About Me

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Split personality. Liking the arts, especially opera, and hockey and Los Toros. I know, I know THAT one is non pc currently. But I can't help it saw some in Spain and got hooked, but good. But on the other hand right now opera and hockey are in the forefront!


Thursday, August 29, 2013

QM2 and home..

a quiet transatlantic crossing on QM2.. a bit of  rough seas did not bother us. Lurching along  seemingly miles and miles of corridors (it was too windy and cold for me on the Promenade deck) made for great exercise. Enjoying the food in the dining room. Disliking the food in King's Court(if one did not dress up-only part of the King's Court and part of the Winter garden were open). The library was truly immense. The librarians knowledgeable Cabins were comfortable and sleep was great.. like being rocked in a giant cradle lol! Had great time, met interesting people.
Grand Piano-great staircase
One advice: IF you LOVE strong good coffee... look for the section dedicated to GERMAN coffee, The other kind seemed like brown dishwater. Also, at the German coffee section you will find THE best Brotchen=rolls, sweet, salty, from all kinds of dough!
Brief look at Southampton's shore (miraculously NO rain) and then onwards to Newark, and after a visit with friends in New Jersey back to H town.
Southampton shore line

Winter garden

Ship's Center way

A quiet place for reading while watching waves off side

Dining room lower level

An empty sundeck - too windy

Library -10,ooo + books
New York, New York
Welcome to USA

Oservations on temperatures

Just read the weather in the WSJ .....

Seems to me Texas is NOT the only place hot. How about Pierre, SD, where was broiling at 100 yesterday 100 and 99 this AM? Of, course,  knock on head- this IS where rocks are carved (by man's hands and by Mother Nature).
We more naturally think blizzards and winter storms

and BIG floods on the Missouri River
and yet here it is; broiling temps up there in the NORTH!

Sure, the usual hot spots of the summer where one can cook 'the proverbial eggs without a stove" such as Death Valley - Ariz,  or Phoenix ..lol.....
Even at times, in our 'sister city up north a bit', Dallas are competing for the hot spot of the day:
Phoenix at 101 today;
Dallas at 103- the winner IS Dallas.
Now yesterday it was Phoenix with 105,
while Dallas cooked up a measly 101!

However, her in H Town , we "modestly" showed up with just 96 resp. 95 as did San Antonio, and Shreveport, with St Louis ( former home of ours) a close behind.

Now, I have always known St Louis is a perfect sample of so-called  "continental climate" as my old Geography Prof intoned many times during those formative years ! Hot summers, Arctic winters but leavened with lovely springs and colorful falls
and that's all folks for today's post :-)! Happy days y'all!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Berlin, Hamburg..

Was it an indication of things to come, when we were rained on the trip to Berlin.. slightly, given, but... passing little river towns along the Elbe (the river's German name) which just

Labe in Czech-Elbe

along the Elbe

Along the Elbe in Germany

river scape

Bad Schandau
a few weeks later were flooded?
Berlin greeted us with cloudy skies, some rainy days and overwhelming things to see... almost impossible. On the  1 sunny day we took SBahn to Pottsdam and spent all day till dusk in the extensive gardens of Wilhelm's Sans Souci, feeling dwarfed by the Neue Palast (now housing a University) still being cleansed after years of neglect.
Berlin- Alter Dom facade

Ahlbeckerstr. toward Planetarium (our street :-)

Busts in rondeau at Sans Souci

On the porch of Chinese Pavillion

Bode Museum on the Spree

New palace

San Souci -garden side

New Chancellery-home of Angela Merkel (for now)

Moltke Bridge over the Spree
River spree tour showed buildings from the water up :-). Komische Oper Berlin gave us Ligeti's Le Grand Macabre.. and it was really macabre. But one must hear and see it at least once.
After those tiring days, with rest in a lovely apartment with views over the roofs of Berlin, onwards to Hamburg. Leaving it JUST prior to big spring floods of Central Europe.
Rainclouds over Spree-Good Bye

On the Reeperbahn (not so noble quarter)-That street was blocked off.

