Wilmington

So, getting back to Thursday, I collected the rental car at the ferry terminal and started the short drive to Wilmington. I stopped off at a little museum at the site of an early settlement called Brunswick of which all that is left is the brick shell of an old church. I learned a little about the history of the Cape Fear region and then moved on.

Baggage_BWJust over the bridge is downtown Wilmington but I could not check into my hotel until 3pm so I went in search of lunch at a little shopping center called the Cotton Exchange. After wandering around for a while not finding any serious restaurants some guy invited me to come taste his fudge and I said “You, know, I’m really looking for lunch.” And he said “Oh, that place over there is great.” So I went in and found them serving down home Southern Comfort food. I ordered an Oyster Po’ Boy and fried okra. I would never have thought to eat fried okra but it was forced on me once in Carlsbad, New Mexico and I found I really liked it so now I eat it when I get the chance, which isn’t often.

I wandered around the Cotton Exchange a little longer after lunch, mostlyValves galleries and souvenir shops. But my parking meter was about to expire so I had to move on. I had set my sights on the Railroad museum in hopes of finding some good steam punk images but was sad to see that most of the museum was model railroads and there was only one real train outside. I stopped in at the visitor’s center next door and picked up some literature from a very strange woman who seemed to think that browsing at a visitor’s center was not acceptable. One must ask very specific questions, one must know exactly what one is looking for.

Boat2At this point I decided I might as well try to get into my hotel room since I was tired and I had no more change for parking meters and couldn’t find the entry to the Riverwalk. The Wilmingtonian turned out to be a collection of old buildings refurbished but about ready for another round and smelling strongly of mildew which is clinging to my clothes even now. But the price was right, the bed was comfortable and the shower was hot. I could have lived without the loudmouth on the balcony just across from my window though.

In perusing my hard won maps and brochures I found that the restaurant Sunset_CapeFearmy friend had recommended was just a few blocks from me and I headed out just before sunset. Since it was right on the river and had an outdoor deck and the temperatures were very mild I sat down and ordered a glass of wine and some shrimp and grits and watched the sun set over the Cape Fear. Unfortunately my waitress was apparently doing the same and service was a bit on the slow side so it was well after dark when I made my way back to the Wilmingtonian.

GownsNext morning I set out to explore downtown and take pictures of architectural details. I actually found the widow displays and some unusual signs to be the best subjects. I stumbled upon a café called the Dixie Grille which seemed to be about the only place serving breakfast. But, no matter, the cops were eating there so it had to be good. And it was. I ordered the Dixie Benedict. A biscuit, scrambled eggs, fried green tomatoes smothered with Vidalia onion gravy. OK, I think I have check all the boxes on Southern Cuisine now.

After checking out of my hotel I proceeded to explore the beaches of KGBBrunswick County which were a huge disappointment to this native Oregonian. All the beaches are lined with houses and access is limited, parking lots often charging for the privilege. And while the good news is the temperatures have been in the 70s. The bad news is the locals are all flocking to the beaches. Hoping to get an earlier start today and exploring beaches further to the north and getting some decent photos.

Cuba Days 8 and 9

On our last full day in Havana it started to rain. The backup plan was to take us to an art gallery to see some Cuban art. It was interesting and some I liked. Some was very dark. But it was hard to appreciate without a little background and commentary on the history of Cuban art. I also couldn’t help but wonder how many of the works hanging on the walls had been confiscated from wealthy homes after the revolution.
splashWe were then taken to a seaside village which appeared very poor but where a retired surgeon and his wife had opened a restaurant called Julio, specializing in seafood. The house was set out over the water and on that day waves were crashing all around making one wonder how it had ever survived a hurricane. We were served a sumptuous lunch of seafood including, fish, clams, lobster, and shrimp. Appetizers includeYello_Windowd fried banana cups filled with tuna fish and calamari. As always the ubiquitous rice and beans. Desert was some sort of candied orange and cheese, not really to my taste. I left feeling quite stuffed. by the time lunch was over the rain had abated and I was able to get a few interesting shots around the village.

MosaicWe stopped on the way back at a neighborhood where an artist had covered the walls with mosaic and created sculptures not only at his own house but for many ofHeart his neighbors. It was apparentlymeant as a tribute to Gaudi. Unfortunately, a huge tour bus arrived just after us so we were not able to fully enjoy the art. This was the one place outside Havana that I saw a full fledged gift shop, albeit in someone’s front yard. Alas, still no t-shirt that spoke to me.

