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Invisible Images http://invisibleimages.co.uk a music and travel blog Tue, 17 Nov 2015 18:30:49 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.7.2 63577622 My Madrid Favourites http://invisibleimages.co.uk/my-madrid-favourites/ http://invisibleimages.co.uk/my-madrid-favourites/#respond Tue, 17 Nov 2015 14:26:47 +0000 http://invisibleimages.co.uk/?p=3101 Madrid is a city of changing faces. The vibrance. The art. The bars. The landmarks. I spent two weeks in Spain’s capital, and never tired of finding new places to explore. But word to the wise, almost everything seems to be closed on a Monday.]]>

Madrid is a city of changing faces. The vibrance. The art. The bars. The landmarks. I spent two weeks in Spain’s capital, and never tired of finding new places to explore. But word to the wise, almost everything seems to be closed on a Monday. Welcome to Spain!

Architecture

I hardly removed my eyes from the viewfinder of my Nikon as I wandered the streets of Madrid. The city’s buildings are etched with fine engravings and designs. So, remember to pay close attention to the details.

Madrid edificios

Biblioteca de Madrid

Biblioteca de Madrid

Palacio Real de Madrid

Palacio Real de Madrid

Have you heard of the Temple of Debod? No? Well, it’s a 2nd Century BC Egyptian temple which was re-built in the centre of Madrid. When I first wandered into Parque Oeste, I was taken aback as an Egyptian relic was the last thing I expected to see. After getting over the needless confusion, once I stood back and looked at its floodlit form, the Temple of Debod one of the most charming finds I came across during my stay in Madrid.
Temple of Debod
Temple of Debod

El Rastro

El Rastro is probably one of the most famous flea markets in Europe. All forms of trinkets, gadgets and clothing can be bought – but you’re not going to find many who will vouch for their longevity. I bought a beautiful pair of handmade, bronze earrings (as is my tradition when I go abroad) and managed to haggle the price down from 30 euros to 18. So, try your luck. You never know how long they’re willing to go on price. The market is open every Sunday and public holidays, but be ready to lose an entire day as the crowds are immeasurable.

El Rastro

Madrid cantantes de rueda

El Rastro El Rastro El Rastro postales

Art

There are more museums and galleries in Madrid than any traveller can possibly need, but the great thing about being in Spain is the ability to famous pieces, up close and personal. I was surprised by the expanse of Picasso’s Guernica and intrigued by the stories behind Velazquez‘s La Meninas. La Reina Sofia is the best place to go if you want to see ‘the blockbusters’, you won’t be disappointed.

Guernica picasso reina sofiaMadrid art

Madrid art

Escapes

As is always the case, whenever you enter a place of natural beauty you always encounter a flock of posing beauties. There was nowhere I went in this park that was not laden with women gesticulating and gyrating around water features and trees. I did find it mostly humorous. Buen Retiro park is 350 acres wide, so it may take a bit of time but you will find your own patch of peace.

Boating lake El Retiro

El Buen Retiro

I have no clue what she’s doing

Vista

I’d love to return to Madrid, because two weeks just was not long enough! Get in touch if you dare, on Google+, Bloglovin or Instagram.

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#MondayMixtape: Dreaming of Canada http://invisibleimages.co.uk/mondaymixtape-dreaming-of-canada/ http://invisibleimages.co.uk/mondaymixtape-dreaming-of-canada/#respond Mon, 26 Oct 2015 13:00:32 +0000 http://invisibleimages.co.uk/?p=3090 This playlist marks my departure from Canada and encapsulates the sound of my temporary experience. All the artists featured are from Canada and the tracks selected perfectly reflect the feeling of loss, bemusement and hopefulness. This playlist is for anyone that is in a reflective]]>

This playlist marks my departure from Canada and encapsulates the sound of my temporary experience. All the artists featured are from Canada and the tracks selected perfectly reflect the feeling of loss, bemusement and hopefulness. This playlist is for anyone that is in a reflective mood and needs a bit of indie folk or dream pop to help bring on an onset of memories from happier days.

No one I met has regretted moving to Canada. Enjoy.

The Rural Alberta Advantage – The Ballad of the RAA
Viet Cong – Continental Shelf
The Tragically Hip – Bobcaygeon
Chad VanGaalen – Monster
Timber Timbre – Demon Host
Alvvays – Next of Kin
Feist – How Come You Never Go There
Grimes – Genesis

Get in touch on Google+, Bloglovin or Instagram.

