Best of the 2018 Flower Show

Each year Philadelphians and everyone within day trip distance of Philadelphia go crazy over the Philadelphia Flower Show. After an awesome and stunning show came and went last year, this year's theme is "Wonders of Water".

Upon entering the main space inside the Philadelphia Convention Center you walked into a giant "rainforest". As you continue through the rainforest you see waterfalls of various sizes and colorful flowers.

Off to the side of the rainforest, there was a mock wedding reception set up with everything from the entrance to a decorative "wedding cake". This was definately one of my personal favorite exhibits.

Another awesome exhibit was the giant railroad platform that was set up. This had two trains running in opposite directions on side-by-side tracks, along with a single trolley car navigating its own route. In the middle of all the tracks were beautiful flowers (of course) and various houses, business, vehicles, and people set up to really make it feel like a pleasant village or city.

They had a snowy mountain exhibit which seems pretty simple but as everyone walked through the little "cave" and around the mountain side they saw the surroundings changed a bit. On the one side you see the mountain surrounded by a few colorful trees but walk around to the backside and you'll see a small waterfall running down the mountain!

There were small displays showing interior rooms and outdoor decks decorated in various styles using all kinds of different plants. Below are my three favorite home garden displays.

Each year seems to always include a cactus exhibit and it is always one of my favorites. This year's was laid out very nice and was interesting to look at.

There were some cute and very fancy plant animals in attendance at this year's flower show!

Plant Pup!

Decorated Elephant

In addition to the main exhibits there are loads of art pieces made by local students and artists. Many of these pieces have won awards but regardless of that some of these art pieces are very cool or beautiful to look at.

And finally there are of course plenty of colorful tulips and other gardens filled with all kinds of flowers!

#2017CanadianRoadtrip: Day 3 in Quebec City!

Today is our final full day in Quebec City and we decided to begin by driving about 2 hours north(east) of centerville to a small town called Saint Aubert. But first, we stop at La Boite a Pain for our morning latte and chocolate crossiant of course.

Farmlands surrounding Saint Aubert, QC

Saint Aubert is a super small town in the middle of farmland. It is essentially one road that is mostly residential with one church, one grocery store/everything shop, a post office, a cemetery, and a dairy farm. We went into the shop but discovered they don't sell any postcards or any tourist souvenirs like that. This wasn't too surprising as I don't suspect they get many "non locals" in the town. The couple of people that we talked to were very nice, even though they didn't speak much English. We did manage to buy a special can of maple syrup that the shopowner got for us from the back room, which was super nice of her!

Below are photos from the Saint Aubert cemetary.

The Saint Aubert post office.

Below is some sort of Christmas village that we drove past on our way from Saint Aubert to our next destination in Rivere du Loupe.

Our next destination is a place I only found the night before while scrolling through the "Saint Aubert" hashtag on Instagram. The only way I had for us finding the place was the vague map screenshot from Instagram.

Right before we left Saint Aubert we went back to ask the shop owner if she knew directions to Rivere du Loupe, because we knew our next destination is in that town but we didn't have the specific address for the place. She tells us it is about another hour north of Saint Aubert. So with that we head on our quest. We see the highway exit for Rivere du Loupe and take it, then it's just up to me trying to make sense of of the street names I see on my map screenshot and compare it with the street names we are seeing in person. Suddenly, the streets match up perfectly and next thing we know we the sign reading "aux Fous de Brasserie".

Fous de Brasserie is a small microbrewery in Rivere du Loupe and I recommend you take the trip to try their beers and see the town! We split a flight of beers along with a small veggie pizza (as our snack). They have a range of different beers so there will most likely be something that each person in your group likes. And the town of Rivere du Loupe is a very nice town. It had a very different feel than the other places we had visited on the trip prior, in a good way. My mom commented that it felt the most like Wayne (or that sort of town) than any of the other places which were either cities or farm towns.

