Saturday, July 30, 2011

My new Mac Mini!!!!!


I just got my new Mac Mini today and it is super awesome. I brought it home tonight and started working away getting things set up. First off I tried plugging in the ThunderBolt-to-VGA cable and it didn't seem to take so rather I used the supplied HDMI-to-DVI adapter and plugged it into a DVI port on one of my monitors. That worked and took me to the Mac setup screen.

Setup was pretty quick and easy, and I didn't have an extra Cat5 cable sitting around so it just used WiFi and it seems really fast. From there I loaded up the Mac App Store and it's a super slick way to deliver software updates... and on that note I updated GarageBand, iMovie and iPhoto. Cool stuff.

From there I installed a few things like Chicken of the VNC and Skype, and then read an article online about how to install DMG files on a Mac, cause if you haven't done it before, it's really confusing because it's so different from Windows. I got Logitech's Command Center program installed so my extra mouse buttons work but I can't figure out why the vertical scrolling on Mac is upside down! Gotta figure out what's going on there. [Edit: It's due to the trackpad settings. Here's how to fix it:]

I played around with the new Lion features like LaunchPad and Mission Control and they are really awesome. This is some cool and slick stuff. I updated iTunes and started an Xcode download from the Mac App Store too.

From there it was time to try and fix the monitor setup. I plugged in the ThunderBolt-to-VGA cable again and rebooted the Mac and then it picked up the 2nd monitor!!! It looks really solid but I was hearing a slight buzzing sound coming from one of the monitors... as it turns out that sound has always been there but the Mac Mini is SO SILENT that I can hear a bunch of other stuff going on. Hilarious. Comparing the whirring super loud fan in my desktop to the Mac Mini is pretty amazingly awesome.

I then got my Windows machine up and running again but the monitors were reversed, whoops. I tried swapping the cables on the end and for some reason the signals were still the same. I guess Windows wants the primary monitor to be the DVI connection? Anyway I got the monitors switched in the Display settings on Windows so now the mouse and monitor positions are correct for both machines.

Sweet. Just got Xcode installed as well and it looks really fancy. It's like iTunes for programming :)

I'm still waiting for my KVM to arrive from Amazon so then I can hookup my Logitech camera and other stuff to the USB hub and swap that via the KVM so they will work on both machines. Till then I'm just using the Mac cause it's super awesome!

Mac Mini in box, RAM upgrade and Thunderbolt-to-VGA cable

Mac Mini, a perfect fit inside it's packaging!

Welcome manual, power cable, HDMI-to-DVI converter, and Mac Mini itself

Initial screen showing 2GB RAM

Popped open the bottom and replaced the RAM


OMG GarageBand has a guitar tuner and chord charts!

Dual screens now working from the Mac

Dual screens still working from my Windows7 machine

Monday, July 25, 2011

Jews in Toons at Castro Theater

Just saw a cool talk at Castro Theater, it was Mike Reiss, longtime contributor to The Simpsons talking about the Jewish influence on animation and comedy writing. Good times!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Why a Mac?

My buddy Frank (aka "Grits") asked me a great question today, "why am I buying a Mac?" This is a pretty good question and actually I think there are several answers. Ultimately, it's come to a tipping point now where the amount of things I can do with a new Mac has made it pretty clear that it's going to be a useful tool. The first introspective question to ask myself is, "Did Steve Jobs just finally make this sound so cool that I *had* to get one?" That answer thankfully is no, and I think it's winning on it's own merits as a computer rather than a success in marketing on Apple's part. (Although, they sure are good at it!)