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Exclusive Acoustic Track from Jamie Woon: Skin http://invisibleimages.co.uk/exclusive-acoustic-track-from-jamie-woon-skin/ http://invisibleimages.co.uk/exclusive-acoustic-track-from-jamie-woon-skin/#respond Fri, 16 Oct 2015 14:47:35 +0000 http://invisibleimages.co.uk/?p=3082 Our favourite London boy has recorded an exclusive performance with SBTV. The acoustic recording, ‘Skin’, is taken from his upcoming album, ‘Making Time’, which is set to drop November 6th. Jamie Woon has remained relatively undercover since his debut album, ‘Mirrorwriting’, in 2011. But if]]>

Our favourite London boy has recorded an exclusive performance with SBTV. The acoustic recording, ‘Skin’, is taken from his upcoming album, ‘Making Time’, which is set to drop November 6th.

Jamie Woon has remained relatively undercover since his debut album, ‘Mirrorwriting’, in 2011. But if you’re curious about the man in question, then check out my 90 seconds with Jamie Woon interview.

Get in touch on Google+, Bloglovin or Instagram.

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Montréal: Eat, Drink, Fail at French, Repeat http://invisibleimages.co.uk/montreal-eat-drink-fail-at-french-repeat/ http://invisibleimages.co.uk/montreal-eat-drink-fail-at-french-repeat/#respond Wed, 14 Oct 2015 13:48:16 +0000 http://invisibleimages.co.uk/?p=3033 It’s always a good idea to visit Montréal. That’s the lesson I will take back with me after spending a week in this trendy metropolis. With its character-driven industries and adamant non-nationalistic principles, many Canadians feel as if they’ve voyaged into a foreign kingdom when]]>

It’s always a good idea to visit Montréal. That’s the lesson I will take back with me after spending a week in this trendy metropolis. With its character-driven industries and adamant non-nationalistic principles, many Canadians feel as if they’ve voyaged into a foreign kingdom when setting foot in Montreal.

That foodie culture which has been permeating through social consciousness for the last 5 years has not left Montréal untouched. One of the main attractions is the Jean-Talon Market, in the centre of Little Italy. Being one of Montréal’s oldest, locals are lucky enough to purchase delicious fruit and veg at knock-down prices. And what’s more, there’s even tasters to sway you into purchasing the goods.

The real meaning of eating out

Jean Talon MarketJean Talon Market

Museums a-plenty

No francophone nation can be without museums and galleries showcasing their heritage. With over 50 institutions to choose from, it’s guaranteed you’ll find something up your street. McMichaels and the Montréal Musuem of Fine arts are within walking distance from each other and I got into them both for FREE with my Royal Ontario Museum membership card. I’m happy it finally came to some good! tip: don’t expect all the museums and galleries to have English translations, your mother tongue just ain’t that welcome here!

McCord Museum of Canadian History

Sit above the crowds vs Being part of it

I always like listening to locals, so when they suggested Salon De Thé Cardinal to escape from the midsummer rain, I jumped on the chance. This beautiful tea room is only open from Thursday to Sunday and can be accessed by a set of non-descript stairs leading up from 5326 Saint-Laurent Boulevard. It’s a great respite if you want to find something off the beaten track and have a little lunch in Montréal’s bouji Mile End area. Oh, and please get the chai, it’s one of the most authentic I’ve tried outside of India.

via localmontrealtours.com

Salon De Thé Montreal Salon De Thé Montreal Salon De Thé Montreal

Why climb when you can fly?

The 20 minute hike to the top of Mont Royal (the hill which Montréal supposedly received its name) provides visitors with some heady views of downtown Montréal. There’s also a visitor centre in the old chalet and a few green paths which wind away and around the hillside. But hey, cityscapes aren’t everyone’s forte so if you still wanted to get your heart pumping without all the walking then try out the zip line by the old port.



Montreal zipline
Montreal vieux port zipline

Montréal loves to replicate

The first thing I noticed about the churches in Montréal is, they are mostly replicas of pre-existing establishments in Paris or Rome. I guess they’re from a why-fix-what’s-not-broke school of architecture. This is why Maria Reine-du-monde is my favourite. It’s at an easy to reach location and more importantly, it’s free (unlike the Notre-Dame).

Notre-Dame, Montréal

Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal, not Paris

Montreal Marie Reine-Du-Monde Montreal Marie Reine-Du-Monde Montreal Marie Reine-Du-Monde Montreal Marie Reine-Du-Monde Montreal Marie Reine-Du-Monde

Long Days, Late Nights

Québec’s liquor licensing laws are little more relaxed than the rest of Canada, you can stay out an hour later (til 3am), buy alcohol in a grocery store and dance the night away in some of the liveliest districts in the country. This city is deliciously versatile, so go explore it! Even though many North American’s only visit because of its ‘European Vibe’, but you’d be hard pressed to not feel like you’re still in Canada. Practice your French, get some comfy shoes and don’t go home until the sun starts to burn.