After our little snack break, we drove back down to the center of Quebec City and headed over a bridge to Ile de Orleans. This is a island that everyone tells you to visit while you exploring Quebec. We were thinking it was small island until we were driving around the perimeter of it and realized it actually quite big!

A single airplane wing on a truck - Mobile photo (edited in Lightroom)

"It's superman? It's rocket? No, It's a single airplane wing on a truck!"

After passing the plane wing on the highway a truck filled with bales of hay pulled in front us just as we crossed the bridge onto the island. This created a very long line cars behind us as the hay truck was only going about 15 mph (max). At last, though, we made it to the island just before sundown and were ready for round one of island exploring!

Traffic slowed up a bit entering ile de Orleans when this hay truck turned onto the road - Mobile photo (edited in Lightroom)

We started by finding the Cassis Monna de Filles, which proved a bit more difficult than intended as it took a while for us to match up the distances on our island map with the actual driving distances between places. When we got there we got and walked around the place but we didn't have reservations so we didn't stay to eat dinner or do a formal taste test of the cassis. Next up was one of the wineries on the island but we only ended up driving by to see it because they were closed. Third spot was a cidery. We found this place but as it was sundown when we arrived the cidery was closing, but the owner did give up a coupon to use since we said we'd be back tomorrow when they were open. We also got a great view of the spectacular sunset!

By now we were definately ready for dinner (or our next meal) so we found a sugar shack and after stopping to at least see what it is we decided to give it a try.

Sunset over Ile de Orleans - Mobile Photo (edited in Lightroom)

When we first got to this Sugar Shack there were a few bus tours inside already and there was an accordian player and people dancing. It sort of looked similar to an informal wedding reception when all the guests are on the dance floor for things like the Hora dance. A waitress seated us and handed us our prix fixe supper menu and we ordered a bottle of Maple beer to share.

We watched the bus tour folks dance which included a giant conga line roaming through the tables all across the room. Then our first course was brought out; this consisted of Canadian pea soup, pork rinds, and homemade tomato ketchup with bread. The main course included maple ham, maple baked beans, boiled potatoes, and a meat pie. For dessert we enjoyed a few Pancakes with maple syrup. Do you see why they call it a Sugar Shack now?

It wasn't the best food of the trip but it was a fun environment and a good experience to gain on our trip through Canada.

As the night came to an end we drove back to our campsite for one last night in Quebec City. Along the way spotted the Montmorency Falls and saw they are lit up at night - it looked cool!

Stay tuned for the post-Quebec City portion of the trip coming. Cheers!

#2017Reviewed: Top 10 Concert Photos from the past 12 months

From my days at Philadelphia University I'd take my camera to the WXPN Free at Noon shows each Friday and practice my lowlight & concert photography. In October/2016 I became an official freelance photographer with WXPN's blog The Key. Now, while I was thinking back over all that has happened the last 12 months it occurred to me that as 2017 comes to a close it also wraps up my first full year as a "concert photographer".

I've attended about 50+ shows over the year with a handful of those being gigs that I officially photographed. A few of the best shows I covered include Frank Turner at The Fillmore, Temples at Underground Arts, and Julien Baker at Union Transfer. As I went back through all the concert photos I've taken in 2017 it is tough to narrow down my favorites but I've managed to pick out my top 10 that seemed stood out to me from the rest.

The Arkells | January 20th | The Fillmore

This first one is probably my number one favorite concert photo of the year (and in my top 5 2017 photos, generally too). The first show I covered in 2017 was on inauguration day; Frank Turner was playing at The Fillmore in Fishtown. I had seen Turner a couple times before and knew it'd be awesome to photograph the show this time. Opening for him this night was British singer-songwriter Will Varley, Canadian-band The Arkells, and Murder by Death (from the US).

The photo above is of The Arkells. I hadn't ever paid attention to this band before January 20th, 2017 but as they also performed the Free at Noon set before playing the The Fillmore I managed to see them twice in one day.

