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2018/09/27 Spain Day 04: Barcelona's Sagrada Familia
π 2018-09-27 01:01 in Monuments, Spain2018
Gaudi is known for many buildings in Barcelona, but of course Sagrada Familia is the most well known. While he worked on it until he died (sadly he was run over by a tram), the construction got halted during the war and Spain's dark times, but it's being worked on again, ideally it will be finished within 10 years.
Getting tickets at the times I wanted (first thing in the morning) was challenging, so I booked a slightly more expensive guided tour which included entrance and wasn't bad at all.





poor thing :)
poor thing :)

The inside was beautiful and colorful in ways that the other cathedrals we've seen, were not:









We did the tower tour, which had decent views, but it was still work in progress (top is still being built):



the stairs were truly bad ass
the stairs were truly bad ass

The museum attached to the cathedral gave lots of details on the history and the build, as well as Gaudi's life:

Gaudi used nature for many of his designs
Gaudi used nature for many of his designs

Guudi also used a gravity upside down model
Guudi also used a gravity upside down model


Definitely one of a kind, worth the visit.

2018/09/27 Spain Day 04: Barcelona's Frederic Mares Museum
π 2018-09-27 01:01 in Museums, Spain2018
In Barcelona's old town, one of the many museums was Museu Frederic Mares. It was an impressive collection of lots of things across many rooms. It was worth multiple hours, even if we had to go a little bit quicker:










2018/09/26 Spain Day 03-04: Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona
π 2018-09-26 01:01 in Monuments, Spain2018
Antoni Gaudi was a an instrumental architect in Barcelona. In addition to working a good portion of his life on Sagrada Familia, he worked on many other buildings and monuments in Barcelona.
We first went to see Park Guel, which is way too hard to get timed entries for. Thankfully I got one too early in the morning and we were allowed to get in a bit after our mandated 08:00 entry time:








Next was Casa Mila which also had stupid waits, even in end of September, but as good capitalists, they sell skip the line (expensive) online tickets:




one of the building's arches has a view on the unfinished Sagrada Familia
one of the building's arches has a view on the unfinished Sagrada Familia

Gaudi used an interesting engineering principle of suspending structures upside down and using gravity to help see ideal building shapes
Gaudi used an interesting engineering principle of suspending structures upside down and using gravity to help see ideal building shapes

Down the street was his Casa Batllo, another expensive visit with more expensive skip the line tickets I was able to get:






Another of his buildings was Guel Palace, which we saw just before leaving Barcelona:





another nice roof
another nice roof


And for good measure, the city also had a Gaudi museum:






2018/09/25 Spain Day 02: Dali Museum in Figueres
π 2018-09-25 01:01 in Museums, Spain2018
While in Barcelona, Figueres was a 1h (fast) train ride away, so on our second day, we took a train to Figueres to see the Dali Museum (although there are a few lesser sights there too).

Dali definitly was an interesting artist, who actually did all kinds of art all the way to jewelry. One thing he said though "I don't need to take drugs, I am drugs" :)











Next door to the museum, was an easy to miss separate entrance that showecased his jewelry, which was super nice:





The place was definitely interesting to visit with little rooms in all directions and easily worth 2-3h. Thankfully when we went, it was not too busy, but at times it can take an hour or more to get in.

2018/09/25 Spain Day 02: Figueres
π 2018-09-25 01:01 in Spain2018, Trips
After a morning in Madrid, we took the train to Figueres for a half day, mostly to see the Dali Museum but it also had nice Castle Ruins (Castell de Sant Ferran). With the fast AVE train, it was less than 1h ride:


the train station made it clear what the main attraction was :)
the train station made it clear what the main attraction was :)

Castell de Sant Ferran is better appreciated from the sky and was worth an hour visit:









The town also had a more minor toy museum that we saw quickly while waiting for our next hourly train:




And then it was time to take the train back home to Barcelona:


See more images for Spain Day 02: Figueres
2018/09/24 Spain Day 01: Night Visit to Barcelona's Aquarium
π 2018-09-24 01:01 in Aquariums, Spain2018
During a national holiday in Barcelona, we saw the museums we could and by end of day, everything was pretty much closed, except the Aquarium that was still open until 21:30, so we headed there (nearby was also meant to be a viewing spot for the fireworks that night).

