London – National Gallery – 08/18/2007

Holy crap! I didn’t wake up until 10AM! That’s a full 12 hours of sleep YO! The last time I managed that I believe I may have been taking vicodin to cut the pain of getting my wisdom teeth pulled. So I would claim that it doesn’t count. And this time I only had 2 beers, did I mention that it’s super expensive to do anything here?

Round about in front of the London National Gallery

Today I decided to head over to the National Gallery to see the Rembrandt exhibit. I stepped into the The National Portrait Gallery first pretty much by accident, which I wasn’t too moved with what was mostly portaits of old English dudes. All of which I’m sure are really important figures in history, but not being a British history buff, it’s much like looking at portraits of my neighbors family tree. Not that interesting.

Then I stumbled upon the Princes Diane Exhibit. It’s very interesting to see how more relaxed and natural the photos were after their divorce. I guess they were trying to give her a better public image, which they obviously did. It’s really sad she died at such a young age.

Okay this is super strange, I’m writing this in the hostel and there is a couple down stairs in the computer area chanting and doing some weird hippy crap! You just don’t get this slice of life outside hostel living. Well maybe in Golden Gate Park, some of the other people are leaving the room. Too funny…

Anyway… Next was the National Gallery. Again trying to keep to my 1.5 hour museum limit I picked up a map and went to only the pieces I thought would have been interesting. Of course the Rembrandt Exhibit was first, then to Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Monet, Van Gogh. Now we’ve seen a ton of this stuff in books, but seeing the actual work is pretty neat. What really sets you back is some of these paintings are close to being 800 years old. I’m not kidding. The quality of these are truly amazing.

Okay now I know nothing about art. But I can tell when I like something. Actually I have heard someone a week back utter the words, “You know, I think Van Gogh was a phony”. Now I may not go that far, but I sort of agree with her that his work “Sunflowers” doesn’t seem to stand up to the likes of “Searport with the Embarkation of Saint Ursula”, by Claude. I believe I spent over 15 minutes alone trying to absorb the whole work.  See update:

After the Gallery I did some more wandering and happened upon the House of Guards, where they have some of the nicest looking horses doing miserable work. I don’t think the guard is very happy either, but they chose this gig. I’m guessing if you are late to work you get stuck out on the sidewalk like this as a punishment.

I stopped in St James Park to cop a squat and to listen to an hour of some local symphonic orchestra playing a free show. Good stuff, brings back wonderful memories of playing in my High School Band.

Tonight I decided to do dinner right, and stopped into an Italian Restaurant in South Kingston. Started it off with marinated olives and a glass of the house red. For the main course, Tagliatelle di Ragu Bolognese and another glass of the house red. The pasta was excelent, which is too bad because I didn’t save enough room for a piece of tarimsu. Anyway, all of that for only 16.80lbs. Nice huh? Yeah unless of course if you convert that to US dollars which is ~$40. But, I gave up on that about 3 days ago, and now everything feels cheap to me.

Update: I got the wrong guy, “Van Gogh is in now way a phony” it was “Picasso is a fake“. With that said, I still think Claude has some sick stuff…

London – Day Three – 08/17/2007

Monument in front of Buckminster Palace

Today I decided to forgo my typical breakfast, and went for just coffee and a croissant. Oh if you get your food ‘take away’ they charge you less money, about 5-10p (cents) per item from what I can tell. Which is what I typically do with something like this anyway…

With coffee in hand I took the tube to The Tate Museum. A lot of good things to see and some not so much, but I guess it’s tend to be in the eye of the beholder. Ones that stood out:

  • Francesca Woodman – A photographer who does mainly self portraits of her self nude in everyday situations, in an artful way… I think she was one of the photographers which was pointed out to me during my B&W photography class a couple years back.
  • Claude Monet
  • Pierre Bonnard – Coffee
  • Steve McQueen – I didn’t realize he was an artist as well. (It’s not the one from Bullit)

Kept my time under 1.5 hours and it seems to be working. I was ready for lunch, but not at all exhausted. After sitting down for a sandwich and crisps (potato chips), I finish up my River Thames walk. Starting where I left off: The London Eye, The Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abby, Buckingham Palace.

Which led me directly to Green Park, it was 3PM and my feet were tired so off with my shoes and on with the iPod to listening to my first Spanish lesson.

Pardon, Senorita. ¿Tienes usted Inglés? No?! Hablo Español un poco.

Ohh yeah… Let’s see if I make it to Spain to use this high powered lingo!

Anyway, after the half hour of that I read a little and watched the worst attempt at a cricket game I can imagine. These guys looked as if they didn’t have an athletic bone in their body. Pure comedy.

What did I eat tonight?! How about Indian curry and a beer. Better, but not as good as Indian Clay Oven in the Lower Haight, starting to miss San Francisco cuisine!

