Wandering the city

Hoofing it: Wandering the Windy City (and by Boat)

I had a great time in Chicago, it was a really great city to walk around and enjoy. The city is just enormous and has some of the tallest building in North America. It also well was/is home to some storied companies such as Sears, Montgomery Ward, F.W. Woolworth’s, Prudential, Wrigley and the local Tribune newspaper.

During our visit I had a chance to take the amazing Architectural river boat cruise and see many of these amazing buildings for a really great vantage point. The tour was really really great. It truly brought the city to life and allowed me to see the city on a way that I had not expected to see it in. The tour guide did a great job of describing the buildings and explaining why they were designed the way they were and talked a ton about the history of the city and its growth. Besides that he added a good bit of humor to keep the tour light and interesting too. I know that if I had not been on this three hour tour (really just 1 ½), I would not have come away from Chicago with  as much knowledge as I did about the history of it.

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My golden ticket for the Architectural Boat Tour

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Trump Tower,second largest building in Chicago.

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Categories: Cruising, Photography, Travel, Travel Blog, Trip Report, Wandering the city | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Wandering Pike Place Market

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Check out my double chin

I had a nice afternoon wandering Pike Place Market in Seattle. This was the fourth day in a row of 80 plus degree temperatures. Apparently this has not happened since August of 2013, which is crazy on its own. How can anyone survive more rainy days then sunny ones is beyond me, but this beautiful city can easily make you forget those cold days when you have one like today. Since the city was in all of its beautiful glory  I had to take a visit down to Pike Street. I did have a hidden agenda, about getting a shot glass at the Hard Rock Café. It’s just up the street a few blocks from the market. I know it’s a terrible obsession, but I will save that for another post. Continue reading

Categories: Americana, Food, Photography, Travel, Travel Blog, Wandering the city | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Can I wear these shoes?

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Dubai here I come again. Yes it has only been two weeks since my last visit, but man I loved you so much I had to come back. Well seriously I did like it, but regardless of that I still would have come back when I only paid $300 for a roundtrip ticket back in November.

Funny enough I can be a terrible planner, when it comes to activities related to a non work trip and as I sit here on the airplane heading to Washington Dulles from LAX to catch my connection to Dubai I really have no idea what I’m going to do with my 1/2 day there. Last time as you may recall I went Malling (is that even a word) and visited the base of the worlds tallest building the Burj Kahlifa as well as Metroed around the city a bit.

For this trip I had grand intentions of going to high tea at the Burj Al Dubai, the iconic sail hotel sitting on the gulf. And it’s possible I might actually do that but I got lazy and didn’t make a reservation, which is a must. You can’t even get on property without a room or meal reservation. Besides that, I can’t really do high tea, because it’s at a set time and I won’t be in Dubai yet. But they do offer an evening tea in their lobby restaurant and I was thinking about that as an alternate, but since it was not in the Sky Bar, and is marketed as an evening high tea with cocktails and appetizers, I just can’t get too interested. Oh yeah and you have to dress business casual so that means slacks, collared shirt and dress shoes. They specifically say no trainers or running shoes. So I think these are out of the question, and to have to cart nice shoes half way around the world for tea, seriously. Remember I said I was lazy. Maybe during my lay over tonight in Dulles I’ll be motivated to book the tea, or I’ll get on the ball and book it for my third and final trip next month. Regardless of the location, I hear it’s a really fun thing to do and the hotel although a sort of tourist trap is really beautiful and worth the time.

So what should I do? Who flys half way around the world with no plans spends two nights on airplanes just to show up in a foreign country with zero agenda. This guy!! I know sounds kind of silly. But like I said earlier, I can be a terrible planner, usually for me it’s getting there that gets my juices flowing it’s not the destination per se. Don’t get me wrong there have been many vacations and activities that will forever leave a mark on me, like the Great Barrier Reef, Bali, Dachau, Ground Zero and Oktoberfest. But for most trips I’m just if not more jazzed about getting there then being there.

So when I think about my soon to be here half day in Dubai, I’m still wondering what I’m going to do here. Anyone have any suggestions? Please hurry though, because tomorrow will be here before you know it.

Categories: Dubai, Travel, Travel Blog, Wandering the city | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Oktoberfest: Day 2 and 3

Man cannot live on beer alone, although we really really tired, we also took the opportunity to visit a few sites in central Munich. We visited my favorite beer garden at Viktualien Markt and also Ratzkeller (Der Glockenspiel). Marienplatz is always fun, there’s always something going on whether it be tourists hanging out, people shopping or just enjoying a beer at 10 AM in the beer garden. I still can’t get over that aspect of German life, beer before water and at such an early hour. Viktualien Markt is a really great open air market with tons of food stands (think farmers market) and lots of handy crafts, it’s just a fun place to visit.

