July 30, 2005

Costa Rica

Poas Volcano, Costa Rica. Photo by Stacy Munn

I've just returned from an amaaaaazing week at Pura Vida Spa in Costa Rica. Many more photos here.

I did 2 yoga classes a day but still can't sit cross legged, let alone in lotus position. Guess it takes more than a week. But I'm an American. I want that quick fix. That's why I had 3 deep tissue massages within the first 48 hours. I still have bruises on my left inner thigh from the final, excruciating, blissful session.

The best part of the trip was Lisa et. al. There were 11 in our group and we picked up a few more. The kind of people that make life a joy.

July 14, 2005

Idol fans only

Here is an interesting Steve Stevens interview.

This is drummer Gregg Gerson's web space.

Some history and superb photos of Generation X

You should know about the Bromley Contingent if you like Siouxsie and the Banshees, Billy Idol and the Sex Pistols.

Tony James was in Generation X, Sigue Sigue Sputnik and Sisters of Mercy.

And the London SS relate to Chelsea and Generation X.

Billy Idol at the Paramount

Billy Idol

I bought the ticket because I'll forever be an 80s wave fan. I had no idea the show would be so remarkable. Even though I was an hour late. The show was to start at 8. There would of course be an opening band, so I arrived at 9. No opening band and according to the guy seated next to me, Billy came on stage at 8. I presume I missed at least 7 songs, two of which would have been Eyes Without A Face and Dancing With Myself.

Thankfully Idol kept rocking for another couple hours. And he had the stamina. The boy's been working out. Idol is 49 and inspirational, as I'll turn 40 in 2 weeks. Granted I was in the balcony, but I thought he looked better than he did 21 years ago when I saw him with David Pinkis. That show was also in the Paramount, Tuesday, March 27, 1984. Show starts at 8. I definitely remember an opening act. That show was $13. The 2005 ticket was $40. I can now relate to the incredible prices my grandmother used to quote.

But back to the concert. Steve Stevens is still Billy's guitarist and to my ears his playing is sublime. Some critics say he's stuck in the 80s, playing all the old rock guitar cliches, and I'll have to agree. His technical execution was brilliant and it was just what I wanted to hear that evening. Particularly on his extendo solo during the Generation X tune Ready Steady Go. The rhythm section was unknown to me but brilliant.

The show ended with White Wedding and Mony Mony. Yeah the 80s were awesome. Yeah I'm homesick for London.

July 09, 2005

Notes from a trip to Praha, April 2000

29 April 2000, Saturday
Journey to Praha, Czech Republic
British Airways flight 856

Brian and I caught an 8:30am Piccadilly train to Heahthrow Terminal 1. This is the first trip Brian has taken outside the UK since he arrived Dec 31st, and my second. I went back to Seattle in February to see Kristin when she was there visiting from Florida.

The weather today is spectacular in London. The sun is shining and spring is in full swing with green leaves and beautiful blossoms on the trees. The trip to Prague is one I've been interested in since hearing about the city in 1987 from some of the students in my Cologne study abroad group.

We booked our flight and hotel about a month ago. I've heard that accommodations can be tough to get. May 1st (Monday) is a bank holiday in both the UK and the Czech Republic, so lots of people are travelling. Our plane tickets were 160 GB pounds round trip and the hotel is 42 GB pounds for both of us per night. The flight was on a Boeing 767 which, Brian informed me, has a steep and quick ascent. He was right; we really climbed. The flight to Prague from Heathrow is 1 hr 55 min, the perfect amount of time to fly.

I don't know any Czech yet other than "Goulash". [later learned this is actually Hungarian]

Coming in for landing I saw a nuclear power plant out the window and was reminded of the first time I saw one in 1979 during my bell choir tour through England and Scotland. Upon landing, Brian was instructed to go to Passport Control, but it was only to have the side of his passport glued down. Whew.

I changed some British pounds in a machine at a pretty good rate; 59 krowns to the pound. I used the machine mostly because I was intrigued that it could read different types of currency.

We used a self check-in machine too, as we only had hand luggage. Definitely the way to go. No lines!

Outside the airport, we found the Bus Centrum. We spent a good 15 minutes trying to figure out which ticket we should buy from the machine. Then I finally asked for assistance from a girl who successfully made a purchase. She understood my English and could ask me where I wanted to go in English, but couldn't find the words to explain that the machine didn't accept the 50 ck coin I was trying to use. She resorted to pointing and I finally figured it out.

It's warm here, in the 70's. The vegetation looks a lot like Western Washington; green and lush.

