Limousine – It is a Stylish Vehicle and This is What Makes it Unique

Limos, which depict class, style and sophistication, have different uses. They are suitable for almost any occasion or ceremony and this is why many people buy or hire them. People may use them in events such weddings, graduation ceremonies, funerals, birthdays, parties, christening ceremonies and award ceremonies. Business people may also use them to make entrances at corporate events. Some people prefer to buy their own instead of hiring them for each event they attend. This vehicle come in different forms and shapes such as bus limousines. These vehicles are suitable for trips in open recreational areas such as parks and zoos. Lincoln limousines, which are unique and sophisticated, have seats attached to that of both the driver and co-driver. The attached seats, which are flexible, face the rear side of the vehicle. This is suitable for a large party because people can unfold the seats to create room for other people.

People hire stretch limousines to attend award ceremonies and other corporate events. Partygoers also use it to make grand entrances at the party venues. The seats are along the vehicle’s length and they face each other. At the center, there are small tables with side cabinets where people store drinks. The other most common types of limousine are the Winton 6 Limos, which has been in existence since 1915. It resembles a sedan and a bus at the same time. People have resorted to calling it the ‘minivan limousine’ because it has several seats arranged like that of a bus. It also has very many doors and a large baggage area as well. It is suitable for touring distant places such as road tours. It is quite glamorous and luxurious and this is why many tourists prefer to hire it for road tours when visiting tourist attraction sites.

It is a stylish vehicle and this is what makes it unique. It is one of the first models of vehicles to come into the market and this is the reason why they are quite rare, people hire these limos over the internet because it saves them much time. The internet enables people to visit various rental websites at the same time thus making it easier for them to identify the companies that have the best offers. Blogging also assists in obtaining information concerning the services that a particular company offers. Many customers or clients normally leave their suggestions, comments and objections by Blogging the websites. Other potential customers may also Blog to compare the services offered with those of other companies. To hire limos, one should ensure that they have read and understood the terms and conditions indicated at either the top or bottom of a web page to avoid creating any conflicts with the management. Inquiring where one does not understand assists in decreasing the chances of creating any conflicts. Afterward, one may fill an inline form and then make down payments in order to secure the vehicle. Most companies require their clients to complete the payments before they release the limos for hire.

Check Out Niagara Falls on a Budget With a Discount Day Trip!

The Niagara Region is a marvelous part of Southern Ontario, boasting all sorts of amazing attractions, including Niagara-on-the-Lake, various wineries, and of course, the Falls themselves. With so much to offer families, couples, and friends for a quick or extended holiday, it’s no wonder that millions of people choose to visit this incredible place every year!

The Amazing Niagara Falls

The Falls are an amazing attraction all on their own, pouring over millions of liters of water every second to provide an amazing scene. Those who want to get up close and personal to the Falls can even hop aboard the Maid of the Mist – where they’ll get soaked trying to catch a close-up glimpse of the powerful falls! Throughout certain weeks of the year, visitors can witness the falls with blazing lights which illuminate the roaring waters as they pour over the Falls’ edge.

Other Fun Attractions in the Niagara Area

With the Falls being as popular as they are, other attractions have sprouted up in the area, including vibrant Clifton Hill, the Skylon Tower, exciting rides, haunted houses, wax museums, fabulous restaurants and bars, and even world-class casinos. There are so many things to see and do in the Niagara Falls area that one could realistically spend weeks trying to experience everything that Niagara Falls has to offer!

Doing the Falls on a Budget

Saving a few bucks on a trip is always on the forefront of travelers’ minds, and taking a discount Niagara Falls trip is the best way to do it. There is no easier way to stick to a budget when travelling to the Falls than to take a day trip through reputable tour operator Niagara Day Tour. They offer the most affordable and convenient way to visit the Falls without you having to do any trip organizing at all!

Discover the Falls With an Organized Day Trip!

Get picked up from a Toronto area hotel with your group of friends or family, and get whisked away to the Niagara region on a comfortable mini bus operated by Niagara Day Tour. You’ll be escorted by a licensed tour guide who will answer all your questions, and provide you with all sorts of interesting information about every spot you stop at, be it the Smallest Chapel in the World, Niagara-on-the-Lake, or a local winery. Niagara Day Tour will give you between 2½ to 3 hours of free time to hang around the Falls, which is much more than your average tour operator.

We All Have Baggage Don’t We?

There are two ways to travel by train in Europe, the right way and our family’s way. It doesn’t seem to matter how much we plan, we never seem to avoid repeating our mistakes. You would think that by now we would have learned the value of packing light after endless embarrassing moments not to mention the hassle and fatigue of lugging a dozen or more bags from city to city, on and off trains, up tiny elevators or worse narrow stairways. Apparently, we are slow learners. We start every trip with good intentions by agreeing to bring only what we need. The following is an account of our one month trip to Europe during which we were touring several countries by train, ship, bus and private car. At the end of this glorious vacation we were dropping our son off in Italy to take his final year of high school (I was dreading the end of the trip).

We started in London with 8 bags – 4 large suitcases and 4 backpacks. Not bad for the four of us. We decided to try the Big Bus tours for the first time in the European cities so on we hopped the first day and it was great except for the fact that everyone but me slept throughout most of the route. No hopping off that day. The buses were great, we were able to select our language and get a complete historical guided tour. My husband Jack insisted it was Jeremy Irons doing the narrating in London. I guess he was having an off year (Jeremy, not my husband).

