Going Solo in Amsterdam

My friend and I arrived to Amsterdam‘s Central Train Station just before 9am on May 30th, following a not so comfortable overnight train ride from Munich.  I’ve taken overnight trains in Egypt and Portugal and I have to say this was the least comfortable.  I’m sure my friend, Richard, can’t get comfortable in many beds because he’s 6’7″ tall, but it was also quite noisy throughout the night and when I would wake, I was being tossed to and fro.  Enough complaining!

We bought our 72 hour transport card and followed the Google Map directions I had printed off leading us to the Metro line that would deposit us less than a half mile from the Airbnb I had rented for our 3 night stay in Amsterdam.  Upon arrival to the Apartment, we were shown around by the owner, and once she left we settled in.  It is situated on a canal and had everything we needed.  We were especially thankful for the washer and dryer, which we put to immediate use!

Richard’s twenty something year old Cousin, Tobias, from Germany was arriving by train a couple of hours later, so I went exploring by myself, while he went to meet him at the station.  This little car was parked on the Street in front of our Apartment.  I call it the half car…

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Having traveled in Southeast Asia, six countries in Africa, and other developing Countries, and experienced the organized chaos associated with a multitude of bicycles, I was surprised by this in Amsterdam, along with absent helmets on most children and adults, and the legality of motorcycles on bicycle lanes.  There’s nothing like biking along and suddenly feeling the air whoosh by from a large motorcycle within inches of your handlebars!

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Bike Denver

My girlfriend and I arrived in Denver on Sunday from spending two nights in Breckenridge, where we had a great time at the Octoberfest.  It was raining, so after we got the keys from our Airbnb host to her condo near the Santa Fe Art District, we settled in and basically relaxed the remainder of the day.  She had DVDs, so we watched a couple of chick flicks and ordered pizza.  It was nice to have a chill out day after being on the go.  Monday we were ready to see Denver!  Although we were only a mile or two from the 16th Street Mall area, I had researched renting a bicycle and discovered a cool system called Denver B Cycle.  There are stations or kiosks located all over Denver where you can use your credit card and for just $8 (good for the day) rent a bicycle for 30 minutes.  If you return the bike to a station within the 30 minutes there is no extra charge.  If you return it within 30-60 minutes it’s an extra $1.00 and for each additional 30 minutes it’s $4.00.   We ended up spending $10 total per person.  I wanted to check out Cheesman Park which was about 2 miles away, so off we went.  Some of it was uphill, so we got a small workout.  We both liked having a basket in the front to store our things.  Next we went to the Denver Botanic Gardens…which I posted about yesterday.  Our final stop before turning the bikes in at the Convention Center was the 16th Street Mall area…a mile long pedestrian only area with tons of shops and restaurants.  I have a separate post about that also.  I have a few unique photographs of life in Denver to share with you here.

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Not only are the Denver chipmunks friendly…so are the squirrels!

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Lovin’ Loveland Bike Trail

Last night was perfect for a 12 mile bicycle ride on the Loveland Bike Trail which is located only 10 minutes from my home!  The 70 mile paved trail follows an old railroad line and the Little Miami River.  As I was taking a photo of the Loveland office, where I began, this gentleman called out wanting me to take his photo…so I had to quickly snap.

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A bit farther up the trail this guy and his beautiful dog were willing subjects.  Look at the blue eyes of the doggie…gorgeous!  I’ll bet that’s a great way to meet women!

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What do you think of my beach cruiser bicycle…purchased on Craigslist for $60 and it looks brand new!  I love the little basket!

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Bicycling through Alys Beach, Florida

The stretch of pavement that extends 18 miles from Rosemary Beach to the West is perfect for walking and/or bicycling!  After jogging a couple of miles on the beach and having a healthy lunch, I set off to explore the area.

One of the areas you pass is Alys Beach…

Everything is white, blue or green!  Except for the yellow lines in the road!

I like the aura around the entry gates…

This home wasn’t in Alys Beach.  I’m not sure what development it was in, but I love the color!

I passed Camp Creek Lake and Deer Lake on the ride.  I think this is Camp Creek.

Rusty bridge and shadows love!

The day’s not over yet.  Tomorrow I have photos from an Art Festival and another fun sunset photo!

 

Bicycling through Rosemary Beach, Florida

Hopping on my bike, I set off to explore the Rosemary Beach area located four blocks east of my condo.  With over 500 homesites and a town center with shops, restaurants, and activities, you never need to leave home!

The town is a master-planned community and with its cobblestone streets and gas lanterns, has a definite European vibe.  I began to imagine the perfect couples with their perfect children, living their perfect lives in their perfect homes (kind of like The Stepford Wives), but then remembered no one is perfect!  Even on the beach you feel a bit out of place…me in my bikini…them in their one piece with a little skirt bathing suit!  Oh gad….what must they think of me…the interloper!

Rosemary is also known for its Bocce ball tournaments and the popular candy store, The Sugar Shak.

They have plenty of bicycles for hire…

The Town Hall and Post Office are charming!

A partial view of some of the shops…cafes…

The homes and condos varied in design.  This is one of the more modern homes…

The community has some beautiful common use areas…

No code…No Access!

This is another community two blocks from Rosemary…

I worked up an appetite.  Salad–Bread with Cheese–Vino!  On the balcony.  Life is grand!

After lunch…time to soak up some sun at the pool!  I think it made it to 70 degrees…just barely warm enough.

Tomorrow we’ll finish up my day with some absolutely gorgeous photos from my walk on the beach!!