Here's my main plan for it:
  • New Website development
    • I want a new website for
    • I want it to look like an Apple-designed website, cause that's what everyone wants websites to look like these days!
    • I want a pretty good WSYWIG editor, I want the design already mostly made for me, so I can focus on content and have the "looking good" and functionality portion of the website already done for me
    • If I want it to be Apple-y, then using a design package on a Mac makes sense, and there are a few that I really like already that are cheap and look good.
  • Guitar recording
    • I really want to get back into recording and posting music on my website and blog
    • I can buy Sonic Foundry or something for my PC, but GarageBand really knocks it out of the park and is free with a Mac Mini. So I may as well just get a Mac Mini and use GarageBand.
    • GarageBand also has some cool lesson stuff which can help me improve my jazz scales and so on, that rocks.
  •  App Development, Objective-C practice
    • With the rise of the iPad, it's looking like Objective-C is becoming a more important skill to have, and what better way to have that than do some app projects.
    • I could learn Android and so on, but I already know Java pretty well and Objective-C looks like a bigger hurdle. Also, as fast as Android is moving, the tablet market has really been won fair and square by Apple, and at their price point they are still destroying the competition with the iPad. So if I'm gonna learn something, I should learn the Mac format. If Android turns the tables later, I can always pump up my existing Java knowledge if needed. This is all for fun and gaining experience anyway.
  •  Video Editing
    • I gotta say, iMovie is awesome. They have some really excellent features for a FREE software package and it's about 100x more feature-rich than Windows Movie Maker. With all the traveling and video footage I'm doing lately, iMovie will make for some more interesting final products.
    • My Canon Rebel T1i actually films in QuickTime MOV format. So using iMovie to edit and save back to MOV means one less conversion in the pipeline and therefore a more crisp final product.
  • Linux backend
    • This is pretty nice. Yes, I could always dual-boot my existing PC and put Ubuntu on it, but it's nice that Mac already has this.
  • Joining the club
    • This is of course the less tangible excuse to buy a Mac, but it's definitely in there in a way
    • This is less of a "join the pop cultural Mac revolution" and more of a "if people are switching over to Mac, they are probably doing it for a good reason."
    • For me, the reason is mostly access to excellent Mac-only software. For years I've wanted to use GarageBand and it just keeps getting better and better. iMovie '11 has some astoundingly good features too. Also, Keynote makes some really solid presentations and I ultimately like the look of Keynote presentations better than PowerPoint. If you want to present as well as Steve Jobs, use the tools that he uses. :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

How I'm gonna plug my new Mac Mini into my old monitors

Whew, this was complicated :) I finally figured out how I am going to plug in my soon-to-be-purchased Mac Mini into my 2 monitors.

The problem started when I realized my fancy Dell UltraSharp 2208 WFP monitors that I bought with my Dell XPS 603i at the end of 2008 sadly have a huge amount of USB connections (why, Dell, why?!?!!) but a distinct lack of video input ports. I was fleeced by the input switch on the front that these puppies had like 3 HDMI cable inputs, dual DVIs, maybe a couple of VGAs, a whole party back there! Turns out they are as scarce as a lake in the middle of the California desert.

Check this out:
A gazillion useless USB ports, and nary a video input port to spare

Are you can see there isn't much. There are 2 extra USB ports on the bottom and 2 on the side which are just wonderful but how bout an HDMI, Dell??!??! No wonder these were such a good deal when I bought 'em. :)

Anyway I love these monitors and there is no point in replacing them. But now that I'm ready to buy a Mac Mini, I need to figure out how to connect the new Mac Mini and it's crazy ports to the existing monitors despite their lack of ports.

Option 1 is to buy one of these:
Startech Dual DVI KVM switch
This is a Startech Dual-monitor DVI KVM switch, which would allow me to plug both the Dell desktop and the Mac Mini into each monitor's single DVI input (man I wish they had 2!) and press a button on the keyboard to switch the signal. Pretty nice, but these KVMs are always flaky and this particular one costs like $260. No thank you.

So the next plan, what if I switch my Dell to output to the unused VGA inputs on my monitor? Will that even work? As it turns out, yes. My NVIDIA video card has 2 DVI outputs, but you can use a handy adapter that converts the plug to a VGA, and then use a VGA cable to connect to the monitor. I have no idea where the Digital to Analog conversion is happening, I guess the adapter must be doing it for me. So that's good, but for some reason I have only 1 adapter and 1 VGA cable in my tool drawer. Maybe I gave the other one away. I tested it and it works.

The next question is, what does the Mac Mini output to?