The second day we repeated what the sleepers had missed and we were finally able to use the hop off feature. First stop, Jubilee Gardens where my family convinced me to go on the London Eye, the world’s largest Ferris Wheel. I don’t even like the world’s smallest Ferris Wheel. I was undecided on whether to join them but since I hate to disappoint my children I got into line at the last minute and was rewarded by two big smiles from my kids. Let me explain, we are in a cage that could take 20 of us to our deaths that revolves slowly, very slowly to give you an opportunity to see the breathtaking view of London! After several minutes of clinging to the center bench, I relaxed enough to venture to the side to admire the spectacular views. Feeling a little more confidant I asked the burley tattooed, biker type to take a picture of us. He had been sitting next to me on the bench (also clinging). He declined as he was at that moment paralyzed with fear. In fact he never moved the entire 30 minute trip.

We thoroughly enjoyed London but after 3 days we boarded the train to go through the Chunnel to Paris. This is a great train with first class service and very civilized baggage service.

After arriving in Paris and ransacking our now 10 bags (I forgot to mention the two bags we picked up in London after our shopping spree), we discovered that we had left all of our electronic cords for the cell phones and computers in London. We arranged for them to be sent on to us in Geneva as we were only staying a few nights in Paris. Again we saw Paris on the buses complete with Jeremy Irons narrating (at this point we started to humor Jack).

Our package arrived at our hotel in Geneva at the same time we did. Unfortunately, when we got to Geneva we realized we had left our son Russ’s diabetic supply kit in the hotel room in Paris. Having FedEx on speed dial made it easier for us to arrange for this to arrive before we left. We also discovered we had left Russ’s Glucose Monitor on the train. It never was recovered so we had to have another Fed Ex’ed from Toronto to his school in Italy which hopefully would arrive before we did along with the other huge box we had couriered prior to leaving Vancouver.

It rained for the two days we were in Geneva so our impression of the city was not a good one. I did the laundry and I don’t think the kids left the room one day using the excuse that they didn’t want to miss the FedEx delivery. Finally we left for Venice. The beauty of riding through the Alps almost made up for these wasted days in Geneva.

Breathtaking, is the only way to describe our first glimpse of Venice as we left the train station. The excitement of being there was somewhat diminished by our practical problem of moving an impractical amount of luggage through the waterways, narrow streets, stairs and bridges of Venice. We were a freak show trying to get on a water taxi that only got us part way to our hotel. The rest of the way we had to drag our now 12 cases up and down bridges and stairs. However, we were rewarded with one of the most beautiful and quaint hotels I have ever stayed at in Europe.

Unfortunately we were only there one night before we had to reverse the process to board the cruise ship where we would be free from baggage handling for 12 glorious days. Just before we were about to set sail for Croatia we discovered Russ did not have his computer. It turned out it was stolen by the cruise ship baggage handlers (not that unusual we found out). FedEx could not solve this problem. Fortunately we had a smaller laptop with us as well so that we were able to leave that with him for school (this is our idea of packing light).

Next stop was Athens. It was a nasty 40C there and at peak tourist season for viewing the Acropolis. Our tour guide was not easy to listen to so we ditched her and tried it on our own. I do not recommend this. For awhile we just stood looking at a bunch of rocks in the heat. We found a much more civilized way to enjoy the view by sitting in the cafe enjoying lovely Greek coffee. Then it was on to shoe shopping in the Plaka. Shopping is a bonding experience for mothers and daughters. Not so much for mothers and sons. My son does not share the shopping gene and in fact has an extreme reaction to anything involving consumerism. Given that he is somewhat of a minimalist, he was started to get annoyed at the increase in luggage since he and my husband had to do most of the carting of it. Even under the pressure of him screaming at us that there was more to this trip than shopping, my daughter Kali and I were able to grab several pairs of shoes. One shopkeeper thanked me profusely and told me that she could now shut the shop down for the day, I’m not kidding about this. A family argument broke out when Russ threatened to go back to the ship. We agreed to no more shopping. That day. Not one of our finer moments on the trip.

On to Santorini, which will be forever known to our family as “Donkey Man Town”. There are three ways to get up to the city in Santorini, walk up (It is 40C, the hill is extremely steep and the smell and sights of donkey droppings makes this a last resort), take a tram or take a donkey. Jack and Kali opted for the tram. Russ and I decided to take the donkeys. I took this same trip with my parents exactly 30 years ago and found the whole donkey experience much more civilized and safer back then. However, I was not to know this until I was already in motion. There was no one leading us like they told us there would be. It was just Russ on his big ass and me on my small one going up alone. I was not happy about this but I didn’t want my donkey to know that. To him I whispered loving remarks – to anyone else within earshot I screamed in panic for help. Sadly, I’m not kidding about this either.

On one of the switchbacks, I finally found a man who was leading the group six donkeys back (a young blonde on the donkey). I tried to get his attention by yelling Donkey Man (either he didn’t hear me, didn’t understand English, or was offended), at any rate he ignored me.. To add to my stress, the three Europeans behind us decided it would be fun to kick their donkeys to make them go faster. This did not please me. I had already been kicked by Russ’s donkey when it was taking a rest and my little ass tried to overtake it, I was not going through that again! I yelled at them to get back and quit kicking their donkeys as it wasn’t a race! Apparently they did not understand English either.

In the meantime Russ was getting upset with me because I was spoiling his experience. He had a point. If I could control the fear of being kicked by a donkey or thrown over the edge and ignore the horrible smell, this is one of the most fantastic views you will ever see. I did not care at that moment.