Angel4We then proceeded to an old cemetery that took up at least 16 city blocks. You might ask what the heck do you photograph at a cemetery? Like Valle Prehistorica this required a little creative openness and thought toward future processing. I started off with angels but then realized that about 90% of the monuments were angels and I could not possibly get them all and after all, how many angels do you need even for future creative elements. I then started in on windows and doors of the mausoleums and decorative iron fences.crosswbirds I also got some great textures for future digital artistry projects.

Unfortunately, as I was blithely approaching an interesting looking window, I walked into the territory of some stray dogs and was viciously attacked. I think the hat and raincoat and camera were just too intimidating for the dogs. I don’t think I was bitten but just scratched as the dog’s foot glanced off my leg, though for a time I was having visions of rabies shots. They did settle down right away when I told them to shoo. I iron_fencewiped off the blood with a kleenex then poured hand sanitizer over it. I later had Dr. Norm look at it and he washed it again with bottled water and more purell and kept checking it the rest of the trip. It seems to be healing up just fine.

We went back to the hotel for a short siesta then were picked up for our farewell dinner at a lovely restaurant, La Bonita, out in a Havana neighborhood. We had pork chopsbluewall2 which were delicious, not like the over lean pork we get in the U.S. There was a luscious cervice for a starter, rice and beans, of course, and flan with ice cream for dessert. And we had wine which is hard to come by and expensive in Cuba. There was a jazz trio plaundrywchairlaying and since we were the only table it seemed to be just for us. We all bought their CD, which, it turns out, is my only souvenir from Cuba, there not being much to buy in the first place and lacking quality in the second place and probably not made in Cuba in the third place.

The next morning I was all packed and had breakfast and it stopped raining for awhile so I went for a walk walkingthedogbehind the hotel. There I found some of the most abject poverty, not to mention filth, I have ever encountered. I also found some of the best street photography of the entire trip. Still, I soon proceeded back to the rich side of the hotel and photographed old cars for a while.

Three_womenAt 10:30 we were whisked off to the airport where we said goodbye to Leonel and were left on our own to negotiate the lines. First we went to the money changing line. They said, “Sorry, we have no American Dollars” then we were told Shiny_chevyto go over to another window and were taken one by one into a small room. They locked the door and  a man in a suit proceeded to exchange my CUCs for American dollars, one to one. They ran out of dollars before we were all through the line and some of our party had to exchange their CUCs for Euros to be exchanged for dollars when they got back home.

carsandarchesNext was the line for checking in for our flight. I had needed to go to the restroom when we arrived but could not find one so stood in the line for half an hour with my legs crossed. Finally, I got the counter and checked in and got rid of my suitcase and asked for the banos. Sure enough way past customs and down a narrow hall was the ladies room. I started to go into a stall and an airport worker yelled “Paper” reminding me that in Cuba you have to obtain your toilet paper before going into the stall.

Much relieved I proceeded through customs which was no big deal. ThenHood_ornament security which was not too bad though I tried to ask the woman if she wanted my computer out but she was intent on telling me to take my belt off until I finally lifted my shirt to show her I didn’t have a belt on. Then, of course, on the other side I was asked to take the laptop out so they could scan the bag without it. And then we proceeded to sit and wait for our flight which was only an hour late and that’s pretty good for Cuba time.

I have to say, I have never been so happy to return to American soil. Cuba was warm, Cubans were friendly, the colors were amazing, the photography was outstanding but all the time something was just a bit off. And I guess that’s why I travel, to get out of my comfort zone. But it is also, oh, so nice, to snuggle back into it when I get home.

 

Cuba Day 5 – Valle Prehistorica

Breakfast was about the same as at the last casa though I indulged in the bread and honey since it was already laid out and this hostess did not offer onions in the “omlette” which I missed.  We had a little time for editing photos which I enjoyed.

MammothThen we hopped in the van for a trip to Valle Prehistorica, a park with lots of old statues of dinosaurs, mastadons and such. I found the texture of their sides most interesting to photograph but thought I might come up with something artistic using the more creative software and here a couple of examples using Topaz Glow. PossibDino1ilities still abound. I did some motion blurs with the horses and they almost look real but I need to take more time to work on them. I’m pretty
sure at this point Lionel was scratching his head as to what to do with us and I too was ready to leave Santiago and move on.
OrangeNext up was a trip to a car museum. Unfortunately most of the cars were victims of very bad paint jobs and far from complete restorations. BuBluet old car abstracts are one of my favorite things and the brilliant colors, though inexpertly applied did add interest to my photos.

