1. Park Guell

    July 23, 2013 by Francis

    After La Sagrada Famila we went to Park Guell. Gaudi built it with plans to turn it into a luxury housing community. Unfortunately, there was not enough financial backing and the project was permanently put on hold. What remains is a small, isolated Dr. Suess- like village.  The houses are surreal, and the grounds are so beautiful. It’s perched on top os a hill that overlooks the city of Barcelona. 

  2. La Sagrada Familia Barcelona

    July 23, 2013 by Francis


    La Sagrada Familia s a large Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926) – Wikipedia

    After just coming from all the gothic style cathedrals and churches in France and Italy, this is totally different animal. Gaudi was clearly influenced by that style to a large degree but he was also influenced quite heavily by the modernist and art nouveau movements of the late 19th and early 20th century which drew great inspiration from natural shapes as seen in flowers and plants and curved lines instead of straight. In architecture this is hard to pull off- from and engineering point of view. Gaudi was not  an artist’s architect like Frank Gery who just thinks up impossible buildings. However instead of leaving it to engineers to actually figure out how to build it, he was a mathematical genius with a particular talent in geometry. He developed very complex ways of combining shapes to create organic flowing curves that are not only beautiful but also structurally very strong. Looking up toward the ceiling from the inside it looks like a forest, where the columns are the trunks branching out into branches finally reaching the ceiling as if creating a canopy. This building is unlike anything I have ever seen before – absolutely AMAZING!  It looks like it belongs on mars.

  3. Party boat to Barcelona

    July 21, 2013 by Francis

    We arrived by train in Civitaveccia Italy, on the coast, just before sunset and just in time to order two of the most ridiculous mojito drinks I have ever seen from the bar on the beach and have a quick dip in the Mediterranean.  The water has a very high salt content which means you float quit easily in it. It felt tremendously amazing to dunk my whole body in the water after walking around in the hot sun.I love love love the Mediterranean ocean!20130722-182829.jpg20130722-182852.jpg

    So it turns out that the people on our boat are wild for synchronized aerobics in the baking heat by the pool! Us whiteys stayed in the nice shade by the bar.

    And then there were these guys! They were sharing this ridiculously large sangria drink and connected many straws together to create a huge straw. They tried many different ideas for creative ways to drink the drink from great distances, before they settled on the holy grail: the fit guy stands on the chubby guys shoulders while the forgettable guy holds the drink. All was going well until a suave looking crew member came over “hey guys this looks fun and all, and I’d be right there in it with you if I were off the clock, but – look – I can’t have anybody falling on their heads on my watch so . . . ”

    Posted from Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.

  4. Rome!

    July 18, 2013 by Francis

    We are in Rome and it is super hot today. This is a trippy panorama of the Colosseum with some weird little errors.

    And here is the Trevi fountain.


    Onika lookin cute at the Colosseum


    This is my great aunt Alice who lives here in Rome. She is my grandfathers sister. We met her for dinner near the Colosseum and had a lovely time. 


    Here is the Sistine Chappell at the Vatican which we were not supposed to take pictures of, but I managed to snap this one covertly. 




    The pantheon at night


    The Spanish steps at night


    Posted from here.

  5. Florence – Piazza Michelangelo sunset

    July 17, 2013 by Francis

    We hiked up many many steps to view the sunset from this hill which overlooks Florence. It was beautiful!

    Onika talking to some American tourists we met at the top of Piazza Michaelangelo


    Posted from Florence, Tuscany, Italy.

  6. Florence – Accademia – David

    July 17, 2013 by Francis

    The Accedemia in Florence is a collection of marble and plaster sculpture from the renaissance most notably by Michelangelo including the unbelievable David. There is an interesting story that we learned about the David. Apparently it was exhibited outdoors in the Piazza Della Signoria, not far away, until 1873 when one of David’s arms fell off and killed a poor farmer who happened to be walking underneath. It was moved indoors to the specially designed spot for preservation. The Accademia was intended to give art students a place to study art and that is still true today. We saw a few art students sketching the David with varying degrees of success.



    Posted from Florence, Tuscany, Italy.

  7. Venice is kinda like Disneyland

    July 16, 2013 by Francis

    Venice is beautiful and very romantic but the entire island feels like one big tourist trap. I’ve heard people say that you can’t get lost in Venice because it’s so small, but we found that to be totally wrong. It’s like a labyrinth!  The “streets” are so narrow and windy that after about 5 turns you have totally no idea which way you are traveling. Trying to use google maps on the iPhone is hilarious. That poor blue dot just never can quite figure out where you are; most of the time it thinks you are in the middle of a canal. But I guess that is kinda the point of Venice: get lost and wonder around, you’ll eventually find your way. I’m glad we went, but one day was totally enough for us.




    Posted from Venice, Veneto, Italy.

  8. Italy here we come!

    July 16, 2013 by Francis

    A 7am flight to Venice meant getting up at 5 – luckily we were only about 25 minutes away from ORLY + Über cab was awesome!


    Posted from Orly Aérogares cedex, Île-de-France, France.

  9. Versailles

    July 14, 2013 by Francis

    We almost didn’t go to Versailles on this trip, but we are so glad that we did. It’s hard to describe or even capture in pictures the opulence and grandeur of Versailles. Every time you see something that takes your breath away and you think “wow, this has got to be the fanciest most ornate thing I have ever seen” you are wrong and something else takes the prize in the very next room.

    We booked a tour which is absolutely the way to go. We met at the Musée d’Orsay and rode the train with our group and a tour guide. I can see where this would be a huge relief for some people especially if they are scared of taking the train, we totally could have handled it though. The real benefit though was skipping the line at the Chateau which wrapped back and forth for miles in the hot sun. It looked awful and we just waltzed right past all of it.

    Our guide was fantastic and told us all the history and little details about each thing we were seeing which made it so much easier to enjoy it. If you are ever in Paris and thinking of going to Versailles, GO – it easy to get to by train and well worth it – book a tour.














    Posted from here.

  10. First day in Paris

    July 9, 2013 by Francis

    Our first day in Paris was awesome! We took a taxi from the airport which was expensive but well worth it after an 11 hour flight on which very little sleep happened. We checked into the apartment and immediately went to the cafe downstairs for some coffee and a snack.


    A stroll around the Père Lachaise Cemetery came next, and we said hi to Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, and of course Jim Morrison.

    Next up is Canal St. Martin for some beers and a picknick dinner. The canal is awesome – tons of people all hanging out by the banks of the canal eating, drinking and generally enjoying the weather. Everyone seems so relaxed here. I could seriously come here every evening and not get tired of it. We ordered pizza from the Pink Flamingo, who’s big attraction is that they will deliver your pizza to you while sitting on the canal identifying you by the pink balloon they give you. Genius!



    One last note: since we left San Francisco we have walked 11 miles according to my fitbit!

    Posted from Paris, Île-de-France, France.