It took forever to crisscross up that hill. Every two or three turns I would yell for the Donkey Man, who continued to ignore me. I would continue to yell at the Europeans behind me who hadn’t given up on beating me to the top. Russ continued to scowl at me. Just when I thought it would never end I discovered what was in store for us at the top and wished it would never end. At the top there were at least 30 donkeys facing one wall leaving about 12 inches for us to get through, on our own, WITH NO HELP FROM ANY DONKEY MAN. Our donkeys sensibly stopped as there was no room to move. I continued to yell for the Donkey Man. No response. I saw three old donkey tenders sitting watching us making no attempt to help us. Finally the Donkey Man with the blonde yelled something in Greek and the donkeys made a rush for the top. Unfortunately mine must have had a hearing problem because he didn’t move and was passed by the 3 Europeans and their donkeys (they were going to beat me to the top no matter what!). Remember there were no more than 12 inches for a single donkey to get through let alone two abreast! The sound of my stirrup scrapping against the rock wall and the sight of donkey asses everywhere finally put me into hysteria. Thankfully a tourist who had been watching the whole show (yes, there were spectators!) lifted me off the donkey. I don’t know if I thanked him but I told anyone who would listen how irresponsible this whole set up was and warned them not to go on the donkeys. I shook for a half hour. Not one of my finer moments on the trip.

We had a well deserved Sea Day after that.

Then it was on to Naples, Rome, Florence, Monte Carlo and Barcelona. Much sightseeing, shopping, eating and bus rides. Oh yes, Jeremy Irons was narrating on those as well!

This is the point where we actually realized we had made an error in our trip planning. When we booked the cruise that ended in Barcelona our plans were to stay in the south of France for a week and then on to Paris and home. In June this all changed with the decision to send Russ to school in Lanciano, Italy. This caused us to have to double back to Rome after the cruise. In retrospect, we should have got off the cruise in Villefranche and taken a 20 minute car ride to Nice. But that would have been too easy and by now you are probably realizing we don’t do things the easy way. So on to the next adventure….

We are first off the ship at 7am to catch a train from Barcelona to Montpelier. There was a quick change in Montpelier to Nice. Not a bad trip, if everything went as planned. However, it did not go as planned. When we got to Montpelier there was a 30 minute delay, turning into an hour delay, then a 2 hour delay and then finally an indefinite delay. Four hours later we were told to catch the train to Avignon, change to the train to Marseille and then change again to the one to Nice. This doesn’t sound too complicated except we were traveling with now 14 suitcases (we bought more cases in Barcelona because of the shoes/leather jackets/briefcases/purses etc purchased along the way). To be fair some of them were backpacks and smaller cases. Remember because of the delays, the trains were especially crowded s and of course there was very limited space for luggage.

Things took a turn for the worst when Kali started to get sick on the train from Montpelier (her fever spiked suddenly to around 102). She and I had managed to get seats on the Avignon to Marseille train in a compartment for 6. The guys couldn’t sit as there was no place to put the luggage and besides they had to keep moving the bags from one side of the car to the other depending upon the change of platforms at each stop (and there were many).

About half way through the trip Kali sat up and vomited repeatedly all over herself, her shoes, the table and of course the floor. Everyone in the compartment froze. I of course had nothing to clean it up with and couldn’t leave her so one of my French travelling companions went to get some paper in the toilet. I asked him to alert Jack or Russ (he could figure out who they were by the bags that surrounding them – we were a comedy act really!). I will leave it to your imagination how things went from there. I will only tell you that her shoes were left behind.

By the time we got to Marseille Kali was stable and there were a few less people in our compartment (I think by this time people were avoiding us). When I looked outside at the station I noticed it was pouring with rain. This is when I started to laugh (later Russ told me he also started laughing). He said there was no point in being upset as this is one of the best family travel stories yet (he still couldn’t see the humor in the Donkey Man episode).

We got on our final train and had an uneventful 2 hour trip to Nice. After 17 hours of travel that day, we arrived in Nice at 1am, crammed our luggage into one taxi with a net holding our bags (the taxi driver said he had never seen so much luggage for one small family). We arrive at our hotel only to be told they have no rooms for us – it is now close to 2am. At this point I was ready to take hostages and after much fuss (threatening to sleep in their lobby with a sick child) we were taken to a better hotel at their expense. In the end we were upgraded to a beautiful room with a balcony overlooking the French Riviera. Unfortunately, Kali spent two days in bed and recovered just in time for our overnight train to Rome.

We arrived in Rome at 6:30am. I did not sleep at all that night due to sharing a bunk with Kali so our luggage could be stored on the top bunk in the girl’s cabin. I spent the whole night being kicked by her and worried that the luggage would fall out the window!! (It was too hot to close the window) In Rome we waited an hour for a taxi, and then 3 hours at the dirtiest bus station I have ever seen before finally boarding our bus for our 3 hour picturesque drive to Lanciano. There was a pit stop about halfway but as Kali and I could not work out what to do with the hole in the floor (a small one) even with the two feet markings, we decided we would wait. Towards the end of the trip there is an announcement in Italian. I asked Jack what he thought it was. With conviction he says “We will be in Lanciano in 10 minutes” (he likes to think he has an ear for languages). “Great!” At that point the bus pulled over – “Another pit stop” says Jack. “No thanks!” But then I noticed that some people were taking their suitcases and leaving the bus. I asked Jack to check it out. Sure enough we had to change buses!! Another sideshow as we hurriedly wake the kids and transfer our now 16 bags on to the next bus for the 15 minute ride to our destination.

