Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

SF Day Two

June 29, 2017

After a very active day yesterday, A. (six) slept in until nine!  Don’t think he’s ever done that before. Had a great breakfast at the Church Street Cafe, where the espresso drinks are labeled Fancy Drinks on the menu.  Then my brother’s son, Ian, joined us (taking the day off from work) to go to the Exploratorium.  According to Wikipedia:

The Exploratorium is a public learning laboratory in San Francisco exploring the world through science, art, and human perception. Its mission is to create inquiry-based experiences that transform learning worldwide.

It used to be housed in the cavernous—and very empty—Palace of Fine Arts, which was once part of the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in Golden Gate Park.  Took my kids there many years ago.  Now it’s on Pier 15 along San Francisco’s Embarcadero.  We took a trolley to get there.  They run up and down Market Street, the Embarcadero, and Fisherman’s Wharf, and are restored vintage trolleys from all over the world.  (See these pictures: streetcars.)

A. had another pal now, and the two of them dashed around from exhibit to exhibit while my brother and I lagged behind, reading some of the text.  (The purpose of the interactive exhibits, of course, if to learn why something happens.)

Here are A. and Ian in a parabolic mirror, and (right) watching their slow motion video.  Then my strobe light photo, and Ian taking a photo of his.

 

Next, my brother viewing his stop-action photo, the water drop image of him upside down.

We ate lunch at the SeaGlass Restaurant there, the sushi chef (at left in this photo from their website) making a dish for me and A.  Ian got a nice vegetarian dish (which could have been Mexican, as he and his girlfriend had spent six months in Mexico City last year).  Forgot what my brother got, but it included french fries.

We continued dashing about, until the dissection of a cow’s eye, where we sat, upstairs, and which was very interesting.  Can’t even start to relate all of the exhibits we saw, but we were there for over five hours.

Then we had to catch a trolley back to The Castro to meet Ian’s girlfriend, J., for dinner.  First trolley too full for the four of us to squeeze on.  The next one, just as crowded, didn’t bother to stop.  So we thought to hail a cab.  Only two went by us, and they were full.  Finally Ian called an Uber driver.   Then we were caught in rush hour traffic (which is why a trolley would have been better, but the next one was in half-an-hour).  Were twenty minutes late for our six o’clock reservation.  Luckily they held the table at Pauline’s Pizza.  (Homegrown ingredients go into the pies & salads at this family-friendly pizzeria with a wine room.)  Ian and J. are vegetarians, so we all split two pizzas, one with a Salted Meyer Lemon Puree, blueberries, mint, and goat cheese (yummy!), the other asparagus, kale, and something else that was green (the Green of the Day?).  Plus nice wines.  We walked back to our motel and A. got to bed a bit late.

Had to get up early for the drive to the Oakland airport.  A. and I had our breakfast there.  Had our lunch (not much, as we were still full!) in Los Angeles, then the final flight home.  (No delays!)  What a nice week.

https://www.exploratorium.edu/

San Francisco with a Six-Year-Old

June 27, 2017

On Thursday my brother, my grandson, A., and I drove into San Francisco.  We went immediately to the The California Academy of Sciences.  (For you other architects, LEED Platinum status.)  These quotes from their website.

…a renowned scientific and educational institution dedicated to exploring, explaining, and sustaining life on Earth.  Based in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, it is home to a world-class aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum—all under one living roof.

Keeping a six-year-old on track was a bit difficult, but we zipped about, and saw most of the museum except for the living roof.

We walked under the four-story living rainforest, which is a section of the aquarium.

The Steinhart Aquarium is one of the most advanced and biologically diverse aquariums in the world, home to the world’s deepest indoor living coral reef, an albino alligator, …a shark lagoon and more than 38,000 live animals representing over 900 species.

The aquarium was a big hit, especially where they allowed the kids to touch (just with two fingers) the sea stars.  I liked the jellyfish.  A. took lots of photos with the phone his mom had lent him.  And he learned how to focus and enlarge.

Even the lunch there was great. A. wanted sushi, and, it being California, I figured it was very fresh. We split a pack.

We watched the feeding of the African penguins, but A. wasn’t interested in the dioramas of African landscapes and animals in the Kimball Natural History Museum, because the animals were stuffed.

We walked up to the top of the four-story Osher Rainforest, housed in a 90-foot glass dome and teeming with life from some of the most biodiverse places on Earth—from… free-flying birds and butterflies to enormous Amazonian fish.
(Photo of dome from zoochat.com, which has a lot of information.)

