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Day One: Bulb Fields

Posted on Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Dave!Despite having been to the Netherlands dozens of times, I've never gone out to the bulb fields when they're in bloom. Usually I've been here at the wrong time... but other times when they've been in season, I've had to work or didn't have transportation or something goes wrong.

Today The DutchBitch finally fixed all that. I have to say though, they're not quite as impressive as the postcards lead one to believe...

Empty Bulb Field NOT

I lie. They're everything you'd imagine and more.

And while a photograph can only partially communicate just how beautiful it is to be standing in front of flowers that stretch out to the horizon, the thing that really got to me was the smell. I don't know why I never thought of it before, but the bulb fields smell incredible. In particular the Dutch Hyacinth, which is almost other-worldly.

The bright colors don't record that well on a digital camera sensor, which makes photographing the field a bit of a trial (where is film when you need it?), but it's still a great subject to take pictures of.

Bulb Fields Yellow Tulips

Bulb Fields Yellow Tulips

Bulb Fields Yellow Tulips

Bulb Fields Pink Hyacinth

Bulb Fields Pink Hyacinth

Red Tulips Fields

Red Tulips Fields

Bulb Fields

Bulb Fields

Eventually all the flowers are cut down so the bulbs can be harvested then re-used or sold...

Bulb Cutter

And thus the Circle of Life begins again.

   

Day Three: Keukenhof!

Posted on Friday, April 13th, 2012

Dave!Today I visited the world-famous Keukenhof, "The Garden of Europe."

It is so famous that I had never heard of it before The DutchBitch suggested that we go there this morning and take photos of flowers.

Here is my assessment...

If somebody were to say "It is one of the most amazing fucking things I've ever seen in my life..." they would be underselling it.

It's that good. Huge grounds filled with meticulously maintained flowers and walkways...

Keukenhof Grounds

Keukenhof Grounds

Dave Floating at the Keukenhof!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Windmill at the Koekenof!

Annnnnd... I'm going to have to stop before I post the entirety of the hundreds of photos I took. All of them amazing. It is impossible to take a bad photograph at The Keukenhof.

After a couple hours, all of Europe turned up at the gardens, so we decided to leave while we still had room to walk out. With time to kill, The DutchBitch drove me to the city of Leiden. Where they have a citadel!

Leiden Canal

Leiden Citadel

Leiden Citadel

View from Leiden Citadel

Leiden Windmill

And then it was time for PATATJES MET and an OLD CHEESE SANDWICH! Two of my most favorite things to eat.

Which makes the day just about perfect.

   

Decoration

Posted on Monday, May 28th, 2012

Dave!Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day.

Our local cemetery certainly lives up to history every year...

Memorial Day Flags

Memorial Day Flags

Thank you from a grateful nation.

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Bahamas – Day One

Posted on Friday, July 6th, 2012

Dave!I'm not a sun-worshipper. I'm not one to lay around on a beach all day. I'm not a fan of high heat and humidity. So I'm the one who experiences a secret glee when I hear that there will be overcast skies and scattered thundershowers when I'm headed to a tropical destination. It'll still be hot, of course, but at least I'll be shielded from the sun and the rain will make it so there's a reason for the humidity.

Except the forecast was a lie, and so here I am in the Bahamas with blue skies and unrelenting sun in full 95° heat. If I was into this kind of weather, I'd describe it as "perfect."

Restort Room Window View
The view from my room pretty much sucks, doesn't it?

Oh well. At least the flight down was surreal... but nice...

Bahamas Flight

Bahamas Flight

The reason I am here is twofold...

  • There's a Hard Rock Cafe in Nassau I haven't been to yet.
  • I desperately needed a break, and it was unbelievably inexpensive to add this little diversion to my work itinerary. Gotta love those cheap-o internet specials!

I'm staying at a resort on Cable Beach, which is a pretty stretch of sand west of Nassau...

Cable Beach

I was able to contain myself all of an hour before I hopped a taxi to Nassau, and Hard Rock #146 for me...

Hard Rock Nassau Exterior

It's a nice, old-school cafe with plenty of memorabilia covering the walls. In other words, it's exactly what a Hard Rock should be...

Hard Rock Nassau Interior

Hard Rock Nassau Interior

The town of Nassau is kind of nice, if a bit touristy with all the cruise ships stopping by. I didn't feel like doing any of that kind of thing, but couldn't resist when I saw there was a PIRATE MUSEUM!!

Pirate Museum!

