Monday, December 23, 2013

New D.C. Cab Red and Silver Livery

Washington, D.C. wants to be like New York City with a taxi fleet painted the same color. Instead of yellow, D.C. taxis are slowly one by one switching to red and silver livery.

No More Names Rally to End Gun Violence at U.S. Capitol

This past September, only days after the mass shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., the organization Mayors Against Illegal Guns concluded its "No More Names" tour in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol with a rally for stronger gun safety laws to prevent another Newtown, Navy Yard and the gun violence that kills and injures more than 100,000 Americans every year.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

ZooLights 2013

If you are in the nation's capital during the holiday season, definitely head on over to the National Zoo for the free ZooLights, which is an amazing nighttime lighting display that turns the Zoo into a magical winter wonderland.

Photos and Video: 50th Anniversary of March on Washington

On August 28, 2013, Washington, D.C. celebrated the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream Speech." It was a rainy day but there will still thousands of visitors lining the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and stretching as far back as the Washington Monument grounds to see the many speakers.

First D.C. Streetcar in 50 Years on Tracks for Testing!

After 50 years, streetcars will soon be operating again in Washington, D.C. The other day while biking around the H St. NE neighborhood, I witnessed the Czech-built streetcar on the tracks for testing that will take several months before the three new streetcars will start picking up passengers along the 2.4 mile route from Union Station through the revitalized H St. NE corridor to the Anacostia River.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Riding the Rails: Montreal to New York City

August 18, 2013 -- After spending time in the wonderful cities of Montreal, Quebec City and Ottawa it was time to head back to the States. So I said au revior to Quebec, Canada and hopped aboard the Amtrak Adirondack train heading south from Montreal for the eleven hour journey to New York Penn Station.

Canada Summer 2013: Montreal Impact Game at Saputo Stadium

August 17, 2013 -- After spending the day in Ottawa, I took the train back to Montreal, the subway back to the hostel I was staying at, changed clothes and headed to Saputo Stadium in Olympic Park -- the home of the Montreal Impact Major League Soccer club -- for an evening game against my hometown D.C. United.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Riding the Rails: Ottawa to Montreal

August 17, 2013 -- After spending the morning and early afternoon in Canada's clean and friendly capital city of Ottawa, Ontario, I took the VIA Rail Canada train back to Montreal. In order to get to the train station, I needed to take a bus rapid transit (BRT) -- Ottawa's bus system that runs on dedicated bus-only lines, thereby avoiding traffic and providing a fast and reliable ride in and around the city.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Canada Summer 2013: Ottawa, Ontario

August 17, 2013 -- I wasn't sure if I would be able to fit in a trip to Canada's clean and friendly capital city of Ottawa, Ontario so it was an exciting decision to wake up super early in Montreal and take a bus to Ottawa for the day and ride the train back in late afternoon before catching a Montreal Impact soccer game in the evening.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Boarding the Bus: Montreal to Ottawa

August 17, 2013 -- Rising before sunrise, I walked the empty pre-dawn streets of Montreal to Gare d'autocars de Montréal (English: Montreal Coach Terminal). I was ready to take a Greyhound bus to Canada's capital city of Ottawa, Ontario.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Canada Summer 2013: Montreal Downtown East

August 16, 2013 -- On my last full day in Montreal I left the comfortable environs of Westmount for the more gritty downtown east area of Montreal. I stayed in a private room I found through Airbnb and the host was really accommodating. She even skipped across town to let me in since I arrived earlier than expected. While waiting for her, I ate lunch at a great Caribbean restaurant which serves cuisine of the French Antilles and later in the evening heard a live jazz band playing at the restaurant.

Canada Summer 2013: Mount Royal Chalet

August 15, 2013 -- For some of the best views of Montreal's skyline, walk up the stairs at Mount Royal Park to the summit where the Mount Royal Chalet is located. From this vantage point, you get a spectacular view of the downtown skyline and beyond down the Saint Lawrence River and other points in Quebec.

