Alberta Ballet With a Touch of Spanish Flair: Don Quixote

Earlier this month Don Quixote premiered on stage in Edmonton with great flare at the Northern Jubilee Auditorium. What a fantastic piece to showcase the best of the Alberta Ballet and to start the season at a high point. There were so many fantastic moments in this classic production.

Don Quixote and Kitri

Jean Grand-Maitre portraying Don Quixote & Hayna Gutierrez playing Kitri. (Photograph courtesy of Albert Ballet taken by Paul McGrath)

This riveting ballet is a story about the fight for love, with a dash of humor. Thoroughly entertaining, the Alberta Ballet put on a great opening production. Don Quixote tells of a tale of a Lord, in his old age, seeking his beloved Dulcinea. Going into town he encounters the love story of Kitri and Basilio. However, Kitri’s father Lorenzo, is against Kitri’s and Basilio’s relationship. Seeing their relationship in peril, Don Quixote helps and demonstrates to Lorenzo that Kitri and Basilio’s love is real, and in the end Kitri and Basilio are wedded. Continue reading

Closet in a Wall: BiBO – The Smallest Wine Bar in Canada

One of the coolest things about having a friend who loves wine and fine-dining is that I get to explore all these cool places in Edmonton that I didn’t know existed. I have only seen these cozy wine places in movies (or in my imagination).

I spent a couple Saturdays ago at BiBO, right beside Culina in the university area. It claims to be the smallest wine bar in Canada. It fits 10 people where you just come and go as you like. BiBO is dark and dim, but rather than being ominous, it has an intimate atmosphere where everyone is extremely friendly and talkative. Being a noob to the wine scene, I had no idea what to expect and my experience was thoroughly enjoyable.Wine

BiBO exceeded my expectations; it has easily become one of my favourite places in the city. Stepping into BiBO is like stepping into a movie. It’s you, your friend, other people and the bartender, Dianna. She knows her wine and this little place is all hers to run. Dianna is a fantastic wine connoisseur and a fantastic host. She’s lovely and so much fun, everything you want in a wine bar looking to unwind.

BiBO has a wide rotating selection of wines, port, bubblies and many others. I definitely did not know where to start (not being a wine connoisseur) but Dianna was more than happy to help and I was given a couple really good selections. I think from my experience, I have discovered one of my favourite wines, Viognier. I tried a viognier from Canada, Stable Door. It was exquisite and was the perfect balance between crisp and sweet. The framboise port was also an amazing wrap-up to the evening.

Overall, BiBO is a must go-to for anyone looking to unwind and enjoy a quiet yet warm atmosphere.

The Switch-Up: One Year After Graduation

New grad life is probably one of the scariest transitions a person can go through. Upon graduation, most of us have never worked a full time job before, we probably have never left home, and at the age of 21, horribly lost and confused with the onslaught and realization of the magnitude of the ‘real world.’

And why wouldn’t we be? There is no life training, no one sits you down to give a rundown of what the rest of your life will be like, you can only observe and learn from other people’s examples and then turn around carving your own little place in the world.

But the world doesn’t have to be an imposing mystery. It is a great and wonderful place with bountiful beauty and marvels, you just have to experience it for yourself, or stay hopelessly feeling ‘stuck.’

Post-grad was a scary time for me. I was offered a less than optimal job, but really wanted to stay in Toronto, the city where I met and fell in love with God, where I met my best roomie, and was part of an odd mish-mash of the most brilliant and imaginative friends I had ever known. By my forth year, Toronto was my home. I had made myself comfortable in the Big T.O. experiencing the culture, meeting so many people and enjoying the food. It was no secret I did not want to move. However, this is where reality and maturity cross paths and having to make a relatively difficult decision to move home, I was back in Edmonton after four years away in the best place I have ever known.

