Travel ~ 37. Blissful Bermuda

This past weekend, Jet Blue flew me to paradise.

IMG_1170.PNG

The British overseas territory named Bermuda became home for a few days. Divided into nine parishes, I couldn’t wait to explore.

My best friend, Lauren and I arrived at L.F. Wade International Airport to celebrate her birthday. Our friendly taxi driver welcomed us to the island. Driving along the narrow winding roads, the subtropical climate and vibrant houses were gorgeous. The crystal clear blue water, fruit trees and numerous yachts added to the scenic view. I can still feel the sunshine and warm air on my arm from that day or perhaps it’s the tan.

We stayed at the Fairmont Southampton, a lovely luxury resort in Warwick Camp. Our room, the Signature Suite was heavenly. The hotel staff expressed warm hospitality during every interaction. The hotel provided 9 restaurants, taxis on call, a wide range of activities such as water sports, horseback riding, fishing, diving, cycling, 6 tennis courts, an 18 hole golf course, 12 treatment rooms, a sauna, pool lounge areas and excursions for Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, Bermuda Forts, the Bermuda Aquarium, Royal Navy Dockyard and Crystal and Fantasy Caves all for additional charges. They are all well fun!

Soon enough, it was time for lunch. Taking a taxi, we headed to Mickey’s Beach Bistro. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the most the amazing man on the island and in my opinion he is the culture Ambassador for Bermuda, Cole Simmons. Also, he’s one of my best friends. Then we all enjoyed the colourful cocktails, savoury seafood and fun conversation with the servers including Gianni, Steven and Samy. Following that, it was inevitable to not walk along Elbow Beach. Let’s just say, the water was calling.

Then the heat and humidity must have taken a toll because we decided to rest for a while. A few hours later, Cole, Lauren and I made our way to Front Street to see what Hamilton had to offer. We saw loads of shops, stores, restaurants, bars and pubs as well as a water promenade. Eventually, it was time for drinks and dinner. Harry’s Restaurant & Bar was the answer for a taste of Bermuda. The marvelous manager, Manny made our dining experience a pleasure. The restaurant decor was beautiful too. First, I tried the fish chowder. Second, the mussels were yummy with a glass of Sancerre. Then our waitress surprised us with a treat. I recommend Harry’s as the dining destination in Bermuda.

After that, Cole, Lauren and I visited the Hamilton Princess Hotel to view the art on display. For evening entertainment, we drank at Hog Penny Pub and then we danced to Caribbean tunes at a Bajan bar called Spring Garden to end our Bermudian night.

The next morning, Lauren and I chilled by the pool while drinking rum swizzles. Surrounded by coconut palm trees, it was just what the doctor ordered for a holiday. In good time, we spent the afternoon at Horseshoe Bay Beach.

20914374_10210484238046753_3179142753467840384_n

Later for dinner, we checked out the Jasmine Lounge where a live band played local music. Our entrées were very delicious.

20914590_10210487785095427_7807203329934781824_n

The atmosphere was lively. Guests were jovial. Our waiter, Jaswyn was great. It was the perfect way to end our Bermuda adventure. I highly recommend to visit Bermuda to experience an #ahhbermuda moment 🙂

All photos taken by Niya Sinckler, Lauren Slinger and Cole Simmons.

Travel ~ Airline Appreciation

One of my favourite places is the airport, any airport. I can’t quite explain it. Perhaps it’s the excitement of knowing that you’re going somewhere, smiling at the planes taking off or just people watching which I find entertaining. Either way, thank you Delta Airlines for taking and returning me home safely. Check out my photos below  🙂 🙂 🙂

 

Travel ~ Merci Montréal.

A weekend away to practice my French. Not really, it was my birthday celebration. Arriving on Friday evening, it was freezing around -10C. Either way, I decided to take on the worrying weather.

First, I took the 747E autobus from Pierre Trudeau International Airport (YUL) to the Courtyard by Marriott Montreal Downtown. It costs 10 Canadian dollars. My home for three days was in a good central location.

After settling in, I decided where to go for dinner. Close by, Bonaparte Restaurant was welcoming. Their savory seafood menu is amazing. I highly recommend the shrimp and scallops entree. The gourmet dinner menu was a bit of a splurge but birthdays only come once a year. Then for drinks, Notkins was a lively bistro bar with old school tunes to get anyone moving. Soon enough, it was time to call it a night.

