For the third January in a row, my wife and I paid a visit to Mickey and friends down at Walt Disney World. This year, we went down specifically to run the Goofy Challenge, but I already wrote about that. While our trip was shorter than in past years, I still managed to take a lot of photos. With this being our third trip, I already had a ton of photos of the parks so I knew I could skip a lot and just focus on things I either haven’t photographed or that I knew I could photograph differently.
Finally, here is the rest of Disney, a combination of photos from ESPN Wide World of Sports, Wilderness Lodge, Downtown Disney, and more.
I’ve got some Magic Kingdom photos for you right here…
Some Epcot photos!
Alright, so it took me almost a month and a half to fully finish up my photos from Disney this year, but there were about 2500 to go through! Everything is now edited, tagged, rated, and…whatever else I do to my photos. I won’t go into making excuses for taking so long to finish up, but to be fair, I did post photos on Facebook a couple weeks ago before I even started tagging them.
I’m going to be posting a somewhat smaller set of photos here and I will be doing it over the span of five posts, one for each park and one for miscellaneous stuff.
To start, here are the photos from Animal Kingdom. Many of these were taking with my new Canon 70-200 f/4 L USM. These are really the only shots I’ve taken with it so far, actually.
Last week, I took a trip to Disney World and it was absolutely amazing. It truly is the place where dreams come true! Maybe I’m just saying that because I asked my girlfriend to marry me there (more on that in a soon-to-come post) and she said yes, but that place is way too much fun.
Rather than go on and on about how much I love Disney World and how we’re already planning our next trip in just slightly less than a year, I decided to just post some of the pictures that I took while there. Overall, I took almost 1,250 pictures between my SLR, my point-and-shoot, and both of our iPhones. That was a lot to go through and I did a lot of touching up on the exposures and coloring and such. It took a few days of just sitting here on the couch with my laptop, but I’m glad I did it. I didn’t take the time to do any noise reduction or spot removal or anything fancy like that that I don’t know how to do yet, but oh well.
So here are my favorite shots from the trip. You should be able to click for a bigger version.
I’ll do Paris the same way that I did London, a brief rundown of stuff and then pictures at the end.
The city itself – Paris is an insanely beautiful city, but that’s probably obvious. It feels very old, yet it’s very friendly and welcoming. The people are incredibly nice and if you can’t speak the language, are more than willing to try to communicate in English as much as they can. I found that at most places, communicating wasn’t a problem. All of the touristy places were very easy to get by at as most of the signs are in both French and English and the people that work there can speak English. Once you leave these areas, everything is in French only and finding people that speak English can be hit or miss. It’s not too bad though. This was the first time that I’ve ever been somewhere that I couldn’t speak the language and that was always one of my biggest fears, but the most difficult part of it was just getting around on the Metro which I was able to figure it out without too much trouble.
It’s crazy how many people in Paris travel by bike. They even have a system set up so that you can basically rent a bike to get from one point to another. There are tons of them so you can just return it when you get to where you need to go. And there are also a lot of people that ride motorcycles and scooters.
It’s also very mom and pop in almost all the places that we saw with the exception of Champs-Elysées.
Eiffel Tower – I guess I should start with this. I guess it’s a bit cliché to say this, but the Eiffel Tower was definitely my favorite part of Paris. It’s stunning to look at from the ground, both during the day and at night. And the view from the top is incredible. I spent about an hour up there just looking around and I didn’t want to go down. It actually wasn’t even all that crowded when I was there. I wish that I had gone a little later when it was completely dark out, but I sort of misjudged when that was going to be. I got on the elevator at about 8:30 figuring that by the time I got up there, if I hung out for a bit, it would be dark and I’d see the whole city lit up. My plan failed.
Notre-Dame – Holy crap, there were a lot of steps to get up to the top. It was doable, but it definitely takes a bit out of you if you don’t take your time. An older woman actually feel behind us on the way down and nearly took out a younger girl. The top also provided a great view of the city, but the gargoyles were the best part, some of them are pretty crazy. Inside, it was huge and very pretty, but not quite as spectacular as Westminster Abbey was.