We transferred from bus to underground. When we got out of the underground station near the TV tower, we were in awe of all the beautiful buildings surrounding us. The atmosphere was quiet and relaxed. It was a welcome change from the rush of London life. We found Hotel Kafka without too much difficulty, checked in, left our luggage and set out for the central part of town.

Upon reaching the border of the Old Town, we were again amazed by the gorgeous architectre of the ancient Powder Tower and the municpal buiding. We strolled through the crowded Old Town Square and across the Karluv Most. On the east end of the bridge, instead of heading into the town of Mala Strana, we turned around and went back across the bridge, zig-zagging through the tourists and occasionally browsing at the artwork for sale in the stands that line the bridge walls. We noticed photos of the bridge with no people. They all looked as though they were taken at dawn, so we decided to get up early the next morning for some photos sans tourists.

At about 6pm we were getting "peckish" so found one of the vegetarian restaurants listed in our Lonely Planet guidebook. Lotus was empty when we arrived; I wasn't certain it was open. By the time we left though, there was a good crowd of hungry, healthy customers and more were pouring in. The food was pretty good and the Pilsner Urquel was even better.

After dinner, we strolled amongst the cool buildings and found our way to a #9 tram stop.

Back at Hotel Kafka, we flipped through the 15 TV channels that played only 3 different broadcasts. We had our choice of watching a billiards match, a German cop show or a Czech drama.

30 April 2000, Sunday
We woke up at 5:30 and were out of the hotel just after 6am. It was a gorgeous sunny morning. we caught the tram down to the city center and spent 20 minutes or so taking photos in the Old Town Square. There were only a few people out; vendors setting up their stalls and a few other photographers. We made our way to the Karluv Most again and this time the bridge was quite peaceful. We spent time taking photos from the bridge looking east, then west and captureing some of the statues that line the bridge. The sky was clear and there were very few people on the bridge. We had plenty of opportunities to get shots without any people in them.

we continued east this time, heading into Mala Strana and climbing the hill until we got to the castle grounds. We walked past the guards and inside the castle walls. The place was immaculate, even sterile feeling, not warm and welcoming.

We peeked in at St. Vitus Cathedral, the black Gothic structure that rules over the city. It was started in 1344 but not completed until 1929 according to the guidebook. Being outside the castle walls seemed more appealing, so we quickly made our way back out the main gates and into the street. We found the Strahovsky Klaster, a monastery founded in 1140. The monks who lived here were imprisoned by the communists who closed the monastery, but the monks have now returned.

Next, we walked to the Cerninsky Palac, a palace built in the 18th century where a foreign minister fell to his death from a bathroom window in 1948. Some stories say he was trying to escape SS torture, but the communist government insisted it was suicide.

Tourist crowds were now getting thick and it was difficult to turn any corner without runing into a German tour group.

Braving the crowds, we crossed the street to the Loreta, a baroque place of pilgrimage meant to resemble the house of the Virgin Mary. A long queue to get in and an entry fee compelled us to admired the buidling from the outside only. Following the Walking Tours book, we took a quaint backstreet down the hill. Here we found brightly painted homes that were photo worthy.

I learned that "ahoy" means "hi" in Czech.

Other items of note during the trip:
- Prague Castle
- Loreta
- Pendulum Park is the former site of a Stalin statue, current site of a giant metronome
- Old Town Hall
- Wenceslas Square
- Fontana light show
- the dancing buildings
- Death mask of Jan P
- Pizza dinner for 2 was under $15 at Einstein
- Thunder storms rolled through every afternoon
- John Lennon Wall
- Came upon a fun, free, outdoor concert on a hill one night, in celebration of the holiday

July 04, 2005

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach, Oregon. Photo by Stacy Munn

This year for Independence Day weekend Michelle, Mom and I went to Cannon Beach, Oregon. Kristin couldn't join us as she is studying chemistry, medical terminology and anatomy on her way to becoming a chiropractor. The weather was glorious and we did lots of walking on the sandy beach.

Two for Tea
We stayed at The Courtyard Hotel which was very comfortable, clean and just a 5 minute walk from the ocean.

Oregon Coastline, July 2005. Photo by Stacy Munn

Michelle and I went for a hike in nearby Ecola (not to be confused with the bacterium which ends with an "i") State Park. Whilst climbing around on some massive barnacle covered rocks and up a treacherously steep cliff, I rediscovered how much more daring Michelle is than I.

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach. Photo by Stacy Munn

This is Haystack Rock, 235 feet high and the third largest coastal monolith in the world. It is a designated marine and bird sanctuary. The tidepools around the rock are filled with limpets, barnacles, starfish, crabs, sea sculpins and anemones. Tufted Puffins nest on the rock in the summer.

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