Street food 4
This is where we finally ended up eating. And what did we eat?
Ah, delicious tonkatsu ramen and a cold Asahi. With that, we say good-bye to Japan, until next time.
Street food 2
Now that's a yellow cab
Beautiful Haneda Airport
Yet another view of Fuji-san
Another view of Fuji-san
Tilt-Shift Shinjuku at night
Andrew, on Friday, December 15, 2006 at 7:43 AM:
Fantastic! I love it.
gracie, on Saturday, December 16, 2006 at 10:25 AM:
Mike Richards, on Wednesday, August 29, 2007 at 3:59 AM:
Did you shoot it like this or did you 'blur' during processing?
david adam edelstein, on Wednesday, August 29, 2007 at 10:17 AM:
Thanks! No, it was done it post using the technique here:
Pachinko shima sho*
This perky couple was outside of several Pachinko parlors at once. Weird!
* Let's pachinko!
rfkj, on Thursday, December 14, 2006 at 11:31 AM:
I'm gonna take a wild guess and say that nobody in the Pachinko parlor was actually as buff as this guy.
Uncle Vinny, on Thursday, December 14, 2006 at 1:59 PM:
Shiny glistening anime manboobs!
"Cotton set" is the Japanese term for the usual assortment of amenities you find in the bathroom of your hotel. This being Japan, though, they're usually quite lovely. Especially in the four different business hotels we stayed in over the course of our week there.
Timothy, on Wednesday, December 13, 2006 at 10:01 AM:
Second image down -
You futzed with these didn't you?
(The toothbrush is upside down, very sloppy by Japanese standards.)
Dinner on the way there
Despite that metal tube crack, NWA's "world business class" -- their highest international class -- is pretty cush. Case in point: The mighty tasty in-flight meal. I don't remember what the "western" meals were, but the Japanese meal was great.
patty, on Monday, April 28, 2008 at 2:19 AM:
thank you very much for making me hungry I have to stay at work for 3 hours more
I want sushi :(
Laura Z, on Monday, December 11, 2006 at 8:41 AM:
This is very peaceful and calm.
heather, on Monday, December 11, 2006 at 8:57 PM:
I'd like this blown up really big and hung on a wall in a room that is completely empty except for a comfy yet understated chair centered in front of it, facing it. I bet I'd sit there for hours quite happily :-)
Over the sea
Of course I need to show a couple of "clouds over the pacific" photos. Because mostly I didn't sleep. Even in beautiful NWA world business class, it's still several hours stuck inside a humming metal tube.
A pile of photos from Japan
Back in April, I went to Japan with a couple of co-workers, to work with a local data vendor on a design for maps of Japan for our Virtual Earth project. Since it was kind of a strategic move, and we didn't necessarily want the competition to know that our map data team plus our map designer were in Japan, we thought I should probably hold off on posting my photos until the Japanese maps went live. Last month they finally did, and my, don't they look lovely. And that means I can finally post my photos!
So settle in for a few weeks' worth of photos -- although we really did work hard most of the time we were there, I found some time to get some photography in.
Sunfriday, on Saturday, December 16, 2006 at 5:48 PM:
The maps do look lovely! It was interesting zooming out, and out, and out, and realizing just how densely populated that area is.
Rome - Florence, 17 November 2004
Finally, another travelogue entry! At this rate I'll be done sometime in 2006. But I digress...
All right, where were we? In blog time, of course, it's been a couple of weeks since my last travelogue post, but in memoir time we're still enjoying that first afternoon in Italy -- still in Rome, heading back to our hotel, getting ready to head for the train.
Earlier in the day, when we were heading out on our explorations, we had passed a pizzeria getting a load of oak delivered. We decided that was a pretty good sign -- and it was close to our hotel -- and went there for a mighty tasty lunch. It was so warm that we got to sit outside, under their tent. Did I mention how lucky we were about the weather?
Compared to most pizza I've had, the crust was much thinner -- almost cracker-like -- and the toppings were much more sparse. And, as you might imagine, delicioso. Mine came with an egg on it -- obviously cracked in the middle of the pizza just before it went in the oven, and cooked in place. A little weird, but tasty.
