Tuesday, December 29, 2009

World Heritage: 2009 in Review

Well, this year I made it to two World Heritage sites, the lowest total since 2001. I sort of saw that coming, given the location of this year's conferences. Still, I was happy to make it to these two sites:

  1. Augustusburg Castle in May
  2. The Lavaux Vineyards in September

The list is up to 890. I didn't pick up any from new inscriptions again this year. My 46 out of 890 gives me 5.2%, marginally up over last year's 5.0%. I don't anticipate a big haul next year, but one conference near an iconic World Heritage Site (on the level of Stonehenge) intrigues me. Stay tuned...

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Halfway to France (and Back)

Last month, I told you about biking halfway to Mexico. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of biking halfway to France. I borrowed a bike from Lausanne's free bike rental program and headed along the lake to Vevey, about 10-12 miles away. It looks like if I had continued around the circumference of the lake, another 10-12 miles would have put me in France. I suppose biking all the way around the lake would make a good vacation, but since all I had was a free day after four days of conferences, this trip was a nice diversion.

For a more detailed analysis of my route, you can check out my Everytrail post. Here's what I had to say about the ride there:
I should have taken the Metro to the Ouchy station near the lakefront, but I let the guy talk me into riding my bike. Of course, I couldn't understand his directions in broken English and ended up riding all over the place before getting out of town.

Once I got out of town, however, the ride was great. There is a main road near the lake, which has bike lanes most of the way, but occasionally there were detours. At one point, I rode through a medieval town center, and at another point, the route rose through the terraced vineyards that hug the coast. I could have reached out and grabbed the grapes. (I didn't.)

When I got to Vevey, I visited the tourist information center, ditched the bike, and headed out. The woman in the information center claimed that there was nowhere to lock my bike, but that I didn't need to. She also sent me to a mall when I asked about souvenirs, so I'm not sure of the quality of her advice. I locked the bike to a sign, which seemed to work. I had lunch at a Thai restaurant, bought some postcards and visited Charlie Chaplin's grave. All in all, a successful visit.

On the ride back, I tried to minimize my detours, not entirely successfully. I had an idea of leaving my bike at Ouchy, then returning for it via Metro after rush hour was over. I really wish I had done that; I meandered all over town trying to find a good route back to Roule Lausanne. Eventually, I did and left tired after my longest bike ride yet.

I should note that both the tourist information center and Chaplin's graves are waymarks, which allowed me to find them more easily. I now have the "grave of a famous person" category. While that doesn't help me with waymarking bingo, it does bring me up to 251 waymarks.

Also, the Lavaux vineyard terraces are a World Heritage Site, which makes them the 46th that I have visited, and the 2nd for 2009.

Finally, here is a link to a Picasa album I made up with some selected pictures from my trip. Now it's off to change my remaining Swiss Francs into British Pounds and find the gate for my plane...


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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Biking Santa Barbara


I rented a bike when I was in Santa Barbara for a conference earlier this month. I got in over 80 miles of biking in 4 days, so it was more than I'm used to doing. One day I did 27.9 miles, a personal best (and an exhausting one). The weather was cool, the terrain was flat, and the bike paths were well marked -- all conducive to lots of riding. Two of the days I just rode around near campus on breaks from the conference. Two of the days, on the other hand, I had free afternoons and challenged myself to ride from campus to downtown Santa Barbara.

Both times I did some waymarking...I made it up to 250 categories (from 202 in February). I thought the bike would be great for waymarking, but there were so many waymarks close together, the bike was a nuisance. (Or the waymarks were.)

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Halfway to Mexico (and Back)

For Christina's birthday, we drove the bikes down to Coronado and rode down to Silver Strand State Beach. When I looked at the satellite view of the trip, I realized that the ride had covered about half the distance from Coronado to Mexico (hence the title of the post).

The ride is really beautiful, with San Diego Bay on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. The beach is also very nice -- it's actually two beaches, one on each side.

All in all, a fun excursion, and a fitting way to celebrate Christina's birthday, since she got us on the biking kick starting with our trip to Holland almost a year ago.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bike To Work

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On Monday, we drove down to Coronado and rented bikes. On Tuesday, I biked to work, following the above path. It's a lot easier in California, what with the bike lanes and such. I also biked to work on substantially the same path the following two days -- I'm not going to record any more trips to work unless I take a different way. I have one idea for that, but the path depicted above has been easy enough -- about 3.5 miles each way, no incredibly awful stretches of uphill biking.

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

World Heritage: 2008 in Review

Well, as predicted last year, I broke my streak of visiting 5 world heritage sites per year. Unfortunately, it was in the wrong direction, as I only visited 4.

  1. Istanbul in April.
  2. Nancy, France in October.
  3. Naracoorte Caves in Australia in November.
  4. Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne in December.

The list is now up to 878. Sadly, none of the sites inscribed in 2008 were ones I could claim retroactively, so my total is now 44 out of 878, or 5.0%.

2009 is not particularly promising. I could hit sites in the US and UK again, perhaps. I have a trip planned to Cologne. Although I've already seen the cathedral, there is a site in the outskirts that I could add. My Asia trip is to Tokyo, but my preliminary scouting indicates no sites right around the city. Of course, I never know what the year will bring...