The adjustment back home was hard. It was great to be able to connect with friends whom I haven’t seen for a couple years and to have their support and friendship. But starting work here was difficult. Saddled with a comfortable entry level government job, I am set for life. Though less than optimal given my background in business marketing and strategy (with not a whole lot of practical experience), it is a good position with great pay, flexible schedule and amazing vacation time. But it wasn’t something I wanted to wake up for every morning, I didn’t feel like I contributed anything but administrative support on most days, most importantly I wasn’t learning, growing and developing positive professional skills. Knowing the tight and competitive job market though, I knew that I needed to build a solid year of full time work experience before I could even think about applying to any new positions.

Now almost one year into full time work life, I have gained more confidence in myself, built a circle of friends and mentors and slowly started to piece together what direction I should go in life. All my life I thought I was going to work in a large established company. But looking back, all my experiences have been around an organization with a start up type of environment. With that in mind, I decided to apply for something that fit with that criteria. We shall see where this job application will take me.

After all this rambling, thing is, as a new grad, life is scary and can be extremely frustrating. You will have some idea of where you want to go in life, but chances are you are not there yet, but you can see where you want to be. I had to weather the storms of my emotions, coming to heads with my parents and even some of my friends, but at the end of the day, you are where you are for a reason. Find every opportunity to grow and learn, take on other odd jobs related to your career aspirations, but most of all, do not grow complacent and comfortable with where you are at if that is not where you want to stay. There were times where I did grow complacent in my position, where I was sick and tired of applying for positions that bore no fruit. It was exhausting and taxing emotionally and spiritually. However, it was even more uncomfortable and exhausting being part of something I knew deep down I wanted nothing to do with. That struggle is pushing me switch it up, to find those opportunities with a team and organization that will challenge me, push me to my limits, and is somewhere I go to everyday excited. I do realize that this pursuit of a new position may come to nothing, but I always attack with the attitude, “the answer is always no when you don’t seek.” It can be scary, you may feel either super confident or extremely disheartened, but at the end if the day you cannot grow complacent, you have to actively seek.

Even though I am only one year out of university, I feel like school was a lifetime away. Toronto, increasingly feels like a wonderful dream, but it’s not. It was where I spent four years if my life gaining wonderful experiences and friends, what I learned from in Toronto I am applying to living in Edmonton. I can only say to grads that in this digital age where it looks like EVERY ONE is achieving feats of amazingness, chances are 50% (or more) of your peers aren’t. Everyone is struggling to start a new chapter of life. It’s ok to not know where you want to be and it’s ok to not like where you are now. Just know patience and taking every opportunity you can will help you build towards where you want to go.

Travel Bug: Hong Kong Wrap Up

There is so much to do when you travel, sometimes I never want it to end! But alas, my adventure across the Pacific is now over. Here’s a recap and a list of things to do should you ever visit Hong Kong.

  1. Go to The Peak. It is an amazing place to see all of Hong Kong from up high. There is a 360 degree view of the land and islands that make up Hong Kong. There are a lot of shops and dining at this high point. There are several ways to get up to The Peak, by bus, car, tram or by hiking up the mountain.
  2. Food is good in Hong Kong, you can have everything from street food, all forms and types of noodles, amazing snacks and desserts, really anything, but one of my absolute favourites was sushi. Two amazing places for sushi is Kaika at The One in Tsim Sha Tsui and IHEI in iSQUARE complex, also in Tsim Sha Tsui. At both places I had a sashimi set and not only were they very filling, but also very fresh and extra delicious.
  3. Disneyland is a must see. It’s the happiest place on Earth! Hong Kong Disney is a small enough theme park to explore the entire park in one day. 
  4. Shopping in Tsim Sha Tsui. There are designers left, right and centre in the area. There are a tonne of shopping to do here, there’s also a lot of foods to try. It’s possible to spend days walking around TST. The Hong Kong Cultureal Centre is also located in TST with multiple of performances to go to every night.

There are loads more to do in Hong Kong, unfortunately my time there was so short I didn’t have time to do it all! Here’s just a quick photo look back at my amazing time in Asia.

Travel Bug: Hong Kong Day 16

It’s my final full day in Hong Kong!! I leave tomorrow and boy do I wish this vacation will not end. It’s too much fun not having to work and spending time with family I don’t see as often as I should. But alas, I must return to the other side of the Pacific Ocean and resume my normal non-vacationing side of life.