Le Sainte-Elisabeth, Montreal

Le Sainte-Elisabeth pub is a local favourite

Montreal City Hall Montreal Montreal vieux port Le vieux ville Montreal Montreal Montreal

Ever visited Montréal? Let me know what I missed out on! Comment, remark, chat. Get in touch on Google+, Bloglovin or Instagram.

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Daytripping in Niagara http://invisibleimages.co.uk/daytripping-in-niagara/ http://invisibleimages.co.uk/daytripping-in-niagara/#respond Wed, 05 Aug 2015 17:52:47 +0000 http://invisibleimages.co.uk/?p=2975 So, why is Niagara Falls one of the most famous falls in the world? It’s not the tallest, the widest or even the largest in terms of water capacity, but yet it draws in almost 12 million visitors a year. Since the early 1800s, Niagara]]>

So, why is Niagara Falls one of the most famous falls in the world? It’s not the tallest, the widest or even the largest in terms of water capacity, but yet it draws in almost 12 million visitors a year.

Niagara FallsSince the early 1800s, Niagara Falls has been a top honeymoon destination for North Americans. The reason why – nobody really knows! An entire industry has grown around the falls – from merchandise, tours, casinos, IMAX shows (as if going there wasn’t real enough) and helicopter rides. Every conceivable dollar has been squeezed out of the attraction that it would be financially inadvisable to do everything advertised. On either side of the U.S./Canada border, which runs straight through the falls, there are boat tours to get you closer to the action. The Americans have the ‘Maid of the Mist’ and the Canadians have ‘The Hornblower’, which sails tourists up to the curtain of the falls.

Maid of the Mist vs The Hornblower

Maid of the Mist vs The Hornblower

As this was my first visit to Niagara, I mistakenly thought that the U.S.’s Horseshoe Falls were the real thing! But after a tap on the shoulder I turned my head to the right a realised my mistake. The Niagara Falls are shrouded in a mysterious cloud of mist, with fast running water disappearing into a watery abyss – displaying the dangerous powers of nature.

The Horsehoe Falls

The Horsehoe Falls in the US across the river

Niagara Falls: Canada-US Border

Niagara Falls: Canada-US Border

Schoellkopf Power Station which collapses in 1956

Schoellkopf Power Station which collapsed in 1956

The Hornblower tour

I love how close you can get to the falls. At the edge, just where the lake tumbles 167ft,  I felt like I could reach out into the crisp, marine water and fall in with it. The speed is immense. In this same spot, I noticed how the tradition of fixing a padlock to a railing had begun. There are only about ten couples who have Sharpied their names onto a lock and thrown away the key, but – who knows, maybe in another five years there’ll be 100 more.

Niagara Love Locks

Niagara Love Locks

Niagara Falls Niagara Falls

With all things of natural beauty, the scenery surrounding it rapidly changes. Just 50 years ago, very few buildings stood around the falls. There was no observation deck. No casinos, hotels, flights, restaurants or valet parking. Less than 50 years ago it was just wild, untouched greenery. A watery rainbow hidden in earth’s shrubbery. But if you like flashing lights, varied food joints and fast entertainment then Clifton Hill is the place to be – just 5 minutes away.

Niagara, Clifton Hill Niagara Observation DeckThe adventurous traveller never spends an entire day by the falls, but goes half an hour north to Niagara-on-the-Lake. This place was the first capital of Ontario, was the location of one of the first newspapers in the country and is also known as the “prettiest town in Canada”. Niagara-on-the-lake was constructed in the early British classical tradition; timber-framed, pastel-coloured buildings running no more than three storeys tall. The horse-drawn carriages also harks back to a bygone era and a 19th Century apothecary on the main street remains unchanged – its jars, decanters and pipettes all smothered in a layer of idealistic dust.

Niagara-on-the-LakeIf you’re ever looking to spend the night, you can’t go wrong with the Pillar and Post Inn. It’s definitely not the cheapest place to stay, but when you’re full of sweet treats, quaint shops and beautiful scenery, you’ll want to treat yourself.

“Quaint” is definitely the correct word to describe this place and I can see why Canadians truly enjoy spending the weekend here. Not just because of the views of Toronto across Lake Ontario, but because of the proximity to the abundant vineyards. Ever heard of Niagara Wine? Neither had I until I moved to Canada, but it proves to be quite popular.