Back to Santiago for lunch where we had our first truly disastrous meal. Some in the group had requested something light as we had been having large meals for lunch and dinner every day. First the local guide could not find the restaurant. The service was slow, the guy making out with his girlfriend on a couch turned out to be the owner, three people never got their meals, I never got my water and worst of all the restroom was out of order. Once again, the ordering was guess and by gosh. My Crepe with Jambon y queso turned out pretty well, though it didn’t seem all that light to me, at least I got food.

Boxer1Some people in the group had expressed an interest in photographing sports so, after a short rest back at the casas, we headed out to a boxing gym to do some shots of fighters woBoxer2rking out. It was interesting but not my style in the long run. Though I did get some decent shots. What I will ever do with them I have no idea.

Purple_dressWe stopped to buy bottled water on the way home and the van ran over a broken bottle. David, bless his heart, tried to get us home before the tire went flat but didn’t make it. We could see the Cathedral from where we were and offered to walk home but Lionel, said no, just wait. As always, Santiago offered up some colorful images while we were waiting.

In case you ever wondered how many photographers Flat_tireit takes to change a flat tire the answer is 9. One to take the picture and eight to watch. It’s also helpful if you have a couple of Cubans, one to supervise and one to do the actual work. It turned out David had never changed a tire before but he got through it in spite of all the “help”.

Our farewell dinner in Santiago made up for lunch. A private restaurant in an old home with lots of wood paneling which had no doubt been very grand in its day. I had the lamb and it came with real potatoes, yeah! The flan was the best I have ever had. Lionel and Dr. Norm sprang for wine to test whether Chilean or Spanish wine is better. I preferred the Spanish but don’t tell Lionel. In general wine is hard to come by in Cuba and relatively expensive when you find it.

Cuba Day 4 – El Cobre

Day 4 started out with the same breakfast I have had for the past two days; an omelet with onion, cheese, lots of fruit, juice and tea. Then I packed up and moved to a new casa which turned out to be 2 ½ blocks from the old casa. The room was a little nicer and bigger, the stairs a little wider but just as steep. You may be wondering why we had to change casas. Well, originally, we were supposed to be moving on to Baracoa on this day but hurricane Matthew threw a wrench into those plans. So, the idea was we would stay at a hotel in Santiago the first three days then move to casas. Because the second set of casas had been prearranged and paid for before we lost the hotel rooms we had no choice but to move. I mentioned to someone at my first house that we had been meant to go to Baracoa and he said “Oh, Baracoa is so beautiful, you must go, the hotel is fine now.” But alas, it was out of my hands.

Once settled in our new casa we piled into the van (a 12 passenger Mercedes Benz if you really want to know) and hunted down the cigar factory we were to tour only to be told that no pictures were allowed. But we took the nickel tour anyway and learned how cigars are made. The nice thing about cigars is that they are pure tobacco with no additives, unlike cigarettes. The whole leaves are sorted then pressed together in a round press, then a tobacco leaf wrapper is added to make it look pretty. It seems to be a very labor intensive process, at least here.

BasilicaNext, we went to a town called El Cobre, the name of which has something to do with its history as a copper mining center. But its real claim to fame is a cathedral that is dedicated to the patron saint of Cuba and a popular site for pilgrims with and without religion. The full name of the chuSancturaryrch reflects its Spanish heritage: The Basilica de Nuestra Senora de la Caridad del Cobre. The church was not that impressive (austere says my
 guide book) thoug I did manage to eke out a few interesting images. The community was down a steep flight of steps that I didn’t want to have to Crosscome back up and it  seemed to consist of a lot of vendors intent on selling flowers and trinkets to tourists so I don’t know that the photography would have been very satisfying. And, as there was no place to eat lunch we soon headed back to Santiago.