We were eating a little after the lunch rush, so our waiter was a bit bored, and spent a lot of time hanging out by the door watching people go by. He also provided the crowning moment to our cliché "first lunch in Italy": A late high school hottie walked by and they spent a few moments chatting each other up. As she walked off giggling, he turned back towards the restaurant and mumbled to himself: "Mamma Mia... Bellisima!"
After lunch, we headed back to the hotel, and they told us how to ride the bus to the train station. As it turned out, they didn't quite explain completely, but fortunately for us we weren't challenged, or we would have gotten a stiff fine.
After swerving through narrow streets and swarms of scooters for about half an hour we eventually made it to the train station, bought our tickets (accidentally getting swept into the "your train is leaving in 15 minutes or less" line), and headed out to the tracks to find our platform. Of course, this being Italy, they don't actually assign a platform until about 15 minutes before the train is scheduled to leave, but once we figured that out it wasn't a problem.
A little more tricky was figuring out that, yes, not only were we assigned to a car, we had assigned seats as well -- again, it wasn't immediately obvious from the tickets. This was representative of a conflict that I would have again and again while we were there: my go with the flow, whatever, Hawai'i personality was perfectly at home in Italy, while my designer side was screaming "Look, people! A tiny amount of information design would let you people be as chaotic as you want while still getting the *^#**! information across!!!"
But I digress. The train ride was pleasant; our seatmate's incredibly effusive cell-phone conversations ("Grazie. Oh, Grazie! Grazieeeeeeeeeee!") only added to the experience. To my surprise, there was no announcement that we were getting close to Florence... or that we needed to be getting ready... or, indeed, that we had stopped in Florence at all. See above for rant.
We got a little lost on our way to the hotel, in what was to become our Florentine Pattern -- we never did figure out the maze of twisty passages, all alike, around our hotel -- but got there eventually (spotting a laundromat on the way, which we knew we were going to need). While Becky napped, I took advantage of the free internet terminal (after figuring out the weirdo European keyboard) and checked e-mail.
Later that evening we headed out to a fantastic (and late) dinner at Il Cantinone on the other side of the Arno river. Aside from the great food, dinner included the entertainment of talking to a Senegalese bootleg CD vendor in a sort of pidgin of our mutual incomplete Italian, and my learned-by-osmosis (and lessons on Chinese television) French: "hai le musique Senegal? Ah, oui, Youssou N'Dour... quanto costa?"
We skated back into our hotel just before the midnight deadline (after which the front door would have been locked) and collapsed into our twin-beds-jammed-together.
Uncle Vinny, on Monday, December 27, 2004 at 10:52 PM:
Wouldn't that be a great job? Consulting with various cities around the world, helping them with "information design" problems you encounter as a tourist. You'd get paid to travel *and* to complain!
Robert Jahrling, on Tuesday, December 28, 2004 at 6:55 AM:
A maze of twisty little passages, huh? Did you try "xyzzy?"
The buses in Madison--really, buses everywhere I've ever been, which isn't too many places--suffer from poor design, too. How much does it cost? Do I want a transfer? I don't know! I think bus travel must be one of those skills that's passed on orally.
Italian real estate
OK, really this picture is for the sake of Mr. Chris.
In some cases, Italian advertising slogans and whatnot were exactly the same as what they would be here in the US; but nowhere was that more consistent than in the real estate signs we saw.
My rough translation of the sign (and, actual Italian speakers, feel free to correct me...):
House in unique location - 350 square meters inside - panoramic garden - possibility to divide into five subunits.
Mr. Chris, on Tuesday, December 28, 2004 at 2:59 PM:
Location, location, location! Dorms, anyone?
16-17 November, 2004: Rome, La Citta Eterna
OK, where was I? The shuttle driver dropped us off at our hotel in Rome, we checked in, and headed up to our room. The floor numbering system followed what I understand to be a general European system, where the "first floor" is the "first floor above the ground level". Since we were on "il piano terzo", that meant four floors up a steep windy staircase to our cute little room. And we opened the window, and the shutters, and see... well, exactly what you'd expect, really. This was about as cliché a hotel room view as you could have: narrow windy streets, tiled roofs with cats wandering around on them... it was perfect.
