Tag Archives: Old Town

San Diego beyond the zoo

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Cabrillo Monument

Cabrillo Monument

I miss San Diego. And I imagine I’m not alone in that sentiment. In fact, anybody who visits is likely to wish they could linger a bit longer and come back soon. To me San Diego combines the best of California: LA’s balmy weather with San Francisco-like character of distinct neighborhoods, history – and street cars. For most people San Diego Zoo is the first association with the city. It was for me as well and I’ll write another blog about the sun & fun side of San Diego, the zoo included. But this one is about old San Diego and its charms.

Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo – or rather João Rodrigues Cabrilho – sailing up the west coast of North America in service of Spain discovered San Diego Bay on September 28, 1542. He called it San Miguel. The voyage’s diary provides a description of the not-so-friendly first encounter with the locals:

“…they went about six leagues along the coast running north-northwest, and discovered a port, closed and very good, which they named San Miguel. (…) Having cast anchor in it, they went ashore where there were people. Three of them waited, but all the rest fled. To these three they gave some presents and they said by signs that in the interior men like the Spaniards had passed. They gave signs of great fear. On the night of this day they went ashore from the ships to fish with a net, and it appears that here there were some Indians, and that they began to shoot at them with arrows and wounded three men.”

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Albuquerque beyond Breaking Bad

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Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad’s Albuquerque (Image: New Yorker)

A cult show Breaking Bad resumes tonight for its fifth (part II) and final season, completing the transition of a mild-mannered high school teacher Walter White, played masterfully by Bryan Cranston, into a drug cook and kingpin par excellence who calls himself Heisenberg. The show’s success spurred great interest in the city where it’s set and filmed, Albuquerque, New Mexico, to a point where even the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau provides a guide to exploring Breaking Bad locations. And local businesses are following the suit by offering popular new items such as blue ice candy – a nod to the show’s iconic blue meth – Bathing Bad bath salts, or Heisenberg’s Dark Ale.

Breaking Bad fans who make a pilgrimage to Albuquerque want to know: how bad is it really? Well, it tends to score on the high side (pun intended) among U.S. cities with substantive crime issues but has a long way to go to “top performers” such as Detroit. And of course the key principle of real estate – location, location, location – applies as it does everywhere, so neighborhoods vary. Read the rest of this entry

A different look at Mombasa

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stereograph viewer

Stereograph viewer (Image: http://www.opb.org)

Meet my latest addition: stereographs. A few weeks ago I found an intriguing stall in Washington’s Eastern Market and I was hooked after searching to my heart’s content through hundreds of amazing, century-old images from around the world. Before iPads, TV, and movie theaters there were stereographs. It’s a simple yet brilliant concept: a special camera took two images right next to each other, shifted slightly just the way the image that our two eyes see is shifted. The effect? When you look at a stereograph through special binoculars – a stereoscope – the image becomes 3D! Basic optics, magical result. In the late 19th and early 20th century stereographs were the craze. They were a way to see famous and exotic places come to life in a way that no ordinary photograph could create. They reigned supreme until the arrival of moving pictures but still today have a devoted crowd of enthusiasts – counting me. Read the rest of this entry