Check out some more photos

London – River Thames Walk – 08/16/2007

Woke up this morning around 8:30, probably due to the guy in the bunk next to me banging his shit around as if he was trying to kill a rat in a garbage bag. I guess this is what I have to look forward too for the next 7 weeks.

So I decide to get an early start and went to the first place I saw for my eggs and toast breakfast. I ordered two eggs scrambled, wheat toast and coffee. The waiter asked me brown toast? So I said yeah, wheat toast. Well what came out wasn’t wheat toast, but instead burnt white bread. Also I’m not sure, but I think they made me 5 scrambled eggs or it was two ostrich eggs because the whole plate was covered. I didn’t eat much because it tasted rather nasty, which I think pissed off the waiter, he gave me a “what you don’t like” look. From this point out coffee and a croissant is going to be plenty for me.

River Thames - LondonToday was such a nice day I decided that walking the River Thames was a good idea. I started at Tower Bridge and planned going all the way to Buckingham Palace. I snapped a ton of cool pictures, but only made it to The Houses of Parliament before my camera battery gave out on me.

So here’s a quick list of what I saw:

  • Tower Bridge – The coolest bridge in London
  • Tower of London – I didn’t actually go inside the line was HUGE and it was £16. Which is more than $32. Call me cheap, although it’s probably worth the money…
  • Borough Market – Apparently London’s oldest food market. I got a killer sandwich and coffee for only £3.50
  • St Paul’s Cathedral – Again didn’t go all the way inside because the line was super long, but I did get a couple decent shots…
  • Royal National Theatre – I tried to get a ticket to one of the shows, but it was only running two more days and it was already sold out.
  • And a bunch of hacks who probably get a better wage on Pier 39

By this time it was almost 7PM, so a quick trip back to the hostel on the tube to drop my stuff off in the room then off to the pub for dinner and a beer. Which again the beer was probably the only part of the meal worth the money.

London – Day One – 08/15/2007

Landed in London today around 8:30AM, it was about 9:30 by the time I made it to the hostel and all I wanted to do was get a shower and a little rest. But, unfortunately I couldn’t check in until 2PM. GREAT!

Cafe in Earls Court LondonWell the only way I could manage to stay awake was to walk around and hang out at cafes drinking high powered Americanos. Btw, the coffee is actually very good.

Anyway, I made it to 2PM. Checked in, had my shower and was napping by 2:30. I had set my watch to go off 2 hours later just to make sure I was awake enough to hang out with Brian and Liz with out passing out, but not so awake that I wouldn’t be able to sleep.

Mission accomplished. I meet Brian and Liz at a really cool pub a few blocks from their flat. Made it back to the hostel at a decent hour, I think 12:30 or 1:00 and I think did a decent enough job at not waking up my 5 roommates…

Hello Brooklyn…

…and NYC too. I have a few pictures from NYC. These were mainly taken last Sunday when I hit the MoMA with friend Donna.

NYC Pictures...We found spending 2.5 hours wandering around a gallery really puts a toll on ones mind and body. I was both physically and mental spent by lunch time. I’m plan on limiting myself to 1.5 hours in a single gallery or museum from this point out.

Some how I didn’t take any photos of myself an Gillian. A huge thanks goes out to her for putting up with me for the past 8 days! G. you ROCK!

Next stop London!

New York City…

I’m in New York for 9 days to goof off a bit before I fly to London, which will mark the real beginning of my Europe tip. Gillian has been nice enough to put up with me for the time I am here. She lives in Park Slope in Brooklyn, which is super nice. It’s exactly what Hollywood paints New York to be in every romantic comedy. Streets are littered with brownstones, beautiful people wandering everywhere, and plenty of trendy restaurants and cafes. My kind of place!

Park Slope Brooklyn Brownstone

Prospect Park is at my disposal about a block away. Most of Sunday was spent there eating lunch, people watching, and of course sleeping in an attempt to recover from the prior days drinking marathon in Rochester, aka Park Ave Festival. On Monday I dragged my ass out of bed to join Gillian for a run. Yes I hate running, but I have taken this hideous sport up to replace the void of bike riding. I have to say the more running I do the less I hate it, but it’s definitely not fun. Oh how I miss my Orbea…

I don’t really feel like blogging today so I’m just going to leave you with a few pictures from yesterdays trip to Coney Island. The Cyclone is well worth the trip, and there’s talk of shutting down Astroland so if you are in NY this summer you should make an effort of heading down there to experience this slice of history.

3+ weeks in Rochester…

Wow how time flies. 3 weeks ago today I was in panic mode scrambling to find homes for anything I owned that didn’t fit into my storage space. I was successful with a good portion of it, but in the end there was car load of crap which I ended up driving down to the dump in Hunters Point. Hey Sunset Scavengers, lovely location for the dump, sheesh…

At this point I became homeless in an effort to begin a 2 to 3 month European backpacking holiday. Yes I know, I’m about about 13 years too late. But I figure what are the chances I will be this free of responsibilities to warrant me to take a trip like this again? I know once I join… no scratch that, start my next startup I won’t have the time to take 3 hour bike rides, let alone have 3 months off. Thus now is the time.

