Monday, February 28, 2011

Drinking coffee in Vienna

What are we here on earth for? To experience life and make memories. Memories, I have a lot. This is one of them, drinking coffee in Demel, a celebrated coffee  house in Vienna and eating apple strudel. How can anyone forget this day? It's forever etched in my mind.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Drinking coffee in Budapest

It had the longest counter in the world where coffee houses are concerned. This salon is so long and so grand. I can imagine it in the grand days of being part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was probably closed in the days under the communist. In those days, it was illegal to operate a coffee shop or even a little coffee kiosk. The revolution started among the intellectuals who, while drinking coffee, was spreading their dissatisfaction. That was about 20 years ago. Today Budapest is thriving and has a vibrant coffee drinking culture. It was still warm and all the patrons were seated outside.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

a tannery in Fes

 Have you ever been to a tannery? A leather tannery? It stinks to high heaven. When we were given a sprig of mint leaves at the entrance, I couldn't figure out what it was for. It was to put it up your nose so that the smell wouldn't overpower you. You can still smell the foulness. I can't imagine a worse job, stumping on the hide in those smelly vats. It's not much worse than the garbage collectors of Cairo. Anyway it was an incredible experience and the visit to Fes and to Morocco was so incredible.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The water sellers of Morocco

 I've seen them in pictures. So when we spotted our first one in Casablanca, we had to take his picture. We paid him of course. In the olden days they do serve a function, sell water to thirsty people since this was the desert. Today they just wear the garb and get paid by tourists who wants to take their picture. He is not very authentic, he's supposed to have a chain of brass bowls around his neck to hold the water. In other words he's a fraud. We didn't know if we'll see another one so we took his picture. They have a similar water seller in Egypt and he was quite elusive. I saw one at Khan el Khalili and had to chase him and was only able to take a picture of him from the back. In Morocco, they are pretty ubiquitous, they are found hanging out all over Jemaa elfna in Marrakesh.
 a close up

Jemaa elfna in Marrakesh where it's at..... one can find anything and everything here. It's a very vibrant and exciting place, especially at night. This was dusk and the action is about to begin. People set up eating stalls and one can eat to one's delight all the food Morocco has to offer.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Red Bologna

Tucked away in a small street are the markets in downtown Bologna. Bologna is an irresistible city because of the color of its buildings, red. Red is a great color, a color of power. I watched this preacher on television who had a black sport coat on and a vivid red tie. Wow, what power! I watched Rick Steves in Pamplona at the feast of St Fermin when everyone wore white and a red scarf. It was a sea of red and white. When I travel I need to see vivid colors. I've been to the world's most colorful cities..... Bologna, Roussillon, Marrakesh, Lijiang, Rabat. I could go to more. Do you know of another red city or colorful city that I can go visit?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Petersham Nurseries

It's not often that one visits a plant nursery like one would visit a museum. But Petersham is one those places that is like visiting a museum. It is so beautiful and it's not too far outside of Central London. A short hop on the underground and a short bus ride and you're there. It's perfectly fine to walk there from the underground station. It's a beautiful hike along the river Thames passing through some of the prettiest neighborhoods and it's so quintessentially rural England. This was what we did in the Fall of '09, took the underground there and the bus, asked to be dropped off near Petersham. We walked back to the station after we were done visiting. In fact the owners of Petersham asked that you don't drive there because of the environmental impact of too many cars in the area. The town of Richmond, at one time, wants to evict Petersham but they have the permission to stay temperary. Visiting London is made more fun because of the close proximity of Petersham. You should go.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


 We don't get this kind of poppies in Southern California. The California poppy is orange in color and blooms once a year in the desert and gives an incredible display. I've always been envious of the Europeans for having this red poppies in their neighborhood. So when I saw them in Morocco, I couldn't help but get so excited. I got our taxi driver to stop so we can frolic among the poppies in the field. I picked some and brought them back to the taxi.

This was became of them at the end of the day. They withered in the hot car but I had a lot of fun. I got to take a lot of pictures of them.

Monday, February 21, 2011


 This was no Michelin starred restaurant. I love restaurants that has no menu. We'll be in Greece next month and we are looking forward to eating at restaurants with no set menu. I saw an article about food in Greece, the only thing they have is fried mullet. Here in Essaouira,Morocco, this restaurant had no menu. The only thing was the catch of the day, whatever it was. We had no clue. We saw a few people bringing what they caught and the cook lightly sprinkled some plain flour over it and fried up a batch at a time. We ate with our fingers. We threw the bones on the floor and the cats ate them up. Who needs foie gras or escargot? But I do miss jamon Iberico.
Mmmmmm that was a great lunch! Where are the cats? These will be given to them. Lets do lunch....again!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

These are interesting times

We are living in the most interesting time we've ever known. While it is confusing, nonetheless, very exciting as well. This video is very long but absolutely gripping. Andrew Breitbart is the new American media and is ever so articulate. The new American revolution is well underway in my opinion. But if you watch your news on the television, you wouldn't know it. If you want to know what the 'silent' majority in the US is listening to and thinking, this is it.

The Internet revolution

Things are not that hunky in the USA and we wonder how come we don't see any rallies. There are rallies in various parts of the nation. The teachers in Wisconsin left their classroom, called in sick (got doctors to write them fake notes) and went out to protest the Governor's budget. He wants them to pay more for their health and retirement benefits, not that much more. In times like these a lot of unemployed professionals (highly educated ones included) would like to be teachers and get whatever pay they can and whatever benefits. We have teachers like the ones in Wisconsin acting like thugs and they have the minds of our children. It's no wonder so many parents are choosing to home school their children. I know of an engineer who's been out of work for 2 years. The rest of us who still have jobs are working twice as much at the same pay, we are held hostage, either we work under these conditions or take a hike. We can't afford the time off to rally and that's why it's so peaceful in California. But one can be gauranteed that at every dinner table and at every family gathering, 'the winds of war' are rumbling. One needs to just sit at any dinner table across the USA and hear the anger and the frustration. We voted a lot of the bums out at last November's mid term election. We're just waiting for 2 more years to vote the rest out including you know who......
Indeed the Internet has a lot to do with this 'revolution'. Most of us have tuned out the main stream news sources and going on the Internet and especially on Youtube to get the news. Remember 'Pravda'? The Russian news source. It means 'the truth'. That's what our own main stream media has become. The government/media complex is alive and well.

The library @ Ephesus

 It's the only building in the whole of Ephesus that withstood the ravages of time. It's the only place where the stone blocks are still one on top of the other. It reminds me of a passage in the Bible where God predicted the ruin of the temple in Jerusalem, where He said, 'not one stone will be on top of the other.' In other words, all the building blocks will be flattened and scattered.
Here comes the tourists hordes. Millions of people visit Ephesus each year. I would say they are mostly Christians because St Paul spent so much time in Ephesus during his ministry and wrote letters to the Ephesians and wrote other epistles to the Corinthians while living in Ephesus. In March I will be going to Athens and the Peloponnese which will include the city of ancient Corinth. St Paul wrote 2 letters to the Corinthians, Corinthians  I and II. He preached in Athens too.