Without too much research, finding a great dining experience in San Francisco is not difficult. We started with lunch at Puccini and Pinetti where I enjoyed simple spaghetti and meatballs done perfectly. For dinner we walked about a half hour to Town Hall for our 8 pm reservation. We were able to be seated immediately at 7:30...off to a good start. Drinks were ordered but took more than a half hour to arrive as our waitress was much too busy working the wine-tasting table next to ours to bother too much with us. Josh ordered three appetizers which took another 30 minutes to reach our table. Strike 2! When dinner finally appeared, it was outstanding! I had the fried chicken but couldn't finish the sides because we had stuffed ourselves with the appetizers and bread because of the long wait.We still managed to have an enjoyable evening despite the service issues. If I could only get that fried chicken somewhere closer to home with great service! Breakfast the next morning was another good experience. Lori's was just up the block from the hotel, past the restaurant with a half hour or more line in front. It's an old San Francisco diner, just the ticket before our drive back down the peninsula. Very cool interior without seeming to try to hard.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Thanks to the generosity and love of our two wonderful kids/stepkids, Jenny and Josh (and Tyler), we spent a lovely 24 hours in the City by the Bay, poshly accomodated in the Westin Saint Francis on Union Square. We enjoyed an Italian lunch, great food and terrible service in the Financial District, and a classic breakfast at a retro diner near the hotel. A great way to start the Christmas holidays. All photographs taken with the Sony RX 100 3.
Monday, December 22, 2014
Our third stop on the Baltic Cruise was Saint Petersburg, traditionally a two-night stopover on most Baltic cruises. Two other couples and Margaret and I decided to take advantage of the extra day and booked the most expensive excursion possible on this cruise, an early morning drive to the airport and about 13 hours in Moscow, before taking the one-hour hop back to our ship. It was an amazing day for all of us, but as a cold-war era child and avid reader of spy novels my entire life, Moscow held a certain attraction that I can't explain. It has always been mysterious, somewhat evil, dark, and unknown, and a destination I never thought I'd get to. We arrived in the midst of a heat wave, and hundreds of Russians died from the heat as the summer wore on. Thirteen hours in Moscow is nothing but the chance to see some major sights, take a ride on the fantastic Metro system, have beef stroganoff in a nice restaurant, be amazed by Red Square, and visit the Kremlin and its wonderful museum. Oh yeah, we sat in horrendous traffic for over a half hour at one light. Just incredible. This was a day I will remember for a long time. Nice to share it with the Nigels and the Georges (especially Sue and Julie).
Saturday, December 20, 2014
I'm breaking away from the Baltic for a bit because of the announcement from President Obama that diplomatic relations with Cuba will be resumed after over 50 years of a failed US policy. As a three-time visitor to this beautiful and confusing island, I welcome the news that will benefit both US and Cuban interests, especially, I hope, for the Cuban people who have been the ones suffering as a result of the intractable policies of both countries. I also fear the McDonaldization of the country, like many who have visited and appreciate the special nature of Cuba. Zero advertising. Nothing commercial anywhere, although there are numerous anti-US propaganda signs and posters. It would be wonderful if Cuba could come into the 20th century without being ruined by capitalists, but it doesn't seem possible. We've got to go back before it changes too much.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Our third stop was Helsinki. I think I saw less of this city than the previous two. We took a bus from the ship into the city and started walking. This we did for more than a few hours. Ladies walking in a nice park, a drunk sleeping it off, a very appetizing food market by the harbor, Russian female athletes shopping at the market, and some architecture from a very old stone church that proved less than it was touted to be. A "must-see" said the travel books. We also took a boat ride out to one of the nearby islands. A nice excursion but meh....For me, Helsinki was underwhelming but, to be fair, another casualty of the cruise.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
The day after leaving Copenhagen, we found ourselves, upon awakening, in the Stockholm Archipelago (bottom photo), steaming towards the capitol. We walked through Gamla Stan and stopped at the Absolut Stockholm Icebar. I notice I've selected two bicycle shots here, as well as one from the previous post in Copenhagen. Tells you something about these respective cities. Once again, not nearly enough time to do the city justice as far as forming some sort of lasting impression. Just a glimpse really. The nearly five hour sail through the archipelago, however, was worth it.
Our first visit to Scandanavia was made in 2010 on a cruise. Not a bad way to travel, but one doesn't get to spend much time in any one place. It was fun to go to bed and wake up in an entirely new country, at least new to me. Doing photography on a cruise involves certain workarounds, such as not having the best light nor the chance to do night photography. I try to move from cinematic shots, wide-angle overviews, to close ups of details I find interesting and perhaps give a sense of place to the shots. Beer is often something that can tell the viewer where a picture might have been taken. The shot at the bottom leaves little doubt since there is a sign advertising the Copenhagen Jazz Festival. The photograph above that one is of Microsoft's Paul Allen's mega-yacht, the Octopus. The crew wouldn't even tell us who owned it, but Nigel was wearing a Washington State Cougar cap and a crewman did give him a hint. I enjoyed Copenhagen, but it's not on my must-see-more list. Clearly, I don't have too much to go on. A hazard of cruising for sure.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
When the weather turns ugly, like it has today, I think back to almost exactly three years ago and a trip to my friend Dave Goeddel's house in Cabo. The weather was spectacular, the golf unparalled, and the camraderie just as good. These photographs are detail shots of Dave's house, which recently took a big hit in the hurricane which ravaged the entire area. Here's hoping it can be restored to its prior condition.
This is maybe my favorite photograph from Essaouira. It reminds me of the crumbling streets of Havana, but far removed in both miles and culture. My friend Nigel will no doubt appreciate my continued fascination with, in this case, doors. I've been in the photographic doldrums of late, what with the current weather and the previous lack of motivation as well as inertia. Anyhow, I like this photograph a lot.