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B&W’s

July 28, 2013

It’s been awhile…

Started fooling around with black and white photos and layering to enhance the B&W styling.  Hopefully more photos to come with a sud americano flair…

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Boston from Blue Hills

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Eiffel Tower, Dusk

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Eiffel Tower, Night

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Lastovo Sunset

 

 

Trois Jours à Paris (for reals)

July 8, 2012

Part 1 of the ‘Duck Family’ vacation begins in  Paris, France.  After an uncomfortable flight for everyone, on which the seats were clearly not spaced with consideration for anyone taller than 5’6″, we arrived at Charles du Gaulle International Airport, which roughly translates to ‘Seven Levels of Hell International Airport.”  Meandering our way through the terminal and along the miles of moving walkways to the train station we were greeted by a topless nut-so screaming something unintelligible while waving her ta-ta’s around like a couple of flags on Bastille Day. I turned to my father-in-law and said “yup, we’re definitely in France…”

Travel Tip: One cannot purchase 6 trains tickets at the same time from the automated kiosks at CDG.  After everyone tried their credit cards only to be denied, which led us to think we were all put on lock down by our various card issuers, a kind fellow traveler alerted us to this.. idiosyncrasy in the system.

Halfway between dreamland and reality I was suddenly awoken when we tunneled underground nearing the center of Paris.  Excited, I woke up Marissa and alerted her we were near our stop.  We disembarked at the Chantelet station and navigated our way to our hotel.  I had downloaded the Trip Advisor City Guides app and the corresponding guide for Paris while back home and put it to full use in Paris.  We ventured out to xplore the city and follow one of the “foodie” walking tours.  This brought us by some beautiful sights and delicious bites.

Our tours first stop was the Notre Dame cathedral where we took a couple of shots.

Our tour took us by Dallayou for our first taste of croissants in Paris, which I would come to count on for about 98.3% of my daily subsistence while in France.  These croissants are light, flaky, crunchy on the outside, filled with the finest French chocolate.  In one word they are “Omnomnomnom.”

Statues, statues, everywhere.

Children playing with wooden boats in the fountain.

More Statues…

We walked through the Luxembourg Gardens before Riss needed a nap, but I powered on to find some more gastronomical wonders.  I made my way from the gardens to Rue Muffetard where I purchased my first fresh baguette and block of cheese as well as the token croissants.  The baguettes in France are unreal. It is scientifically impossible to purchase one and make it more than 100 yards from the patisserie before it’s gone, poof! in to thin air!  Fact.

Yup, I was liking Paris.

Our first night we wandered around on our own and found a wonderful little restaurant in the Pont-Nuef area, Ma Salle a Manger.  I had a delicious duck-a-la-king-ish meal, but more importantly they had an amazingly cheesy vegetarian risotto for ‘riss!  I was worried about finding good vegetarian food for her in Paris but to our pleasant surprise there appears to be a bit of a vegetarian “thing” going on in Paris, most restaurants we ate at had more than one good option for her to choose from.

The Ponte au Change, Cathedral St. Michelle and Notre Dame in the distance.

Day two began with, you guessed it, croissants and cappuccinos.  Our trek took us across the Pont au Change bridge, above, and to the left bank with the Musee D’Orsay our target for the morning.  Walking along Rue di Bucci and Rue Jacob we got a taste for the smaller side streets in Paris, filled with shops, galleries and bakery’s.  Another amazing artisan bakery we came across was the Erik Kayser Artisan Moulanger where ‘riss found one of her favorite treats from her previous travels to Paris, Chocolate Chip Mini-Baguettes! Pleasantly refueled we paid our dues and entered the Musée d’Orsay, which is located in what was previously a train station.  It is a breathtaking location and it was pretty amazing seeing some great works by Monet, Van Gogh, Degas and many others.

Lovers Bridge.

Our next stop was Lovers Bridge  to cross back over to the right bank and head through the Jardin des Tulleries to the Champs-Élysées.  The trees were being manicured to their perfect squares while the  Arc de Triomphe loomed larger and larger as we walked up the Champs.

The Champs.

Riss at the Arc.

Me at the Arc.

After the Arc it was on to the Eiffel Tower and the long journey back to our hotel for dinner and experiencing Féte de la Musique.

The summer solstice was upon us and we kept noticing what looked like guerrilla concerts being set up around the city.  While eating dinner at BAR, Bar á Manger we took in the sounds of a student musical group as well as a band from Cuba playing some latino flavorings.  We learned from our waitress that the Féte de la Musique started in Paris and there are bands playing all over the city in celebration and promotion of music.  We walked around that evening sampling the offerings of many bands and dj’s, enjoying some refreshing cocktails and even witnessed an impromptu street march led by a percussion group followed by hundreds of chanting Parisians.  All in all a fun, entertaining night.

The Eiffel Tower lighting up the night sky.

The watchful eye of the tower.

Day 3, our final full day in Paris, began with a trip to the Louvre for a viewing of the Mona Lisa and her persistent stare .  After 3 hours of viewing more great works we found some lunch, napped for a bit and then headed out to the Eiffel Tower for a picnic dinner consisting of a fresh baguette, a block of Manchego and a nice bottle of red wine.  As the evening sky transitioned in to night the towers lights bathed it in a yellow glow until the clock ticked past 11:00 and the light show began.  Every hour, on the hour, starting at 11:00 pm the Eiffel Tower’s lights sparkle.  It is an enchanting site from a distance, but even more so up close.

Relaxing in the Champ de Mars.

Picnic near the Eiffel Tower.

The Eiffel Tower at Dusk.

All of the towers sparkling lights captured via time lapse.

