Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Travel in 6 Days, 6 States, 6 Peaks

THE world’s Seven Summits — the highest mountain on each continent — were in the news this year when the Alaskan climber Vern Tejas set a record by ascending them all in just 134 days. Inspired by him, I set out to climb a few peaks of my own. My challenge would be to hike what I call the Six Summits — the highest point in each New England state. I required no pack animals, porters or supplemental oxygen. Armed instead with a map, compass, hiking boots and a blue Honda, my journey lasted six days and brought me to six unique places. Below is a guide to my quest, presented in order from the point with the highest elevation to that with the lowest.

Burlington Arcade, in Piccadilly, London

Walking away from Green Park on Piccadilly, I spotted a very strange shop which looked like it had a window full of gold leaf items. It was a chocolatier at the entrance of the Burlington Arcade. The Burlington Arcade was the first shopping gallery of Britain and opened in 1819. The arcade shops offer luxury and quality products like perfume, clothing and jewellery. It is a historical place worth visiting. If you have enough money to spend, you will have many opportunities here.

Komende van "Green Park" op Piccadilly, merkte ik een rare winkel op die in het uitstalraam allerlei artikelen te koop stelde op goudblad versieringen. Het was een chocolade winkel op de hoek van de Burlington Arcade. Deze Arcade was het eerste shopping centrum van Engeland en opende zijn deuren in 1819. De winkeltjes bieden allerlei luxe en kwaliteitsproducten aan zoals parfum, kledij en juwelen. Het is een historische plaats die een bezoekje waard is. Als je teveel geld hebt zal je er hier zeker van af geraken.

Burlington Arcade London

Burlington Arcade London

Burlington Arcade London

Burlington Arcade London

Burlington Arcade London

Burlington Arcade London

Burlington Arcade London
Previous London article: Westminster Palace, London

Link to the Official Website: Burlington Arcade, London

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For the senses

It is not only teak and electronics that have been replaced, mounted and installed on this boat lately, finally we have also had the time to take care of the interior and at last it starts to feel like the boat is a real home and not only a boat. New cushions have arrived for both cabins and the saloon, new delicate pillows and sleeping sheets for different temperatures, wonderful designer cookware which brings harmony into our petite galley, some discreet pieces of art on the walls, scented candles to add an aromatic fragrance in the night time hours and a few, robust plants. (Any tips on how to keep the plants long lasting on a boat and through stormy weathers are most welcome!)

I might have gotten rid of a lot of stuff/clothes/shoes for this tour we have ahead of us, but one thing I can't see myself living without neither on land or on water, is a peaceful home where lights, scents, tones and design are in perfect harmony with one another and I must say that we're so slowly getting there, in the boat as well. /Taru

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Where Coffee Is King in Paris

For Parisians (and visitors to the City of Light) who think the French capital is falling behind when it comes to caffeinated beverages, there is a new entrant that just might be a game changer, right in the center of the throbbing Marais district. Merce and the Muse (1 bis rue Dupuis; 33-9-53-14-53-04; has the feel of a Brooklyn cafe, complete with the latest high-tech Italian equipment, and a barista who boasts training with Denmark’s renowned Coffee Collective.
“I wanted to bring to Paris the kind of coffee shop I’d go to several times a day in New York,” said the cafe’s American-Iranian founder, Merce Muse. “Here, cafes have looked the same forever.”
With vintage furniture picked up at marchés aux puces (Parisian flea markets), ’50s fashion magazines available for perusal, and retro tracks played on LP’s, Merce and the Muse offers a coffee culture venue that is proving startling to the French.
What is on offer is a novelty to their palate as well: instead of the typical, rough Robusta brews served in most Paris cafes, Merce and the Muse offers lightly roasted Arabica coffee beans imported from a Denmark roastery. Each cup of coffee takes a good five minutes to produce — which gives visitors time to enjoy homemade specialties ranging from elaborate salads to cakes and biscuits.
“I’m half-Iranian, and over there you show your love through food — and the result in my recipes is a mélange of flavors,” she said. Don’t miss out on her American-with-a-Persian-touch fare: muffins and cupcakes with cardamom, figs and pistachios, for example.
And for those of you who live in town, Ms. Muse will soon be offering cooking classes.

Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, London

The view of the "Houses of Parliament" and the "Big Ben" from Westminster Bridge are fabulous. This is probably also the reason why the bridge is always full with tourists trying to take the best possible pictures, myself included. The "Houses of Parliament" is also called "Westminster Palace" and the oldest buildings of this complex date from the 11th century. With more than 1.000 rooms and the 96m tall Big Ben clock tower, the complex enormous but was also completed with an eye for details. The Parliament political body consists of two houses, the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The building is on the UNESCO heritage list.

Het aanzicht van het Parlementsgebouw en de "Big Ben" van op de "Westminster Bridge" is betoverend. Dit is waarschijnlijk de reden waarom de brug altijd vol toeristen staat die er alles aan doen de best mogelijke foto's te maken, mezelf inclusief. Het parlementsgebouw wordt ook "Westminster Palace" genoemd en de oudste gebouwen van het complex dateren van de 11de eeuw. Met meer als 1.000 kamers en zijn 96m hoge "Big Ben" klokkentoren, is het complex enorm maar ook afgewerkt met oog voor detail. Het politieke orgaan bestaat uit twee delen: het "House of Commons" (Kamer van Volksvertegenwoordigers) en de "House of Lords" (de Senaat). Het gebouw is opgenomen op de werelderfgoedlijst van UNESCO.

Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, London

Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, London

Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, London

Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, London

Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, London
Previous London article: Buckingham Palace, London

Link to the Official Website: About Parliament, London

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34 days to go.

It is very stressful around here on s/v Caos this week. We have the last parts of our teak to refit and also the toerails. Added to that we are now in the process of organizing for the last missing parts to be ordered before we leave to Sweden in the end of this week, so that everything is here when we come back - to avoid delays for our departure on the 31st of October. Finally the windvane is ordered and a big Thank You goes out to Stellan Knöös at Sailomat for giving us such a generous discount, can't wait to have it installed and tried out! Other things ordered this week are the bathing platform, the water maker from Katadyn, new portholes, new parts to the windshield, new cushions to the v-berth and a lot of other missing parts.

So what happened with the boat exchange? The truth was that, as we decided for going around the world just for a few months ago, we never really had the perfect time to try out how this boat would fit us both and during the summer we realized what we realized - that we would like to have it bigger. It might have sounded like a crazy idea to realize that two months before heading out, but there was no time earlier and we had to give it a try. Others might plan for their circumnavigation for years and years and they might have been perfectly in the know of what boat they'll use, we are the more impulsive ones: Go around the world? Hell yes! What boat? We'll figure it out later! As happy Hallberg Rassy owners we are though, we were always and are still convinced, that HR is the brand we want. We believe that for a journey like this, we'll need a boat which is strong, safe, well made and reliable - and that is exactly what the Hallberg Rassy's are.

We've been visiting a lot of beautiful boats these last weeks and found a couple of very interesting ones for sale in our neighborhoods. One Hallberg Rassy 38 and one 39, and we decided to go for any of them IF we got our boat sold in time. This is where we still are, many people have showed their interest but none of them could be able to fulfill the deal this year (which we can understand), so we'll have to wait. Now we know more or less what we want, but the timings must also be right. We are not in a hurry to make the exchange, and will not lower the price on our boat just to get it sold. The day we get it all perfectly matched, will be the day we'll exchange to the next boat. Until then, Caos is the one taking us around the world, and we are perfectly happy with that. Especially now when she is getting close to perfection!

Next on the agenda: Figure out which brand to invest in for a full set of new sails.


