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Play for Your Dinner

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The thing about Italians is that they love live music.  And they love Americans too (in spite of our recent proclivities for absolute dumb shit behavior).  Rhine and I took advantage of this by dragging around our instruments and playing for our supper where we ate.

The first great restaurant run happened after our worldwide debut as Into the Unknown in Campiglio Cervo.  The crowd converged and decided we needed a reservation subito subito.

In the end, I was spirited off with Santa Mariela so I could see the restaurant and meet the owners with my own eyes.  That’s because Ruers above Piedicavallo exists past where the road ends.  So you have to walk there once you ditch your car.  Incredible views await.  And the kindest people.

On the same fact finding mission, we also had to make a quick trip to visit Dick (a local Scott of great flare) and his cat, and catch up with pretty much everyone we encountered.  This was fun, but it made us late late late.

My scouting expedition revealed this view (that is Biella down there somewhere).

We returned (very late) in the Fiat 500, parked at the edge of the world, and proceeded to have an excellent dinner replete with local wine house made cheeses,  polenta, roast beef, and even gluten free stuff for Matt.

 

After dinner we got out our instruments and played a little music.  Here is part of the “first song” (a song by Bob that we always play first so we never have to figure out what to play first).

Then we entered the kitchen to play for the cooks.  This was a blast, and the staff was most appreciative.  Lets just say we are welcome back any time, forever.

Check out the face on this guy.

This kind of experience is what makes a trip to Italy an amazing, humanizing experience.  And to top it all off, the Signora would not let me pay all that I owed.

Of course, once we did it once, we had to do it again.  That’s just how it goes.

Rhine and I scouted out a restaurant run by the slightly pazzo Roberta in Sanctuario San Giovanni.  The moon was almost full, and the werewolves were awakening.

The local Barbera was outstanding.  This was one of the best simple meals we had on the trip.

Top of the world to you.

If you look closely, you will see Rhine.

Roberta recognized us as part of the concert crowd from Campigliano Cervo and asked if we had brought our instruments.  Since we rushed to arrive by 8:30 the answer was no.  Roberta asked us to return the next evening after our big opera, and a plan was born.  We promised to arrive a punto by 8:29pm.

She sent up home with a 100 year old plate for April and some goodies for breakfast.  We shared some grappa.

It took some doing after the big opera performance, but we did make it.  The moon was full.   Everyone else arrived shortly thereafter.  I played my violin at the edge and made Mariela cry.

And, once again after dinner, we played in the kitchen for the cooks even as the vegan meal was blitzkrieged on the massive stove.  The floor was sticky, but the love was palpable.

We stayed until the grappa ran out.

And we will return.

 

 

 

 

 

Up the Gondola in Bergen

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The morning started with a quick visit to pick up some pottery cups we couldn’t leave Norway without.  We were driving in a Leaf.

The cups in question

 

The artist in question

 

The leaf

After a circuitous meandering walk, we made it to the gondola, and up we went.  The gondola has been newly renovated.

Gondola

 

Up we go

 

Masked of course

 

Sunset coming soon

Photo op at the top

 

The couple

Hot chocolate behind you

 

 

No gøran

 

Gøran

We escaped through a classified tunnel back to the leaf.

Walk to the Top in Bergen, and Slide Down

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The funicular is being renovated, so a walk to the top was in order.  The walk was easy and beautiful.  It proceeds in stages, zooming out as you gain in elevation.

If you start with cake, you must hike to the top.

 

 

icicle

Listen to the drips.

 

 

 

 

proof

Then the slide down.

 

Then a visit to No Stress for a Negroni before heading out on the metro.

 

 

 

Fin.

 

Norway in a Nutshell with Romey

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This iteration of Norway in a Nutshell was a one day jaunt out of (and back to) Bergen.  Things got underway early (around 8:40) at the Bergen train station.  The trip went Bergen–>Voss–>Gudvangen–>Flåm–>Myrdal–>Bergen (through Voss).  Arrival at home was 6pm.

Of course the day was perfect and the light was beautiful.  Even the clouds of Bergen parted temporarily as we departed.

Here’s how the day went.  After a delicious breakfast in Bergen at the Børs hosted by the delightful Dalia, we walked to the plastic-wrapped train station and found our place.

Masked on the train to Voss

It was still early in Voss and the 15 minute connection wait for the bus was uneventful.

Voss station (the blue appears)

The bus to Gudvangen is roomy and nice.  But no wifi this time (WTF?!).  The trip took about an hour, leaving 45 minutes to have some cocoa and walk around in Gudvangen.

Waterfall from a bus

 

On the way to Gudvangen

 

Majestic and way bigger than this picture makes clear

 

Looking back to Gudvangen

 

The bridge

 

The fjord was simply magical

 

A crystal clear day with little wind left the Fjord a gigantic deep mirror.

 

The ferry arrives

Since we were touring on off season (and during a pandemic), snacks were harder to come by than on previous Norway in a Nutshell runs.  Even the ferry (which usually has a nice snack bar with various food items) was limited to coffee and tea.  Bring along some snacks.

The two hour ferry ride is nothing short of stunning.

Pretend Viking boat

 

The ferry (very upscale)

 

 

These days, the ferry (which can comfortably hold 400) is a super modern, quiet boat with lots of room.  It is also fast.

Pole position (with a charger)

Just as we departed, some base jumpers blew in from on high.  Check out this spectacular landing.