This would be a good place to say a word about religion in Cuba. Because Candlesone cannot be a member of the communist party and be an active participant in religion there are not a lot of overt signs of religion as might be experienced in other former Spanish colonies. On the other hand I did not get the sense that religion was banned outright either. Churches remain as churches and there were certainly plenty of pilgrims at the Basilica. Papal visits have been allowed and I spotted a nun reading on the balcony of a building nearby. Our driver was the son of a Seventh Day Adventist minister and he owns his own van and tour company as well as a farm so having a religious background does not seem to be a deterrent to success in the new relaxed economy. I also understand from my reading that vestiges of African religious practices brought in with slavery are still alive and well in Cuba.

Lunch turned out to be more grilled chicken at Dona Martha Restaurante. Our Spanish speaking guides were not too helpful at explaining the menu choices so I sort of went with what I recognized, “grille” means grilled, this much I know and pollo of course is chicken. Lately all meals have been served with rice and sweet potatoes. So I am having no trouble sticking to my high protein, low carb diet.

Art_GalleryAfter lunch we were turned loose to explore the local neighborhood but the directions for the meeting point and time were not clear. We found an art gallery just around the corner. I’m always hesitant to photograph other peoples art and call it my own but I tried to transform this piece enough to at least make it a shared effort.

I knew I should stay with the group but they were moving so slowly I decided to head out on my own. How hard could three blocks further on be? Well, pretty hard when the cross street does not go through. Of course, when I got to the place I thought I was supposed to be at the time I thought we were supposed to meet there was no one there. I waited fifteen minutes then decided to head back to the restaurant and see if I could find anyone. I was about to panic (OK, cry)Shadow when I finally spied the van, everyone aboard except our guide who was out looking for me. I still don’t know where they met up or how long they were looking for me. Of course, I had money, I knew where I lived and taxis were abundant so I don’t think it would have been a complete disaster even if we hadn’t connected. On the upside, I got some of my most interesting images during this episode.

FishermanWe then headed back to the waterfront for sunset. A few nice silhouettes and color on the water pictures. Well, that might be an understatement. I kind of had a field day with the sunset. And finally, back to the casas for a rest before regathering at one of the casas for a “family dinner” which ended up costing more than any of our Pilingsrestaurant meals so far. Once again I had grilled chicken, not much choice this time, accompanied by rice and sweet potato fries. I went off the reservation and ate some of the salad because the guide and the doctor sitting next to me thought it might be OK. Lionel, our local guide, brought a bottle of rum which he said was the best you could get in Cuba. I enjoyed it but after two beers did not feel like indulging too much.

Cuba Day 3 – Cayo Grandma

Blue_wallI awoke this morning to gunfire, which I thought was odd as Lionel had assured us there were no guns in Cuba. Then I realized it was the 21 gun salute for Fidel Castro as his ashes were interred in a private ceremony just outside of Santiago, his home ciPink_doorty.

After breakfast on the rooftop terrace, I took the back way to Parque Cespedes and caught a few interesting shots in the neighborhood before meeting the group in front of the cathedral for a trip out of town about a half hour to the Punta Gordo Marina.

 There we boarded a catamaran for a short trip over to an island called Cayo Granma. Granma was the name of a boat in which Castro and his troops returned to Cuba from exile in Mexico to embark on the revolution against Batista.  The boat is on display in Havana and not only this island but an entire province have been named for it.

 The IslandFishermen, we were told, was badly damaged by hurricane Sandy and the houses were mostly small and Bananamanin bad repair (to put it mildly). People were out and about working in boats, doing laundry, and perhaps visiting neighbors. Children were riding around on bikes and trikes, dogs wandered everywhere, but there were no cars. One fellow jumpeLaundryd up and insisted on posing next to a banana tree. I offered him a tip which, of course, was what he was hoping for.

As I said to one of my colleagues, it was a target rich boyonbikeenvironment.We were told we could walk around the island in 25 minutes. For photographers, maybe more like an hour or two. I went around one way then started back the other way and saw many things I had missed from the other perspective.

