Friday, July 23, 2010

Hotter Than July

Not a whole lot has been going on in our lives this week. Let’s, studying, working out, sleeping, work, studying, too-tired-to-work-out, sleeping, work... I think you get the picture. We truly live sinfully exciting lives in this City of Sin.

Then again, it’s a bit of drag be to sinful right now, especially during the month of July. A July in Las Vegas basically means that it is hot and sunny. Or sunny and hot. Take your pick. Actually, make that sunny and hotter than hell. At one point this week the temperature rose slightly above the 120˚F mark. Now that is hot! And that was not even the hottest day I’ve experienced in the almost 20 years I’ve been living in this town.

But it was hot enough for me. The last few summers George and I were pondering with the idea to look for greener and much cooler pastures. Then we took the trip to Germany last December and I was instantly reminded why I absolutely hate Winters. I take hot, dry desert summers anytime over bitter cold winters. But a nice little balance in-between would be nice though. We would love to live in the bay area but the economy in California is currently anything but favorable. And it’s not necessarily the cheapest spot in the block to live in. George and I do love Seattle, even though its weather is a bit more on the damp side. We hear Vancouver in Canada has nice, moderate weather all year long. What do you think? Any suggestions?

Still, the heat usually doesn’t deter us from going out to jog in the park or stroll down the Strip. However, last weekend is so damn hot that we didn’t even set one foot outside our house. That almost never happens, since we’re always out and about doing stuff. Luckily, this weekend is suppose to be “cooling” off a bit. The temps may just hover around the 100˚F mark. Which, after almost two weeks of being broiled like steaks on a grill, will almost feel like a breath of fresh air.

I hope I won’t need a jacket.

Below are random photos, taken sometime before Las Vegas was somehow mysteriously transplanted onto the surface of the sun.

George sitting out in our patio, enjoying the morning sun.

In our kitchen. Obviously...duh!

The moving video screens under the “Cloud” of the Fashion Show Mall on the Las Vegas Strip. The luxurious Encore Resort and Casino, a sister property of the Wynn Resort, is seen in the background

Clouds are reflected in windows of the Wynn

The caribbean village of the Treasure Island on the Strip with the Trump International tower peeking from behind

The marquee of the Treasure Island, or TI as it’s called now, once donned a gigantic pirate’s skull with cross bones. Now the marquee has been updated with huge video screens and color-changing letters.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Aerial New York

These are really amazing aerial shots of one of the arguably most exciting cities in the world...New York. Click on the link at the bottom of this entry to see more of these spectacular images.

Looking at some of the pictures really makes me want to go back to the Big Apple. I love New York. I miss New York. I’ve been to New York City so many times that I lost count. For me New York is unquestionably the best any city has to offer. A very close second on my list of favorite cities is London, which became something of a second home besides Munich while I was still living in Germany.

Yes, Munich is beautiful. It’s all pretty, has charm, history and culture. It is also very bland and rather boring at times. There are only so many old baroque churches to look at. And sitting in a beer garden for hours at a time, a favorite local’s pasttime, was never my thing.

I need my cities with a bit more grit. The constant hustle and bustle which many Europeans find nerve-wracking. New York always gave me that buzz which I find exhilarating. It can be a bit stressful at times and the city can definitely wear you out. But I don’t mind that. It’s a challenge.

If we had the means George and I would move there in a second. But it’s one costly city. Munich was not cheap either, mind you. But which city is reasonable anymore these days? Even Las Vegas has become quite exclusive in many aspects. The days of 99¢ breakfast buffets are certainly long gone.

That’s alright though. George makes far better breakfast at home than any of these fancy Las Vegas buffets or celebrity chef restaurants combined. Including all these hoity toity eateries in Manhattan.

Check out the aerial photos of New York City here at the Denver Post:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

And Fourthermore...

I finally recovered from my cold that I’ve caught while we were in Southern California over the 4th of July weekend. The mornings and evenings were unusually cold for this time of year. And getting completely soaked while riding Splash Mountain in Disneyland didn’t help matters much either. It was helluva fun though.

Here are the last of the photos that we took in Disneyland on Independence Day. Makes me want to go back there again and relive one great day. I would even take that cold again.

Yup, it was that much fun...