What fun looks like in your 40’s and 50’s

Since I’ve been back from Africa…a lot has been going on.  Some of it is personal and heavy-duty–so I can’t talk about it.  But most of it has been FUN!

This was my friend April’s (on the left) boat christening party.  She’s amazing!  She just finished 1st in her age group in a triathlon.

I really enjoyed this 4th of July pool party.  That’s me on the right with the hat on.  I didn’t know most of the people…but its good to get out and meet new friends!

This was at an outdoor concert in a suburb of Cincinnati called “Blue Ash”.

Downtown Cincinnati with friends…

The wine tasting meeup.com organization I belong to had an event at the Art Museum…

Its been really hot here, so I’ve been to the neighbor’s pool, my girlfriend’s pool, and to the beach at Eastfork Lake.  Lots of other fun events like a Reds Game, bicycling 20 miles on the Loveland Bike Trail, jogging almost every day, hiking, and trying new recipes that I find on Pinterest.

Like, Spinach Orzo, Shrimp Tacos, and fresh peaches, lemonade and vodka in a blender!

Tonight after jogging or hiking (can’t decide which one to do) I’ll try a Blackberry Margarita…yum yum!!

Hope you’re having a fantastic summer (or whatever season it is where you are)!!

 

Haystack Giggles in Vang Vieng, Laos

After traveling  seven hours from Luang Prabang…we reached the town of Vang Vieng in Laos.  As you can see, the landscape was absolutely breathtaking!  One of the women that was traveling with the G Adventures tour that I was on through Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, remarked that there wouldn’t be any night life here.  There was one road leading into town and it was quite rural.

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With this to gaze at…I didn’t care!

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One of these sweet little girls stuck her tongue out at me after I took the photo…because I didn’t give her any money.

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Claire and Isabel–two of the ladies on the tour and I rented some rickety bicycles and explored some caves in the countryside.  Traversing the bumpy dirt roads made us giggle…the simple things can be so much fun!

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Then, when Claire got up on the haystack for a photo…it started collapsing…so we collapsed with laughter!  Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of that.

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This photo intrigues me.  I wonder what the boy was doing.  His dog almost looks like a fox to me and he has a bag by his side.  I would have stuck around to find out, but we were on our bicycles, so off we went.

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We spent two nights in Vang Vieng and then drove three hours to Vientiane, the capital of Laos.  After checking into the hotel, I walked to the market and shopped.  Everything was so inexpensive – $3.00 for a purse, $5 for a silk scarf, etc.  I couldn’t resist this hand embroidered blouse and splurged on a shampoo and style for $5.00!

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Our tour finishes with Hanoi, Vietnam and the stunning Halong Bay tomorrow!

Chocolate Banana Pancakes in Luang Prabang

If you’re just beginning to read…this was a trip I took through GAP Adventures in 2009 with six people from Canada, US, Germany, and the UK, to Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam.

We spent the night in Pakbeng, on our way to Luang Prabang in Laos, en route from Chiang Mai via Chiang Rai and Chiang Khong.  I just had to say that!  I was capturing images of the sunrise at the river’s edge and was pleased to see this fisherman beginning his day.

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We went as a group that morning to buy 70 notebooks and pens, 8 dozen eggs, and a variety of other things from the local market to give to another group of villagers (I believe more Hmong) that live on the Mekong River.  Notice the supplies lying on the ground next to the guy in the red coat, who was our Tour Guide while we were traveling through Laos.

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We delivered the school supplies to the children!  I could just put that little girl in my suitcase and bring her home…she’s soooo cute!

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On our way to the quaint town of Luang Prabang, we stopped at a spiritual cave called “Pak Ou Caves“.

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Luang Prabang was everyone’s favorite town…with lots of shopping, good food, nice markets and friendly people.

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This seemed very odd…a line of clothes and hunks of meat.

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Chocolate Banana Pancakes were on every menu…

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One of the women on the trip and I rented a bicycle and explored the town.  It’s a great way to see more!  I also had another massage by a young girl that had very strong hands.

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Life is good!!

Washington/British Columbia Trip – Day 8

A friend that I met a couple of years ago on a trip to Egypt met us for breakfast.  Up until a few months ago, she had traveled the world for a few years…stopping occasionally for a month or two somewhere that she enjoyed.  It was nice to see her.

I had booked a 4 1/2 hour bicycle tour of Vancouver through Cycle City Tours for the afternoon.  Originally, I couldn’t decide if we should just rent bicycles or spend more than double the cost to have a tour.  I’m so glad we did the tour.  There is no way we would have known where to go, even with the extensive research that I typically do.  This company was rated #1 by Trip Advisor.  We walked a mile or two along the sea wall to the bicycle shop.

Palm Trees in Vancouver??

Dan, with Cycle City Tours, was a knowledgeable and personable guy who led us on a wonderful tour that included Stanley Park (a 1,000 acre rain forest), Gastown, Chinatown, the Convention Center, and Granville Island.

We took a 30 minute break on Granville Island…so we decided to do a beer tasting!

If you’ve ever been to Pike Place Market in Washington…Granville Island is much bigger and nicer!

  

This wooden sculpture was somewhere along the bicycle tour…

We stopped at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.

Gastown was named after “Gassy Jack“.  You can read all about him here.

this was also in Gastown…the cobblestones and architecture reminds me of Europe.

Artwork at The Convention Center…

The trip was wonderful…if you haven’t been to the Pacific Northwest…I highly recommend going!  Have a wonderful day!