rowanf: (rowan silk wings)
Not being geeky today (yet), just capturing some links I sent to a friend.

Nicoya Peninsula
http://www.nicoyapeninsula.com/
http://www.govisitcostarica.com/region/area.asp?AID=10
http://travelcostaricanow.com/index.php/Gulf_of_Nicoya_Peninsula

Playa Samara
http://samarabeach.com/
http://www.nicoyapeninsula.com/samara/
http://www.anywherecostarica.com/destinations/samara-costa-rica

The Spanish school I'm considering there
http://www.samaralanguageschool.com/

A restaurant I can't wait to try
http://samarabeach.com/ellagarto/index.html
watch them cook on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbK2w8rCWk4

And just in general things to visit around CR
http://www.costarica-nationalparks.com/

Okay, I could link on forever -- Arenal volcano, other parks. Lots of YouTube videos. I'll stop now.
rowanf: (Me open mouth)

Fi-Trollquest3.jpg
Originally uploaded by rowanf.
So when we left our intrepid adventurers we had just arrived in Rennes. We awoke the next morning to a grey and rainy day. Our hotel had a real continental breakfast, one including cold cuts and a variety of cheeses in addition to pastries and cereal. Yay. However, my stomach decided to rebel and I spent much of the day at the hotel whilst Russell picked up the rental car and drove off to explore Vitre. The particularly frustrating thing was that Blizzard once again cut off my WoW access because of my foreign log-in. And then it was time for Tuesday maintance. So all of that enforced leisure didn't even allow me to play. *grump*

Today was supposed to be fairly clear skies so Russell took off for Mont Saint Michel and I wandered around Rennes. After asking at a newsagent about English language magazines (I had bought an Economist in Aups' train station) since I was out of paper reading material and not wanting to carry the iPad, I got directed to the Rennes train station. The newsagent there not only had magazines but also a selection of "foreign books" which were mostly mysteries and thrillers. I picked up the lastest Donna Leon (13.90 Euros!) after waffling between that an an old Charlaine Harris Harper Connelly mystery I wasn't sure I had read or not.

Fortified with reading material I went to a cafe and had an omelet as I hadn't really eaten much at breakfast (I am sick of ham & cheese!) whilst waiting for the Musee de Bretagne to open at noon. (So maybe it was lunch.) The museum documents the human history of the area from the earliest Paleolithic to more or less the present. The main info plaques are both in French & English which was lovely for me. They had a very interesting assemblege of stone tools and a great collection of Celtic coins. I had managed to leave my cane stool at the hotel so by the time I hit the Middle Ages I was flagging (and frankly less interested anyway). The history of Anne de Bretagne and the end of Breton independence with her marriage to the King of France was interesting (we are staying in Hotel Anne de Bretagne). And there was a room of folk costumes that was great. Unfortunately the practice of museums selling postcards of their collections has not caught on here. They had like six postcards and six bookmarks available... all of medieval illumination (probably from bible or book of days sorts of things). But it was a fine museum to wander for a couple of hours (though benches were a bit sparse for me).

I got back about two hours before Russell and got in some WoW time. Go me. So since I have no France pix... have a WoW illustration of me doing one of the new Troll quests. (*grumble* again about left at home camera.)

We went to dinner at La Chope which we had found last evening but were way too hungry to wait for European dining hours to roll around. I enjoyed "Coquille St-Jacques de ma Grand-Mère" and "Escalope de veau à la crème et champignons" whilst Russell enjoyed a wonderful pork in fruit stew that I can't find on the website menu. He also got the dessert that came with my Menu Chope. It was a lovely meal.

Tomorrow, off to Carnac, I hope.
rowanf: (South Park wasted)

Venice-shrine.jpg
Originally uploaded by rowanf.
Today was mostly a day of traveling. I did walk into Aups to grab some groceries so we could eat on the train but that was it. We took the TGV to Paris, a cab across town (from Gare du Lyon to Gare du Montparnasse) and then another couple hours to Renne. We arrived in the rain and are now sitting in our hotel enjoying having wi-fi. Yay! Maybe I'll actually manage to log into WoW sometime. :)

Don't have any pix for today so here is another one from Venice that I didn't use in a journal entry. I still can't believe I forgot my camera. :( Russell will probably post some of his to FB eventually. I just stole a couple of me to put up on Flickr, he has hundreds, of course.
rowanf: (rowan silk wings)

France-M&R&R.jpg
Originally uploaded by rowanf.
On Sunday, after brunch, we headed our for a tour of the area. Nearby is Lac du Sainte-Croix, one of the largest lakes in France (2200 hectares), created by a dam in the 1970s. Michael and Richard showed us one of the beaches (pebbles rather than sand) which they like to swim at during the summer.