Surrounded by piles of luggage at the Lanciano Bus Station, an island in the street really, I asked the driver where the taxi stand was. “”Oh no Senora, there are no taxis in Lanciano.” There are however a lot of hills and stairs in Lanciano. We also had no idea where the Allegria Inn was. Thankfully after calling the school for assistance someone arrived to get us. As you can imagine there was not enough room for us and the luggage so a kindly Canadian/Italian who had befriended us during our wait offered us a ride as well (actually I think he was just curious about this spectacle that had just arrived in this sleepy little Italian town). Our 500 year old Inn had no elevator but it no longer fazed us to carry the luggage up two flights of stairs. We then went out to explore the little Italian town Russ would spend a year in. It is worth mentioning again the number of stairs and hills in this scenic little town. Jack said he would be dead in a week if he lived there. After a month of togetherness I was tempted to call a real estate agent.

Leaving Russ behind was a very emotional experience for Mom. This was offset somewhat by the giddiness I felt about unloading some of luggage in Lanciano. Unwilling to chance the bus system again, we hired a car to go back to Rome.

We ended our trip with a fantastic dinner at a lovely restaurant in the Piazza Navona that we had visited many times. We were met with enthusiasm by our waiter who wanted to help us by offering his recommendations. Of course we had to try the rare mushroom appetizer (only available in August and September in Roma), the pasta with lobster and the sea bass. At some point we realized that we had let this gifted waiter talk us into a meal that was way out of control. Foolishly we didn’t ask the price of anything. In the end they presented us with a bill for almost 500 Euros (only one bottle of wine). My wise 11 year old Kali suggested next time we try ordering from the menu.

Even our return flight from Heathrow was made chaotic because they had just uncovered a terrorist plot while we were cruising in the Mediterranean. It was rumored that we were not allowed carry-on luggage, not even a book (yikes)! I wasn’t looking forward to negotiating with the baggage checkers in London. Fortunately they relaxed the rules the day before we traveled and we were allowed to carry on a bag however you can imagine the increased security we had to contend with.

Gray Line Tours – See Las Vegas Attractions Like a “Local”

The best way to enjoy Las Vegas and its surrounding natural attractions is from the luxurious comfort of a Gray Line tour bus. Not only is it surprisingly affordable, but also traveling by professional motorcoach puts you in direct contact with some of the greatest landmarks known to man.

Grayline is the largest operator of sightseeing tours in the world. Formed some 90 years ago, the company runs tours and excursions in more than 150 destinations across the globe. It’s most popular tours are in Sydney, Morocco, London, Paris, Egypt, Mexico City, and Hong Kong. Famous U.S. cities include San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Seattle, and Hawaii.

Rounding out that list of exotic locales, of course, is Gray Line Las Vegas. Its roster of exciting luxury bus tours includes:

The Las Vegas Strip
Hoover Dam
Grand Canyon South Rim
Grand Canyon West Rim (with Hualapai Skywalk)

In addition to bus trips, the company also organizes:

Boat cruises on the Lake Mead
River rafting on the mighty Colorado River
Helicopter rides
Airplane flights

The company has a policy to accommodate all travelers, including independent tourists, groups, and corporate trips. It also runs the most reliable and on-time airport transfer service (McCarran International) in Vegas.

The Gray Line tour company was started in 1910 by a young restaurateur named Louis Bush, who refurbished a Mack Truck chassis, painted it the company’s signature blue and gray colors, and began offering sightseeing tours of Washington, D.C.

The company was an instant smash with travelers. By 1926, Gray Line had grown into other key sightseeing markets, including New York, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The first international offerings appeared on the scene, too, and included Toronto and Havana, Cuba.

Immediately following World War II, Harry J Dooley, a former employee, who helped re-establish the concern’s sightseeing offering in Chicago, acquired Grayline. His success in the Windy City led him to taking the corporate helm as president, a move that solidified his reputation as the “father” of the sightseeing industry.

The increasing popularity of jet travel in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s opened up new travel destinations. Gray Line set up operations in these new locales as well, including Canada, Mexico, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. The tour bus company continued to aggressively expand in the U.S.

Today, Gray Line not only offers it’s superior bus tour product, but a score of other offerings as well:

Rail tours
Cruises
Escorted and guided tours
Sightseeing vacation packages (air, hotel, bus, etc.)
Multi-lingual tours
Charters
Custom group tours
Airport transfers
Convention services
Corporate trips

No matter what you sightseeing needs are, Gray Line’s got you covered. Especially as it concerns Las Vegas bus tours, the most popular of which are to Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. So put the seat back and enjoy the ride. The journey has just begun.

Synopsis of the Bus and Boat Tours of Toronto

Toronto is one of the most sought after tourist destinations, when we land up at Toronto, usually like other visitors we may search for the best option to see the beauty of the city. There are different types of tours and it is indeed the best options to select the Toronto bus tours. While we enjoy a vacation, it is not at all a good idea to drive and hunt for a piece of place for parking, beside Toronto bus tours there also remain boat tours and the Toronto boat tours are quite popular. While planning to see different places of the city, it is really an added advantage to have information about the Toronto bus tour and the boat tours.

There are different companies that provide buses and boats, it is indeed essential to select the proper tour company. A proper Toronto bus tour provider offers luxurious buses and these buses take the visitors to the different places of tourist attraction. To travel in style it is best to take tickets of the Toronto bus tours. Many of these buses collect the tourists from doorstep but requests should be done while booking the ticket. These buses are mainly imported rout masters .During the sight seeing tour these buses cover places like China Town, Casa Loma, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the majestic, historic St. Lawrence Market, Hockey Hall of Fame etc.Many people still do not prefer the bus tours, there are Toronto boat tours as well and it is really a different sensation to see the beautiful city from the boats.

