Wednesday, 17 October 2012

In The Morning I'm Making Waffles!

Sometimes it's interesting to see your city through fresh eyes and sometimes it's just downright depressing. My friend Ian's boyfriend David recently moved to Hamilton from Brussels, Belgium with a year long stop over in Australia. I was excited to visit a few of the Hammer's top highlights with him. Although he was enthusiastic and seemed to enjoy himself I couldn't help but feel underwhelmed as I saw Hamilton through the eyes of an outsider.

Ian and I in Brussels, Belgium last year.

I visited Belgium last year and like most places in Europe it is chalk full of ancient, grand structures and amazing art, not just in galleries but EVERYWHERE! I guess it is just hard for me to imagine why anybody would want to give all of that up for our city with it's only 166 years of existence. He came for love and I hope that he can come to love Hamilton just as it's inhabitants do. We love her for her greatness and for her faults.

We started our little tour of Hamilton with a fruit platter breakfast on top of the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Surprisingly this is a place I had never visited before and our new resident was quick to school me on its origin. Apparently it is called Commonwealth Square and was dedicated in 1987. I thought it was funny that he took the time to read signs that I had never really noticed before.

Plaque dedicated to the Hamiltonians that helped put on the first British Empire Games.

After breakfast we went to go to Whitehern but they were not open yet so we just admired the garden and then headed to the AGH. We will return another day! On the way there he wanted to go see the family courthouse. In Brussels the Palais de Justice is a huge tourist scene so I guess he thought it would be the same here. Once we got through security we quickly realized that this is not somewhere to just go look around. We felt kind of awkward so we just took a quick peek before swiftly departing. Although it is one of the older buildings in Hamilton having opened in 1890 it really was not quite as awe striking as the courthouse in Brussels.

Hamilton's Superior Court of Justice. Formerly the Hamilton Public Library.
Brussels Palais de Justice. BIG!
The marble staircase in the courthouse. Insane.

After escaping family court we ventured on to the AGH and this is where Hamilton really started to not measure up. I really like the Hamilton Art Gallery but I have been to museums and galleries in Europe and well...we ain't got no Monet :P I love that they really celebrate local and national talent but being in that museum with a true European was almost embarrassing. He, of course was really gracious but he did say that it was a strange museum and the set up was completely random, but he also said that he enjoyed GOOOO AGH!!

Kim Adams' Bruegel-Bosch Bus. One of the biggest draws at the AGH.
Museum of the arts in Brussels...ya.
Street art in Brussels. Stuff like this is EVERYWHERE!

We decided that Hess Village is probably the most European-like area of Hamilton and so we went and wandered around there for a little while but it was during the day and so it was hard to show him what it would be like on a bar hopping night. Nonetheless he said it was a pretty area.


By then we were famished and decided to go for lunch. Ian and David both lived in Korea for a little while and so they talked me into going for Korean. We went to Cho Sun Ok Korean BBQ on King Street East and it was amazing! Watching them speak Korean with the server made me feel a little bit dumb but it was definitely entertaining.

Such a neat, yummy little restaurant.

I had such a fun time watching David explore some of steeltown for the first time, and although at times I may have felt embarrassed, by the end of the day I came to the realization that even though we are not as old as Europe and we don't have art by the legends, what we lack in those areas we make up for ten fold in culture.

Where else could you visit a heritage building, an art gallery, an entire village dedicated to food and alcohol as well as a total melting pot of delicious cultural cuisines all within a few blocks of each other? No where! Hamilton can be great. You just have to know where to look and what to look for. I look forward to seeing David find his place in Hamilton. Once he's settled in I'm sure he will grow to love it as much as he loved Belgium.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Gordie, Gord & Gourds

Last week was an insanely awesome week to be Canadian, specifically a Hamiltonian. First of all I won tickets to go see Wide Mouth Mason with Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar at Absinthe. It was a stellar show. I hadn't heard anything about Wide Mouth Mason since the early 2000's but they played some of their old stuff as well as new and it was very cool to go to a show and for once not be the oldest person there. That seems to happen to me a lot. You may not know this but Gordie Johnson is kind of a Canadian legend. Click here to see Gordie Johnson and Big Sugar's version of O Canada. He was the lead singer of Big Sugar as well as producing albums for bands such as The Trews, The Joel Plaskett Emergency and Reel Big Fish. He is now a bonafide member for the comeback of Wide Mouth Mason. Refresh your memory of Wide Mouth Mason HERE.

Wide Mouth Mason   Photo: Laura Cook

Gordie Johnson   Photo: Laura Cook

Secondly The Tragically Hip played the first show at Ivor Wynne Stadium in 33 years. It was also the last show. I woke up to a text from my friend Laura saying, "I hope you are interested in seeing the hip because I got tickets." That was quite a surprise and they didn't disappoint. Gord Downie is just a ball of energy. I definitely got that feeling you get when you see legends. Goosebumps everywhere and tingles in your belly. I'm not what you would call a die hard Hip fan but I have to say that it was pretty amazing! I was so happy to get to see a part of something that will go down in Hamilton history. It will be sad when Ivor Wynne is gone. Click's not Hip but still Downie-riffic!

The Hip are SO hip!
Gord Downie is legendary!

Last but not least in the week of awesome was that it was Canadian thanksgiving. That means time with family, and disgusting amounts of delicious foods. I was so full that I was actually in pain but it was SO worth it. My friend Kristen made an AMAZING pumpkin pie. It was quite literally the best pumpkin pie I've ever eaten and I'm convinced that she should probably open a pie shop. It was THAT good. Other than appreciating my full tummy, thanksgiving showed me all of the things I have to be thankful for in my life. I have amazing friends and the best, kindest, warmest family. As I sat back and reveled in the whole famjam playing Scene It (I won BTW) I was reminded of the cheesiest moments in family sitcoms and I would be hard pressed to find anything that makes me happier than my close, cheesy family.

The best pumpkin pie in Hamilton!!
Gobble, gobble time!