Kicking off Summer!

We kicked off summer with the last day of school and our little town’s “Fête des enfants”. If you recall last year, it was a nice evening with a parade after school, and then the kids get a few free hours to go crazy in a fairground set up for kids only. It’s a nice way to end the year and the kids were really looking forward to it.

This year was… less fun. The day was pretty rainy and we kept expecting the event to be cancelled, but the sun came out by the end of the day and we never got “the call”. So we headed downtown and joined up with the mayhem that is a street full of a few hundred kids, some out-of-tune fife players, and all the teachers and parents in the area. Then it started to rain. I mean, really, really, rain.

The parade came along, and sure enough, all the cardboard outfits were disintegrating and the kids (and fifers) were soaked to the core. But we snapped our obligatory photos and let them head over to the fairground while we went to a friend’s house for some celebratory wine.

After about 30 minutes, I got a phone call from a teacher to come meet up with my child who wanted to go home – but it was a wrong number, in fact, I don’t know what happened to that kid – but it made me think our kids were also not going to last a few hours as planned. We went to pick them up and discovered a fairground full of wet children, shivering like frightened kittens, all ready to come home. There was even some crying (mostly theirs). So, instead we made them come back with us to our friend’s house for a BBQ and an evening of parental celebration before walking home late at night… in the rain, again. At least they were already wet, so it’s ok, right? Hooray for summer vacation!

By the weekend, it was time to celebrate our great nation’s 150th birthday! The local Canadian expat group was hosting a Canada Day dinner in Geneva, so we spent the evening eating and drinking some hometown favourites: Moosehead beer, Okanagan wine, President’s Choice cookies, Pop-Tarts (are those Canadian??), Timbits (flown in from Montreal that morning, nothing like kind of stale Timbits for a taste of home!), and a good old fashioned barbecue dinner.

We sang bilingual O Canada with a singer who couldn’t get the sound system to work, but the 75 of us or so made up for that lack. We met people from NB, ON, AB, SK, QC, BC and several “honourary” Canucks who were just visiting – but that’s ok, Canada Day is all-inclusive. We missed the Ottawa fireworks, but went home happy nonetheless. Here’s to the start of a great summer!


Bali summer camp: Wedding edition

Over the past, oh, decade or so, there have only been a handful of times we’ve managed to take an adults-only trip. Once was New Year’s in Banff a few years ago, and otherwise a few long weekends here and there. So any time we can get away on our own is a fantastic opportunity all on its own. Throw in our best friends’ wedding, a visit “home” to Indonesia, meeting up with amazing friends old and new, and a relaxing week on a tropical island, and you have the makings of the perfect trip!

The happy couple – from Australia and Canada, respectively – decided it would be easier to have their families and friends meet halfway for their wedding, bringing us all back to Bali to celebrate their marriage where it all began in Indonesia. Grandma came here to stay with the kids for a week while we snuck out of town. I was fresh off my trip to Hawaii, so although I literally flew around the entire world within a few days, I was still game.

First we spent a few nights on our own in Sanur and then we headed over to Lembongan island for about a week. We were lucky enough to book in at a resort with several other (child-free) couples, and the entire week felt like adult summer camp – drinking bedside (and in) the pool, staying up late playing cards, watching sunsets and sunrises and evening stars, and sharing embarrassing stories about our mutual friends. We rented scooters and traveled around the island all week, stopping for snacks and drinks, exploring the beaches, and visiting other resorts.

The wedding itself was just perfect – at sunset, on the beach, filled with gorgeous colors and smiling faces. Everyone had spent the week already getting to know each other, so there was none of that wedding “awkwardness” of having strangers trying to bond over the course of an evening. That comfort might have led to me drinking too many ciders and spending the night being loud and underclothed in the pool, but it was all in good fun. And when you get a bunch of Canadians and Australians together with a bunch of alcohol, what else can you expect?

Other highlights included a snorkeling trip, which was rather poorly planned on the morning after the bachelor/hen party. Fortunately the ladies took it easy the night before, but the guys were up too late and got too drunk – as it turns out, a bunch of hungover guys on an early morning snorkeling trip is a terrible idea. By the way, when you throw up in the ocean while snorkeling, it doesn’t bring all the fish to you. It just fills the ocean with vomit. Disappointingly, the reefs around the areas we visited were not very healthy, so we didn’t see much. But I still enjoyed getting out with my snorkel while B napped on the beach.