Saturday morning, the Canadian Centre for Architecture was calling. The exhibition on display: It’s All Happening So Fast. Learning about Canada’s water consumption and views on desertification was well interesting. Then the wonderful walk along La Rue René-Lévesque was lovely seeing statues and the beautiful cathedral. Next I visited MAC, Musee d’art de contemporain de Montréal. The admission is 15 Canadian dollars. The exhibitions on display were: For time is the longest distance between two places and Le Biennale de Montréal. I spent over an hour there mesmerized by about thirty rooms highlighting modern art. You can tell I’m an art admirer. My favourite piece was an oil on canvas 2015 painting, ‘Long Distance’ by Nicole Eisenman. Staring at the work made me think about so many things at once. The coffee cup, calendar, element of writing with stationary and the screen are all there. It represented all the things that couldn’t be said for many in long distance relationships. Let’s call it a moment of realization in life.

Eventually it was time for a 1pm lunch. Strolling over to La Rue Square Victoria, I discovered Ê.A.T (Être-Avec-Toi). Translated into English, it means to be with you. It was a cool contemporary concept restaurant moderately priced and positioned in the W Hotel. There were detailed drawings and illustrations as wall décor. Also the cool vibes with ambient electronica music setting the atmosphere. The manager and waiters had excellent customer service too. I was fully taking in Montréal’s hospitality.

Exploring must be in my DNA because about an hour later, I was getting lost in Vieux Montréal (Old Montréal) and enjoying it. So many cafés and shops to embrace Canadian culture. Later on at 4pm, I met up with two friends who were staying in the gay village of the city at a hostel. Was it fun? Oh yes! Especially when they’re both named Alex and it’s happy hour forever. Drinking beer, throwing darts and playing pool in a massive basement while having crazy conversations about international current affairs was my evening. The excitement continued until my stomach grumbled. Must be dinner about 9pm. Of course coming here, I had to eat poutine at least once. There it is below and it was so filling.

14.jpg

To end the night at 11pm, I attended a gig for Ferry Corsten and Kungs at the vibrant entertainment venue, New City Gas. There wasn’t a long queue to enter. I saw that Canadians do dress up to go out. They party hard as well. Lots of dance and debauchery took place for around three hours. And I loved every minute of the music.

15

Now it was Sunday Funday! Being lazy, I ate at the hotel’s restaurant, Le Darlington. Yes it was very darling lol. Then the time came for the inevitable as the concierge brought my carry-on. A 40 minute bus ride to the airport. Taking in all of the art, architecture and beauty left to see, I smiled at the Montréal cityscape. In all, it was a great weekend. Merci Montréal. A bientôt, bisous!

All photos taken by Niya Sinckler.

Film ~ Florence Foster Jenkins

Looking for a good laugh? Florence Foster Jenkins directed by British producer Stephen Frears follows the life of a New York socialite who aspires to be an opera singer. However she doesn’t quite have the vocal range for it. Despite that, Meryl Streep who plays the heiress brings joy and humour to the theatre scene along with her husband, St. Clair (Hugh Grant) who is well entertaining. It’s everything you need with the biographical understanding, comedic antics and drama all around. Also, it reminds me of Keeping Up Appearances for those who admire British neighbourhood sitcoms. Definitely recommend. Rating: 8/10.

Music ~ UN Jazz Night

Founded in 1959, the United Nations Staff Recreational Jazz Society consists of former and current staff members from different Departments of the Organization and is well represented internationally.

President of UNSRC Jazz Society, Lala Moore stated that, “it was in the 1980s that the recreational club formed.” Lala, one of the Society’s vocalists shares the spotlight with talented world musicians. The monthly jazz performance provides evening entertainment to staff and delegates alike while they unwind after a long day’s work with artisan beer and international wines around sphere tables and comfortable armchairs.

1
The Jazz Society getting into the groove, 10 March 2016. Photo: Niya Sinckler.
2
The Jazz Society captivating the audience, 10 March 2016. Photo: Niya Sinckler.

The North Delegates Lounge opened in 1952. It was subsequently renovated and redesigned in 2013 under the capital masterplan of the Secretariat building. Dutch artists including industrial designer Hella Jongerius, architect Rem Koolhaas, graphic designer Irma Boom, visual creator Gabriel Lester and designer Louise Schouwenberg crafted a professional décor. Overlooking expansive gardens while complementing the works of many gifted handmade carpets with envious East River views, it offers a space where UN delegates, staff and guests mingle in various foreign languages and enjoy music.