Snakes such as the Madagascar leaf-nosed snake were fun because they hid in plain sight (photo Wikipedia).  Also geckos, chameleons, and the tiny poison dart frogs.  (These were all in separate terrariums.)

The whale and dinosaur bones were no big deal, nor the minerals.  But we went into the Earthquake Shake House to experience San Francisco’s two biggest quakes—the 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake [1989, which my brother was in] and the 7.9-magnitude Great San Francisco quake of 1906.  That was fun, and informative.

And when we started to lag, we sat for half an hour learning about asteroids and comets in the newest planetarium show.  The Morrison Planetarium

…is home to one of the largest and most advanced all-digital domes in the world. The Academy’s Visualization Studio produces award-winning original planetarium shows that tell stories about faraway galaxies—and our home planet Earth—using scientific data to depict the most current discoveries.

Note: A. said this was the best day, possibly because we went to the gift shop and he spent his $20 on a Plasma Ball, which shall be a great nightlight for someone who doesn’t like the dark, in addition to being fun to play with.

A. requested clams for dinner, so we went to an excellent but tiny fish restaurant, the Anchor Oyster Bar.  My brother doesn’t even like fish, but he’s cool, and had a shrimp dinner.  It’s walking distance from Becks Motor Lodge in The Castro district, where we were staying, because it is reasonable, right on a trolley line, and has free parking.

Kinda sorry that we missed the 47th annual Pride Parade, as it was on Sunday, and we left on Saturday. (These photo two of many from sfgate.com.)  Would have been an eye-opener for a six-year-old.

Water

June 27, 2017

Other than my daughter’s pool, not much water around here.  So my brother and I (his wife has just had knee surgery) took A. to the creek one day, to play with a small sailboat.

The next day we went to One of the Most Deadly Beaches in California, Jenner Beach.  The Russian River runs into the Pacific there, where harbor seals raise their young.  Obviously we did not go into the water at the beach, but made an intricate sand castle.

On the way back we stopped to watch a paraglider on Goat Rock, but he wasn’t airborne, so no photo. Here are two from my last time at that beach:

 

When we made a stop at Whole Foods to buy a few items for the evening’s hot pot, A. chose clams!  Not sure he had ever had them before, and my sister-in-law had never cooked them before, but for dinner he ate six of the eight!

Cazadero 2017

June 27, 2017

Visited my brother and his wife in California with my six-year-old grandson, A.  Had a fun time flying a week ago Sunday.  The family dropped us up at the airport; an hour-and-a-half later, when we were supposed to be boarding, we were told that the plane was broken (crack in windshield), and we’d have to wait four hours for another plane.  (This being summer in Tucson, there were only two other planes at the airport, both full of people escaping the heat.)

So… called my daughter, 45 minutes away.  They had to get their daughter, B., to the airport in the afternoon to catch a plane to visit her grandfather, so they drove back and we had a Mexican lunch in South Tucson.  Then back to the airport, where the whole family got to go to the gate, as my granddaughter is under 13, flying unaccompanied.  What a great Father’s Day at the airport my son-in-law had!  (The loud family – as in SNL – was next to us – four kids, the two-year-old screaming.  A. stared, unbelieving.)  After B. left, A. and I still had two hours until our flight to Salt Lake City, where we were to change planes.  The SLC airport was fun – moving walkways!  For dinner,during our two-hour layover, we ate the PB&J sandwiches my daughter had packed for our lunch.  (A young woman in a lightweight backless white top – a very lacy pink bra showing totally in back, and jeggings.  With her a young man with one full sleeve of tattoos, curly hair past his shoulders, and a camouflage baseball cap on backwards.)

At the last minute, a flight delay to CA of half-an-hour was announced. We didn’t leave until 10:30 pm.  Did I mention that my grandson is six?  He watched two movies on his Kindle, a power cord connected to a power pole between seats.  I had called my brother twice to keep him apprised of the situation.  He greeted us at 11:15 in Oakland, and we still had a two-and-a-half hour drive to northern Sonoma.

This was Delta airlines, whose entire computer system had gone out two weeks ago.  Flying is so much fun.  (Or why can’t someone invent a transporter?)

Monday we went geocaching.  (See this blog from Idaho re geocaching: geocaching.)

We couldn’t open the first box we found, so, “thinking it was not the cache”, we crossed the bridge, skidded down a hillside, waded across the shallow river and climbed back up the “cliff” under the bridge.  Tried the box again and got it opened.  Did two more locations on the interactive map.  A. got a Smoky the Bear pin for his brother and a “diamond” ring for his mom.  He traded them for Prized Items he had found in Uncle Grandpa Dick’s workroom.

