20.6.22

Foothills

 Just a nice pic from a foothill trail.  A great hike on a pleasant day.



18.5.22

The Great Euro Trip of 2022--Oddities

 There's all the usual tourist stuff to do in Europe, great cathedrals, wine tasting, ancient villages, and on and on.  But I always take time to wander around the side streets looking for the odd and unusual, and even a few WTF moments, whatever tweaks my weird perception of the world.  So here's a collection of photos of, well, I'll try to explain...

First up, wine...  a map of the Bordeaux wine region... 9000 wineries!!!


Then there was this winery...  the actual winery is on the right, but on the left is an unusual tasting room (the wineries can't advertise, so they create cool tasting rooms to attract visitors).  I guess there's a nice view from the top...


Some car shots...  one from Schiphol airport, a Citroen 2CV parked outside a cafe, a hot fast and furious (rice rocket?!?), and a future race driver practicing in the Zandvoort lounge.






An interesting sculpture in the center of Bordeaux...


Cool mud patterns (?!?)...




Strange poster in Blaye...



A cafe in Cadillac...


A cafe in Bordeaux (I can hear Fay Raye screaming!)...


And the European fascination with American cowboys and Indians and Hollywood at another cafe...


A couple political posters from the Basque region.  While the separaist movement has abated, there's still calls to return political prisoners to prisons closer to their families.



A mailbox (maybe) and a water spout...



A nice collection of beautiful wooden skateboards...


I love European window displays.  If the glass reflections weren't so bad, I'd have taken a million shots. Here are a couple that worked out reasonably well.  Cool dresses and flying babies (!)...



Gotta have a tiki bar...


Hey, it's gotta be French!


One of our hotel beds...  I was (not)!


Modern feminism...


Stairs behind a row of new shops...


A fine set of windows...


Fashion is big in Europe, at least for most people.  An exception (and is that Bernie Sanders trying to pick her up?)..


And a true WTF moment when I found this hair salon...


And finally, one of the most beautiful pieces I've ever seen, sort of a candy dish, but really a work of art...


That's it!  Now to save up for another trip. 


The Great Euro Trip of 2022 Pt. 14

 As our time in Europe was ending, we did have one more adventure.  I've always wanted to return to Zandvoort, a beach community on the North Sea, and visit the world famous race track (home to the Dutch Grand Prix).  Cold and windy, but the view was great.


Our hotel (NH chain, great free breakfast) was across from the track.  I hadn't expected any racing action, but as luck would have it, there were practice sessions for the big race the next day.  



Again, it was cold and windy, so not much turnout.  But this was fine with me, since we were able to wander all over and check out the cars in prep.



And a banged up Miata...


Refueling...




The cold did get to us, but we found a lounge above the pits to relax and, well, check our phones...


Then it was off to find a COVID test center before flying home.  A fantastic two weeks.  But before ending all these Euro pics, I'll have more "very interesting" shots to post next.


16.5.22

The Great Euro Trip of 2022 Pt. 13

 We landed at Schiphol (serving Amsterdam), and after waiting forever for our bags (the were on a different carousel than listed... always look around!), we met our Dutch friends and headed off into another Netherlands adventure.

I've always wanted to see the great gates, the Maeslantkering, that hold back the North Sea from swamping Amsterdam if hit by a huge storm.  Since much of the country is below sea level, the Dutch have developed many innovative ways to prevent flooding...  from the sea but also swollen rivers bringing water as far as the Alps.

Since our Dutch friends had never visited the gates, they were happy to take us there.



Quite the engineering feat.  We were lucky to arrive shortly before an English tour (with some Danish engineers!).  Here are some pics, hopefully you can get an idea of the enormity of this structure.







The gates are left open at all times, since there is so much ship traffic headed from the North Sea into the major European port at Rotterdam.  However, if there is a surge in water level beyond a certain point, the gates automatically begin to close, holding back the surge.  It's engineered to work; however, a problem arises when the gates are featured in Neal Stephenson's new book:  Termination Shock (Check it out!).

Maeslantkering... quite a mouthful to say.  More info here.

The gates are "exercised" once a year...  This year in September, my birthday, so I guess I have to return this Fall and watch it all happen.

15.5.22

The Great Euro Trip of 2022 Pt. 12

 More Bordeaux...  The Place des Quinconces is the most famous site in Bordeaux.  It has quite the history, I'll refer you to Wikipedia for a lengthy explanation.  An amazing monument with sturdy steeds, healthy hunks, and bodacious ta-tas.









I'd read an article about how Bordeaux was coming to terms with its past as a slave trade center.  Rather than tear down all references and abolishing significant mentions of people and places, Bordeaux has chosen to add information and more monuments that shed light on the involvement in the trade.  Streets named for historical figures now have additional plagues explaining the individual's participation.

In addition, there's now a statue dedicated to one noted individual that stands as a monument to the tragedy of slavery: Marthe Adelaide Modeste Testas.



From Bordeaux, we flew to Schiphol outside Amsterdam to meet some local friends who would extend our vacation.