Jan 072018
 

I decided to visit the bay area after over 20 or 30 years for about a week in the early spring of 2016. I stayed in San Mateo using Airbnb.com where I was having a private bedroom and supposed en suite bathroom, except the bathroom was out of the suite. No big deal. When you visit here, you just totally get what “chill” means. Bay area is definitely has its own, chill, pace, however, this was not work wise 🙂 Work Wise I think its busier than New York. Yup. The weather in San Fran when I went was exceptionally warm and not windy, usually, the weather changes quite a bit even in the summer in San Fran. However, a bit out into San Mateo to San Jose the weather was amazingly good, and not as much wind. The temperatures would still change quite a bit between the day and after sun-set. Its definitely not a museum going area, and that was just fine by me. Aside from work, people have a great paths for biking, running or jogging, walking and you have an entire area for sailing, and some areas for kayaking.
Compared to all the bridges in New York City, and much of the State of New York, I think the Golden Gate Bridge is the most awesome bridge in the United States and also very well maintained.
They night life is very active just like any major city in the USA, and if you go into San Fran don’t except people to be friendly. I recommend go to a not druggy bar or restaurant in Haight-Ashbury. San Fran is very cliquish directly related to the neighborhood you visit with a few supposed exceptions of neighborhoods.

I am glad they have something like the Cal-train, however, its very disappointing design considering so many hi-tech companies here, that is compared to Northern European train systems. Cal-train was expensive too, and sloooowwww.
I would use Cal-train quite a bit visiting San Francisco much, and not a single person would give me an (eye based) acknowledgement of my existence or their own. This of course was not true when I visited Oakland, in Oakland, people were more human, just like in NYC, regardless of their economic or academic standing. I have traveled a little bit over the world, and I always meet people where I could have conversations or a (true) friendly hello. The exception being was Stockholm, Sweden (however, I did meet friendly people in other parts of Sweden), and well you have to kind of speak their language too. I have found some people from the UK and Australia to be very friendly as I meet them in different parts of the world. I met an upper middle aged UK couple, and I had a tiny bit of conversation. She said to me “it’s a little strange, I have found nobody speaks to you here.” I nodded and said “Yes, that’s been my experience too.” However, when I was at a Bar and drinking more (beer) than I should have been (Haight Ashbury area) then I had made some friends for the night. San Francisco is still many decades behind in socialization, as everyone is so neighborhood conscious that one could say there is neighborhood based discrimination,and that is so funny. Outside of San Fran, including San Mateo, is much more friendlier, and you know what the Asians, and the Hispanics turned out to be the most friendliest, of course, almost everyone in Oakland was friendlier and had less of weird San-fran complex.

 Posted by at 11:49 pm
Aug 162016
 

Images of: QueensTown|Auckland|Wellington

Visited New Zealand during May 2016 for the first time.  I decided on going from Queensland to Wellington, and finally to Auckland.  Of course, the recommended route is the other way around, that is from Auckland to Queensland.  I should have gone with the recommended route, however, that’s only after the fact.  Queensland was absolutely lovely.  Wellington was so, so.  Auckland was my least liked of all places. There is really no culture or say architecture in comparisons to say Europe including the UK.  In terms of social interaction even Germany tops is more social.  In terms of modernization such as a speedy internet connection even nations considered less developed have faster internet connection.  The whole adrenaline rush thing that they sell, well I think it’s a whole tourist trap thing, I mean you could bungee jump or go skydiving almost anywhere beautiful or not and it’s still an adrenaline rush.  Bottom line is if you go to New Zealand go there for the nature.  And the nature in New Zealand is beautiful, and unique.  Also, you might like the temperate climate in much of New Zealand.

 

New Zealand biggest positives – is more kickback, loose, has got amazing nature, and pleasant weather.

Mostly a kickback life-style, even if you work in the corporate arena.  Even if you work in Auckland or Wellington it will not be the same as working in corporate or professional arena in US, Canada, or Germany.  Some locals in NZ will say “Oh, yeah, I worked in Auckland and Wellington and I got tired of the hustle and bustle, and so now I am in Queensland etc..”  Make no mistake about it, if you are pretty much from any other part of this continent, professional or blue collar, corporate or not, this totally does not qualify as a hustle and bustle.  And you don’t have to go that far – just look across to Sydney.  I wouldn’t at call it  chill as in California, and exciting as in New York City or London etc.  It has its own laid back atmosphere.

