SF: Flowers in her hair…flowers everywhere

Despite the drought (a fact of which you are constantly reminded here) San Francisco boasts some of the most beautiful flowers and landscaping, growing effortlessly on every corner. Of course, some people have been more deliberate about pairing, pruning and replanting. But, the city must have a handsome budget for all the public spaces as well. Here’s a sampling.

SF_07_052-sm SF_07_030-sm SF_07_000-smThe lovely garden at our B&B (Misson district). We sat here in the early evenings reading.

SF_07_001-smAround the back of the B&B there was access to the steam room.

SF_07_040-sm SF_07_047-smGraeme is experiencing a bit of bougainvillea envy.

SF_07_070-smIn the “Marina” district. I would take any one of these homes, yes please.

SF_07_091-smWould I need a full-time gardener to achieve this?

SF_07_090-sm SF_07_130-smHays Valley (my favorite area)

SF_07_161-sm SF_07_166-sm(above 2) Lombard St.

SF_07_176-smI could definitely not handle parking on this slope. I could barely walk it!

SF_07_184-sm SF_07_234-sm SF_07_201-smAnd finally…the land of dahlias.

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Japan: Archi-Tour of Tokyo

Many visitors to Tokyo will say that Tokyo is ugly and overall grey. My impression is that like many cities, there are pockets of charming areas, a smattering of gorgeous architectural wonders and an expected amount of concrete. Unlike many dense cities though, we found Tokyo to be very quiet (no honking!), extremely clean, and very safe (practically zero crime rate). And we enjoyed plentiful sunshine and meditation time within some of the loveliest urban parks I’ve been to. Tokyo is dominated by architecture completed by world famous Japanese and foreign architects alike. Some districts are best viewed at twilight when the buildings start to glow and the power lines recede into the background. Others are beautiful during the daylight when one can appreciate the material details and tree-lined boulevards on which they sit. This is by no means a comprehensive visual tour, just a sampling of some of the weird and wonderful. We were fortunate to spend a holiday Sunday in Tokyo during which many of the main streets were designated pedestrian-only, affording us unique views and easy access into shops and galleries. There’s still plenty of areas we never got to see…so I guess we’ll have to return one day 🙂

JAP_11_0061-archAs seen from the Sumida River

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JAP_11_1051-archOne of my favorite buildings, near Tokyo Station

JAP_11_0114-archAs seen from our hotel, Remm Hibiya

JAP_11_0099-archDon’t let Santa get away! (left); What the heck?? (right)

JAP_11_0109-archDiamonds are a girl’s best friend

JAP_11_0022-archA fierce competition for the flashiest facade along the popular Ginza street

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JAP_11_0293-smNational Art Center, Roppongi district

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JAP_11_0291-sm21_21 Design Sight Museum

JAP_11_0296-smA bamboo hedge planted in a bamboo hedge, Roppongi Hills

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JAP_11_0180-sm JAP_11_0182-pradaStarchitects Herzog & de Meuron’s stamp on the Prada empire, Omotesando

JAP_11_0186-archShopping in Omotesando

JAP_11_0044-archAsakusa Culture Tourist Info Center

A few wet days in New York Citee

A few days of New York moments…

What can be said? Such a beautiful city–alive, busy. Full of sights and smells and sounds. Some of our favorite sounds came by means of jazz in the park where we sat and had lunch.

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Unfortunately it absolutely poured rain while we were there, so we took refuge in the central library. They are currently undergoing a massive reno and are carting books back and forth between a storage facility buried under the park. Would LOVE to see it when it’s done!.

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New favorite street: Bond St. A really cool condo that hires a floral designer/landscape artist who maintains the foliage perched in each person’s window. We looked up the rent, and it was a pretty reasonable 20k a month. o_O

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SLR_06_999_36-bondThis spaghetti-looking sculptural fence was designed to give residents a bit of privacy and to keep people from sleeping on their porches. Super creative solution to an otherwise ordinary project brief.

One day we would love to take the city by storm. Will it ever happen?

Barcelona: art, design and dance

a gallery room in Vincon

Being a capital of European design, I (Amanda) had mapped several stores and galleries for us to visit. One is the fabulous Vinçon, an home-depot sized emporium of high-end home objects. The kitchen section alone comprised of 8 or 9 aisles. Upstairs is where the larger furniture lives, the 19th century details (mosaic-tiled flooring, crown molding). I could have just lived there. It was a perfect mix of user-friendly modern design set in traditional architecture. It’s nice to have the showroom set up like an actual flowing floorplan so you can see how everything integrates together. Graeme and my wheels were spinning. Is it possible to ship abroad?

the hockey player


Barcelona is full of interesting architecture, but we simply did not have enough time or energy to explore everything we could have. The city reminds me of a slightly more dirty and modern Paris. Architecture in Art Nouveau style and details unfound anywhere in Europe. Modern face-lifts and completely new projects all across the city.

One cool thing is the street lamps. Gaudi designed many of these himself.


Museo Picasso

Picasso actually spent much of his life here and much of his work is housed in this location. We got a little lost trying to locate it as with most things in the Old City are off a tiny, winding beaten path. We then got in trouble for trying to enter the line the wrong way. Once inside, I visited the bathrooms (always fun to see in museums and shops).We weren’t permitted to photograph inside, but trust me when I say it is one of the most impressive (architecturally) renovated museums. You can take a virtual tour on their website. It’s like modern castle with Andalusian details.  They’ve done a fantastic job matching the narrative of his life and journey with his work with several videos showing overlays of works he was inspired by and how he interpreted them in his experimental styles.

Flamenco!

What would a visit to Spain be without a flamenco show! Graeme believed our dancer to be a flamenco history professor by day and Captain Intensity Flamenco dancer by night. The musicians were brilliant and the show was a lot of fun.