Then we hit a Roman ruin in some nearby town (just four pillars from a temple of Apollo). I admit in stealing pix from Russell I went for the smiling faces over a decent shot of the ruins.

We tarried in the town of Moustiers Sainte-Marie. The town was on a hill with many pottery vendors, that being the speciality of the area. We looked the church with lovely stained glass and an interesting design. We had coffees and lemon drinks at a cafe over the cascade which is a river of waterfalls through the town. There is a local legend about a Lord who put up a star on a chain across the gorge above the town in fulfillment of a vow if his crusader son came home from the Holy Land. Or maybe it was something else... no one knows for sure. But today's star is the 13th to hang above the village over the centuries. The bakeries all offer star cookies. *grin*

Then we went on to a view point at the start of the Canyon du Verdon which was quite pretty. It is France's "Grand Canyon" evidently. Lots of folks in kayaks and paddle boats exploring the lake and canyon.

On the way home we stopped at a chevre dairy and got some lovely fresh goat cheese (including some to carry on our journey). We ate dinner at the Auberge de la Tour in Aups and that was lovely too.
rowanf: (Rowan Beltaine)

France-housefront.jpg
Originally uploaded by rowanf.
Saturday morning was market day so we wandered off to the market which had a variety of produce and food but also quite a lot of household things. We bought some soaps and strawberries and olive tapenade and some roast pork slices because I got peckish. Yum! We wandered back and Richard cooked a lovely brunch which we all ate on the patio.

After lunch Russell and I wandered back to the village to explore. The guys had told us to look out for Wilco, the cutest truffle pig. If you call his name he comes running and wags his tail just like a dog.

We checked out the shops but also found the clock tower and a 16th c Madonna raised in honour of some massacred Huguenots. I do wish I knew where my Huguenot ancestor, Henri Cabanis, came from in France. We know he fled to Switzerland with his wife and child, then left from Gravesend on to Virginia on the ship "Mary and Ann" in 1700. That is my only French line on my father's side. My mother's surname ancestors were from Alsace but I consider them Alsatian or German despite the area currently being in France (it was part of Germany when they left). I know my cousins have always considered themselves of French descent though.

Anyway, back to the present. We had a lovely dinner of salmon roll and asparagus then sat around a Beltaine bonfire until after midnight chatting and singing and enjoying the holiday.
rowanf: (Rowan - PCon 2011)

Venice-bag.jpg
Originally uploaded by rowanf.
We got up at 5am to go catch the vaporetto to head off to the train station to catch our train to Milan. We successfully transferred to a train for Ventimiglia but upon arriving there were told that there was a 24 hour French train strike and we might not make it to Nice. We still don't know if there was really a strike or if it was related to the current dispute between Italy & France about North African refugees. After several hours of hanging out on the platform about 3-4 trains worth of people crowded onto a Monaco train that came through (being from Monaco rather than French rail it was running). It was a crazy crush of people and we were very glad to get to Nice, but we had missed our connection for Les Arcs. Unless the Monaco train we were on was the connection and we got off when we should have stayed on but we're not sure about that either. Luckily there was one more train we could take so off we went arriving in Les Arcs about 9pm.

Michael and Richard came and picked us up at the Les Arcs train station and we are now ensconced in their lovely rustic farmhouse in Aups.
rowanf: (rowan dancer)

Venice-coffee.jpg
Originally uploaded by rowanf.
Two days we went out to Murano. The first we wandered the street shops and the second time we went to the Glass Museum. I also went to a couple factories that make chandeliers but (a) didn't find exactly what I wanted and (b) can't really feature paying 6,000 euroes (or more) on a chandelier. But it would look fine in our dining room! And it makes me want to take a lampwork bead class sometime. I realy do just love glass.

