Punta Cana, Dominican Republic – February 2013

Graeme and I holidayed in Punta Cana in December 2009 (2009 Dominican Republic blog entries)

This time around, it was my wife and I who were hoping to enjoy a bit of warmth and sunshine away from Ottawa’s snow-covered landscape. To travel south from Ottawa, we need to find a tour departing directly from Ottawa or else, as an alternative we drive to Montreal or Toronto to get alight from either of those two travel hubs. On this occasion, we found a Sunwing tour departing from Montreal that fit our schedule. Our flight was scheduled to leave from P. E. Trudeau airport at 9AM so, once we factored in the required three hours for check-in and the 2.5hr drive from home to airport, we decided to drive down to Montreal the day before our flight departure date and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express where for a relatively small extra fee we could park our car until our return from Punta Cana.

The drive from Ottawa to Montreal would normally be uneventful. Not this time, though. High winds and falling/drifting snow reduced visibility in some places to close to zero and added a bit of extra excitement of our trip.

Heading for Cuba – Spring break – March 10 -17, 2012

Heading for Cuba – Spring break – March 10 -17, 2012

It was Spring break time and my wife was certainly looking forward to some R&R. Continue reading

Visiting Italy – the flight

We flew from Ottawa into Montreal and then transferred to Swiss Air Airbus A330-300 for the flight to Zurich. Weather conditions were fine most of the way so we had a smooth flight. We had seats on the starboard side of the aircraft so I had the pleasure of not only seeing the land below but, as the flight progressed, also got to see the moon pass by our wing tip.
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Onward to Italy

The above image was taken by Graeme in St. Mark’s Square in Venice a couple of years ago. I was looking forward to seeing what the spot would look like when I got to Venice.

Onward to Italy
Well we managed to get what we wanted into one bag each plus, of course, a bag for the camera equipment that I was taking with me. For this trip this consists of my d300 with the primary lens being my 12 – 24. For the macro, if I get opportunity to try a bit of macro, I brought along my old MF 55mm f3.5 macro. It is small and light and for macro that I will likely be doing MF will be fine. As a short tele, I brought along my MF 105mm F2.5 mainly because it is both light and fast and also small enough to be relatively inconspicuous for a lens of that magnification. The big decision that I had to make was whether I would bring along a lens with a longer reach. Finally decided on my old 75 – 300mm. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to use it!

Knowing how early to get to the airport is part luck, part Science and part skill and experience. Our first route was blocked by a construction project, but Graeme was able to take an alternate route to get us to the airport with plenty of time to spare. An orange Jazz aircraft was waiting to take us to Montreal. Other lime-green Jazz aircraft were there, too, but ours was the orange one.

Time required to fly to Montreal is 30 minutes plus another two hours to get to the airport, check-in, get through security, wait to board the plane. Driving time to Montreal is about 2 1/2 hours :-).

It was the first time that I have been seated at a window right beside the wheels on one of these small planes. It was interesting to watch the hydraulic in action at the moment of touch down.

Our next aircraft was a Swiss Air Airbus A-330-300 which seats 236. We were in seats in row 34 which put us far enough behind the wing to have an unobstructed view of the clouds and land below. We were cruising at an altitude of 37,000 feet.

Since I was on the south side of the plane with a clear view of the ground, it was easy to identify were we. Were as we passed over New Brunswick, then over the quilted landscape of PEI, then over the rugged highlands of Cape Breton before crossing over Newfoundland as the colours of a nice sunset lit up the few clouds below the wingtip.

Distance 6004 km from Montreal to Zurich.

Travel, Strikes and Postal Service

One of my photos has been chosen to be exhibited as part of a new Natural History exhibit at a museum in Venice, Italy. My wife has always wanted to take a trip to Italy. That seemed like two good reasons to book a trip to Italy.

The museum sent me a card so that I would have access to the museum and it arrived by mail before talks of rotating postal strikes began to surface here in Canada.

We booked our flights by phone by speaking to a real human (how archaic), got our confirmations electronically by e-mail without a hitch.

Now comes the tricky part!

Our tour package information is supposedly “in the mail” and Canada’s postal folks have decided to try to disrupt everything with a series of rotating strikes. How timely. Great for the economy, eh!

Now to make things worse, Air Canada’s folks have decided that it might be a nice time for them to be on strike! Might be a bit tricky for us given that part of our flight involves a short hop to Montreal on one of those Air Canada branded birds.

We’ll work something out, I’m certain, but it does make travel a bit tough to plan for too far ahead!

Night Lights of Old Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

A bit chilly on the fingers but fun nonetheless to walk around the darkened streets of Old Montreal looking for interesting night scenes to photograph.
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Montreal, Quebec – The daytime view from Mont Royal

After a breakfast/lunch/brunch at Eggspectation in Old Montreal, we hopped in the car, left the cobblestone roadways of Old Montreal behind, and drove to the parking lot atop Mont Royal. The walk from the parking lot to the viewing area required lots of attention and an adaptation of the ‘duck walk’.  A combination of warm temperatures and rain and then freezing temperatures had turned the pathway into a good imitation of a sloped skating rink. I must be getting older. I’m beginning to notice such things. The young joggers pranced by seemingly impervious to the cold breeze and the slippery conditions underfoot. Then, there were the x/c skiiers with their skiis making that grating sound as they made their way along the icy trails bereft of any new snowfall to provide any grip.
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Old Montreal, Quebec – Just out wandering on a cold Sunday morning – Part 2

Cour d’Appel Du Quebec

It was morning. It was cold. The wind made it feel like -20C despite the bright sunshine. Very few people out on the streets. Wandering around the streets of Old Montreal under those conditions is quite the experience. The quiet was deafening. The stone and concrete gives off no heat.
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Old Montreal, Quebec – Just out wandering on a cold Sunday morning – Part 1

It was morning. It was cold. The wind made it feel like -20C despite the bright sunshine. Very few people out on the streets. Wandering around the streets of Old Montreal under those conditions is quite the experience. The quiet was deafening.

Note: Due to the number of photos of this area, I am breaking this morning’s meanderings into two blog postings. This one will show a few things that I found interesting and the next one will focus more on the architecture and street layouts.
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Montreal, Quebec

My wife and I decided to travel to Montreal, Quebec for a bit of a change. Weather conditions were supposed to be nice but another cold front came through and temperatures dropped abruptly as we were driving along. Gusting winds accompanied this change but at least they were coming from behind. By the time that we got checked in, light for photography was diminishing but there were a few interesting things to look at on Rue St. Catherine.
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