Prague Castle, Prague-While everyone was walking uphill up to and through the castle, we were walking downhill. At one point, I started noticing that we were starting to lose elevation at what seemed to be too rapid of a pace. I'd wanted to go through the Royal Gardens but if we kept descending, it would have been quite a schlep back up hill through the castle to the gate that crossed over the chasm between the castle and the gardens. Though we passed by the Golden Laneticketed admission requiredwe walked along the other much less traveled side of St. Vitus Cathedral where we stumbled across this idylic scene with the nice lighting and zero tourists. The Golden Lane, I'm sure, would have been packed with tourists getting in the way of any shot I could even try to frame. I quite like this instead, perhaps because it was free, perhaps because it was serendipity. Let's go with serendipity (though really because it was free).
Charles Bridge at Night
While taking photos on the bridge as the sun set, trying to get some kind of shot without the throngs of toursists that still packed the scene, I spotted a guy along the bank taking pictures.Once I finished up on the bridge, I decided to check out this spot to see what there was to see.Damn.Monkey see, monkey do.
Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 6 #2
On the way down to the park, we stopped in one of the two Trader Joe's in New York City. We thought we'd get some bottled water; but when we saw the line for the cashiers snake around the store's perimeter like a snake eating its tail.
Before heading out to dinner at Del Carmine Trattoria, we stopped off for a spritzer and aperativo at Harry?s Bar, a Florentine institution. I did not bring my camera as it was hot, and I had been carrying it all up until then, so this shot of the Ponte Vecchio in the afternoon light after we got some more gelato will have to do.
Stopping off along the various viewpoints along Desert View Drive, you can't help but be amazed. At Moran Point, the mighty Colorado River comes into view.
View of Prague near Strahov Monastery-Once the funicular dropped us off at the top of Petrin hill, we wandered in the general direction of Prague Castle. We opted to go through the mirror labyrinth instead of climbing up to the top of Petrin Tower. It wasn't so much of a labyrinth or even a maze as it was just a hall of mirrors, so the price of admission may not have been worth it; but, hey, we got an interesting picture for the xmas card.We also opted out of going into the Strahov Monastery, which features a much photographed library. The price of admission just seemed better spent on beer and lunch at the nearby Velk kltern restaurace, though, I think that we were meant to go to the Kasterni pivovar Shrahov and missed it by a block.
Gamla Stan, Stockholm-We arrived in Stockholm early in the afternoon after a 9+ hour flight. We had an early morning flight the next day, so we stayed at the Radisson Blu SkyCity Hotel thinking that it would give us a head start the next morning while still giving us an afternoon and evening in Stockholm; if we could stay up.So after we showered and got some coffee, surpassing the initial challenge of communicating in a foreign language, we bought return tickets on the Arlanda Express and sped into Stockholm at a comfortable 203 km/h.Arriving, we began to simply wander, trusting that our usual travel sense and sensibility would direct us to whatever adventure awaited. Our destination was Gamla Stan or the old town in Stockholm. The sky was gray and bleak, the air a bit nippy, so we popped into a Jon Chris Coffe (Drottninggatan 29) in the heart of the citys shopping district in which we found ourselves. We got a gluten free biskvi, a coffee, and a varm choklad. It is interesting that English is more like Swedish than it is German. That probably has something to do with the fact that the Germans never got to England but the Vikings did. So varm choklad is simply hot chocolate, and a biskvi, is a cookie. Look at that, we all can now speak Swedish!Back out in the chill, we circled some of the government buildings and noted the various guards that were not at all as stoic as the English Beefeaters. Ducking into the maze of streets, we ended up at Cultur Bar & Restaurant (Osterlanggatan 34) drawn in by the Tapa y Vino sign in the window.Caffeinated and now slightly inebriated, we continued our circle back through Gamla Stan having spotted earlier the Grand Hotel (Sdra Blasieholmshamnen 8). You dont need to be Rick Steves to have learned that hotel concierges are generally helpful whether you are staying at the hotel or not. So off we went to use their bathrooms and to bend the concierges ear about places to eat.Three places were recommended. We had already walked past one of them and another was too far to walk. So we settled on Restaurant Prinsen (Mster Samuelsgatan 4), which has been serving food at the same location since 1897.We were seated in a table right in the window so that everyone could see whether we were enjoying our meal. We of course had the vra hemtrillade kttbullar (aka swedish meatballs). Boy were they good; nothing like the mess you get at IKEA. We also had the toast skagen original (shrimp mixed with mayo on toast, topped with kalix roe) that was very tasty. We may have had a third dish as well, but between the wine and the jet lag, who can remember.After dinner, we bundled against the chill and walked back to the train station to head back to Arlanda and our hotel at 203 km/h.Overall, not a bad first day of traveling.
Crossing over a bridge in Ranchester, I spied the train going underneath that stretched to the horizon. I quickly pulled over and ran back to the bridge to get this shot.
Given the length of the train, I probably didn't have to run.
Under the Tuscan Sun
After the small cheese and wine tasting at the museum, we set off to try the best gelato in the world. Perhaps not surprisingly, it wasn't the best gelato we'd ever had. Unsatisfied, we went off to the Museo del Vino Vernaccia to wash away our disappointmentonly to find more disappointment in the winewith the single exception of the Vin Santo, a wonderful dessert wine.The best thing about the wine tasting, however? No tourists, who all apparently were still gauging which was the world?s best gelato.
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
With so many balloons already in the air, I felt as though I was already too late.