ElCayoAt noon, we adjourned for lunch at a state owned restaurant. It was very high class and seemed to be catering to tour groups. We all had a seafood plate with lobster, fish, shrimp, and calamari. And two bottles of water, still no cerveza allowed.
manonbikeWe returned to the Parque and walked back to our casas for a siesta, regrouping after two hours to explore new parts of Santiago including the Plaza de la revolution which had been the site of a speech by Raul Castro the previous evening. My guide book describes the Plaza as “soulless” and I think that is an apt description. I found phobustrucktographing the passing cars, buses, trucks being used as buses, bicycles, and motorcyles much more interesting. We then adjourned to a waterfront park but the light was mostly gone so we vowed to return closer to sunset another
day. Then on to dinner at private restaurant outside of town where we had a big plate of barbequed chicken, rice and beans, flan and two cervezas for a mere $10 CUCs

Miami Beach

Just getting warmed up for my trip to Cuba. I had a one day layover in Miami and decided to check off another bucket list item with a trip to Miami Beach. After paying the cab fare downtown and back, the cost of the tour and my $40 lunch I am not sure it was worth it but at least now I can say I’ve been. I had hoped to get more closeups of Art Deco detail but it just wasn’t happening for me. The bus was going to fast, I got off and walked around for an hour but pooped out and didn’t find as many classic examples as I had expected. Just when I thought we were getting somewhere there was an accident on ocean avenue and the bus had to take a detour. I did get a couple worth sharing. Our tour guide pointed out that one of the signature looks of art deco is things in threes. Here are two examples.

Deco_detail

Threes

Of course the pastel colors are also iconic at least in Miami Beach. And here is one hotel that has the classic look:

Breakwater

I was also excited that I haven’t even gotten to Cuba yet and got my first classic car from the 1950s. It looked a little better with an artistic treatment in Topaz simplify though. I also don’t think it’s going anywhere with that flat tire:

Chevy

So, tomorrow on to the real deal. Not sure what to expect with the country still in mourning for Castro. His funeral is Sunday so maybe things will liven up after that. I’m told that Wi-Fi is unreliable at best so I don’t know how many post I will be able to do but I’ll at least write things up for posting after I’m back.

Telling the Tale and Creating Art

I promised you more on Ireland and I wasn’t kidding. But now nearly a month and a half has passed without a post and I’m not sure anyone is paying attention. But here it is none the less for I have not been idle!

In sifting through my images for what to share and what to delete and what to save for another look down the line I got to thinking about the difference between telling the tale and creating art. Travel photography, after all, is really about telling the tale. But my primary focus is on creating art. That is, the reason I travel is to find things that I can photograph and turn into art. But what I have recognized in going through the images is that there is a kind of distillation process going on throughout.

So the first cut if you’ve been following the blog is to find images that tell the tale of the day to post on the blog. I have only a few hours in the evening to come up with the few images that best illustrate what I saw that day. I may not always chose the most artistic ones or have time processes them to their best advantage.

GlendaloughHere is an example of an image from Glendalough that didn’t make the first cut even though it is a great composition. I passed over it because of the flat white sky in the upper right corner. But later I realized I could get around that by using a tinted texture to give the sky more interest.

In the second cut after I got home, I was looking to create a slide show that tells the tale of the trip. This you will find at: http://jeannehoadley.com/Ireland.ppt.

Many of the images that made it into the blog are also in the slideshow because they were good compositions that I liked, some did not because there was a limit to what I could put on one slide. Just for grins I went back and counted and each blog had from three to 10 images. It gets rather cumbersome to work with more than five or six images on a powerpoint slide. And I didn’t want to go overboard with too many stained glass windows or floor tile pictures in the slideshow where all the images are seen in a space of ten minutes. In the blog there is a little more room for repetition as the images are ideally seen over a period of days and there is commentary Clock6to explain things in more detail.

So that brings us to the third cut in which I attempted to distill the images down to 20 to 30 for a virtually gallery show of what I felt were the most artistic images from the trip. I finally settled for 35. In some cases, such as this clock, I transformed images from how theyClock_TE were presented in the slideshow because I saw a way to make them more artistic.

In other cases, I found images that didn’t necessarily qualify for telling the tale but made good art. The first example is this barn in Donegal on the Inishowen peninsula. I had other pictures of barns in that Donegal_Barn_Watercolorarea that made both the blog and the slideshow but this one was kind of dull and unassuming until I gave it a painterly treatment so I decided it deserved a place in the gallery show. (Which, by the way, can be seen at: http://jeannehoadley.com/Ireland)

Another one that doesn’t really scream Ireland and was taken out the bus window on a rainy day with a flat sky was this one from the ring of Kerry. I liked the shapes of the rocks and trees though so I took it into Topaz Impression and gave it a painterly treatment in the manner of Georgia O’Keefe. Once again I was not happyKerry_GO_TE with the flat white sky so I took it into Topaz Texture Effects to give it a little more punch. I’m not sure I’m happy with the border though and I may yet go back and take another stab at it.