Lake Ontario from Niagara-on-the-Lake

Lake Ontario from Niagara-on-the-Lake

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post on my time in Niagara. Don’t be shy, get in touch below or find me on Google+, Bloglovin or Instagram!

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How to Spend 7 Days in San Sebastián http://invisibleimages.co.uk/how-to-spend-7-days-in-san-sebastian-2/ http://invisibleimages.co.uk/how-to-spend-7-days-in-san-sebastian-2/#respond Thu, 25 Jun 2015 16:04:44 +0000 http://invisibleimages.co.uk/?p=2888 When you visit the beautiful Basque coast during the height of summer, it’s easy to kick off your heels and bury yourself in the beach for a week. But that would be a mistake. Pull yourself away from San Sebastián’s crystal clear waters and explore]]>

When you visit the beautiful Basque coast during the height of summer, it’s easy to kick off your heels and bury yourself in the beach for a week. But that would be a mistake. Pull yourself away from San Sebastián’s crystal clear waters and explore the city around you. There’s actually loads of things to see and do!

Monday

After settling into your accommodation, maybe getting some food or sleeping off that jet lag, the first thing I would recommend doing is to see the city. And there’s no better view than that from Monte Igueldo. Taking the funicular railway up the steep hill for only €3.15 return is like taking a trip into history. The funicular train has been going for just over 100 years and the fun fair on top for about 90 years. Ignoring the Coca-Cola-laden advertising and old-school theme rides, on a clear day the ocean stretches into the sky and the city into the hills on the horizon. It’s the best place to start your stay in San Sebastián.

View of San Sebastian

View from monte igueldo

For late afternoons and evenings, spending some time getting to know the streets of the Parte Vieja (old town) is a good idea. You’ll often find yourself in this area. It’s the oldest part of the city and both locals and tourists tend to come together to eat, drink and do some people-watching. You never know what might come wandering through these narrow streets.

Tuesday

If you did not already realise, San Sebastián is flanked by two large hills which face the Bay of Biscay. Yesterday, we visited Igueldo, today you should take a wander up Urgüll (the one with Jesus on top), which was a strategic military standpoint from the 12th century until 1924. This hillside is strewn with intersecting pathways, taking you to the foundations of the stronghold’s old barracks and castle. Don’t miss the war memorial dedicated to the British soldiers who died fighting for the Basque against French occupation. It lays derelict, overgrown and dismantled as a form of protest against the British soldiers who raped, drunk and burned their way through the city they were meant to “protect” in 1813. Because of this, no building in San Sebastián pre-dates 1813.

Urgull

San Telmo museum is FREE on Wednesdays and holds a big collection on contemporary Basque art and culture. Built around a grandiose 16th Century convent, the museum is a testament to both historical preservation and modern design. It chronicles how the city evolved from the Franco years till today.

Museo de San Telmo Interior After all this walking, you probably need a place to put your feet up. Koh Tao is one of my favourite coffee spots in the whole of San Sebastián. Maybe because it’s one of the only places you can order a drink, sit back into a comfy chair and upload a picture on Instagram using their WIFI. Ha! For a list of other coffee locales to escape to, take a look at my post on The Best Trendy Cafes in San Sebastián.

Koh Tao Cafe San Sebatsian

Wednesday

I have always enjoyed waltzing down to Calle Puerta for my morning coffee and churros (deep-fried, long batter doughnuts). This street leads on from the harbour and (hence the name, door/port street) is full of places ready and open for the morning. Santa Lucia Chocolatería is a great cafeteria-style churrería which also serves up fried breakfasts and smoothies. It’s traditional to dip your sugar-coated churros into a cup of chocolate caliente (“hot chocolate”, but not the drinking kind). There’s nothing like a sugar boost to set you up for the rest of the day!

San Sebastián has three beaches, but La Concha is the longest and most central. You did bring a towel, right? San Sebastián was voted into the Top 25 Beaches in the world by Tripadvisor and in the Top 20 in Europe according to Rough Guides. With clean and clear waters, low salt and smooth waves you could easily stay here till the evening. If you still wanted to get aquatic without needing a bathing suit then check out the marine life in the beachfront Aquarium.

Playa de La Concha

Calle 31 de Agosto is a favourite for low-light wandering. Whether your vice is souvenir shopping or picture taking, there are some great shops down this street and all my favourite pintxo bars are located within a 5min walk from each other. Check out Atari, La Cuchara de San Telmo and A Fuego Negro or cool vibes, music and some of the best bites in the old town.

