Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Farewell Venice

As I sail off to the airport, a photograph of the gondola repair center seems appropriate. St. Trovaso's bell tower is in the background.

Venice, you were good to me again. Thank you! My solo travels are off to a great start!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Colors of Venice

The building on the right is more yellow than this image depicts, but in person the colors are great on this Venetian backstreet! Candy-colored buildings enhance the scene set by gelatto stands, bakeries, and dulcerias (I just might have made this word up).

Graffiti: Don't Touch My Radio

Roaming the backstreets of Venice earned me this prize, a bell-bottom sporting graffiti dude. This character is used in other graffiti throught the Venetian islands.

Lattice View - Venice, Italy

This image was taken near Palazzo Ca' Foscari and Museo di Ca' Rezzonico on the Grand Canal in Venice.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Palazzo con Pilings - Venice, Italy

This image was taken near Palazzo Ca' Foscari and Museo di Ca' Rezzonico on the Grand Canal in Venice.

Distinctly Venetian

Buildings in Venice were built with bricks and usually included the type of window shown above. At the crossroads of the world, Venice's architecture reflects Turkish, Middle Eastern, and Roman influences.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

My Venice View

The view from my room is pretty good, especially for $100 per night!

Hello Venice

My view from the vaporetto on the way in to the Venetian islands.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Aggressive Pastry at SIA Smilšu Pulkstenis Bakery

On our second day in Riga, Latvia, and first day of good weather, my friend and I decided to walk the city, enjoy the architecture, and try a new pastry shop. On our journey we came across SIA Smilšu Pulkstenis, a bakery with less flair than Boulangerie Bakery (which we tried on our first day), but more interesting desserts. SIA Smilšu Pulkstenis was perfect for an afternoon snack.

The first dish I tried was small and tasty. This little chocolate covered roll could nearly be classified as savory with an overtly challah and seseme seed flavor. This simple dessert was presented nicely and was a nice snack. I wanted something a little sweeter, so I decided on a piece of a tart.

The pastry shown above was less than stellar. The browned coconut topping was a bit soggy and it lacked flavor. The berry layer of this tart was, well, tart. Perfect. Finally the third layer, the crust, might as well have been left out all together. The crust was moist and rather bland. Overall this dish was a sour mush. So natuarally I needed to try another dessert.

Although the pastry might have lacked what I was looking for, the open air dining was fabulous. The heavy-set wood tables, padded chairs and large umbrellas created an enjoyable setting amongst pastel painted art nouveau buildings.

Finally I settled on a meringue sandwich covered in white chocolate and filled with a liquour-flavored creme. Each bite from first to last were great. All of the flavors played well with one another. Aside from a nice punch of sweetness, the meringue and creme had an undertone of egg nog.

After three desserts down I asked my buddy if he thought I was crazy for trying three pastries and he replied, "No. You just have an aggressive pastry style." Well put. Pastries seem to taste better in Europe and I have a fascination with outdoor dining on cobblestone streets. So why not? These experiences are hard to come by. When I come back to Riga in several years I will seek out SIA Smilšu Pulkstenis Bakery in Old Town Riga.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Farewell Vilnius

Vilnius' backstreets are interesting to explore. Graffiti, haggard buildings and interesting sights are around each corner.

Dear Lithuanian Transportation Operators,

Departing early does not mean you are better than punctual. Although I respect your ability to run a tight shift, leaving the station early only hinders those that also plan their days precisely.

Thankfully I arrived at the correct platform at 7:44am because my 7:50am train departed at 7:46am.


Pre-poned in Vilnius

Vilnius Town Hall - Vilnius, Lithuania

National Museum - Vilnius, Lithuania

The Lithuanian National Museum has a slightly curved facade stretching 130 meters because it was built atop the 14th century city wall.

Advice: Take Lithuanian currency because this museum does not accept euros or credit cards.

Studded Door- Vilnius, Lithuania

The metal studs and weathered wood create a nice pattern.

Door Window Window - Vilnius, Lithuania

A building in the old Jewish ghetto of Vilnius, Lithuania.

Hello Vilnius

This photograph was snapped on the fly with my iPhone. I might be getting better with this simple camera.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Farewell Riga

I seem to be visiting the Scandinavian and Baltic countries during many graduations and weddings. This arrangement is fitting for these joyous occasions.