So, for the time being I am done editing Ireland and ready to move on to other things. But I will no doubt come back to look for more ways to make art from the remaining 1500 images.

I also want to keep this blog alive between trips so I have some ideas for posts of things that fell into themes in Ireland, clocks, doors, and signs. I’ve got a photo workshop coming up next week so that may get in here first but stay tuned. And of course Cuba is still coming up in December. At least I haven’t heard yet that we have been preempted by Hurricane Matthew.

 

Cork and Cobh

ButcherI have over 300 new images today and it has been hard to narrow it down to just a few representative shots. We started the day with some free time in Cork and I headed directly to the English Market which is a photographer’s (and foodie’s) paradise. I finally settled on this imagMusiciane of a real life butcher  but there are lots of other wonderful things I could have shown you. Fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, cheese, fish, chicken, chocolates… and on and on.

Roaming around the streets of central Cork there was much to see as well. Colorful shops, murals, great signs and street musicians. This fellow with the concertina actually followed us from Galway. The challenge with him was getting the entire feather into the frame and still being able to see his face and the instrument.

In the afternoon we travelled to nearby Cobh (pronounced Cove). Cobh hasTitanic three claims to historical fame. It was one of the principal points of embarkation during the potato famine. It was the final port of call of the Titanic and it was also a destination of the Lusitania which was sunk just offshore.

After seeing the heritage museum and having a guided walking tour of the town we were experts on these events and their connection to Cobh. But what got me excited was strolling around town and finding some colorful fishing boats to photograph. I realized recently that I haven’t been doing anything very artistic with the Ireland images so I gave this one a Boatsgrungy textured treatment just to prove I still can.

There will be lots more good images to come out of today but it’s been a long day and I am very tired and I still have to pack my bags for our move to Dublin tomorrow. We ended the day by having dinner with a real Irish family. Fun to see how the people live and have a chance to sit and talk with them.  But I have to say, I’m still having trouble with the accent.

Murphy’s Law

I suppose if you travel to Ireland you should expect Murphy to take a hand but really I think he has overstepped his bounds on this one. I arrived at the Medford, Oregon airport at 5:30 AM in plenty of time for my 7AM flight. I had TSA Pre check so I sailed through security and didn’t even have to take my laptop out of my bag. I was happily settled in at the gate by 5:45, gotta love Rogue Valley “International” Airport. Came time to be boarding and the announcement came that due to fog in San Francisco our departure would be delayed by 2 ½ hours. That meant I would miss my connection to Chicago and hence the flight to Dublin.

I patiently awaited my turn with the gate agent who finally called me up about 8 and rebooked me on a flight to Dublin through Newark. At least I would only be 2 hours late. I emailed Road Scholar and they said no worries I would still be able to travel with the group to Belfast.

So, I get to San Francisco and go to the board to find the gate for my flight to Newark only to see that that flight has been delayed two hours due to an equipment delay. Now I will miss my connection to Dublin in Newark. I found the United customer service desk and they said all the flights to Dublin were full and the only way they could get me to Dublin the next day was through London-Heathrow. Not my favorite airport but OK, whatever works. They took the description of my bag but did not issue me a new claim check. I should have known then there would be trouble. But, hey, I’m an optimist.

So, I grab some lunch and find the gate for the London flight which boards smoothly and on time. Sitting on the plane the time ticks by and it is now 20 minutes past our departure time when the pilot comes over the loud speaker saying, “You may have noticed the mechanics out the right side of the plane” (I was on the left). So, we sat and waited for the mechanics to do their thing all the while getting hotter and hotter because the air conditioning is also not working. So, two hours later, the air conditioning and the right engine are fixed and we are on our way. I’m pretty sure I am going to miss my connection to Dublin but figured they should have more frequent flights from there than the U.S. I was lucky my seat mates decided to stretch out in empty seats in the middle and I at least had the row to myself though finding a comfortable position to sleep on the 10 hour flight still eluded me.

