‘vacation’ Category

Mediterranean vacation journal

Mediterranean vacation journal

In August after returning from our Mediterranean cruise, I spent a pretty good amount of time sorting and touching up our digital photos (around 1,500 of them). I took the best of the photos, and using my blog entries as a guide, created a physical photo journal book through the online service Blurb.com. Creating the book was no easy task, but the results are pretty amazing, and I’m very happy I went to the effort. The book is a hardcover, 38-page journal and cost around $30.00 to have professionally printed and bound. Below you can see the results (click on the photos for larger views). Since additional pages are very inexpensive ($5 for another 42 pages) I’m thinking of adding more photos and having another book or two made, but haven’t decided if I have the motivation to do that just yet.


  • on September 17, 2007 -
  • vacation
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  • Comments Off on Back from N.Y.

Back from N.Y.

On Thursday Kathie and I began our 4-day whirlwind visit with friends and family “up north”.  We drove up to Manhattan to visit with Marc and Shannon, and had an all-around great time chatting and eating till we couldn’t eat any more.  Marc blames Rosh Hashanah but I suspect there’d be plenty of food either way.  Friday we headed upstate to see Kris and Jen, and their 3.9 kids — Zoe, Ellie, Aaron, and making his debut “any day now”, Campbell.  The kids were a blast, and the parents weren’t too bad either :-).  Saturday we hopped down to Long Island to visit my brother Bob, Amy, and their cats.  Mo took a liking to Kathie and she brushed him for hours while he purred in her lap.  We had hoped to go for a sail in their boat, but the weather was not cooperating.  Instead we ate some good Long Island pizza and garlic knots and caught up on each other’s lives.  Finally, on Sunday the four of us drove up to Stony Brook to meet Dad and Rose for brunch… little did we know, my brother Gary, sister-in-law Dee, and nephew Silas drove down from New Hampshire and took the ferry across the Long Island sound to join us for brunch!  We ate and talked for a few hours, but unfortunately, time passed quickly and before long we needed to get in the car to start our long drive home.  It was great to see so many friends and family that we haven’t seen in a long time, and I’m hoping we’ll be able to do something like this more often in the future.


National Zoo

Yesterday we spent the day at the National Zoo. It was a hotter day than expected, but we made it through almost all of the zoo. Most of the animals were pretty inactive because of the heat (can you blame them?) but we still got to see a wide variety of creatures, from the traditional lions, tigers, and bears, to aquatic life such as a large octopus, to small mammals, snakes, and lizards. Of course we also saw the Zoo’s main attraction, the two giant pandas on loan from China for 10 years, and their two year old son. It was nice to get out, see something new, and take some pictures for the day.


The rest of the photos

Well, if you’re still here, congratulations for making it through (or deleting without reading) our little vacation story! It was a great trip, and writing about it helped us appreciate it even more.

I’ve finally finished going through the 1,500 pictures we took on vacation, touching up a lot of them to improve the color balance or exposure, or to edit out an offending light pole. I was able to throw away almost half, leaving around 800 photos in my album. A sampling of the better photos was included in the blog, but the rest of the pictures are now in our gallery. Check ’em out!

Our Mediterranean cruise photo gallery


  • on July 22, 2007 -
  • vacation
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  • Comments Off on Barcelona, Day 2

Barcelona, Day 2

The Bus Turistic, our mode of transport for the day

June 23rd was the last day of our vacation (apart from a full day for traveling home). As usual we were up and out the door before 9am, before most of Barcelona was awake (and before a few night owls went to sleep, it appeared). We stopped at a nearby cafe for a light breakfast of croissants and hot beverages. We headed north on Les Ramblas towards Plaça Catalunya and the “hop on, hop off” Bus Turistico that travels three routes through the city all day, stopping at dozens of sites. Les Ramblas is very peaceful in the early morning, there are few pedestrians, almost all shops are closed, and only sporadic traffic. We started on the Red (North) route, and got to choose the best seat on the top section as the first passengers on the bus.

One of Gaudi’s many buildings

Much of Barcelona’s architecture was designed by Antoni Gaudi in the mid-1800s. Whether you like his style or not, there’s no arguing that he had a unique style. Some of the buildings we passed were so unusual, it’s hard to believe they actually got built.

Another Gaudi creation in Barcelona

We hopped off at Sagrada Familia, the (incomplete) Church of the Holy Family, also designed by Antoni Gaudi. Construction started in 1882 and is still chugging along, with an estimated completion around 2026. Most of the work inside and out is extremely abstract, also described as Art Nouveau run wild. There are two completed outdoor facades. The Nativity Face is the oldest and only one to be completed before Gaudi’s death (he was hit by a tram while crossing the street). Filled with nature (turtles, doves, birds, mushrooms, etc), this facade contains a scene of the birth of Jesus. The style is rather interesting and looks almost as if it has eroded over time, most of the figures are smoothed over and there are very few sharp features. The facade is crammed with so much information, one could spend a lot of time just looking at this one face.

Gaudi’s Nativity Facade of the Sagrada Familia

On the opposite side is a complete counterpart, the Passion Facade. The style is wildly different from Gaudi’s face and was the work of Josep M. Subirachs in 1952, the figures very elongated and rather stylized and harsh.

The newer Passion Facade, constructed after Gaudi’s death

The interior of the church (one section still completely open to the sky above) has huge columns of basalt, granite, and other stones that look almost like tree trunks that branch out at the top. We took the elevator to the top of two of the towers, where there are several open areas to view the city. On one side, you can look down at the top of the church and spires, and across at the other two towers.

The inside of Sagrada Familia is as unique as the outside

We hopped back on the bus and saw several more sites before hopping off at Poble Espanyol, the Spanish Village. This was built for the 1929 World’s Fair to showcase various styles of Spanish architecture. The place seems rather reminiscent of Epcot Center (or vice versa) with the architecture and wide-open squares. There are shows and activities that take place here but we didn’t run into any. One of the original purposes of the village was to showcase some of the provincial crafts such as ceramics, paper-making, weaving, sculpture, mosaics, etc. The village is home to 40 craft workshops, a sculpture garden, and the Fran Daurel Foundation which contains works of contemporary art. After grabbing some lunch, we wandered in and around the shops, looked at the architecture and headed back out to the bus. The Village seemed awfully quiet and low-key, a good place to relax and shop but not much else to do to justify the entry fee.

This poor turtle has to support the weight of an entire church!

After touring the rest of the city on the bus, and listening to the provided audio guide, we headed back to our hotel to call it an early night — after all, we would be getting up at 3:00am to get our taxi to the airport the next day. Barcelona seemed like a very nice city full of remarkable museums, architecture, and culture, but after 2 weeks of constant, fast-paced, no-stop touring, we just couldn’t take it in. It’s someplace we’d like to visit again and see more thoroughly in the future. In the meantime we couldn’t wait to get home and stop looking at so much beauty, art, and culture!

The Sagrada Familia