Today was my last sushi meal lunch day. We went back to TST to a building complex called The One. On one of the very high floors (19F) there is a Japanese restaurant called Kaika. Not only was the view overlooking Victoria Harbour stunning, the food was exquisite as well. I was treated with the sashimi set which came with two pieces of eight different kinds of fish. Doesn’t sound like a lot but when you start digging through your meal, it becomes quite filling! I will never forget this place, it’s a bit on the pricier side but it is worth every penny I tell you!

Afterwards we went to one of the busiest districts in Hong Kong called Mong Kok. Again there are a bunch of shopping to do in this area and a couple of really neat places (like manga stores), if you know where to look (I certainly didn’t but my mom did so I trailed after her trying not to get run over by the thousands of people that were there.) Lady Street is also located in this area and is a street filled with vendors selling an assortment of goods from clothing to knock-offs to souvenirs and even small household appliances. If you want to try your hand at bargaining, this is the place to practice being a master haggler!

Prior to Mong Kok, we were at Sham Shui Po, where there are other assortment of goods. This area is more local and carries a lot of fun things. There is an entire complex dedicated to selling electronics, so if you’re a techie or gamer, this is the place to be. A little further from the exit of the station are a bunch of shops that sell craft materials like beads, strings, ribbons, etc. I had a hard time leaving some of the shops because of all the cute and pretty things. Materials here are also super affordable and so for $10 I took home an assortment of ribbons, cords and hair clips.

Overall, today was a fantastic day and I’ll be sad to leave tomorrow but this adventure is almost at the close.

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Travel Bug: Hong Kong Day 15 Highlight — Afternoon Tea at The Peninsula

Apparently, my great-grandfather in his latter years would be driven to The Peninsula every afternoon to enjoy a relaxing bout of afternoon tea. The Peninsula was one of the few prestigious places that would allow a Chinaman to step foot inside.

Today, The Peninsula remains one of the top hotels catering to guests that come to Hong Kong including dignitaries from all over the world. Of course I had to stop by for high tea.

While the food was fairly traditional and typical of high tea, the atmosphere surpasses all other places I have had the pleasure of enjoying high tea. The colonial setting of the sitting area is opulent and open creating for a pleasant atmosphere. Adding in a live quintet (which played a collection of Disney pieces (that I could name all of) for one of the hours we were there), our afternoon was perfect. Even with the hustle and bustle of people around us there was no rush to quickly fly through tea time.

Overall the food was adequate, but the dessert, I have to say, was quite exquisite. There were a lot of dessert pieces from macarons to tiny cakes and tarts. As an additional treat, we were served with a serving of chocolate mousse and a piece of truffle. YUM! I highly encourage an experience at The Peninsula, the atmosphere is unparalleled.

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Travel Bug: Hong Kong Day 14

The last time I was at the magical kingdom was when I was six. Today, I had my second Disney adventure, this time at Hong Kong Disneyland! It was truly a magical day as I was brought back to my childhood memories. All those amazing songs and stories that even up until university, my roommates and I would refer to and reenact scenes from the Lion King.

Hong Kong Disney is one of the smaller of the Disney theme parks so makes for a wonderful day trip adventure with just enough magic (let’s be honest, there is never too much Disney magic).

There was so much to do I don’t even know where to begin! So let’s just say I sang to most the classic Disney tunes that were playing throughout the theme park and maybe even bouncing down the road. It was great to meet and take photos with iconic characters like Pooh and Donald Duck! It was amazing to see models of protagonists and how animators brought them to life. There were a couple of fun rides and shows. Our day ended at the Festival of Lion King show where they retold the story of Simba and even sang the Lion King songs. (There were also a lot of dancing and fire.)

It was a magical day filled with memories. Though looking at all the young children that were there, it saddens me that most of them do not know any of the stories of the Disney classics. They may know who the characters are, but not necessary the songs and stories. As a 90’s child raised in North America, my childhood was surrounded by Disney, all the other toys and games were based off those characters. I wish as the years go by, Disney will continue to re-re-re-release those great stories that taught us all to dream.

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