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After that we went back to Wiessen, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, “G” and I went back for seconds and even thirds on our quest to drink our way through Oktoberfest. With 34 tents after day two we realized there was no way we would get to see them all so we just focused on the ones we wanted to see and enjoyed the most. That meant we kept ending up at ***it was the best combination of music and revelry that we found. The crown was a mix of young and old, but it was the band that just kept the place rocking and by about 3 PM you found yourself standing on the table with the rest of your new friends singing and drinking along with the other locals and tourists. What a blast.

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Categories: Beer, Europe, Food, Life, Oktoberfest, Photography, Review, Travel, Travel Blog, Trip Report, Wandering the city | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Finally here Oktoberfest day 1

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I finally made it to Mecca. Oktoberfest , Munich Germany. We arrived in Germany on the second weekend of this amazing festival of beer. I really really didn’t know what to expect except that I knew there would be a lot of people and a lot of beer. This was the 173 annual festival of Princess Therese’s marriage to King Ludwig.

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I was just amazed at the nationalism that the German locals showed. It seemed most were in lederhosen and dirndls. It was just really really cool to see the pride of a nation at a festival. I really just can’t think of anything here that comes even close. Sure there’s fourth of July and yes fireworks, but people don’t get dressed up in a national outfit let alone just a sense of pride. Even though is great emphasis to beer drinking here, there’s also a huge fair, festival and lots and lots of food too. Think of the state fair times 10.

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Inside the tents was still a pretty crazy site. Most tents hold over 4000 people, although I think there are a few that hold well over 10,000 and many tables are reserved one year in advance for a meal. So when we tried to rent a table for any time during the Wiessen, we were shut out. Which meant we had to find a table that was not reserved and either empty (never such luck), or ask people if we could sit with them. Thankfully we were always able to find someplace to sit, we may have had to ask 3-4 times at different places, but every time we went into a tent we were eventually successful.

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Every tent had an oompah band, and they play classic German songs and even in some cases 80’s one hit wonders too. It was funny though the band really set the mood for the tent. Of the 8-10 tents we checked out, there were 34, the more festive tents were the ones that played a great mix of oompah and songs from Neil Diamond, Gloria Gainer and Credence Clear Water. It was really funny to hear some of these songs in English and then sung in German, I don’t speak a lick of it, but could sing along in English it was just great.

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There was also the occasional person that would stand up and shotgun a Mas of beer (1 liter), in this case the crazy guy finished his first then put the Mas down and grabbed number two, and downed that one with authority. All I can say is wow.

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Paulaner seating chart

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Categories: Beer, Europe, Food, Life, Oktoberfest, Ordinary Life, Photography, Review, The wish list, Travel, Travel Blog, Trip Report, Wandering the city | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nemo, Dory, Nemo, Dory, Nemo

My kid loves the aquarium, anytime we tell her we’re going it really makes her day and I just love that. “S” loves the ocean, loves looking at fish and just can’t get enough of it, just like I did when I was young. Last weekend we spend a very nice afternoon at the Academy of Sciences and the Steinhardt Aquarium in Golden Gate Park. We have an annual pass and do our best to get there as often as we can, that being said it’s probably been three months since I’ve been there. This place is just amazing, and every visit I marvel at how great a place it is, coupled with the fact that I get to see it with a new set of eyes, just make it that much cooler.

The funny part about coming here or going any place that has an aquarium, is that “S’s” first words are always where’s Nemo and Dory. It’s pretty amazing she’s only two years old and knows who they are and knows what they look like. I guess we’ve trained her well, ha ha. But seriously, that’s the only movie she’s ever seen, granted about five times maybe more, but she’s incredibly observant. Damn smart kids. The funny part is that she saw the movie on our trip to the Maldives last December on the inflight TV, and ever since when she sees a TV on a plane she expects they will play it. Oh how little she knows about air travel.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves about the Academy, but I will say that if you’re ever in the city this is definitely a place to check out for sure.
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Categories: Americana, Family, Ordinary Life, Photography, Random, Review, Travel Blog, Traveling with kids, Uncategorized, Wandering the city | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

T-Minus Four Weeks

Looking forward to a few of these.

Looking forward to a few of these.

