Entries Tagged 'Travels' ↓

Orange leaves in Massachusetts

Orange leaves

Paris is quite orange at night


Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Paris 2013 – as told by my tweets

London 2013 – as told by my tweets

Florida is blue and green

After a few days in New York we flew home to San Francisco via Florida to catch up with our friend Kara who lives there. We stayed with her in a small town on the east coast where everyone drives, houses have bug screens on every window, it’s warm in the middle of winter, there’s no decent coffee (lucky we traveled with our own), there sadly weren’t that many oranges (isn’t Florida where oranges come from?), there’s lots and lots of blue sky and green golf courses, everyone is either retired from the space center or currently works there, strip malls are abandoned, churches and gun stores exist on the same block – it was so great to have a couple of lazy days in the sun and catch up with Kara.

Florida sunset

Indian River

A. Max Brewer bridge

Indian River

Visiting the oranges

Titusville shops

Golf at the Club

Golf at the Club

Freezing in New York

We had our first trip back to New York in 8 months and we’ve only visited briefly in the winter before – 2 days after Christmas in 2007 – and it wasn’t as cold as this trip. Things had frozen. The temperature was -11C (12F). I’ve never been so cold before. If we lived there we’d have proper coats and The Mister would have to wear a hat but we piled on layers, decided to only be outside for about 10 minutes max at a time so we just scurried to the places we needed to be on the subway (yes freezing in the stations too!). The fountain in Bryant Park was almost frozen over. Someone spilled coffee outside Culture Espresso and it froze so a guy had to come scrape it off to stop people slipping on it!

Freezing in New York

Bryant Park frozen

Frozen spilled coffee

A day in Denver

Even though the California Zephyr train (train log here) goes from San Francisco to Chicago, we got off in Denver for a night and day before flying back to San Francisco (last Friday). The train arrived 3 hours late so we had dinner on the train and got in well after dark, went straight to our hotel to bed. We were outside enough to feel that it was very nippy compared to San Francisco – about 8 degrees! But we’d been prepared for that as a nighttime temperature.

When we woke up the next morning, I was feeling rather drugged thanks to sleeping very heavily after not really sleeping on the train so I was a bit befuddled when The Mister lying next to me held up his cell phone and said “have you seen those little sparkly things on the weather app before? What is that?” and I screeched “That’s snow!!!!”, leaped out of bed, yanked back the curtains and squealed  “SNOW”! Not much, but it was real snow!

Snow when we woke up in Denver!

Now then, we didn’t have anything to wear in such weather! I’d checked 3 days earlier before we’d left San Francisco and it was forecast to be 15 or 16 – not 3!!

However, we rugged up in what we had (we did pack scarves and I had gloves) and left the parents-in-law enjoying the hotel buffet while we braved the cold and bus to head 20 minutes out of the downtown area to find decent coffee and a croissant for breakfast. My god it was bitter, although bearable if you could walk in a patch of sun. A guy we shared a table with at breakfast said it was the first sprinkling of snow for the season and was unseasonably early – usually the last day of October was when the first snow fell. So we’d come from a heat wave in San Francisco to a cold wave in Denver!

Bus stop Denver

We spend the middle of the day wandering along the city mall and around Larimar Square braving the cold as much as we could – it was slightly better after an emergency coat purchase stop. The temperature got up to 4.4 degrees – 40 degrees Fahrenheit!

Denver mall

Larimer Square Denver

Cold in Denver

After warming up with a soup and sandwich we headed over the bridge and through the park at the end of the mall to get to more good coffee, hoping it would be a warm cafe we could hang around in for a couple of hours before heading back to the hotel for our bags and transport to the airport – it was, and that’s what we did. On the walk over the bridge we discovered snow still lying about!