BTW – it was 89° there and 113° in Tucson that day.

Berlin Day One

June 2, 2017

Sunday May 28, 2017

Took a sleeping pill just before dinner last night, and don’t even remember eating the dessert. While the lights dimmed and I was changing into my pj’s, the stews made up my bed, not only the seat fully flat, but a lovely comforter (down?) in a duvet cover to snuggle into, and the partitions raised to five feet for privacy.  Great breakfast, each ordered individually, with hot washcloths served before the meal, as last night.

Gained nine hours.

Horrible jetlag when I got to the hotel, due perhaps to too much wine at a high altitude.  Instead of dinner, went right to bed and slept through until morning. Missed “one of the best meals” and a fabulous guest speaker, but everyone said that the room was stifling hot. Guess not many buildings here are air conditioned, and global warming is sneaking up on them.

Oh – must tell you why I’m here.  It’s an art tour with CAS (the Contemporary Art Society) from TMA (the Tucson Museum of Art). You may remember that I went to Cuba1 with them, as well as the Venice Art Biennale2.

1https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/cuba-day-1/
2https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/verona-wednesday-june-12/

Pre-Berlin

June 2, 2017

Saturday, May 27, 2017

I am  chortling as I write this.  Got a call from American Airlines this morning. Supposed to be flying AA, then British Airways to Berlin, but BA’s entire computer system has gone kablooy.  So got rescheduled earlier on Lufthansa. My daughter was at work, and my son-in-law at the gym, but he left and picked me up 15 minutes later.  (Laundry just out of the dryer!)  Got to the airport by 11am for a 12:12 flight.  TSA, so I got through expedited baggage check without having to take off my shoes.  But here’s the punch line: they had to put me in first class!  On the flight to Chicago, while those in steerage got crackers and soda, I had an appetizer of sliced artichoke heats with cherry tomatoes stuffed with a lovely cheese, a tabbouleh salad, a pretzel roll, vegetable lasagne (not very good, but then my son makes the best with homemade noodles!), and a chocolate mousse with raspberries for dessert. I decided against wine for lunch and had club soda with a slice of lime, in a real glass. In Chicago sat in Lufthansa’s Club drinking wine and eating nuts with three other women in our group, who had also been rerouted, rather than the buffet.

So now I’m in a first class section with only ten huge seats.  The seat has nine different adjustments (including flat, which I plan to use).  We were offered champagne (2003 Cuvee Louise, Champagne Pomery, Frankreich) and macadamia nuts.  (I had orange juice.)  We were given pajamas (!) with an apology that they’re women’s but one size fits all.  Plus night socks and slippers, and a makeup case with miscellaneous toiletries.  There is a fresh long-stemmed red rose in a vase next to my TV screen.  The flight atttendants are obsequious, but the pilot speaks first in German (which always makes me think of Dr. Strangelove), then English.

For dinner I shall have a 2011 Barolo Cerequio, Michele Chiarlo, Italien, cavier “with the traditional garnishes”, seared beef filet and lump crab with bernaise sauce, asparagus, baby carrots and whipped potatoes, a hazelnut pot de creme for dessert, and possibly a Niepoort Portwein LBV.

Leaving the Aegean

July 4, 2016

Note: do not fly Air Berlin (a partner of American Airlines, whose frequent flyer miles I was using) in economy.  You can’t make your seat reservation until 30 hours before takeoff.  That was a bit of a problem, since that would have been at 4:30am two days before I left, for the first flight.  Really didn’t want a center seat.  I hadn’t gotten a sim card for my phone, and on the boat the wifi was iffy.  But after breakfast Maria and Heinrich got the wifi working and booked the seats for me for the first two flights.  When I arrived in Munich I had to make my seat arrangements for the flight across the Atlantic.

Also: I had enough frequent flyer miles with AA for business class but pretty much was told that to use them I would have had to book about a year in advance!  I never think that far ahead, so I’m going to ditch the credit card that gives me the AA miles and get one that just gives me cash back.  Plus it took an AA agent on the phone over an hour helping me to book with my miles, just for economy.  Hence circuitous routes.

I was the first to leave of our group. Had breakfast on the boat before the drive to the airport in Rhodes. First two flights we got a drink and either “salty or sweet”. Potato chips first flight, to Munich, apple at the airport, chocolate on the next plane, to Düsseldorf. (Admittedly, I had overeaten in Greece, so was still not hungry.) People kept speaking to me in German, as if I looked like I lived there.