I mentioned we rented scooters – well, by “rented” I mean we paid some local families to give up their scooters for a week or so. They were not in the best condition. Between five of us, we probably had one working scooter. All the brakes were questionable, no one’s speedometer worked, starters were patchy, but it was worth the freedom of being able to tour the island on our own schedule. There was one sketchy bridge connecting our island to the next island, which we crossed several times to visit the restaurants and beaches on that side despite it feeling unsafe – and horrifyingly, it collapsed only days after we had been there, so my gut feeling was terrifyingly correct. Oh and there was the time B broke his toe on a wall by driving a bit too close… but otherwise we were ok, moms!

Too soon it was over, our friends were Mr and Mrs, and we had to head home. We had a day to kill in Seminyak, and we were looking forward to getting some (slightly illegal) DVDs, Indonesian knicknacks, and visiting our other favorite Bali restaurants and shops. But the weather was not in our favour, and instead we spent most of the day waiting out the rain in various cafes until we gave up and went to the airport to kill the hours before our plane left.

Who is getting married in Bali next?? We’re totally there.

Lovely Leuven – catching up

We are back online after a little break. Time to catch up on some recent adventures!

The best thing about living in Central Europe is being able to visit nearby cities easily by car. So at New Year’s, we decided to take a quick weekend trip to see our friends in Leuven – one family lives there now and another was visiting from Indonesia for the holidays, a perfect excuse to go!

We woke up (very) early on New Year’s Day and hit the road. Personally, I was excited to see the sights as we drove up through France, Luxembourg and into Belgium. As we set off, up and over the Jura mountains, the sky started to lighten and we caught glimpses of beautiful green valleys and misty fields. Then the fog rolled in. And in, and in… It was so foggy that we could only see a few meters ahead of us on the road. And it stayed with us, as we drove up through France, Luxembourg and into Belgium. We saw no sights. At one point, we decided to stop for lunch and the only thing we could find – literally – was a McDonalds. Thank goodness for those glowing golden arches. We couldn’t even see far enough off the road to find a gas station when we needed one.

The sun appeared for just this one moment on the drive up!
The sun appeared for just this one moment on the drive up!

But we made it to Leuven safely with a joyous reunion (and well-deserved beer) at the hotel. That night, we grabbed some Italian food with our pile of extremely tired kids and planned our city touring for the following day.

Top of the Belgium bucket list was beer. The guys were keen to try all the Trappist beers that Leuven had on offer and they made a little dent in them – unfortunately, the brewery that they tried to visit only gave tours to 8 or more people, so they had to settle on simply drinking all the beer in the bar instead of on the tour. I think that was an acceptable compromise. The rest of us wandered the city, checking out the remnants of New Years parties and explaining to the kids every five seconds why there was so much confetti and empty bottles on the street. But we topped it off with some gourmet hamburgers, so all was forgiven.

We also found a delicious chocolaterie with amazing handmade truffles. The owner let the kids dip their fingers into the chocolate fountain – I’m really not sure how sanitary that was, but the kids were thrilled. Then we bought some pies and books in the market, and gave ourselves a walking tour of the amazing city architecture.

That night was dinner with the whole gang – and more joyous reunions took place! The kids went wild while we tried our best to have some adult conversation. And J was lucky to have a sleepover with her bestie that night. Note to self: don’t ask the kids to take the photos of you and your friends because they will all be out of focus.

The next day we said our goodbyes and headed back on the road for another foggy drive home. We decided to take the long way around the Jura, heading up through Geneva instead of over the mountains – good choice, since we could now see the snow that had fallen over the weekend and blocked our way. Phew!

Looking forward to our next trip!

London part 1: the arrival

Back in March, my sister and I went on a Thelma-and-Louise style trip to Paris and London (minus the manslaughter and double suicide, of course…). But it was a super fun last-minute vacation, and extra special because it was probably the first time we had ever traveled together, just the two of us. Why Paris and London? Well, it seemed to be a fair halfway point between Canada and Indonesia. Plus, who wouldn’t want to go there??