Well drinking season is almost upon us. In T minus 4 weeks I’m heading for Munich and Oktoberfest. As a lifelong lover of hops and barley, going to the ultimate beer celebration has always been high on my list. I’ve been fortunate enough to have visited Germany many times over the years (thanks to having In-Laws that live there), but have never been in town for Oktoberfest. As I’ve mentioned a few times in my blog, the big four oh is coming up in December, and my wife suggested that I make the pilgrimage. There was no way I was going to turn that offer down.

So once the dates were settled upon I started making plans. You see I’m really good about making travel arrangements, but not so great at deciding what to do while on vacation. I’m the kind of person that spends hours if not days making sure I have the optimal routing, seats and hotel but not the type of person that does tons of in city research. Usually I’ll read Lonely Planet or Fodor’s on the way there, and plan the vacation accordingly. Although in this particular case it’s extremely difficult to get evening tickets to one of the beer tents. You either need to know someone at the brewery or pay through the nose to buy a seat or a table. Even with the local hook up, and planning almost a year in advance, we were not able to get a table, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be able to get in a tent. It just means possible line standing and going early in the morning and hanging out all day. How bad could that be? Right? I mean it’s only Oktoberfest and all they sell beer all day. So besides spending a couple days at the Munich Oktoberfest Fairgrounds, I know I’ll get to hang with family, but I also wanted to check out Olympic Stadium the home of the ‘72 Summer Games. Although I was not born till December of ’73, I’m sort of an Olympics nut and the events surrounding those games would be interesting to see up close. I’ve seen a ton of documentaries and movies about the events, but I think getting up close will be worth it. I’d also like to visit Dachau. I know not the most uplifting experience, but again, I think it’s important to sometimes take a moment and reflect on what makes our world what it is, and to see another event in our history books up close and personal would be very enriching.

After five days in Munch, my buddy “G” and I will then head over to the Scotch and Whiskey capitol of the world and spend a few nights in Dublin. I’ll do my best to give my liver a rest, but the home of Bushmills and Jameson’s may have other plans. Plus being the home of my favorite beer, do I even need to say it’s name will have to be tested at many pubs too. I’m told that is just tastes better here. I’ll be sure to report my findings. In any event our plan here is to check out many Irish pubs, the Jameson’s and Guinness factories. And to boot “G” has a hook up who works for Jameson’s so we’ll see what that gets us.

So with just a few weeks to go before the big trip, I’m jazzed and ready to go.

Categories: Europe, Food, Oktoberfest, Travel, Trip Report, Wandering the city | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bucket, Bucket Bucket

So the Year of Rahul has got me thinking I should finally put my bucket list down on paper. I’ve been very very lucky to have had the opportunity to do so many things during my almost 40 years on this rock, and with hopefully at least another 40 more to go I look forward to the challenge of crossing some of these off the list. By no means is this list complete, but it’s a good start in the process.

• The Great Wall of China
• See Terra cotta warriors
• Visit all 7 continents (Antarctica and Africa) are all that’s left
• See the DMZ in Korea
• Visit Vietnam
• Visit Thailand
• See the Oscars live
• Hold an Oscar
• Go to the Super Bowl
• Go to a Rose Bowl game
• Go on safari in Africa
• Go whale watching in Alaska
• Play an event at the World Series of Poker
• Transit the Panama Canal
• Fly around the world in one trip
• Go to The Vatican
• Visit St. Petersburg
• Ride a gondola in Venice
• Visit the Sistine Chapel
• Go to the Sundance Film Festival
• Go to the Cannes Film Festival
• Drive a Ferrari
• See the Amalfi coast
• See the Pyramids
• Visit the Forbidden City
• Watch a taping of a TV show live
• Go to the Opening or closing Olympics ceremony
• Go to a World Series game
• Go to the Baseball all-star game
• Visit Fenway Park and Wrigley Field
• Go to Cowboys stadium
• Go to Mardi Gras
• See a no hitter live item accomplished July 2, 2013 SF vs. Cincinnati
• See Mount Rushmore
• Meet a former or current President of the United States – any will do
• Be at Times Square for New Year’s
• Go to Patagonia
• The Galapagos
• Go to Oktoberfest in Munich
• See Tibet
• See the Berlin Wall
• Visit Dubai
• Visit all 50 states (four to go)
• Cruise around the world
• Visit the Guggenheim Museum(s) in LA and Spain
• Visit la Sagrada Familia, Spain
• Eat at the French Laundry
• Eat at La Bernadin
• Eat a Philly Cheesesteak at Genos
• Go to Unos in Chicago
• Take my family to India
• Visit Quebec City
• Visit Pisa
• Visit Giza

Categories: Airlines, Art, movie, Ordinary Life, Random, Review, The wish list, Travel, Trip Report, Uncategorized, Wandering the city | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting Chilly in Chile

My bucket list includes hitting all seven continents, to date I have been to four. Asia on many occasions as early in my life as 1974 and as recently as March of this year. Europe in 2000 and as recently as 2009 with a trip coming up this September too. Australia last year and also this past March, and of course North America, I was born and still call it my home. So all that’s left is South America, Africa and Antarctica.

