Saturday, December 22, 2007

Hot air balloons in London, ON

Brief about Hot air balloons
Hot air balloon is one of the oldest technology to carry humans in air dating back to 1783. It consists of a bag that holds the heated air, and a basket and heating sources are carried along with passengers/pilot. They can also come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Balloon festival was going on in London On August 4 2007, Saturday. It was 1 hour drive for us from Stratford.

View Larger Map

It takes place in Harris Park at the forks of the Thames River during Simcoe Day(first Monday in August) weekend.
After having some food and roaming around the groud that had some amusement games, slowly the crowd started gathering and a few balloons started inflating.

First ones were a maple leaf and Canadian Flag hot air balloons. Crowd cheered with pride. There were other participating balloonist from USA. More than 20 balloons were launched from this location one after the other.

Then there was a diano which was inflated but never took off. It finally bent over the crowd and fell down. It was just an attraction for kids.

How and where do they land?
Each hot air balloon will have its vehicle on the ground that chases these balloons. they will have GPS

Official site :

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sumo wrestling in stratford

Although sumo wrestling is played by professionals in Japan and other eastern countries, We dont need to be professionals to try out with special outfits for fun.
This one was organized in Stratford and found it when we were out for an evening walk.

  • Sumo wrestling is Japan's national game.
  • Rules -(1) The wrestler who either first touches the floor with something else than his sole (2) leaves the ring before his opponent, loses.
  • The fights usually last only a few seconds and in rare cases up to one minute or longer.
  • More details

    This is a video footage of my wrestling with one of the participant.
  • Tuesday, August 14, 2007

    Ontario place - Toronto

    Ontario Place is a multiple use entertainment and seasonal amusement park owned by the Province of Ontario. Located on the shore of Lake Ontario, just south of Exhibition Place, it is approximately 4 km west of downtown Toronto.

    Opened in 1971, it consists of three artificially constructed, landscaped islands. Attractions are spread throughout the park

    This was 148 kms drive for us. I have a backup driver now, so mostly sit and guide(not yet relax) ;)

    Parents can enjoy water slides with their family, while kids are the stars with all the rides open for them. Even toddlers have a seperate area where they have their own mind games. In the evenings chinese lanterns are lit and it looks awesome.
    Checkout this small video clip from ontario place, taken from digital camera

    Facts related to Ontario place
  • March 17, 1969 - started construction of Ontario place
  • May 22, 1971 - Operational
  • $29,000,000 CAD - spent for ontario place development.
  • Ontario Department of Trade and Development owns this park.
  • park size: 360,000 m² (96 acres), 206,000 m² (51.4 acres) created by landfill
  • Open from Mid may till september 3rd each year.

    Their official Ontario place website

    Google satellite map of Ontario place.

    To Conclude
    We mostly enjoyed the water slides which were of a lil thrill, most other rides were simply for kids. This is the place for family to have fun together. A must visit for people with kids if you happen to visit Toronto.
  • Saturday, June 30, 2007

    CN Tower - Toronto

    History of CN Tower
    The CN Tower, located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, is a communications and tourist tower standing 553.33m (1,815 ft 5 in) tall. Since its completion in 1976, it has been the world's tallest free-standing structure on land; however, its status as the world's tallest building is contentious. It is considered the signature icon of the city, attracting more than two million international visitors annually.

    CN originally referred to Canadian National, the railway company that built the tower. Following the railway's decision to divest non-core freight railway assets, prior to the company's privatization in 1995, the CN Tower was transferred to the Canada Lands Company (CLC), a federal Crown corporation responsible for real estate development.

    Comparing the heights of other tall structures with CN tower.
  • KVLY-TV mast is the tallest structure on earth with 628 meters located on Traill County, North Dakota, USA. This structure is supported by cables.
  • Petornius platform standing on water is taller than CN tower at 610 meters located in New orleans, USA.
  • Sears tower is the tallest sky scraper with antenna at 527 meters located in Chicago, USA.
  • Eiffel tower is merely 324 meters, but truely a master piece located in Paris, France.
    If these facts interst you, read more about worlds tallest buildings and structures

    Road to CN tower
    It was a 150 Kms 2 hours drive for us. take a look at the satellite image of the CN Tower.

    Glass floor
    You can look down 342 m(1,122 ft) right below your feet. Many people experience acrophobia when they walk on this glass floor. It also has a cafe in this floor.
    At 1150 feet height 360 restaurant takes a full rotation once every 72 minutes. You can take a look at the whole city in about an hours time sipping your coffe.