It’s taken me a while to post this because we crammed so much into our week abroad that I was exhausted just trying to sort through all the photos. But now I’m ready! So let’s do London.

We met in the Paris airport on a chilly Saturday morning. As it turns out, public spaces in Paris are not heated. Coming fresh off the plane from Jakarta, I had to put on two pairs of pants just to keep warm while I waited. Soon my sister arrived and there was much rejoicing. Our plan was to head straight to the Gare du Nord and catch our train to London. We hopped on the metro, passing what I think must be the ugliest part of Paris: crumbly buildings, industrial yards, graffitied train stations and gypsy tents made out of discarded fridges and old clothes. As it turns out, most of Paris looks like that, but more on that later.

When we arrived at the Gare, we had a few hours to kill before our train to London, so we took a little wander around the area. Although there wasn’t a lot to see – other than about 1000 cafes, all with the exact same red awnings and wicker chairs out front – we stumbled on a lovely little indoor market (also not heated) selling fresh produce, flowers, seafood, cheese, meats – so we picked up a little treat of salami and delicious stinky cheese for the train ride. Our train companions were thrilled about that.

The trip was only a few hours, and the track went under the English Channel. I was hoping it would be epic – how often do you get to travel for miles underneath the water? But we didn’t see any coastline or actual water, because the tunnel starts so far away from the edge, and then inside the tunnel is quite dark – of course, because it’s a tunnel. This makes total sense in hindsight. I’m not sure what I was expecting; maybe one of those glass aquarium tunnels where fish swim right over top of you? I guess that was a bit unrealistic. So the ride wasn’t very exciting, but it was neat to see the Paris suburbs turn into quaint English pastures as we chugged along.

We rented a little apartment in London just south of Regent’s Park, perfectly situated to walk to most of the tourist areas, and right on the underground line for areas that were a bit too far on foot. That night we were up for an adventure, so we headed straight out to explore the town!

The first place we ended up was an adorable and totally packed English pub that was about the size of a small living room. We shoved our way to the bar, ordered some pints and started chatting to a couple nearby. Turns out they were visiting from the U.S. and were equally up for an adventure. So the four of us had a few more drinks and wandered off to find “real English” dinner – that didn’t turn out to be too hard, and we soon found ourselves in the (probably haunted) top floor of a pub eating a variety of liver pies and heartily overcooked vegetables. And it was all as bland and tasteless as we expected. Mission accomplished!

We stumbled out of the pub and wandered around Piccadilly Circus – which, disappointingly, is not at all the animal kind of circus. Wikipedia informed me that our British friends use “circus” to mean a junction of streets in a circle. Silly. We checked out some shops, I bought a coat because it turns out London is cold, and eventually parted ways with our American friends to get a bit of sleep back at the apartment.

Next up: Irish partying & garlic love

Wintertime in Calgary

In the middle of our winter holidays in Canada, B and I took a week out for ourselves to visit family and friends in the Calgary area. It was our first real non-kid vacation ever!

Our plan was to rent a car at the airport, spend a few days in the city to see the aunts, uncles and cousins that we hadn’t seen in several years, pick up our friends at the airport and head into Banff for a few days of frigid fun over New Year’s Eve.

We arrived at the airport on a snowy, blustery morning. I was nervous about renting a car because we only have Indonesian drivers’ licenses, and, well, those aren’t exactly recognized internationally. I had done a lot of digging on the rental company’s website and brought along some printed pages from their rules & regulations. Clutching them, I handed over my driver’s license to the clerk… “Oohh, no, Indonesia?” Me: (oh crap) “Yeah… we live there, we’re just here visiting family…” And then he proceeds to talk about the recent airplane crash in Indonesia, all the while ringing up our car order like nothing is amiss! I am sorry to say that I was relieved to talk about an airplane crash rather than my questionable driving status. He even managed to talk us into an upgrade from a mid-size SUV to a full-size truck, because, well, Alberta.