Miz Becky was still feeling sick from the flight, so she napped and I headed out into the street to look around. How quickly was my mind blown? Well, it took at least five minutes, maybe as many as ten. The road I was walking on widened into a little piazza, with a Roman column just hanging out in the middle of it (that's "Roman Empire era column", not "a column that happens to be in la citta eterna"), with a Smart car parked in front of it. That's really when my head started to hurt.
The thing is, here in Seattle, and in most of the US, we're impressed when we still have a building from the 1800's. In some cities on the east coast of the US there are buildings from the 1700s or even the 1600s. But, see, this was an artifact from the 300's. In a parking lot. With a beer can sitting on it.
The phrase that kept coming back to me while we were there is the "depth" of the history. Not only is it old, it's been old for a long time. I know that sounds stupid, but bear with me. My tendency is to think about old things purely in relationship to me: I'm in 2004, that was built in 1000, OK, I can deal with that. But once you start adding other "bookmarks" in between, it really drives the point home: People were coming to Italy in the 1700s on the Grand Tour because it was so old. Other people were visiting in the 1500s because it was old then. There are references to the "ancient buildings" of Rome from the 1200s. And so on.
OK, whatever. Go ahead and laugh. I said my mind was blown... I don't expect to manage a coherent explanation.
I got back to the hotel room, where Becky and I napped for another 45 minutes, and then decided that it was time for dinner. On the recommendation of the desk guy we headed out across the Tiber river to a quiet little neighborhood place he described as "more typical". Two things of interest happened on the way:
1) Miz Becky, on the first night of the trip, nails the prize for best line. No, I haven't forgiven her. We're waiting at a stoplight to cross a busy street. A group of locals come up behind us, wait for a break in traffic, and head across. Becky looks back at me with a smirk and says "Well, when in Rome..." and wades across while I am consumed with helpless laughter.
2) In what was to become a recurring experience, a group of fabulously-dressed Italians stopped me and asked (in Italian) "Do you know where Pizzeria _______ is?" It would have been cooler if I could have answered "No, I don't know, I'm not from around here" -- which I do know how to say -- but my jetlagged and freaked out mind (see above) couldn't put it together, so I just said "Scusi, non parla italiano." They were clearly embarassed, said "OK, sorry" in English, and moved on.
The meal was great, as was the people watching (Look! Italians! They tell jokes! They eat pasta!). We were a little turned around getting back, but made it eventually and fell into our beds (two twin beds pushed together, also a recurring pattern).
The next morning, we woke up around 7:00. Becky was much restored. We had breakfast in the hotel (the usual "bread and pastry and butter and coffee" breakfast that we would see repeated everywhere), and headed out to see how many sights we could see before we caught our afternoon train to Florence.
As it turns out, you can see quite a bit of Rome in not so much time. The Pantheon (80 AD) was right by our hotel, as was the monument to Vittorio Emmanuele II. We could see the Colosseum from VE2, but decided that what we really needed to do was get some lunch and get on our train.
And that's where I'm going to have to leave you, because hey folks, I gotta day job, you know.
Nancy, on Monday, December 6, 2004 at 8:30 AM:
Keep telling those stories, David! Maybe I will get inspired and get my last two trips online!
heather, on Monday, December 6, 2004 at 12:31 PM:
"It's been old for a long time"... exactly. Even the graffiti is old. In the exhibits we saw in Rome at the Coliseum, and also in the Vatican, we would see ancient graffiti (like - many hundreds if not at least a thousand years old) carved into some of the old monuments and columns and brick-work. And you gotta figure that the monuments the ancient graffiti artists were defacing were ALREADY old at the point... it is pretty darn mind blowing.
