Category Archives: TravelRant

65 — Sunny Foggy San Francisco

My mind spins with sights and smells, colors and characters, images from our whirlwind trip to fair San Francisco.

Union Square. Where else to reunite with friends and family.



Now to head out and see the city.

I confess…I LOVE San Francisco.

Everything about the city is colorful! The locals…





…if cautiously curious.



The buildings…



…the food.



There’s plenty of music…



on every street corner,



And characters abound.



With no dearth of ways to get around.



…whether there are two of you…



or you need a bicycle built for seven!



The “Conference Bike” has its own website!”

Even a busride is full of fun.



As much as I’ve seen the sights before,



this time, I had a list of new things I would do.

First up…

Alcatraz!

We swung by the ticket office
and were told to our dismay–
Next Trip
July 12.

Hmmm. Guess it does pay to plan ahead. We got to save money by not ๐Ÿ˜›

So.
This is as close as we got to the infamous island.



Second on the list–
Climb Coit’s Tower.

NOT.


By the time we got to the bottom of the stairs we’d worn out our legs and energy was selling at a premium we couldn’t afford.

BUT.
There were things we’d never seen before.
Like a fake alligator all baked of sourdough.



And a real alligator that was albino!



A cable car changing direction, the old fashioned way–
by hand.



We got to see the birthplace of the famous San Francisco sourdough, Boudin’s, where they toss sourdough boules to grasping tourists.



We visited the birthplace of San Francisco itself–
the lovely Mission Dolores.

Simple on the outside.



Elegant on the inside.



Peaceful in the graveyard.



We stood in line to see baby ostriches at the California Academy of Sciences…



and to eat world famous ice cream.



My favorite?



Brown sugar-caramel-ginger-roasted banana!

We learned that green tea cookies taste best in the Japanese Tea Garden.





If you want to ride the cable car–
you need to follow a few rules…



And hold on for dear life!



So as the sun sets, on this dreamy city…



I know I will be back. I’ve got a little list of things that I have yet to see,
and Alcatraz is at the top again.

Not to mention, plenty more food,



and wine!

63–Under the Roman Sun

I sit at my desk, listening to summer raindrops patter darkly on the leaves outside my window, and my mind wanders to the hot sunny days we spent in Rome last month.

It’s true–all roads do lead to Rome, as this fancy-dress centurion seems happy to point out.



The locals, we found, are very friendly,



delighted to quote you a price for their services,




and, take you for a ride.


Such a good looking people as they are so proud to proclaim,



Though sometimes, “handsome is as handsome does” would leave even the prettiest Roman empress a shade shy of attractive.



Agrippina the younger, empress of Rome, mother of Nero, thought to have poisoned her uncle/husband Claudius and in turn been poisoned by her son.


The bread was plentiful and delicious, the circus–astounding.


The inside of the coliseum with the working underground beneath the stage exposed. These are the passages through which they led animals and gladiators, shifted sets, even had special walkways for VIP guests to get to their seats without having to mingle with the rough and tumble plebs.



And boy did they love their circus. They had time to etch their favorite gladiators in stone, their idea of doodling while they waited for the trapdoors to slide, the stage sets to shift and the next gruesome spectacle to start.



We tended to prefer simpler pleasures, performances of a gentler nature, yet no less spectacular,





or entertaining.



So we gawked at the Forum as we baked in the sun, strolled through the palace of the Vestal Virgins,



The vestal virgins were the only Roman women with rights and privileges approximating those of men.

languished in the beauty of Palatine Hill,



and dreamed of having a Roman villa on high.


We found time to trip down the famous Spanish steps,


stroll by the river,



check out the styles,





hang out with the locals,





take in the fountains, whether famous,


The Trevi Fountain.

so famous they are copied on the other side of the world,


Faux Trevi fountain in Las Vegas.

photogenic,



or downright…strange,


And by the end of the day, we were inspired, overwhelmed, amazed…and thirsty!



A lion-sized thirst,




only quenched with just the right twist of cinammon-scented grappa,



and a wish for a chance to return



for another fun-filled day under the Roman sun.
Hope you will come along ๐Ÿ™‚

62–Tuscan Holiday Parte Seconda: Siena

This post is dedicated to my dear friend — Marilyn Donahue.

Her passionate accounts of Siena made it a must-see destination for us. In fact, we made it our hub for other forays into the Tuscan countryside. And aren’t we glad we did!

Siena, as Marilyn promised, makes quite the statement.

On the skyline…,


Siena Cathedral devours the horizon!


…and around every corner.


The Siena Town Hall that looms high over the large town square–Il Campo

Quirkily contemporary…,


They sure are…



…in love with…



…kitschy lights!


…through the ages…,


The ceiling of an inner chapel of the Cathedral.


…and for the future.


Kill the car, Plant a tree!


Common platter…,

It’s clear which nationality tourists this restaurant hopes to attract!


…and haute cuisine…,


Buffalo mozzarella and zucchini flowers stuffed with truffles


that our buddy came down from London to experience. (And you thought he’d come to visit with us. Humph!)


Heavenly

What he thought he was taking:


Too good to forget


What he got. Too bad it wasn’t just desserts.




Popular folk arts and crafts…,


How much is that poppy in the window, the one with the glorious smile?


Candle makers at work and loving it!


…or Renaissance grandeur at its peak.


Fancy lord prancing in a fresco in the Cathedral!


Sometimes that statement needs a little deciphering…,


The sign for tourists at the “panorama” climb from the Museum



Illuminated choir hymnal from the Siena Cathedral Museum.


…while at others, it needs no explanation.


The view of Siena and surrounding hills from aforesaid panorama point that definitely needs its own timeout



Inside Siena’s amazing cathedral


Sometimes the statement is folksy and cozy…,


I love how European restaurants are so welcoming of people and their pets!


…and at other times utterly chilling.


The floors of the Cathedral depict the Slaughter of the Innocents, a strangely popular theme for painting of the time. Dead babies? Ugh. Not my cup of tea. I want them alive and reading my books, thank you very much!



The basilica of San Domenico has the preserved head of Saint Catherine (no kidding, we saw it) the patron saint of Siena and has had it on display for centuries!


At the end of the day with so many statements, all that food…,


Rare pigeon-meat anyone?


…and after all that climbing…,


All ways lead UP to the duomo on the hill


…we were exhilarated, stuffed, and dead beat.


Weary wanderers seek water and wayrest


Though not quite as dead as this guy.


Victim of a cage in the Siena Torture Museum


Thank goodness!

In fact, after a wonderful farm stay we were up and about for another day in Tuscany.








Thank you again, Marilyn! Here’s wishing you a speedy return to sunny Siena ๐Ÿ™‚

P. S. Happy Bastille Day to one and all. May your revolution be successful…and bloodless ๐Ÿ˜›