Well, this is an interesting one. The Mac Mini 2010 could no longer convert to VGA, or so I hear. But with Mac Mini 2011 has the fancy new Thunderbolt port which is now able to output to good 'ol VGA. So my predicament is solved, the Mac will plug into the 2 VGA ports? Well, no. The Mac Mini looks like this:

Mac Mini ports
Here we have an HDMI cable (which is digital ONLY) and the fancy new Thunderbolt cable. So here is one constraint, the HDMI must plug into a Digital cable, and that's that. So I have to use a DVI port on one of the monitors for one of the Mac Mini screens. Mac Mini comes with only one single adapter, the HDMI to DVI adapter, but no cable. So I'll steal the one from my Dell computer now and plug into the adapter. Done and done. For monitor 2 from the Mac Mini, it must start with Thunderbolt, but can go to either DVI or VGA. Here's the fun part that makes it so I don't have to buy almost any new cables... I can go Thunderbolt to VGA. Monoprice even has a Thunderbolt to VGA cable so I don't need to buy Apple's $29 adapter AND a new VGA to VGA cable.
Thank you, Monoprice!
Ok, so now I'm all set. The only weird thing is that each computer will be plugging into one DVI port on one monitor and one VGA port on the other. A little weird, but I saved myself $260 from buying a silly dual-DVI adapter and I'm re-using all my existing cables so I don't need to buy a bunch more. Sweet.

Here's the final Setup.

Current setup
Dell XPS 630i
NVidia card DVI output 1 -> Monitor 1 DVI input
NVidia card DVI output 2 -> Monitor 2 DVI input

New plan when Mac Mini arrives
Dell XPS 630i
NVidia card DVI output 1 -> DVI-to-VGA Adapter (have already from Dell) ->  VGA Cable (have already from Dell) -> Monitor 1 VGA input
NVidia card DVI output 2 -> Monitor 2 DVI input

Mac Mini
HDMI -> HDMI-to-DVI converter (supplied by Apple) -> DVI cable (taken from my NVidia card) -> Monitor 1 DVI input
Thunderbolt -> Monoprice 6 ft Thunderbolt-to-VGA Cable (to purchase from Monoprice) -> Monitor 2 VGA input

I'll also probably get one of these so I can easily share USB ports, keyboard and mouse and speakers:
KVM switch for keyboard, mouse (via USB Hub) and audio. I won't use the monitor connections
That should round it out. So I really just need to buy this simple switch and one cable from Monoprice and I should be all set!

Excitinnnnng, and I'm also glad I don't need to buy 50 new cables or replace my monitors.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Movie Review: Barney's Version

I just watched the recent film adaptation of Mordechai Richler's novel "Barney's Version" starring Paul Giamatti. It's 1:15am on a work night, but the movie was so affecting that I decided to make myself a cup of tea and jot down some thoughts here instead of going straight to bed so I don't just keep thinking about the movie instead of sleeping.

The movie follows Barney Panofsky, a sort of bumbling fellow who seems to keep tripping through the paces of life - he marries his first wife because he, as she humbly puts it, "knocks her up". She turns out to be unfaithful to him and he walks out on her. His second marriage is to a Jewish princess-type (played exceptionally well by Minnie Driver - it's surprising how well all these non-Jewish actors can pull off a Jewish role!) But, in another example of carelessness and irresponsibility, Barney happens upon a woman named Miriam at his wedding reception and falls head-over-heels for her. She finds this idea preposterous, of course, and leaves for her job back in New York.

Ultimately he ends up with Miriam eventually and she is perhaps so overwhelmed with his over-the-top pursual of her that she decides to give him a chance. What is odd in this movie is that you still really are rooting for Barney - despite his utter lack of compassion (or even reasonableness) for his 2nd wife, despite the fact that he hardly knows Miriam but somehow he is pursuing her with an insatiable drive, we still find ourselves keen for Barney to be happy. Maybe just because he has seemed so utterly unhappy in his first 2 marriages, we just want to see him win for a change.

And with Miriam, he does. She turns out to be the exact kind of sensible woman who can call his BS when he tries to serve it up, and she expects highly of him where likely his previous wives didn't.

As the trials of Barney's life continue, he makes further choices that no reasonable man should make, he steps on his own feet and in times of desperation he acts selfishly and without care for his wife and his family. His mind at times seems so self-fulfilling, so into-himself and so irresponsible in the context of people who are relying or dependent on him.

The movie then takes quite a twist and we feel a lot of compassion for Barney's character. At the end of the film, we learn about a lot of altruistic things he's been doing always in the background for the people that he works with - he's concocted a whole story to help a particularly nostalgic cast member on the show he produces. She is a washed-up model and he arranges for a magazine from her homeland of Bulgaria to run news articles on her so she can feel like people still appreciate her even though she is well passed her glory days. There are some actions like this that he does, that come as a surprise to even his family, they never knew about these little favours he was doing to make people happy, to keep his work family and real family feeling loved and appreciated.