Anyway, back to the Aquarium, it was an average city aquarium, not amongst the best we've seen, but not terrible either :)






shark eggs
shark eggs









2018/09/24 Spain Day 01: Barcelona's Cataluna Art Museum
π 2018-09-24 01:01 in Museums, Spain2018
The art museum on top of the hill, by the olympic stadium, was quite big. Also good view from up there:



Part of the collection:













a good sample of paintings from Salvador Dali
a good sample of paintings from Salvador Dali



yeah, many religious paintings, felt like too many by the end of the trip
yeah, many religious paintings, felt like too many by the end of the trip




2018/09/24 Spain Day 01-04: 3.5 days in Barcelona
π 2018-09-24 01:01 in Spain2018, Trips
We started our trip in Spain by arriving in Barcelona. Because we arrived a bit earlier than planned before our first day, I had a bit of time to go see the street parades related to the religious holiday celebrations they had for 3 days.

We didn't see all of Barcelona in 3.5 days, but we saw a fair amount:

Day #1

  • Joan Miró Foundation
  • Catalan Art Museum Palace
  • Montjuïc Castle
  • Bullring mall (Las Arenas)
  • CaixaForum
  • Aquarium
  • Day #2

  • Arco de triunfo
  • Santa Caterina Market
  • Palace of catalan music
  • Picasso Museum
  • half day in Figueres
  • la boqueria market
  • Day #3

  • Park Güell
  • House museum
  • La Pedrera/Casa Milà
  • Casa Batlló
  • Barcelona Cathedral
  • Augustus temple
  • Barcelona History Museum (underground ruins from roman times)
  • Barceloneta beaches
  • Cable car from Barceloneta back to Montjuïc
  • Day #4

  • Sagrada Familia Guided Tour with Tower Access
  • Finishing up Barcelona History Museum
  • Gaudi Museum
  • Museu Frederic Mares (longer than expected)
  • And just enough time left for Güell Palace before going to the airport
  • Here are the pictures:

    Day #0

    I luckily ran into the end of a parade related to the religious holiday they had:




    weird pigeons
    weird pigeons


    Day #1

    This was our first real day. We walked on La Rambla to a cable car to the Montjuïc area.

    la rambla is mostly a tourist trap now, but it had some fun stuff :)
    la rambla is mostly a tourist trap now, but it had some fun stuff :)

    funicular up to Montjuïc
    funicular up to Montjuïc

    Once we were up by Montjuïc, we went to check out Joan Miro Museum which was part of our BCN pass (sadly a waste of money as museums were free that day due to the holiday). I'll just say that we were not big fans of Joan Miro:


    any artist who thinks they can get away with this, and call it 'valuable art' is not one I'll take seriously
    any artist who thinks they can get away with this, and call it 'valuable art' is not one I'll take seriously

    don't love this, but at least there is a bit of work
    don't love this, but at least there is a bit of work

    great art indeed
    great art indeed

    I should also take balloons, fill them with paint, throw them on a canvas, and get rich and famous
    I should also take balloons, fill them with paint, throw them on a canvas, and get rich and famous

    this was ok-ish I guess
    this was ok-ish I guess

    the mercury fountain was likely the only cool piece for me
    the mercury fountain was likely the only cool piece for me

    On the way to the art museum, we walked by the former olympic stadium complex:



    And we eventually got to the Art Museum:


    awesome view from up there:
    awesome view from up there:



    the bullring turned mall
    the bullring turned mall

    Sagrada Familia, still being built
    Sagrada Familia, still being built

    Pictures of the Cataluna Art Museum are on their own page.

    Once done with the Art Museum, which took a while, it's not small, we walked back to the Montjuïc cable car and took it up there:





    good views from up there too
    good views from up there too

    After seeing the castle, we went back down to the fountains, but were not able to approach them since they were getting ready for the festivities and fireworks of that night, so we walked to the bullring museum which had good views too:







    while the inside looks like a round-ish regular mall
    while the inside looks like a round-ish regular mall

    We then took another cab to go to the Aquarium, have dinner next door and find a reasonable spot to view the fireworks.
    You can see the Aquarium Pictures here




    Day #2

    After a long day #1, came day #2, which started by the Palace of catalan music, a truly beautiful building:









    We then went to Picasso Museum:





    yeah, he did pottery too, oh boy...
    yeah, he did pottery too, oh boy...

    We finished it quickly enough that we had time to stop by a market before catching a train to Figueres (on its own page, mostly to see the Dali Museum:




    Day #3

    For day #3, we had to head out earlier to visit Park Güell, for which I was only able to get tickets at 08:00 that morning, so we head out earlier and got there early enough that they let us in, despite missing our entrance window. From there, we went to Casa Milà and Casa Batlló.