 

Looking back into the wake

 

 

 

 

 

From the bow

 

Norway

 

Mountain boat

We called ahead to the Flåm for a pizza from the bakery.  This is a good move!  The pizza was delicious and it was great to walk in and have a hot pie waiting.

 

Yum!

 

 

Then it was a 3 minute amble over to catch the Flåm–>Myrdal train (one of the steepest inclines in railroad) in an historical vehicle.  Here we go.

 

The climb really is remarkable.

 

Myrdal here we come (check out the switchbacks)

A short stop at the waterfall is always in order.

Romey takes a picture

Romey also takes a video.  (These bits are for Emily.)

 

 

 

 

 

And then on to Myrdal with some daylight remaining (remember, the sun sets around 3:30pm in late November).

 

We made it!

 

 

After a few minutes at the top, the train to Bergen arrived.  Then it was three hours back, arriving just in time for dinner with friends (including Vemen and Hovard this time).

Last train back

 

The route

 

Back home in Bergen.

Today, the light

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Three views from the corner.

Trio one

 

Trio two

 

Trio three

The walk.

 

 

Mogli blends

 

Shenandoah

 

 

 

Light

 

 

 

Tree fire

What the Fuji

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Fujiyama from the shinkansen.

Katoomba Blue Mountains Hike (Australia)

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In about three hours, Brian and I hiked 6.3 miles covering an elevation delta of 1600 feet. We started at Lilianfells,took the Prince Henry trail over to the Furber Steps, went down the steps (with some great views of Katoomba Falls), hiked Federal pass to Honeymoon Lookout, doubled back through the Dardanelles Pass and then climbed up the 900 steps of the Giant Stairway to the Three Sisters. Finishing with the climb up the steps was interesting.

Katoomba

 

Katoomba falls

 

Brian takes a picture

 

Picture in picture

 

Katoomba

 

 

Overlook Mt Solitary

Katoomba Falls

 

Spring Fiddleheads (Australia September)

 

Rain forest Katoomba

Turning point

 

View from Dardenelles

Heading up the Gianty Stairway

Only 1/2 way up. Exhausting climb.

Three sisters. Alone.

All in all, an incredible hike on a gorgeous day. Better ending up than down.

Four days on skis (Norway)

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Day one involved cross country skiing. This is not a thing we do well. We got better.

 

At least there were waffles and beer! Though I think that home brew knocked my internals out of whack.

Our skiing all happened somewhere around here

Day two was also cross country.

 

 

On the third day, we arose from the dead and did some downhill.

Then it was back on the grindstone for more cross country.

This guy had better skis than we did

Fin

Cheers!

After skiing, there is always bubbly!

The Blue Mountains: Katoomba, Australia

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A two hour train ride outside of Sydney, you can find the tourist hamlet of Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. Tourists have been coming here since the turn of the century (1900). Katoomba itself reminds me of West Virginia in its old coal town turned bust turned tourist vibe. You can now find hipsters and artists in residence.

We took the train out in the morning and spent several hours walking from the train station to a trailhead, down the cliff face, and back up again.

Highlights on the mountain visit include the three sisters, the giant stairway (976 steps!), waterfalls, and the steepest railroad in Australia.

We started our morning at Sydney central

The two hour train ride is a little long. The tourist center by the train station is well worth a visit. That is where we finalized our plan.

8things cafe. Great food and super service

Cassiopia coffee (recommended)

We walked from the station to Echo point (2.3 km).

The Echo Point visitors center

This is where we first caught sight of the famed three sisters. Which we saw many times throughout the day.

Three sisters from Echo Point visitor center

Three sisters from the echo point trail

Three sisters from the trail

Three sisters from just above

Honeycomb cave (at the three sisters)

Three sisters from below on the Federal trail

Three sisters from Scenic World gondola

Here’s what happened in between. After honeycomb cave, we entered the giant stairway. Lots of stairs down (976 in fact). Amy did not do them all.

This is an alternative way to get down the stairs (not recommended by our attorney)

Not here

Here

Flowers and bromiliads

Amy

AMY

A tiny fiddlehead against the mountains

Down

Flowers on the mountain

Looking down 500 feet

The blue mountains

Amy contemplates

Cliff hangers

Amy takes the stairs with a monk

Cliff hangers and rare species

Eventually, we entered the rain forrest at the bottom of the cliff.

The giant stairway is well named. It has been there a while.

Rainforest ecology

Amy rounds the bend

Ferns and trail. The rainforest shift is striking

A very big tree indeed

Katoomba Creek falls

After the falls, we were back in what passes as civilization. Scenic world was first contemplated by coal miners. Just take the train thingy up.

And, why not? Try the cable car too.

We walked back from scenic world (another 2.5km). All told we may have hiked around 5 miles. We deserved a beer.

After a long day hiking, it was high time for a beer!

The 2 hour train ride back to Sydney was slightly too long.

Mountain Cabin: The Fuck All Ya’ll House

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Lil cabin in the woods

Just bought a cabin on the Blue Ridge for the Bitter Liberals. It’s a little thing with a hilarious story available only in person. Suffice it to say that we’ll be calling it the “fuck all ya’ll” house. That’s meant only in the kindest way, of course.

Once the stuff is gone, the band will go here

fireplace side, and yoga too no doubt

kitchenette

Here are some more views of the outside. All of the decks need to be replaced, and we’ll put in two skylights for the upstairs rooms.

Back deck

front deck

The house sits on just over 6 acres of woodland with a creek as one of the borders.