 

NZ Biggest Negatives – Lack of culture (except for ancient Maori), architecture old or new, modernization , lack of social interaction

If you go there for culture or architecture, then don’t!  If you go there for socialization, then they are tad better than the Swedes of Stockholm, and the Danes of Copenhagen.  This is bewildering because they are English decent, speak English, and you will have a much better time conversing with people from UK or Ireland.  Heck, even the people from Sydney are more conversent.  In my experience, I found, especially in Auckland, that social interaction was segregated (yes, I said segregated people!).  The other thing I found was that local people did not know or lacked social interaction skills.  This was true of both genders, and especially women.  The other thing I experienced is that many times women would be afraid, and especially when they were wearing spandex pants or skirts (not even minis).  And I wasn’t even checking them out!  I wish I had a hidden rolling cam with audio on this trip.  Very Bizarre!  Also, on the times when local people, including those innocent Maori, were a bit social, they didn’t have much to talk about, and as if they were in their own world maybe even a blank world, not necessarily a peaceful blank world. Very strange.  If you are looking to come to New Zealand for some type of intelligent or non-intelligent entertaining conversation on almost any topic I suggest, in general, that you are better visiting someplace else.

Food-The food was the best in Auckland, it has a wide variety of foods, restaurants, bars, cafes, fuel area shops all over with good quality food, and the prices are more reasonable.  Wellington, near the cuba-street area has a wide variety of foods, restaurants, and bars.  Not as many cafes though.  The prices are a bit higher.  Queenstown, in the main town area, you have restaurants, and much fast food – however the food tastes different here, and not as good.  The light beer, and craft beer in all of New Zealand is pretty damn good, and better than most of the garbage in the US except for some no brand craft beers on tap.

Industrialize this-While New Zealand has beautiful nature all over, the main cities have lots and lots of cars.  The number of cars is probably growing as well, and so is the construction of new buildings all over New Zealand.  The pollution is going up.

 

 

Queensland Recommendations

Food: Caribe Latin Kitchen, the Empanada Kitchen (their different sauces are amazingly good), Skyline QueensTown Bar – amazing view, and I got a super friendly bartender – who  was on a Holiday Visa from the good ol USA!  Definitely try out the Mickey D’s on Frankton Road (Queenstown, Frankton) – I was missing a Mickey D’s, and they actually gave me coffee in true china – check out the pics dude!

Activity: So many here, please google it J.  Hike up to Skyline Queenstown, and Queenstown Hill.  Make sure to check the weather to book either the Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound Tour.  I went on the Doubtful Sound and it poured and still tried to enjoy it. I went in the fall.  Check the stats too – I think it rains like 200 or more days out of the year in the Doubtful Sound.  If you are lucky it will not be raining (snow might be better actually), however, didn’t get to see any animals L

Regardless, it was fun J. Really it was fun J .  If you go in spring or summer, definitely go kayaking, and other water sports all over New Zealand and not just Queensland.  Make sure to visit or even live in Arrow town.  If you are here for a bit longer absolutely take on of the great walks or hikes in the southern-western part (Milford track, etc..)

 

Wellington Recommendations

Food: CubaStreet has lots of restaurants, bars, clubs, and one or two cafes.  Monterey Café – kind of interesting food and beers

Activities: Museum of New Zealand Te PapaTongarewa, Wellington Botanic Garden, next to less interesting cable car museum, hike up to Victoria.  Hiking in all of New Zealand is excellent, sometimes you are hiking just by being in any city or any place as it’s all very nicely hilly J  There are also few other museums and galleries, just not very impressive.

Other:  One of the nicest, and lovely  things to  hear and say is “Thank you bus driver” when getting off the bus.  Only happened in Wellington regularly and not elsewhere in New Zealand.  In NYC  some of us (though not many of us) say “Thanks” or “Thanks, have a good day”,  “Thanks a lot”,  “Thanks and have a good night” , etc.. to the bus drivers.   Very rarely in much of EU, though I will say Merci, Merci beaucou, Danke, Danke Shuen, Gracias, Muchas Gracias, Graciee even if I get odd looks from others.

 

Auckland Recommendations

Food – lots and lots of different good quality restaurants, fast food, boutique or specialty food places at reasonable prices all over.  I like the cafes and restaurants on Ponsonby Rd between Karangahape Road, and College Hill and near Dunedin Town Hall.  Have breakfast at Marys, its absolutely lovel, and sit by the large “window” area to get a view of passers by and a view of Leys Institute Ponsonby Library & Hall. While you make your way to Marys, make sure to check out the old Ponsonby Post Office building.