Of course, I was right, I missed my connection to Dublin by 20 minutes. United says don’t worry, we will have already booked you on the next flight just go to Aer Lingus and talk to them. Right. Bald faced lie. After negotiating the maze that is Heathrow, another trip through security (no TSA Pre here but at least you don’t have to take your shoes off in Europe) and a stop in customs I find my way to the gate of the flight I think I am booked on and there is no gate agent as there would be in the U.S., only people taking tickets and they are already starting to board. I rush back to the main lobby which looks more like a shopping mallOrange_taxi complete with and orange wire taxi installation and I can’t find the service desk anywhere. So, I go back to the gate and get in line and tell the ticket agent my sad tale of woe and she just says, no, you are not booked on this flight go back to the service desk and talk to them. Well, I am afraid earned some bad Karma with that woman but eventually set out to find the service desk which it turned out was tucked away in a little corner of the shopping mall. By this time the 9:50 flight is gone, the 10:55 flight is full and I am booked on the 12:00 flight.

So, I suck it up and email Road Scholar my new itinerary and they say don’t worry, someone will be there to meet you. To my chagrin the same agent was taking tickets for the 12:00 flight. She worked out some of the bad karma then and there. I’d had time to mellow and just let it roll off.

I got to Dublin and negotiated customs again and went to the bag claim thinking this is where I will be met but no one comes looking for me and my bag never comes down the chute. So, I go to Aer Lingus and report my bag missing and they say, yeah, it’s probably in Newark and I say, yeah, that’s what I think too. But apparently there is only one flight a day from Newark to Dublin. And of course when and if it arrives it will be at United not Aer Lingus.

So, I go on out and keep looking for someone holding a Road Scholar sign. Finally, I see a man holding a sign with my name on it. He says he was about to send out a search party but he was not allowed to go inside. So, I follow him out to the parking garage and try to get the in the passenger side of the front seat but there is a steering wheel there. Seamus (really, that was his name, he was very nice) politely reminded me that they drive on the wrong side of the road here. So, he drives me to Belfast and we have a lovely talk about Donald Trump and Brexit and the future of Northern Ireland. I have now connected with my group and shopped for a toothbrush and comb. Note to self: always have a change of underwear in your carry on bag.

Hoping and praying my bag will catch up with me tomorrow. I went to bed at 8:30 pm and slept like the dead for four hours. It is now 3:30am and I am writing this when I should be sleeping but according to my laptop which is still on Pacific Daylight Time, it is only 7:37pm so I expect I will fall asleep again about the time I should be getting up and putting on my dirty clothes to go down to breakfast.

Well my electrical adaptor is also in my checked bag and my laptop battery is now down to half charge so I’ll sign off for now.  Hoping to have pictures and better news tomorrow.

Red roof tiles, stairs and funky art.

nemesisToday has been fraught with frustration. Largely because of my nemesis on the left here. I am still puzzling over how it is possible that I could pick the one day in two months that the cruise ship comes into Santa Barbara to be my one day to explore the city. Curses, curses, curses.

Courthouse2Well, I did make it to the courthouse in spite of them but before I had finished capturing it’s amazing beauty my battery ran out. And I immediately realized I had forgotten to charge the spare. So, one caution about the M3 is that it is a real battery hog and you may need three to get through a day of serious shooting. The tile roof shot is taken from the clock tower which also offers great views of the town.

I waStaircases also impressed with this spiral staircase and the gallery was my first peek inside. Unfortunately the battery crapped out before I finished shooting the exterior.

Courthouse3

So, because of the cruise ship I couldn’t get a shuttle going back to the waterfront where my hotel is. After waiting half an hour I finally jumped into a pedicab which cost me $5 to go 6 blocks. Then I had to Wait around for two hours for my battery to charge. Fortunately I had stopped for brunch after leaving the courthouse.

I finally set out with a fresh battery to explore Stern’s Wharf. A dismal tourist trap if every there was one and the Funk Zone which has Bicyclepossibilities but is losing its Funk to trendiness. I finally stopped into a wine tasting room for a little attitude adjustment. I did find a little funk, including this bicycle sign and its shadow.

StairsAnd somewhere on my walk I found these stairs that spoke to me of the essence of Santa Barbara. I can see now that one or two days is not enough time to get to know this city. Guess I will just have to come back again, and again, and again. Don’t think I would want to live here though. SLO town is more my speed.

Tomorrow I have to start making my way home and it looks like I need to get over the pass on Friday so I don’t know if I’ll have much time to photograph. Well, I do have to post an image for the 100 days project. And you can bet your boots that the M3 batteries are all charged up.