Pintxo de Chipirón

Thursday

Thursdays are one of the busiest days in San Sebastián – but before I explain why, let’s head on over to Gros, the more residential area across the river. Welcome to surfer’s paradise. San Sebastián’s Zurriola beach does not accommodate waders or leisure swimmers as it is constantly populated by kayaks and surfers. During the winter months, waves get as high as 9ft but during the summertime they average 4ft-6ft. This is a great time of year for beginners and there are loads of surf schools to help you out. For €85, Pukas Surf School gives you 1hr of tuition a day for 5 days and includes all surf equipment. All you have to do is bring your swimwear!

Surf La Zurriola

As we close in on the evening you’ll notice the streets start to come alive. This is because it’s Pintxo-Pote! Throughout the Basque region, on a Thursday, many pintxo bars will provide the public with a drink and a bite to eat for only €2. This occurs during the hours of 7pm – 11pm (or until the food runs out). As with all things, the quality of the pintxos vary from establishment to establishment, but the main idea of this night is to move from one bar to the next, essentially, it’s a massive pintxo crawl. Thankfully, I’ve already created a route of the best places to eat during Pintxo-Pote. You can take a look at the full blog post here: The Best Pintxo-Pote Route in San Sebastian.

Pintxo-Pote Route Map

Friday & Saturday

I’ve lumped Friday and Saturday into the same category because all these activities are interchangeable between the two. Many locals like to shop, whether it’s buying new clothes or food for the week. For those that have come to the Basque region for the food then there are some must-eat restaurants awaiting you. Many visitors are happy to splurge out for the Michellin-starred restaurants around the city. Some of the top picks are Arzak, Mugaritz and Martín Berasategui. These gourmet restaurants take food to another level, from unusual ingredient combinations to courses served on plasma screens, Basque cuisine is in its own league here. Some of the best restaurants involve driving out as they’re in the hills, so check the locations first. Also expect to pay at least €190 per head.

Pizza

Free live music can be few and far between in San Sebastián during the low season, but there’s a great place in Gros which attracts a youthful and trendy crowd – Dabadaba. During the day, it’s a cool and quiet space to munch on a house-made sandwich and play some foosball in the centre of the room. I advise checking their website to see if Friday or Saturday night’s music will be free entry. Another late night alternative is Altxerri Jazz Club or if you want somewhere to hang out and drink cheap wine till 3am then Be Bop Bar is always open. If you’re lucky, there might be a live performance or two.

Bar Be Bop

Sunday

There’s no better way to end the week than with how you began! I highly reccomend doing the small hike from San Sebastián to Pasaia, the next town to the East. This route provides another amazing view of the city and as you continue along, the cliffs, woodland and ocean will give another taste of the natural beauty of the Basque coast. You can sometimes find locals jogging this route, which I find insane as it takes a couple hours to simply walk it! Take a snack or mini packed lunch to keep your energy up and you’ll arrive in Pasaia in no time. Don’t worry, at the end of the route you can catch the bus all the way back to San Sebastián. Read more details about the route on my post here: Take This Coastal Hike from San Sebastian to Pasaia.

Monte Ulia

Monte Ulia Senderismo

I hope you have a fantastic week in San Sebastián – the prettiest, tastiest and most traditional city in the Basque region! Getting out of town is very easy too and there’s even more to explore along to Bilbao and across into France. I hope you enjoyed the post. Good night from Donostia!

Sunset San Sebastian

If you have any questions or comments then get in touch below. Make sure you check out the blog on Google+, Bloglovin or Instagram!

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Bestival 2015: A Terrific Debut http://invisibleimages.co.uk/bestival-2015-a-terrific-debut/ http://invisibleimages.co.uk/bestival-2015-a-terrific-debut/#respond Mon, 15 Jun 2015 23:40:12 +0000 http://invisibleimages.co.uk/?p=2896 When I first looked up the events that were coming to Toronto this summer and saw the word BESTIVAL – I thought there must have been a mistake. Bestival is one of the UK’S most popular festivals, as it aims for good music, fun, carnival]]>

When I first looked up the events that were coming to Toronto this summer and saw the word BESTIVAL – I thought there must have been a mistake. Bestival is one of the UK’S most popular festivals, as it aims for good music, fun, carnival and frivolity.

So why Toronto Island?
According to curator and founder, Rob Da Bank, he has been approached by many people over the last decade to host a Bestival off-shoot in one country or another – and it seems this was the year he caved. The site, feel and location of Toronto Island just had the right balance of escapism and beauty.