The Arkells | Opening for Frank Turner | The Fillmore | January 20, 2017

Real Estate | May 19th | Union Transfer

Real Estate | Union Transfer | May 19, 2017

Real Estate. A "indie-rock" band orginally from South Jersey, and the bassist even lived in Fishtown for a bit. I saw them play at NonComm in 2017, then the very next night saw them again at Union Transfer and photographed the night for WXPN's The Key.

Real Estate | Union Transfer | May 19, 2017

Temples | May 15th | Underground Arts

The British band Temples came through Philadelphia during spring and while I didn't really know much about them at time I went to photograph the gig for The Key. I'm glad I did. It was a great show and I've even kept listening to the band since!

Temples | Underground Arts | May 15, 2017

Rusted Root | June 10th | Wayne Music Festival

After a completely full day of music in Wayne, PA Rusted Root took the stage to close out the night. The street was more than packed and people were still dancing and singing, as they were at 1 PM that afternoon.

Rusted Root | Wayne Music Festival | June 10, 2017

Low Cut Connie | September 8th | Union Transfer

The local band, Low Cut Connie came through the former Spaghetti Warehouse during their tour. The night was filled with great music and a fun stage performance!

Low Cut Connie | Union Transfer | September 8, 2017

Chill Moody | September 8th | Union Transfer

A rapper from West Philadelphia, Chill Moody opened for Low Cut Connie on Spring Garden Street. The venue was filled with local musicians and music fans looking forward to spending their Friday night jamming with the three local bands on the bill for the night!

Chill Moody | Union Transfer | September 8, 2017


Fireworks closing out night!

Wayne Music Festival | June 10, 2017

2017 REVIEWED: Top Coffeeshops from the #Great2017CoffeeTour

One thing that's been discovered during that last couple years is that coffee shop hopping is actually a great way to tour new cities. After reviewing my photo records on and off social media, this year's coffee tour includes 30+ newly-discovered cafes. The coffee shops span the greater Philadelphia area up through Quebec City!

6. Fika. New York City, NY.

I stepped off the bus around noon in NYC and picked a direction to start walking in. I didn't have a specific route except for wanting to end up at Dominque Ansel bakery for a Kiwi Sorbet Bar. I walked past Fika then turned around and went back, and I'm sure glad I did. It is a Swedish coffee shop with lots of sweets and a decent variety of drinks. The cortado I ordered was very good. Also, there is a location in Philadelphia now by the name of Konditori!

5. Win Win Coffee Bar. Philadelphia, PA

 Win Win Coffee Bar. Philadelphia, PA.

Win Win Coffee Bar. Philadelphia, PA.

Whether you have time to kill before a night at Union Transfer, or you're just looking for a coffee shop hangout, this is a good spot. Even if you're looking for bite to eat and a something stronger than espresso, Win Win still has your back. Win Win is both a coffee shop and a bar located on Spring Garden street.

4. Tommy's Cafe. Old Port Montreal, Canada.

 Tommy Cafe, Old Port Montreal. August/2017

Tommy Cafe, Old Port Montreal. August/2017

Tommy Cafe is probably one of the most unique coffee shops of the year, interior design-wise. I started my second day in Montreal by finding this place situated in an old bank building and next to Notre Dame Cathedral! Between the historic stone exterior, plant-filled interior, and beautiful latte art this place is definately a "must-visit" when looking for coffee shops in Montreal.

3. Kobrick Coffee. New York City, NY

Kobrick Coffee. New York City, September/2017

Located nearby the Highline in NYC, Kobrick Coffee is a cozy little coffee shop to stop for a refreshment. Whether you're fatigued from your walk on the High Line, looking to catch up with friends, or have some work you need to do the setting allows all of it. The people are nice and the coffee is good, too!

