Tuesday, April 21, 2015

"Roughing it" in Malibu

I am so happy to live in California where the weather, year round, is always suitable for a road trip.  And, the sights, even if I have seen them already, never disappoint.

After the holidays, during the big holiday let down (I swear, every year I try to figure out a way to keep this post-holiday lull at bay.  I'm still figuring it out.), we took a week off to drive south to L.A. land.  I had found a stunning campground in Malibu, overlooking the dramatic Pacific coast.  It wasn't cheap, but it was sure a feast for the eyes.


Not only did we get this gorgeous view at sunset, but we were next to a brand new Airstream with a lovely couple and 2 sweet labradors. What a great photo op. . .


Malibu was a great home base for our LA adventure.  We visited Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Hollywood, etc.  And every night we got to come back to this.  Life is good.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Camping "next door" at Anthony Chabot Regional Park

When we bought our humble trailer for our family of four in 2013, on of our goals was to be able to see many of the sites in the American West with some family coziness thrown in.
A couple of things I've come to realize:
1) We probably should have bought this trailer 3 years earlier.  My children were 9 and 12 when we bought it.  Our first trip to Yellowstone, etc. was great.  But the farther my son went into teenage years, the more complaints we starting getting when we even brought up the mention of the trailer.  Trailers are fun for kids - not cool when your almost teen doesn't even want to be seen with you.  haha.  Having said that, when he is with us he does unwind and we enjoy our time together, even if he won't admit it.  My hope is that he will at least have happy memories.
2) There never seems to be enough time to take the trailer out for a proper spin.  I've learned to just make peace with that and enjoy the time when we can find it.   She stays in storage most of the time, but that's okay.  Recently we moved her to a storage facility much closer to us so that we could take some shorter trips to local campgrounds.
Anthony Chabot Regional Park was one such November trip.  About 20 minutes from our house but, I kid you not, it felt like we were in the wilderness.  Nary a soul.  Quiet and relaxing.  Maybe too quiet!  Here are some pictures for you:
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The dogs are the cutest when they are begging to join us outside, aren't they?
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One thing Adam really enjoys on these trailer jaunts is 1) organizing lawn furniture and 2) making fire.
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This is a shot of our trailer on top of the hill of eucalyptus at our campsite.  We were feeling many miles away from the Bay Area.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The places I've been, part 1





I've been working on a project that may take me several years to complete:  organizing, documenting, scanning, and (re)printing all family photos from the past 100 years.  I try to work on it a little bit every day.  

As a result I often have images and memories on my mind at all times.

I've been thinking recently about the places I've been and the places I'd still like to go.  

Here are some important places for me (part 1).  They are important because of what they represent to me in my memory or the people I was with at the time.  They are much more than pretty pictures.



1969 with my mother and brothers, in front of the sandbox at the Cabin, Oakhurst, California


1971 on the beach in Santa Cruz, California
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1975 being held by my Grandma during a family reunion in Kemmerer, Wyoming
1976 with my cousin, watching my grandmother play, Lodi, California
1985 high school Europe trip, Tivoli, Italy
1986 Kelly at the top of Altamont Pass Road with my old Honda.
1988 with Amy in the Lake District, England
1988 on student exchange in Egremont, England


1988 in front of the Mazzola home, Cambria, California

Monday, February 9, 2015

How to enjoy Caffe Florian, Piazza San Marco, Venice

While in Venice, we visited Caffe Florian twice.  The first time, because it was on my bucket list.  The second because we were tired and we enjoyed it so much the first time.
Right in the center of Piazza San Marco, the people watching is superb.  The espresso is good too.
But you need to venture inside to explore the different rooms.  
Some seem untouched since the 1700s. 
During mid-day you may have to pay extra for the music 
(but the bill is so high anyway, you won't notice).
Try to look cool while you soak up the atmosphere.
Take advantage of the photo op right in front of you.
Relax and enjoy watching your 'blooming tea' bloom.


