Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rome, Italy

We arrived in Rome getting on pretty late.  Still Luca picked us up at the airport, (in the airport no less) and brought us to our hotel, then to this little plaza area for dinner.  Finding it and a parking spot were a significant part of the adventure, but Luca seemed un-phased the entire time, and determined to get us to this place.  It was rustic and the buildings and surroundings seemed a little tired, but many people were streaming in, and having a good time, which is contagious. 
What seemed like in the middle of the street and plaza were a number of these nice little ristorantes.

We ended up at Elettra, with traditional Italian cuisine.  The food, including my fish was delicious, and the salad with crispy onions, also delicious.  The pictures don't capture the fun-ness of the place.  Casual, yet elegant.  Not too expensive, yet so tasty.  Great waiter (I think), Luca talked with him in Italian.  Anyway, I felt a bit local here.  Really liked it.  Luca, thanks for such warm hospitality.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Where am I?

It's been here for sometime.  Maybe older than some of you.  It's got global relevance.  There's current and historical reference.  Okay, I'm not doing very well on the guessing game.  Look at the building on the left.  Can you see the logo on the top?  These tents are made from plates, together they appear to be flowing.  The tower is multi-functional.  Part restaurant, part communications tower.  It's the site of the XX summer Olympiad.  Remember Mark Spitz? Seven gold metals?  Olga Korbut and gymnastics?  Not to mention the unmentionable massacre of the Israel team members?

This is a view from the communications tower.  We ended up having dinner here.  Below you can see the BMW headquarters building and the edge of the BMW museum.

For BMW fans, here's the whole shooting match.  lower left huge building is the new gorgeous BMW museum.   We had no time to visit, but it looks fantastic, and huge.  Behind it, is part of the BMW factory.  Mid right is the BMW headquarters building.  It's called something like the quad tower or something.  Off in the distance, top center is the sports arena, in glowing red and almost looks like it's floating.  The color changes every couple minutes.  Our dining experience rotates.  I think we made 2 or so revolutions. 

I liked this divider light wall, made of wire and lighting embedded in the restaurant.

Of particular interest to me is the Olympic pool, from 1972.  The Germans take pride in the facility and the event altogether.  It was exciting to visit, and swim here.  I actually swam in lane 4, as did Mark Spitz, for a number of his amazing metal flurry.

What does this say?  This is the Spitz lane.
Aerial view of the pool and aquatic area.

Artistic view of the dive pool.  In the background is the 50 meter pool.
This is the official symbol for the XX Olympics.  It's actually a flat weaving, but somehow the photo created this 3D view.  It did not look this way directly.

Our hotel is just across the way from the Olympic center.  This shows a tiny view of some architecture, everywhere around us.

I vaguely remember these concrete dorms, and vividly remember the tiered dorms in the background from the Olympics.  They continuously showed these during the hostage crisis.

So, did you guess?  Yes!  It's Munich.

Jib Jab with Tim
As much as we were on the edge of Munich in this location, we did get a good flavor of some highlights in our short visit.  We actually had two really good meals.  One, a traditional Bavarian meal just on the edge of Munich in a neighborhood area.  The other meal was in the communications tower, and the food was actually quite good!  Who would have thought?!  I really enjoyed our German visit.

I just finished my expense report and found the receipt for an awesome place we ate the first night, called Osterwaldgarten.  It's a great regional beer garden with a very local feel and delicious food.  We had the ox, which was a delicious steak.   We meandered around this area, about 4 stops on the metro from our Olympic village hotel, and only found pizza and beer places.  Finally we stopped a local heading into his apartment, and he pointed us to this place for a local Bavarian favorite.

Here's a photo of the awesome fare.  This is delicious ox, and of course some nice root vegetables.  The steak is on a bed of a noodle type thing, with the crispy delicious onions on top, and the stellar juice/gravy/goodness underneath.  I asked if they had a veggie side, and that's where the wok-cooked bell peppers come in, on the left...kind of the Californian adaptation as it were.  The beer, of course, was delicious, and a highlight here.  Yes, it's a beer garden, but it was way cold and late to be eating outside while we were there.

I wish one of these was my mug.
 It's a fun, Bavarian place inside.
Yes, I'm pretty obnoxious, always taking pictures with the camera.  I wanted a working picture, but didn't want to interrupt, so this is not necessarily an ideal candid moment.  None-the-less, here we are, looking professional.  This is Joerg and Mark, ready to head into our meeting.  As you can see, it turned out to be a nice day in Munich.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Amalfi Coast, Italy

We had a meeting in Pagoni, not far from Naples, and I noticed a sign for the Amalfi Coast.  It's over a range, quite steep hills and narrow roads with tight turns.  In some places, not room for two cars, in fact there were a couple spots where we had a car face-off, and had to back up to let the opposite traffic through.  Another interesting diversion was this goat herder and his flock.  See his herder dog behind the truck?  Totally awesome.
 There was a lot of cloud cover, so the views were a little interrupted, but here's an idea of the rugged, steep hillside, and the coast below, with an olive tree to border.  The olives, and lemons from this area are renowned, well at least the lemons, which are a special variety.
A blurry picture out the car window, showing the steep hillside.  This is characteristic of the houses and terracing around.
Water view from the road.

Gotta love these guys waiting for something.
Here's the beach view from the center of town.
And looking the other direction, here's my travel partner, Mark.

Here is the cathedral in the town of Amalfi, Saint Andrews.  I'm not sure about that much about it, other than it's beautiful, and they were holding Monday afternoon mass just as we visited.  The bells were ringing and so on.  Quite moving.  Apparently it was first built in the 9th century during the medieval times.  Since then, it's been added onto a couple times over the centuries.
Inside St. Andrews Cathedral.

