Cinque Terre From Above (Cinque Terre, Italy)

I think I’ve finally reached my breaking point. Windows 10 you’ve finally converted me to a Mac guy. I know that isn’t what you intended to do with your ‘new and improved’ system but the inability of the software and the hardware to talk to another – and thus causing your loyal users problem is an issue. The past two months, since upgrading to Windows 10, I’ve been receiving the “Blue Screen of Death (BSOD)” when using Photoshop, OnOne Perfect Effects, GoPro Studio and really any other photo/video editing software possible. Prior to Windows 10 I never had an issue. So last week I took my computer into the shop and explained my frustrations. I asked the computer experts to take a look through all the .dmp files (produced when the PC crashes) and also check for any viruses to see if maybe the computer caught a bit of a cold. After a week of them looking at my system they called today and told me they can’t find a cause for the issue – all my systems are updated properly, the computer is free of viruses and in their opinion there is no reason why my barely two year old, recently upgraded with new RAM computer should be crashing two to three times per day……

My wife meanwhile is laughing all day long as her three year old Macbook has NEVER had an issue like this. Apple here I come – I’m converted and you win. The computer world is moving and unfortunately program updates and different products (windows, video drivers, sound drivers, etc…) are not working together.

Overlooking Cinque Terre (Cinque Terre, Italy)

Overlooking Cinque Terre (Cinque Terre, Italy)

Cinque Terre was such a relaxing place – I will take myself (mentally) there as I have to re-spend $1000+ on a MacBook this year to replace my PC. I’m fed up with Windows.

Riomaggiore from a Sailboat in Cinque Terre

While in Cinque Terre we spent an afternoon cruising in Mediterranean Sea. The weather for most of the day was pristine until a late afternoon storm kicked up some rain for a brief spell. Otherwise the views we had overlooking the five cities from the deck of a boat were amazing. This is the ‘first’ of the five cities of the Cinque Terre – Riomaggiore – and is often cited as being the most beautiful of all the cities in the chain (some say it is the most beautiful city in all of Italy). I’m not doubting that given all the colorful houses and at dusk I’m sure it looks amazing. We unfortunately were unable to spend an evening there as it sold out long before we started planning our trip a mere months before. We stayed in Monterosso which is on the other side several miles away and which in my opinion was just as beautiful.

Riomaggiore from a Sailboat in Cinque Terre (Italy)

Riomaggiore Cinque Terre Italy

Alot of people take a day and hike the five villages of Cinque Terre from Monterosso to Riomaggiore but unfortunately the rains from 2011 wiped out a large chunk of the ‘easy’ hiking path cut along the coast. As a result the hiking route was a much more lengthy (with many more up/down hills) that would have been challenging for even the fastest hikers – let alone two city folks from Chicago. That’s the primary reason we decided to go the boating route which was much, much more relaxing. I think it was a good choice!

The shores of Monterosso – Cinque Terre, Italy

One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited is Cinque Terre, Italy. Cinque Terre is located on the Northeast coast of Italy. In the summer, it is jam packed with tourists but since my wife and I travel ‘off-cycle’ to save money we were there in the month of April right before it got too crazy. I’m not sure I would have enjoyed the enchanting sites of Cinque Terre nearly as much if it was as overcrowded as say Venice. The fact that it seemed to be more of the ‘old’ Italy unspoiled and uncatered to tourists like us was appreciated.

<Coast of Cinque Terre

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We hiked up to this little overlook to watch the sunset over the city before retreating for dinner at Cantina Di Miky. Cantina di Miky is run by the son of the fanciest place in town – Ristorante di Miky – both are very good but this one was more within our budget. I was able to sample fresh sardines (ehhh…just as bad as canned) before turning over to the main course – homemade pasta with a nice pesto sauce. I think this was the only time in Italy we had white wine since it was a wine local to the region. I forget the name of it (we have a bottle at home but I’m in Dallas) but recall it was a little sweeter than I like generally but since it was local I figured I had to give it a go.

Portofino – Italy

A small, picturesque fishing village near Cinque Terre, Italy called Portofino is the last stop on a ‘taxi boat’ that brings you to four of the five villages in Cinque Terre before heading onto Portofino. It is known as a resort town for the rich and famous and most of the city looked and felt that way. However, the old Castle (Castello Brown) which sits on hill high above the village does not feel like it is part of the more modern Portofino. The castle dates back to medieval times. We were too late to do the tour of the interior of the castle but we were able to walk the grounds. In the distance (top right hand corner of this image) sits the San Giorgio church which was rebuilt on its initial spot following damage during WWII.

Castello Brown in Portofino, Italy

Portofino, Italy Castello Brown

It’s hard to think it has been about a year since we were in Italy. Looking at this (and others) picture it seems like it was just yesterday.

Fishing Villages of Cinque Terre

The colorful houses (mostly store fronts today) that makeup the five towns that create the historic Cinque Terre area in Italy were once primarily fishing villages. The houses were painted bright colors distinct from one another so that those on the boats far from the shore could navigate in as they approached and wind up near their ultimate destination. Fortunately for the Cinque Terre and for those lucky enough to visit little has changed in this gorgeous spot of the world. No longer a ‘hidden gem’ in Italy because tourism is undoubtedly big business here but still a magnificent and relatively unspoiled location within what is my favorite (outside of the US – home country bias of course) country in the world.

