Don’t overlook MSC Cruise Lines – they are not as well known as some of the bigger names, but should be. I have cruised with them in 2006 on a 7 day cruise from Venice, Italy on the MSC Musica that included stops in Bari, Italy; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Katakolon, Greece; Izmir and Istanbul, Turkey. I would highly recommend the MSC Cruise Lines. Here are some pictures.
Baltimore – it’s so much more!
First you might be asking, why the title? The answer is simple: because I didn’t take enough pictures – I arrived late from Washington, DC and then only had a few hours the next morning before taking the cruise. I know Baltimore is a beautiful place – I have been there a long time ago, but don’t even know if I have pictures from back then – would have to search for them. Here are the pictures of this recent trip to Baltimore (sorry, there’s only a few):
It was at least 6:30 pm or so, when we arrived at the hotel, we stayed at the Homewood Suites, a Hilton property on President Street. This property is shared by the Homewood Suites and the Hilton Garden Inn.
We decided to eat at the Harbor East Deli, since my kids love pizza. We ordered an extra large pizza that we all devoured – it was good! This was a three minute walk or so from our hotel, and we ate at around 8pm.
The next day, went for a walk in the morning and walked past the Harbor East Deli again. All the pictures in this post were taken within 5 or 10 minutes walking distance of our hotel.
Here are some other pictures:
Then we had to hurry back to the hotel, and we caught a taxi to the cruise terminal. It was a 8 minute or so ride that cost $18. In the next post, I will show you pictures of the Enchantment Of The Seas – the cruise ship that we took from Baltimore to Bermuda.
Wonderful Washington, DC
I used to live in Washington, DC, just over 14 years ago. I recently went back to DC for the first time since I left the East Coast to move to San Diego, and it felt like I was there for the first time. This time I will spend almost three days in this wonderful city with my three kids. Below is a brief recount of my trip with some pictures that I took.
We flew from San Diego to Baltimore, Maryland and then caught an Amtrak train to Union Station. Once we got out of the airport, we had to walk just a few feet to catch a shuttle bus that took us to the Amtrak Station. There were trains just about every 20 minutes or so, and the train journey only took about 30 minutes or so, and the price was about $9 per person average (with a slight discount for kids). I had already made my reservation online with Amtrak. When I first stepped into Union Station on July 31, 2012, I felt some traces of familiarity – that this was a place that I had been to a long time ago, and that felt good – don’t know why. I was so excited in seeing this station again, and proud to show it to my children.
Another picture of Union Station
We stayed at the Grand Hyatt on H Street, NW, for two days, and I had decided that on the last night – on August 2nd, it would be safer to stay in Baltimore, Maryland, which was where the cruise we were taking on August 3rd was departing from. I had struggled with the temptation of staying in DC for an additional night instead, and taking my chances on the day of the cruise, but I decided that with three kids and luggage, I should not risk it – so on August 2nd, we would make the trip back in the evening at around 5:30 pm to catch the train back to Baltimore, MD.
That first evening we met up with an old friend of mine, and I saw her two kids for the first time. It was wonderful to catch up with her and for my kids to play with hers. We ate at a restaurant within walking distance of the Grand Hyatt called Zaytinya (a mixture of Turkish, Greek, and Lebanese cuisine) although it may have not been the best choice of dining, considering we had kids. Here are some pictures of the Grand Hyatt, which is a truly lovely hotel that is within walking distance of Union Station, the White House, the Monument, and many other sightseeing attractions.
I have so many more pictures of this beautiful hotel, but I may do separate posts in the future, that I will include them in. That night, after eating out, we took pictures with my friend and her kids back at the hotel (not shown here), before they left.
The next morning, after breakfast at the Grand Cafe at the Grand Hyatt, we took in some of the many sites of DC. Here are some of my pictures:
I’m not sure what this building was, but I was so happy to be here, and to begin my recording of memories, I must have liked the color, and the clock.
When I used to live here in DC, you could walk into the grounds of the White House without a problem, but now it has all changed. Ever since 9/11, security has been tightened, and you can not go into the grounds without contacting your Congressman at least six months before the date of your desired visit. I did not know this, so unfortunately, we could not go into the grounds or into the White House. So, here is Chandi outside the White House:
However, if you put your camera in-between the railings, you can get the White House without all those metal bars:
Then, Chandi had to go to the bathroom, so Renwick Gallery, one of the Smithsonian Museums came to the rescue. Here is Chandi taking a look at the artwork:
That’s me in front of a fantastic piece that I really loved. I think it may have been called “Autumn” or something similar – I just loved the colors, and stared at it for ages.