Well that is until a few months ago when I went to Santiago Chile for a quick 12 hour trip. Ok I’m sure many of you just ready the last sentence and then reread it and then read it again. Yes I said 12 hours in Santiago. I can go round and round with you about if that’s really considered a visit or a trip, and sure I could not see much more than the Central Business District, but I saw enough to know that the family and I MUST make a visit to Chile again and points beyond there.
Sure 12 hours is not much more than a night’s sleep, and yes I am certifiably crazy and I think my wife thinks I am too, but hey sometimes you just need to do what you need to do. First off there was a great airfare deal on American Airlines to Santiago from New York in Business Class to boot. I had an expiring coupon that I needed to use so I had a way to get to NYC on the cheap. Couple that with the deal and all I had to do was pack a bag, with a few warm clothes, since its winter in the Southern Hemisphere. I could leave on a red eye from SFO and be home two nights later after 12 hours in SCL (airport code for Santiago Chile).
After a few amazing flights on a combo of United to NYC and then American Airlines to SCL I was there. In downloading my pictures I realized I failed in taking any pictures of the inside of the planes. What I can say is that it sure can be great to get a really comfortable plane. I was lucky to fly the internationally configured United 757-200 to New York’s JFK, it had a lie flat bed and a 15” TV with movies and shows on demand. I managed to watch a movie or two and even get a few winks of sleep too. It’s not that hard to sleep on a plane when you’re comfortable that’s for sure. The balance of the trip was actually all on the same plane an AA 767-200 international two class plane. The funny part I think about that was that the flight was four segments JFK to Miami to SCL and return. They were all different flight numbers and there was not indicator except that the Miami SCL return would be on the same plane. Go figure. Again very very nice comfortable flight, with all entertainment provided on Galaxy 10.1 tabs. It was pretty cool. Anyhow enough about the flights since I don’t have any pictures. Flying in comfort made the LONG but fun journey worth it. I would never have done this kind of trip if I was sitting in the back. I know that makes me sound like a snob, but hey when it’s cheap or you can use free coupons to upgrade, why not.

On my way to Chile

On my way to Chile

Chile bound

Chile bound

Those are mountains not clowds

Those are mountains not clowds

Fountain near Plaza De Armas

Fountain near Plaza De Armas

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My cat Jack made his way to SCL

My cat Jack made his way to SCL

Artwork by the river

Artwork by the river

Open air market

Open air market

Three bucks for 2.2 pounds what a deal

Three bucks for 2.2 pounds what a deal

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A church door

A church door

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Plaza De Armas subway stop

Plaza De Armas subway stop

Building on plaza

Building on plaza

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The Plaza

The Plaza

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Well let’s get to the good part Santiago. As soon as we started out descent into SCL I knew I needed to come back. This picture out the window of the plane doesn’t do it justice, the “clouds” in the distance were not “clouds” they were mountains. All I could see in the distance were these amazing snowcapped mountains on descent and it was beautiful. Santiago sits at 1700 feet in the heart of the Andes Mountains, so all you see around the city are a bowl of mountains. The second part that made me fall in love was the European Old World charm with a Latin flair that city had. The buildings, streets and feel of the city made me think of Spain, France or Germany. It was way cool.
I spent 6 hours just wandering the Plaza de Armas area and the Cerro Santa Lucia a large hill in central SCL that had sweeping 360 degree views of the city and environs. Besides that I spent a lot of time sitting and people watching too, not a bad way to spend the day for sure. Before you know it though it was time to head back to the airport and get back to the family.
Surly 12 hours is barley a cup of coffee, but hey that’s all the time I had and I got to knock one more continent off the list and also another item off the buck list. Now I just need to get back there and take the family so we can all enjoy it.

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The had that has been to four continents

The had that has been to four continents

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Walking up to the top of Cerro Santa Lucia

Walking up to the top of Cerro Santa Lucia

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The view from Cerro Santa Lucia  230 feet above the city floor

The view from Cerro Santa Lucia 230 feet above the city floor

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Categories: Airlines, American Airlines, Food, Photography, Review, Travel, Trip Report, United Airlines, Wandering the city | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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