Bestival Toronto 2015

Although #BestivalTO did not include the traditional camping element, Friday and Saturday still had big acts billed such as Florence + the Machine, SBTRKT, Jamie XX, Nas and Caribou. Any seasoned British festival-goer will know that music is just one part of the whole experience. It was great to see “The Wedding Chapel” making an appearance at this weekend’s festival, equipped with an enigmatic vicar and drunken congregation. This inflatable church champions the festival’s motto of “increase the peace” and encourages revellers to marry their friend, lover or enemy. Unfortunately, there was no marriage for me, but as a bystander I can assure you there were definitely a few drunken uncles and lecherous grannies.

It was good to see that regardless of Canada’s somewhat reserved and self-conscious traits (yes, sweeping generalisation, but I say what I see), there were those that took the opportunity to freak the hell out and embrace the fancy-dress culture of Bestival.

BestivalTO fancy dressBestivalTO fancy dress

Vikings are cool, right?

Vikings are cool, right?

No words

Comparatively, Toronto’s 14,000 guests is quite small to the UK’s 55,000 but this intimate setting made travelling from stage to stage an enjoyable situation. Nothing was more than a ten minute walk away, including the Sunday Best Belearic Beach Club. Yes! There was a stage on the beach with Rob da Bank making a musical appearance in the afternoon.

BestivalTO Belearic Beach Stage-1BestivalTO Belearic Beach Stage

The festival had a good balance between Electro, Hip-Hop and Indie to satisfy all music tastes.There was a strong presence of diversity in the airwaves, which made every act a pleasure to watch. My personal favourite Dan Snaith (aka Caribou). The band were completely clad in white and played the major hooks, melodies and choruses with live instruments or voice wherever possible. Most of the set camped in his 2014 Our Love release, but when hits such as Odessa and Sun are given ten-minute renditions, you can’t really complain.

BestivalTO Caribou

The Bollywood stage drew in the biggest crowds throughout the day. This monolithic tower encased in Hindu gods, colourful animals, fire and scantily-clad dancers had beats blasting throughout the event. This is where people came if they wanted to party hard.

The rest of the festival incorporated competitions, parades and lounging in the sun. Bestival’s first year outside of the UK was a complete success and gave Torontonians a minor taste of what festivals are all about. After speaking with a few individuals, many people still find the idea of a camping festival a pointless endeavour, but hopefully, with a little time and mud they will soon see things from a Brit’s point of view…. breathing, eating and partying with the community around you, of course. Hopefully, as Toronto’s rules against alcohol and general “fun” start to relax, we’ll see the bars staying open till AFTER 11pm and the music till AT LEAST midnight – but hey, one step at a time, right?

BestivalTO parade

Did you make it out to Toronto’s first instalment of Bestival? If so, let me know what you thought below! Why don’t you keep me company on Google+, Bloglovin or Instagram!

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Why You Should Visit Vitoria-Gasteiz http://invisibleimages.co.uk/why-you-should-visit-vitoria-gasteiz/ http://invisibleimages.co.uk/why-you-should-visit-vitoria-gasteiz/#comments Fri, 05 Jun 2015 17:58:00 +0000 http://invisibleimages.co.uk/?p=2843 The capital of the Basque Country and of the province of Álava has had a long and tumultuous history of war, disobedience and cultural identity. Vitoria-Gasteiz has been an important location for trade and travel between Spain and Northern Europe. Founded in 1181, this city]]>

Vitoria-gasteiz

The capital of the Basque Country and of the province of Álava has had a long and tumultuous history of war, disobedience and cultural identity. Vitoria-Gasteiz has been an important location for trade and travel between Spain and Northern Europe. Founded in 1181, this city has had a wide-reaching cultural and political agenda. Its founding ethos has been equal opportunity to all people. Their preoccupation with social, urban and environmental responsibility means that the residents of Vitoria rank highly on Europe’s quality of life index. Putting history aside, here’s why you should visit Vitoria-Gasteiz!

Enormous Murals

These paintings were commissioned in 2007 by artists who wanted to turn the city into an open art space which reflected the culture and connected the people with the city. Each year more pieces are added, and now they even extend to locations outside of the city. You can check out the full mural tour here!

Old Blends With New

Vitoria travelatorVitoria San Miguel Iglesia Vitoria has my favourite old quarter in the Basque Region. During the afternoon hours, many businesses shut up shop and these streets can be completely deserted. Whilst the residents have lunch at home with family before returning to work or school take this opportunity to wander the cobbled streets and have an entire quarter to yourself.