Monday, September 27, 2010

An Israeli Oasis as Passages to Ancient Times

THERE are many reasons not to travel overseas with small children, and, as far as I can tell, only one reason to do so. Unfortunately for my children, who’d probably be just as happy to stay home, that reason is what keeps me slogging through the less glamorous parts of motherhood. When you travel you get the chance to prove to your children that life is at least as interesting as their bedtime stories. And if you can get them to believe that, then you can believe it too, at least for the duration of the trip.
This explains, in part, how I, my husband, my 21-year-old stepson and my two children, a boy who is 8 and a girl who is 6, found ourselves in Israel, a place where history surpasses fairy tales, and more particularly, in Ein Gedi, a 7,000-acre nature preserve in the Judean Desert next to the Dead Sea.
Ein Gedi is a place whose burnt-red crags and incongruous pockets of greenery can make you feel as if you’ve landed, Charlton Heston-like, on some highly cinematic planet. In fact, you have. Ein Gedi is the planet of the epic Biblical past. The niches in the cliffs are where David hid from his enemy King Saul, and the rocky paths are where Saul hunted for him. The vineyards of Ein Gedi produced glorious henna flowers that the singer of the Song of Songs compares to his beloved.

Buckingham Palace, the Official residence of the Queen

Buckingham Palace is located in a green area, surrounded by parks: the Garden at Buckingham Palace, Green Park and St. James's Park. The Mall, a straight road connecting the Royals with London is most of the time open for pedestrians. There were many tourists to see a glimpse of the Palace, the impressive decorated gates and the statue of the Victoria Memorial. The Palace was built in 1703 and is no longer property of the Royals but is owned by the State. The Palace is still used by the Queen but it is also a national symbol and tourist attraction.

Buckingham Palace is gelegen in een groene zone, omringt door parken: the Garden at Buckingham Palace, Green Park en St. James's Park. "The Mall", een lange rechte straat, die meestal open is voor voetgangers, verbindt de koninklijke familie met Londen. Er waren vele toeristen om een glimp op te vangen van het paleis, de indrukwekkend gedecoreerde poorten en het standbeeld van de "Victoria Memorial". Het paleis werd gebouwd in 1703 en is niet langer eigendom van het koningshuis, maar van de Staat. Het wordt nog steeds gebruikt door de "Queen" maar is ook een nationaal symbool en toeristische attractie.

Buckingham Palace LondonBuckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace LondonThe Gates

Buckingham Palace London

Buckingham Palace London

Buckingham Palace LondonVictoria Memorial

Buckingham Palace London
Previous London article: Street entertainment Covent Garden, London

Link to the Official Website: Buckingham Palace, London

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Foodie Fantasy Trip to Lyon and Beyond

I've known Arlene Feltman for 20 or so years, from back when she owned and ran Degustibus Cooking School at Macy's in New York. All the top chefs taught there--it was foodie central. Arlene sold the school a few years ago and then quickly hung out her new shingle, leading food and wine trips to some the best culinary destinations in the world. Traveling with Arlene you get the benefit not only

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A weekend of shopping

Tip of the week came from the wonderful Dreamkeeper crew aka Gar and Nicole, who're in town for some weeks for a stop in Barcelona before they head further West on their last leg of their 4 year long circumnavigation. Besides of tons of other invaluable sailing-around-the-world-tips, they explained for us the convenience of having a printer/scanner/photo printer onboard for all administrative paper work in harbors etc so yesterday we went out for some printer shopping. Shopping has by the way been our main task this weekend. IKEA shopping, tea shopping, electronic shopping, computer shopping and some provision shopping has filled our days and if we thought the boat was over weight before, it is nothing to what it is today. Alex is begging me to throw out more of my shoes to get some additional space, as we still haven't organized our new boat buy, and I guess I soon have to give in for the pressure. Who needs 30 pairs of shoes on the oceans anyway? /Taru