    Gaudi was a one of a kind architect, definitely check out the page I made for his buildings. Got a few nice pictures from the roof:



    We then walked to the cathdral:








    Nice views from the top of the cathedral too:

    no one was able to tell me what this was
    no one was able to tell me what this was


    Next door was Barcelona History Museum, with a nice tour through the roman streets that were found below ground level in the old town:








    I made the call to leave the museum a bit early (we finished it the next day) and grab a cab to Barceloneta to check out the beach, and barely, so barely get a ticket to the cable car that picked up from there back to Montjuic, as they closed the ticket sales 30mn before their published closing time:

    people working out on the beach
    people working out on the beach



    the ride from the beach starts from a high tower
    the ride from the beach starts from a high tower







    Day #4

    For our last (partial) day, I had to keep the best for last (due to ticket availability), and we did a guided tour of the Sagrada Familia, a one of a kind church from Gaudi.
    There are very nice views from the top of the Sagrada Familia's towers of course:




    We then went back to downtown to finish up the history museum, do the gaudi museum, and the quite interesting Museu Frederic Mares on its own page.


    And we finished the (partial) day with the Gaudi Museum and Guel Palace. From there, we had to head out to the airport to fly out to Granada, our next destination.

    2018/09/22 Mom's 75th Birthday
    π 2018-09-22 01:01 in Family
    For my mom's 75th birthday, a lot of her family came from holland, and we did too. We met in her retirement house in a room set aside for us:





    Patrick and Diane brought extra desert
    Patrick and Diane brought extra desert


    That evening, the family met in a nearby japanese restaurant:

    thankfully they served fries, a requirement for a dutch meal :)
    thankfully they served fries, a requirement for a dutch meal :)

    The next morning, we had lunch together again:



    And then it was time to go (for us flying to Barcelona). A few extra shots:




    2018/09/20 Droid and Friends, 5 miles of Thunderhill
    π 2018-09-20 01:01 in Cars
    Another day, more progress. I didn't have a coach but I slowly got better in enough places to work my way down reliable 3:20's until I got a fresh set of tires and got down all the way to a single 3:14 lap, my best ever on that configuration. Sadly I didn't repeat it (the other ones were 3:16 and 3:17 due to traffic), but one is enough to count :)





    2018/09/14 Reno Air Races
    π 2018-09-14 01:01 in Flying
    Oh boy, it had been 11 years already since I last flew to the Reno Air Races with Jennifer. Arnaud nicely invited me to join him in his plane, so it was hard to say no, even if my schedule was super packed before and after that weekend.
    His TBM got us there in no time:




    Reno Air Races had nice static displays as well as planes on display when they were not flying:





    some races used very small planes, less drag, more speed
    some races used very small planes, less drag, more speed


    purple, nice...
    purple, nice...

    looks fast
    looks fast







    Other static displays:


    Brian Shul seems to be at all those airshows
    Brian Shul seems to be at all those airshows

    that is one big ass engine :)
    that is one big ass engine :)

    one vendor had a collection of lots of engines parts broken by overwork
    one vendor had a collection of lots of engines parts broken by overwork

    valve that fell into a piston and melted
    valve that fell into a piston and melted

    There were multiple airshows, they were not bad :)




    biplane with propeller plus jet
    biplane with propeller plus jet

    honda jet demo, it was super quiet
    honda jet demo, it was super quiet







    And of course, they had races, that's what the whole event was about afterall :)







    Great 2.5 days in Reno, thanks Arnaud.

    See more images for Reno Air Races
    2018/09/11 Flying Heritage and Combat Armor Museum North of Seattle
    π 2018-09-11 01:01 in Flying
    This was Paul Allen's personal museum at KPAE with his collection of aircrafts and some missiles, bombs and tanks (Paul just passed as I'm writing this). I had been there quickly ages ago, and it was nice to go back for a better visit with my friend Steve Podradchik from Seattle Avionics who came to join me for the visit.

    The Boeing factory is on the other side of the field, so you get to see random planes that have just been built
    The Boeing factory is on the other side of the field, so you get to see random planes that have just been built







    Great to see a reminder of how big the V2 rocket was
    Great to see a reminder of how big the V2 rocket was

    The earlier V1 flying bombs
    The earlier V1 flying bombs

    I had never seen this V1 with suicide mission pilot (Rechenberg)
    I had never seen this V1 with suicide mission pilot (Rechenberg)


    The 2 atomic bombs dropped on Japan
    The 2 atomic bombs dropped on Japan

    a more powerful and smaller bomb
    a more powerful and smaller bomb







    It was great to re-visit the museum. Thanks to my friend Steve for joining me.

    2018/09/11 Historic Flight Foundation North of Seattle
    π 2018-09-11 01:01 in Flying
    Just minutes from Flying Heritage and Combat Armor Museum by KPAE, is another small museum: Historic Flight Foundation. I went to check it out and because it was the end of the day, I got a private tour of some of their planes, which was well worth the price of entry :)





    nice glass instruments in the middle :)
    nice glass instruments in the middle :)








    It's not huge, but definitely worth a quick visit if you are in the area.

