Panama City, Panama (1) – The Canal and Miraflores Locks

The decision to visit Panama City was due to our childhood fascination of the Panama Canal.  Naturally, it is the first post of our adventure in this Central American city.

Stretching about 80 KM in a north/south direction, Panama City sits on the Pacific side on the south.  The Miraflores Locks is located about 15 kms north of the city by Camino de Cruces National Park.  On planning this trip, it looked like the only way to get to the Locks was by Uber, Taxi or Tour Group.  However, with Rod’s smart planning, we were able to use the public system ($1.60 return each) and got there with no issues.

I don’t know why, but I thought there would be a line-up of ships waiting to go through the locks.  However, it was about a two hour wait before we were to witness the slow procedure.  Good thing there was an excellent museum and restaurant that allowed us to pass the time in comfort and out of the +35C degree heat.

Looking to the north



Looking at the center of the Locks.  You can see the different heights of the water.



Looking south.  Panama City is located to the left of this photo.



Eastern coastline.  The Locks are located to the left of this photo.



A huge neo-Panamax ship passes through a third wider lock.  This expanded canal was created to allow transit of larger ships that carry more cargo.


We finally get to see the procedure of a ship passing through.



You’ll notice the change in water level from the previous photo.



The captain does not navigate through this.  It was run by two railed vehicles on both sides.  You can see the tethered ropes guiding it through.


The precious cargo



Heading south.  Who knows where the destination would be.

It was about 30 minutes from the first photo to the last photo


Alberta/Saskatchewan Canada (1) – Highway 16, the Yellowhead

Road conditions on our recent return from Edmonton was fraught with icy patches brought on by thick fog.  Looking at the landscape, you see all the frost clinging onto trees and whatever they can cling onto.

The photos starts off outside of Edmonton, Albert and ends outside of Saskatoon, Sask.  I had taken these with my iPhone since my trusty Nikon was tucked inside a camera bag inside a gym bag located at the very back of the car.

















































Saskatoon, SK Canada (11) – The Halloween Pumpkin Patch

On November 1st, the public is invited to bring their carved pumpkins to Rotary Park to be part of a wonderful evening display.  I was amazed at some of the intricate carvings that were created.  It was gorgeous night and the event was appreciated by all.  Kudos to the Nutana Community Association for their efforts.








































Madrid, Spain (8) – Parc de Retiro

Because the return flights from the same destination are less expensive, we arrived and departed from Madrid.  I felt it fitting that the Parc de Retiro be my last post of our Spain Adventure.  The park is located just behind our hotel and it was the first thing we visited when we arrived and the last thing we visited when we departed.

This huge 125 hectares park has more than 15,000 trees with the Bald Cypress, one of the oldest trees at around 400 years old.   A favourite for locals to participate in sports, especially running and soccer.  The park is also home to architectural beauties such as Palacio de Cristal and the Palacio de Velazquez which are currently used for exhibitions.


Our first visit

After we had our jet lag snooze, we arrived at the Park when the sun was setting.  It was a short visit but enough to keep ourselves awake to get in sync with Madrid time.




On the south edge of the park, this pedway runs width-wise from one side of the park to the other.  Due to the small rise in this stretch, we found many runners making use of this challenge.  Our hotel is located just to the left of the bottom of the path.



Being February, the leafless trees still looked beautiful









Fuente del Angel Caido



The Sports area includes soccer field, tennis courts and basket ball courts



Our last visit

We start at the northwest corner of the park and wander through to the south end

The entrance at Calle de Alcala






Palacio de Velazquez



Estanque Grande del Retiro

We join the locals to watch the setting sun



Monument Alfonso XII












Palacio de Cristal






Heading back to our hotel to pack for home

Good-bye Madrid.  Good-bye Spain.




Barcelona, Spain (9) – Compilation

My last post of Barcelona is a compilation of photos that did not fit in any of my Barcelona posts.  They depict various sights during our four day visit.

A Bullring that is now a shopping centre



Entering the park at the Museu Catalunya



Providing a nice solo sax tune at the Olympic Stadium



A night view of the Arenas de Barcelona



The invasion of the green Monk Parakeets.  Originally from Argentina, they were brought to Spain as pets and started colonizing the city



A reflection of Cafe Del Mar from their overhead mirrors.  This outdoor restaurant is located at the Maremagnum Shopping Centre at the Ferry Terminal



The use of balcony space



Office building across the street from our hotel.  A combination of reflection and room occupation.