That morning we caught up with my cousin and her husband for brunch at a hipster beer-house-slash-breakfast place. Mimosas were on sale. I approved. The next few days were a blur of family visits. We managed to fit in both sides of my family and B’s family too, as well as some wandering around downtown and a drive out to the country.

My mom’s side has some land just outside Calgary along the Elbow river, and I used to spend summers there as a kid. I always like to go back and see how much smaller things look as an adult. This time, they were covered in snow and wintry beauty. We stopped in to see my aunt and then took a little drive around the neighborhood.

Later that day, we had to stop in at Peter’s drive-in for some burgers and milkshakes, which turned out to be kind of a bad choice on a -25C day, but they were still delicious.

The next day, we met our friends at the airport to begin our trip into Banff!


Koh Lanta Part 1 – beaches, beer, bliss

We decided to take some time off the grid in Koh Lanta, Thailand. It was pure chance that we ended up there – the beaches and villas looked nice and the flights were easy, so we went for it! We rented a private villa 100 m from the beach and made plans to just lie around and swim for the week.

Our very early morning flight took us through Kuala Lumpur, with a transfer to Krabi, where we were picked up by a van and shuttled onto the island. We were all pretty wiped after waking up at 2 am that morning, so we all slept through a lot of the drive, but a few of us managed to see the two ferry rides from the mainland – through mangrove forests and around lumpy islands in the mist.

We arrived at our villa and settled in for our stay, and by that I mean we immediately went to the 7-11 and bought all the different types of beer available. Our host had also purchased us a “welcome” package of weird snacks, most of which were basically inedible, but fun to try! There was some kind of meat-flavor balls, some prawn crackers, honey graham rip offs, and some bbq chips. The best that Koh Lanta has to offer! That afternoon, the kids jumped into the pool and basically never came out for the rest of the week.

Day two started with a visit to a lovely cafe, then we spent the rest of the day on the beach. The beach was a short walk away, a 4-km stretch of deserted white sand with plenty of interesting shells and rocks to keep everyone happy.

As it turned out, we were visiting Koh Lanta in the low season, and many shops and tourist amenities were closed. We had a hard time finding groceries, so we ate a lot of strange meals concocted out of whatever we could scrounge at the 7-11: popcorn, jam, eggs and “milk croissants” featured heavily in our diets for the week. But there were also a few restaurants in walking distance, so we were able to enjoy a few good meals of the western-style food we don’t normally get at home in Indonesia – hamburgers, meat pies, pasta. It’s a bit silly that we ended up all the way in Thailand to eat north american food. At one point, I did get a fried rice dish that came in a pineapple, that’s kind of Thai, right? At least most of the restaurants had pet cats, so the kids basically spent their time teasing and chasing them around, the perfect babysitter during our meals… just scratchier.

That first day, we made plenty of plans to take some tours and visit the sights of the island for the rest of the week. Stay tuned!


Aussie Adventure Part 2 – Around Sydney

Our Sydney holiday started with checking into our rental house for the week. It was in the Kings Cross area, just outside downtown, and I was looking forward to being within walking distance to lots of food and shops. It turns out we were very close indeed to some shops! Unforuntately, they were almost all *ahem* adult shops. LittleB was super excited to walk past a row of “toy” stores and really wanted to go in – we figured he should wait another 11 years or so before checking out those particular establishments.

But actually, the place we rented was along a very sweet little neighbourhood road nearby. The landlady was from France, so B and I woo’ed her with our language skills, and she was very excited to have her Canadian ‘cousins’ staying downstairs. We had the run of the bottom half of the family’s house, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, only a few hundred metres away from a subway stop and a grocery store, bottle shop, and plenty of restaurants.

We had six days to explore Sydney, and we barely scratched the surface. The first day, we decided to make the kids happy and visit the Aquarium. We showed up early to avoid the crowds – but it was still packed. We shuffled along, checking out all the fish, sharks and platypuses. The kids got these little quiz cards and got to move from station to station, answering questions and stamping their cards. They were so excited, and just wanted to run straight from station to station. So yeah, we basically paid $25 each for them to get a free piece of paper, oblivious to the wonders of the ocean all around them. But we did see some cool stuff. There are viewing tunnels through the tanks, where sharks, manta rays, and a lonely dugong swim right beside and above you so you can more easily check out the weird holes and crevices on their undersides. We also made it to the top of the tank during feeding time and got to watch all the sharks fight over chum. The aquarium also had all the other usual stuff – penguins, coral tanks, seahorses, jellyfish. It was a good time.

