Archive of ‘City Info’ category

And Now, Some Classic San Diego

I am still almost 2 years behind in documenting my adventures. But, not for lack of adventure. San Diego is an incredible place, and I am so lucky to call it home. Here are some sunset shots taken at the San Diego Bay one warm July evening in 2015.

The Star of India, built 1863

From inside the Star of India

Sun fades into Point Loma


And the name of the mountain in the last post is…


8,251′ San Gabriel Mountains


Elephant Seals

Just off the Pacific Coast Highway, near San Simeon (about a 1 hour drive north of San Luis Obispo), you get to see some magnificent creatures.

They are the ELEPHANT SEALS.

And they have a distinctive call :)

Which can be quite loud.

Male elephant seals can grow to be 20 feet long and weigh up to 8,800 lbs.

They can hold their breath for up to 100 minutes.

And they sure look cute when flipping sand on themselves :)

Auf Wiedersehen, Villach

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Almost a year ago now, but I bid adieu to fair Villach in late August 2014. So much beauty! I did a grand tour by bike before leaving — the lakes, the city, the coffee machine that sold little sugary lattes ;) Here are some scenes from my last days to take it all in.

Lake Silbersee after a thunderstorm:

2014-08-24 09.26.58Daily bike path looking particularly impressive:

2014-08-24 10.48.47Einen Kaffee, bitte:

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And my dear buds, the SHEEP <3:

2014-08-22 04.16.312014-08-22 04.16.31-1Especially you.

Bohemian Castles and Bridges

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I did so much walking this whole trip! There is a metro in Prague, but I think I found it too much of an effort to figure out CZK currency and have the crown coins available to buy tix! Praha was the last stop on the 11-day voyage, and I was ready to browse and nibble and wander and view and sleep. My best views:

Prague Castle from the Charles Bridge
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View from Prague Castle
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Ze Most Intricate St. Vitus Cathedral atop Prague Castle
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Sunset at Charles Bridge with Prague Castle Yonder
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Church of Our Lady before Týn2014-08-18 05.12.00

I love you, grand adventure! From Prague, I took a 9-hour train back to Villach to finish up my 2014 European stay.

Take the Bus to Praha

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I fully recommend taking the bus from Berlin to Prague. Not a train. The bus. I think it cost €15, included a plush leather seat all to myself, offered movies, was super clean, and provided free hot chocolate. It was a fantastic travel experience. Prague is awesome. The clouds seem different there. Puffier and with cool dark purplish colors. Architecture is supacool. I think my accommodations merit a mention.

My room had a giant bed and another bed, which seems like a stroke of luck — maybe they were out of rooms in my discount hotel. The room offered wall art:

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Capstone painting of the room

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Hotel Brixen






The buildings were like so (like Budapest and Vienna):
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and like so (the Národní museum):
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More on the castle soon!

Il Arrive!

2014-08-14 14.51.45So, I barely made my train to catch my flight from Nice to Berlin. All because I forgot that stopping for “lunch” in France means:

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…and then this









followed by what would have been chocolate mousse, but wait…no…experience…memories …learning. Skipped it (with a tear) and ran to the station. I had purchased a ticket in advance. But when you use an American credit card, you can only pick up your ticket from a station agent. That line was 20 people deep, and the train was coming in 4 minutes. Getting all tense just remembering! I desperately inserted my card into the ticket machine. No go. Then stood in line indecisively. Tried another ticket machine. Ran around. Asked station agents what to do. They said, stand in line. Bah! Looked at my wallet. COINS?!? Ran to machine. Had the exact amount of change to get to Nice Saint Augustin. No more, no less. EURO COIN EURO COIN, clunk clink cluuuunk. Ran. Which quai? Doors close. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

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Au revoir, au revoir. Guten tag!2014-08-15 13.15.37

La Belle France

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Oh belle France, comment je vous aime! I chose to spend the biggest block of vacation time in France: 4 nights in Cannes. It was the first time in a few months I felt almost at home; I could finally understand what people around me were saying! I stayed in a cheap hotel not far from the beach. It’s hard to be very far from the beach in Cannes!

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Le Vieux port

Fancy people were all around. Check out the yachts above! They pull right up to the center city, right next to le Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, where the film festival is held.