Snow in Denver


To use up some time after coffee before we needed to get to the airport we rode from one end of the mall to the other and half way back on the free mall bus – a great service and I can imagine they’d need it in the winter – it stops frequently on the single mall street so that you can come out of your office building, dash onto the bus, ride a couple of stops and dash back out into a shop or cafe or chemist or train station – barely needing to go outside!

So not a very adventurous day in Denver but despite the cold we walked from one side of our hotel map to the other – the route largely determined by coffee but that’s us!

Denver travels

California Zephyr – train log

7.35am Arrived to an Amtrack signpost on the sidewalk outside the Ferry Building, sweating (the heat is still hanging around the city) from rushing with our cabin bags and coats, expecting it to be cooler in Denver. Amtrack bus pulled up just as we did. It was with some disgust I left my beautiful orange cabin bag on the side walk to be hurled under the bus for the first leg of the trip, bus ride to the Amtrack station in Emeryville.

7.45am Bus is filling up, I realize we might not’ve brought the right train clothes, is a felt hat really necessary for the dining car?

floppy train hat

Wondering now if Amtrack will in fact be like the Orient Express … also, we’re the youngest on the bus so far.

8.10am Arrive Emeryville Amtrack station where I find out it’s another hour wait until the train leaves! Railway waiting room mm-mmm. Absolutely stunning view of San Francisco, the bay, Ferry Building, Alcatraz and a little bit of the Golden Gate bridge from the bus going over the Bay Bridge. AmtrackConnect poster in the waiting room advertising wi-fi on board other train services, but not the Zephyr. Thank goodness we brought the mi-fi.

8.50am Met the very cheerful conductor who knew who we were by the time we got to him – looking on his list I think he figured, young couple with greyer-haired couple following, heading to car 31 – must be the Walker family!

All aboard the Zephyr

9.10am Thought I was fainting standing there looking into my phone but it was the training creeping into motion while I was facing the wrong way! Sat down to look out the window. Room is not too bad – pokey and The Mister will have to pick up after himself and learn where everything goes!

Our room

9.20am Mi-fi success! Yaaay we have our own in-room internet! Devices all connected. How long will it last? C’mon AT&T 4G keep on working right into the mountains.

9.30am Arrrrgh, wondering if I can cope with 36 hours of this, I’m sure I’m feeling motion sick. Wandered down through the dining car to the observation car and sat sideways looking at the view for a while.

Dining car

Realized we were passing through Hercules and thought of Eileen so tweeted her to see if the baby was on his way.

10.10am Out the window yellow California desert.

California desert

Morning tea time! Out comes the travel coffee kit and precious Supreme beans recent visitors have couriered across for us. Hunted down Johnny the purser for some hot water “for a cup of tea” – turns out there’s an urn in the dining car so I know where it is for next time. Set up a coffee making station on the table.

Morning tea on the Zephyr

How the simple things make my heart swell – sounds naff but I was SO excited sitting there grinding the coffee, moving the cups and packets of sugar around to make us a morning tea.

Morning tea on the Zephyr

News that the baby is not yet coming. Computer time.

Continue reading →


Had a great time in London – I really enjoyed the city, not that I had bad memories of it having lived there for a couple of months 19 years ago – and we just did our usual thing of wandering around, drinking coffee and taking in the sites. A sample from the London Flickr photos:

Orange Street! Parliament & Big Ben London Eye Hyde Park Monmouth Coffee Company Tea & cakes Regent Street Xerocon London 2012 Xerocon London 2012