They recreate a pirate village you can walk through along with a pirate ship and various dioramas to show what pirate life was like. They also have a bunch of trivia you can play along the way, which was pretty cool...

Pirate Museum Village

Pirate Museum Marooned Diorama

I have no idea what's going on here. I hope it's some freaky-ass attempt at surgery to alleviate back pain...

Pirate Museum Scary Surgery?

From there I wandered down to Junkanoo Beach...

Junkanoo Beach

One thing I've noticed so far is that the kids who live here are really well behaved. This adorable tyke was content to play quietly by himself while his family was swimming, which was a big contrast to the tourist kids who were screaming and yelling and going bat-shit insane as they terrorized the beach...

Bahama Native

Bahama Native

If I knew that the weather was going to be this beautiful, I would have brought my "real" camera instead of relying on my iPhone and my pocket shooter. Oh well, something is better than nothing...

Nassau Wall Drawing

My plans for tomorrow? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Though I'll probably venture away from the resort for a little while... especially if those overcast skies ever show up.

   

Bahamas – Day Two

Posted on Saturday, July 7th, 2012

Dave!My big plans to do nothing today were destroyed at 9:26am.

But in a very good way.

Because that's when I got an email from a Blogography reader who got a text from her brother who saw that I was in Nassau... "DAVE! You're in the Bahamas? Come visit us in Atlantis! We promise to make it worth the trip!"

"Atlantis" is a resort on Paradise Island (formerly Hog Island) that's just north of Nassau. I investigated it when I was looking for a hotel here, but photos of the popular water park on the resort grounds showed that the place was overrun with kids, so I put it on my list of places to avoid.

But the idea of getting away for lunch was oddly appealing, so I got cleaned up and hopped in a taxi. Destination: Atlantis...

Atlantis Royal Tower

Now, usually, non-guests can only enter the Atlantis grounds by paying for a $135 day pass. It's a lot of money, but you do get to use the water park, pools, beaches, and all the other facilities... IF they have any passes available, since the number they sell depends on occupancy of the hotel. Fortunately, I didn't have to pay the money because my new friends just handed me one of their room keys, which is like a Golden Ticket to the grounds.

You don't have to have a pass to enter the Atlantis casino, of course. They're happy to take your money for free. And it's totally worth the trip, because they have four pieces by one of my favorite artists, Dale Chihuly!

Here's the Temple of the Sun...

Atlantis Chihuly Temple of the Sun

And the Temple of the Moon...

Atlantis Chihuly Temple of the Moon

And the Crystal Gate...

Atlantis Chihuly Crystal Gate

I couldn't find a name for this very cool chandelier. Perhaps it's "Temple of the Alien Intestines" or "Chandelier of the Flying Spaghetti Monster" or something. In any event, this photo doesn't do it justice. The piece is absolutely magnificent, and a little terrifying...

Atlantis Chihuly Monster Chandalier

Using the magical powers of my friend's room key, I then got to see the water park, which features a giant water slide...

Atlantis Waterslide

But the coolest thing I saw was the Atlantis Lazy River tube ride, which ends with a float through a big tube... THROUGH A GIANT SHARK TANK!!! Now, this the very definition of SHARK EXTREME!!

Atlantis Shark Tank

Atlantis Shark Tank

But the SHARK EXTREMENESS doesn't end there. Much to my amazement, there are sharks swimming around in the fountain pools on the resort grounds! No fences. No barriers. No nuthin'. You can just walk right up and look inside...

Atlantis Sharks!!

I guess the sharks are well fed by drunken tourists who accidentally fall into the predator-infested waters. But not everything is deadly at Atlantis. They have giant balloons in the shape of donuts and cupcakes too...

Atlantis Balloon Sweets!

From there we wandered down to the Paradise Island marina. If you've got billions of dollars for a giant yacht, you can probably afford to berth here...

Atlantis Marina

And then we got to the reason my blog friends thought that a trip to Atlantis would be worth the trouble...

Johnny Rockets Paradise Island Atlantis!

ZOMG! There's a Johnny Rockets here! AND they had my vegetarian burgers in-stock! How amazing is that? Now I was really glad I decided to drag my lazy ass out of bed this morning!

After a great lunch, it was time to bid my friends goodbye and get back to my scheduled plans of doing nothing. The passenger ferry was just around the corner, so I decided to save money on a pricey taxi and just take a jitney bus from Nassau back "home" to Cable Beach. The ferry itself is an odd experience. The "ferries" are actually just rickety old boats that charge $4 to cross from Paradise Island to downtown...

