Rio de Janeiro

When we visited Rio in 2006 it was notorious for violent robberies. While traveling we usually wander around towns with ease. In Rio we decided to play it safe and do all our sightseeing with tour guides. The two memorable trips we took were to Rochina (a favela) and a day tour called a “Carioca Tour” around Rio.

Our day started with pickup from our hostel and we first stopped at the famous Christ the Redeemer statue. Yes it is as cool as it looks in photos and you can get some great views from up there.

We then stopped at a national park and got a glimpse of a nice little water fall.

Another highlight of the tour is that we got to see the famous Selaron tiles in Rio.

He happened to be working that day and we were able to snap a photo with him. We were supposed send him tiles from Florida to help with his art but we never did. It makes me sad to discover he died in January 2013.

Finally we went to Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf mountain) to watch the sunset.

At some point in the tour we stopped a beach. It was July and winter there. A few are playing sports but the beaches are pretty much a ghost town. However if I remember correctly it probably was at least in the 70’s Fahrenheit. Cariocas have low tolerance for cool weather.

We had a safe and memorable visit to Rio.
The hostel we stayed at was Rio Backpackers.

Arles

Our visit to Arles in Provence, France started with our check in to this budget hotel.

And this was the view from our window.

Arles is a former roman town that is partly famous for one of its famous temporarily inhabitants.

Vincent van Gogh produced over 300 works during his time there. Arles was not my favorite town in Provence but it was still pleasurable visit.

 More pigeon houses?

The Roman Amphitecture. 
We were able to see some interesting bullgames here.

Espace Van Gogh

 Roman baths.

 The trail along the river that we liked to take.

Sardana in Barcelona

One of the most interesting cultural things we witnessed while in Barcelona was the Sardana dance. It is a dance unique to the Catalan culture. It is a dance to show their pride to their Catalan heritage. Catalans have a separate language and culture from the rest of Spain. We got to witness this inclusive dance that is done at noon every Sunday at the cathedral of Barcelona.

A day in Edinburgh

A cold day in Edinburgh walking along the Royal Mile….

Very interesting looking Scottish Parliament building…They let Scotland make some of their own decisions but not on matters of defense, or foreign policy, or taxation. This $800 million eco-friendly building was a sight to see.

The Queens Gallery

Some new clothes??

 And it started to snow again….

Yeah, it is cold ….

 St. Giles Cathedral

The Edinburgh Castle

Tolbooth Church

The start of our visit in March 2013.

Trouble in Tomato Land

It almost feels like deja vu again. A couple years ago I had a bumper croup of tomatoes in the winter that experienced a freeze before they started to ripen. Soon after the freeze some tomatoes did finally ripen but most were too destroyed to enjoy.
Today I have about 6 very large tomato plants with many tomatoes just waiting to ripen. I have finally realized what the problem is. I have been monitoring the sun exposure for the two gardens for the past couple of months and have found that they are simply not getting enough sun exposure to ripen the tomatoes this time of year. The gardens are perfectly placed for spring, summer, and fall crops but not for winter; which is our prime tomato season. The only thing I can hope for at this point is that the plants hang in there and we avoid a deep freeze this season (highly unlikely). The sun patterns will change and they will get light again. I have some choices to make about next year’s crops. Summer is brutal so I really should be set up for optimal fall, winter and spring gardening. For now we wait.

Not sure if you can tell but I used vines from the now dormant muscadine grape to contain the tomatoes while I was running low on string. Pretty good re-use of the garden if I do say so myself.

High Line

We had a chance to visit the High Line in New York December 2011. The city reused abandoned raised railroad tracks and turned them into a 1.5 mile trail and public park that over looks the streets of West Manhattan.
Our visit was a very cold day and we walked the path as the sun set. I can only imagine the joy that new yorkers get when they use this path during the fall and spring. What a fantastic reuse of city property!

Ice skating rink below the high line and The Standard hotel.

 High Line above a restaurant

 Cherry blossoms on the High Line

Looking down from the High Line

 Window to look down at the street.

 Cool reflection in the window.

Art installation in the trail.

 Apartments along the trail.It is very easy to look into people’s apartments.

 You can look down at a gymnastics facility.

Future areas on the trail.

Empire State building off in the distance.