This really made me think. What is the nature of altruism? If you do a kind act for someone, you should probably not do it for any positive results for yourself, then it would not truly be altruistic. But, on the other hand, if you do something nice for someone by hide the evidence (as Barney did), you may look like a total jerk on the outside, but there is some hidden layer of your personality that people may not ever find out about. Can you do something good without people knowing? Or rather should you make it well-known that you have done something good? If you can show off that you're making a difference, surely you can inspire others with your thoughtful acts, and convince others to follow in your footsteps. On the other hand, if you show off in the wrong way, your actions will appear arrogant and no one will want to follow your lead.

This is a really interesting concept and I don't think there can be an exact answer here. But in my opinion, I'd probably stick with the idea of making your actions public. Why parade around like a complete jerk (as Barney sometimes does in the film), why torture yourself and your family life, and then spend a bunch of time working tirelessly to help people, yet no one notices? In this case, your kind actions just appear to be an attempt at a balancing act - to outweigh your negative actions you're just adding some positive stuff on the other side of the scale.

It seems to me that the balance of positive and negative actions will ultimately just cancel each other out in the long run. A truly great person I think should attempt to fill their life and time with positive action throughout all areas of their life - trying to achieve a stable and happy existence. Barney seemed to be a very complex character, trying to do the right thing but so often being seduced by less-than-worthy pursuits. I suspect that if Barney spent less of his lifetime being conflicted and less of his time making bad decisions, he could have made a much larger impact on the people around him rather than just a mediocre amount. He could have changed the world publicly, and made room for his son or daughter or future generations to follow his positive lead.

What an incredibly interesting movie and it really does bring up a lot of questions about what it really means to be a mensch. One final note: Dustin Hoffman is hilarious in this movie and a perfect casting choice.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Day in the Life of John Lasseter

Awesome 25 min doc of JL from wake-up till end of the work day. Cool iPad app he's got there for reviewing shots. So cool to see his house too!

Monday, July 11, 2011

"I am Maru" book now available in English from Amazon


I adore this cat and his hilarious capers and I was planning to buy the Japanese version of this book. Fortunately, the book is now being released in the USA by HarperCollins and I am super psyched!! It comes out at the end of August but you can pre-order on Amazon now.

And... ordered. :)

I friggin' LOVE this cat.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ellie Goulding = epic

Holy sweet damn. Just saw an SNL repeat tonight from earlier this year. Ellie Goulding was the musical guest and was just amazing. She sung this cover of Elton John's "Your Song" at the Royal Wedding apparently. EPIC. Her voice reminds me a little of Bjork but Britishy :)

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Final Iceland/France/Italy Journal post: Links to all blog posts

Thanks for you interest in my Iceland, France and Italy blog! Here is the entire trip journal, in order of posting.

Mike Jutan's 2011 Iceland, France and Italy Trip Journal




Iceland/France/Italy Day 20: Back home

May 18, 2011
Italy Day 20: Back home

And alas, our final day of the trip had arrived. In the style of the trip, we got up suuuuppper early this morning! We were up at 5am and took a quick taxi to the Florence airport. At the airport we had a really awesome super fresh croissant, and a coffee. The checkin was fast and we had a quick flight to Paris. Once we got to CDG it took a while to get to the other terminal with all of our stuff but it was ok as we had a nice long stopover. As it turns out our stopover was about 2 hours too long, but better to have more time than less of course! We got to our IcelandAir gate at CDG and they weren't going to open for 2 hrs so we found a Brioche Doree and got a bunch of awesome pastries. The Tartlette Framboise was so good that we ordered another one!

Then we left Paris for Reykjavik, that was a pretty quick flight too and once we got there we B-lined straight for the "Inspired by Iceland" store to buy a stack of salt licorice for Dad because he loved the one we brought to Paris for him. I stocked up on some Skyr and smoked salmon too for the flight home. We sat near our gate and immigration check as Mom, Norm and Dad were all flying back to Toronto and I was flying to Seattle from Reykjavik. We'd organized the flights such that we could take most of them together but then would part ways in Iceland. So that was sad that we were going different directions but we had a nice chat about how fun the trip was and how much of a success it was. Awesome times.

