Monthly Archives: July 2012

Phishing in Saratoga

Last weekend I got to escape the hot hot heat in NYC and chill out in Saratoga Springs. I went up for the Phish show, and stayed for the air conditioning. The show was a lot of fun. I had only been to a New Year’s Eve show previously, so it was cool to see how a ‘normal’ show differed. It was also cool to see how a ‘country’ show differs from a ‘city’ show. I liked the show, it was definitely more mellow. I think my two favorite parts were the cover of Psycho Killer and when Jon Fishman came out for some vocals, partially because he almost tripped over the amp while he was running around the stage.

Phish show at SPAC

It was a really long show, so we slept in till the ungodly hour of 9 am the next day. Sleeping in is totally different now than when I lived in Saratoga when I was a college student. The day was kind of gray, so Lindsay and I walked around Saratoga Spa State Park while her hubby Brian went for a run. We found one of the natural springs in the park that acts as a geyser, spouting out water constantly. I think it is the only active geyser in the US west of the Mississippi. The water is really rich in minerals so there’s a large carbonate/sulfur mound built up around it. We did not go to the more wall-like structure, because we did not know it existed until after we left the area. Well, I visited it in college on a field trip, but forgot about it.

Active geyser in Saratoga Spa State Park.

Then we walked up to the Victoria pool to check it out. Had it been a sunnier day we were planning on hanging out there, but the $8 admission fee was too high on this cloudy day. It’s neat to see the classic design of the pool.

Victoria Pool, Saratoga Spa State Park

Next stop was lunch at Ben and Leah’s to hang out with them and their new daughter, Eliza. We had some delicious sandwiches from Roma’s and some quality time with the bay-bay. Since she’s too young to hold her head up, much less a golf club, they decided to sit out our afternoon game of mini-golf. It was one of the better courses I’ve played on (that’s not saying much since I rarely go mini-golfing, but it had some cool Saratoga-themed obstacles), and I pulled off a second place finish, wooo!

Murphy’s Golf, home to one of the oldest driving ranges in the country (and an awesome mini-golf course)!

He wishes he was at Victoria Pool today instead of lying around at hole #2.

Aaaand they’re off!

We all made it to the winner’s circle!

After that we met up with the Nathan’s for a little afternoon ice cream snack at the Dairy Haus. I had a vanilla soft-serve with butterscotch dip. Way better than at Carvel!

Mmmm. Dairy Haus.

After that it was dinner at Chez McNamara and out for a few drinks on Caroline Street. We had some fancy cocktails and then one last drink at Gaffney’s for old time’s sake. Right before we headed home we couldn’t resist (or maybe I demanded) stopping into Esperantos for doughboys and pizza with blue cheese dressing.

Caroline Street…where I spent far too much time senior year.

One of the many painted horses in Saratoga Springs. Jazz themed.

Fancy drinks.

Classic beer at Gaffney’s.

It was a nice weekend welcoming the new generation and reminiscing about the good old days.

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Street Art in Paris and Marseille

Everyone knows how much I like street art. There wasn’t really any in the Morocco Medina, so I don’t have any representative Moroccan street art. Boo. The only one I saw depicted a dog barking ferociously at a person, kind of Bart Simpson style.

In Marseille, France we saw a few stencils, and we saw one big long wall mural. There were different components and I liked how it worked together stylistically.

Marseille, France.

Marseille, France.

Marseille, France.

Marseille, France.

Marseille, France

Mural detail, Marseille, France.

Mural detail, Marseille, France.

Mural detail, Marseille, France.

Mural detail, Marseille, France.

Paris, France had the most diverse art. There were some stencils, and a lot of the wheat paste type, some typical graffiti as well. Since I’m such a fan of ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’ I was excited to see pieces that looked like they were done by Space Invader.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France. (Invader?)

Paris, France. (Invader?)

