Dan Schaumann

Official site of avid traveller and singer/songwriter, Dan Schaumann. Debut album "A Thousand Days Beneath The Sun" out now on CD and iTunes.

Travel

Bye Honest Ed’s

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December 26th, 2016 Posted 10:40 pm

As a new resident to Toronto in 2013 it was impossible to ignore the bright lights of Honest Ed’s the first time I passed by the corner of Bloor & Bathurst, in the north-west of the downtown core.

Opened in 1948 by entrepreneur Ed Mirvish, it rose to prominence as the destination in town for no-frills bargains. Met with some resistance in its founding years, it ultimately carved a place in Toronto culture thanks its huge storefront display featuring tens of thousands of flashing light bulbs and pun-laden slogans (Honest Ed’s a nut! But look at the ‘cashew’ save!). You might compare its notoriety with something like Harrods in London – on the complete other end of the price & elegance scale, mind you – but a one-of-a-kind store that locals flock to & tourists read about in all their guidebooks. It became pretty clear to me that this place was an institution.

Unfortunately in mid-2014 it was announced Honest Ed’s would close on December 31st, 2016 to make way for a new residential & commercial development. With less than a week to go, I decided to drop by one final time today with my camera to snap a few shots of this lovable Toronto landmark before it’s gone forever.

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Posted in Blog, Canada, Photography, Travel

Ecuador & Chile

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May 15th, 2016 Posted 7:55 pm

Up until fairly recently I didn’t know all that much about Latin America. I’d made a few friends during my time living in Sydney, namely from Brazil & Venezuela, who recalled fond stories of their upbringing, but all I could really tell you about countries south of the US was that the mother tongue was either Spanish or Portuguese, political, social & economic struggles were common, they ate a lot of grilled meat, people danced and football was a way of life.

All that changed when I moved to Toronto and found myself hanging out with a whole bunch of interesting folk from all around South America. Friends from Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil and Chile told me stories of their home, their food & their culture and it made me curious to one day witness these places for myself.

Finally in late April this year I was able to make it happen! My Ecuadorian friend Vanessa (who I lived with in the crazy Kensington Market apartment that was evicted without notice) had since returned to Quito and my Chilean friend Natalia had returned to Santiago, so I decided to spend a week in each city while I had the opportunity to be there with people I knew.

Let me tell you, I was blown away by the beauty of both countries, not only in aesthetic terms but by the warmth & friendliness of the people I was lucky enough to meet – you just can’t compare the South American attitude to that of the North, or anywhere else in the world for that matter. So here I’m gonna tell some stories and share some photos about my time spent in Ecuador & Chile ūüôā

Ecuador - standing on two hemispheres

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Posted in Blog, Chile, Ecuador, Travel

Mont Saint-Hilaire

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February 23rd, 2016 Posted 8:35 pm

Around 35km east of Montreal lies the peaceful village of Mont Saint-Hilaire, situated along the base of the mountain with the same name. With its multitude of hiking & skiing tracks and four summits ranging in height from 320m to 414m, it’s an accessible day trip for anyone in the Montreal region who fancies a moderately-graded trek or some cross country skiing during the snowy months.

I’ve spent much of my time in Montreal over the past year exploring Mont-Royal, the peak in the centre of the island which the city surrounds, but I’d recently been eyeing off some of the hills a little further afield. Mont Saint-Hilaire was one of those that caught my attention, so with a warm Sunday forecast of -4¬ļ (well maybe not warm in the strict sense of the word, but still 35 degrees warmer than the previous weekend) I set off on the #200 bus and completed my journey with a taxi to the park’s entrance, the¬†Gault Nature Reserve.

Here are some photos from my delightful 5 hour wander around Mont Saint-Hilaire ūüôā

Mont Saint-Hilaire-1

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Posted in Blog, Canada, Photography, Travel

Hastings Street

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January 1st, 2016 Posted 10:00 pm

I had the chance in November to spend some time in Vancouver, the most populous city in Canada’s British Colombia. It’s well known for its beauty, from the snow-capped mountains merely a stones throw from the CBD to the greenery of Stanley Park; from the city’s modern architecture to the 22km long Seawall trail, snaking its way around the peaceful harbour. But you can go to Lonely Planet if you want to hear more about that. I came here to talk about Hastings Street.