Canada Summer 2013: McGill University

August 15, 2013 -- Montreal's McGill University was founded in 1821 by Glasgow, Scotland native James McGill. I had the chance to walk around the historic ground at the foot of Mount Royal in downtown Montreal.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Canada Summer 2013: Montreal Eaton Centre

August 15, 2013 -- Eaton Centre is multi-level indoor shopping mall located in downtown Montreal on Saint Catherine Street. Eaton Centre is connected to the McGill Metro and is a part of Montreal's Underground City, which is one of the largest underground complexes in the world. The underground city is vital during the cold Canadian winters when sometimes the best option is to get around town nice and warm indoors.

Canada Summer 2013: Montreal Chinatown

August 15, 2013 -- Montreal is not home to a huge Chinatown like New York, San Francisco or Vancouver, but the Chinatown is certainly worth visiting. There are many restaurants, vendors, food markets and Asian convenience stores located past the traditional Chinese paifing, or gateway arch on Saint Laurent Boulevard.

Canada Summer 2013: Montreal Place des Arts

August 15, 2013 -- On this day in Montreal I biked from Westmount down De Maisonneuve Boulevard to the end of the cycle path just past Place des Arts at Metro Station Saint-Laurent.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Riding the Rails: Quebec City to Montreal

August 14, 2013 -- After a short two-day trip to Quebec City, it was back to Montreal so I woke up before dawn and walked from the hostel to the train station for a very early morning VIA Rail Canada train ride back to Montreal. I took some pictures of the historic train station and video departing a rainy Quebec City and crossing the St. Lawrence river into Montreal's train station.

Canada Summer 2013: Quebec City

August 12-14, 2013 -- After a three hour early morning VIA Rail Canada train ride from Montreal to Quebec City, I exited the train station and walked up to the hostel in Old Quebec. When I checked into Auberge Internationale de Québec, I noticed something familiar about the man in front of me. It turns out we sat next to each other for more than three hours on the train and didn't say a word the entire trip.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Friday, October 25, 2013

Canada Summer 2013: Old Port and Old Montreal

August 11, 2013 -- After biking along Lachine Canal, I rode to the Old Port and Old Montreal where I docked the Bixi bike share and walked around the area full of tourists and interesting historic attractions.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Canada Summer 2013: Atwater Market and Lachine Canal

August 11, 2013 -- On another spectacular sunny summer day in Montreal I rode Bixi bike share to the Atwater Market in the Saint-Henri area. The market opened in 1933 and to this day is bustling with farmer stalls selling local and imported produce as well as three cheese stores, a wine store, a fish store and nine butchers.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Canada Summer 2013: Montreal Olympic Park

August 10, 2013 -- Montreal hosted the 1976 Summer Olympics and many of the original venues are located in Olympic Park, which is easily accessible via the Montreal Metro. Just get off at either Pie-IX or Viau and it is a short walk to Olympic Stadium, Montreal Tower, Biodome, Planetarium, Saputo Stadium and other attractions.

Canada Summer 2013: Mount Royal Park

August 10, 2013 -- On my second full day in Montreal I decided to hop on a Bixi bike share in Westmount and ride up to Mount Royal Park, which is immediately west of downtown and is the highest point in the city.

Canada Summer 2013: Poutine and other Montreal Observations

August 9, 2013 -- It's always the little things that are different when you visit a foreign country and Canada is no different. For example, the food is a bit different in Montreal. Poutine originated in rural Quebec and is now synonymous with the province. Poutine is made with french fries, topped with a light brown gravy-like sauce and cheese curds. Here is an example:

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Canada Summer 2013: Bell Centre, Montreal Canadiens Hall of Fame and Old Forum

August 9-10, 2013 -- When I was a teenager I visited the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto and it left a lasting impression on me. For the first time in my young life, I understood how hockey is not just another sport in Canada, but is actually deeply ingrained into the fabric of Canadian society, so much so that there is a mystical or religious quality regarding the reverence for hockey here that is hard to explain. For example, the Hockey Hall of Fame is housed in a former Bank of Montreal branch building, but with the stained glass windows you feel like you are in church. When you spend time in the Great White North, you realize why people say that hockey is a religion in Canada.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Canada Summer 2013: Westmount, Quebec

My home base for most of the Montreal visit was the wealthy enclave of Westmount. Notable Canadians such as former prime minister Brian Mulroney as well as the Molson and Bronfman families are current or former residents of Westmount and famous Canucks like Leonard Cohen were born there.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Canada Summer 2013: Montreal, Quebec Arrival

Saint Joseph's Oratory
August 8, 2013: I arrived at Montreal's Central Station a little late due to the border security check and freight train passing delays. I was picked up at the station by the couple I was going to stay with for most of the trip. They are relatives of my father's wife and live in the upscale Westmount neighborhood.