Louvre – The Louvre is just way too damn big. It’s completely overwhelming, actually. Even just from the outside, it’s stunningly big, but once you go inside and get a map, you realize that you would literally need a full day just to walk through every room. That doesn’t even give you any time to really sit and appreciate things. I spent three hours there and breezed through less than half of it…and got lost a couple times.
The only thing that I really spent a lot of time on was the Mona Lisa. I never got the big deal about it before, no class in school ever really sold me on it much. I just didn’t see the big deal. However, seeing it in person really changed that. The prints don’t do it justice at all. Everything that you ever hear about it is instantly obvious and very apparent to you when you’re standing in front of it.
I was surprised that they allowed pictures to be taken in the museum, even of the Mona Lisa. I wasn’t expecting that all, but I snapped about 200 shots while I was in there.
Musée d’Orsay – I almost didn’t end up going here, but I was really glad that I did. I had never really been much of a fan of Impressionism before, but I think this museum really tuned me on to it. There are tons of works by Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Munch, Degas, Cézanne, Pissarro, and more, but this museum is a reasonable size. You can see the whole thing in two to three hours. I think I enjoyed this much better than the Louvre, actually. Not that I didn’t like the Louvre, it was awesome, but Musée d’Orsay was just a bit less overwhelming and most of the artwork tended to be more interesting to me.
Les Catacombes – This was crazy! You spend about 45 minutes walking through an underground mine of actual human bones. There are skulls and femurs stacked four or five high lining the sides of the place. It was something that is really interesting to me, but I can see how many people would find it to be a bit much.
Champs-Elysées – I walked down this, but a street that’s nothing but stores lining either side isn’t really that interesting to me. I’m not much for shopping so I didn’t go in any of them. It was kind of cool walking up to the Arc de Triomphe though.
Arc de Triomphe – I had no idea how big this thing was going to be until I saw it. It’s so much bigger than you’d expect from pictures and such. The top of it gives yet another great view of the city.
Sainte-Chapelle – I feel like this would have been a little cooler if I were religious and knew about what all of the pictures in the stained glass meant. It was still very impressive though. The stained glass work is unbelievable. There’s so much of it!
Other stuff – I tried escargot for the first time and it was awesome!
I was trying to figure out the best way to blog about London since I wasn’t really able to post daily as I was hoping to. I think I’m just going to break it up into sections based on different things I saw. Pictures are at the bottom. We took just under 1,000 of them, but I narrowed it down to something like 290 for the slideshow.
The city itself - London was surprisingly clean. It felt much more taken care of than Philly or NYC, but there were hardly any trash cans anywhere in the city. It was kind of weird actually. Where the hell do people put their trash when they’re walking around the city!?! The only exception to the cleanliness was the Thames. That thing looked pretty disgusting. Maybe even worse than the Hudson.
Getting around the city was very easy. We mostly walked since I think that you get to see more that way. There were a lot of things that we “accidentally” saw as we ended up just walking by them while on the way to go see other things. But I also like trying out the public transit in different cities to see what it’s like, so for a few longer journeys that were more across the city, we took the Underground. The London Underground seemed a lot better to me than NYC’s subway. The trains ran very frequently and every single platform (that we were on, at least), had a very accurate sign saying when the next couple of trains would be arriving. Only a few subway stations in NYC have this. The trains were also much less jolty than NYC. We only took the bus a couple times, but figuring that out was really easy with the maps at each stop. The bus stops also had the digital displays with the times for each bus.
Before going to London, I didn’t realize that most of the buses, in central London anyway, were double deckers or that there were going to be so many red phone booths. It was kind of neat actually.
Overall, the city really didn’t feel all that much different than any American city I’ve been to. It’s a lot older and has some amazing architecture, but England and the U.S. share so much culture that you barely feel like you’re in another country. The only things that I didn’t like about London were how expensive it is (the Underground works out to be roughly $6.25/ride) and how early things close at night.
Big Ben and Parliament – As you’re walking eastward towards Parliament, you can see Big Ben from a few blocks away and it’s really amazing just how big it is. It was a really beautiful site. Parliament is pretty crazy too. We didn’t have time to go into either of them, but we walked around a few times outside and took lots of pictures.