Speaking with a few of the Jazz Society members in the Delegates Lounge, it’s clear that the music is alive. Zambian born jazz guitarist, Robert Mwamba loves music as it’s a great way to communicate with everyone. It was in the 1990s while at Baruch College that he recognized that feeling of fulfillment after his first performance. Mwamba expressed, “My inspiration stems from the likes of traditional jazz guitarist George Benson, modern jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery, creative musical figure Stevie Wonder, singer-songwriter Marvin Gaye and pop music icon Michael Jackson. Using an eclectic and soulful style, photographed below Robert Mwamba to the left with strums that are all encompassing.

3        4

British tenor saxophonist, Tom Caldin seen above on the right recalled his first introduction to music with the recorder while performing at a school assembly at the tender age of 8. Imagine feeling completely petrified; however, once the audience began to clap, there was a sigh of relief as it was a proud moment. Caldin explained that, “The jazz saxophonist, Stan Getz is a prime influence. His technical mastery of holding the attention of an audience with warm and wispy tones is the sound.” Caldin learns day by day from other band members as they improvise to create smooth jazz. Music acts as a universal language and with a musical attitude bringing everyone together.

5
Chris Maxfield on the piano, Delegates Lounge, 10 March 2016. Photo: Niya Sinckler.

Coming from a musical family, American pianist, Chris Maxfield understands the share of love of music as it carried down generations from his father performing in barbershop quartets and his mom connecting to the cello. It was soon enough that Chris Maxfield fell in love with piano. Playing at this great venue for wonderful people, Maxfield reflected on a time during 2010 in Brazil where he was in the groove. He felt that, “There was a serious buzz in the natural form, I had goosebumps and felt closer to universal energy.” Maxfield plays mainstream jazz with bossa nova and samba inspired by Bill Evans ‘the poet on the piano’, who redefined how to tell a story becoming the most influential jazz pianist of the 20th century. Maxfield expressed that, “Music is in everyone’s soul. You can touch people through music in a way that words can’t since words have meaning and music is emotion.” Clearly there’s a common passion for the music to play and immerse in the art form.

Meanwhile the Society’s Facilitator, Christopher Reid, a long-serving staff member, truly believes in the international community. Reid said, “The idea is to appeal to all countries representing jazz with different instruments and sounds. We would like people who are fully committed to music.”

Having support in the right places can help to bring more people to join the jazz community. The next performance will be on 14 April 2016 in the North Delegates Lounge on the 2nd floor of The Secretariat building. This is an excellent way for former and current UN staff to reconnect and connect with each other. The Jazz Society aims to inspire peace through music.  Mark your calendars for the Jazz Society’s upcoming jazz festival in late spring 2016.

Culture ~ Humans Finale

The British-American TV series, Humans came to an end this Sunday night in the UK.

Produced by AMC Studios, Channel 4 and Kudos, the science fiction drama explored the depth of interactions between humans and machines set in the London suburbs.

1
Series poster from Google.

One day, Joe Hawkins (Tom Goodman-Hill) brings home the latest gadget, a synth. His family: wife, Laura Hawkins (Katherine Parkinson), son, Toby (Theo Stevenson) and  daughters, Mattie (Lucy Carless) and Sophie (Pixie Davies) learn to adjust with their new lifestyle. Things are slightly strange as they come to accept the synth.

The so-called synths are android robots who live to serve humans. The way we live is somehow completely transformed in this eight episode seaon. Imagine a world where you never have to lift a finger, you’re never alone and always in control. The synths perform duties but are designed not to comprehend or feel with real emotions.

Then the Hawkins family discovers their synth, Anita/Mia (Gemma Chan) is a bit different and that there are others. These special individuals change it all: Leo (Colin Morgan), Niska (Emily Berrington), Max (Ivanno Jeremiah) and Fred (Sope Dirisu). Relationships develop which make you question the nature of humanity.

The creators, Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley trapped me in this parellel present. The performances were authentic enough regarding human and robotic gestures. Quite amusing yet freaky at times for television. Overall, a well entertaining series and a new way to look at the future of technology and artificial intelligence.

Trying not to give away too much to anyone now tuning in, the sci fi details about persona synthetics are highly appealing. Take a look, if you dare.