Archive for May 20th, 2011

May 20, 2011

The Drake spins out more fun – Lemonade Stand, Summer School and Trivia

Lemonade Stand at the DrakeThe Drake Hotel is a favourite spot for a lot of us in Toronto — not least of all because it never stands still. For the May long weekend they’ve debuted their Lemonade Stand on the always-fun Sky Yard patio. You can order up a Lavender Lemonade ($11), which includes Sobieski vodka, lavender syrup and lemonade, as part of the “Summer School” program that encourages the sort of behaviour that might have landed you in summer school back in the day. With the weather warming up, sort of, things will be packed up on the second deck as usual. Catch you there over the weekend.

Lavender Lemonade from the Drake

Lavender Lemonade from the Drake

And here’s my story that ran in the Toronto Star a couple of weeks back about the Drake Trivia Night on Wednesdays.


What stumps Toronto’s trivia guy is a question that most pertains to him: How big will his competition grow?

Each Wednesday since August, Terrance Balazo has set up his laptop in a booth at the Drake Hotel reserved for DJs and prepared to unleash 30 or so questions on a suspecting audience. Within the past eight weeks, Trivia Night at the Drake has been sold out three times, with close to 200 people filling the hotel’s lounge restaurant to capacity. A March edition in the middle of Canadian Music Fest brought in the largest audience yet, according to the host. Participants pay $2 each and most play in teams of two to four, answering questions that range from the obscure (what country’s flag is entirely green?) to Balazo’s version of Name That Tune, which will test your sanity as well as your recall, and queries tied to hilarious visual clips (watching William Shatner speaking in Esperanto in a scene from “Incubus” was better comedy than Charlie Sheen provided in Toronto recently).

“I’m surprised how full it is every week,” says Balazo, who is also an actor and the artistic director of Cow Over Moon Children’s Theatre. “I don’t think the kind of night it is is what people go to the Drake for traditionally.”

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May 20, 2011

5 Vienna travel tips

St Stephens Cathedral in Vienna

The 137-metre spire of St. Stephen's Cathedral towers over the old city in Vienna.

VIENNA — The capital of Austria is one gorgeous, well-managed place and it’s easy to get around here. You don’t have to be a seasoned traveler to find Vienna comfortable and accommodating. Here are some tips for your trip that may make it more enjoyable than you expect:

  1. Explore the old and new city. Like just about every European city, Vienna features a beautiful historic centre with spectacular architecture and a towering church spire looming over everything. Still, to really see what makes it special, you’ll want to get away from the crowds outside of St. Stephen’s Cathedral and beyond the Ring Road, which circles the old city. The new part of Vienna is filled with cool stores, innovative restaurants and fantastic bars. Check out Schon Schön, Max and Bar a.m.
  2. Save on transit. Vienna has an expansive and diverse public transit system that includes an underground Metro, buses and streetcar/tram system. There’s a quirk that says you have to pay 2.20 euros if you buy your ticket on a tram or bus, but if you purchase an advance ticket it’s only 1.80 euros. You can get those advance tickets at “Vorverkauf” (“advance tickets”) kiosks in the Metro stations and at some tram stops. Also, if you’re traveling on the transit system for only one or two stops, you can buy a “half-price ticket” for just 1.10 euros. Visitors can purchase unlimited-travel passes for a number of time periods; for 24 hours it costs 5.70 euros and for 72 hours it’s 13.60 euros, and you can even get an eight-day ticket (27.20 euros). Thing is, Vienna is so easy to walk — and walking is always the best way to see a city — that you may not need to take transit more than twice a day, if at all, meaning you can stick to the advance tickets and save, or simply opt to stay on foot. When you want to travel to the outskirts of the city, you can purchase a 24-hour pass that can get you to Schönbrunn Palace and Grinzing in one day.
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May 20, 2011

The Daily J.P. Arencibia to Cooperstown Watch, Game 43: Win one for Ryley

JP Arencibia homers for Ryley James Martin

JP Arencibia homers for Ryley James Martin on Thursday.

J.P. Arencibia not only made his good buddy Ricky Romero a winner on Thursday night, he got us all to remember winning on the diamond isn’t everything. Arencibia and Romero dedicated the Jays’ 3-2 victory over Tampa Bay to Ryley James Martin, a 2½-year-old Oshawa boy who passed away on Wednesday after battling leukemia.

Arencibia and Romero had met Ryley on April 2 for 15 minutes when he had the chance to visit the team in the dugout at the ’Dome. After hitting a two-run, seventh-inning home run off of Tampa Bay starter Wade Davis, Arencibia cried.

“I shed a few tears after that home run because it was for him,” Arencibia told reporters after the game while holding a photo of him and Ryley together. “It’s killing me. I have nieces and nephews, and anytime something like that happens, it’s tough.”

Later, on his Twitter feed, Arencibia kindly and thoughtfully wrote: “Great win but its a game … We played this game for one person tonight RJM! RIP little buddy! Will never forget that smile!”

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