Monday, June 21, 2010

En Verden af Brod Bakery - Copenhagen

After having a healthy annas (pineapple) yogurt, cheese, and crackers just an hour before, En Verden af Brod bakery smelled too good to pass without going in. I had a few extra Danish Kroner to spend before I departed Copenhagen for Bergen, Norway, so why not look?

The 13 kroner I spent on a pastry was by far the best money I spent in Copenhagen! I ordered a "fransk snegel" pastry. The crispy cinnamon roll was covered in chocolate and provided just enough spice and sweetness!

I recommend visiting this bakery the next time you are in Copenhagen!

Window Over Door - Riga, Latvia

On my first rainy day in Riga, Latvia I tried to focus on capturing building details. The above image was taken on a backstreet in a dilapidated area of Old Town. The exposed brick and off center wood window struck me as interesting.

Asymmetrical Door Detail - Riga, Latvia

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Hello Riga

I arrived the Riga Coach Station during a rainstorm which made navigating an adventure. On my way to the hostel I came across this fine building on a side street. The bright yellow color and intricate carvings helped brighten an otherwise dreary day.

Farewell Tallinn

As the rainclouds roll in I must say goodbye Estonia and hello Latvia!

Grandmother & Grandchild - Tallinn, Estonia

Kadriou Park Pond - Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn's Waterfront - Tallinn, Estonia

Entrance to Maarjamae Palace - Tallinn, Estonia

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Touring Tallinn - Maiasmokk Bakery

My first day in Tallinn, Estonia was marked by intrigue and pleasant surprise. I did not know what to expect from a former Soviet-bloc country, but upon arrival I was rewarded by experiencing the colorful Old Town Tallinn.

While in Old Town I visited Maiasmok, a great bakery with an old world flair (as shown in the wood moldings and mirrored ceiling). The atmosphere was fabulous in the Maiasmok bakery. I enjoyed a Kook "Puuviljakorv" or tart. The custard filling was replaced by a slightly salty creme filling. This is but one experience I am thankful for!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Gardens Leading to Kadriorg Palace - Tallinn, Estonia

Kadriorg Palace Gardens - Tallinn, Estonia

Trees Leading to Kadriorg Palace - Tallinn, Estonia

Hello Estonia

This is Kadriorg Palace Gardens and an outbuilding in Tallinn, Estonia.

Farewell Finland!

Finland was wonderful. Many memories of my travels to Finland will be at the top on my "best of list."

Off to Estonia!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Would I Stay at Dorm.No Again? NO!

Location is usually one of my criteria for selecting both hotels and hostels. While in Bergen, Norway I stayed at Dorm.No. At the outset the hostel did not sit well with me.

The directions given by the hostel were incomprehensible. Dorm.No's directions did not get me in the vicinity. Anytime I receive directions asking the user to, for example, leave the train station and go right, I look at maps. How can the author of directions know which exit the user will take? Sure enough the directions were not sufficient. A map surely helped me find Dorm.No.

Once I checked in at the bar of an adjacent hotel I entered my room. Mistake! At 11:30pm the room was cramped with people and did not have air conditioning or even a window for ventilation. The showers and bathrooms were substandard even for hostels. After a very long day in Copenhagen, a metro ride, a plane flight, a bus ride, and a hike to find the hostel, I immediately left Dorm.No in search of fresh air to stop sweating!

My journey around Bergen that night was interesting. I saw the sun sit at the horizon for an hour and then the sky dimmed in luminescence and never actually got dark! Amazing!

So do I recommend Bergen's Dorm.No? NO! Although this hostel was in a good location, you should go elsewhere, your money will be well spent!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Birds & Softice - Helsinki, Finland

Today my friend and I bought softice (soft serve for those of you outside Scandinavia) on the Helsinki waterfront. Just after we walked away from the ice cream stand, woosh! A flock of seagulls swooped down and bit right through my buddy's softice! Most awesome! A seagull's beak bisected the cold vanilla creme. Then the seagulls climbed, circled and reapproached for another attempt at the soft serve. The aerial wolfpack followed my friend as he ran around trying to lose the hungry birds. I wish I had my camera out, but my hands were otherwise occupied with a cone as well.