East Hastings St 3

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Posted in Blog, Canada, Travel

Montreal fall

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October 18th, 2015 Posted 6:56 pm

As an Australian who grew up only ever experiencing two seasons (namely: hot & wet followed by not-quite-as-hot & dry), the north American continent hasn’t yet ceased to amaze me after experiencing¬†its¬†seasonal variances for the past two years. From the brutal -38¬ļC Toronto/Montreal winter to the sweaty, humid summer a good 70¬ļ warmer than its icy counterpart, it must be a meteorologist’s dream (or nightmare, depending on how you see it) to know the job varies so extremely throughout the year.

Only last Monday the high was 24¬ļC with most of the city’s population out & about in their shorts & t-shirts; this weekend we had our first¬†snowfall of the season and it didn’t get above 6¬ļ. I think people would riot if a drastic change in weather like this ever took place in my home town!

I took the opportunity over the past two days to explore the gorgeous¬†autumnal foliage of the city during its¬†transitional¬†period between summer & winter. I began Saturday morning on the north-western face of Mont-Royal, a small mountain in downtown Montreal bursting¬†with greenery & hiking tracks, before detouring through Mont-Royal cemetery where the skies opened up with a short but intense flurry of snow. After the sun returned¬†I ventured along a number of mountain trails, stopping by two lookouts as well as¬†the famous cross that can be seen lit up from miles away at night. Sunday saw a visit to Parc Jean-Drapeau, situated on a small island east of downtown, well-known for its 1967 world expo attraction, the ‘Biosphere’.

Here are a bunch of photos I snapped over this Montreal fall weekend:

Montreal Fall-9

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Posted in Blog, Canada, Photography, Travel

A rather expensive burger

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March 22nd, 2015 Posted 12:48 am

Burgers are awesome! I’m living on the perfect continent to satisfy any burger craving. There are diners, bars and restaurants on almost every corner serving a myriad of recipes ranging from the traditional favourites to the highly experimental.¬†I’ve had a few burgers I would class as ‘phenomenal’ throughout my time in North America so far: notably at the Three Penny Taproom in Montpelier, Vermont, and at Burger Royal¬†right here in Montreal.

A few months ago my Toronto friends Juilie & Cory told me about a burger restaurant they dined at in the small Ontario city of Cornwall called Truffles Burger Bar. They spoke extremely highly of it and suggested I check it out with them next time they were in town. Such a recommendation naturally piqued my curiosity, and it just so happened that they made the drive back to Cornwall this weekend. I took the hour-long train ride west of Montreal and joined them both in town for lunch today.

To get an idea of what to expect at Truffles, I had a browse through their online menu a couple of days beforehand. The burgers sure sounded impressive Рthey were definitely on the gourmet side of the scale, ranging from the Surf & Turf (beef, lobster & garlic butter) to the Apple Burger (pulled pork, baked apples & goat cheese). They even had a selection of exotic meats to choose from, such as llama, venison, kangaroo & bison.

However there was one burger in particular that really caught my attention:

Solid Gold Burger
Beef + foie gras + black truffle shavings + 23 kt gold dust + glass of champagne
Price: $100

Are you serious?!¬†I thought to myself.¬†A hundred dollar burger? That’s ludicrous! Who in their right mind would want to buy a gold-dusted burger with black truffles for $100?

It didn’t take long to come to the realisation that, in fact, I¬†was precisely¬†one of those people who would buy a gold-dusted burger with black truffles for $100.

Truffles Burger Bar-1

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Toronto street art

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November 9th, 2014 Posted 9:14 pm

This afternoon I took my camera and went for a walk along the streets of Harbord Village, Kensington Market & Alexandra Park – all home to a whole bunch of freakin’ spectacular urban artwork.

Here is a gallery featuring 60 reasons I fell even more in love with Toronto today.

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Tommy Thompson Park

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November 3rd, 2014 Posted 5:16 pm

I love Google Maps. Sometimes I bring up Toronto and explore the city from above, searching for interesting streets, suburbs, towns and green areas around the GTA to potentially explore in real life.

 

A few months ago I became curious about this peninsula extending into Lake Ontario, south of Leslie Street in Toronto’s east end:

 

I soon found myself researching Tommy Thompson Park¬†to see if it was worth visiting. I was surprised to learn¬†the peninsula, known as the Leslie Street Spit,¬†is¬†entirely man-made out of millions of tonnes of concrete, rubble, earth and dredged sand.¬†Construction¬†began¬†in the 1950’s with the intention of providing port facilities for¬†Toronto’s¬†outer harbour, but¬†the demand¬†declined in the end due to a decrease in¬†shipping across the lake. Nevertheless, there was still a need to dispose of¬†disused building materials from the ever-expanding city so¬†construction¬†of the headland¬†continued primarily as a dumping ground.

