Saturday, July 25, 2009

Fun in the sun

Every Saturday we have to leave our hotel room with the dog so housekeeping can clean our room. Today we took Holly to the park behind our new apartment. Somehow I think she'll be pretty happy there.
video
Especially because they have an onsite pond. It's manmade, and the water color looks like tidy bowl cleaner, but dogs are allowed to swim in it and the little waterfall nearby is nice too.
video

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Home furnishings in an hour


Brett and I needed furnishings for a 1 bedroom apartment. We move in 2 weeks, and the thought of having to do a massive Ikea run was giving me heartburn. Luckily I ran across a staging company that was trying to get rid of some inventory on the cheap. I walked into their warehouse, talked to a design consultant about my space, and less than an hour later I had properly picked out, stylish and coordinated furnishings for the entire apartment for just $2400.

That might be the best service ever. Check out StudioD if you need fun furnishings on the cheap :-)

Monday, July 20, 2009

The criminals of Larkspur


Brett and I signed a lease for an apartment in Larkspur, California which is in Marin County, right across the bay from the Larkspur Ferry terminal. We can walk to the ferry in 5-10 minutes from our apartment, so it's very convenient. It's also sunny and safe.

While walking at dinner the other night we noticed some vandalism in the town. Someone stole the "L" in the public parking sign. We weren't overly concerned though. At least the crooks have a sense of humor :-)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

My Dutch Bike

I was looking for something to do this weekend and saw that a new Dutch Bike shop is opening in SOMA! I loved the comfort of my bicycle in Amsterdam and wish I could have brought it with me to San Francisco.


I thought about buying one, but after I saw the $1599 price I'll need to think about it a bit. My cheapo Dutch bike was about $200. I'm sure this one will last a lot longer though - and nothing beats a Dutch bike for comfort.

I definitely wish them success. I learned first hand that Dutch bikes are great for commuting with - suits, heels and all.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Dog walks in Marin

One thing I love about the Bay area is the proximity to water. I've been on several great trails in the past few weeks and can't wait to show them to people when they come visit. Holly seems pleased too.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Birthday "Sand Castle"

Since Brett was still in Amsterdam, I met my friend Laura at Park Chalet near the ocean for some down time. Spending the day in an Adirondack chair while listening to live music is a great way to pass the day - especially when there are margaritas involved. Chocolate "sand castles" don't hurt either.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A low country boil for the 4th of July

One of Brett's college friends hosted a gathering on the 4th, so I went over for a visit. The highlight of the menu was a low country boil. Although this pile of food seems large, we managed to polish it off with no problem. Yum!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Oslo

Oslo was a really beautiful city to walk around. There were fountains and art installations throughout and it just had a very nice vibe. We didn't have a lot of time, but enjoyed just strolling around.

Brett made a friend with a local...

and although it wasn't as big as our ship....

...this kayaker sculpture was pretty cool. Oslo is definitely worth another visit someday. Maybe next time it will be for a Northern Lights trip. Brrrr.

Monday, July 6, 2009

St. Petersburg, Russia

Our 2 day stop in St. Petersburg was one of the best the entire cruise. The city is incredibly beautiful, and they have an amazing art collection. We had to go on a tour in order to get off the boat (since we didn't have visas) - so our first stop was the Hermitage - one of the top 3 art museums in the world.


Their collection is enormous, similar in size to the Louvre in Paris. Even the building was ornate, inside and out.


We saw several grand homes and churches including this classic onion dome church.


We also visited the Peterhof Palace (built to rival Versailles). I'd say they did a pretty good job with the competition.


While our tour was great at taking us to the "can't miss" sights, one surprising letdown was the food. They herded all of us into these 1,000 person tents where we were served meals with bland soup, horrible salad, these little fish egg appetizers, and some bitter/sweet berry dessert. Perhaps we got the real Russian experience with our meal - or perhaps the cruise line cheaped out on the food. Regardless, we had a great visit and would highly recommend the city to others. Just make sure you have a tour guide. The commentary about what it was like to live in pre and post communist Russia is truly thought provoking.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Helsinki

We only had a few hours to explore Helsinki, but we managed to squeeze in a trip to a microbrewery that made various beers and ciders, including one made with lingonberry.


After our brewery visit, we wandered the streets and ran into this furry guy. I guess he'd seen better days.


Helsinki also had a nice open air market. We thought about trying reindeer sausage or other local foods, but we're not big fans of fried, pickled or smoked fishes - so we had pizza back on the ship :-)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Stockholm

It was a Sunday when the cruise docked in Stockholm and a lot of things were closed. Luckily the street vendors were open because Brett was determined to eat something called Tunnbrodsrulle, which he had seen Anthony Bourdain eat on the Travel Channel.

It's a wrap filled with mashed potato, hot dogs, shrimp salad, onion crunchies, relish, ketchup and mustard. Despite it's appearance, it was surprisingly edible.

Stockholm's Old Town was quaint (like lots of old towns in Europe)....


..but what really made us laugh was salami and bacon in a tube. Kind of takes squeeze cheese to a whole new level :-)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Cruise of the Baltics: First stop - Copenhagen

Brett and I went on a 10 day cruise of the Baltic Sea in June that departed from Copenhagen. We found the city easy to get around and the people very friendly. As expected, it was a pricey city to eat and shop in, but we enjoyed ourselves regardless.

This pretty area was known as the Nyhaven neighborhood, which was on a canal with lots of little outdoor cafes.


While strolling around, we came across the most honest (and humble) marketing message we've ever seen. (Look towards the bottom of the building at the beer claim for Carlsberg)


But our favorite part was stumbling upon a free street exhibition of amusing signs from all over the world. In addition to traditional toilet humor they also had things like "look under your car for penguins" and signs that depicted not walking into the side mirrors of trucks. I guess there's a sign for everything.