The picture below was taken at the back of the Old Executive Building, which is on Pennsylvania Avenue, next to the White House
This gave us another opportunity to view the White House from another angle, by just taking a short walk around the corner.
Okay, now onto some different attractions, and other buildings that grabbed my attention:
“Commerce Among Nations Should Be Fair And Equitable” – Franklin (as shown in the picture below):
It is so amazing that pictures can look so different from a different angle, or a few yards away.
This Memorial below was not here when I used to live in DC, it is absolutely beautiful!
Near Federal Triangle Metro Station on the way to the Old Post Office Building to get dinner
Do you know that we walked just about everywhere in DC? Well, at least to all the places that I have shown here. We walked from Union Station to our hotel, from the hotel to the White House, and from the White House to the Monument, and then to Lincoln Memorial, and also from Lincoln Memorial to the Old Post Office Building, and then back to the hotel. That was a sample of just one day’s worth of walking!
Back at the hotel
It is now Day Three, and our last day here in DC. These are today’s pictures:
Chandi’s best place in DC was the Botanical Gardens, she was so happy here, and I didn’t have to ask her twice to smile, unlike in many other pictures!
near the Botanical Gardens, and the US Capitol
Not the best of pictures, but this was at the entrance of the US Capitol.
A lot has changed in regards to the entrance into the US Capitol too. Just like the White House, you can’t just go into the grounds or up the stairs. Now the entrance is all the way at the back, and I didn’t seem to recognize the part that we went into as I have been in this building before years ago. Now you can’t go into where Congress is passing laws unless you approach your Congressman (I believe six months in advance, just as with the White House).
We were lucky to get tickets for the guided tour (free), the last tour of the day was at 3:35 pm.
This picture was taken in the taxi on the way to Union Station
I know that some people can get bored of seeing the same places over and over again, but not I. I love seeing the same sights, and it seems that each time I see one of my favorite places again, it’s definitely just like being there for the first time. I did feel some nostalgia as I saw familiar places again (such as the White House, the Capitol, and Union Station – I’ve seen them all previously, but as I said before, it really felt like seeing DC for the first time – I just really enjoyed my visit.
And so the journey ends to Washington, DC for this time. However, I have a strong feeling that this won’t be my last time to DC – I just have to visit again. Thank you for reading, and I hope you liked my post.
Super San Francisco
This was my second visit to San Francisco. I’m not going to write much here, but will just show you some of my pictures taken in July of 2012. Whether you visit for Fishermans Wharf, China Town, Little Italy, the Golden Gate Bridge, or whether you love chocolate and want to visit the Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory, there will be something for everyone to see here in San Francisco.
People put their underwear on display to dry in their windows (of all places).
People’s other clothes go on public display out on the balcony. Here in San Diego, we are not even allowed to put things on the balcony when we are not even overlooking a public street – San Francisco seems to be a lot more laid back with its policies.
I did not get very good pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge, unfortunately. The lighting just did not work out for me, and plus it was overcast to some degree.
near the Golden Gate Bridge, I just had to take this picture:
It was so busy here at Ghirardelli – absolutely amazing, and need I say – tasty!
I hope you liked the pictures of San Francisco. It is a beautiful city, and ever so colorful.
Lovely Lake Tahoe
South Lake Tahoe, California, is not just a winter destination for ski-lovers – it is a perfect place to go in the summer. It is serene, and offers a laid-back atmosphere, where you can spend your summer afternoons doing practically nothing other than sunbathing along the edge of the Lake. The beaches along the Lake are beautiful, and the color of the water is just gorgeous – very green. Then with the mountains, and the fresh air – this place is terrific. We visited in the middle of July, 2012, and even though it was hot, there was a nice breeze.
Bring your hiking shoes, as this is a perfect place to take walks, although be warned that going up the hills in Lake Tahoe, should only be undertaken by those who are fit enough. I once attempted to take a walk along the road leading back up to the place where we stayed – Tahoe Seasons Resort – well, going downhill was no problem, but going back up certainly was a different story – let’s just say, it was quite a challenge for me. Be warned though, that you are going to be way up in the mountains and you will see that items in the grocery store such as chips, and even milk and yoghurt will be slightly swollen with excess air. I was told that many people can suffer from swollen ankles here, but I didn’t have that problem.
