Of Kilts and Haggis (Part 3)

Monday, July 30, 2012
OK, now we've come to the part of the trip where I get to make you jealous.

Although I was on my own for the first week, Rebeca flew out for the second week I was there and joined me for a bit of touring afterwards.

One of the interesting places we checked out was Camera Obscura, a fantastic museum dedicated to optical illusions and other fun things. I took a ton of pictures here and really have trouble deciding on my favorites.

One day we hopped on a bus and went up to Loch Ness. No monster was sighted, except for this one.

By the way, we highly recommend NOT taking a guided bus to Loch Ness. It's a long, uncomfortable drive and you see very little along the way because you're in such a hurry. Take your time and rent a car.

Finally, to wrap things up, we did a bit of a "movie tour". The first stop: Alnwick Castle. This castle is famous for being used for most of the exterior shots of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies! It has also been used in numerous other movies such as Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

Second stop: Douane Castle - famous for being used in Monty Python and the Holy Grail!

And finally, the Glenfinnan Viaduct. This is best known as the bridge the Hogwarts Express travels over on the way to Hogwarts!

There are a zillion other pictures, and some of them are even good.

More pictures from Camera Obscura can be found here.
More pictures from Alnwick and Douane castles can be found here.
More pictures from the Glenfinnan Viaduct can be found here.

Of Kilts and Haggis (Part 2)

Sunday, July 22, 2012
Edinburgh and Glasgow are the two largest cities in Scotland. Edinburgh is the government and tourist center; Glasgow is the business and cultural center. It's a quick one-hour train ride between the two cities, so I popped over to Glasgow for the day to check it out and to see a concert.
Here's a neat bridge just outside of Edinburgh on the way to Glasgow called the Forth Bridge.
More photos of Glasgow can be found here, and a few more bridge photos can be found here.

Of Kilts and Haggis (Part 1)

Monday, July 16, 2012
In my previous post I mentioned how my work had sent me to Austin a few times over the previous months. Well, they wanted me to do another trip, and this one a bit more adventurous - setting up a new environment in our Linlithgow, Scotland office!

Linlithgow is a small town a little ways outside of Edinburgh in the southwest of Scotland. The only hotel in town was no longer open, so I stayed in downtown Edinburgh and took the train in every day. It was about three miles of walking to and from the train station each day, so I got in a fair bit of exercise too!

This is Loch Linlithgow with Linlithgow Palace in the background. I walked by here every day on the way to and from the office and the train station.

I was there almost three weeks total. Of course we didn't have to work weekends, so that allowed for a bit of fun...

This is a cemetery in the courtyard of The Parish Church of St. Cuthbert. Edinburgh Castle is in the background. The cemetery was about a quarter mile from my hotel.

St. John's Episcopal Church. I like the crescent moon that was out at the time!
Edinburgh Castle at night. Loaded with tourists during the day, and completely empty once its dark!
Castlehill Road - the main drag leading up to Edinburgh Castle. Tourist touts galore during the day.

More pictures from the first weekend can be found here!

And now a word from our sponsor.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012
I've been sent on a few work trips the last couple of months. Three of them were to Austin, Texas - which admittedly was a nice break from the middle of winter. I dragged my camera along to take a few pictures during my off-time.

Texas State Capitol Building

This is a shot I really enjoy for some reason. The harsh shadows from shooting directly toward the sun, the sepia-look from the clouds, and Old Glory (with hints of color) contrasting against it all.

I drove down to San Antonio one of the days and bummed around. This is a shot of the Riverwalk, with a water taxi passing by.

Austin downtown skyline.

A few more shots can be found here and here.

Bali, Day 2-14

Tuesday, December 27, 2011
You know, I've just plain gotten bored of blogging.

Not just writing, either. Reading them too. I logged into Google Reader today and found that I hadn't read any blogs for over a month. And yet it didn't bother me that much.

Talking to a few other people, they felt the same way. Is blogging a fad that is slowly fading? Perhaps.

Here are some random pictures from the rest of my trip because I don't feel like breaking it out into individual days any more.

This is a water palace called "Tirta Gangga".

This is a water palace called ... hell I don't remember what it was called.

This is a war monument that nobody over there really seemed to know about. It was really odd - this huge gothic monstrosity among the nice beaches and such.

The monkeys over there are perverts.

Here are the rest of the pictures:
Bats, more water temples, and flowers.
More of the war memorial
The floating temple (not really floating)(and not appearing to be floating because it wasn't high tide), butterflies and bugs, waterfalls, other stuff
Trendy toilet paper, monkeys

Bali, Day 1

Thursday, November 3, 2011
So here's a little tidbit of info: Sometimes airlines sell more tickets than they have seats available. There are always a percentage of people who don't make their flights, and things usually even out by departure time.

But not always.

Sometimes enough people show up that they don't have seats for everybody. If you're lucky enough to have this happen to you, you can volunteer to give away your seat in exchange for some vouchers for a future flight (plus a seat on the next flight).

We managed to rack up $1600 in vouchers on a trip to Los Angeles back in March. If you have $1600 in vouchers laying around, what do you do? Go on vacation, of course!

We chose Bali as our destination. Bali is smack dab in the middle of Indonesia, directly north of Australia. We booked tickets there, flying via Tokyo and Singapore.

We hired a driver for the first four days of the trip to take us around the island and let us get a feel for it.

The first day started with a trip to Tegalalang, toward the center of Bali. There are some beautiful rice paddies there, and you are welcome to walk among them!

Just up the road from Tegalalang is an organic farm that grows a variety of fruits, vegetables, and spices. More interesting though, is that they produce Kopi Luwak, which is the most expensive coffee in the world! Why is it so expensive? The production process:

1) The fruit of the coffee plant is eaten by an Asian Palm Civet, a small native animal that seems to be a cross between a cat and a rodent.
2) The stomach acids of the civet interact with the fruit.
3) The fruit is pooped out.
4) Yes, you guessed it: The Coffee Crap(tm) is gathered up, washed and dried, roasted, then shelled and ground up into coffee!

There are two layers of actual shells that are removed before exposing the coffee bean inside, so you don't need to worry TOO much about eating actual poop. Maybe.

Kopi Luwak coffee beans set out to dry

From there we traveled onward to Gunung Kawi, a temple built in the 11th century. It features 10 shrines cut into the cliffs surrounding the Pakrisan river, each shrine being over 20 feet tall!

The day we went there they were preparing plates of food to make as an offering. They also had a duck wrapped up in a palm leaf. He seemed blissfully unaware of his fate that would be arriving a few hours later.

Just a few miles away from Gunung Kawi is Tirtha Empul, which is one of the oldest sites in Bali. Sometimes known as Temple of the Holy Spring, Balinese travel from all over the island to bathe in the natural spring waters here.

We stopped for a late lunch overlooking Batur volcano.

It was now time to head back for the day, but with one more stop along the way: Goa Gajah, or the Elephant Cave Temple.

The rest of the photos from Day 1 can be found here.

A public thank-you.

Saturday, October 22, 2011
After an exhausting day of physical work, I need a bit of a relaxer before calling it a night.

I would like to publicly thank Erica for posting about drinking a beer in the shower. Yes, the post was a year ago, or longer, but it stuck in my mind. Tonight I hopped in the shower with a Sam Adams Octoberfest, and it was almost perfect. A blowie at the same time would have completed the trifecta, but I will settle for the beer and shower.

So, thank you Erica for your wise suggestion. I owe you an almond pastry from Gourmandise next time you're down here.