Afterwards, we wandered around Darling Harbour, checking out the boats and other tourists. Then we found Paddy’s Market – a huge asian flea market, where we bought some touristy junk (probably made in Indonesia) and paused at a playground nearby to let LittleB climb around on some kind of rope death trap structure. J tried to climb it but only managed to get stuck and then complain loudly and anatomically accurately about the rope hurting her lady parts. Yeah, I think Australia is going to miss us.

On our way back to our subway stop, we took a break in a park to rest our whiny children. Afer a few minutes, we started noticing that there were a lot of rather scruffy characters around. It appeared we had stopped in what might have been the local homeless park. My dad suggested the bench we were on was probably someone’s bed, so we moved along. But I’m not convinced the park was entirely full of homeless people, and I think most of them may have just been scruffy regular folks. In fact, most of Australia seems to be full of scruffy regular folks. So much so, that B and I started playing a game called “Hobo or Hipster?” – every young person in the city was put to the test. It came out pretty even, I think.

Overall, one thing we were particularly looking forward to on our trip was Australian wine. My parents make a point of buying Australian shiraz even back in Ontario – we definitely needed to visit the source of this nectar. So I booked us on a day tour into the Hunter Valley. I checked around online until I found a tour that first, would take all six of us, and also, would include stops not only at wineries but at a chocolate factory, a brewery, a cheese shop, AND an animal park where we would get to hug some Aussie animals. I should tell you that for the six weeks leading up to our trip, J would say every day that she just wanted to hug a joey. That was it, hugging a joey was all she wanted from the entire country of Australia. Luckily, this was the place!

On the day of the tour, we stopped at the animal sanctuary first. Our guide took us to meet the koalas right away. First of all, they were much bigger than I was expecting. And much more active – I guess I always thought they were more slothy. But no, they are actually more like curious kittens, except with huge razor claws that they want to use for climbing up your soft human flesh. Ok, they’re actually pretty horrible creatures. I mean, they were cute to look at and their fur was spongy and oh so soft, but they are not cuddly at all, despite what childhood books on the other side of the world may teach you. I’ve also heard that they all have gonorrhea, so there’s that.

Next, we entered the roo pen. The friendliest one was this old crotchety guy, much smaller than the others, and who, as it turns out, was actually a “walleroo”. I made some kind of (possibly rude) inference about awkward cross-breeding between a kangaroo and a wallaby, thinking that why else would you name an animal after a mix if it’s not actually a mix, right? Like a Liger. Nope, the somewhat offended guide told me that they are a completely separate species. Sure they are, Australia.

Anyway, finally we found the friendly actual kangaroo (she had a collar to set her apart) and J got to hug her! Wish fulfilled!

Inside the sanctuary building were some other crazy pets. Like a dog that was totally blind and deaf, so she just ran up to every person to sniff out who it was, while the owner called her to no avail. Then there were these two sneaky parrots that used all us humans in the room like a bridge, hopping from one to another until they reached the cookie shelf to steal treats. They were bitey.

Next we moved on the the chocolate factory. Ok, we grew up in the town near the Hershey factory, so I wouldn’t call this place a factory in comparison. There was one tiny chocolate stirring machine and then some chocolate for sale… so I guess it was a chocolate producing place at least. It was expensive but tasty.

Luckily the wine was great. The first place we visited was a family vineyard, where we bought a bottle of delicious and expensive merlot to bring home with us. We also visited another vineyard in the afternoon, where we took home some yummy dessert wine. That place had a strange quirk of scattering the ashes of dead family members on rows of grapes and then naming the wine after them. I still can’t decide if that is sweet or a bit creepy. Either way, we drank some “Rosie” and she was pretty tasty.