Canada Summer 2013: Riding Amtrak Adirondack Train from New York City to Montreal

August 8, 2013 -- The trip began in Washington, D.C. where I boarded the BoltBus intercity bus service for the four hour plus ride to midtown Manhattan. I stayed with family in Battery Park City for the night and early the next morning took the subway to Penn Station to get ready for the 11-hour, 381 mile (613 km) train ride through New York State and Quebec Province to Montreal.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

One World Trade Center Construction Update

I visited New York for the first time since the spire was installed atop One World Trade Center. The skyscraper is currently lit up at night in patriotic red, white and blue and it is spectacular. 

Here is more info from Wikipedia:

Photos and Video: NYC Justice for Trayvon Martin March

Protesters took to the streets of Midtown Manhattan to march against the not guilty verdict of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed African-American teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida.

I snapped some pictures and took video of the demonstrators marching down 33rd St. and making a right onto 7th Avenue by Madison Square Garden while I was waiting to take the Bolt Bus back to Washington, D.C.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Photos and Videos: Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2013

This year's Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. celebrated Hungarian heritage with traditional dancing, music, food and crafts. Other cultures from around the world were also celebrated.

Here are photos and videos:

Photos and Video: Smithsonian Innoskate 2013

Innoskate was a public festival hosted by the Smithsonian's Lemelson Center and IASC, celebrating skate culture’s widespread innovative spirit. The event took place on June 21st and 22nd at the National Museum of American History on the National Mall. Skateboard pioneers like Tony Hawk and Rodney Mullins donated artifacts from their careers to the museum's collection.

Here are photos and video from the historic event in Washington, D.C. celebrating the cultural legacy and innovative spirit of skateboarding in the United States.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Photos: Bike Ride to Rockville, Maryland

I recently took a bike ride from North Arlington, Virginia to Rockville, Maryland. I biked across the Chain Bridge and then up the C&O Canal path through The District before navigating the busy suburban roads of Montgomery County. I stopped at Glen Echo Park and then headed to downtown Rockville. After eating lunch in the town square and walking around historic Rockville, I ended up riding the Metro Red Line subway with my bike from Rockville to Bethesda and then riding the Capital Crescent Trail into Georgetown before biking across the Key Bridge and taking the Custis Trail the rest of the way home to Arlington.

Here are photos of Glen Echo Park and Rockville:

Photos: Long Bridge Park in Arlington, Virginia

Arlington, Virginia's new Long Bridge Park features some of the best soccer pitches in the D.C. area and offers visitors views of the monuments across the Potomac River as well as the passenger and freight rail trains passing by and the planes taking off and landing at National Airport.

The park reclaimed a major brownfield into an environmentally friendly green space ideal for bicyclists, pedestrians and families on a picnic.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Photos: Merrifield Mosaic District

Global warming is turning Northern Virginia into Southern California. On a recent sunny 70 degree January day I decided to bicycle over to the new Mosaic District in Merrifield. Growing up in Falls Church City, I remember seeing movies at the Multiplex Cinemas when Merrifield was a run-down industrial district.

All I can say is wow! Merrifield doesn't suck anymore! The old movie theater was torn down years ago to make way for the transit oriented development called Mosaic. And it's not just Mosaic, there are new hotels, condos and apartments and construction cranes rising up within walking distance of the Dunn Loring-Merrifield station on Metro's Orange Line. The bicycling infrastructure isn't quite there yet, but with the Silver Line coming to Tysons, Fairfax County has big plans to make the car-crazy county more bicycle-friendly.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Photos and Videos: Obama Inauguration 2013

Washington, D.C. -- The historic second inauguration of President Barack Obama was a cause for celebration in the nation's capital as nearly a million people gathered on the National Mall to witness the swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Capitol.

Of course there is much preparation involved in such an enormous event. Thousands of people worked hard months ahead of time to make sure Washington was ready for the big day. Click here for pictures of the presidential viewing stand in front of the White House under construction and click here for photos of the inaugural platform being built at the U.S. Capitol.