The first five hours in Helsinki have been most memorable!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Helsinki, Finland - Yellow Senate Square

On the first day in Helsinki I ventured through the city and saw some great sights. Please enjoy my iPhone photos.

Senate Square, with it's stark yellow government building and the Helsinki Cathedral, should not be missed.

Helsinki, Finland - Cathedral & Street Lamp

The dramatic clouds and Greek-style Helsinki Cathedral were fantastic yesterday evening.

FLIR Fun in Stockholm

My friend and I happened upon a a festival showing environmentally friendly products and other innovations yesterday. At the FLIR (forward looking infrared) booth we took this photo together.

The hottest part of the frame is 36 centigrade. A heat scale is on the right side of the image. Neat.

This is just one more reason "getting lost" and wandering cities is a great way to experience life as a local.

The real question, who's hotter?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Best Question from a Fellow in my Hostel - Bergen, Norway

At 6am I was quietly packing my bag when a hostel guest asked, "Sugar? Do you have the sugar?"

What could this guy be referring to? The 10-person room was muggy and dark. Strange.

"Sugar? What are you talking about?" I asked back.

"Yes for the coffee. Oh do you have coffee as well?" he said.

"No I don't," was all I could muster. This was one interesting inquiry at 6am from a fellow bunkmate that I met only a few hours before.

Ivy Door - Stockholm, Sweden

Teknska Hogskolan (Technical University) Stockholm

After eating a good meal in Stockholm's Ostermalm district, I ventured farther from my hostel and visited the Teknska Hogskolan (Technical University). Quite a nice campus! It started to rain after I took this photograph.

Stockholm, Swden

Here is another set of iPhone images.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Oslo's Colors

On a rainy day in Oslo, Norway I found a few bright pops of color!

Graffiti in Oslo

Oslo's Karl Johans Gate

These flowers lead right to the parliment building in Oslo, Norway.

Oslo's Parliment Building

Oslo's Backstreets

I found this park in Oslo's residential area today. The parks here are very nice. Unfortunately the stormy weather is not conducive to enjoying the outdoors.

Oslo S Train Station

Thursday, June 10, 2010


As I write, the bus driver is slowly weaving the autobus through gently undulating hills of Bergen, Norway. To my right, glass-like ponds reflect thickets of evergreen trees. While on my left the sunset is fabulous! It is 11pm and the sun is still hanging in the sky. The clouds are catching colorful casts of orange, pink, and magenta. I have 20 more minutes of this beautiful ride until I can photograph Bergen's city center and waterfront. Hopefully the sun will hover in place until I have time to enjoy it's beauty.

This post does not and subsequent posts will not contain any images of Bergen, Norway because the iPhone cannot not do the city justice. Bergen is a magical city that deserves the best! I look forward to sharing my photographs with you when I return to the States.

Copenhagen Sunset at 9:30pm?

Copenhagen is a beautiful city that is located in northern Europe and has very long daylight hours during the summer months. I have always wanted to experience nearly 24 hours of daylight, and I have so far this trip. Time to check this life experience off the list!

The image above was taken with my iPhone at approximately 9:30pm in Copenhagen! The sun had not yet even reached the horizon. When viewing the sun from northern Europe the sun hangs around the horizon for a while before retreating. When I awoke the following morning at 5:15am the sky was light. Amazing!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Carlsberg Copper Mash Vessels

Carlsberg Brewery Tour

Today is my last day in Denmark. The sights and people have all been enjoyable. Copenhagen is a great city that I am sure I will visit again years from now.

Currently I am at the Carlsberg Brewery in Copenhagen. The brewery's stone architecture is magnificent and the grounds are nicely planted. Although the Carlsberg Brewery is not the most well-known destination in Copenhagen, this is an excellent final tour before flying to Norway. Touring the brewery really brought home the importance of beer to Denmark.

The brewing guilds and later independantly owned private brewers had an enormous impact on the economic health of Denmark. Some brewers, like Carlsberg, offered pensions and health care to employees. I noticed Stars of David all over the city (on churches, manhole covers, & mosaics on floors) and was curious as to why. Today I learned that the Stars of David are actually the symbol of brewers. The sheer number of the symbols also points to the great influence of brewing on Denmark.