West Family Sailing Outing

The first stop on the trip was Western NY. Yes, yes this is not Europe, but I am in fact staying in Greece! I have been keeping myself rather busy hanging with the family doing all sorts of activities such as, attending weddings, chilling in cafe’s, watching a ball game, sailing, bowling, golfing, seeing quality music, etc. All great fun and of course all accompanied by our loyal friend Genny.

This Saturday will be my last outing before I head out to NYC. I’ll be enjoying one of Rochester’s largest neighborhood festivals, Park Ave Festival. Which is a little nostalgic for me since Park Ave was my home for a good portion of time when I was attending university at RIT.

Anyway, I land in New York on Sunday morning. If you are going to be in the city for the next couple of weeks, it would be great to meet up. I plan to be doing a bit of the tourist thing, but I’m sure there will be plenty of geeking out in the cafes as well.

Now playing: Echo & The Bunnymen – The Killing MoonSongs To Learn & Sing

Memorial Day Week in Tahoe…

Originally the plan was to only spend Memorial Day weekend up here, but the weather was too darn nice to head back to the San Francisco fog. So I decided to stick around the whole week. A good portion of this week was spent in the saddle. Some where in the neighborhood of 10 hours…

Cycling in Tahoe - Luther Pass Kingsbury Grade loop

[find more photos here...]

The big bike ride was on Wednesday when I headed out on my own to do Luther Pass – Kingsbury Grade Loop. Apparently this typically doesn’t include Diamond Valley road, but I threw it in there for kicks. Well I felt really good for the first 3 hours of the ride. At that point I was at the base of Kingsbury Grade and had only about 12 miles to go to get back to Christopher’s house. It started off good, just a typical slow and steady climb. Right about 30 minutes into the climb I started to notice my heart rate peg to a steady 170-175 bpm. This is not good I tried to control it but couldn’t get it below 170. After a few minutes of this, I decide to take a breather to bring my HR back down to Earth.

The issue was I started to overheat and was running low on water. Kingsbury not like other passes out here, this road is completely exposed to the sun. The higher I climbed the hotter it got, by the time I was only 1000 feet from the top my watch said it was 92F. At this point I had only a few squirts of water left and I hit a wall. So it took a little longer to complete the climb. The whole climb took 80 minutes in total. I’m not going to make the record books with that one, but I made it none the less…

All in all the ride took me 4:38, where 3:57 of that was actually riding. Total distance was 58.04 miles with 4560′ of elevation. Not too shabby.

The real fun was on Saturday when Christopher and I went out to climb Monitor Pass. That climb was nice and long, but so worth it. That had to be one of best descents I have ridden ever. I clocked 50mph on my bike! Talk about a serious rush. Seeing the ground fly by you at that speed is a great way to get the adrenaline pumping. I’m pretty sure you could clearly hear us yelling “YaHooooooo!!!” a few passes over.

Actually going 110mph in Christopher’s Porsche the other night was rather thrilling as well. But I think the words coming out of my mouth were more along the lines of, “HOLY CRAP!!!

Well back to the city tonight. I’m actually looking forward to getting back to the fog. This sunny and 80 degree weather is for the birds. ;)

Now playing: Arcade Fire – No Cars GoNeon Bible

Temporary retirement begins now…

Yes that’s right today is officially my first day of unemployment. I concluded my consulting gig with Mailfrontier / Sonicwall on Friday and feel I have left them in good hands with the product.

What’s next? Well I am going to get some serious traveling under my belt and begin working on my own projects. A ton of ideas have been running though my head over the past year, I have made an attempt to get a few of them accomplished on the side, but that just does not seem to work for me. Thus, the plan is to focus on them full time. I feel this is my chance to make this work, it’s now or never baby.

I know it’s only my first day, but so far it feels good. What did I do on my first day of freedom you ask?

Check it:

  • Slept in to 9AM
  • Cleaned out my email inbox
  • Paid my bills
  • Ripped though all my stuff and organized them GTD style
  • Hammered out a 2 hour ride with Baus
  • Knocked two things off my project todo list

Oh yeah and it’s only 6PM. What, what?!

Not too shabby if you ask me. My biggest accomplishment in this list may be sleeping in. If you know me at all, you are aware that 9AM is unheard of. I’m not sure what caused this to happen, but let’s hope the uninterrupted rest continues…

Now playing: Peter Bjorn and John – ChillsWriter’s Block

More skiing…

Well it has been snowing all weekend. This morning I woke up to bluebird skys and had to hit the slopes. I was able to put in 4 1/2 hours before my legs said enough. I guess that’s what happens after skiing 4 days out of the past 5.

Heavenly Resort - Milky Way Bowl

Here are more photos from today’s trip…

Now playing: Karsh Kale – Analog Mood SwingsLiberation