We then took off to our gates and I went to the Seattle one. In line I met some people who noticed my Rango shirt and it turns out the guy's name was Mike too and he works at some animation studio in Vancouver! So that was cool and we chatted a bunch. I flew back to Seattle and it was nice and quick at the airport, lots of friendly people and the nice lady at the checkin counter re-checked my bags for me all the way through to SFO so I didn't need to carry them around with me.

I was so super tired in Seattle but happy to be almost home. I had a big bagel sandwich and a coffee and had lots of internet and 3G signal again! Wahoo! I chatted with Alex on the phone a bit and then got the plane back to SFO. I grabbed my bag once we got off the plane at SFO and jumped right into a cab and straight home. Sleep!!!!!! Whew, that was 26 hours in transit, 4 airports, and 5 flights!!! It was a long way to get back but I slept well and pushed myself into getting back into the right time zone as quickly as possible.

What an amazing trip. When we started planning this a year or two ago I remember us saying that not many families would even be interested in traveling together, let alone all the way to Europe for several weeks. I'm sure lots of families can hardly stand being together for Thanksgiving Dinner with the typical amounts of constant arguing. :) I think we did exceptionally well and really knocked it outta the park on this trip. It was such an enjoyable time and everyone got to do and see things that they liked, and I think we balanced and re-calculated the plans as needed all along the way. What an excellent trip. The only question now is, where are we going next?! :)

-Mike Jutan :)
May 2011

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Iceland/France/Italy Day 19: Back to Florence

May 17, 2011
Italy Day 19: Back to Florence

On our last full day of this amazing vacation, I was up early and had a shower as the sun was rising. I was up before everyone else so I walked down the crazy amount of steep stairs into Riomaggiore town to get pastries for breakfast. I got a tiny espresso to go and walked back out onto the street to see "The Mayor", our favourite Riomaggiore cat!! He was always walking between different businesses on the main street and sitting on their steps waiting for food. He is hilarious and we just (at the time of writing up this blog, 7/5/2011) found out his name from Lorenza:
"The name of the cat is Silvestro (from the cartoon Twitty and Sylvester) and he has beeen adopted by the shoopkeepers of Riomaggiore."
Haha, Silvestro!!! What an awesome cat. Anyway I saw him there and he meowed at me and then followed me down the street. I sat on a bench and he jumped up and sat on my lap!! Someone was walking a dog nearby and he arched his back. I told him "It's OK! He's on a leash!" and patted him, he was so funny. After saying bye to the cat I walked up with the pastries and had a cappucino in Mom and Dad's room with Norm too. Soon after we packed up and walked to the train station, jumping on the train back to Florence via Pisa.

We got to Firenze S.M.N. and were super familiar with the area since we'd just recently been there. We walked to the same hostel we'd stayed in last week and dropped off our bags. I did a quick email/Facebook check as it had been about 5 days without email. 22 messages! Also there was a hilarious Facebook wall post from Frank: "Is this right? Has there not been a Jutan facebook update in four days? What is going on here?"

Off we went to see the Florence synagogue. Our tour guide was very animated and told us an interesting story about the Pope, the Medicis, and the formation of the Jewish Ghetto in Florence which operated for 300 YEARS?!?!?!?! Very crazy. It was great to see the awesome shul architecture and we all enjoyed it.

Then we headed back to the hostel and unpacked before heading back out to the leather markets via a store on our street. This store was INSANE. I saw a cool Burbury-looking scarf on the outside for 5 Euros and went inside to buy it. As it turns out it was an insane family operation to sell leather jackets to tourist suckers!! All I wanted was the cool light blue Burbury-ish scarf and... "Let me just show you something quick" - I tried on a jacket and then came the fake compliments, "It looks so sleek!", "Oh yes, amazing!", even the old store owner's wife chimed in, "You look like a movie star!" Haha holy crap. This went on for like 10 minutes while I kept trying to tell them I just wanted the scarf. Crazy people!! One guy in the store about my age knew I wasn't interested. The one pushy salesman said, "We make the jackets"... and this guy said in response while grinning at me, "Actually, I made the jacket myself!" Haha. He was the only one of the sales people giving me a break in there, it was like a pack of hungry ravenous hyenas in there.