Nassau Ferry Boat?

It's not exactly a pleasant trip because it's sweltering hot, you can't see out very well, and you've got a "tour guide" screaming the entire trip (who expects to be tipped for "entertaining" you). I managed to get a few pictures off, but the boat wasn't exactly conducive to photography...

Atlantis Paradise Island

Atlantis Paradise Island Ferry

With three cruise ships in town, Nassau was beyond packed, so I bolted for the jitney stop and my $1.25 ride back to my hotel.

And here I am, hurrying through this blog post so I can put the excitement of my day behind me and get back to the important business of doing nothing.

Well, not exactly nothing...

Bahamas Delicious Kalik Beer!

A few more of these and it will finally be a vacation...

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Bullet Sunday 286

Posted on Monday, July 9th, 2012

Dave!And here we are with a Very Special Edition of "Bahamian Bullets on Monday" where I answer questions and write observations from my time in the Bahamas. So don't flip that calendar... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Money! Bahamian dollars are completely interchangeable with US dollars, since the currency of the Bahamas is tied to the US exchange rate... until you leave the Bahamas... at which time any Bahamian dollars you might be carrying are practically worthless. Not that you'll see many Bahamian dollars. Thanks to the massive tourist trade with the States, you'll see a lot more US money than anything else. A friend asked me to get her a Bahamian $3 bill as a souvenir, but I couldn't find one...

Bahamian Three Dollar Bill

Eventually I managed to trade for a $1 bill that a jitney driver collected, since it was the only currency of the Bahamas I ever saw. I don't understand why the Bahamian government doesn't just print a bunch of $3 bills that souvenir shops could put in a plastic sleeve and sell for $5 each. Everybody would win. The government would be printing money that would rarely be circulated (thus bringing money into the country for nothing), and shop owners are getting a big return on an investment that never loses value.

   
• Jitney! I have no idea about "the jitney that the Sex and the City characters rode to The Hamptons"... but the "jitney" here in the Bahamas is a nickname for the local shared bus service (the name "jitney" having migrated from the US). From what I can tell, anybody with a bus can get a permit to run designated routes around the islands. Since I was staying at Cable Beach, I rode the #10 each day which runs from there to Downtown Nassau and back. In my case, they were a cheap ($1.25) alternative to a pricey taxi ($15.00+tip). But you do get what you pay for. Jitneys are almost always older vehicles, and many are busted to shit...

Jitney Driver Seat

And I mean that literally... some of them are falling apart. The one I rode to dinner last night didn't have working air conditioning. But that's okay, because the door was broken and wouldn't close, so we had plenty of fresh air blowing in...

Jitney Driver

Despite being a bit dangerous, it was a beautiful old broken-down door with a lot of history...

Jitney Door

Jitney Door

And speaking of danger, you could literally be taking your life in your own hands when riding. When I stepped into my seat, my foot went through the floor. The plate snapped back up, but I spent most of the trip wondering if my seat was going to fall through...

Jitney Busted Floor

Jitneys are a cheap way to get around and are everywhere. They're also fairly convenient, stopping many places along their route. But since the bus doesn't leave until full (and I mean really full, since seats fold down into the aisles), you sometimes have a bit of a wait at a start-point, but it's a small price to pay for the money you save.

I heard a few stories about how jitneys are not very well regulated, and it's not unheard of for drivers to be drunk or on drugs while operating their vehicles. Even worse, there have been incidents of violence and rape reportedly involving jitney drivers. It's probably not a good idea to ride in them at odd hours or in remote areas, but I had no problems at all the half-dozen times I rode them. Scary, broken vehicles aside, the drivers I saw were always courteous... helpful even... and seemed competent in their jobs. But I was on a major tourist route, so I can't really speak to what things are like around the rest of the island.

   
• Mural! I was asked about the little pirate guy who closed out my post on day one. He's not mine... he's part of a mural downtown...

Hello Nassau!

It's called "Hello Nassau" by "Thundercut" and is part of a public murals project sponsored by Coke...

Thundercut Credit for Hello Nassau!

There are a few of them around that I saw...

Nassau Coke Mural

Pretty cool, huh?

   
• Resort! While I was in the lobby of the Sheraton using the wireless internet (since my new MacBook Pro Retina doesn't have an ethernet port for the wired internet in my room), I watched a guy have a complete meltdown because he went to pay his bill and found out there was a $40 per day "Resort Fee" that was due. I had gotten a discount rate, but even then I was notified about the fee. Sure, it's kind of a bait-and-switch deal to be reeled in at one price and then have to pay a huge add-on fee, but it was clearly stated, and so I knew to expect it.