2. Vermont Artisan Coffee & Tea Co. Waterbury, Vermont.

 Cortado. Vermont Artisan Coffee Bar. August/2017

Cortado. Vermont Artisan Coffee Bar. August/2017

We left the Golden Brook Campground after our one night stay in Stowe, Vermont and headed to the Ben & Jerry's Factory. Only several minutes on the road though we spotted what looked like a farm building but it had coffee written on the side. So we stopped to check it out! As it turns out it is the Vermont Artisan coffee bar and coffee school. While we were there there was actually a lesson happening in which the head barista taught one of the girls about properly making espresso! The cortado I drank was also very tasty.

1. Nektar Cafeologue. Quebec City, Canada

 London Fog + Latte at Nektar Cafe, Quebec City, QC. August/2017

London Fog + Latte at Nektar Cafe, Quebec City, QC. August/2017

Any place that draws a happy face on my London fog, that also tastes excellent, is a winner in my book. We first saw Nektar cafe after leaving Korrigane brewpub but didn't stop in until after our walk up a big hill and back down. This is the only cafe I have been too who gave me a London Fog with artwork on it! Despite my realization that many of the best lattes taste-wise don't have the prettiest art, I'm a big fan of good latte art. Luckily at this coffee shop they do well in both departments!

Other great coffee hits from 2017:

Random Tea Room. Philadelphia, PA.

I know this isn't technically a coffee shop, but sometimes you just need a good cup of tea! Random Tea Room in Northern Liberties has every kind of you like and more.

Quaker City Coffee. Philadelphia, PA

Latte at Quaker City Coffee. Philadelphia, PA

Cafe Nocturne. Montreal, Canada

latte & Chai Latte at Cafe Nocturne. Montreal, Canada

Ellie's Bakery. Providence, RI.

Latte. Ellie's Bakery. Providence, RI. August/2017

Bibble & Sip. New York City.

Lavender Latte, Bibble & Sip, NYC

Rival Bros. Philadelphia, PA

Latte at Rival Bros Coffee.

Old City Coffee. Philadelphia, PA

 Latte at Old City Coffee. Philadelphia.

Latte at Old City Coffee. Philadelphia.

Burlap and Bean. Newtown Square, PA.

Latte at Burlap and Bean, Newtown Square, PA


Gryphon Cafe. Wayne, PA.

 Cortado at Gryphon Cafe. Wayne, PA.

Cortado at Gryphon Cafe. Wayne, PA.

Gryphon is definately not a newly-discovered coffee shop as I've been going there since before I drank coffee. However, I did consume my first cortado in early 2017 at Gryphon Cafe in Wayne. Like everything they have here, the cortado was delicous.

#2017CanadianRoadtrip: Hiking the Montmorency Falls

Today, we went to see the Montmorency Falls (aka the other big Canadian Waterfall). We hiked up the top of the falls to cross the bridge going across it. On the way up though we paused to watch a few of thrill seekers zipline across the falls! Yes, that's right, you can zipline across the Montmorency Falls. You have to sign a bunch of papers in the visitors center before you can get the gear; when we walked into the visitors center it looked like people applying for a bank loan as we looked in one room. But we had enough fun just watching the zipliners.

After we walked the bridge stretching across the top of the falls, we found our way to the stairway going all the way down to the bottom of the falls. We walked down the stairs, got soaked by the mist as the waterfall slammed into the water the bottom. Then on the way back up the stairs we both counted the steps - approximently 437 total!

After a few hours we successfully made back to our starting point. Realizing we haven't actually eaten anything yet today (and just hiked for 2 hours in the hot summer sun) we found a Starbucks nearby so we could use their wifi and find a restaurant. We found a place called Bistro Evolution located in across a different bridge in Levis.

The food was amazing! We got an appetizer and two entrees to split between the two of us.

After filling our empty bellies with this delicious meal we drove through the town of Levis, but we couldn't actually find much a town so we headed back to Quebec centerville for the night.

Head over to 2017CanadianRoadtrip-day7-afterthehike to see all the photos from 2nd half of this day!

#2017CanadianRoadtrip: Day 7 After the Hike!