After Hours

My nights out here have always been varied as the great thing about Vitoria is that the bars change in dynamic and feel. It’s also cheaper than other cities in the region. If you get a chance visit Darkablar: cool food, contemporary vibes and events can be found here.  You also can’t go wrong with a glass of wine for under two euros!

Art

There’s a artistic stain that marks itself across the city. From postales advertising painting classes to design studios, there’s a real effort to keep creative. Which is why I’m not surprised that my favourite gallery is also here. Artium is Vitoria’s prestigious contemporary art museum. On a Wednesday, the entrance fee is just a suggested donation and on others it is six euros. Boring art does not exist here. If the 1000 light bulbs hovering precariously from the ceiling in the foyer isn’t enough to impress you then I don’t know what will.
Un pedazo de cielo cristalizado

Green Capital

A city of only 315,000 people, there’s a wonderful marriage of country and urban living. Just beyond the city walls are countless hikes, walks, bike rides and adventure activities to get your heart pumping. After all, this is the Basque Country – you don’t get a city without the greenery.
Vitoria Vitoria natura Vitoria vista

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Canada’s Sugaring Off Season. I’ll Tap That (…Maple Tree) http://invisibleimages.co.uk/canadas-sugaring-off-season-ill-tap-that-maple-tree/ http://invisibleimages.co.uk/canadas-sugaring-off-season-ill-tap-that-maple-tree/#respond Sun, 05 Apr 2015 03:43:50 +0000 http://invisibleimages.co.uk/?p=2805 Maple Syrup takes pride of place in every home in Canada (well, stereotypically). It’s mixed into cocktails, poured over bacon and layered between pancakes. Mother Nature’s gift to Canada, who in return displays the maple leaf on their flag as a sign of solidarity to]]>

Maple Syrup takes pride of place in every home in Canada (well, stereotypically). It’s mixed into cocktails, poured over bacon and layered between pancakes. Mother Nature’s gift to Canada, who in return displays the maple leaf on their flag as a sign of solidarity to their rugged roots. So what is a Sugaring Off then? This is the season when maple trees have “defrosted” after a bitter Canadian winter and the sap begins to flow freely through the trunk. After all, maple syrup is just tree sap. But first, let’s see how I went completely crazy and jumped into a frozen lake.

Clear blue skies for the entire day

Clear blue skies for the entire day

Frozen lake Ontario, Canada

My Sugering Off voyage began with a sojourn in the woods. Even though the snow has virtually vanished from the streets of Toronto, just an hour north of the city winter is still in full and picturesque effect. The lakes, streams and rivers are frozen over and for the first time I heard the sound of cracking ice as I walked over a frozen lake. Peering through the frost I could see twigs, leaves and natural debris that had been held in place since the start of the winter season.

Maple Syrup Farming Maple Syrup Farming Maple Syrup FarmingSince moving to Canada I have been trying to tick off as many Canadian things to do; and it was only after walking through frozen woodland that I realised how much life there is in death. So I thought there’s no better time to tick off another item from my bucket list and do a polar dip!

Maple Syrup FarmingLooking through the black hole, I could see the ice was about a foot thick. The water was so cold it didn’t really register on my skin until I had crawled out. Actually, the most difficult part I found was the getting out! I thought I would be able to use the rungs of the ladder to step onto the deck but they were actually frozen over so with numb muscles I hauled my icicle body from the watery depths. Thank the heavens for Scandinavians and the invention of the sauna. I ran straight in to warm up. Challenge completed!

Polar dip

The graceful descent

The graceful descent

The sauna definitely makes everything better

The sauna definitely makes everything better

The Sugaring Off season in Canada has changed drastically over the years. Previously, the tapping of the trees is February/March but with the tumultuous seasons and clear signs of global warming, winter persists later into the year and now maple tree sap can be extracted from as late as April.

Maple Syrup Farming Maple Syrup Farming

Maple Syrup Farming

At Hart House Farm, maple syrup is made by drilling a hole into the tree, fixing some tubing and letting the sap run freely through. A vat on the edge of the woods stores all the sap until someone comes along to transfer it to the Sugar Shack (where they make the maple syrup). Quite a lot of sap is needed as it is 90% water but after it has boiled down all that remains is maple syrupy goodness. Typically, forty gallons of sap makes just one gallon of syrup! It’s one of the most delicious things I’ve eaten from a tree and nothing was added. Just a bit of heat and time.

Hart House Sugar Shack

The Sugar Shack pumping out sweet smelling steam

The big evaporator.

The big evaporator.

The good stuff!

The good stuff!

