Fall, Toronto

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GZ Mosque, NY

During my stay in N.Y.C. I was lucky enough to spend some time with my friend Adam. He has the sweetest little setup out in Brooklyn which proved to be the perfect base for exploring. Prior to my stay in N.Y. I was shocked to discover that they were building a mosque on Ground Zero and I couldn't believe my eyes. (If I remember correctly the TV was on mute.) This was of course a natural conversation topic and as it turned out a very hot one in just about every bar we went to during my stay. We therefore decided to take the subway and go have a look.
Now, being a foreigner- and not a considerably ignorant one at that, I think many non-Americans (no, not the homeless) share my impression on what is and was Ground Zero. "It was the twin towers and is the rubble where they stood". From all the fuzz on the news I pictured a Muslim prayer room next to a Starbucks in the bottom of one of the new towers. I was surprised to find an old theater looking building two blocks away from the furthest of Ground Zero rubble.What many of you may know as the Ground Zero mosque is in fact a youth activity center to be, and is it really on Ground Zero? It sure didn't feel like it. I couldn't even see Ground Zero. What happened to the all American "out of sight, out of mind"? (no, not the homeless) I am not a religious man and I despise a lot of what religion brings to the table but, as it happens I've stayed several times in Catholic youth activity centers as they often provide room for travelers when there is nothing particular going on, I have to say that my impression of youth activity centers so far are excellent. Several of the activity centers I stayed at had Sunday service and prayer here and there. Does it make it a church? The US was founded largely on the freedom of religion. It is ironic that most of it's citizens now oppose the very freedom they speak so highly of. To be frank I haven't seen much of this unique freedom Americans supposedly have. As far as I am concerned it diminishing day by day. It's time to wake up and smell the coffee, eh.. Starbucks.
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Beaches, Toronto

The Toronto Beach, or "The Beaches" as it is often referred to, stretch from Coxwell Ave. to Victoria Park Ave. on the east side of Toronto. In the heart of the beaches you find Queen street east. If you are to visit Toronto you will most likely hit Queen on your way to Chinatown or Kensington Market, but make sure to take the streetcar eastbound as well.  What makes Queen east stand out is its large variety of specialty stores and independent little boutiques (amazing naturally made ice-cream for one). It's a welcomed sight in a city full of major brand names and malls. Right north of Queen you find Kingston Road where the atmosphere continues to some extent, and right south of Queen east you find The Beach. The Beach originated in the early 1900s, but the current beach was artificially enlarged and made continuous in 1930 with the use of wooden groynes (partially seen in the picture). The public boardwalk and facilities were officially opened to the public in 1932. As I am fortunate enough to be based at Lawlor and Kingston, just a short walk from The Beach, I often find myself wandering along the boardwalk to clear my thoughts or to sit and read Tales of the Otori.
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