the tickets and arranged to pick them up when we arrived in Paris. There was a pick up location right around the corner from our hotel so it was quite convenient. We collected the tickets from an automated ticket booth and it took all of about 2 minutes and we were done.
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A word of advice, if you are planning to go to the Louvre I strongly recommend that you purchase your tickets ahead of time. When we arrived at the museum there was a very long line of people that were waiting there to purchase tickets. When we arrived with our pre purchased tickets we entered in less than 5 minutes, through the line reserved for those that had pre purchased them.
To say the museum was busy is an understatement, however that was expected. Things became a little easier once we picked up our  map and a guide to the museum that was printed in English. When we entered the main portions of the museum, I can honestly say that I was struck dumb. I was in awe of the utter beauty of the place. I’m sure I must have looked like a child with just taking it all in. Room after room of priceless art and statues, my visual senses were just over whelmed and literally around every corner there was something else to see.
The main attraction at the Louvre is the Mona Lisa painted by Leonardo de Vinci. It was painted some time between 1503 and 1506, and it has been on display since 1797.  The room where this painting is displayed is very busy and patience is the order of the day if you plan on getting a solid photograph of this work of art.
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The museum us broken down into different areas, and to see everything in one visit is quite impossible unless you have an unlimited amount of time. There are around eight different collections or departments with some 35000 items on display. They range from Egyptian Antiquities, Near eastern Antiquities, Islamic Art and Paintings just to name a few.
There are also furnishing and items on display that belonged to King Louis the XVI and Maria Antoinette, Queen of France before they  were both executed in 1792 and 1793 respectively. These items have been preserved and are in incredible condition. 
Photography is allowed in the museum as long as you do not use a flash. There are parts of the museum that are very warm, due to the number of people. There were also times that the patron traffic was very congested so if you are a person that gets claustrophobic, take your time and wait for the crowed to pass.
There is a great gift shop in the main lobby  where all manner of items can be purchased including reproductions of some of the statues  and paintings that are on display at the museum. There are also reproductions of ancient jewellery and wide variety of books, however the books appeared to be mostly in French.
This museum is truly a wondrous place, and I could go on for days trying to explain what I have seen, however I do not believe that anything that I write here will do it justice. This cultural treasure  deserves the recognition that it receives. This place is not just a treasure to France but a treasure to the World, and it is somewhere that should not be missed, when visiting Paris.