I don’t think my distaste for New York’s Penn Station is any secret, but it only gets emphasized when I get to spend time in other train stations that are more beautiful. Obviously, here in NYC, Grand Central and the new Oculus are great spaces (and vastly different to each other), but other cities still have beautiful Amtrak stations.
I took a short trip to Philly this summer to visit friends, the weekend before the DNC, and so 30th street was at its shiniest, spiffiest best. This is one of my favorite stations – sure Amtrak does its best to muck things up with its standardized modern signage that makes zero effort to blend with the classic art deco building, but it’s still OK.
for this summer’s vacation, I took myself to iceland. I went on the Nat Geo/G Adventures “Explore Iceland” tour of the southern part of the country, with a few extra days in Reykjavik at the beginning. It was a great time, our guide was great (both as a guide and a lot of fun), and my only complaint is that I managed to come home with a cold, but I’m blaming that on the guy next to me on one of my flights who coughed the entire trip and wouldn’t cover his mouth, no matter how many dirty looks I gave him. I’ve managed to whittle down the 1,500 pictures to the 125 or so below (plus one attempt at a stop motion thingamajig). Without further ado…
I flew to Reykjavik on Thursday, landing in the middle of the night, so I really had Friday/Saturday/Sunday to get over my jet lag and explore before meeting up with the tour group on Sunday afternoon/evening. I didn’t really plan this when I planned the overall trip, but Saturday was basically the biggest day of the year in Reykjavik – the Culture Night, a combination of the city marathon, a giant street fair, and massive concert/party all day and night that coincides with the anniversary of the city. it’s like July 4th and New Years’ rolled into one, in the politest city on earth. so that was fun. The entire country of iceland only has a population of 350,000, which I think is smaller than the number of people who ride my subway train in the morning, so the scale of things is just a bit different. This first batch of photos is from my wanderings around Reykjavik for the first couple of days. I did venture into a few museums, but I generally don’t take pictures inside those (and the few I did aren’t particularly…photogenic), so nothing to show for that. Other highlights include a lot of random statues, doors, and a trip to the top of the Reykjavik Cathedral. There’s an elevator.
Sunday night, I met up with the tour group, and we went for a ‘traditional’ icelandic tasting menu. I managed to take pictures of everything except for dessert. As a bonus, one of my tour-mates took a not horrible photo of me, so this is the rare trip where I will actually appear in some of the photos. If anyone is curious, the dessert was icelandic skyr.
The first day of our tour was the “golden circle”, which a lot of folks do as a day trip from Reykjavik – it took us first to a geothermal power plant, where we learned how iceland is 100% powered by the volcanoes that the entire country sits on, then to site of the original icelandic parliament, which is really just a gorgeous lake, and then to the mid-atlantic ridge. Then we went to lunch at a hydroponic tomato farm greenhouse where they serve nothing but tomato-based foods, saw some icelandic horses, then, went to Geysir, which you can probably guess is the site of a lot of geysers, and finally to Gulfoss, the first of about a zillion waterfalls that cover this gorgeous country.
Lest you think the little geyser in the photos above was the only geyser I photographed, I saved the best for last. below is (an attempt at) a compilation of all of the photos I took of the main geyser going off. Note at the very beginning the perfect bubble that forms before the geyser actually explodes. We had to wait for about six explosions before I managed to catch that split-second moment on film.
Day two of the tour (yes, we’re only on day 2) involved traveling to Vik, the southernmost point in iceland, with stops at some major waterfalls and the coastline along the way. This is a stunningly beautiful country, entirely formed by volcanoes. The beaches are black volcanic sand and the waterfalls are runoff from the volcanic glaciers, and there are these crazy basalt pillars rising up from the earth all over the place.
Day three was more (smaller) waterfalls, glacier lagoons, crystal beaches where icebergs wash up on shore, and turf-roofed churches. and sheep. The sheep simply roam the entire country during the warm months and you’ll see them everywhere. EVERYWHERE.
Day four of the trip was hiking on a glacier! unfortunately, while the actual scenery was beautiful, the volcanic-ash covered ice wasn’t particularly photogenic up close. Then we went to yet another waterfall in the afternoon (seriously. There are a lot of waterfalls).
