Thursday, May 25, 2017

Montaza Palace Alexandria, Egypt in shades of gray.

A couple of former students recently picked-up SLR cameras and were itching to go on a photo shoot. I thought it might be fun break-in the cameras at the picturesque Montaza Palace in Alexandria. In keep with the spirit of field trip I snapped a couple of shots using my iPod touch.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Lucca, Pisa, and a little bit of Tuscany.

In 2007 Ana and I spent a couple of days of our honeymoon in Florence, Italy. That particular trip didn't leave the best impression on us because it was miserably hot plus we didn't quite know how to travel abroad on a shoestring budget. Here we are a decade later back in Tuscany (sans Florence this time) taking in everything we missed the first time around. We picked Lucca as home base only because there were several interesting looking villas listed on airbnb. If it looks good, then it must be good, and that was good enough for us. 

We rented the middle floor of a villa outside the city wall in the Santa Ana neighborhood. The area was charming and easy to navigate. The city's wall was a short 5-minute walk...for Ximena it was like she landed in a town especially created for her. The abundance of playgrounds teaming with excited kids hoping to converse with her in Italian tickled her. Lucca is family friendly for sure. My favorite features of the city wall was the 4 km path above it perfect from bicycling, running or taking a stroll. 

Just in case you're not sold yet, Lucca has vineyards nearby in the hills, Pisa is 15-minute drive while Florence is less than an hour. Modena, Parma, and Bologna are also about 2 hours away-ideal day trips. If you want to experience breathtaking landscapes, small villages, and hairpin turns, might I suggest the two-lane road between Modena and Lucca-sure it takes twice as long compared with the highway, but you're on vacation and just make sure you have a full tank of gas.
Center of Lucca
Roman Soldiers added to the Palm Sunday and G7 Summit build up.
G7 Summit Protesters with Ximena breaking down the wall.
The kitchen at Ristorante Vipore seated in the hills of Lucca. Amazing food, bummer 4 EURO/per person service charge.
Pisa, at least we didn't take obscene photos with the tower like the college boys next to us.

Phone home.
That scenic, windy, and somewhat scary wet drive between Lucca and Modena.
Yes, delicious balsamic. We even tasted the 100-year old bottle. Free tours too.
I was the only one in our clan stoked on the sweet all vegetable/nut Torta Verde di Lucca

Ximena's birthday cheese cake was the winner. 
Outside the Lucca walls.
Inside the Lucca walls.
We did hear some minimal protesting of the G7 Summit. Helicopters were buzzing above and there were some broken bottles and shots fired.
That path on the wall I mentioned.
We can never escape Egypt.
Inside the wall.

Aged Balsamic-perfect for steak or ice cream.
Buzz yourself in.
Might have to go back for this concert.
Cardboard chimp and baby.
Stalking some Italian boys.