One of my first excursions was au Musée de la Castre, which is at the top of a prominent hill in Cannes. This was built during the Middle Ages by the monks of Lérin. I crawled through a very cramped staircase to reach the top of the tower and take the photo shown at the top of this post and the one below. Cannes has these verdant rolling hills inland that nestle nicely with all the red roofs.

2014-08-13 06.47.30I had been to Nice before, but that was in the winter. Cannes in August was bliss. Things got a little muggy overnight, and I got many a mosquito bite in my hotel room, but otherwise it was perfect beach weather. Particularly a seaside heaven in the evening hours, the sun setting, and waves crashing on the rocks:

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On to Ankara!

2014-08-09 11.52.21For the flights from Vienna to Istanbul to Ankara, I did not have the best of luck. My first flight was delayed by almost 4 hours, I missed the connection, and stood in line for several hours in Istanbul trying to get re-booked. When I finally got my new flight, that one was delayed by several hours, so I didn’t arrive in Ankara until the early morning, about 4am. I got on a bus into the city and then into a confusing taxi ride where we could not understand each other, since not a word of English was spoken. I finally made it, and all was well!

I was in Ankara for a beautiful wedding, and the bride took such good care of me, even taking me around the city the day before her wedding! For lunch, I was spoiled with the following:

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Turkish kebap

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Rakı, the anise-flavored national alcoholic beverage








Afterwards, I rode the metro with a friend of the bride’s and was given a brief tour of Ankara, including the Ankara Castle. It was once under the control of the Romans and Byzantines!

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The castle had great views of the city, and was lovely at sunset. As the sun went down, you could hear the call to prayer and the chants reverberating cross-town:

Wien and the Start of an Epic 11-Day Voyage

Months have passed since the most epic travels of my year, so it is PAST DUE to tell the tales.

Between August 7th and August 18th, I went from Vienna –> Ankara –> Cannes –> Berlin –> Prague and back to Villach. 5 countries in 11 days! And all with my little backpack.

I only had 1 day in Vienna, but managed to pile up on the desserts and architecture. Vienna reminded me of Budapest, but with much more opulence and less destruction. Also–best transit ever! Metro, city trains, trolleys, buses. Everything!

One of my first stops was the Schloß Schönbrunn, a sprawling Habsburg baroque palace with giant botanical gardens.

2014-08-07 07.31.55Among the gardens was a set of “Roman ruins” which I thought might actually be Roman ruins, but were actually designed in 1778 to have that ruined horticultural look. Totally, blossoming gardens were WAY mainstream back then.

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I stumbled upon some other lovely buildings in downtown Wien.

Here’s the Karlskirche:

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And the intricacies of the Rathaus:

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I also loved the way the sun was shining through this fountain:

2014-08-07 12.43.50All this walking made me crave the dessert delicacies Vienna is famous for. Can’t forget the Sacher-Torte, a moist chocolate torte invented in 1832. I had some at the original Hotel Sacher. The hotel had two areas where you could purchase the torte. I luckily found the more “lowbrow” section, where I quickly sat down outside in the evening sun, sipped my massive eis cafe, and savored each bite.

2014-08-07 13.25.30In the morning, it was off to the airport for me, but not before a quick stroll through the amusement park called Prater. I love the fun English signs you come across:

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Villacher Kirchtag

It’s been a while! Time to put up the goods!

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2014-08-02 16.15.28The largest yearly event in Villach is the Villacher Kirchtag, or Church Day, which actually lasts a week. Most people dress up in traditional garments, and crowds come in from throughout Austria and Italy. Saturday of the week is the unofficial Italian Kirchtag, when the majority of attendees are super-clearly Italian. There’s lots of polka and traditional music, lots of sausage, lots of beer, and lots of really intense amusements!

10596243_1488668361371384_1106348241_nDown to the food:
There’s a soup contest (kirchtagsuppe), consisting of milky-colored thin broths made of meat. I got to dip sweet bread in mine, and the taste got better and better as I got used to it. Also, LANGOS made an appearance. <3 Sigh and yum. Not to mention, the cute stands of cream-filled chocolate puffs and heart-shaped cookies (Ich liebe Dich!/I love you!).

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I <3 Langos

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Austria knows how to construct really tall and scary rides really quickly. This video encapsulates the music that young Austrians seem to be into (club hits, y’all), as well as the terror of these quickly assembled (but actually safe-looking and fancy) rides. I stuck to the Ferris wheel.


Woo Hoo!!

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