These Toronto boat tours are tailored in such a way that the tourists find it interesting and tempting. These tours are usually of 45 minutes duration. Boat cruises are attractions of the visitors to pours in to Toronto for a trip. Tickets of these cruises are available from the harbor front and it is advisable to book the tickets a day before the tour. Especially during the summer holidays, there remain huge rush and hardly is it possible to get a place. Harbourfront Centre ticket booking center provides assistance to the people who seek tickets of Toronto boat tours. Often free maps of the city and places of attraction are providing to the tourists and with these maps it becomes easier to reach the destinations. It is truly a welcome break to enjoy the natural beauty of the gorgeous city while sipping the favorite drink while sitting in the licensed bar of the cruise. List of the city sights are available in web portals of the leading Toronto boat tour providers.

The Toronto bus tours can be everlasting experience for the travelers; it is a complete blend of heritage and contemporary fashion. The prices of the tickets can be found online and even now online booking is also possible both for the Toronto bus tour and boat tours. The websites of the tour providers are quite user friendly. It is wise to check out the prices of the bus and the cruise tickets. In addition, duration and timings of these trips also remains the web portal. So, before fixing up plans to go for a Toronto bus tour or boat tour, self research can be helpful.

Toronto Historical and Beer Tour a Brew Buff’s Bargain

Taking the Old Toronto Beer Tour with Oliver Dawson is as enjoyable and informative for lifelong residents of Toronto, as it is for tourists visiting Ontario’s capital from abroad. In the course of a seven hour Saturday tour of four downtown Toronto breweries and historic Old Fort York, Dawson imparts a fascinating and rarely if ever told story of the history of Toronto set against the backdrop of the development of Canadian breweries and beer. And for only $99 (2012 price), including lunch, learning and all the brew the body can button, what a bargain.

Why Oliver Dawson for an Old Toronto Beer Tour

Dawson is as interesting and entertaining a personality with whom one could ever hope to spend a day, beer or no beer; unrivalled in his knowledge of the history of Toronto as it relates to brewing and breweries.

Dawson’s in-depth knowledge of beer began almost three decades ago while on a yearlong study program in Germany. After his return to Ontario he began working at one of the nation’s first craft beer operations, the Upper Canada Brewing Company, as a tour host and sales representative. He eventually parlayed his ingenuity and expertise by creating innovative events with a view to providing the brewery with a higher profile.

After becoming Upper Canada’s Director of Marketing Development he returned to Europe for a year, opening up new markets for the micro-brewery. Upon his return he inaugurated one of Canada’s first organized beer tours, The Beer Lovers’ Tour of Europe.

The brew maestro hasn’t looked back since, in 1998 leaving traditional employment and beginning his own company, Beer Lovers’ Tour Company, offering both domestic and international beer tours and related activities.

For over a decade Dawson has been leading the Old Toronto Beer Tour, while continuing to arrange international tours. He also conducts corporate and private beer tasting events and is a sales and marketing consultant to the brewing and hospitality industries. For several years he taught the Beer Appreciation course at George Brown College. Dawson regularly appears on TV and radio when an expert on Canadian beer and brewing is sought.

A Saturday Toronto Beer & Historical Tour of Downtown Micro-Breweries & Landmark Sites

Twenty-six beer aficionados gather on a sunny Saturday of a late summer morning, outside Steam Whistle Brewery, anxiously awaiting the brewery’s 11 a.m. opening and Dawson’s arrival. The steam whistle blows on the hour, and the group is ushered to the upstairs level of the unique historical building nestled between Lake Ontario and the Rogers Centre. Dawson gives a brief introductory session, explaining his background and how the day will unfold. Each of us sits attentively, listening while sipping on a bottle of the brewery’s European-style Pilsner.

Brewery tour guide Gracie walks us through the facility, explaining its history, the acquisition of the building formerly owned by Canadian Pacific Railway, and of course providing a detailed description of how the beer is made, bottled and marketed. Steam Whistle’s unique position in the Canadian brewing trade is expounded; and it thoroughly impresses in terms of purity and quality of product, and in being an exemplary green industry.

Before leaving the brewery to board the old orange school bus for historic Fort York, Dawson offers an impressive buffet luncheon spread of cold cuts, cheeses, marinated peppers and eggplant, breads and rolls. He encourages us to pack an extra sandwich for later in the day, assuring that it will be welcomed at some point during an afternoon of brew sampling.

Our visit to Fort York is brief, but the historic connection to brewing is nevertheless important. Our walk through part of the Canada Heritage Site with its expansive green lawns, cannons and barracks, set against Toronto’s waterfront, burgeoning condo construction and CN Tower piercing the blue sky, is remarkable, even to those anxiously awaiting the next brewery. We begin our lesson about the beginnings of brewing in Ontario dating to the 1700s, including the importance of Irish immigration for the industry. British military policy at the time decreed that six pints of beer be a part of soldiers’ salaries. John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, thus encouraged local brewers to get cracking. And so the race to open breweries began.

Dawson mixes up the day well. Next stop Amsterdam Brewery, with samples of several styles of beer including fruit infused, wheat, traditional lagers, dark ales and more. Amsterdam scratches the itch of the few impatient for the next fix. A little more history, as we learn of the politics of regulation, and the importance of Molson and Carling for the growth of the industry.

We travel from the casual and unceremonious gathering at Amsterdam, to a formal tasting at the Six Pints Specialty Beer Co. & Beer Academy. This micro-brewery in the heart of Toronto’s financial district is also a teaching centre, retail store and tasting bar. We’re here to taste three brews released the day before, under Nick’s tutelage. “We’re all about styles, not brands,” he advises. We sample a Hefeweisen with half wheat half caramel malt, revealing tones of citrus, banana and spice, a session beer you would be comfortable drinking over the course of a few hours; then a Belgian Brown, the perfect fall beer with notes of nutmeg, clove, plum and raisin; and finally a midnight black Smoked Porter, meaty and bacon-y, campfire style. The initial taste of the Hefeweisen dramatically changes after drinking the Belgian or Porter. Nick asks: “What’s your favourite; would your answer be the same if you had to drink it all evening?”