The trip was pretty good all in all. I really enjoyed different aspects of each place. They were all so different, but somehow managed to come together on this trip. I guess now all that’s left is planning the next trip…I’m thinking I need to add the Asian continent to my list, and am taking suggestions…

Late for a Date with Royalty

While planning this trip I knew I wanted to visit some kind of palace. The Moroccan Palace was amazing, but I still needed my French fix. After extensive research I settled on Fountainebleau, an old estate of the royals, like Louis VII, and was later taken over by Napoleon after the revolution. It was supposed to be like Versaille (which I love, if you remember), but less touristy! I actually think that there were more people than when I went to Versaille, but hey, who’s counting.

Chateau from the front gate.

Front door.

On the front door. I think.

We got there late though, because I was super lazy and slow. It might have been all the wine and champagne that was consumed the prior evening. We got to Fountainebleau and decided food was essential. By the time we made it back to the Chateau it was 4:00. The Chateau closes at 5. It takes 2 hours to make it through the regular interior. Uh oh! As a concession to us latecomers admission is half priced, so at least we had that going for us. Unfortunately even if we wanted to try to speed walk through the Chateau to see it all they are shutting it down so you physically can’t get to all the regularly open areas after 4:00.

I like these Chateaus because I love seeing the furniture and interiors and all the Liberace-esque decorations.

Glass covered chandelier in one of the stairways.

So many boobs. A gift meant to represent fertility, I presume.

Huge fireplace.

Ceiling detail.

Candles and chandeliers, oh my!

The library. It was off limits.

Bedrooms are cool too.

The Queen’s bedroom.

King’s bedroom.

King’s office. With camp-style bed, in case he worked too late and he got too tired to walk to his bedroom. Right next door…

In this house I think they really liked playing musical chairs. Lots of rooms were set up for it.

A musical chair room.

Another musical chair room.

Throne room. Can double as an additional musical chairs room.

There was a beautiful chapel in the château where the walking tour ends.

Backside of the chapel.

Ceiling detail (in the chapel I believe).

There are 3 gardens on the estate. They’re open until 6, so we had some extra time to walk around before we were given the boot. We walked around the English-style garden, the other two are French. The difference is the French ones are heavily manicured and the English one is a bit wilder.

Chateau from the garden.

Stream running through the garden.

Chateau from the garden, across the pond. With floating gazebo. Not the best shot, but you get the idea.

Duckies in the garden.

It was a good day, it was just too bad that we were so late! Also, it was kind of drizzly all day, but that wasn’t too bad. It was the worst weather of the trip, but we were on trains or inside the estate most of the day so it didn’t really matter. I can’t wait to see more estates in the future (or even come back to Fountainebleau).

Holy Stained Glass

As mentioned previously, I love visiting churches because they’re so fancy and they’re free! Leave it to Randy to find one of the few cathedrals you have to pay to get into. I’ll get to that later though. Randy created a list of places he wanted to see, and a bunch of the churches on his list were clustered together, and fairly close to Jeremy’s house. So, after a hot chocolate break after The Cluny we mapped out a route and headed out to find the churches. The only problem? It was 6 o’clock. Right around the time most churches close! It was not looking good for us!

We first went to Saint Julien le Pauvre, one of the older churches in Paris. They were only open for a concert at this time of day, but said they were normally open from 9-6. We ended up going back Monday morning around 10 and found the gates closed and locked! We tried one more time after we visited the Sainte Chapelle, and it was still closed! Boo. Now we have a reason to return to Paris.

Saint Julien le Pauvre.

Saint Julien le Pauvre.

Saint Julien le Pauvre.

Our next stop was walking by Notre Dame. It’s one of my favorites, but the line kept us out. It wasn’t excessive, we just had other sites we’d rather see. We managed to get some nice pictures though. Couldn’t miss the shots of the Charlemagne statue either, considering we’re related and all…

Notre Dame is a popular one!

Charlemagne outside of Notre Dame.

Next stop, Sainte Chapelle. This was the church we had to pay to get into. It’s located in the Palace of Justice, so you have to go through security, and then you pay to enter the chapel. We went on a Monday morning around 1030 and waited 45 minutes or so. Let me tell you it is totally worth it. I loved the tile floor. The animals that it depicts are so whimsical, and reminded me of Morocco in concept, although not style. The showstopper is of course the stained glass of the chapel. The windows are under restoration, but the majority are still visible. They rise about 40 feet (total estimation) above your head. It’s breathtaking.

