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Friday, April 19, 2013

San Francisco

My number one city (for me) to visit in North America is that metropolis on the bay in Northern California....yes San Francisco (Spanish for Saint Francis)  From its humble beginnings of a small settlement and sea port it all changed with the gold rush of 1849  ( hence the name 49ers...the year of all the those wide eyed fortune seekers that descended to this area)  Because of all the new wealth coming in, many entrepreneurs grabbed the opportunity to satisfy all the needs and wants of  these prospectors and dreamers. Folks like Levi Strauss in dry goods (bedding, combs, handkerchiefs) but most famously for his sturdy blue jeans with the copper rivets to strengthen the pockets. Domingo Ghirardelli for his

chocolate, as actually it was at his factory here that they accidentally discovered by hanging a bag of ground cacao beans in a warm room the cocoa butter could be coverted into ground chocolate. The banking sector, Wells Fargo and the Bank of California also got its start during these times. Then the 1906 earthquake/fire changed the city forever and it was opportunity to upgrade or build new infrastructure. Plus areas that survived the fires had a chance to restart and develop those neighborhoods which saved a lot of those magnificent Victorian Homes...from Union Square, Fisherman's Market, Nob Hill,  Chinatown , Haight-Ashbury Districts, its got it all.  Now don't be going here for the weather, as Mark Twain once famously said "the coldest winter i ever spent was a summer in San Francisco" (its because the city is surrounded on three sides by the cooler currents of
the Pacific Ocean). That being said, anytime i get a chance to visit the city by the bay...i am all in!

A view of the bay from afar
Inside the famous Chinatown
Sea Lions at Fisherman's Wharf
Sausalito view of the Golden Gate Bridge

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Glow Worms of New Zealand.

As i am leaving the Bay of Islands located on the North Island of New Zealand, my friendly Kiwi host mentioned as a by-the-way (lol) on your drive back to the ferry crossing you should visit the Waitomo (Maori for Wai....water and Tomo...sinkhole) Caves and their Glow Worms. Well my curiosity is now peeked, as i am all about exploring a cave but now also to see nature put on an awesome display of itself. She explained that these limestone caves are millions of years old with awe inspiring stalactite and stalagmite formations but it is the glow worms people also want to see.
So i find out from the literature at the entrance of the cave that these creatures are female and are part of the firefly family. They glow to attract the opposite sex for mating  and also because they have no wings so they cant fly off in search of a male.......another reason to "put out" the neon sign (haha)  After they find a partner they often die within 30 days, but what a display for us humans to witness. Wow what a  great suggestion to see and if ever near you need to put this on your "must do" list  to experience another  example of nature at its best!

Georgetown Washington D.C.

Hotel near Embassy Row
Just northwest of the U.S. capitol is the affluent neighborhood of Georgetown with its heritage buildings, churches, embassies (France, Mongolia, Sweden, Thailand and Ukraine) and of course its namesake university. It is also home to many politicians and lobbyists, plus past notable citizens that included Thomas Jefferson, Francis Scott Key and John F. Kennedy to mention a few. Now the best way to view is to use the "Hop On/Hop Off" bus that you would catch in Washington to do the loop. Then once you get your bearings take a walk to enjoy the area with all its charm and history.

Embassy of Estonia
Part of Embassy Row

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Touring the Cayman Islands by Sea, Land and Air.

Harbor view
Paradise is located here in the Cayman Islands
To protect the reefs we "park" the ship offshore.
We get Tendered into the waterfront and as there's lots of people on these massive ships, book your shore departure early so you don't miss any of the sights.
Forgot to mention, we aren't the only visitors to this paradise (lol) play nice, as there will be crowds everywhere.
George Town (the capital) and main street.  Don't let the "small town" feel fool you, there's a population of 27,000+ and over 600 Bank/Trust Companies set up here.
Beautiful Waterfront area
The local award winning spirits....the Rumcake was good too!
Home in the interior of the island.
Stingray City;  Because years of the local fishermen cleaning their catches and throwing the remains into the water, the Southern Stingray associates the sound of the boat motor with food in these shallow waters (because of the sandbars)....then us humans can enjoy an inter-reaction with nature.
Hell Town:  Because of the black limestone formations, folklore has it that a local official said "This is what hell must look like".......and the name stuck.
Beach home to rent or own.
The famous Seven Mile Beach;  Located on the Western Shore and open to the public, its actually only 5.5 miles long due to erosion but as you can see a wonderful walk.

Lets get airborne
The next few pics say it all!!
Seven Mile Beach