The Embassy and 'noble' quarter of Hamburg

Inner Alster with fountain-spray blown in the  wind

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Prague, train to Prague

What can I post about the Golden City, Prague, many others with glibber tongues, did not?
Well, in our case it rained daily after five with bitingly cold winds.. for one. And yet, the City still exerted its magic. It was one of the few cities untouched by bombs in WW2.
We saw the start -under overcast skies, and end in poring rain- of the  Marathon. We just missed a recital of former Opera studio, and now Diva of great renown, Jocye Di Donato, as advertised on the unique Litfassaulen of Central Europe. We pioneered on Prague's trams - travelling from end to end.. into tourist-poor areas, trying to stay dry while seeing the City :-).
Black Statues -cleaned up facades-typical for Prague post Communist Regime

Arched lanes

Just over the border

Route of Marathon

Steep lanes

Strahov Monastery-end of tram 22

Strolling (?) cobbled streets slick and dangerous in the rain, negotiating 'the horse steps' (so I was told by my good friend Vladi S. born there, but now bass in Vienna) on which the horsemen rode up to the Hradschin and down off course, too. Not exactly comfortable for limping tourists-really slick!

'Overcast' monastery...a quiet retreat on the base of "White Mountain" the site of the rout of protestant forces in 1610, which ended the Czech independence for 300 years. 1140 Premonstratensian monks founded it and inhabited it till it was closed under the Communist regime which incarcerated the monks. It was reopened 1990. We missed the services with music on Sundays, alas. Strolling in the serene courtyard was not a real replacement!
Prague just brims with history, diverse and sometimes stunning architecture and - regretfully - signs of neglect under the communists which the  current regime is busy trying to alleviate!

Victory Church (1610)

Architectural gem

Cloister garden-serenity

View from Charles Bridge


More rain ahead as we say bye bye Czech republic

Monday, August 26, 2013

Vienna - trials and tribulations, fun days, history and beauty

Repairing tram rails at night!


Pastries at Demels Yum!

Greichengassl - narrow lane used by sailor s up form Danube River!

The good old Trams of Vienna

before the memories of the 'trip of the decades' vanish completely in the mists of time here are a few notes about the main reason -

seeing as many relatives (a few, a sad few) as possible before they, too, vanish, and meeting the newer generation previously unknown -and there were many!

Vienna was Vienna, tripled.

No signs of a recession, wall to wall buses, people gawking, invading the sights, clustering around famed buildings to the point one had to be on stilts to see anything above the multitudes of heads :-).
Luckily the weather was fine, a day or two even hot...
as I may have mentioned in a much earlier post getting tickets to the Staatsoper was an Odyssey, dealing with  rather rude ticket clerks a PIB and so .. they seemingly do not want my Euros, so will not buy the Euro 275 seats that she claimed only were still available, while the ones I ordered on line and was told via email were held for me did NOT exist! So Goetz Zitat, my dear 'Fraulein' (which I was told is NOW considered NON PC... one must use FRAU regardless of age and status - akin our Ms.). So The Flying Dutchman would  fly without us. But then curiosity took over and we did want to get a glimpse, as it were, of this production so panned by my musical friends in the city. We sat in burning sunshine and waited for the  Dutchman on big screen (what has David Gockley wrought, when HE started showing live opera on the big screen at Wortham many years  ago?). Even then The Dutch,,and stayed unrevealed, because fist we saw only manic hands conducting equally maniacal playing strings... NO sound. Then.. a bit of sound, break, more manic gestures, etc. so we left-being broiled in the unexpectedly HOT sun...it seemed not worth.
Instead, due to the kindness of a former buddy,we saw -in style- a quite good La Fille du Regiment with Canadian Tenor John Tessier who tossed out the seven high Cs effortlessly and for good measure added an eighth! Wow. Alexandra Kurzaky sand a flirty Marie (undoubtedly borrowing from the Marie of Natalie Dessay). Dame Kiri Te Kanawa presented a truly regal Krakendorp,  Aura Twarovska was a Mme de Berkenfeld without the deep sounds and funny acting in style of Ewa Podles.
And as added musical "Zuckerl", the recital at the Brahms saal in which my former buddy Stephen Hopkins and his magic hands,  had his world premier on the clavicord -to huge applause.
Haunts of my youth -having wine down in the lower leves

Central stairways at Opera

Wall to wall buses

Dame Kiri

Kurzaky, Tessier, Alvarez as Sulpice
Opera in the sun-Sound on during commercials, LOL!

Stephen Hopkins, clavicord in his world premiere, taking bow after recital at famous Brahms Saal of Musikvereins