Tannenbaum special

The Christmas season is about the Christmas trees. Living in San Francisco means I can enjoy public trees and not have to engage in slaughter myself. Here they are, in the order I met them:

Tannenbaum of Pier 39

Tannenbaum of the Fairmont Hotel

Tannenbaum of Castro Street (unlit)

… and lit!

Tannenbaum of 555 California Street (Carly Rae Jepsen was at this tree lighting and she was super adorable, but my video of her performance was very low quality).

Tannenbaum of City Hall (outside)

Tannenbaum of City Hall (inside) – aka “The World Tree of Hope

There may be a giant sugar castle at the Westin St. Francis. Maybe I should go visit that too. Which one of these is your favorite?

New Orleans

On my second night, we went to a bar called Snake & Jake’s Christmas Bar Lounge. It appeared to be a shipping container strung with red lights. I felt as if I were in the opening credits of True Blood.

It was good! There, a bright eyed young girl who had met me only hours previously told me dark things about her past and her last relationship. It fit perfectly.

One of the mansions along St. Charles hired a movie production company to decorate their property for Halloween. Here are the results:

One lazy Sunday, we tried a new dessert place. Dessert counters fill my heart with delight.

My friend had a salted caramel cupcake, and I tried the Earl Grey truffle. Both were heaven.

My friends have become foodies of sorts and this is a breakfast-in-bed that one of them made for me.

I spent some time wandering the French Quarter because I was a tourist. You’ll be proud of me, though. The most egregious souvenir I purchased was a magnet with little crawfish for my mom. This is a hotel famous for its cornstalk fence

It was quite common for streets to be closed to cars. Instead, they would fill with people: musicians, homeless-looking artist kids, and yeah, other tourists.

I didn’t think it was much like old Orleans at all, but it did have alleys and outside dining, so it felt vaguely European.

The St. Louis Cathedral interior

The exterior

A few years ago at Cafe Beignet, I made the acquaintance of a friendly boy-cat. (Pictured on the right). He made his rounds in the garden seating area, collecting pets and ear-rubs from any willing patron. This time, he was well hidden with a new lover. Congratulations to him!

Here’s the famous beignet place. I can’t really tell the difference though. Fried dough is always good.

It is a wedding tradition here to march through the quarter with all your guests and a portable band known as a “second line” — I was lucky enough to see one

It was also fairly common for wrought-iron enclosed balconies in the quarter to be overrun with jungle plants

A few more from the quarter

Joan of Arc’s horse’s ass

Crest of (old) Orleans

Lazy river. I’m told it’s not fit for swimming though. Sadly.

They had these drains at the palace in Blois. But in New Orleans, vagabonds would paint them at night. The original was black like the rest of the pipe.

City Park has a creepy statue garden for children called Storyland, but I don’t know why they bothered. The rest of it already looks like something from a fairytale. “Meet me on the bridge. Don’t tell anyone.”

I have never known what these are for, so I call them wedding pavilions. Stand in the center, kiss the bride. Look into each other’s eyes and think about forever. In that moment, it shouldn’t seem like such a long time.

Maybe I’m right about them. After all, this one’s interior is Tiffany Blue

I went to see Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, and found a surprising number of Germans entombed there

This may have been a garden shed (I saw no names). But if not, forgive me for being rude

Not sure what the tree trunk was for. I think the red was firemen.

Even in death, this person had a space bubble

She seems like the sort of statue that would cry blood sometimes.

On the wrong side of St. Charles avenue, many houses are abandoned to moulder. Sometimes, it was haunting, beautiful. This is my dream house.

And this is farewell.

Don’t think I didn’t do many debaucherous things with many old and new friends. I did, oh I did. It’s only just that those things are about the feelings and can’t possibly be well captured at my skill level of photography. One day.

Prague

I studied abroad in Hungary as an undergraduate, but never visited Prague. Until I remedied that earlier in the year, it was my biggest regret. Prague is located on the Vltava river, and I’ve decided that every decent city has either a river or an ocean coast. This is from the Charles Bridge

Don’t these buildings make you think of confectionery?

I’m reminded of a “your mama” joke. This church is so big it wouldn’t fit in my viewfinder.

From the church tower, these spires reminded me a bit of Oxford

And this fog made me think of home

I thought this boy was cute, but maybe I just liked his giant golden sword

I was lucky enough to have been there near Easter. Which meant there were special Easter markets, and I got to try seasonal specialties like “prosciutto di Praha” (spit-roasted ham) and “trdlo” (spit-roasted dough cylinders with cinnamon sugar and sesame seeds). I also got to watch a bunny race. What will I do now that I’ve remedied my life’s greatest regret? Promote my next biggest regret: I didn’t buy the pretzel-shaped magnet that said “Germany Deutschland” that I saw in Regensburg.

Firenze

First glimpse of the Duomo again after years. Exciting!

One of my favorite statues

It’s a griffin, a griffin. Griffin!

Oh Duomo, you are so tall. I accidentally marched in a Catholic midnight mass because it was right before Easter. I held a candle and we followed a priest with a stereo system on wheels, pretending to sing in Italian.

Loving mothering and a missing arm

Across the river, there was a little bar serving 5 euro homemade lasagne. At the counter, they had a basket of free sausage chunks. Also homemade. Afterwards, we found a gelateria with a long line of locals. Beautiful and quiet on that side.