I am not a fan of beer, but I can appreciate it's historical impact and the methods of production. As I write this I am enjoying a great vintage of Coca Cola in the lively Carlsberg visitor center with a table full of Russian tourists. This was a great experience!

Off to explore the stormy city and bring home some interesting photographs to share with you.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

EuroTrip 2010 - A New Adventure

As your eyes flutter across the screen, I am flying through American or European airspace en route to rendezvous with a fabulous friend and travel buddy. At 53 days, this adventure is the longest of my life! The Google map above illustrates my circuitous route that will begin in a few short hours as I disembark the Airbus in København (Copenhagen), Denmark.

This European excursion will have three distinct legs: traveling with my buddy, touring with my wife, and exploring solo. My wife's enthusiasm and knowledge always make our trips exciting and she inspires me to learn about the artwork and history of the places we visit. My friend's willingness to try anything and "get lost" in cities with me make our travels spontaneous and memorable. I have touched foot on foreign soil numerous times, but never alone. I look forward to venturing out unaccompanied as I will gain new insight into myself.

Please visit back for travel updates, stories, and suggestions regarding international travel photography. In you have any suggestions for me to photograph in Europe, destinations that I must see, or anything else, please email me. In the meantime, I am speeding towards the first destination on my itinerary.

  1. Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. Bergen, Norway
  3. Oslo, Norway
  4. Stockholm, Sweden
  5. Helsinki, Finland
  6. Tallinn, Estonia
  7. Riga, Latvia
  8. Vilnius, Lithuania
  9. Venice, Italy
  10. Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
  11. Delft, The Netherlands
  12. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  13. Berlin, Germany
  14. London, England, United Kingdom
  15. Paris, France
  16. Brussels, Belgium
  17. Antwerp, Belgium
  18. Kinderdijk, The Netherlands
  19. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Ago vita vos somnium (live the life you dream)

    Thursday, June 3, 2010

    Polar Opposites: Travel with Nikon D3 or Canon S90

    I will leave San Diego this summer and venture to the northern stretches of the European continent. Hopefully my journey will take me into the Arctic Circle to experience nearly 24 hours of daylight! With this northern exposure in mind, I am preparing a list of camera items I will need for my backpacking excursion. The real dilemma comes down to which camera system I should take, the Nikon D3 or the Canon S90 (article link: The Canon S90, to Asia and Back). Every camera is a balance of factors; my two choices are no different. The Nikon D3 and my 17-35mm f/2.8 weigh nearly 4.5 pounds. Once a camera bag, filters, memory cards, batteries, charger, tripod, and ball-head are factored in, my Nikon D3 travel photography kit weighs over 10 pounds (on top of 50 pounds of gear)! This weight directly translates to quality, flexibility of composition and printing alike. My inclination is to take the Nikon D3. After traveling Asia with a brand new Canon S90, I realized that this little compact camera is the best I have owned. The weight of the Canon S90 is not worth mentioning, and the size of the camera is negligible. The Canon S90 was an afterthought while in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Hanoi, and Ha Long Bay because the camera slipped easily into tight-fitting pants. The S90's manual control rings and custom settings are the best I have seen in a compact camera, but the resolution leaves something to be desired (e.g.: very sharp at the center and blurry from the image's middle to periphery). For this reason, I lean towards taking the cumbersome Nikon D3 on my upcoming European adventure so I will not have to rely on center crops for prints. As I decide which camera compliment I will take on the journey, I am perplexed by two issues: weight and quality. The Canon S90 is revolutionary for what it is; a pocketable, high-resolution, low-light capable, image-stabilized digital camera. Ergonomics are good. Weight and size are not worthy of consideration. (The Nikon D3's charger is twice the size of the Canon S90!) However, image quality is my biggest concern. When I get to picturesque locations I will want to record the scenes on the D3's full-frame sensor. On the other hand, the Canon S90's tiny package allows photographers to go unnoticed whereas the Nikon D3 draws all sorts of unwanted attention. What is a photographer to do? If you have any suggestions, do not hesitate to comment or email me. Ago vita vos somnium (live the life you dream)

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010

    Follow the Lines

    The simple composition in this image is complimented by the subtle undulating lines of the sand and surf. The sand seemingly flows from the kelp to the beach boulder and then into the receding waves at Torrey Pines in Del Mar, California. Ago vita vos somnium (live the life you dream)