The Industrial Park located next door to our hotel – Hotel Catalunya (the tall grey/blue building)



A very busy Parc Guell



Waiting for the subway train at the Placa de Catalunya station



A school excursion to a live performance theatre



Huge bubbles at the Cathedral



Arc de Triomf at the top entrance of Parc de la Ciutadella



Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Catalunya



David Bowie and Salvador Dali…a suited combination



Shaded boulevard on Av. d’lcaria



A deserted beach



Looking back at our climb to Parc Guell




Barcelona, Spain (8) – Views from High Places

Montjuic Mountain ( Barcelona, Spain (4) – Castell de Montjuic ),  Mount Tibidabo ( Barcelona, Spain (6) – Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor ) and in our hotel room were the three high points in which these photos were taken from.  With a population of 1.6 million in a 100km square space, this city is huge and congested.  With so many multi-family dwellings, it would be hard-pressed to find single family residences with front and back yards.


From Montjuic Mountain, located on the southeast corner of the city

We look towards the northwest point of the city and go clock-wise

Mount Tibidabo



The small green hill is Parc Guell

Barcelona, Spain (2) – Parc Guell






Sagrada Familia looms large

Barcelona, Spain (1) – La Sagrada Familia






World Trade Center and Ferry Terminal



Shipping yard to the east



From Mount Tibidabo, located on the northwest edge of the city.

The following photos are looking east.  Montjuic from the previous photos is to the right.

Observatori Fabra














From our hotel, Hotel de Catalunya

Barcelona Sants, the main train station is conveniently located next to our hotel.  The station provides services locally and regionally.  We enjoyed watching the people coming and going, using the transport system as their daily routine.





Looking south towards Mount Montjuic, you can see the Tower at the Olympic Site

Barcelona, Spain (5) – Olympic Park



Night shot from our hotel room



Another night shot from our hotel room



Barcelona Sants at night still maintains its’ hustle and bustle





Barcelona, Spain (7) – Museu Nacional D’Art De Catalunya

Enroute from our hotel to the Olympic Site, we pass through an area that includes Font Magica de Montjuic, Placa de les Cascades and the Museu Nacional D’Art De Catalunya.

Font Magica de Montjuice (between the steps and the four pillars), Placa de les Cascades (located right behind the four pillars) and the Museu Nacional


Looking back at the entrance.  Outdoor escalators makes the climb easy.



Placa de les Cascades located in front of Museu Nacional.  The Olympic Park is located behind the museum.



Looking back from the top of the stairs in front of Museu Nacional.  Our hotel the Hotel Torre Catalunya is the tall wide grey building on the left.








Heading around the back side of the museum



After watching the sunset at the Olympic Park, we make our way back to our hotel.  In the distant, you can see Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor glowing on Mount Tibidabo.


One last look at the museum.  The lights were an added bonus.



Barcelona, Spain (6) – Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor

Located at the highest point on Mount Tibidabo, this church was viewable from our hotel room.  Curious as to what it was, and as per our usual fascination with high places, we ventured to this area.  Also known as the Temple of Tibidabo, this Catholic Church  is dedicated to John Bosco.  Work started in 1902 by Enric Sagnier and completed in 1961 by his son Josep Sagnier.  The interesting aspect about this area was that it is also home to an amusement park, complete with a ferris wheel and roller coaster.

Interior photos are only of the lower level crypt.




The entrance to the lower level crypt.  A stairway around the back of this takes you to the main chapel.


































Heading back down to the village to catch the funicular, we discover the roller coaster that was not viewable from the church area






Barcelona, Spain (5) – Olympic Park

In 1992, Barcelona was host to the Summer Olympics.  Built on Montjuic Mountain, it overlooks the city.  The site was much smaller than what I was expecting.  However, a very pleasant visit as we took the time to watch the sunset with the locals.

Olympic Stadium






Palau Sant Jordi held the indoor sporting events such as gymnastics and volleyball finals



Palau Sant Jordi (l) and the telecommunications tower (r)






Tennis Courts



Ball Diamond






…and there is the sunset



Barcelona, Spain (4) – Castell de Montjuic

When we stopped to take a look at our surroundings from the Ferry Terminal, we saw a hill in the distance and as per usual, we make it our mission to conquer it.  Unfortunately there was a lack of street signage so we relied our phone map to find our way.  Equivalent to about 50 floors, we weaved our to the top and discover an interesting historical site.  Not a castle, as the title states, this a military fortress that dates back to the 1600s.

We could have taken the gondola but we always find that part of the fun in reaching a destination, is how you get there.

From the ferry terminal, we see the hill


External Surroundings and Gardens



Sea-Facing Wall



Interior of the Fortress



The Terrace and Watchtower



From the hill, we see the Ferry Terminal that started this whole thing