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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Tiny Penguins

Merry Christmas, and please enjoy these pictures of our last evening in Australia. We drove to Phillip Island, a couple of hours south of Melbourne to see the Penguin Parade. On the way, we stopped for dinner. We were just looking for a quick fish & chips meal, but we ended up at a relatively fancy restaurant with a nice view of the ocean. Too bad we had to eat and run, but the weak Australian dollar made it a reasonably priced experience.

We then headed to the Nobbies Centre, which was closed, despite what they had told me over the phone. The one bright spot was the ability to photograph any stray penguins, which was forbidden at the penguin parade itself.

The penguin parade itself happens at sunset when the tiny penguins come back to the beach to rest for the evening. I am not usually a sucker for cute animals, but there are few things more adorable than a foot-tall penguin waddling up the beach, being bowled over by a foot-and-a-half-tall wave, and struggling to its feet to waddle some more.



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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Melbourne Aquarium

The conference dinner was at the Melbourne Aquarium. Once again, still pictures did not quite do justice, so I present for you this video:

The aquarium seemed OK, but also seemed to fall into the category of "you've seen one aquarium, you've seen them all."


Monday, December 22, 2008

National Gallery of Victoria Waterfall Window

The National Gallery of Victoria, where we saw the Gursky exhibit, had a neat waterfall window. A picture didn't really do it justice, so I shot this short video.

I didn't notice the anatomically correct statue until later.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ned Kelly

While looking over our pictures, I realized I left out one establishment from my "Dining Out in Adelaide" post. On our last night there, we went to "Ned Kelly's Restaurant" in North Adelaide.

I think that the US and Australia may be more like each other than they are like any other countries. They're both big, new, wild countries -- the main difference is that Australia is emptier and newer. One of the similarities is the propensity to turn outlaws into heroes.

Ned Kelly is a 19th century Australian outlaw, whose most amusing feature is that he prepared for his last stand by donning a set of homemade armor. Thus, "Ned Kelly's Restaurant" is a cheesy testament to Australiana. Think Outback, but based on Australians' idea of Australia, rather than Americans'.

I had the kangaroo, emu and camel. Christina passed on the camel; wise choice. But the kangaroo was tasty. Too bad they were out of wallaby.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Dining Out in Adelaide

Well, we're back in the US. "Only" a five hour flight left. Here are some pictures of places we ate in Adelaide. We went to Coopers Brewhouse. Coopers is the local South Australia ale, which I enjoyed a lot that week. The brewhouse served good food, too. We also enjoyed sandwiches at Vili's, our old friend Sushi Train, and the Adelaide Central Market.




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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Day at the Beach

As we sit waiting for them to call our flight out of Melbourne, please enjoy these pictures from Wednesday (last week), our beach day. It was colder than I expected (yeah, I should have done more research), so we didn't spend as much time at the beach as I thought we would. Still, we headed south of Adelaide to Noaralunga. It's amazing to me that you can have a nice day like that, a beautiful beach, and the only large group of people were kids on a field trip. Australian kids get the best field trips!

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Cleland Conservation Park

Last Tuesday, we went to Cleland Conservation Park, outside Adelaide. It was a nice opportunity to interact with native Australian wildlife, in a semi-natural setting. We got our picture taken with a koala, but I'm going to have to wait until we get back to scan that.

Echidnas are strange animals.

Here is Christina feeding a wallaby. I think -- since the animals roam relatively free, it's not always easy to figure out which is which.

Here she is feeding a kangaroo.

Here's the Tasmanian devil. I think this was my favorite.

See! I feed things too!

I defy you to look at this picture and not wander around for a while saying, "Maybe a dingo ate your baby."

We bought two bags of feed, which at first seemed like too much, but the waterfowl seemed grateful when we needed to get rid of it at the end of our visit.


Around Adelaide

OK, now I'm more than a week behind, but here's a few images from Sunday (Nov. 30) and Monday (Dec. 1) in Adelaide. We really enjoyed the week we spent there.

They had a number of interesting memorials and statues; here is one.

We did some shopping at the Sunday Rundle Street Market.

One of our favorite places to eat in Adelaide was Sushi Train and its sister establishment, Sushi Train Express.

The South Australian Musuem had a quite nice collection, but it was interesting seeing them trying to reconcile their century and a half of collection history with modern standards of what is culturally appropriate.
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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Saturday Drive

Here are some pictures from our Saturday drive. As predicted previously, I'm hopelessly behind -- I've just gotten to posting the pictures just before we got to Adelaide, and we only have a day and a half left of our week here before heading back to Melbourne. Anyway, I think the highlight of the day was Naracoorte Caves National Park, an Australian fossil site and part of a World Heritage Site. We saw some animatronic reconstructions of prehistoric Australian mammals (I should post a video so you can hear the grunting) and toured a couple of caves. On the road, we took a look at a number of site affected by Australia's decade-long drought. We came across the first one by accident...we were looking for a resting point, and wondered what had happened to the lake promised on the sign.



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