The waiting queue for the Indiana Jones ride is winding its way through a lush jungle area before entering the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. In true Disney fashion there‘s always a little back story for every ride and what else would make a better story than one of Indiana Jones’ adventures. The ride is still one of the best around. I suggest to sit in the very outer seats of the very last row of every vehicle. Then hold on to dear life...

George sitting in one of the boats of “It’s a Small World.” It’s Disney’s way of introducing different cultures from around the world. In a cheesy and cutesy way it does work for the most part. Walt Disney himself was already way ahead of its time when it came to bridge nations, educate about different cultures and innovative technology. Now if only the rest of America would finally make an effort to catch up...

Michael Jackson’s musical space adventure in 3-D, “Captain EO,” was reintroduced to the Disney Parks for a limited run this year. It’s such a 1980s flick. The music, the dance moves, the special’s really hokey in so many ways. But it’s still lots of fun nevertheless. I can’t believe I still remember the dialogue and dance routines by heart. I even spotted few of the bloopers again. Do you think I’ve seen this movie one too many times?

Space Mountain reflections

Waiting in line for Space Mountain...again.

Space Mountain! Still my absolute favorite ride in Disneyland. Always has been and probably always will be. And dang...was it spacey cold in there.

The boarding area inside Space Mountain. What is it with Disneyland rides and mountains? There’s Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain...

Can you spot the toad? A perfect cast shadow of Mr. Toad above the “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride”...well...ride.

Gadget’s Go-Coaster in Toontown. This “squirrel-made” coaster consists of over sized everyday items such as paper clips, pencils or bottle caps.

Inside the waiting line area of “Star Tours,” where C3PO and R2-D2 are repairing a star speeder for another tour to the moon of Endor. It’ll go on its final mission by the end of this month when the ride will close for about a year for a total refurbishment. When it reopens it will be completely redesigned and use the latest in motion simulator technology and 3-D imagery. Supposedly passengers will determine the outcome of each riding experience.

One of our favorite details in Disneyland are the chasing neon Space Mickeys, which are floating above the Star Traders store. It’s been there forever.

The spinning Tea Cups.

It’s 12:30 a.m. on Main Street, U.S.A. Do you know where your children are? Another fun day is slowly coming to a close in Disneyland.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I knew It...

I knew that the big guy sitting up there on Cloud Nine is just a prick... of course it's no wonder that his brain amputated followers are even bigger pricks.

Friday, July 9, 2010

More on the Fourth

It looks like I’m coming down with a cold. I suppose it was a nice little souvenir I brought back from California. While the weather was absolutely beautiful during the day, the morning and evening hours were rather chilly. Of course, we didn’t bring any sweaters or jackets. We really should have known better by now. Even the locals were surprised how unusually cool it was for this time of year.

In any case, below are more photos from out trip to Los Angeles. We actually stayed at a hotel in Anaheim, right behind the whole hoopla called the Disneyland Resort. Except for Saturday where we needed the car to drive to the beach and into the city, we didn’t need the car at all for the remainder of our stay. Everything was easily accessible with Downtown Disney merely ten minutes away by foot. Besides, parking alone costs $15 nowadays and despite Disney being efficiently organized traffic can still be quite a hassle.

I was worried that the crowds would be out-of-control on Sunday. It is high season after all. And it was a long holiday weekend and special Independence Day celebrations were in full swing. Surprisingly, the crowds were quite manageable and the waiting time for most of the bigger attractions and rides lasted not more than 20 minutes on average. Even Space Mountain didn’t have a huge line. There were times where we just walked right in. That’s unheard of on a big holiday weekend. I suppose the bad economy is still showing its lingering signs.

Here now is the first set of pictures of our day in Disneyland. More to follow soon...

The plaza between the Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure theme parks. Seen here is the main entrance to DCA. The colors on the permanent letters promote this park’s new spectacle, “World of Color,” a new nightly show using water, lights, fire, lasers and pyrotechnics in the middle of their lagoon.

George in Disneyland’s Main Street, U.S.A.

Disneyland’s City Hall and Fire Station.

Along Main Street.

Sleeping Beauty’s castle, seen from Fantasyland.

Riding the sometimes funky “Alice in Wonderland” ride. We think that both the animators of the feature-length animated movie and the designers of this ride were high on something...

The boarding area to the “wildest ride in the wilderness,” Big Thunder Mountain.