Sainte Chapelle stained glass. That looks like 40 feet, right?

Slightly closer look at the stained glass in the Sainte Chapelle.

This might help with the scale of the chapel.

Stained glass in the Sainte Chapelle.

Ceiling and top of stained glass, Sainte Chapelle.

Saint in the Sainte Chapelle.

Floor detail in the Sainte Chapelle.

The final church we went to in Paris was Saint Gervais et Saint Protais. Its a large Italian style church. It was the only church we made it into, and they had a service going on. We stayed for a few minutes and watch the incense guy wave his ball and chain down the aisle (those are technical terms, right?), and then we headed out. It was a pretty cool little visit.

Saint Gervais et Saint Protais.

Saint Gervais et Saint Protais.

The Loofah and George Clooney

Randy likes to use some mnemonic devices with the French words. Now try to figure out what the title means.

When we got back to Paris from Marrakech we weren’t sure what to do. I suggested perhaps we go see the Louvre (hint hint for the title), because we were going to go meet Jeremy in a few hours, and that way we wouldn’t get overwhelmed by the vastness of the museum. I am quite susceptible to museum head…you know, the technical term that describes how you feel when you’ve been at the museum too long. Your ears start buzzing and your eyes glaze over because you’re brain is overstimulated.

We managed to find The Louvre fairly easily from Jeremy’s apartment; it was just a quick 15 minute walk (I was determined to keep up the walking trend we’ve had on this trip). Well, let me tell you, the Louvre is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! For whatever reason I’ve never been in any of my previous trips. I’ve usually been across the river, and I feared the ginormous collection of artwork that the museum contains. I mean, just walking around outside can become a whole day affair! The architecture was so beautiful and ornate, it even made Randy speechless!

The Louvre and the pyramid.

Close-up on the pyramid. Weather wasn’t too shabby…

Inside the Galleria of the Louvre.

Since it was a Friday evening around 5 when we got there (it’s open ’till 9:45 on Fridays) we only had about a 10 minute wait through security and into the belly of the beast. While we waited to get our ticket from the automated machine (just like at American movie theaters) an older woman gave the people in line in front of us her 2 tickets and said she couldn’t use them anymore but someone should enjoy them. We were so close to a free entry!

We went in and spent a lot of time in the Greek and Roman sculpture section, and decided to try to find some of the works of note. They were doing an exhibit on Cesar which Randy was pretty excited about. After that we went to find the Code of Hammurabi, King of Babylon; Winged Victory; Venus de Milo; and of course, since we happened to be in the neighborhood, the Mona Lisa. There were crowds around the more well known pieces, but nothing incredibly frustrating or unmanageable. The biggest crowd was at Mona Lisa, but you could make your way to the front in about 3 minutes, 1 if you were feeling especially pushy. I took lots of pictures of sculptures, but not really any of the paintings. I guess you’ll just have to take my word that we saw the Mona Lisa!

Woof! Man’s best friend.

Egyptian lion. Roar!

A boy and his duck. Quaaaack!

Modern art installations throughout Napoleon III’s apartments.

Winged Victory

Just to point something out, our lack of a crowd was probably directly attributed to the time of our visit. We wanted to pick up something at the gift shop Monday morning before we left. We got there about 930a. The line was circling the courtyard. At least a 1/1.5 hour wait to get in and then probably some more time to buy tickets. No telling what the wait for the popular exhibits would have been. Good idea to think about wait time before you plan your visit.

The other museum we hit up was The Cluny (There’s your other title hint!). I wanted to go here because it houses unicorn tapestries! Just like at The Cloisters! How exciting! It’s pretty similar to The Cloisters museum, with a medieval building housing medieval works. It’s the National Museum of the Middle Ages, so that all makes sense. The tapestries were all I could have hoped for, and the other stuff was pretty cool too.

So many Unicorns!

A girl and her Unicorn.

poor monkey!

Stained glass at the Cluny.

Pretty staircase.

These were two great museums to hit up, and I think we did them in a smart way. We didn’t let the huge one overwhelm us, and we chose a smaller museum for the other choice. I beat the museum head!