Lunch was a stop at a big vineyard called Tempus Two, where we had some awesome umami burgers and did our cheese tasting. That was a bust, since all the cheese was just spreadable goat cheese with different flavorings. Um, where is all the actual cheese? Anyway, at least we got to drink some more wine with it.

Last stop was a local microbrewery, where we tried some strange options like “Christmas pudding” and some other ones I can’t remember. Also there was a bouncy castle to keep the kids busy while we drank. They knew how to do drinking right. Oh yeah, and I forgot to tell you that we were on this tour with another family – a family of Irish folks, half of whom were not drinking and the other half who barely drank anything/could not hold their liquor. Talk about going against stereotype. At least B and I drank enough for all of them combined, you know, just to make up for it. It was the least we could do.


Rome: the friends

Rome was a whirlwind of amazing sightseeing, delicious food, plentiful drinks, wonderful friends and of course a bit of work thrown in. I was attending a conference with other technical representatives from our partner organizations around the world. There’s something special about the common experience, knowledge and natural disposition of folk in the same types of jobs that makes it easy to get along instantly – really, I guess it’s just nice to be among your own people!

A colleague from work and I arrived early Sunday morning after a grueling 16-hr flight. Nevertheless, we managed to meet up with half a dozen others at the hotel and we headed off for a tour of Rome proper. It was a lovely, sunny day, although not as warm as spring should be. Ok for me though! That day we saw many famous places – Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Novana, Sant’Angelo Bridge, St. Peter’s Square. It was also just a great time wandering around with new friends.

The rest of the week consisted of long days in our conference sessions followed by many late nights trying to make the most of the eternal city. On Monday, one friend and I missed the train home from the conference (mostly due to the free-flowing wine at the kick-off cocktail party after the session); we just owned it – drank the rest of the wine while waiting for the next train, headed into the city center, had dinner at a little pasta place steps from the Pantheon, and wandered back to the Trevi fountain to snap some evening pictures. I thought maybe there would be fewer tourists at midnight, but I was wrong!

The hotel organized by the conference was not near the city center, rather it was in the suburbs and, as we found out, not very close to many good restaurants. We had seen one pizza place nearby, so on Tuesday we thought we could grab a few pizzas and bottles of wine and hole up in one of our hotel rooms. About 7 or 8 of us headed out on the hunt, only to discover that the pizza place was out of pizza. I don’t know how that is even possible… in Italy. Anyway, we spent the next hour wandering around trying to find a suitable replacement. Eventually we split up to divide and conquer: one group looked for pizza and the other was in charge of wine and accessories. I was team wine. We arrived at the wine store (re: grocery store) 5 minutes to close and they had already locked the doors, alas! The game was afoot. Luckily, further down the street we ran into a few other friends who had seen a restaurant/deli around the corner. We bought a few dusty bottles from the top shelf, and with our wine in hand, we met up with the pizza crew back at the hotel and piled into Codrin’s room for a raucous evening.

Wednesday night, we were determined to have better luck. First of all, we wanted to bring a UK friend into the fold, so we figured a beer night was in order. One of the local attendees volunteered to take us to some of her favorite places in town. She found a fantastic pizza place, where I ordered the most delicious pizza known to man: it involved truffle paste. Then we spent the rest of the night drinking beer in an “Irish pub” down the way.

The conference organizers put together an official group dinner on Thursday. By now, a core group of us (the “back of the bus gang”) had become very good at drinking and causing ruckus together, so this was bound to be a fantastic night. Sure enough, as 25 of us (and one misplaced Italian family) piled into a tiny Sardinian restaurant, good fun ensued. Several rounds of wine, many speeches and an impromptu talent show later, we brought down the house. The remaining group who could keep up headed out for a nightcap at a nearby bar. More fun ensued.

Friday night, after stopping for some goods at Eataly, four of us took a tour of the Vatican museum. Incredible. Unfortunately, we got split up in the crowds and two of us spent half an hour waiting for the others in the Sistine Chapel. I’m not complaining – if you’re going to spend half an hour waiting somewhere, it should be there. But it was getting late so we abandoned them and headed back to the hotel. The others made it back eventually as well, so no harm done. They did miss the Raphael Rooms, though!