The Glass Museum's collection traces the history of glass from first century Roman glass up to various modern Murano designers. It is pretty cool. There are classic styles since throughout and then contemporary styles that change with time. There were hardly any of the milleflore pieces that we think so characteristic of Murano.

Our last night in Venice I realized that I had been eating lots of parma ham and veal but that I hadn't had a single Adriatic fish. So after a false start to a restaurant that was closed Thursdays (the closing days are very non-uniform in Venice) we asked the concierge and went off looking for his recommendation. After walking around for way to long we just picked a place. The weird thing about Venice is that there are 2-3 restaurants per block and they all have one of two menus. I sincerely hope that once you get out of the city centre that changes or the locals must have a very limited diet. Anyway, we split a bottle of Soave and I had a starter of lovely, garlicy scallops (I think it is the first time I got a scallop that still had its feet on) and a main course of Adriatic sea bass. It was quite lovely and very Venetian.
rowanf: (navigatrix)

Venice-market.jpg
Originally uploaded by rowanf.
We had beautiful weather in Venice. Our hotel, Hotel Casanova, was extremely centrally located off San Marco square. There was wi-fi in the lobby... as long as only one person was using it. It got much more problematic if another guest tried to log on. But most of the time we were out sightseeing so it wasn't a big deal.

Because the restaurants were pretty expensive and because I couldn't eat the continental breakfasts, we visited the Rialto Market a couple of times to get provender. It is a lovely market with lots of local produce (and fish, but of course we couldn't cook). We found a cheese vendor with a lovely selection of cheese and hams and salamis and olives. With some red pepper and tomatoes from the produce market I had a good stash of food. So we ate out once a day mostly and thus didn't worry about the prices so much.

Since the last time we were in Venice the downtown shops have gotten more touristy and identical... there are Murano glass shops, mask shops, souvenier shops, designer shops and lingerie shops (no idea about that last one LOL). I have no interest in the big name designer things but I stopped in on some small local designers. I tried on a 560 euros pair of shoes that were really quite stunning... but gah! I also admired a shirt with lace... that turned out to be 1,300 euros. I'm sure it was lovely and probaby Burano lace and all that but a white shirt! I'd ruin it the first time I ate in it probably, so how crazy rich would one have to be to buy such a shirt?

I wandered in and out many of the glass/souvenir/mask shops. There is a new style of mask that is filigree metal that I esteemed highly... but I just couldn't buy one because I wear glasses and masks/glasses don't really mix. I did try several of them one and wished though. I bought a few glass pieces for myself and for presents. And we realized that we didn't pack a deck of cards for our train journeys so we got a souvenier deck with a postcard type snap on each card in the deck and I am quite enjoying playing with it and recognizing scenes.

Via Flickr:
Checking out the produce at the Rialto Market in Venice.
rowanf: (metamorphosis)
because typing on the iPad is annoying for long updates. LOL

We had a very long trip to Europe. We got to the airport at 8am Sat our time and arrived at the hotel at 8:30pm Sunday Venice time. Our plane in DFW had some technical problem and it took so long to replace that we missed our Madrid connection... by minutes. Madrid airport is beautiful but enormous.

Needless to say, by the time we got to our hotel we were up for nothing more than to walk across the street to a trattoria and have some food. It was very good but quite expensive. The Parma prosciutto is yummy and I kept out 1/3 of it and some cantaloupe for breakfast which was good as the hotel "continental" is all bread. I long for Dutch/Belgian "continental" breakfasts which have cheese and cold cuts as well as bread.

Our hotel is very centrally located. This means St. Marks Square is very close. It also means that it is fairly noisy with foot traffic along our alley far into the night. No car noises, true, but rummbling carts echo nonetheless.

Yesterday we walked over to the Rialto Bridge to catch the St Mark's Day regatta. I forgot to bring my camera to Europe. I have no idea how I managed that idiocy but I did. So no nice snaps from flickr to grace my Lj. For the regatta each section of the city has a colourful gondola - red, yellow, green, blue, etc. It was a lovely site watching the teams zoom along.