    Skypod at 447 m (1465 ft) is the highest observation deck in the world. On a clear day you can see up to 120 Kms, including outline of lake Ontario and mist rising from Niagara falls.
    Skypod gives a spectacular view of the high rises of the city.
    Visitors love to spend most of their time here.

  • CN Tower is world's tallest free-standing structure on land. Made a detailed study on this claim and CN tower isnt the tallest free structure on earth (as i was told) its Petornius platform standing on water.
  • CN Tower is alomost twice as tall as Eiffel tower is.
  • this building is used in various games like Simcity 3000, Ace combat 5
  • CN Tower experiences lightning strikes 40 to 50 times a year
  • CN Tower is listed in Guinnes world records as tallest free standing structure.
  • This is one of the most important tourist place in Canada.
  • Tuesday, June 26, 2007

    Sony Cybershot DSC-N2 - Migration from 3 to 10 MP

    Switched from 3 Mega pixels to 10 Mega pixels Sony DSC N2

    Read the full review of Sony Cybershot DSC-N2 - Migration from 3 to 10 MP

    All photos (well almost) that you saw on my blogs so far were clicked by this camera. Probly Niagara trip was its last journey with me.

    Sunday, June 17, 2007

    Niagara falls

    This is one travel destination for which we had been waiting for months together.

    History of Niagara falls -
    Niagara Falls are a set of massive waterfalls located on the Niagara River in eastern North America, on the border between Ontario, Canada and New York State.
    While not exceptionally high, Niagara Falls is very wide. With more than 6 million cubic feet (168,000 m³) of water falling over the crestline every minute in high flow, and almost 4 million cubic feet (110,000 m³) on average, it is the most powerful waterfall in North America.

    Niagara Falls is renowned both for its beauty and as a valuable source of hydroelectric power for Ontario and New York. Preserving this natural wonder from commercial over-development, while allowing for the needs of the area's people, has been a challenging project for environmental preservationists since the 1800s. A popular tourist site for over a century, the Falls are shared between the twin cities of Niagara Falls, Ontario and Niagara Falls, New York.

    Nothing is more thrilling than to watch Niagara falls roaring infront of you. Ferry services like "Maid of the Mist" does exactly this. It takes you close to the falls. Raincoats are provided to keep you safe from loads of mist and water that falls on you when you go closer.

    It was a 182 Kms, a 3 hours dirve for us. Here is a google road map that we used to reach Niagara.

    Satellite view of Niagara falls

    View a live camera on Niagara falls

    Niagara looks equally bright and lit up in the night (check out the schedule on their site) with colorful lights. To add more to the beauty you can see wonderful fireworks display on friday and sunday nights at 10 PM. Check the schedule on their site as the timings vary throughout the year. Its another not to miss event in Niagara.

    Some interesting facts about Niagara falls
  • The first person to go over the Falls in a barrel and survive was a 63 year old female schoolteacher.
  • Niagara falls is 12,000 yrs old.
  • Every year over 12 million tourists visit Niagara.
  • Marilyn Monroe starrer "Niagara" was filmed in Niagara Falls in 1952.
  • In 1960, Roger Woodward was the boy who had survived a descent over the Falls after a boating accident above the Falls.
  • Niagara Falls Ontario Canada is known as the Honeymoon Capital of the world.
  • Until 1886, when the Statue of Liberty was erected, the Falls at Niagara were the symbol of America and the New World.
  • Visitors from all over the world targeted Niagara as a must-see during a visit to North America.

    To conclude,
    We had a wonderful time in Niagara. Its a must visit place if you happen to visit north american continent.
  • Wednesday, May 16, 2007

    Lion Safari in Cambridge.

    Watching captive animals in the cages is much different from watching them freely roaming around in safari.
    Lion safari is an attaractive travel destination to see more than 1000 exotic species of animals and birds. Its specially enjoyed by young ones.

    It was 60 Kms drive for us to the LionSafari from Stratford.

    Entry fee for adults is $22 Cad. which almost covers everything. Map is provided to you so that you can drive through the park by yourself. You can also choose to see the park in Safari tour bus. Check the lion safari website for details and timings.

    First animals you will find are Asian elephants swimming in the lake.

    You will find Baboons climbing on cars to get whatever people offer them. Be careful & do not to open the windows. You are not allowed to feed any animals in the safari(Although many people do feed them for the sheer fun of having the animals around their vehicles).

    Then there were Lions sleeping lazily in the sun. These are not bothered about humans as none of the visitors feed them.

    This zebra was just looking around visitors as if its a waste of time.

