The year 2008 began and ended in San Francisco. So lets consider some old/new highlights of San Francisco in honor of the new year. Favorite old site: the fabulously eccentric late Frank Lloyd Wright Marin Civic Center.
Favorite new site: the fabulously eccentric just opened Renzo Piano designed California Academy of Sciences. Favorite old restaurant: deliciously Italian Delfina in San Francisco. Favorite new restaurant: deliciously eccentric Camino in Oakland.
In February it was off to historic Savannah for a week with my sister. I hadn’t been there since the long ago publication of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I credit John Berendt’s book with turning a sleepy southern town into a major tourist attraction—and perhaps saving the city’s historic core.
From there it was a drive up to Baltimore for a visit with my brother and his family.
Then my first trip to South America for a 10 day stay in Buenos Aires. Loved the city, loved the food, and loved the fact that I could afford it! Rent an apartment through www.bytargentina.com (thanks to Marc Leonard for the tip); eat at La Cabrera, La Dorita, Social Paraiso, and the cheese room at the fabulous Park Hyatt Hotel; have a suit made, have a leather jacket made; get a massage. Enjoy the urbanity of this great world city.
We took a side trip to Iguazu Falls. The falls are truly impressive, but it had much more the air of an amusement park than I expected. Apparently the “most visited site in South America” aspect had not registered until I got there!
After Buenos Aires, travel with business colleagues took me to Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. I probably would not have gone there on my own—there are very few tourists—but I’m very glad I had the experience.
A day long layover allowed a chance to see the Panama Canal, and a good deal of the Panamanian countryside as well. We put ourselves entirely at the mercy of a random driver at the Panama Airport and were rewarded with a comfortable, reasonably priced, and comprehensive guided tour! I’m not really a proponent of the “see it in a day” brand of tourism—yet neither do I feel the need to rush back to Panama.
Next up was a weekend trip to Denver to see the John Adams opera Nixon in China. We enjoyed the stylishly quirky Curtis hotel and appreciated the public transportation in what is essentially a car-centric city.
I got to spend much of August in my former “hometown” of Amsterdam, researching a couple of travel articles (see the articles below) and visiting old friends.
A quick trip to Paris on the super-efficient Thalys high-speed train, confirmed what everyone has always said about Paris in August—all the best places to eat are closed! But I got to use the new Velib public bicycles—I’m hooked, what a great way to get around Paris.
The rest of the year was spent in California, tending to work, with short trips to Morro Bay and Ventura, and ending up back in San Francisco for the New Year.