These views were, after all, from the Piazzale Michelangelo. Wouldn’t be right not to have a picture of his statue.

Dante. I’m still meaning to read his Inferno…

Sunsets are better enjoyed with a nice lion

Genova

Pardon, I know these are late, but here are some pictures from my trip to Italy earlier this year. I found this merman when looking for a grocery store. When I finally found the grocery store, I bought a month’s supply of parmesan flavored Cheetos, I kid you not.

It was cold the whole time. Rainy and 4 degrees celsius. I took pictures of buildings while natives in dark colors skirted around me, looking at me like I had gone mad.

Our hotel was so posh, it even had velvet seats in the elevator. Around the corner, there was a bakery with hot chocolate croissants.

The view from the hotel window. If you were to look up, you’d see the time and temperature. Both were sad facts that first morning, waking up jet lagged at 5:17 am to the frigid darkness.

Someone tell me why the Europeans were so obsessed with lions. And how they even knew what lions looked like.

He looked so concerned I wanted to comfort him. “There there, Mr. Lion. The rain won’t ruin your pretty mane. Promise.”

Genova was built half on a mountain, making for dramatic elevation changes.

Now these people know how to live. Their rooftop isn’t large or glamorous, but notice the pool, swing and picnic table.

The city had two levels. I liked that I managed to find the bridge that was outside my hotel window.

 

 

Oahu, east coast

It seems a good day to look at pictures of the sea. I had a housemate once who liked to hang from meat hooks pierced six in a row through his back flesh. He wanted to find a bridge on the coast to suspend himself from, and he let me come along for his search.

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These cliffs, weathered by time and an unrelenting ocean, looked computer-generated.

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He found his bridge, and I found a lonely coconut

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Mont Saint Michel (Part 10)

I have been dragging it out and dreading this day. You see, the trouble with dreams coming true is that shortly thereafter, they end.

We stayed at a centuries-old farm house not far from the mont. It was run by an Irish ex-pat and could have been something out of a horror film. Whimsical. Like these statuettes around his well

N chose our dinner spot so we would have a view. I had moules frites again.

This was the last picture I got with my camera, because it fell from a great height (of 2.5 feet) the next morning and was never the same again

The rest are courtesy of N.

The next day, we went to Mont Saint Michel for the nocturne.

I would call it a regret, but it wasn’t really a choice. That poor camera… I would have loved to show you the water rising and flooding the plains, covering the roads and erasing everything but the mont.

There was a cello concert in the abbey at sunset

The sunset casting its dilute gold over everything for miles — taken from just outside the abbey

Don’t worry, N wasn’t neglectful. We spent the end of my trip in Paris walking for miles and seeing all of the things. I just can’t prove it. I haven’t the will right now, but I’ll end this series next time with a few thoughts on my time in France.

To be continued…

nb: this part of a series on my trip to France

Vannes and Saint Malo (Part 9)

It’s been a while since I got back. I almost don’t remember visiting Vannes at all. Which is sad, because I do remember liking the feel of the city.

And we found this hugging monster in a building we just wandered into. No, you’re not scary at all. Let’s cuddle.

N says he remembers visiting this garden when he was younger. He also remembered having ice cream. The things that live on in our hearts…

Saint Malo is a popular resort town, especially with the English. Part of it is completely walled in from Medieval times. It’s also home to a few pirate ships.

And the most colorful cathedral window I have ever seen

It was a little sad for me that it was such a fine day and we didn’t just lay on the beach until sunset.

We strolled along the top of the outer wall

This is a bit creepy, but I thought I could see all the way through this apartment. It turns out, that was just a mirror. Accidental self-portrait.

N was not entirely without a heart though. He did allow me a brief nap on the wall, overlooking the ocean. What a fine nap it was.

To be continued…

nb: this is part of a series on my trip to France

Île-aux-Moines (Part 8)

Following advice from our host at the beach house, we planned for a day trip to Belle-Île, but just missed the ferry.  The next departing ferry was bound for Île-aux-Moines, so we went there instead.

This trip made me want to learn how to sail. Little sail boats though. No motor. No fancy yacht.

This tiny island town of 700 feels a kinship with my city by the bay

I didn’t get a picture, but nearly everyone had a cart that they would hitch to the back of a moped. There weren’t cars besides a few large vans for transporting campers and their equipment.

My future boat, perhaps

It was easy to imagine spending more time here. Beautiful, quiet, faraway.

At the bakery, (yes, an island of 700 has its own bakery) we saw a Filipino woman touch a loaf of bread. Two bakery workers gesticulated wildly and shouted at her (in French) to stop. The woman yelled back in frustration “I DON’T SPEAK FRENCH!” I don’t either, but I think they were giving the international signal of “DO NOT TOUCH.” N was absolutely gleeful at this. He told me “I felt in my heart that it was not right that she was touching the bread.” We stopped for lunch just here, next to the church

I even sat on the wall to eat

Wine colored hydrangeas. Fancy

No one knows what the meaning or purpose behind the stone statues. This one, the monk, is presumably who the island was named after

We followed a path along the coast

There were hydrangeas everywhere. I know it’s an old lady flower, but it’s my favorite. They may look fancy, but they require little care. You just have to set them in the right place — cloudy, cool, dry, and most importantly, no direct sunlight.

We eventually went back. That flag in the window is the flag of Brittany

To be continued…

nb: this is part of a series on my trip to France