A Glamour Revives Port of Batumi

An illuminated tower soars above the clear Black Sea and the mist-covered Caucasus mountains surrounding the port town of Batumi, Georgia. Its night lights flood the skyline, revealing a new building that contrasts with the 19th-century facades of the old town and casting a warm glow over a palm tree-lined promenade of strolling lovers and giggling families. The majestic structure — the tallest on the sea’s coast — calls to mind a mosque, a library or a museum.
But, as I discovered when I entered the marble-floored lobby this summer, the building was a much more unexpected cultural treasure: an $80 million, 203-room Sheraton hotel, which opened in June and became Batumi’s first international brand hotel. Modeled on the lighthouse of Alexandria, Egypt, built by Alexander the Great, it is a beacon of what Batumi aspires to become.

Street entertainment at Covent Garden, London

If you like colourful people and street entertainment, Covent Garden is certainly a place you should visit when you are in London. Enjoy a beer or snack on one of the terraces while listening to music. The paella cook had his hands full with such a large wok. If you believe in fairytales, ask someone to predict the future by reading your hand, or the tarot cards. Careful you don't get handcuffed by sexy police women.

Als je van kleurrijke taferelen en straatartiesten houdt, is Covent Garden zeker iets voor jou als je in Londen bent. Geniet van een biertje of een snack terwijl je naar muziek luistert. De paella kok had zijn handen vol aan deze enorme wok. Als je nog in sprookjes gelooft, kan men je toekomst voorspellen door je hand te lezen of de tarot kaarten te leggen. Opgepast dat je niet in de boeien wordt gegooid door een sexy politie agente.

Covent Garden London

Covent Garden London

Covent Garden London

Covent Garden London

Covent Garden London

Covent Garden London

Covent Garden London
Previous London article: Tower Bridge, London

Link to the Official Website: Covent Garden, London

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

In Rome More Doors Open

GAINING entry to Rome’s archaeological sites is never a sure thing. Long affected by collapses, paltry budgets and red tape, historic sites must often limit access, even to places that have been recently restored at great expense. But this fall, many sites are revealing themselves anew, extending their hours and opening up areas that had been shuttered to the public.
The initiative includes some of Rome’s most iconic archaeological sites, including the Colosseum. The monument will be open on Saturday nights until midnight through Oct. 2. During the five hours beyond the normal closing, archaeologists will lead groups of up to 40 in tours that stop at Gladiatores, a dazzling exhibition of ancient iron and bronze armor and weaponry, and culminate in a visit to the restored arena level, a wooden platform rarely open to visitors that looks down beneath the Colosseum floor.
“We have been working hard to open more areas of the Colosseum, to allow new views of the building and to distribute visitors throughout the structure,” said Dr. Rossella Rea, the Colosseum’s director.
In the fall, a limited area of the substructure beneath the floor, as well as the third-story parapet, will be open to visitors during normal hours until the weather cools, Dr. Rea said.
The substructure — or hypogeum — was a staging area akin to the back stage of a theater, with a few distinctions. It was a dark and dangerous, yet extraordinarily well organized place, where wild beasts, animals, gladiators and condemned criminals waited to be brought onstage via trap doors, ramps or elevators powered by men.
Dr. Rea credited the new openness to Dr. Roberto Cecchi, who became archaeological commissioner for Rome and Ostia last year. Unlike his predecessors, Dr. Cecchi is an architect, not a career politician, and has devoted decades to preserving and promoting the city’s cultural patrimony. His impact can be felt elsewhere in Rome. Nearby, in the Roman Forum, the recently restored Temple of Romulus (a misnamed structure that may have been the Temple of Jupiter Stator) will be open Saturday mornings through Oct. 23. This fourth-century pagan monument, which is rarely open, was transformed into a church centuries after it was built, and its walls contain medieval frescoes and decorative elements.
Another set of restored frescoes will be on view at the House of Livia Saturday mornings through Oct. 23. A villa built during the Roman Republic and later adapted into an Imperial residence, the House of Livia has vibrantly colored frescoes dating back to the first century B.C. that depict rural landscapes, architecture and mythology.
Near the Palatine Hill, the Baths of Caracalla will host Saturday night visits through Oct 23. Though they have previously been the backdrop for evening opera performances, this is the first time these magnificent ruins will be open to the public for tours after dark.
These new fall options for visiting Rome’s most celebrated archaeological parks is tremendously exciting for both travelers and archaeologists. Yet in a city where cultural financing is tenuous, it is important to seize on new openings as they come about. “We want to continue to do more here,” Dr. Rea said, “but in the end it all depends on money.”