Mark and Luca talking shop.
As we were leaving the church bells started ringing.  Incredible sound adding to the ambiance.  Take a listen and look.

This is the limoncello made from lemons exclusively from the Amalfi coast.  Not much of a picture, but it's the place we purchased.  Super nice shop and people.  The aroma is pungent with lemon, more than limoncello I've had elsewhere.
As night was setting in, and we were driving along the coast, I saw this place, seemingly dangling over an incredibly high cliff.

On the way out of the area, near, or in Positano, Luca, our incredible tour guide and now friend, had a locally famous pizza place in mind.  I did not catch the name, but awesome pizza, served ever so personally by two waiters, all 100 cm of hand-made deliciousness.

Jib Jab
Here's my two traveling buddies to the Amalfi coast.  Luca is the sales exec who invited us to meet with his account outside Naples.  We finished the 2.5 hour drive from Rome to here, and 5 hours of meetings with the customer, and I noticed a sign to Amalfi.  Luca seemed to pick up on it, or had it in mind all along, I'm still not sure which.  Either way, he took us over the range, shown behind us here, to the goat herders, and beyond.  It turned into about a 19 hour day, which sounds either grueling and terrible, or incredibly awesome and a day to remember for a long time.  Last night, Kirsty and I enjoyed our delicious and special Limoncello, and I remembered our fantastic experience again.  Thanks guys, for going for it and taking me with!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Paris, France

The Arc de Triomphe at night, with the Eiffel Tower in the background.  You can actually go to the top of the arc for viewing the city.  It's in the center of one of those round about circles, including the Champ Elysees.  Originally commissioned by Napoleon in the early 1800's I think, to celebrate all his army victories.  Unfortunately, he was deposed before it was finished, and actually didn't go through it except in his casket.

The Eiffel Tower was built around the beginning of 1900 for the National Exposition or something like that.  Originally, it was the tallest man-made structure in the world, and was to be taken down 20 years later.  Fortunately, it's functionality for broadcasting radio and tv helped to preserve it by giving it further use.

I have trouble getting a good perspective when taking photos of the Eiffel Tower.  It's so big!  Like almost 1,000 feet tall to the top.  We were going to climb the tower, but the stairs were closed when we arrived, too late at night.  I've yet to climb the darn thing.  Apparently you can climb to the first and second tier, and the elevator takes you to the top, if you chose that.  Anyway, I liked this view of it, with the street lights blended in, even though it's not in landscape, I couldn't find a good-enough landscape to replace it.

Sometimes it seems like they don't make food that's not awesome in Paris.  We just walked around to find this place, and it was very good!  That's my lamb chops, and Mark had scallops I think, and on the right, you can see the last escargot shell remaining. 
This was a typical brasserie with their own interpretation of the classic croque monsieur if I am spelling that correctly.  A ham and cheese sandwich, albeit exceptionally delicious.

These are pastries in a little patisserie around the corner from our hotel, I think it's called Guest.  Why are most Parisians not overweight?  And how are so many petite?
  Not an exciting picture, but I wanted to capture a really fun restaurant.  This is another place we went to by recommendation from one of our locals.  Le Relais de Venise restaurant is very near our hotel, at Porte Maillo.  It's a regular, where you just sit down, and get the fixed menu.  Steak and frites.  Oh, you chose the wine, which was delicious.  The steak is out of this world.  So tender and delicious, with a sauce I can say may be close to Bearnaise.  Buttery, herbs, and so on.  Then of course a huge pile of frites, followed by your choice of dessert.  Absolutely worth the wait.  They do not take reservations.  You wait around the block, but the line goes pretty fast. Very fun, and great food.

Actually, one last note on logistics:
The Air France bus from the airport to town was perfect.  It's a bit of a haul, and the buses are nice and inexpensive.  Here's the one we used, #2 to our area of Porte Maillot.  It's only like 14 or 16 Euros.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

So many choices Paris France.

We are headed to Munich this afternoon. Paris has been awesome. We've seen, walked, metro, ate, drank, and got cold and wet. It's hard to look forward, it's so nice here. So it's time for a cappuccino and pastry. The choices are, well Parisian.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Guest 91 avenue des Ternes Paris

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Barcelona, Spain

Beautiful night shot from top of the hotel.
We watched the sunset.  This is slightly before.
4Cats restaurant.  Delicious and fun, and not too expensive.
I had to capture this picture from the wall at 4cats, as I had just seen the original in the National Museum!
Student protest, in front of the Mobile World Congress.  The protest was about higher student tuition and fewer students accepted.  Moving on to Rome.

Gothic Quarter, Barcelona Spain

I'm not sure if this captures the Gothic area, but loved both the scooter and the alley here.  It's so common and gives the feel of being here in Medieval times.
This is the first Gaudi designed cathedral, where he began some of his experiments leading to Sagrada Familia cathedral.  This is, in itself a beautiful church.  Unfortunately, it pales in comparison to his epic work, Sagrada Familia.
This is a nothing area, where are hotel is, and just look.  Even here it's a beautiful part of Barcelona.  This is the Diagonal, at the sea.
The metro here is fantastic.  Super clean, efficient, every 4 minutes or so, and 1 euro per ride.  This is at my hotel stop.  I would Jib Jab more, but I am already from here to Rome, and now Paris.  It's 9am, I am looking out my hotel at the Eiffel Tower.  It's time to continue the adventure!