    2018/09/10 Visiting 4 Google Offices around Seattle
    π 2018-09-10 01:01 in Google
    My team went to Seattle for a couple of days, so I used the opportunity to go see the other nearby offices. The Kirkland campus is a really nice one:


    this bike was connected to the kitchen to a blender I think, I didn't get to see it work, though
    this bike was connected to the kitchen to a blender I think, I didn't get to see it work, though




    huge playing areas
    huge playing areas















    The next day I went to check out the Bothell office. While it was not open to regular employees, I got a very quick tour:




    The redmond office was a small office with a few logistics people, not much to visit. The next day was time to go to work in the Fremont office. Lots of buildings there:











    fresh baguette, yum
    fresh baguette, yum













    Definitely very nice offices, glad that I got to see more of them than on my last trip in 2015.

    2018/09/09 Getting My First Taste of Rally Driving at Dirtfish by Seattle
    π 2018-09-09 01:01 in Cars
    Going to Dirtfish had been on my todo list for quite a while, and my upcoming trip to seattle was a good excuse to make it happen. The Dirtfish staff was great all around, starting by making me a spot for a private class when they were otherwise already booked out for the dates that worked for me.
    I showed up bright and early the first morning to get a quick tour of the premises and start with my classroom session:


    my car for the day was waiting when I arrived, a nice rally prepped WRX STI
    my car for the day was waiting when I arrived, a nice rally prepped WRX STI



    great collection of rally memorabilia
    great collection of rally memorabilia


    the playground
    the playground

    the car I got to drive
    the car I got to drive

    No lift brake turn here :)
    No lift brake turn here :)

    The first day didn't have rain, so they made their own :)



    On the first day, I learned the very basics, including trying to stop myself from the urge to countersteer when I was sideways (essential for RWD, but counter productive for AWD).

    On day #2, we made a lot more progress with my new instructor for the day:




    I got the car suitably dirty :)
    I got the car suitably dirty :)

    During a bit of downtime, I got a quick tour around the grounds that are famous because they were used for the show Twin Peaks, as well as the garage where they work on cars:





    They even threw in professional pictures, very nice of them:


    Needless to say that I had a hell of a lot of fun. I sure didn't turn into a rally expert in 2 days, but I improved a lot from the total rookie level I was at when I started. It'll definitely be fun to go back.

    Here's a video of one of my last laps on the mixed course I was running in the rain and on a mix of gravel and tarmac. It even included a hand brake turn :)

    2018/09/08 Another Seattle Visit
    π 2018-09-08 01:01 in Trips
    This time I went to Seattle for a quick work trip, but I figured it would make sense to arrive earlier during the weekend and try some rally driving with Dirtfish. It was way too much fun and worth the trip alone.
    Going there meant that I picked a bed and breakfast nearby by roaring river and a bunch of hiking trails. It was quite nice:





    I only had time to hike up little Si during the day after driving
    I only had time to hike up little Si during the day after driving





    On the 2nd day after driving, I went to check out the small railway museum nearby:




    I then drove out towards Seattle area (kirkland) and stopped by a nice botanical garden:






    I then went to visit the very nice Google Kirkland Campus

    The next day, I went to the Natural History Museum. It's not huge, but worth a small visit outside of its total lack of car parking which was a pain:










    After the museum and with the car parked, biked around Seattle a bit with the electric bikes they had around. The University campus is very nice and worth going through:




    Harry Potter like
    Harry Potter like



    these bikes were lifesavers
    these bikes were lifesavers

    I then went to 2 different flight museums:

  • Flying Heritage and Combat Armor Museum
  • Historic Flight Foundation
  • From there, I quickly went to check out a couple of other google offices and stopped by the microsoft campus, because why not. Know your enemy and all :)


    I wish I didn't remember this. By the way it was 'plug and pray' (not play)
    I wish I didn't remember this. By the way it was 'plug and pray' (not play)


    poor Paul Allen just died. 'Funny' story is that Bill Gates and Ballmer tried to screw him out of his stock. He refused and became a multi billionaire. Good for him
    poor Paul Allen just died. 'Funny' story is that Bill Gates and Ballmer tried to screw him out of his stock. He refused and became a multi billionaire. Good for him




    pretty but I think I'll pass
    pretty but I think I'll pass


    The next day, I took a few more pictures around Fremont where I was working:







    Seattle is quite pleasant when the weather is nice :)

    See more images for Another Seattle Visit

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