Activities: Auckland Ware Memorial Museum – the best museum in New Zealand, and even better than the one in Wellington.  Excellent exhibition on the top floors.  Kind of pricey, however, worth it. Nearby the Auckland War MM there is a beautiful botanical green house, please visit it – it’s that good! Auckland Art Gallery is so-so, and not that impressive, the outside architecture is much more impressive and worth the intake.

Make sure to visit the islands such as Rangitoto, Waiheke, Rotoroa,  etc.  The ferries are very expensive even if the ferry is as short as the ones to and from Davenport.  Its worth it, and I recommend either a day trip (some islands can only be visited as a day trip) or a one night stay.  Absolutely, make certain of the second last and last ferry back, even if the counter person is not fully helpful for whatever reason. This isn’t like taking the 24 hour, free ferry from Manhattan to Staten Island.  Transport in all of NZ costs a good deal of money, and I think it’s more money than in London (except for cabs).

Hike up to Mount Eden.   It’s wonderful.  Don’t drive there, walk from Auckland city area to Mount Eden, believe it or not, people actually smile up in the town near Mount Eden, and will acknowledge our mutual amicable existence.  I walked the from Karangaphe Rd, Symonds St, to Mount Eden Rd finally to Mount Eden.

 

 

 Posted by at 9:47 pm
Nov 162015
 

DSC_0001     
Botanicactus-Mallorca-Images

Mallorca-2015-other-images

This time around to Spain using a Train from Montpellier to Barcelona Sants to the BCN, and then fly to Mallorca.  It was a great train ride.  Making me wish, I hadn’t stayed at Montpellier, and could have split my time and stayed at Narbonne, and Perpignan.  And of course between the three, I would now prefer to stay at  L’Avignon, and if you have company then Nimes would also be great since it has much more rustic feeling, and much less urban.  Being solo, L’Avigion it would be.   However, this is all in hindsight, and my sights are not in the behind, so no regrets.

From a beach point of view, well the Spanish coast is the best.

Yes, I went off season near the end of May.  The weather was very temperate and ever changing.   From sunny warm to cloudy and rainy.   I didn’t mind that.    I kind of knew the water temperature was going to be cool, and it was cold.  Almost, nobody was in the water except for one sunny warm day, with pretty much all the strong Germans in the water.

This time I rented a car.  It was a VolksWagon (FolksVagon), and it was an automatic.  Well, it was the European version of an automatic, and it was very funny ride.  When I would come to a complete stop the engine would kind of shake as if to stop, however, it would just idle, and when I would move again, the engine would kind of shake and un-idle ready to go.    A very fine looking new kind of a car, and I got curious looks from people.

The people of Spain especially Catalyuan and Mallorca have always been very friendly and easy going.  When I say Mallorca I mean the Mallorcias or Spanish not the recent transplants from other European parts, although I didn’t mind them that much.  Yes, I avoided the Playas de Mallorca because on my last visit I just got fed up of the European young adult tourists and teenagers just dumping bottles, and garbage onto the beach.  They would make their efforts of going green look like going mutant green.

This time in Mallorca, I was staying at Cala D’or area.   It has to my surprise also become a tourist oriented town.  And for a few years I have been thinking to go to another island where UK, and Deutsch, and now Russian and Dutch tourists don’t over take the majority of the island and convert it to a big bar with awful food.  The owners primarily cater and make food that tourists have no idea about.  If you care to cook your own food then be wise and rent an apartment, it will serve you well.

I loved that I rented a car and went to places that I haven’t on the island, and also got to see the farm areas, and other eateries definitely more local than touristy driven.    I visited the Botanicactus and pretty much spend about 4 hours here.  Took me about an hour to get there, and I didn’t mind one bit getting lost.  Getting lost was so much fun too, well I had GPS as well just in case.  One other day, I visited the parc Modrago, and the awesome beach there (S’Amarador).  I did notice quite a few bikers, in this entire part of Mallorca, so if you are a biker this entire area from Cala D’or to Modrago might be of interest to you.  Yes, the scenery is amazing.  The biking is not casual, it’s a mix of everything including hilly region.  I did not visit the Coves Del Drach (Caverns), and forget the reason for not doing so.

All I can say to Espanya, y todos partes de Espanya (incluso Cataluyna) es Muchas Gracas de Nuevo.