We next visit Corktown, an area noteworthy for in its heyday having the highest concentration of breweries and distilleries in Canada. The exercise portion of the day is well in swing as we walk through a number of quaint streets and back alleys, as well as the site of the old Dominion Brewery. The history of Toronto comes alive; its connection to brewing is by now crystal clear. Dawson has achieved his goal.

Old Toronto Beer Tour Concludes in Distillery District, then Optional Dinner

The final stop for most of us is the revitalized section of Toronto’s Distillery District, a series cobblestone pedestrian walkways lined with 19th century brownstone buildings now housing high-end shops, restaurants and galleries, and yes, watering holes. It’s been more than 40 minutes since we’ve last imbibed, so the Mill St. Brewery, located in the heart of the District, gets the call. The diversity of product to which we’ve until now exposed continues. It’s late Saturday afternoon, and so there are several other beer buffs milling about, sampling different draughts. Periodically a barrel empties; we wait upwards of a minute to refill our cups.

Most in the group then disperse, to window shop and then head home or to the hotel before dinner. However the bus awaits a handful of those who have arranged to attend dinner with Dawson. They will dine uptown at the Granite Brewery, to indulge in a four-course meal with each dish infused with a different brew. Next time I take Oliver Dawson’s Old Toronto Beer Tour, it’ll surely include dinner.

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

The musical Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, is stage adaptation of the Stephan Elliott 1994 motion picture The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. The score of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is a mixture of well-known popular songs and its book was written by Stephan Elliott and Allan Scott. Co-writer Scott initially realized The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert had all the elements to make a successful musical: Larger than life characters, comedic elements, a heartfelt story, conflict of egos, and lots of room for lavish sets, gorgeous costumes and fantastic music.

Musical numbers includes many pop songs such as Downtown, Thank God I’m a Country Boy, What’s Love Got To Do With It?, Shake Your Groove Thing, and MacArthur Park. The musical is staged around Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, a glitzy tour bus packed with talented individuals on their way to Alice Springs, Australia. Anthony Belrose aka Tick aka Mitzi Del Bra, a drag queen, is on his way to Alice Springs, Australia for a job. Tick convinces some of his performer friends, showy drag queen Felicia Jollygoodfellow and transsexual woman Bernadette Bassenger, to journey with him to Alice Springs.

The creative team of Scott and Elliott has remained the same throughout the various productions of Priscilla, but the script has been changed to focus on the relationship between Tick and his young son, Benjamin. Several of the songs of previous productions have been changed to include the pop culture of the show’s venue. Since its move from Australia to the UK and US, songs by Australian artist Kylie Minogue have been replaced by Madonna hits.

The stage musical premiered in Australia in 2006 and has been staged in New Zealand, London’s West End, and Toronto. Its next venue is The Palace in London over the Christmas holidays of 2010 and will debut on Broadway in 2011. The Palace Theatre in London is a magnificent red-brick building located on the west side of Cambridge Circus. Originally, the Palace was the home of grand opera productions in the late 19th Century, but by the 1920s stage musicals, like No, No, Nanette and The Gay Divorcee, were its mainstay. Les Misérables and Jesus Christ Superstar finished their runs in the late 20th Century, moving onto Monty Python’s Spamalot, Andrew Lloyd Weber’s The Woman in White, and now Priscilla, the Queen of the Desert.

Planning Your Vacation With Flights From Calgary

Choosing your flights from Calgary often settles to one option: making use of Calgary International Airport, the region’s main venue and Canada’s fourth-busiest air travel facility. There’s quite a bit going on in Calgary’s airport right now; as of the time this article was written, the approach via local roads to the airport was changing to make way for a new runway and expansion to one of the passenger terminals. Before you book your flight to or from Calgary, here are some of the pertinent facts about this airport.

The airport code for Calgary International Airport is YYC.

You can be a world traveler if you choose to depart from this airport; international destinations include Mexico and Germany, plus U.S. destinations from Chicago to Hawaii. Domestic travel is also well represented, with flights to Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, and many other cities and hotspots.

There are more than 20 airlines that stop off at Calgary International Airport. Major airlines include Air Canada, Delta, Air Transat, American, Continental, and United. Regional and charter carriers include West Jet, SunWing Air, Sunquest, and Enerjet.

There is plenty to do at the airport itself, including free WiFi, free admission to SpacePort (a space shuttle exhibit in partnership with NASA), and a rotating series of exhibits based on local history and ecology. You can also shop at over 50 stores and boutiques, eat at one of more than 30 restaurants, get a massage, visit a spa, or go to the salon – all onsite.

Once you’ve finished your flight, you may need some transportation options. Your choices include shuttles to the city and to various hotels, taxis, limo services, and city buses. Shuttles to Banff, motorcoaches, and tour bus transportation can also be arranged, but these may require advanced notice.

Car rental companies include Avis, Alamo, Dollar, Budget, Hertz, National, and Thrifty. If you need something a bit bigger, you can also rent an RV.

With Calgary’s city center a mere 17 kilometers distant, there’s no shortage of hotels. Chains close to the airport – some onsite – include Delta, Hampton Inn, Sheraton, Travelodge, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Radisson, and Staybridge Suites.