And try to forget the final number on the bill.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Venice's Ghetto



I've been to Venice twice before this most recent trip with my family.  

My first visit was as a teenager, and part of a packaged tour of Europe.  
We spent one day in Venice, at most.  
We did the obligatory gondola ride and navigated the main streets with all the other tourists.  

For my second trip I arrived on my own as a solo backpacker.  
I visited during the off-season, spending an entire week in a youth hostel on the island of Guidecca, across the water from Piazza San Marco. 
A whole week in Venice means a lot of wandering the narrow streets getting lost alternated with hopping on and off the vapporettos (water buses).  
I would sit on the back and watch Venice from the back of the boat.  
It was awesome.

Still, even after a week, I managed to miss a lot of sites.  
One was the Jewish Ghetto.  
The original Ghetto, in fact.  During the renaissance and until their liberation by Napoleon in 1803, thousands of Jews from all over Europe were sequestered during the night (i.e. locked in) but allowed to do business during the day.  
Currently on track to become a  world heritage site, the Ghetto was first on my list of sights to see when we arrived in Venice in 2014.

During the life of the ghetto, it was a  relatively small piece of real estate, and it did not expand to accommodate the numbers of Jews who lived there.   
The only way to build to deal with the crowds was to build up.  
Thus, the tallest buildings in Venice are to be found there.  

In addition, the small parcel is home to 5 different synagogues - one for each of the groups of immigrants who came to Venice:  French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, and of course Italian.  Synagogues needed to be on the uppermost floors, so we walked many ancient stairs to visit them (no photos allowed).  
The interior of the synagogues reflected the wealth of their congregants.   
The Spanish synagogue was the most ornate.




All the signs in the ghetto were written in Hebrew as well as Italian.  
In the picture in the above right, the building on the top floor with wood paneling is the French synagogue.

Many of the residents of the ghetto were sent to concentration camps during the war and very few returned.
We visited shops and art galleries in the ghetto and purchased a souvenir or two 



Even though Adam is working hard to look unimpressed, we also enjoyed some treats from the kosher bakeries in the ghetto.

If you are ever in Venice, do yourself a favor and spend a few hours away from the mad throngs of tourists and step a bit off the beaten path to explore and important piece of Venice's history, still alive (though struggling) today.



Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Inside the Porta Nigra, Trier, Germany

The first time in Trier, Germany for my daughter and I.  I knew nothing about the town and really did not know what to expect.  Our first sight was the ancient Porta Nigra, the gate from Roman times, built between 186 and 200 AD.  It's remained largely untouched.

Here are some shots from inside of the structure (sadly, I never took a photo of the outside!  Imagine that!)


Layers of time.

The view of the town from the top.

My daughter on the spiral stairs.  Very ghostly.

Looking mysterious.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

My amazing daughter

I'm sure I'm biased and everything, but I just have to say how impressed I am with my little traveler.  Only 10 years old and she's spent 6 weeks on the road, packing and unpacking, hot, cold, wet, eating strange foods most nights . . . coping with underground trains, buses, strange languages, boring museums, etc. with hardly any complaining.  As a matter of fact NO complaining, just some homesickness in the past week.  Really, she is amazing!  I know that when I was 10 I wouldn't have the fortitude she has had.  Now onto Paris and home in 2 days. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Vatican City Adventures today


Fresh off the boat today. Arrived in Rome.
Enjoyed a visit to the most impressive church so far (although Hagia Sofia is a close contender).
Tonight we had a private tour of the Vatican Museum.  We spent 3 hours but still saw only a fraction if the "Pope's Attic". Rebecca commented to the guide "it's so small!" When we entered the Sistine Chapel. I remember thinking the same thing the first time I saw it wayyy back when.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Leonardo da Vinci's inventions




Adam just finished a report on Leonardo da Vinci's inventions at the end of 7th grade.  He was very excited to see the replicas in Venice.