    Herd of deers (i do not know the sub species of it)

    Few peacocks were walking between visitors. One of them was dancing with its beautiful feathers open.

    Apart from these animals you will also find African Macaws, Different types of parrots, Eagles, hawks, Falcons, Emu, Owls, Cheetah, camel, Yak, American Bison, Rhino, Shetland Sheep and Horse.

    Safari also includes demonstration of
    Parrots paradise, Birds of prey and elephant round up (this is much like our old days animal circus)

    Apart from animals and birds, safari also has Misumu Bay Wet Play area. We were running short of time and could not see this.

    Driving experience in canada.

    I had to completely unlearn my indian driving habits and start afresh. Most important one was driving on the opposite side of the road and lot of driving rules which must be followed so that others wont honk at you.

    Here are some of the driving behaviours that we learnt over a period of time from others who shared the roads with us in the past.
  • we use to pass through pedastrains even if they are crossing (it was also a confusion and scary for pedestrains). And this is nothing new & is very common.
  • Cover all valid lanes by pushing your vehicle where ever it fits (thats how all bikes fit in between all lanes of cars)
  • Not bothered about speed limits as you will never exceed them because

  • 1. Sufficient traffic on the road does not let you speed up but follow them.

    2. Roads have enough speed breakers & Traffic signals to see that you do not reach good speed.

    3. Curves and people crossing the roads

  • Right hand drive (Driving on left side of roads)

  • And over here the driving is 180 degree different.

  • Pedestrains get the highest preference to cross the roads.
  • Change the lanes with precaution and proper signaling.
  • Speed limit violations get you fines delivered right at your door steps :p Roads are good enough to go at 200Kms speed anywhere so you got to control it as the signs tell you.
  • Left hand driving of vehicles. Initially for a few days its scary to see vehicles crossing in opposite directions.

    Learning driving in canada
    Previous driving experience will definitely give you confidence. Do not think of driving from the first day itself. Here are few tips to get you started.

    1. If possible get local driving license. You need to go through proper formal training for this. In Canada it costs up to$40 a class of an hour.
    2. Take your time to see the traffic behaviour and signals.
    3. Read through Drivers handbook for complete listing of traffic rules & driving instructions. Some of the rules change from state to state (applicable to US also) so be watchful.
    4. Do not drive if you do not have valid license. International driving Permit will also do as long as it is valid and in English or French language.
    5. Do not drive without insurance. It is illegal to drive without insurance, fines are up to $2500.
    6. Do not think of driving on highways if you are not very comfortable to drive at high speeds of 100-120Kms.

    Its a great feeling to drive on good roads with greenery all around. I enjoyed every bit of driving on Chrystler Sebring 2007 model. Respect all rules of traffic, have fun and enjoy a wonderful drive.
  • Monday, April 23, 2007

    Swans of Stratford - Avon river

    Last weekend we went on lakeside drive. We started at 6:30 - Just incase you are wondering that it will be dark,it wont be. Summers have relatively longer days and it gets dark at about 8:APM here.

    Some history..
    In August 1918 a pair of swans was released in this river and their population has grown considerably over the years.
    White swans (in the picture) are called Mute swans. The Stratford Waterfowl And Nature Society (S.W.A.N.S) Group is a group of volunteers dedicated to helping waterfowl along Avon river (also called Lake victoria)

    Swan facts
  • Swans can live upto 25 years.
  • Swans are vegitarians.
  • Male swan is called a Cob.
  • Female swan is called a Pen.
  • Baby swan is called cygnet.
  • Group of swans is called a herd.

    Its common to see some swans crossing the roads and the car drivers waiting patiently for them to cross the road. It was a wonderful evening spent with these swans.

    Swan emergency in stratford.
    If you see a swan in need of help call 519-271-0250 ext 243

    Official website of the swans in stratford
  • Monday, April 09, 2007

    My footprints in Canadian snow

    Its wonderful to see snow again after a gap of a year. Last time it was in Netherlands ,

    now its in Canada. Its an ever exciting thing to step on snow for people like us who come from dry lands where we dont see snow.

    Nature looks beautiful and gets painted with white color all over when it snows. Playing snowball is fun for kids & audults equally. We enjoyed it :)

    Early morning walk gets you some wonderful glimpses of the nature. You get to see the small bird chirping around, Water droplets that got frozen trying to drip from corners, Lakes frozen and lot more.

    Whenever i saw my own steps in the snow i grin'd..."My footprints in Canada!!"

    Since this is almost the beginig of summer we may not find this snow for long.

    I hope summer will be far more exciting when we can walk around places freely.