After a bit of a break, we headed over to Murano and wandered among glass shops. We had lunch at a canal-side restaurant. It was cheaper but inferior to the one across the alley. We are probably going to try and go back Thursday to see the glass museum. I ran out of spoons before we got that far. And it is closed Wednesday. (It is supposed to rain later in the week so we are doing fair weather sights now and museums later.)

I am having trouble getting enough food since I don't eat pasta or bread. Today we are going back to Rialto for a market day where I hope to find sausages and cheese or other food that I can keep in our mini bar fridge.

Edited to add a snapshot

Venice-bridge.jpg
rowanf: (Fi Pirate)

noblegdn-fi-screen.jpg
Originally uploaded by rowanf.
On Friday in New York we finally had a beautiful day. We headed off to Central Park and wandered through the Rambles and by Belvedere Castle and on across to the Metropolitan Museum. We grabbed lunch at street vendors (empanada for me, gyros for Russell) and then Russell pushed me around the Egyptian sections and the photography exhibits. The Egyptian stuff was very cool. The photography was, erm, painfully arty. And really the day was too pretty to stay indoors. So we headed back out and took a carriage ride through the southern part of the park. Then we wandered by the Apple Store (wholly underground with the strange clear cube on the surface. Tres pretentious! Then we wandered over to Bloomingdales where there was a speciality chocolate shop he wanted to try. He got some truffles and I got a present for [livejournal.com profile] saffronrose for her fabulous favour of getting my laptop out of durance vile. On the way back to our hotel we stopped at an chaat house and got take-away. Having a refrigerator and microwave in our hotel room was the best thing!

Saturday Russell went to the Top of the Rock and Bryant Park to take more pictures and I went to Sephora and bought some Urban Decay eye shadow. We caught a cab to the airport and spent the rest of the day on airplanes. The cab ride home was unexpectedly expensive. Evidently San Jose instituted a minimum $15 fare for the first 3 miles. So it was about $20 to get the 5 miles home! They did say that they are seeing half the traffic that they did this time last year. But bah.

Sunday we (mostly Russell) put the house back in order (much furniture still being piled in the kitchen from having the carpets done just before we left. I spent a fair amount of time trying to get my laptop squared away. They weren't able to get all my data off and my last backup was three months ago. It stopped reminding me to backup when Russell upgraded my OS and I failed to notice. *sigh* I also went out to restock the house with food and stuff to make dinner for us and Erika & Reaps Sunday night. They stopped by on their way home from the Sacred Connections retreat.

And I played a bit of Warcraft, it being the world event Noble Garden. And I do like the world events. Ran Heroic Nexus with the guild on Saturday though we didn't down the last boss. There are some new things since the last patch, I think. I don't remember ice blocks the last time I did Heroic Nexus. And we got started late because of a server restart. Very frustrating really.

Monday I swung right into work and finished a search from before I left. Dealt with much of the stack of mail from being gone a week. Had leftovers for dinner, watched Dollhouse and CSI on Tivo and did more Noble Gardening in WoW. My computer is still not completely back to snuff. *sigh*
rowanf: (cigana rainha)
The 39 Steps show was fab. It was, of course, a Hitchcock homage. But it had the manic energy of Monty Python and the delightful delight of English farce. I'm so glad our Ave Q program had a 1/2 off "bookmark" in it so that we were encouraged to see it.

I decided that I needed a morning off, so after breakfast Russell headed out to wander and I went back to the room and sat around reading. And trying to reach We Fix Macs to pay for my computer which is fixed in case someone can pick it up for me. (I asked [livejournal.com profile] saffronrose.)

Then I went out and met Russell at Pret a Manger to have lunch. It is nothing like it is in the UK but it was okay. Then we did the tour of Radio City Music Hall which was fun. They are getting ready for the NBA draft picks this weekend so we didn't get into the main hall. I'd love to see the Rockettes extravaganza sometime, but the idea of coming here in winter is right out.

Then Russell and I parted and I headed off to the Ache Elegua Botanica (how could I resist a name like that?). It was mostly candles and washes, of course, but they also had a variety of cheap ($10-12) plastic saint and Orixa statues. I got Ogun, Oxum, Xango, Mami Wati and a prieta viejo. And another small Oxossi arrow. Good thing Russell has space in his suitcase!