The final day of the tour involved driving back across southern iceland, with a few stops – first to a bridge monument that is the last remnants of a bridge that was wiped out by a volcanic eruption and massive flood in 1996. Then to Fjaorargijufur, a beautiful gorge that is probably *now* most famous for being used in a (ugh) Justin Bieber video. (it’s even prettier when the sun is actually shining – we were avoiding rain all day). Lastly, to a settlement museum where we learned a bit more about the history of iceland and visited a historic village that had been relocated to the museum grounds. And that was it (at least for public consumption – pictures from the bar in Reykjavik later in the evening are under lock and key!)
Because I got my new camera during this period, I was taking more “real” pictures, so pure instagram posts were a little sparser. but Sadie the cat is ever present, as are some travel-related pics and some minor clues as to my political leanings.
Not as delayed as last time. As always, there are cats and coffee. Plus some (sort of) kosher baked goods and it was primary day here in NYC, as you may have heard. The weather started cooperating a little more, but not as much as one would like, and I’ve begun experimenting with an antique film camera that I found at a tag sale, but since that requires film, you’ll have to wait even longer for anything other than a picture of the actual camera (so far I’ve shot 2 out of the 3 rolls of film I bought, and so I’m looking for something interesting to use the last 12 shots on before I send everything in together to get them processed).
This is a massive photography catchup, going back to october. I didn’t post a lot of photos in general that month, so i figured I would wait another month, and then things just got away from me. And as with anything, the longer one waits to catch up, the harder it gets to actually do the work. So now that February has ended, I’m biting the bullet today and getting everything through the end of the latest month up. pre-spring cleaning, shall we say. As always, this wouldn’t be a roundup of my instagram without coffee and cats. plus subway kvetching, pretty much the entirety of winter this year (of which there wasn’t much), and some more baking experiments.
I never got around to posting my instagram pics from july, so I’m posting everything from july and august together, now that we’re heading into labor day weekend. Pics include my normal subway related fare, snapshots from my trip to wyoming and mini trip to the botanical garden, the cat (of course), and some culture by way of the most anticipated, awesome show on broadway right now.
I know it seems like I travel a lot, but last week I actually started my first vacation of 2015 (provided you don’t count the fact that I took January 2nd off as part of the tail end of last year’s holiday break). I’m still finishing up the two weeks of PTO that I took off by doing some touristy stuff in and around New York (and running errands, always errands), but last week I attended the National Geographic Wyoming Cowboy Country Photography Workshop. It was quite fantastic. I’ve wanted to do one of the NatGeo workshops for a while, particularly after my trip to the Galapagos, and this one fit in with my already planned PTO schedule. The instructors (Jay, Jeff and Frank) were amazing, the entire class group was a blast, and everyone who worked at the CM Ranch was phenomenal. I may have threatened to kidnap the chef on more than one occasion.
And the scenery…
I haven’t spent a lot of time traveling to the “interior” of this country. Living on the coast has made it all too easy to choose to fly east when planning a trip somewhere, but a while back I made a commitment to try to see more of this vast expanse of a nation of ours. So I was really glad to have the opportunity to take this trip for that reason as well. Many years ago, one of my European friends remarked that the biggest difference they saw between Europe and America was just how big and open everything was here – Europe is not only geographically smaller, but developed at a time when, by necessity, everything needed to be close together. You simply don’t understand the vastness of America without seeing it.
Rather than trying to explain everything up front, I’ve embedded descriptions into the slideshow itself. And if you think there are a lot of pictures here, please note that these 115 or so pics have been whittled down from over 3300 that I took over the course of the week. That was the hardest part.
It was somewhat of an impulse vacation, when I realized that if I didn’t take some time off soon, I wasn’t going to get a break until the end of the year because of the way some work projects were shaking out, so I put in for some time and decided, rather impassively based on some good deal opportunities on Expedia, to go to Venice for the week. I got back last weekend, but with the jet lag and the catching up with work and other stuff, I finally got to sit down and sort through photos this weekend.