 Posted by at 4:22 am
Nov 162015
 

Images of: France 2015-Images and Media

Nice Central Station (Gare de Nice) during April/May 2015 of my Visit. Not much of a train station in comparison to other European Train Stations.  It’s a pretty bare bones of a train station.  Possibly because one smaller part of it is under construction, and luckily, because Nice probably has a lesser population than other big cities and isn’t a full hub, as say Marseille.  And I prefer it being a smaller city.  I wish there was more security here.  Be on-guard, and be careful, especially at night, and I would also say especially women.  It’s a seedy area for sure.  Watch out for your handbags and luggage as well.  I think as long as you keep alert, and don’t doze off to la-la land you will be fine.   Also, it was good to see decent Police presence, yet it was only on certain days or certain times, and not all or most of the time.

The local trams, and buses are decent and efficient.   In comparison to local transport of Rome, Florence and the Tuscan region, well, Italy, again on this trip was more of a third world nation.  In general, in Italy one has to relax a bit more even amongst the hyperactive, over-sexed people.

Argh.  I was so dumb.  The Beaches! I could have gone to the lovely beaches of Antibes, and avoid those droves of tourists at the plage de l’angletre.  The beaches near Antibes, and further south are nicer except in High Season where it’s probably very crowded as well.  Luckily, I did get a full day trip at the Ville Franche (de mer). I would highly recommend a picnic day by the sand and a nice evening dinner on the hills of the Ville Franche.

On to Montpellier because that’s where I decided to be based from a geographical perspective.  It was a bad idea, and more on that later.

First take upon arriving in Montpellier Gare (Montpellier Central Station):  A clean, breathable, modern architecture design of a train station.  No, it’s not that I just like modern architecture, I also like the old styles such as Middle Ages, Gothic, Greco-Roman, Roman, Egyptian, Southeast-Asian, modern German, Scandinavian, etc..  It’s just got to be maintained, and clean.

I also like the idea of modern accessibility and sanitary conditions such as telecom, bathroom, electricity, and warmish water, newsstands, and above all safety.

Montpellier Gare has all that modern convenience with a University and Old Country feel right outside.  Nice Gare, Antibes Gare, even Cannes regional station, and not eve Marseille St Charles have that.

I get this feeling it was recently influenced by the Germans/Scandinavians.  Well done, Montpellier.   While I love medieval architecture from a living perspective as opposed to transport hub, I also like most of the modern convinces.

On my day trips to L’Avignion on the train I saw some amazing country side. The station “Tarascan” right before L’Avignion looks like it has beautiful country side.  I loved the stone bricked houses and buildings.  The trees, shrubs, and some kind of fruit bearing trees.  The dirt.  Yes, the dirt is different in every part of this planet.  I say planet as opposed to countries since later is more artificial and man-made.  I would have liked to see those houses with the green grass roofs or dry straw roofs.  I have seen them in pictures my friends brought while they had visited Norway, and Iceland.  I wonder how a hybrid of brick or stone and green houses would work in this Mediterranean region.  Would they be practical?

When I got to l’Avigion and was in the central museum or central city I booked a 65 Euro trip.  We went to Pont du guard, visited the Amphi Theater (Roman Theater) in ville l’Orange.  Then visited the vineyards where world’s best Rose wines are created.  The wines were superb.  And strong. J  There are a bunch of excursions from 65 to 110 Euros, and I recommend all of them.  There is one which you definitely have to be up for and that’s the one down south to Camargue. I highly recommend these excursions even though I only did one of them.  Or just do it on your own.  Just one note to see the Lavender fields you have to be here in June or July.  Call or do your research.  I didn’t.  And I don’t mind because it’s the road less planned.

Last Take on Montpellier:

Montpieler, avoid it.  Better to be based in l’Avigion or Nimes.  I prefer l’Avigion.  There’s more to watch in l’Avigion.  Montpellier is a decent place to stop and get some sleep, if you do that and have some time in the day make sure to visit the Train Station, and the beaches that are about an hour’s drive.   And that’s it.  Unless, you are a university student, and like to party like students do, then Montpellier could be your town.

One big reason for me not being and living in the country side is I don’t like to drive alone in EU.  Luckily, I got over that fear in a subsequent trip where I rented and drove a car alone.

One thing in general I like about not being in Paris is that the people and women are more amicable.  That doesn’t mean not to learn French.  Hope you have a lovely time in France people.

 Posted by at 4:21 am