Fisherman on the Coast of Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre colorful houses in Italy

The Future of Flying….and I’m not looking forward to it

This morning on a private jet Gogo – the company that has brought wifi to thousands of planes in the air – unveiled their newest technology….an app that will allow passengers to text and talk while thousands of feet in the air. Thus, the future of flying involves hearing that annoying conversation at an ‘outside’ voice level instead of the current (relatively) quiet and peaceful hum of airplane engines. This is the technology I knew would ultimately get here but I’m dreading the roll out of it. Why is it necessary? Can we not go 3 – 4 hours without being on the phone? The wifi technology allowed for the use of email, Facebook Messenger or other ways to stay in contact if in that rare instance it was absolutely necessary to be somewhat available but in all reality who is that important? Maybe the people on private jets need the technology but if you are flying commercial like me and coach at that you are not that crucial and neither is your conversation. Do what I do and take the time to focus on reading a good book without all the distractions – TV, music, email, etc… – that seems to get in the way in our day to day life.

Photo of the Day – Twilight in Cinque Terre

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I snuck over a fence that walled this path off from the main trail. This is the usual trail along the Mediterranean Sea that most walk from Monterrosso to Vernazza. However, because of the 2011 floods that hit the area the trail was still under construction when we visited in April. I was a bit nervous when I crawled under the fence and had to scamper over some downed trees to get to this viewpoint. However, watching the moonrise over the Mediterranean was worth it. In the distance you can see the towns of Volastra, Manarola and Riomaggiore.

Quiet Morning in Cinque Terre

My last morning in Cinque Terre – inspite of the massive wine headache from sampling the local vino – I got up to take pictures at sunrise. I walked over away from the city (Monterosso) to take some pictures of the city as the sun lit it up. As I walked away and just before I walked through a tunnel carved into the mountainside I looked behind me and saw this quiet scene. Outside of a few random workers walking from their homes (there are only a thousand people or so living in this city) to open up their shops I was by myself. It was a very peaceful morning and the sound of the Mediterranean Sea hitting the shore was the only sound that I heard.

Photo of the Day – Quiet Morning in Cinque Terre

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A Beautiful Blip on the Mediterrean

A negative mind will never give you a positive life

In Cinque Terre, the path that winds along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea was closed (temporarily) to tourists due to a mudslide that occurred in 2010. Therefore, we weren’t able to take the relaxing route that was created for us to hike along the sea and take in the views. Instead you have to go up into the hills – a pretty steep hike and then head back down to the next town. There were a number of fences setup to prevent people from getting out to this spot but given that it was nearing sunset there wasn’t a lot of traffic on the trails. I slid my camera equipment under the fence and then climbed up a tree and jumped over the fence. Nervously, I quickly moved away from the fence and snuck over to this spot which looked back onto the town of Monterosso. This gives a good perspective of just how tiny the town is – only around 1,500 permanent residents – in relation to the hills in the distance.

Photo of the Day – A Beautiful Blip

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Just a tiny blip in the upper right hand corner of this picture but a much larger part of my heart. One of the most relaxing and peaceful places that I’ve been too. The seafood was so fresh – most caught right that day – and the wine was (mostly) local as well. We visited our share of wineries (there was only two in town) and drank a lot of the local wines.

Step into a Dream

This morning on my way to work I was reading through some news on Twitter when I came across a Tweet from Buster Olney that made me think:

150 years ago at this moment, Robert E. Lee plans to attack the center of the Union line — which is where George Meade expects him to hit.

Now there isn’t anything necessarily earth shattering with this comment of course, but the concept of 150 years doesn’t seem so long but to think about how much different the world is today versus 1863. So much has changed in such a little amount of time. It just struck me as being pretty amazing that holy cow we as humans have come so far in the past decade and a half. Amazing! Don’t wake me up if I’m dreaming!

Photo of the Day – Stepping into a Dream

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A short boat ride away from Cinque Terre is a small, seaside town named Portovenere. While Portovenere isn’t actually part of the Cinque Terre it is a stop on the ferry ride that takes you from one end of the Cinque Terre to the other. In the town of Portovenere there is a castle called the Doria Castle that you can walk up to and walk around. We got there too late to go inside but we were still able to walk around the grounds. One of the gates was open that led out to the cliffs that dropped off into the sea. Another set of rocks led into the distance and I thought it made an interesting composition. It seemed very dreamy to me like you could step through the door and enter into a different world, filled with water and mystery.

I’m heading downtown to take pictures of the Chicago fireworks this evening. I hope everyone has a nice holiday!

Picturesque view of Vernazza (Cinque Terre)

The Cinque Terre as I’ve already noted is one of the most beautiful places in the world. While we were there we stayed in Monterosso. The next city over is called Vernazza. There is an easy path right along the sea that connects the two cities but that path was destroyed in the horrible mudslides that hit the region in 2011 – check out this article in the New York Times to see some of the immense damage suffered in the cities. Therefore, we had to hike a rather rough (and much more treasonous trail) between the cities that took us up into the hills that separate the towns from the rest of the outside world. However, one of the benefits of being up in the hills is that it afforded us some views of Vernazza that we probably would not have had from the other (flatter) trail.

Photo of the Day – Vernazza (Cinque Terre)

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Vernazza is an amazing town and we had our best meal of the trip at the Ristorante Belforte which overlooked the sea. The pasta was fresh and they added curry powder to the shrimp which gave it a nice kick. Delicious!