The Tower Bridge of London

The Tower Bridge is located next to the Tower of London which is a castle and fortress on the river bank. I always thought the bridge was called Tower Bridge because of his two towers but this is not the case, it was named after the fortress. Since 2008, the city is renovating the bridge and it received some new colours, white, blue and red. It gives it a modern appearance but the main goal of the renovation was the falling paint into the Thames which leads to pollution. This bridge of 1886 can be opened with steam engines as you see on the picture below.

De Tower Bridge ligt naast de Tower of London, dat een kasteel en fort is aan de oever van de rivier. Ik heb altijd gedacht dat de Tower Bridge zijn naam had gekregen naar de twee torens op de brug. Dit is echter niet waar, zij werd genaamd naar het fort. Sind 2008, is de stad Londen de brug aan het renoveren en krijgt de brug enkele nieuwe kleurtjes, wit, blauw en rood, wat het een modernere uitstraling geeft. Dit was echter niet de hoofdreden voor de renovatie, maar het afbladeren van de verf in de Thames, waardoor er vervuiling ontstaat. Deze brug uit 1886 kan open en wordt aangedreven door stoom motoren.

Tower Bridge London

Tower Bridge London

Tower Bridge London

Tower Bridge London

Tower Bridge London
Previous London article: Hats are still a UK tradition, London

Link to the Official Website: Tower Bridge, London

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Sunny days

It's a beautiful and sunny day today. Starting to get a little colder in the nights here in Barcelona but we can still enjoy hot, Mediterranean climate on the sunshine hours - hoping to be able to do so all those days until we're leaving this town in 36 days. /T

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Delicious Ways to Love Downtown Los Angeles

DOWNTOWN Los Angeles has been “reviving” for the better part of 20 years.
The seed may have been planted in 1988, with the naming of Frank Gehry as the architect for Walt Disney Concert Hall — a civic commitment to return downtown to its early 20th-century glory days, when it was a hubbub of activity rather than a place to flee come sunset. Revitalization continued in the 1990s, with rezoning laws that allowed for the transformation of old warehouses into sleek lofts.
In recent years, the openings of the Grammy Museum and a Ritz-Carlton, as well as the philanthropist Eli Broad’s unwavering focus on Grand Avenue as a cultural destination, have hastened the otherwise glacial pace of downtown redux.
There have been barriers: a large and intransigent homelessness problem, the recent credit crisis that left some developers in the lurch, and the physical nature of downtown, enveloped in a sea of freeways that make it feel cut off from large swaths of the rest of this city. Yet downtown Los Angeles is now genuinely a place where people want to live and travel to for art fairs, music festivals, basketball games and more.
But, until recently, not to eat.
Yes, there is Little Tokyo, where I have sat in silent awe of the fish at Sushi Gen, and the occasional historic spot, like Philippe the Original, which makes claims on inventing the French dip. But true destination restaurants have been few.
That, too, is changing, with smart new bistros emphasizing creativity and local produce; hidden bars; and cheap-but-chic fare springing up from points east and west. An increasing number of intrepid diners are venturing a few miles east on the 10 Freeway toward the contemporary response to years of suburbanization and sprawl that led to downtown’s descent years ago. And they will now be well fed.