Finally I took out my wallet to pay for only the scarf and told the old man, "Only the scarf please". As I was trying to pay he called over my Dad who was busy joking around and trying on jackets the wrong way, haha, and he said, "Shh..." and wrote down 120 Euros, "Shh..." he said, motioning at the paper... as if he was giving us an amazing deal. I had seen some jackets that were similar outside in the leather market for 99 Euros, and they claimed this one was 360 Euros marked down a bazillion times. Oh man. So finnaaaaaaaaaally I said no enough times and we finally got out of there, and just with the one scarf!! Ridiculous!! The funniest moment came later, when we had burst out of the store and walked down the street to get away from the crazy shopkeepers, and Mom and Norm went back in there trying to find us... they said we had just left, but then they tried to sell them a jacket!!!!!

After that we took a nice walk and went back to the proper markets to my nice scarf guy from the week before. He was cool and happy to see us again and helped me pick out a cool black and white squares one. Sweet scarf and the shopping experience was way less stressful than 5 over-the-top shop attendants all talking at the same time.

We got some gelato and then headed back to the hostel. I sat with some of the people staying at the hostel and chatted to a cool Belgian dude and some people from England and USA over the free snack and wine that the hostel served every night. What an awesome place!! After a nice snack, we headed out to Vini e Vecchi Sapori for dinner. This is, quite literally, the #1 Restaurant of 857 in Florence on TripAdvisor! The rating was well worth it.

This I think was the best food of the entire trip!!!! We had stuffed artichokes, an awesome eggplant dish, beef stew and a saffron pasta which was so insanely awesome. SO GOOD!!!!!!!! We really enjoyed the vibe of the place and the young waiter appeared to be the son of the main chef and owner. The place was very very small with only about 18 chairs available. We got a half-bottle of the house wine which was a really smooth Chianti Classico and it was glorious!!! I had wanted to try Chianti in the Florence area and it was so good and so cheap!! I'd love to try it again in the USA and see if I can find a nice one like it. We got dessert too, a raspberry Tiramisu which was also the best Tiramisu I've ever had. Oh MAAAAAAAN!!!!!!!!!!!!

The place was so cute and there was a man with a dog sitting at the table near the door. It looked like he was a real local and he kept chatting with the waiter and his dog was happily occupying one of the very limited seats while several groups of hungry-looking tourists were lining up with absolutely no chance of getting a seat!! That was like us last week when we came and tried to get a reservation for the same night, no way. We were SO glad we booked a week before and the food was absolutely glorious. We gave the waiter a crazy tip for such amazing food and excellent service. What a great experience to celebrate Dad's birthday and the wrapping up of our amazing family trip to Europe.

We capped off the night with Mom's favourite pineapple gelato place for dessert part 2. Then we walked along the amazing streets of Florence, taking in the sights and sounds and headed back to the hostel to pack up for the next morning and get a few hours of sleep before a big day of traveling home.

Our favourite cat of Riomaggiore. We called him "The Mayor" because he was always walking the streets of Riomaggiore and checking in on different businesses.
Then the mayor came to sit on my lap!!!! He was very awesome.
The Mayor chillin' out as I drank my morning espresso beside him.
Temple Majorico Israelico in Florence
Norm enjoying dinner at Vini e Vechhi Sapori
Mom and Dad excited for dinner
The menu is all in Italian, but the waiter spoke English well and helped us translate
Stuffed Artichokes
Amazing eggplant pasta
Beef stew
Pasta with Saffron
A great little sketch someone made of the owner of the restaurant
Raspberry Tiramisu, this was literally life-changing
The other dessert we got, it was sooo good
Our waiter and the very confined space at the restaurant. The man at the front seemed to be a local/friend of the owner and he brought his dog with (see the front chair)

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Long weekend magic

A perfect "long summer weekend" kinda day :) Finally went to the German Tourist's Club near Muir Woods and it was great. Had a great time with Tim (who is visiting from Canada) and some of his glorious friends from his Masters in Sweden. Brunch in Tiburon was awesome and we hit some Ice Cream in Sausalito and a great bar and chill outdoor lounge called Bocce on the way back in Sausalito. Then some more chillin' at Cavallo Point before heading back into SF.

A beautiful, sunny day with some fantastic people and a big change of pace after a busy week. Great relaxing and chill times. This is what summer days should be like.

Out for brunch in Tiburon
Old Mill Park in Mill Valley, this area was BEAUTIFUL
Nap (and Zen) time
Cute dog we met
This dog rocked
View from Bocce in Sausalito
Summertime and the livin's easy...