Visitors to Calgary International Airport mentioned the cowboy hat wearing volunteers sprinkled throughout the airport. While many reviewers rather liked the friendly and enthusiastic demeanor of this residential welcome committee, other were less happy; whatever your personal feelings, they are a helpful source of local information if you’re visiting Calgary for the first time.

Like almost any other international airport, keep in mind that going through customs and security may take a long time. And be prepared to walk to your gate – it may be farther than you think. Finally, this older airport is currently undergoing some work. Please be patient while the improvements are taking place.

If you are flying to Calgary, it’s an easy drive of about an hour and a half to Banff National Park and the breathtaking Canadian Rockies.

Whether you are visiting Calgary, Banff, or one of its environs or looking for flights from Calgary to a sunny midwinter getaway, Calgary Airport can help you get there.

Canadian Rockers Head South To Win Inxs Lead!

Mark Burnett Productions (one of the most influential television producers) and INXS (one of the most influential rock bands in the world) have joined together for the first ever, ROCKSTAR competition. The very first competition ever, where an already successful band looks for a new lead singer a la reality show!

They auditioned worldwide and searched for the best male or female artists to come up with a group of 15 potentials. These 15 potentials (4 are Canadian) will sing their hearts with the hopes of landing the lead of INXS! The hopefuls will sing it out during the 13- week series, hosted by Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction) and Brooke Burke (actress and host of E! Entertainment Television’s “Wild On”). Not an easy task for anyone, but most of the contenders are seasoned performers in one form or another. I had a chance to speak with the 4 Canadian contenders (Tara Slone, J.D. Fortune, Deanna Johnston and Suzie McNeil) on the phone, before they embarked on an adventure that will in evidently change their lives forever!!

Tara (Tar- a, not Tear-a) Slone is no stranger to the auditioning process, her most recent band Joydrop (all male band with Tara as lead singer”), had placed an ad in the paper that she answered and after a few successful hits (” If I was Beautiful like you and I sometimes Wanna die”), a couple strong tours well…the rest is history.
Perhaps she has the goods to be the lead singer of INXS! She is definitely familiar with the boys club, that’s for sure! Tara shares with us what the auditioning process was like?

Tara

Actually I heard about the audition from a girl who was a fan of my band Joydrop and INXS is her favourite band of all time. It would be her dream come true for her – for me. (Tara laughs and you hear some chuckles from the rest of the gang on the phone). I think it was just the amalgam of her two favourite bands.

How did you feel about that?

I sort of heard about the auditions happening in Toronto. Auditioning for the band was just not something that I contemplated and it just turned out that I was going to be away during the time of the auditions. So, she sent away a few pictures of me and one of the Joydrop videos to INXS’ management and they contacted me.

That must have been a surprise to you?

Well, she asked my permission and I said, “Do your thing” and from there I didn’t really think about it. Next thing I knew they called me and asked if I would be interested in stepping in and auditioning.

So, you did have to sing for them.

Oh my God, the final audition process was ….a lot.

Tara, how will landing the lead as INXS’ affect your own album? Will that be put on hold?

It is ready to go and I would like to think that the music that I write is timeless, so I would like to think I could release it at anytime. I put a lot of work into my songs and it is work that I am really proud of. It isn’t going anywhere.

J.D. Fortune had the worst audition of his life for INXS and share with us why this almost did not happen. No stranger to the limelight( J.D. is well known for his Elvis Impersonator show), he managed to overcome!
J.D.

I waited in line with all the other hopefuls and once I finally got inside….terrible! I started singing a song and we were both in the same key, which is always great in an audition (haha). The accompanist started playing once song and I was singing another and when I corrected him to play the song I was singing. So I assumed he would start playing the song that I was…not singing…and we ended up switching again. He ended up playing the song I was once singing. I stopped right away and said to the producer who was looking after the auditions, “Have you ever had a really bad nightmare that you just could not wake up from?” A few people laughed and someone said “thank-you” and I walked off the stage. Moments later I am out in the parking lot with my hand on the car door to leave and the same producer had come out with a contract and said, “Tomorrow you are singing for the band”. I thought he was kidding me, I was literally freaking out and he contested that he was serious and that I needed to learn two INXS songs and come back tomorrow. So I went back with the intentions that I didn’t really care what was going to happen, because I was going to be singing in front of INXS ( long time favourite band!) and that was going to be cool. Prior to singing I went into the bathroom and said to myself, is it important for me to be on the show or just redeem myself from yesterday? All I asked of myself is to give the best audition I could ever have and went out on stage. Once I was singing, they kept asking me to sing more and more and more, to top it all off I broke three mike stands and a camera. But, to put the icing on the cake, I walked out and Kirk Pengilly was strumming “Never tear us a part” and we did the full version of that. Now here he is!!

The two Torontonians in the competition are Tara Slone and Suzy McNeil. The girls know of each other in and around the business. So, Suzy were things a lot smoother for your audition?

Suzy McNeil

Mine, actually almost ended up not happening. Karen Bliss had recommended me to another producer who I never got to meet and he called me while I was in performing at the Windsor Casino (Suzy has been performing in an ABBA tribute band for quite some time. The producer told me of the recommended day to audition, which was separate from the “cattle call” day, but I could not do it that day, because I was flying to Arizona with the band. So I graciously thanked him and was going to hang up and he said, “No, we have to get you in.” So he said to show up on the cattle call day and they would get me in. On the day of auditions, I go to the MOD CLUB and had a scheduled appointment after the auditions for 1pm, with my audition time set for noon. I went with the idea that, that was my “set” time and when I showed up, there were tons of people lined up the street! I thought-” Shit”, because I did not want to walk up in front of everyone and insist to be let in, but it was the only thing I could do. So, the bouncers had no idea that I was coming and were not going to just let me in and just as I was about to leave when I recognized a guy inside. I finally found a contact and they told me I was not going to be able to sing for an hour or more. By this time I was really starting to get pissed off and told them to forget it, that I was going to have to leave due to another appointment. But, I was totally humble about it and the contact said that they would go and see what they could do. She drags me to the front of the line and bless those people’s hearts that were waiting, because I felt so bad doing that. But, in the end it was good to know that they wanted to give EVERYONE a chance – just in case, which I think was really cool.