The way the trip worked out, I really only spent four full days in Venice. I landed on Sunday mid-day, and flew out again on Friday afternoon, leaving Monday through Thursday as the days to truly wander around and soak in the atmosphere. I largely avoided the whole Clooney wedding kerfuffle (arriving after the main event, and yes, I planned my trip before that whole mess was even announced), but the tourist crowds in general were not avoidable.
By day then… (if you click on the thumbnails, you can click through all of the photos from the trip without having to exit)
Sunday and Monday: Some arrival shots, my hotel was situated right on the Grand Canal on the Dorsoduro side across from San Marco, so you could sit in the front lounge/bar and just drink cocktails and soak in the view. I did this a lot. On Monday, my original plan was to go to the architecture biennale, but apparently it’s closed on Mondays, so I recalculated and spent Monday at San Marco, visiting the museums (Museo Correr and the Doge’s Palace) and generally wandering around the area.
Tuesday: Second and more successful attempt to head over to the architecture biennale, curated by Rem Koolhas and held at the Venice Arsenale. It was mostly video installations, which doesn’t really lend itself to photography, and I didn’t spend a lot of time in the country pavilions at the end, choosing instead to grab some lunch and then head up the grand canal via vaporetto (where I got a coveted seat on the back deck of the boat) to the jewish ghetto for a late afternoon tour of the synagogues – again, no pictures allowed inside, but the tiny synagogues built secretly into the top floors of the houses here are a marked contrast from the luxury of San Marco. A definite must-see if you’re ever in Venice. The word “ghetto” actually derives from this tiny island, which was originally an italian “gheto”, or foundry, and which is where the original jews of venice were segregated because they could be walled off and locked in at night during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Wednesday: it was pouring rain on Wednesday, so I decided to make this my lazy day. I slept in and then headed over to the Peggy Guggenheim collection, which was near my hotel. Not a lot of pictures, because I generally don’t think photographs of art do any justice to the art itself.
Thursday: My last full day, which was beautiful again, I decided to just take a lengthy walk, starting in San Marco and heading back up towards and past the Rialto Bridge, wandering in and out of side streets and canals and basically getting lost (although you can never get really lost in venice, because you’re never that far from the Grand Canal). Made my way back for a late afternoon lunch near L’Accademia Bridge, the “other” bridge that crosses the Grand Canal, and then finally went back to San Marco for the ultimate in tourist trap dinners, but had a total blast listening to the band and just generally enjoying the piazza, wine, and atmosphere.
The weekend before Memorial Day was my law school reunion. 15 years (gasp!). It was tons of fun, and compared to last time, much less anxiety-inducing (I had gotten laid off from my job only three months before my 10-year reunion, so the “what are you doing now” questions were a little awkward). I didn’t take many pictures of the festivities, because I was having too much fun in the enjoyment of them, but Saturday morning I walked up to the new Barnes Foundation and took a few shots.
Friday was our last full day in the islands, as Saturday involved an early-morning wake-up call so that we could all spend half the day traveling back to ecuador. Our last day took us out to genovesa island, which is completely covered in various seabirds, including the red-footed booby. Not only do these have red feet rather than blue, but they are the only boobies with prehensile feet, so that they can perch in trees (blue-footed boobies get their foot color from eating oysters. Red-footed boobies get their foot color from eating squid).
We also saw frigate birds, which remind me of nothing so much as a disney villain (or villain’s henchman). Appropriate, given that their main means of collecting food and nesting materials involves stealing it from other birds who’ve done all the work. Other sightings included a really cool owl, more sea lions (of course), more swallow-tailed gulls, a yellow-crowned night heron, a grey pelican, and as always, more nazca boobies. I think if I keep typing “boobies” my whole site is going to end up caught in a giant spam filter.
Our morning and afternoon hikes were both on Genovesa, on different parts of the island, and it was probably the toughest walk of the trip – the first area involved climbing up some giant lava steps, and then having to climb down them again, and the afternoon involved walking over very sharp uneven lava the whole way. so…fun!
Since it was my last day, I took twice as many photos as usual, and couldn’t pick my favorites, so I apologize in advance for the repetition. Be happy that I got down to less than 40 pics out of the almost 600 shot.