Westminster Abbey – Westminster Abby was surprisingly one of my favorite parts of the trip. From the outside, it’s really beautiful and the architecture is amazing with the flying buttresses and all. Inside, it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. We spent a couple of hours walking around and doing the audio tour. It was really worth the time. It’s crazy how many people were buried there and how insane some of the tombs, chapels, and effigies are. Unfortunately, they didn’t allow any pictures to be taken, but I snuck a somewhat blurry one of the High altar with my iPhone. Had we been allowed to take pictures, I’m pretty sure I would have taken at least 500 of them.
St. James Park and Buckingham Palace – From Westminster Abbey, we walked through St. James Park up to Buckingham Palace. This thing, like much of what we saw in London, is really gigantic. When we walked down the side of it, there was some crazy barbed wire with actual spikes going on. They REALLY don’t want anyone trying to get in there.
Abbey Road – I had to check this out! There isn’t really much to see, but so much of the music that I love and is important to me wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for some of what happened at Abbey Road Studios. I snapped a couple pictures out front and spent some time reading all of the things people wrote on the wall out front of it. I wish I had thought to bring a marker so that I could have added something myself. We also snapped a couple pictures crossing Abbey Road and saw a woman risk her toddler’s life taking a picture of him crossing as well. Apparently, a lot of people have died trying to take pictures here since it’s such a busy street.
Jack The Ripper – This might have been the only mistake of the trip, besides not having a couple extra days. We wanted to see some of the places where the victims were found, but we didn’t really want to deal with an actual guided tour. I found a self-guided walking tour online and we followed it from my phone, but it was actually kind of weak. At one point, we crossed paths with a guided tour and stopped to listen for a minute. I think it would have been a lot more fun and interesting if we had just gone with the tour.
The London Dungeon – The London Dungeon is pretty much just a haunted house kind of thing, but it travels through many of the darker times of London’s history. It was actually quite fun and possibly one of the best I’ve ever seen. The Dungeon starts off with a mirror maze that is seriously intense. It took us quite a while to find our way through it. Instead just having people walk through on their own, groups are actually guided through by actors and the whole thing finishes off with a free-fall style ride to simulate being hanged. The best part of the Dungeon was the Jack The Ripper section. This sort of made up for us not doing the guided Jack The Ripper tour. They went through most of the story and mentioned all of the places that we had just seen the night before which was pretty awesome.
Oh, and I was sentenced to death for being American.
St. Paul’s Cathedral – St. Paul’s was one of the things that we just kind of stumbled upon while we were walking around. It was kind of hard not to, though, it’s absolutely gigantic. We didn’t go inside more than a few steps because didn’t have the time, but like Westminster Abbey, it was really beautiful, although, it did look a bit less interesting and intricate. St. Paul’s is actually something that we ended up coming by a few other times as we were walking around since the Millennium Bridge lets you off right in front of it.
Millennium Bridge – I was told to see this at night, but we couldn’t really work out a way to be anywhere near it while it was dark out. Still, during the day, it was pretty neat.
Tower of London – I don’t even know how to describe just how massively gigantic the Tower of London is. I think we spent three hours there and didn’t even get to see it all. The line for the Crown Jewels was insanely long so we skipped it, but still, this was absolutely amazing. It both made me wish we had another day so we could have gone to Windsor Castle and made up for the fact that we could go there.
Tower Bridge – We only just walked across this and took some pictures, we were pressed for time when we were over there so we didn’t get to see the exhibit, but even just walking across it was an experience. And you can actually see it very clearly from inside the Tower of London since it’s right next to it. So a lot of my pictures from the Tower have it in the background.
London Eye – I’m not a ferris wheel fan at all. Not one bit. It’s pretty much the only ride that I don’t like, but there was no way that I was going to pass this up. And it actually wasn’t even all scary since you’re in a glass enclosed egg thing. The view from inside was unmatched by anything else I saw on my trip with the exception of the Eiffel Tower (the Paris post will be up in a few days). You can see all of central London and all of the other landmarks that we saw. The ride lasts like twenty minutes which was pretty perfect. It was long enough to get to take a good look at everything, but not too long that you were waiting for it to end.