I was walking back toward the street to catch a bus back our way when I passed a Chinese reflexology/massage place. $20 bought a 20 minute foot massage. OOooooooh, I really needed that. My newly soothed feet were happy that I flagged a cab instead of busses and walking. My feet feel so much better.

I'm just hanging out for now. In a couple of hours we're going to Nios Restaurant across the street.
rowanf: (Help I'm being englightened)
We got up early this morning, braving another grey rainy day, and went down to Battery Park and caught the ferry out past the Statue of Liberty to Ellis Island where we spent several hours steeped in immigration history. Not that either of us have ancestors who came thru Ellis Island. But it was very interesting anyway.

Then we headed to Chinatown and had lunch. Russell wasn't inclined to stick around and wander through the many shops so we headed uptown to the Sex Museum. It wasn't as interesting at the one in Miami, but mostly because I am more artefact oriented than media oriented. There was quite a history of sex in film. There was an exhibit on sex in the animal kingdom with lots of fun facts. And a few smaller exhibits on things like fetish wear. It was dry and had places to sit down from time to time so it worked for me. *LOL*

Now I'm going to go upstairs and eat my left-over 1/2 a cuban sandwich from dinner last night and put my feet up before we go out to see the 39 Steps tonight at 8pm.

I think I need a vacation from my vacation!
rowanf: (berries)
We got up and took the bus up to Museum Mile and visited the Museum of New York, hoping it would be like the Museum of London or Amsterdam and actually be a city history museum. It wasn't so much, but there was a Henry Hudson exhibit on for the 400th anniversary of New Amsterdam and that was very cool. There was only one mention of New Sweden. It said Peter Stuyvesant took over the "upstart colony"... somehow I doubt that is how my ancestors would have put it! There was a great exhibit on the fashion designer Valentina and a nice collection of someone's series of paintings of wrought iron railings on front porches. That was very much cooler than the description makes it sound. *grin*

Russell took off for his work visit to Popular Photography and I went down to the Met for the 1:45 tour of costume through the ages in art. We looked at everything from Greek statues, to Eskimo parkas to a French princess in panniers to high fashion in several other European eras. The tour guide opined often that there was nothing new in fashion. It was fun and I mentioned the Valentina exhibit in case anyone was into haute couture. I wandered around some but was fairly footsore by now and headed back to the hotel. It is now about 4pm and we will probably go to the Cuban restaurant down the block for dinner in a bit.

All this holiday making is quite wearing!
rowanf: (Default)
The day dawned rainy and cold, letting out the moning plan of a walk in the park. So, after breakfast, we took a bus over to the United Nations. We were planning on meeting Michelle later so we didn't do a tour but viewed several exhibits displayed there. I esp. liked Visions of Rwanda Photo Project which featured photographs documenting the lives of genocide survivors and perpetrators alike taken by these individuals. It was very moving and a wonderful project. The other exhibits were one on African drums and one on land mines. I had thought there was an exhibit on the history of WHO but we didn't find that one.

We got a call from Michelle and thought their arrival was imminent so we headed off to catch a bus to the Onassis Center but it turned out they were really just in Queens and figuring out trains. We went to lunch at City Lobster which was quite nice. I had baked oysters and steak and key lime pie (prie fixe) and Russell had corn-encrusted salmon. We eventually joined Michelle and her friends at the wonderful exhibit at the Onassis Ctr on Women in Ritual in classical Greece. They had an amazing collection, mostly of vase paintings but also statues and other artefacts showing women in the religous life of antiquity. It was all very quiet with guards watching over you so we didn't visit alot in our viewing. When we left we talked about going to coffee but Michelle wanted to see St Patrick's Cathedral across the street and by the time we had done that she thought perhaps she and her friends should take off. So much for a visit that we warped our entire day around being available for. *shakes head* Oh well. We were obviously old farts and no draw compared to the handsome young man she had along.

By now the skies were pouring buckets and I decided I had had enough for the moment. I'm soaking wet and on my way up to the room to put my feet up for awhile. Russell went off to look for the transit museum.

The ergonomics (!) of this biz ctr to not encourage long sessions. :)
rowanf: (Road to Hell)
So my laptop is at home in the shop. They gave me a loaner but it was a rather old and small laptop and couldn't run anything but a browser... so instead of bringing it to NYC we brought Russell's laptop. Which has now failed. /headdesk Waaaaaaaaah!