The last stage is simply the filtration process to remove any niggling bits of sediment. You can see it resting at the bottom of the cup. Eating it won’t kill you though. The darker the maple syrup the later in the season it has been tapped.

The finished product

The finished product

When living in a city surrounded by abundant nature it’s always good to take the weekend off to acquaint yourself with the land you’re on. Hart House Farm is owned by the University of Toronto and has been used as a country escape by faculty and students alike over several decades.

*this is not a sponsored post y’all.

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Famous Album Covers Banned In The USA, But Adored In The UK http://invisibleimages.co.uk/famous-album-covers-banned-in-the-usa-but-adored-abroad/ http://invisibleimages.co.uk/famous-album-covers-banned-in-the-usa-but-adored-abroad/#respond Wed, 18 Mar 2015 16:00:32 +0000 http://invisibleimages.co.uk/?p=2775 Arctic Monkeys – Suck It and See (2012) Some US chain supermarkets believed the title ‘Suck It And See’ was basically just too darn suggestive and decided to place a sticker over the title. Fortunately, Arctic Monkeys & Co. (and the entire British public) reside]]>

Arctic Monkeys – Suck It and See (2012)

Some US chain supermarkets believed the title ‘Suck It And See’ was basically just too darn suggestive and decided to place a sticker over the title. Fortunately, Arctic Monkeys & Co. (and the entire British public) reside with our minds outside of the gutter (some of the time) and understand that the title refers to trying your hand at something new to see how it works out before making any snap judgements. Unfortunately, the irony of this English saying seems to be lost on American conglomerates.

The Beatles – Yesterday and Today (1966)

For some acid trip-induced reason (my own theory), The Beatles decided it would be a brilliant idea to show off their darker side through a little morbid humour. This original cover shows the band smiling amidst cuts of raw meat and decapitated baby dolls. Robert Whitaker, the album’s photographer, claimed it was a metaphor for the band’s untouchable, god-like celebrity status; they could have been sociopathic killers and the public would still love them. American fans reacted so badly that Capitol Records had to recall over half a million copies and re-sticker them with a less offensive image. Nowadays, if you own the original release with the former album cover still hidden behind the tamer, re-issued one….you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank. They are worth thousands.

Black Crowes – Amorica (1994)

The sight of naturally occurring pubic hair is a clear reason for an album cover re-issue, right? I mean, we should be shielding our children from the truths they’ll soon learn once they hit pubertity. Hopefully, educational initiatives such as Baywatch will remind the public that the only hair people were born with is the stuff on their head.

Scorpions – Virgin Killer (1976)

This caused ridiculous amounts of controversy. So much so, the album had to be sold in a black bag. Only to be brought under fire again by the FBI 32 years later under child pornography laws. The cover depicts a young girl baring all with a cracked glass effect shielding her genitalia. In the defence of the band, the child in question was photographed by a family member (who worked for the label) in the presence of her mother and sisters and to this day is still comfortable with the picture taken of her. Although no malice was intended at the time, in hindsight, all parties involved agree that it was designed in bad taste.

Tin Machine – Tin Machine II (1991)

This British Rock band used a stylised version of the Kouros for album art, which features a generic young, male nude. A Kouros was an ancient Greek statue used to depict aristocratic culture and youth. The re-issue has literally scraped out the offending parts. What I find hilarious is they haven’t ripped the genitalia from the Greek statues in museums or stickered over the abundant amount of nipple in renaissance paintings, have they? This is the absurdity of US modesty – apparently there’s a time and a place for nudity and if it’s not involved with selling you cars or clothes, it’s inappropriate.

The Strokes – Is This It? (2001)

The US release of Is This It was altered even before it had hit the shelves across the Atlantic. The cover depicts a bare derrière with a rubber glove placed on top. These two elements were way too suggestive and the cover art was replaced with the telescopic view of particles at the moment of collision in a bubble chamber. Additionally, one of the tracks on the album was swapped with another because it was seen as being offensive towards New York City police at a time when they were regarded as heroes during the World Trade Centre attacks.

Roxy Music – Country Life (1974)

This last album controversy is also my favourite. The fact that both women were completely removed, only to leave an empty, leafy bush behind completely symbolises what censorship and prudism does to music. It leaves it hollow and without expression. With it’s oversaturated tones and tanned models, Country Life has inspired many photoshoot recreations and has been heralded as one of the coolest covers in Rock ‘n’ Roll history.

Did any of these make it on your offended list? Do you prefer the edited artwork over the banned originals? Get in touch below and make sure you find me on Google+, Bloglovin or Instagram!

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