Tate Modern – This is a modern art museum at the opposite end of the Millennium Bridge from St. Paul’s Cathedral. We didn’t pay for any of the exhibits and just stuck to the free stuff, but we were still there for a solid three hours. The museum has works by Andy Warhol, Herman Nitsche, Picaso, Jackson Pollack, and many more, but my favorite was by Miroslaw Balka called 480x10x10. It was simply 480 pieces of bar soap on a steel cable hung from the ceiling. There was also a really awesome room filled with Soviet era artwork that I spent a lot of time in.
Pubs and food – I had heard some bad things about the food in England, but it wasn’t that bad, really. The first night, I had a garlic burger and a garlic beer from a place called Garlic & Shots. They didn’t name the place that just for show. The beer actually had pieces of garlic in it. It was really good…at first.
Dirty Dicks had a really good meat pie, though I’d never actually had one before, so I guess I can’t say, but it was awesome. They also had hand pumped beer which was pretty sweet. And we also went to Lamb & Flag which was apparently a hang out spot for Dickens back in his time. We only stayed for one drink though because we were starving and they didn’t serve any food.
Other stuff – Our second day there, we witnessed some soccer hooliganery in the Undergound. It was a pretty awesome vibe, very loud and intense, without being dangerously violent like Eagles fans.
I just got back from an amazing weekend in New Hampshire. It was pretty crazy from start to finish. I went to work for a full day on Friday and then went into NYC for an amazing burrito and to go see the Gaslight Anthem at Webster Hall. Then took the PATH back to Hoboken, hopped in my car at 12:15 AM and started what was supposed to be a six and a half hour drive up to New Hampshire. We got lucky since it was so late and there was no one on the road, we made it in 5 hours and 45 minutes. Not too shabby and driving on Route 302 in New Hampshire was a ton of fun. It was empty and really windy. Perfect for the stick shift driver that loves to really have some fun behind the wheel. We got there at exactly 6–the sun was starting to light up the mountains–and immediately rode a moose. But then we found out that the rest of the group that was already there was sound asleep and not being woken up by our calls. So we had to chill out in the car for a couple hours. It was freezing and we were tired as all hell. This was kind of miserable.
At this point, we should have gone to bed, but that didn’t happen. It was time to head across the street to Attitash and go snowboarding, the entire reason for the trip. By this point, I had been up for over 24 hours straight–by the time I went to bed, it was about 42. I should have broken myself trying to snowboard without any sleep, but I think I somehow tricked my body into thinking that I did sleep because I felt perfectly fine and had tons of energy.
The only sucky part was that because of the weather we only got to go one day. But that one day was awesome. A really nice way to end the season. It was really warm out, I think it hit about 50 degrees, and the snow was really wet, but the trails were great and groomed very well. It was a lot of fun. Of all the mountains that I’ve been too, I think this was the best. The mountain also had some really beautiful views of the surrounding area and of Mount Washington.
And even though it rained the second day, we had a great time exploring. We embarked on what was supposed to just be a trip to the store for some more food, but ended up going on a covered bridge tour of New Hampshire. We found four of them within only a few miles of where we were staying. As we were checking out the second one, we realized that we were really close to Mount Washington so we decided we’d randomly go drive up it. Even though it was raining, this was one of the most beautiful drives ever, but since we’re from Jersey and don’t know anything about it, we didn’t know that the road to drive up the mountain is closed until May. That was a bit disappointing, but it really wasn’t very far of a way to go so it wasn’t too bad. On the way back we passed Storyland and had to stop. It was closed, but we had to get some pictures.
On the drive back to Jersey, I caught a vanity plate that said “taxes” and one that said “dgrssi.” We couldn’t snap pictures of either in time though. I also tried some pizza in Connecticut that was really awesome. It was half buffalo chicken and half peppers and onions. It was sliced very oddly though. Instead of being sliced the way a pizza normally is, it was sliced across the pie to form eight rectangles. This made it really hard to eat, but it was worth.
Here are the pictures. We took about 400 in all, but only some select ones are there. Check ‘em out!