 

Saturday morning I awoke at the crack of dawn and briskly made my way to the Gerard Mulot bakery where I stocked up on croissants and macaroons for our early departure to Croatia.  Good thing because no sooner did I get back to the hotel then we were running to the train station to catch a ride back to the airport that shall not be named. Our flight delayed, as outlandish as that may sound, we tried some macaroons to cheer us up (deeeelish!), used up our 15 minutes of free wifi access and waited… and waited… and waited.  A twenty minute delay turned into an hour turned into almost three hours before we finally boarded.  We were welcomed by ample leg room and delicious snacks, enjoyed beautiful views of the Alps and Balkans during the flight and a little over two hours later we cruised to a smooth landing in Split, which is where today’s story ends and the vacation from the vacation begins…

Protected: Trois Jours à Paris (the preface)

July 5, 2012

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Paris/Croatia Teaser

July 3, 2012

Despite the fact that I’m still on Paris time and my legs are telling me that I’m on a boat, Marissa and I are back on terra firma in the U-S-of-A after an amazing trip that took us to Paris and the Dalmatian Coast in Croatia.  I’ve got tons of pictures and videos to sort through and a few posts to stitch together, but to start things off here’s a quick video of my brother in Law, Nick, and I jumping off some rocks on the coast of Hvar Island:

Quick Hits:

Paris:

  • omg Pastries and wine and cheese
  • lot’s of walking (I was deemed the slave driver by my lovely wife)
  • Great museums (Esp. Musee D’Orsay)
  • Fete de la Musique

Croatia:

  • Clearest water I’ve ever seen
  • Amazing food, rivals Italy imho
  • Great people and culture
  • 1200+ Islands
  • Fortresses
  • Super secret submarine slip
  • Catamaran
  • Waterboarding
  • Vino (Plavac, particularly)
  • Undersea Wine Cellar
  • Cheeses
  • Kuna
  • Never thought I’d say I was in Bosnia

And of course, one teaser photo I took off the coast of Korcula Town using Photosynth on my iPhone:

Jay Peak 2K11

January 31, 2011

Another successful trip to Jay Peak has come and gone. Jay is a skiers mountain, despite it’s lower trail count (77) and less than huge vertical (“2,000ft”) the terrain is awesome and challenging.  The glades cannot be beat and the access to off piste skiing, so I hear, is a huge plus.  I did not get to partake in the off piste this trip, but maybe a repeat trip is necessary in March???

Valhalla glades and Andre’s Paradise remain a couple of my favorite glades, you can’t beat the views off of Vermonter from the Tram and flying (literally) down The Jet left me with quite the adrenaline rush.  Marissa enjoyed The Jet in freshly groomed condition as well as Goat Run, JFK, Ullr’s Drea, Northway, Catwalk and Montrealer.

More updates and pics to follow!

Link to sick pic of the Jarvv in action.

Backyard Backcountry

January 27, 2011

Mt. Tom, one of my favorite hiking/trail running state parks in WEMA, actually used to be a ski area.  I (or maybe Jackson, I forget) discovered this last year while perusing the NELSAP (New England Lost Ski Areas Project) website.  Earlier in the season, fall’10, we discussed the possibility of checking it out after a big powder dump.  Well dump it did on 1/16-17, and I, of course, completely forgot about our goal to hit up Mt. Tom after a dump until a friendly reminder from the Jarvv himself while “working” the Thursday/Friday after the storm.

Plans were cleared with The Boss and Jackson arrived late Friday night for a cold brew before passing out.  Dreams of untouched powder, face shots and earned turns passed through my mind all night.  We all (Marissa “The Boss”, Jackson and I) woke up, had some coffee and breakfast and a good catch up sesh before Jacko and I suited up, packed up the car and made the short drive from Casa Cautino to the base area of Mt. Tom.

Mt. Tom base area.

It was about a 1/4-mile walk up the access road to the base of the slopes, while it was plowed asphalt, there was a good shoulder of pow that prompted many a “can’t wait to get skins/AT setup” comments from both of us.  Once we got to the base we could clearly see the trails and even spotted a couple of people diligently (hilariously) making (tumbling) their way down the mountain.

 

So nice out!!
Note the blue skies

As we began our ascent it was b.e.a.u.t.i.f.u.l outside, clear skies, sun shining, a crisp mid-twenties, which was welcome as it was near zero degrees F when we woke up.  Despite it only being in the low 20’s the hike up kept us warm, I even had to ditch the hat goggles and gloves and I was overheating a bit.  [Quick tangent, I debated with myself for a few minutes back at the car on wether or not I should bring my ski jacket, so glad I left it at the car, I would have been the first person to die of heat exhaustion in January in New England on a sub-freezing temps day.]  We made our way up the main slope and reached a flat area where some other trails merged, and where there apparently used to be a snack shop of sorts.  From this landing we decided to go up some more lightly traveled trails to the summit, insert more skins/AT setup comments here.

 

Other's have been here before us, damn!!

Main slope, some saplings and undergrowth visible.

Me slogging it up

 

The Angry Swede ain't so angry now is he??

The Jarvv, clearly not having any fun.

Woo!!

View downslope, Holyoke and the CT river in the background.
Summit!!

Summit! Looking at the radio tower from the drop for the old lift line.

We reached the summit in under an hour, we think (we forgot to check our watches before we left).  It was starting to cloud over a bit, so we checked out the old lift house for a minute before gearing up and dropping into the powdahhh!

 

Fresh Tracks!

 

After a break at the bottom to reassemble the a-frames and chow on some cliff bars it was obvious that we had to do another lap!  We took a similar route up the mountain, trading off with the camera and noticed some old snow guns hiding in the overgrowth.

Hiking back to the car after a great morning of exploring Mt. Tom on skis, maybe we’ll have our AT setups next time…

Saw this on the way to work this morning…

December 2, 2010

Clearly this guy is the man.