After being soaked at Splash Mountain we decided it’s time for lunch. We were also hoping that our wet clothes might also dry while we were eating. We briefly left the park and walked over to Downtown Disney were we had the most scrumptious pizzas at Naples Ristorante e Napolini. The weather was absolutely perfect and we were sitting outside in their lovely patio, where I took this shot above. We finished with a wonderfully prepared Tiramisu and cappuccinos.

Waiting for pizza and my clothes to dry at Naples Ristorante e Napolini in Downtown Disney.

This enormous sculpture hangs above one of many entrances to one of the largest Disney Stores around. The largest store in the world is currently at the Disneyland Resort in Paris, France.

The beautiful and huge atrium of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Resort. The whole resort was built in the American Craftsman architectural style of the early 1900s

Parts of Fantasyland with the Matterhorn peaking out from behind. Built in the late 1950s, the Matterhorn ride inside the mountain was the first tubular steel track roller coaster in the world. Today’s super coasters are still based on this concept.

Another angle of view of the centerpiece of the park, Sleeping Beauty’s castle.

I just loved this little guy. It's one of many Heffalumps, who appear in a Winnie the Pooh movie in which the ‘silly old bear’ sees them in his nightmares. This little critter above sits on the back of every Hunny Pot car that visitors take to go on the dark ride called “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.”

Yes, I love little cute and corny Disney things. More pictures coming soon...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

One Memorable Fourth

Today would have been my mother’s birthday. I think of her often and I can truly say that she was my best friend. She would have loved George. I’m really sorry that she never got to know him.

George and I are back in the usual swing of things after spending another amazing weekend in Los Angeles. Now that’s how a long 4th of July weekend is spent! With the love of your life next to your side, the most gorgeous weather, visiting with a friend, eating lots of scrumptious food, enjoying the beach, seeing live theater and celebrating Independence Day at one of the most American places there is...Disneyland.

Below are photos from our first day in La-La-Land. More pictures to follow...

Redondo Beach, CA

Most of the lifeguard towers between Manhattan and Redondo Beach were artfully painted in bright colors. Plans are to paint all of them for the 30 miles of coast along Los Angeles. They’re supposed to be done in September

Robert and George at Redondo Beach

My dorky self and Robert, enjoying a nice walk along the Strand of Redondo Beach after a hearty breakfast. June gloom or the Coastal Eddy lasts well into July this year. This typical Southern California weather phenomenon is basically a huge fog bank that lingers along most of the coast and is usually burned off by the sun around 10 or 11 in the morning

See? No more June Gloom. The sun was out for the rest of the day to make this another perfect by the sea. This is the Manhattan Beach Pier

The Pacific was beautiful and the weather couldn't have been more perfect

One of many beautiful old lamp posts along the Manhattan Beach Pier

Later that afternoon we drove to Hollywood to spend some time there before we would go to the theater. Here on Highland Avenue, close to the Hollywood Bowl, is an old apartment building which hides the fire escape stairs in a more elaborate way

The neon marquee of Disney's Soda Fountain & Studio Store on Hollywood Boulevard, next to the beautiful El Capitan theatre, which is one of the remaining movie palaces of a bygone era

Hollywood and Highland

Intricate details of one of many entryways into the El Capitan building, built in 1928

A stack of records. The old Capitol Records tower on Vine Street and label to artists such as the Beatles, Beach Boys, Garth Brooks, Duran Duran, Everclear, Foo Fighters, Judy Garland, Heart...just to name a few

Old neon signage can still be seen all over Hollywood

The marquee of the Pantages on Hollywood Blvd., promoting the musicalIn the Heights.” This Tony Award winning production tells of the daily life in the Latino community of New York’s Washington Heights. We were lucky to see Lin-Manuel Miranda reprising his starring role, who not only wrote the story and music but also was the lead in the original conception on Broadway. This musical has an upbeat mix of Latin music, rap, hip hop and ballads. Yes, it's very interesting and quite catchy. We absolutely loved it! And a funny coincidence...part of the story plays out on the 4th of July. One of the characters is telling others to “show some spirit,” chastizing them for displaying flags from their home countries on their balconies rather than Old Glory. I thought that was pretty ironic considering what is currently happening in this country regarding the immigration reform

The foyer inside the Pantages. This art deco-style theater first opened in June 1930 and later fell into despair. The Walt Disney Company bought the theater in the early 1990s and renovated the place to bring back its original splendor, making it the West Coast home for “The Lion King.” Since then we’ve seen many plays and musicals in this spectacular theater