Through a cool drizzle, to a hotel right next to the airport, the Maritime Hotel Düsseldorf, for an overnight.  The AC was turned way down, and the air had that clean feel of no humidity.  There was a down comforter.  I abstained from dinner and went right to sleep.  (This was the first time in two weeks that I had not had to deposit the toilet paper in a separate receptacle, an adjustment.)  Got up very early and walked to the airport early as I had to submit my bags to Customs. I waited in four different lines at the airport. High security. No problem with the cheese, but I was asked to take out the sculpture (in my carry-on), and they swabbed it and checked it for various chemicals.

Fortunately I had enough time for a chocolate croissant and a latte. Plane to Fort Myers, Florida only half full so scored five seats across in the center, but then couldn’t sleep (not only has the width of the plane seats decreased, but the depth has too, to about 18″, not exactly couch width – and German seats are smaller than American seats), especially as the flight attendants came by with a snack and two meals, and it was daytime for me. But granted, all of the (tiny) seats have individual screens. Watched a Tarantino film, three Game of Thrones reruns, then for fun a James Bond. Had two Kindle books on my tablet, but no recharge for the battery in economy.

Luckily I had bought a paperback in Rhodes, so had something to read on the next two planes, to Chicago and to Tucson. When I boarded that last plane, they announced that Tucson was 115°.  By the time I arrived, at 9:30 pm, the temperature has gone down to 100°.  What a welcome home.

Aegean Day 14

July 4, 2016

Rhodes

IMG_6428Note: The medieval walled city of Rhodes has been on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites since 1988.

IMG_6432We started the day with the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes. IMG_6437 The castle has a mishmash of ancient art. A couple of the guys have formed the AFM club, or maybe it’s the ABM (Another Bloody Museum) club.  They’re the tag-alongs.  A detail of one of the intricate mosaics. (Notice the stairs. We have climbed a lot of stairs.)

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This mosaic depicts the great scene of the creation of [the island of] Nisyros. [During the Battle of the Gods and Giants] Poseidon [God of the Sea] is chasing the giant Polyvotis [on the left] and in a few seconds will hit his trident on the island of Kos, will get a piece and throw it at the latter. Mother Earth (Gaia), goddess Athena [who leaped from the head of Zeus, already adult, dressed with her armor] and Nike [the Winged Goddess of Victory] are watching the scene. Polyvotis will be buried at the bottom of the sea below the newly created island and every time he breaths the Nisyros’ volcano reacts!!! (per our guide Maria)

The muses:

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IMG_6435You may recognize this sculpture:

Laocoön, in Greek legend, a seer and a priest of the god Apollo… Laocoön offended Apollo by breaking his oath of celibacy and …by having sexual intercourse with his wife in Apollo’s sanctuary. Thus, while preparing to sacrifice a bull on the altar of the god Poseidon (a task that had fallen to him by lot), Laocoön and his twin sons… were crushed to death by two great sea serpents… sent by Apollo.

A much better-known reason for his punishment was that he had warned the Trojans against accepting the wooden horse left by the Greeks. This legend found its most famous expressions in Virgil’s Aeneid and in the Laocoön statue (now in the Vatican Museum)… The statue was for a time in the palace of the Emperor Titus. After its rediscovery during the Renaissance, it regained its exalted reputation… https://www.britannica.com/topic/Laocoon-Greek-mythology

Next we walk along entirety of the enormous ramparts, show on this map in brown.

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IMG_6444There is a double wall with a huge moat.  You can see the whole city from the top.  On the left is the Old Town clock tower, in the center the tiled dome of St Georges Church, and on the right, a minaret of the Suleiman Mosque.

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IMG_6454After lunch we are on our own to take photos, shop, whatever.  Heinrich snaps my photo and takes me to a shop to buy a museum copy statue.  He didn’t think I ought to get this one, no doubt because, as sculpturean archeologist, he thought I ought to be accurate and get a museum replica of an item from the Dodecanese, since that’s we are, not the Cyclades, Modiglianianother group of islands off the coast of Greece.

It is the head of a canonical figurine from around 2800–2300 BC… Cycladic culture developed around 3000 BC and for over one thousand years produced sculptures that had a strong influence on modern artists such as Picasso, Modigliani, Brancusi and many more.1 And that’s why I liked it. Here is a sculpture by Modigliani, Head of a Woman, in our National Gallery.

That evening we have our farewell dinner on board, J gives a thank you and our tips to the crew members.

Summary of the trip: talks on archeology (an archeological museum on each island), mythology (which I had studied 50+ years ago), history (which I never knew), and architectural styles.  Tours of towns, archeological ruins and museums.  Lots of good food and wine, marvelous group of people, great conversation and lots of laughs.  An enjoyable time.