Then I got to wondering if Sheraton doesn't tell you about the fee if you book from their site, because that would make me pretty mad. But, nope, they absolutely show you the final price (and if you click on the total, you see the $40 fee added)...

Sheraton Resort Fee

But what if the guy booked at a third party site? I usually book my hotels at Orbitz, so I gave them a try. Nope, they too show the "Local Charges Due at Hotel" right after the price, which works out to be that $40 per night...

Orbitz Sheraton Rate

Then I checked Expedia. And here's where things get strange. They don't show any fees or taxes attached to the rate at all when you are reviewing what they have available...

Expedia Sheraton Rate

But then you scroll down and see something remarkable... they claim the resort fee is already included in the rate! The same $159 rate that Sheraton and Orbitz are adding a fee to!

Expedia Sheraton Fee

Thinking that this is a trick because the "total price" isn't displayed until the next page, I clicked onward...

Expedia Sheraton Total

There we go! They add the $40 resort fee in with their "$68.62 a night Taxes and Fees." Which means that their "Best Price Guarantee" is bullshit at $682.86 when Orbitz would total $679.35 (even though $120 of that would be paid directly to Sheraton at check-out).

I can't check all the hotel booking sites, obviously, but it really doesn't matter. If the guy booked through Sheraton, Orbitz, or Expedia... he knew the total rate. If he booked at some other site that didn't warn him about the resort fee, he should be yelling at them... NOT THE POOR GIRL AT THE RECEPTION DESK!

In any event, it's word to the wise to always always always check the fine print whenever you book a hotel, car, cruise, or whatever. Shady stuff like this is getting more and more common as companies use hidden fees to avoid paying taxes... or to make their rates look better.

   
• Return! When you land at Nassau's airport (which isn't anywhere near Nassau, curiously enough... it's on the other side of the island), there are at least a half-dozen signs telling you that when you return to the airport, YOU NEED TO ARRIVE THREE HOURS EARLY IF YOU ARE TRAVELING TO THE UNITED STATES. There's even a sign posted on the baggage carousel where you wait for your luggage that's staring at you in big letters.

When it was time for me to fly back to the good ol' USA, I followed instructions and arrived THREE HOURS EARLY. I was kind of glad too, because the line at customs was quite short, but still took me 35 minutes to clear. Had the line been all the way to the door, it could have easily taken me two hours to get through it.

So there we are sitting on the plane when an announcement is made. There's 15 people still stuck in customs, so they're holding the plane.

EXCUSE ME?!?

Why in the fuck did I bother showing up three hours early then? If I would have know that I could have just ignored the signs and showed up whenever the hell I wanted to, I would have slept in an extra hour!

Then, after a half hour, they announced there were still eight people in line for customs, and it was moving slow because there was only one counter open... so we were just going to continue to wait for them.

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!?

Everybody who arrived at the airport THREE HOURS EARLY... AS INSTRUCTED... was already on the plane. Why in the hell are we still waiting on people who couldn't be bothered to get to the airport on time? How is this our fault? I don't give a shit if customs decided to close ALL the fucking counters... people who showed up on time made it through... BECAUSE THEY SHOWED UP ON TIME!!! Stop blaming customs for the problem... they weren't the ones who made the people show up late to the airport. AND STOP PUNISHING THE PEOPLE WHO FOLLOWED INSTRUCTIONS AND MADE IT TO CHECK-IN THREE HOURS EARLY LIKE THEY WERE TOLD TO!

I am sick and fucking tired of companies pandering to the lowest common denominator. All it does is remove consequences for idiots who can't be bothered to follow the rules like everybody else. Well, guess what? If you keep removing consequences for being stupid... people are going to continue to do stupid shit. Do you think any of the people that showed up late to the airport will bother to be on time next time? Of course not! And why should they? You're just going to hold the plane for them!

Is it any wonder that this country is going down the crapper and American companies are going bankrupt? Keep rewarding stupid often enough, that's all you're going to have left.

   
And, on that tragic note, I've got a couple hours work that needs doing before I can turn in for the night, so I must bid you adieu...

   

Something

Posted on Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Dave!It is really thundering out there. Here's hoping the walls stay standing.

And so the final rushes for THRICE Fiction No. 5 have been sent off to the Editor in Chief. Once RW has had a chance to approve everything, I'll start running out all the various files needed to unleash our fifth issue on the world.