In other disappointments we had bought ahead two New York Passes which paid our way or gave us discounts to various attractions... and was supposed to keep us from standing in line. Russell is quite sure he packed them both (and dear [livejournal.com profile] mr_kurt has checked the drawer at home for us without success). Presumably it was lost with the TSA tossed his bags... but we have only one NY Pass. So lines here we come. *sigh* And $90 wasted.

Today we went up in the Empire State Building which entails almost as many lines as a top Disneyland attraction. There is quite a nice view though and I loved the marble interiors. Imagine having fancy marble on all the floors and not just the lobby.

We went up to the Carnegie Deli for lunch but the line was around the block and we wound up at Lindy's across the street. It was fine but I imagine we will have to brave Carnegie another time.

The production of Avenue Q was great fun and both of us enjoyed our matinee. The seats were tight but not as bad as the Orpheum where I saw it in SF. Yay, Russell got to see Avenue Q! After the play we went to Sardi's and had a drink. Expensive but very New York feeling.

Russell went off to try and catch sunset over the Brooklyn Bridge and I wandered a market that had sprung up near Times Square. There were many booths of ethnic food and I grabbed an empanada, a corn fritter with mozzerella and a fried plantain for dinner. Yum!

Then I came back and found the computer dead. I finished my book and took a nap. When Russell got back we went down the street to a Rosie O'Grady's pub and had a drink. Now we are in the Business Center at the hotel checking our respective email. Did I say waaaaah!?
rowanf: (navigatrix)
It was a very long day on the plane. We were in first class but had two toddlers, screaming toddlers behind us from San Jose to Dallas. Amazingly piercing screaming contests between the two of them. I slept thru a great deal of it (I have a talent that way) but Russell was not so lucky.

Our hotel is about a block and a half from Times Square. We wandered down there and then over to Rockefeller Center and hither and yon. It is like being in a giant outdoor mall with all the usual American mainstream chains. I had no idea. The Ricoh eco-sign wasn't lit and I saw no signs of the turbines so I guess that still isn't working. There is a Walgreen's in Times Sq and they have diet Dr. Pepper and we have a fridge in the room ($15/day - so worth it).

There do not seem to be any bars in the neighborhood. I think there must be an ordinance that only restaurants can serve alcohol or something. I wanted to get a drink (we had been quite well fed on the planes) but it was no to be.

Tomorrow much sightseeing and Avenue Q.
rowanf: (anime reader)

manhattansl_002.jpg
Originally uploaded by rowanf.
Russell and I are going to be visiting Manhattan from April 18-25. This is my first trip to NYC and we are going to do the normal touristy museums and landmarks. We have a city pass of some sort so we have a good list of tourist attractions. And we plan to hit the Carnegie Deli for cheesecake and Chinatown for dim sum. We have tickets to see Avenue Q. We'll cruise the NYPL and Times Square and such. And I know about the classical Athenian Goddess exhibit at the Onassis Center. But I was wondering if people on my friend's list might have suggestions for things one should not miss for someone like me on here first trip to the Big Apple?
rowanf: (navigatrix)
I spent another morning fussing about hotels in York. Since all my self-catering inquiries came through I'm on to regular hotels. The cheapest I've found is L80/$140 a night with most being about L140/$250. Yikes. My current candidate is Queens Hotel.


Continuing to contemplate the Swanage Folk Festival. Swanage seems rather back-of-beyond. One could train to Bournemouth from London (2 hours) and then take a ferry it seems. This is not sounding like a day trip. Both performers I'm particularly keen on are playing on Sunday. We're supposed to have checked into our London apartment on Saturday. And I had planned to travel late afternoon so we could go to the Brigantia Crafts Faire at Castle Howard that morning. So it would be hard to travel to London, get our apt, train out to Bournemouth and spend the night there or Swanage to go to the Festival on Sunday. Unless I decide to leave York early and forget the crafts fair. Maybe get to Swanage and do some Dorset/Purbeck sightseeing. I need to figure this out because I need to book the hotels soon.

Well, I've spent enough hours on this for today. *sigh* I need to get off the computer, my touchpad finger is numb.

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