After driving around the "old" section of Quebec for what felt like hours we finally managed to find a parking spot! We walked through the streets of this historic part of the city for a bit and at some point realized that we were only just on the other side of Notre Dame from where we started day one in Quebec City. haha.

One of the several crowds watching a street performer. (above)

Some of the pretty views and intriguing sights we saw during our stroll through the historic Quebec City streets, at sundown.

The Falls-46.jpg

We found out that Quebec City has a little cable car just like the one we went on in Pittsburgh, Pa. We didn't go on this one though, but I highly recommend you go for a ride on either or both if you ever get the chance.

After walking for a while we began looking for a good place to stop for dinner/late night snack, and we were hoping to find somewhere that may have traditional music. We ended up in an Irish Pub on the main street (actually we were almost right next door to the very first cafe we went to our first morning) and shared a small four cheese pizza. This pub did have live music beginning at 9:30pm and while it wasn't necessarily the traditional music we were hoping for, the young French/Canadian singer-songwriter turned out to be quite good!

Quebec City at Night

#2017CanadianRoadtrip: First day of exploring in Quebec City!

It rained all night and into the morning. Once the rain began to lighten up we left the tent and went to check in at the office; since we arrived last night after the office had already closed. We got connected to the campgrounds wifi and got our directions into the center of Quebec City and were off to explore for the day!

When we got to downtown Quebec City we found a nice cafe to start at for our morning latte and crossiant.

After our morning coffee stop we spent a couple hours walking through the streets of central Quebec City. We walked up to Notre Dame and actually went in to see the inside this time; I think this was the third Notre Dame Cathedral I've seen but the first time I've seen the insides. There was a service going on at the time so we just stood in back for a bit (with the other tourists) to admire the architecture and design.

We walked down the hill through some small cobblestone streets (there's a lot of cobblestone in this section). At the bottom of the hill there is a wall and when we peeked over there was another town and river! It is a very nice view (see the first photo below).

Streets of Quebec City

After a couple hours of walking through the streets I found a nice microbrewery called Korrigane's. It is just on the other side of Rue Dorchester from the center of Quebec City and I highly recommend going! We shared a flight of their beers to try a bunch of them and got our first real Canadian poutine. The Poutine was amazingly delicious (better than many other poutines I'm sure we could have gotten instead). Their beer is very good as well. At the time when we were there (early August) they weren't selling it to-go or anywhere outside the pub. However, they had just managed to get their license to sell growlers so they may have started (or will start soon) to sell it to-go!

Poutine + a flight of beers (Mobile photo: Samsung Galaxy s5 + VSCO)

After our enjoyable meal/snack at the brewpub we went for another walk. First walking on the street the brewpub is on so we could see what this neighborhood section is like. There was a book shop that we looked in, and I purchased a book that has both the English and French! There was a bakery and another coffee shop. An old theater that look very pretty on the outside. And several other shops that looked interesting. We then decided to tackle the giant hill to go searching for a different coffee shop I found online. We had a very nice walk up the hill and through the residential streets, looking at the cute houses.

Unfortunately, after walking up the hill and up about 100+ steep steps we got the coffee shop just as it was closing :( So we decided to go back down the hill (and steps) to Cafe Nektar, the coffee shop we saw across from the brewpub. I liked this little cafe. I had a London Fog (Earl grey latte) and they sprinkled a bit of cinnamon on top in the form of a smiley face! No other coffee shop I've been to has ever given me London fog art!

Mobile Photo: Samsung Galaxy s5

While enjoying these lovely drinks we took advantage of having an outlet and reliable wifi to find a restaurant for dinner tonight. After doing some Google searches we found a place called "Le Billig" that look like an excellent place to eat. And it was definitely was delicious! (not just because of all the stairs and hills we climbed throughout the day either). Le Billig is a little creperie restaurant. I had a crepe with feta, spinach, olives, and a poached egg! While the dessert crepes sounded delicious as well, we opted to do something different for dessert (if any thing at all).