This has been a rougher ride to completion than usual thanks to a bug with Adobe InDesign on my new MacBook. I ended up losing a full week of work-time while I was in Nassau and Atlanta, so... instead of being able to get ahead while I was traveling, I ended up getting way behind.

It's always something.

And right now... it's lightning and rain to go along with the thunder...

Storm Lightning

Storm Lightning

Storm Lightning

Gotta love a summer storm.

   

48 Hours Part 2

Posted on Saturday, October 27th, 2012

Dave!Today The DutchBitch's DutchBoyfriend was kind enough to drive us to the new Hard Rock Cafe in Brussels, where we met up with Beautiful Disaster's Pinky. I hadn't been to Brussels since The DutchBitch and I last visited in 2010, and I hadn't seen Pinky since Bitchsterdam 2, so it was a triple threat event for me.

The Hard Rock Cafe Bruxelles is a wonderful return to everything I love about visiting these properties around the world... a beautiful restoration property lovingly brought to life in classic Hard Rock style that has been packed to the rafters with terrific memorabilia...

Hard Rock Brussels Exterior

Hard Rock Brussels Exterior

Hard Rock Brussels Interior

Hard Rock Brussels Instrument Collage

Hard Rock Brussels Interior

Hard Rock Brussels Interior

Truly a fantastic property, the Brussels cafe is a well-crafted, eclectic, multi-level Hard Rock that doesn't disappoint. Located right off the Grand Place "Great Market" square, it is worth a visit... even if Brussels wasn't already destination worthy in its own right...

Brussels Grand Place

Brussels Grand Place

Brussels Grand Place

Brussels Grand Place

Belgian Waffles!

Belgian Chocolate!

Sorciere Halloween in Belgian Chocolate!

Leffe Beer!

It was a very quick trip, but we squeezed in a lot. Just like it said in the elevator of the parking garage... we're hardcore like that...

Hardcore Graffiti in a Hardcore Elevator!

From there it was back to the Netherlands and the end of my 48-hour trip to DutchyLand.

Tomorrow it's back in the metal tube to hurl myself back home.

   

Redacted

Posted on Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Dave!I wrote a post, deleted it, re-wrote it, deleted that.

Then I started a different post, which somehow ended up right back where I started, and ended up deleting that one as well.

So now I've decided that I should write a damn thing tonight, because I've already wasted 30 minutes of my life and have nothing to show for it.

So, instead, I'm posting a photo of a cute kitty I saw in Shanghai...

Shanghai Kitty

He was fuzzy.

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Remember

Posted on Friday, December 7th, 2012

Dave!On Pearl Harbor Day, I can't help but think back to the times I've visited this National Historic Landmark. The Visitor Center was re-opened in 2010 after having been beautifully remodeled, and should be on everybody's travel to-do list. The changes and upgrades made by the National Parks Service are world-class and absolutely destination-worthy.

One thing that hasn't changed at the center is the USS Arizona Memorial, which is one of the most stunning monuments I've ever seen. Meant to resemble a bridge over the wreckage of the ship, it was designed by Alfred Preis and had an opening dedication on May 30th, 1962. In some ways, the structure is very much rooted in a 1960's design sensibility... but in others, it feels modern and timeless in a way that few architectural achievements have managed...

Arizona Memorial

Arizona Memorial

Arizona Memorial

Arizona Memorial

Like I said, well worth a visit. Get there early (or reserve a spot online) so you can claim a water shuttle ticket, because there's a limited number of people allowed on the monument each day.

If Hawaii isn't in your travel plans, I understand that the National Parks Service is planning on touring the US with some kind of mobile exhibit in 2016 for their 100th anniversary. So maybe Pearl Harbor will be coming your way in a few years? Keep an eye out.

   
Today and every day, thanks to those who gave their lives in service of their country. Whether aboard the USS Arizona... elsewhere at Pearl Harbor... or in foreign lands far from home... you are remembered by a grateful nation.

   

CRT

Posted on Saturday, December 15th, 2012

Dave!I have nothing but an odd photo or two.

CRT Skull

CRT Mii

CRT Tofu Robot

CRT Electricity

CRT Babies

CRT Max Rabbit

CRT Stella

CRT Krusty

CRT Mickey Hawaii

CRT Shipwrecked Beer

CRT Bad Monkey

CRT Pirate Booty

CRT Greedo Keychain

CRT Vanilla Coke

CRT Buzz Lightyear LEGO

CRT Dave

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