The headland was opened to the public in the early 1970’s¬†with a huge transformation taking place¬†in the decades that followed,¬†from that of a¬†refuse ground¬†into an area¬†of environmental and recreational significance. It’s with thanks to organisations such as¬†Friends of the Spit¬†that the people of Toronto can today enjoy a beautiful¬†green space boasted¬†as North America’s most remarkable public urban wilderness, complete with over 400¬†species of plant life, 300 species of birds,¬†cycling tracks, walking trails and some of the most gorgeous scenery you’re likely to see so close to a major city.

I paid my first visit to Tommy Thompson Park in July of this year, where I was quick to note its impressive greenery. Unfortunately it was a gloomy day and I barely made it a few hundred metres into the park before the skies opened up and I had to turn around. I did manage to snap a few pictures that day, which I took as a brief introduction to what was yet to come:

Tommy Thompson Park-1

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Garliced out at the Toronto Garlic Festival

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September 21st, 2014 Posted 10:25 pm

Way back in 2009 while living & working in London, my delightful colleagues and I embarked on a team night out to Garlic & Shots, a restaurant in Soho that serves no meal without said ingredient. I recall ordering a pasta dish (the sauce of which was absolutely piled with the spicy white clove) and washing it down with a garlic beer before rounding off the feast with a huge bowl of garlic ice cream. That’s not to mention the shot of garlic honey vodka we sampled in the Swedish gothic metal bar below the dining room. I never thought I’d ever experience so much garlic in one sitting again.

Well, I’m pleased to announce today was the day I broke my garlic consumption personal best by a long shot, thanks to the Toronto Garlic Festival. Held annually at the picturesque Don Valley Brickworks, the festival celebrates the harvest of garlic throughout the province of Ontario. With around 80 exhibitors taking part in this year’s festival, punters were spoilt for choice when it came to the sheer variety of the bulb available for purchase, garlic-themed cooking demonstrations and garlic-inspired culinary delights – both savoury and sweet.

My afternoon at the event began at the garlic sampling booth, where friendly festival staff spent their time peeling & crushing ‘shots’ of raw Ontarian garlic into the hands of whoever dared to try. There was also lemon & parsley on hand to add some zest to the fiery mouthful.

Toronto Garlic Festival-1

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The Love Locks of N Seoul Tower

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June 17th, 2014 Posted 7:55 pm

I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of love locks.

I used to see them fairly regularly on my strolls across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Lovers young and old would write or engrave their names onto a padlock and fasten them to the metal criss-cross fence lining the eastern pedestrian walkway. The key would then be thrown into the harbour below, symbolically rendering their love unbroken for all of eternity. On occasion I would count upwards of 100 love locks, and I took much inspiration from stopping to read the names & messages that appeared on their metallic surfaces. I’ll always remember one in particular that simply read “Ugn√© + Darren” – it was late in the evening as it attracted my attention, catching a reflection from the passing traffic. I smiled and silently wished this unknown travelling couple a lifetime of happiness, knowing they’d experienced their very own moment of romance standing at this exact same spot with the majestic sails of the Opera House peaking perfectly in the background.

Eight months after leaving Sydney, I found myself in Seoul visiting the N Seoul Tower. Being the tallest structure in South Korea at 236 metres, its overall height is further boosted to nearly 480 metres above sea level due to the fact that it sits on top of Namsan Mountain; the observatory at the top offering spectacular 360¬į views across the sprawling metropolis. But it wasn’t the view nor the tower itself that I found most fascinating about my visit to said attraction – it was its famous collection love locks that roused my senses the most.

It was a busy Monday morning in the centre of the city, and I’d spent around half an hour walking through Namdaemun Market before approaching Namsan Park on foot from the northeast corner. The uphill trek toward the tower was stunning – it was almost unbelievable just how peaceful and pristine the forests of the park were, considering its proximity to one of the largest cities in the world.

Eventually the forest cleared and the N Seoul Tower stood out majestically above the canopy. I always try to reach the highest point of each city I travel through, and I couldn’t wait to see the urban sprawl of Seoul from the observation deck above.

It wasn’t until I arrived at the base of the tower that I began to understand the true extent of the love locks. I mean, I’d read about them in my guidebook but it simply described the sight as being ‘trees’ covered with padlocks which symbolise eternal love. I knew to expect a few of these trees, but much to my surprise I was greeted with an entire kaleidoscopic fence full of padlocks, key rings, phone cases, tags, hearts and toys – there was such an array of dazzling paraphernalia attached to the railings!

N Seoul Tower Love Locks-4

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