All good things come to end… On Saturday, a few of us headed back downtown before our flight to stock up on food and gifts. It was a rainy, blah day, mirroring how I felt about leaving. But at least I managed to pack about half of Italy into my suitcase to enjoy back home (including 2 jars of truffle paste!).


NYC extravaganza – part 1

I’m sure you’ve all been wondering where I’ve been for this past week or two!

Well, I was in NYC last week for a work-related conference, followed by a trip to DC. Luckily, because I was so close to home, my parents were able to come down and spend the weekend with me.

I arrived in NYC on Friday, minutes before “winter storm Nemo” touched down. But I didn’t realize what was happening at the time, since I had been the air for so long and hadn’t heard any weather information. Thankfully, we landed without any issues. Indeed, the snow hadn’t started falling when I arrived. I later found out that we were one of the last planes to come into JFK that evening!

After landing, I caught an airporter shuttle and headed into town. Everything was feeling a bit surreal since it had been so long since I’d seen north america. The cars were on the wrong side of the road, there were no motorcycles, and the houses were not nearly close enough together. Oh yeah, and it was cold! (But don’t worry, fellow canucks, I was still under dressed compared to the locals and other tourists. It wasn’t that cold!)

An aside: I had a hard time finding clothes to wear on this trip. Winter coats are not something you typically need to buy in Jakarta, so I didn’t have a lot of choice… I had to settle for a $200 cashmere coat that I will probably never wear again. Argh!

Unfortunately, the storm meant that my family couldn’t arrive on Friday as planned. My parents were delayed until Saturday afternoon, and my sister had to cancel her visit completely. So, I holed up in the hotel room (at Times Square) and ate a giant club sandwich (which cost $30). But yum! real mayonnaise, bacon and chips!

Times Square 1
Times Square 1
Times Square 2
Times Square 2
Two "double" beds
Two “double” beds
The desk in the hotel
The desk in the hotel
Dinner, yum!
Dinner, yum!

Anyway, my delayed family left me with most of Saturday to myself.

I decided to wander around the city a bit to get my bearings. I headed out and walked up to Central Park – apparently with all the other people in Manhattan. Well, at least all the people with dogs, dogs in coats and boots and strollers.

It was beautiful, though. The snow was blanketing trees and icicles hung from street lamps.

Central park 1
Central park 1
Central park 2
Central park 2
Central park 3
Central park 3

I walked about halfway up the park on the west side, then turned around and headed back down the east side. I would have kept going, but I wanted to get to the MOMA when it opened. Along the way, I saw a bunch of great landmarks:

Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall
Central Park West
Central Park West
Radio City Music Hall
Radio City Music Hall
Rockefeller place skating rink
Rockefeller place skating rink
Rockefeller place
Rockefeller place
Rockefeller tower
Rockefeller tower
Rockefeller place.... in LEGO
Rockefeller place…. in LEGO
Trump Tower
Trump Tower
FAO Schwartz: the "BIG" piano
FAO Schwartz: the “BIG” piano

When I arrived at MOMA, there was already a lineup, but it was still early enough that it wasn’t to crowded. I paid my $25(!!) and went in. Now, it’s been several years since I took any art history courses, but most of the important things stuck with me. To see so many important works in one place, in person, was a bit overwhelming. I teared up a few times. It was lovely.

Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans
Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans
Munsch's The Scream
Munsch’s The Scream
Van Gogh's Starry Night
Van Gogh’s Starry Night
Monet's Water Lilies
Monet’s Water Lilies
Mondrian's Composition in Red, Blue and Yellow
Mondrian’s Composition in Red, Blue and Yellow
Pollock's Number 1A, 1948
Pollock’s Number 1A, 1948
Alfred Stieglitz's City of Industry
Alfred Stieglitz’s City of Industry

That afternoon, my parents arrived and we went out to celebrate with some beers! I teared up a few times. It was lovely.

Dad & Beer
Dad & Beer
Mom & Me
Mom & Me

Later on, we went to see ‘Wicked’ on Broadway. I didn’t tear up, but it was lovely too.

Stage of 'Wicked'
Stage of ‘Wicked’
Mom & Dad at Wicked
Mom & Dad at Wicked