Laura, on Monday, December 6, 2004 at 4:28 PM:
Your narrative reminds me fondly of my time there in 1990 and 1998. Yeah - I had that "OH MY GOD STUFF IS OLD HERE!" feeling as well. What is very strange is sitting somewhere thinking "The wall I am sitting on is from the Roman era, the columns are from the Byzantine era, the first floor was completed during the time of the Magna Carta (or whatever) in the 1200s and the second story was added on "recently" in the Baroque era in the early 1700s. TOTALLY trips me out still! I'm glad you had a good time, but was sorry to hear that Becky felt icky from the plane ride.
Seattle - Rome, 15-16 November 2004
OK, then. The first thing you need to know about the first leg of our trip is that when we left on Monday, 15 November, we were exhausted. Becky had just finished working on a campaign, I had been slammed at work for months, and then we did nearly all of our packing and whatnot on the Saturday and Sunday before we left.
We did make it to the airport, though, checked in, no problems with security, I remembered to put my pocketknife in my checked luggage and my film in my carry-on, so all was well.
In terms of pure travel mechanics, in fact, you couldn't have asked for a better transatlantic flight. As we reached cruising altitude, the captain announced that we were enjoying the benefit of 110 knot tailwinds, which meant we were going to arrive in Amsterdam over an hour early.
The flight was unremarkable: the movies were crappy (A Cinderella Story... yeesh), the food actually wasn't bad (veggie curry!), flight attendants had to look for a doctor because someone had collapsed... the usual.
During one of the snack cycles, one of the flight attendants who I had chatted with earlier told Miz Becky "He's so nice, you're lucky to have him." Becky gave me a dubious look and went back to sleep.
And then we landed in Schiphol airport, before dawn. And for the first 20 minutes, I wandered around with a goofy grin on my face. Look! I'm in Europe! Beautiful Dutch infodesign! Announcements in Dutch! It was probably a sign of my jetlagged state that I found it hysterical that I could understand the Chinese tour group perfectly, but got not one word of the Dutch announcements.
The only problem with our beautiful, fast, turbulence-free flight was of course that our five our layover had turned into a six and a half hour layover. And that's a lot of time to kill in an airport, especially before most things are really open. Becky slept, I read, and we wandered. Schiphol Airport has both a casino (reported to be the only casino in the world with clocks in it) and an art gallery (with a very nice little show of Dutch Baroque Era painter Jan Steen and some of his contemporaries). The gift shops, of course, sell a lot of cheese; there was also a DVD store, with the top row of several shelves taken up by hardcore porn. (I've never really understood selling hardcore porn in an airport. Is someone going to watch "Double-headed $he-males" on their laptop sitting in the middle seat in economy class?)
Eventually we headed to our actual gate, where we passed through a small security check with a couple of bored and sleepy uniformed guys who asked us where we were connecting to and stamped our passports. As it turned out, that was our entire immigration check. When we got to Italy, we picked up our luggage, and just strolled out. No immigration, nothin'. EU rulez!
But I'm getting ahead of my long, boring story. The flight to Rome was equally uneventful, aside from Miz Becky's unfortunate airsickness... oh, and the Dutch flight attendant spilling hot coffee on the Italian woman sitting next to me. Hilarity ensued as he tried to get her to keep the WaterGel burn pack on her arm, and she kept deciding she had spent enough time with this tacky looking thing on her arm. Then he'd come back, and patiently and reasonably explain (in English of course, the Lingua Franca as Dan Cory likes to say) that she needed to keep the cloth on her arm for at least 20 minutes, and she'd take it off a few minutes later. This ended with him scolding her (after he scalded her, hah hah) in an increasingly strong Dutch accent: "No, you must keep the gel on. Gel gel gel. All the time gel. Yes. Gel."
Without further incident, we got to Rome, strolled out of baggage claim as I mentioned earlier, and caught a shuttle to our hotel (getting a deep eye roll from the woman at the shuttle desk when she heard we were only spending one night in The Eternal City).
Let's talk briefly about Rome traffic. We were in other cities later, and I've been in many large cities in Asia, but my friends, traffic in Rome takes the cake. I'm not sure if I can describe it, except to say that if you nearly covered the bottom of a box with 2/3 marbles and 1/3 ball bearings, and then shook the box, you'd approximate the chaos that is Roman traffic. The marbles are the cars, which can't move very far, and the ball bearings are the scooters. The rule for driving a scooter in Rome seems to be "if there is a scooter-sized hole in front of you, fill it." The shuttle driver said "Two million cars in rome. One million scooters. All crazy."