  • London was a lot cooler than San Francisco – and rained on 3 of the 5 days we were there. We generally had the right clothes for the weather.
  • We used a great site called One Fine Stay to rent an apartment for our time there rather than a hotel, so we cooked in one night and enjoyed takeaway meat pies from the Battersea Pie Shop in Covent Garden another night. Nice not to eat out all the time.
  • Covent Garden wasn’t quite what I remembered from my youth – I thought I remembered vegetables and flowers, not upper class trinket and scarf shops. Perhaps they have market day during the weekend.
  • We had a lovely tea-and-cake meeting with ex-Xero Adam. No scones though – they only do those in the afternoon and we were there in the morning. Never-the-less Victorian sponge cake and pink raspberry lemonade was delicious!
  • Regent Street was just as majestic as I remember.
  • Black cabs aren’t black much anymore – some are – but lots are all graffiti’d up with advertising – flashing colorful single company ads.
  • People smoke still, everywhere. Well, not inside, but in door ways, park benches, wandering the down the street blowing it onto people following them.
  • The London Eye is huge! We didn’t go on it because it was really windy the day we wandered along the Thames. And it had one orange bubble/capsule/riding pod thing on it. Wonder how hard it would’ve been to engineer waiting for that one!
  • Waiters and baristas are French, Australian or New Zealanders.
  • The tube is expensive! GBP4.30 for a single zone – so $2.25 for the New York subway doesn’t seem so bad. And the tube carriages are way more cramped & stuffy than the subway and felt quite claustrophobic.
  • Butter is good and yellow. And proper bread.
  • Our few days there coincided with the first XeroCon (Xero Conference for our accounting partners) in London (6th for Xero) – The Mister gave a presentation and I sat down the back at the ‘press table’ live-blogging and watching social media channels.
  • Lots of good coffee – the flat white is a live and well and we went out to different places pretty much twice a day while we were there. Here’s the line up of – London coffee.


We had our first trip to Sacramento this Saturday – decided to do something out of the city for a day and knew this was a doable return drive so despite the heat I knew would be out there we packed our jandals (flip flops) and went to collect the Zipcar from the building next door. Except it wasn’t there! Normally they phone if the car is going to be returned late and offer an alternative but it just wasn’t there. I started walking all the floors of the car park while The Mister phoned the Zipcar people. They had no idea where it was. No GPS it seems! Perhaps that’s some kind of privacy violation but would’ve been very handy in this case. They couldn’t rouse the previous users by phone either. They found us another car available for the day a couple blocks away – it was orange (yaaaay!) but a Mini, not so great for driving in 35 degree heat on the freeway. However, we were underway only half an hour after we planned.

So, Sacramento was about 2 hours drive away, freeway through sprawling Bay towns and cities, over a couple of bridges and a tiny bit of country side. We did what we planned – just a stroll around old town and a trip to the coffee shop someone from work recommended.

  • Their water tasted funny – like it had silt in it
  • The city seemed a bit run down, reminded me of Kawerau or some other small residential town in NZ with wrought iron signs. It’s the State capital with a Capitol building and everything which looked very gleaming and important but the city itself was a bit lazy. Perhaps it was the heat.

Day trip to Sacramento

  • There was practically no-one in the park and gardens surrounding the Capitol – too hot I think. Other parks in other cities, people are reading on park benches or picnicking.

Day trip to Sacramento

  • There were orange tress with oranges on them dotted all around the place!

Day trip to Sacramento

  • It was DAMN hot, 35 degrees C.
  • The Macy’s smelled funny and carpet tiles were lifting in places, like a run down old Farmers store in NZ – we stopped in for a bathroom break.
  • The old town seemed almost fake for the tourists, I’m sure it wasn’t, but there were no dates on anything, just lots of candy and trinket stores.

Day trip to Sacramento

Day trip to Sacramento

Day trip to Sacramento

  • A steam train rattled through the old town by the river – that was quite exciting, the tracks were right there on the riverside path, no barriers, could’ve touched the train as is rattled passed.

Day trip to Sacramento

  • There was a big yellow bridge!

Day trip to Sacramento

Other photos on Flickr here, tagged ‘Sacramento’.

(By the way I tweeted Zipcar the following week and asked what had happened to the Audi we’d booked because we noticed for the next 2 days walking passed that building that it wasn’t parked in its usual space – I only had a ‘hope you enjoyed your ride in the orange Mini’ tweet, no explanation.)