Hats are still a UK tradition, London

When you think of Royalty or gala events in the United Kingdom, you associate it with ladies wearing a hat. They even have competitions around this traditional piece of clothing. One of the main events around this fashion is the Royal Ascot horse race. This weekend in London, at the memorial of the Battle of Britain, you could also see many ladies showing their hats.

Als je aan het koningshuis of gala evenementen denkt in Groot-Brittannië, link je dit met vrouwen die een hoed dragen. Men heeft zelfs competities rond dit traditioneel kledingstuk. Eén van de meest beroemde evenementen rond dit modeverschijnsel is de Royal Ascot paardenrace. Ook dit weekend in Londen, tijdens de herdenking van de "Battle of Britain", zag je vele vrouwen met hoeden.

Hats Tradition London

Hats Tradition London

Hats Tradition London

Hats Tradition London

Hats Tradition LondonHats Tradition London

Hats Tradition London

Hats Tradition London
Previous London article: 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, London

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El Castillo de Predjama, Postojna

13/08/2010: Tercer dia en Eslovenia, después de visitar las espectaculares Grutas de Postojna nos dirigimos a ver el Castillo de Predjama. Se encuentra solo a 9 km de las Grutas de Postojna y se accede por buena carretera señalizada.

El Castillo de Predjama se construyó con la forma actual en 1570, es una fabulosa obra maestra del ingenio, situada en una cavidad, a 123 m de altura de un despeñadero, fue realmente una astucia medieval el construirlo en ese lugar, utilizando los recursos naturales de la cavidad de la roca para situarse en un lugar seguro y protegido frente al enemigo.
Fue restaurado en los años 90 y paseando por sus numerosas y laberínticas salas podemos ver como vivían sus habitantes en el siglo XVI.
Por el recorrido que se hace en el interior del Castillo me llamó la atención un recipiente parecido a un gran bidón hecho de piedra que estaba lleno de agua que caía de un lento goteo de agua de la roca, este goteo perdura seguramente desde hace centenares de años.

Interior del Castillo:

Debajo del Castillo hay una gruta que también visitamos, esta es la vista desde el camino que hay del Castillo a la puerta de acceso a la gruta:

En la siguiente foto, en la parte superior, justo encima de las ventanas se pueden ver unos arcos. Este es uno de los sitios por donde el ejercito del castillo atacaba al enemigo, en este caso a los que se encontraban justo debajo. No echaban aceite hirviendo como a veces se piensa, ya que era un bien escaso y muy preciado. Les atacaban con agua hirviendo, grandes piedras y resina cocida.

Puente levadizo de acceso al Castillo:

Este es el agujero descrito anteriormente por el que atacaban al enemigo, este justo situado encima del puente levadizo:

Vista desde el balcón cubierto:

Sala de retratos y escudos de los propietarios del Castillo:

Hay numerosas salas a las que se accede por diferentes escaleras en un total de cinco plantas. Se puede ver una reconstrucción de como vivían antiguamente.
Hay un salón, una sala para los soldados, otra para el guardia de la torre, una sala de tortura, calabozos, comedor con una cocina medieval acondicionada,una capilla, sala de reuniones, sala de los hidalgos, sala de archivo de documentos, sala destinada a los perros de caza, etc, etc.

Sala de torturas en una caverna natural:

En la quinta planta atravesamos un puente levadizo a la parte del Castillo que forma parte de la gruta, por aquí se ascienden unas escaleras hacia una galería subterránea que utilizaban para escapar hacia la libertad en caso de invasión enemiga en el Castillo.

Aquí estoy asomado a la ventana, en la parte que conduce a la escapatoria, está sería la quinta planta:

La galería llega hasta un pueblo llamado Vipava.
Escaleras en el interior de la gruta que conducen a la galería de escape:

Vista desde el inicio de la galería:

Cañones de defensa del Castillo de Predjama:
Imprescindible también, la visita a la gruta que hay debajo del Castillo de Predjama.