Finally we got to our hotel, or close at least. This was our first example of something we'd see again and again: a space between buildings that might fit a dumpster in Seattle is a major arterial in Italy. As near as I could tell there were no abandoned alleys... they were all streets people used regularly. And our hotel was on one of them. So the driver got us close, and (nice guy) led us directly to the front door.
That's enough for now. You'll have to wait a few days to hear about roof kitties and our first meal in Italy.
Robert Jahrling, on Friday, December 3, 2004 at 11:52 AM:
Is someone going to watch "Double-headed $he-males" on their laptop sitting in the middle seat in economy class?
Hey, I sat next to a couple on a flight once and the woman was quite obviously giving the guy some, uh, massage with happy ending, if you catch my meaning. So I bet you'd be able to find someone who would watch porn in-flight. Besides, there are morons who look at porn in the middle of a crowded library.
heather, on Friday, December 3, 2004 at 12:43 PM:
I loved our taxi ride from the Rome train station to our hotel - it was everything I had expected and more from watching kodak TV commercials and European Vacation :-) We had a crazy cabbie that talked and talked non stop the entire time - he would frequently look back and use BOTH hands to gesture wildly (and we weren't stopped or anything) while pointing out some building or monument and giving us the history. Highly entertaining, and we got a great (if whirlwind) tour and intro to Rome in the process! It was all very Italian :-)
Joshua Edelstein, on Friday, December 3, 2004 at 1:38 PM:
Yay, me brudder and I have both been through Schiphol! I don't know why that's fun, but it is. I also don't know what you mean about easy immigration--we got WORKED OVER in Schiphol, and that was pre-9/11. Maybe it was your sleepy morning people. I did have easy boarding, though--when you're sportin' the punk rock get-up and a German last name, the flight attendants automatically address you as "Herr Edelstein."
I'm also feeling you on the Chinese--the most relaxed I felt in Europe was in a Chinese grocer's, because I could finally understand what the people around me were saying. Of course, it suprised the proprietors to hear a white boy speak Mandarin, and even more so to find out I'd come all the way from the U.S. to shop at their store.
Timothy, on Saturday, December 4, 2004 at 3:48 PM:
Tell us another neat story about your trip Dave ... bonus points for using the word porn again ....
Michelle, on Saturday, December 4, 2004 at 4:21 PM:
We had the exact same experience going through Schiphol to Greece. It wasn't until a day later when I was finally really awake that I thought, "Where the hell was passport control?"
The theme of Italy
Seriously, we couldn't turn a corner or walk down a street without seeing some form of extreme liplock, like this one in the Boboli Garden.
OK, it's true, this is really just another tease to buy me more time to write up the first leg of our trip.
heather, on Wednesday, December 1, 2004 at 1:25 PM:
Yes! We saw the same thing in Rome. And it wasn't just the "young 'uns" either... we saw (and HEARD) couples in their 80s and 90s making out (like - REALLY making out) on park benches all over the place :-)
Timothy, on Wednesday, December 1, 2004 at 5:14 PM:
We got back from Italy yesterday, safe and mostly sound (aside from jetlag and me having managed to irritate my historic back injury again).
Summary: We had a great time. More coherent commentary later (mostly after I get my film back).
heather, on Tuesday, November 30, 2004 at 2:35 PM:
Beautiful! Looks like a wonderfully sunny day :-) Welcome home! I can't wait to hear everything!
Andrew, on Tuesday, November 30, 2004 at 8:18 PM:
I like the photo, the little shadow people are great! I've travelled to Italy once before, and I absolutely loved it. So much in fact, that I want to go back. It's just so far away and expensive to travel from Australia. So in the meantime, I'm looking forward to living vicariously through your photos!
Uncle Vinny, on Tuesday, November 30, 2004 at 10:04 PM:
I concur on the shadow people comment. It's a super cute photo, and I'm not sayin' that just cuz I'm drunk.