09 Aug 2019

Kristiansand, Norway 2019

Our first port was Kristiansand, on Norway's southern tip, across from Copenhagen.
We drove 20 miles up a scenic road to Lillesand and boarded the 80 foot SS Christiansand for a fun boat ride back through the Skagerrak Sea. Although the North Sea oil has changed the economy, it is all about beauty and a lifestyle along the water here.
Our group is enjoying the boat ride.
She just has to play with the merchandise.
Our ship.
We love onboard activities. Allyn took a French cooking class today.
Tonight we had dinner at Prime 7, an elegant steakhouse with elegant ambiance.

08 Aug 2019

Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Explorer

Allyn and I boarded Regent's Explorer today. It is the loveliest ship we have ever been on. Our room is sensational. We are looking forward to a great experience on our home here for the next three weeks.
The rooms are large and well designed, and quite pretty.
All of these photos are from our Cabin 901.

06 Aug 2019

Madrid, Spain 2019

Guernica, one of the most brilliant artworks ever created, and not coincidentally Picasso’s most famous painting is considered to be one of the most powerful anti-war paintings ever.
And that is the reason we found ourselves back in Madrid. Yesterday we took a trip to Reina Sofia Museum to study, view, and learn about Guernica.
We had such a good time and learned so much last year with our great guide Mr. Hernan A. Satt, partner (with wife Irina) of  Madrid Museum Tours. We were shocked and thrilled when they invited us out for a wonderful dinner at a deluxe local’s restaurant when we told him we were returning.
This 12 x 25 ft black white and gray painting just blows people away even if you understand nothing. You can spend all day looking at it. It doubly blows you away to have somebody explain it.
Early in 1937, the Spanish Republicans had commissioned Picasso to paint a mural for the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris. 
Then on 26th April 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, Guernica was bombed by Nazi German and Fascist Italian warplanes on request of Spanish Nationalists. Picasso created this masterpiece in response to the bombing of Guernica. 
At least that is what is generally accepted. However, all Picassos are always about Picasso too. Many art historians point out this was a very sad period in Picasso’s life wherein he was in a funk over several love relationships. He produced almost nothing for the first three months of his commission and then cranked out this masterpiece in three months as he had the World’s Fair deadline date.
Note the three women in the painting. One would not grant him a divorce, one was so sad that he wouldn’t marry her, and one was involved in a love killing with his friend.
He was a genius.
Day two was a return trip to The Prado where we just did not have enough time last year. See last year's blog.
This time Irina was our guide. She was great also. 
It is so interesting to learn both the history of the time and the amazing art methodology that was being used. A couple examples:
The Equestrian Portrait of Charles V had such a profound effect on Spanish Art.
The Lovers of Teruel besides one of the great love stories and the detail delicacy such as the lace and pearls is incredible.
We love searching for and finding wonderful small local restaurants around the world and we hit a home run in Madrid near Opera. We had such a delightful dinner at Algarabia. I mean the food was great. There were only six tables. Two sisters own it and work all of it. Isabel is the hostess/server and Pilar is the chef. Dinner for two including wine - 70 Euros.

04 Aug 2019

Grand Canaria, Canary Islands 2019

Although difficult to get to, we enjoyed Grand Canaria Island in The Canary Islands so much last year that we opted to return this year. 
Fun factoids:
*The Canaries name comes from dogs not the bird.
*The bird was named after the islands.
*The Canaries get 12 million visitors annually. Note that Hawaii is about 10 million.
We enjoyed our hotel,Seaside Grand Hotel Residencia, enough last year that we came back this year. 
It has an outdoor gym.
Maspalomas is one of the great beaches.
One dinner was at Rias Bajas. Great Food and service, but no view. Notice how the place is quite empty. That is because it was "only" 9:30 and Spaniards eat very late.
Allyn loves salt crusted sea bass.


Dinner the last night at La Aquarela was sensational. It recently receive a Michelin star. Although it is in the lower level of an apartment, the view, ambiance, food and service are top notch.We had seven courses and seven wine pairings. Wowsers.

In my experience, never have I been to a restaurant that has a purse stool for the ladies where the restaurant hasn't been outstanding.


01 Aug 2019

San Francisco 2019

The first stop on this summer's trip was San Francisco. We came in a day early to have dinner with long time friends Terye and Jacob Levy.
And what a great dinner it was. They took us to Kokkari Estiatorio, a sensational Greek restaurant. You can't go wrong with either the lamb chops or the whole fish fish.
About 4:00 AM I remembered that I left some drops prescribed for my cataract surgery on my nightstand. What a dumbo! After a brief panic I got down to business of figuring things out.
I rejected the idea of trying to round trip going home and making it back in 10 hours. I tentatively ruled out having somebody from the office fly here, but knew that would work.
Then I learned that FedEx actually has a same day service. That was interesting although a $250 option.
Then it clicked. I jumped online and saw that Walgreens had a 24/7 pharmacy in Castro. What a cinch that was. I (Allyn) called them and in 5 minutes max they confirmed who I was, what my prescription was, and said the doctor had already approved two refills. He said it would be ready when we arrived.
And that is how we ended up in The Castro District in the morning.
When I was at Berkeley in college during the sixties this neighborhood was already the center of the universe for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Come to think of it, I don't recall transgender back then. Anyway its still there big time. 
After returning to The St Regis, our lovely home for a day in The Embarcadero, we strolled to and visited Salesforce Park. It is a beautiful 5.4 acre rooftop park above the Transit Center. Other urban areas should take a lesson.