1http://www.thewestologist.com/arts/ancient-influence-on-modern-art

Aegean Day 13

July 4, 2016

Turkey

I overslept this morning, awakened by the breakfast bell.  Think that all of the wine (and masticha) after that gin and tonic at the kafeneio had done me in.

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In the morning we motor to a bay off Turkey. We can’t disembark to trek up to the best preserved fortification of the Hellenistic period (click on the above photo to see it at the top of the island) because we haven’t gotten our visas stamped. (Darn!) Only three of us get in the water as the strong breeze makes it difficult to swim back to the gulet. Half-a-dozen boats have dropped anchor. Two small outboard motor boats, filled with rugs, jewelry, scarfs, zip towards us, and the women, tying up to our craft, ask us in English if we’d like to buy.

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We’re a somnolent group, sitting with our books in our laps, contemplating the choppy waves and, after this afternoon and tomorrow on Rhodes, the fact that we shall be going home. Not sure anyone wants to, this has been in such an idyllic trip.

Rhodes

Our craft snuggles up with other boats in the crowded harbour, have our lunch and set of for an archeological museum, housed in the medieval Hospital of the Knights, a splendid building with a severe arcaded courtyard and a wide flight of stairs leading to a gallery which runs round three sides of the square. Almost the whole of the east side is occupied by the Infirmary Hall, surely one of the most wonderful rooms in Europe. Nearly a hundred meters long, it has a vaulted roof IMG_6404IMG_6403supported by arches springing from the seven pillars which divide the hall lengthwise… (The Companion Guide to the Greek Islands, by Ernle Bradford, one of the pile of reference books in the “library” onboard, opposite the bar.)

Marble sculptures.  Asclepius with his snake-entwined staff. Hygieia, his daughter (also with snake), who was the goddess/personification of health, cleanliness and hygiene.

Lots of gorgeous mosaics on the walls of an outdoors room, done in the pebble technique.  (Imagine gathering all of these pebbles, in different colours, all of the same size.)  These were removed from the floors they were on to display in the museum. (Click on them to enlarge.)

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Dinner on a roof-top patio. Wine (of course) and a wide variety of dishes. I never used to like dolmades, specifically the stuffed grape leaves, but am enjoying them as much as the fried cheese.

Aegean Day 12

July 3, 2016

Alinia

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In the morning we motored to a calm bay in Alinia, as the waves were getting a bit dicey. Swimming (I did a quick swim just to cool down, as there’s hardly a breeze), kayaking, paddle boarding, sunning. Many other boats coming and going, keeping the number at about eight, including a few full of rowdy swimmers, one sailboat all of the way from Australia, and two catamarans.

Symi

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After lunch another swim (that old rule forbidding swimming after eating has been thrown out), then we continue to the beautiful island of Symi with its lovely neoclassical port town, one of the prettiest sights in the Mediterranean. I don’t agree.  I think Chalki was prettier.  There are all sorts of fake details on the buildings here, such as these eyebrows over the windows, the pediments that don’t have an attic vent that have a fake circle painted there.  And the Corinthian pilasters.  And the dentils.  (IMG_6380Check out the light blue pediment on the front center yellow building in the right photo.)  Yeah, this is Greece and it’s supposed to have classical architecture, but this town is overdone for tourists.  At least the shutters shut!  (One of my beefs with so many American houses, shutters bolted down for ornamentation on ugly buildings.) I’m the sole proponent of form follows function in our group. But there were a couple of houses that I liked with shed roofs rather than the typical gable.  Nice contrast to all of the
folderol.

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We climb what seems like hundreds of stairs to an ancient wall and a view of the entire town and harbour and the humongous cruise ship. (Many people on such a ship say they’ve been to Greece, but never leave the boat, lucky for us, but the ship does obscure the view, until it leaves, with a lot of braying horns saying goodbye. There had been such a ship in Venice and I heard that the city was considering not allowing them as few of the passengers spend any money in town.)

A stop for drinks halfway down at a kafeneio, the patio covered by a grape arbor over what would be a street if it weren’t for all of the stairs, with children dashing past us, no couch potatoes here.

shellfishA quick stop at the boat to freshen up, then fish dinner along the noisy harbour, motorscooters, cars and small trucks sharing what looks like a one-lane road along the edge of our tables, and the boats beyond, crowded together with centimeters to spare. Lots of wine followed by a shot of masticha, made from tree sap on the island of Helios.