Here are some pictures of Lakeside Beach – a private beach, and further down this post, you will see pictures of Emerald Lake and Tahoe Seasons Resort.
This is a restaurant that overlooks the private beach – Lakeside Beach – which we had a free pass to.
On day three, we ventured onto the narrow roads again (it takes quite a bit of courage sometimes to face those same roads again) to see Lake Emerald, which is just about a fifteen or twenty minute drive from downtown South Lake Tahoe.
This is a beach that is not private, and it is also very beautiful, and it is only a five minute drive from Lakeside Beach.
As for food, we mostly went to Denny’s, however, we did try a wonderful Indian restaurant named Nikki’s Chaat Cafe – it had the best pakoras ever! I am normally more a samosa person, but this time I was hooked! I will always remember the pakoras.
This is just a picture I took, but I didn’t get to try the food here.
This is the resort where we stayed. It actually is a timeshare that I exchanged into, and instead of staying for seven days – we stayed for just four days. The actual accommodation was quite nice. It was a one-bedroom with a separate living room, that had a mini-fridge with microwave, and coffee maker (no stove).
Chandi at Tahoe Seasons Resort – with her “Bear Family”
South Lake Tahoe is indeed a very beautiful place to visit – once you get there. However, getting there – can be a little tricky. In fact, I would be hesitant about driving on those roads in snowy conditions, as it was a little hair-raising driving to this popular, and very laid-back ski destination. As I drove the car along the narrow roads that went into mountainous community, my heart skipped many a beat and I dared not look along the sides of the road as I could easily have gone off the edge of the road in an instant.
So, my words of advice are – just be careful driving into this tourist destination, and bring some extra money – as Harrah’s Casino and Harvey’s Casino are in Lake Tahoe, in the centre of downtown.
Sizzling Summer, 2012!
Summer, 2012 was sizzling; I have not had a better summer in years than I did this summer. I have learnt to truly relax and get away from it all, including getting away from social media and technology – except for my camera and camcorder (could not be without those). And best of all, I spent my time with my family.
Well, I visited various places this summer, other than San Diego, where I currently live (yes, I am always the eternal tourist here). Here is a picture of my little girl, Chandi, enjoying the beach in Coronado – just near the Hotel Del.
In addition, I have visited a new place – South Lake Tahoe, which is in California, and on the border with Nevada.
I visited San Francisco again for the second time (the last time I went there was at least 15 years ago):
I also went back to my old home, Washington, DC, which is where I first lived when I moved to the USA from England quite a number of years ago. I loved being back in Washington, DC.
Another place that was revisited this summer was Baltimore, Maryland – this place has changed quite a bit, and is becoming a very popular place:
I went to Baltimore to catch a cruise – The Enchantment Of The Seas – to Bermuda – and this time I cruised with my kids, which is my favorite way to cruise!
Bermuda is a brand new place that I visited, and this place is gorgeous, pink sands, and turquoise water – absolutely heavenly!
However, my one biggest regret this summer is that I did not go back home to England (where I was born) and be in London to see the Olympics. Alas, I had to watch it on television, and I tuned in this year, unlike other years, perhaps because it had something to do with my beloved city of London. Even though I was born in northern England, I did live in London for over a year, and have been back several times for visits. London is just one of those places that I can visit again and again – I never get bored with it – it is a terrific city (in fact my favorite city). I was filled with such pride for how London did an outstanding job in how it hosted the Olympics. The opening and closing ceremonies were absolutely terrific, and the best of British was definitely on display. If I hadn’t booked my cruise which ended just days before the Olympics ended, I would definitely have been in London. Oh, well…. London, you know I will visit you again very soon.
Even though I didn’t get to visit England this year, I had a lot of fun visiting places in the USA and seeing another country (Bermuda) that can now be added to my list of about thirty plus countries that I have visited. I will be putting all these new places I visited into separate posts, with some pictures, and I hope you will take a look. As I look at this post, and I’m sure you may see it too…..I count many places as my home, not just San Diego, or Washington, DC and London. Home is where the heart is, and my heart has definitely been in all these three places.
Summer, 2012, was wonderful for me, and I treasured my time spent with my children – we had a summer we will never forget.