Friday, July 01, 2011

Iceland/France/Italy Day 18: Videos

A couple of videos from Riomaggiore. The first one shows views from our hike, view of Riomaggiore from above it, and the glorious Riomaggiore harbour at night. The second one shows the view from our apartment balcony.

A fantastic day of hiking, beautiful views of Riomaggiore, a view of the town itself from atop a balcony and finally, a view of the amazing, magical harbour at sunset.

Our last day in Cinque Terre we stayed in a different spot, closer to the train station. It was a gorgeous day and the view from the balcony was epic

Iceland/France/Italy Day 18: Hike to the top of Riomaggiore

May 16, 2011
Italy Day 18: Hike to the top of Riomaggiore

Today is our last full day in Riomaggiore. When we booked Casa Lorenza, it was unfortunately only available for 4 nights, so we booked a different spot for the last night. Lorenza was very kind and drove all of our stuff over to the new place, La Baia de Rio. They said "surprise!" when we got there, and actually someone had cancelled out so we had both rooms in La Baia de Rio instead of one there and one up the hill on Via de Gasperi. So that made things a little simpler which was nice. We dropped off our stuff, got acquainted with the new area (closer to the train station, which would be useful for walking to the next morning) and took off on a huge trek.

We walked to the top of the village and then to Santuario de Madonna de Monterno, the same place Ans and I hiked to 4 years ago on my birthday. The weather was fantastic. When we got to the top we found out that the bike rental/cafeteria/restaurant up there was totally closed and there was no apple pie (and more importantly, water!) to buy. We chilled up there for a bit and looked at the amazing view, and then hiked walk "3a" back! This was great, I was not sure exactly which hike Ans and I took back down but once we got up there I recognized the sign for 3a. This was actually the spot where Ans and I took a bunch of glorious photos of Riomaggiore city and ran into Crystine for the first time back in 2007! So that was fun to do a similar walk and the weather was so awesome.

Just as we were getting very thirsty and ready for some shade and a break, we found a bar on the side of a cliff (literally) and got a huge water to share and some gelato. Just in time! We walked the rest of the way back with some more energy and took a nice break at the new apartment for a bit. There are some great views of the city at the new place and I spent some time on the balcony trying out my new zoom lens, trying to catch cool photos of people talking on the rooftops and of seagulls soaring over the city.

For dinner we went to La Lampara, which I'd been keen to do since we arrived. That was the spot that Ans and I went to on my birthday and it was such a tasty spot. I got pasta with salmon for my entree and some frizzante, and we shared some beef carpaccio with arugula for an appetizer. We ordered fries cause they looked super good (and we were starving from the hike!) For dessert we had Tiramisu and a Lemoncello to share (which was the best we'd had). So tasty. The waiter was the same old man from 4 years ago and he was so funny, he kept coming back to check up on everyone and give people a thumbs up. It was great.

After a huge dinner we needed to walk it off a bit. We walked back to the mesmerizing and beautiful Riomaggiore harbour and sat there watching the waves for quite a while. That was perfect. After watching the ocean for some time and taking lots of photos, we walked back up the steps to our new apartment for the evening and had some tea back up in Mom and Dad's room. After a big, busy day of hiking, we went to bed nice and early.

View from the roadside near our new apartment that we're staying just for the last night in Riomaggiore
Lemon Tree
Wild Vines
We're walking alllll the way up there!
Hiking up
and up...
The secret other way down the mountain that Ans and I took in 2007!
We're at the top! Riomaggiore from the top of the mountain hill beside it
Tired and hot and thirsty, this Bar came along juuuust in time!
Uh, is this the way to Riomaggiore?!
Then we walked along the road for a bit
The Riomaggiore harbour from the walk
Getting closer to town
Laundry drying
View from our apartment
View from our balcony, back up to where we just walked
View out to the sea
Apartments across from us
Making good use of my new zoom lens! Two older women chatting on their balconies
Viva Italia
One of my favourite shots of the trip
More laundry
Awesome!! This is our apartment from the first 4 nights, Casa Lorenza. An amazing place!! Took this photo just as our Black Cat friend was walking on the roof.
Awesome colours
Window shutters
Then I spent a bunch of time with my new lens trying to catch some birds flying
Lounge chairs
Houses along the harbour
Mom and Dad with Tiramisu at La Lampara for dinner, the place I went to for my birthday with Ans 4 years ago
Harbour at night