But, the next thing was the call back. They called me and said they would like to see me again and I was flying to Arizona on that day, so I totally missed the callback. Again! I felt that this was not going to happen again and I thought oh well, what can I do? So, they suggested that I fly to Boston from Arizona to audition there and I told them that I did not have the money to do that. Finally I was told to send in a video, which some people were doing anyway (including Tara)

Deanna Johnston who resides in Resada, California , but born in Kingston, Ontario still considers herself a Canadian living amongst the Americans. She has lived in America a little over six years, but she assures me she is still CANADIAN! But, living in the U.S. did not give her any advantage during the audition process, in fact she learned of the audition through a friend who had auditioned for the house band for the show.
I was very much surprised that INXS was accepting women to compete for the lead, which I thought was cool, considering it was an actually ROCK competition. Everything in LA is either R&B, Urban or Hip-Hop music, so I feel like a fish out of water in these parts. I am always either too rock, because “they” don’t really know what rock is, they think Rock is Michelle Branch. (Everyone laughs on the phone).

I was thrilled to audition! I went to the Whiskey in Hollywood and I was lucky I had somebody on the inside, who I knew, so I had an appointment set up, by passing the “cattle call” thing. Deanna impressed them so much that she earned her spot on the ROCKSTAR show.

There is a shot of all the contenders together and they have done some press already together, so I asked them if they heard one another sing and the telephone line goes silent. Then everyone laughs.
J.D.
That was an awkward pause. I mean what do you say or what don’t you say? (More laughter ensues with the four Canadians.) We are all singers. So if you meet a singer, then it is like artists that paint talking about what, you know, what pastels to use.

Well I never asked who was the best – I just wanted to know had you heard one another sing? But J.D. goes onto divert the question, but sort of answer it.

J.D.

Well the wonderful thing about the show is that everyone gets to show their talent, just by their personality. The difference between people who sing great and great singers is the people who are great singers can hit the notes all night long; but great singers whether they hit the notes or not, you can listen to all night long. So, when you hear a singer talk, I can hear it in their voice that they are a great singer.

Well, that is the great thing about ROCK music, now isn’t it?

J.D.

It is an expression of what you have had to go through. The trials and tribulations that we have all had to go through to get to where we are now – contenders of the next lead singer of INXS.

What makes you a die-hard INXS fan; as you have lain claim to be? Did you have Michael Hutchence on your walls?

J.D.

I actually had Tim Farris on my wall (more laughter from the ladies). No, no, it wasn’t like a Bo Derek size tacked up to the wall. I did have a huge Bo Derek poster (actually he admits- it was Tara Slone), but not Tim Farriss. But, what makes me a huge fan is that the first time I heard INXS’ Devil Inside, that made me want to be a musician. I have been singing since I was five but I wanted to play and right after the inspiration of INXS. This was created by six guys from the “Outback” and the more I learned about them, the more I became a fan. I mean these guys drove 4500 kilometres to their first gig and played behind chicken wire, because people were throwing stuff at them. They changed genres of music three times, and then put them altogether.

Tara, you can appreciate what J.D. was saying about INXS’ travel experiences. When you started out with Joydrop, even after signing a deal, it was a long time before you had other people setting up your equipment and you had to travel in pretty tight accommodations. Not tour bus for you right away, it was a very large van right?

Tara

(She giggles) Oh yeah. I feel a real kinship with all of them. I feel a kinship with musicians in general, but I do know what it takes to make it happen and you don’t know until you have done it. Playing for people night after night and travel, fatigue and all the stuff goes on behind the scenes.

Suzy

Yeah, it is interesting that you asked that Orlena. Because, I have been thinking about this lately, that all of our futures are on hold in a sense. They are very uncertain right now, probably the most in my life than in any other time. We have no idea how far we will make it or even where will be once we do or don’t. Plus, all the opportunities that will come from this. It really is exciting!

Hockey Music – Three Days Grace

Music Group of the Week: Rock band Three Days Grace prefers their hockey 365 days a year…

Rock band Three Days Grace hails from Toronto and is made up of Adam Gontier, Neil Sanderson, Brad Walst and Barry Stock. They’ve had more than their fair share of hits over the past few years but one thing that the more casual fan of the band may not know is that they are, in fact, huge hockey fans.

As first told during an interview with ESPN during the X Games, the band actually brings their hockey equipment with them on the road with the hope that they might have a chance to suit up and scrimmage at a rink in between shows.

“We’re such huge hockey fans that we travel with it (their hockey gear) in our tour bus,” Sanderson told reporter Lynn Hoppes. “We usually play concerts in converted hockey rinks. So we put on our skates and we go for it.”

That, my fellow hockey chump friends, is pretty friggin’ cool.

Later on in the interview, Gontier admitted that, naturally – being that they’re Canadian and all – each one of them gave thought at one point or another about sticking with hockey as a career instead, but thought it was smart to stick to music.

“We wish we were in the NHL. And, since we know a lot of NHL players, they wish they were in a rock band,” Gontier said. “There are a lot of parallels to the jobs. But we don’t have to wake up as early.”