After eating, we went back to the campground to relax for the night. We have an excited day tomorrow so stay tuned!


#2017CanadianRoadtrip: 36 hours in Montreal!

When we woke up on the morning of day 4 we left Ivy Lea for Montreal; it is about a 2 hour drive between the 1000 Islands and Montreal. Our arrival in Montreal was midafternoon and our first stop was to find wifi in order to find a place to eat. We were able to go into a train station where we connected to McDonald's wifi and did a quick Google search for what is in downtown Montreal. Although places were coming up we really did not have much of a sense for where things were yet so we decided we would go find a real parking spot and see what's around. However, as we were paying for parking it began raining and then began down pouring along with thundering (possibly one of the hardest downpours I've been in). So, we ran into a mall that was a couple blocks from where we parked and used the opportunity to connect to Starbucks wifi and found a pub to eat in (once the rain settled down).

We ventured back outside and found the 3 Brasseurs (microbrewery) only a few blocks away. I tried their pulled pork sandwich (on a baguette) while my mom had the goat cheese sandwich. Both were very delicious!

While eating we able to connect to their wifi and find a place to spend the night; this was our first of two hotel stays during the trip.

Hotel Brossard, Montreal, QC (Mobile Photo: Samsung Galaxy s5 + VSCO

Old Montreal

Statues of Montreal

Walking through the Old Port of Montreal

Old Port Montreal is super cool and very nice. We walked through the small cobblestone streets while looking at historical and beautiful buildings. We saw the Notre Dame Cathedral and peeked inside one other old cathedral (pictured above).

There are so many little cafes that looked so cute as we walked by, but we decided to stop in to La Fripe for a snack and drink. We shared their anchovy pizza (which was delicious) and I had a smoked ale called Raftman to drink.

The morning of day two began back in Old Port at Tommy Cafe.

Tommy Cafe, in Old Port of Montreal (Mobile Photo: Samsung Galaxy s5 + VSCO)

Tommy Cafe, in Old Port of Montreal (Mobile Photo: Samsung Galaxy s5 + VSCO)

After finishing our beautiful lattes and tasty crossiants we drove across the city to find the Atwater Market (Marche Atwater).

 Marche Atwater

Marche Atwater

Atwood Market is a very nice market and sits in a super nice area. Just outside the market is a little canal and a beautiful bike trail running alongside it.

Once we finished exploring the Atwater Market area we started driving towards Little Italy to see that section of Montreal. However, as we drive boul. St. Laurent I spotted some big murals on the walls of buildings. So we pulled over and I ran around like a kid in a candy store taking photos of every piece of street art or mural I could find in a 2 block radius of the car.

Cafe Nocturne - boul. St Laurent, Montreal, QC

After I found a sufficient amount of murals, we stopped at Cafe Nocturne for a coffee and Chai before continuing on through Little Italy and finally heading further north to Quebec City.

Halfway through the drive from Montreal to our campground in Quebec City is a town (or city?) called Trois Rivieres (Three River). We stopped there for dinner. While circling the Three Rivers downtown looking for parking we spotted a little place called Le Buck. So once we finally found a place to park we went to eat at Le Buck and it was all super delicious. Also, our waiter literally translated the french menu for us since they had run out of their English menus.

When we got there the waiter informed us that there was only 1 or 2 of the brownie dessert left, so before we even knew what we were having for dinner we ordered the last brownie to go. And if you look at the photo below you will see why we did this :)

Peanut Brownie w/salted carmel sauce from Le Buck in Trois Rivieres - Mobile Photo (Samsung galaxy s5)

Now that we have dessert taken care of I'll show you what we ate for dinner at Le Buck. My mom and I shared a couple of dishes so we could try more things; including a fancy crabcake and a cous cous dish.

Once we finished our delicious meal at Le Buck we continued onto Camping Juneau, where we are staying for our days in Quebec City, Canada.