Geneva anew

11
Apr
2014

Today I took a great, self-guided tour (wandering, really) around Geneva. I started near the UNAIDS office where my friend works, and walked through the Botanical Gardens, along the lake into the heart of old Geneva. There I visited the St Pierre cathedral, followed by the extensive ruins excavated beneath. It is amazing how many times that site has been built on over the millennia. After that I visited the Museum of the Reformation, which I highly recommend if you are coming to Geneva. One really can’t separate the history of Geneva from the history of the Protestant Reformation. Geneva has been described at the Rome of Protestantism, and certainly after visiting this museum, one understands why. In particular it was fascinating to see how intertwined so many of the facts of the day were which allowed Protestantism to thrive, such as the (then fairly new) existence and use of the printing press. In the space of only a few years, Geneva took in so many religious refugees that the population of the city doubled, and the architecture of Geneva became one of much taller buildings (still needing to be inside the city walls for protection, the only place to go was up). After the museum, I headed down to the restaurant at the Bains des Paquis, a jetty that sticks out into the lake. There I met Michael for a quick bite, before heading over to the station to get a train back to Versoix. I was impressed how easy it was to find everything and get around and use the trains. That rumor about Swiss efficiency seems to be true. The weather could not have been more beautiful today, about 70 and sunny. You can check out the pics from the day below…

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Arrivée à Genève

11
Apr
2014

Since I always have to stop through another city on my way to Marrakech (there are, after all, no direct flights from NYC), I always look at it as an opportunity to take a mini side vacation for a few days. This time I noticed a route through Geneva, and that gave me an opportunity to  catch up with my friend Jonathan who I haven’t seen in a few years. He picked me up at the airport yesterday and then brought me to his beautiful house in the suburb/town of Versoix. Everything about his place is perfect, beautiful, and of course in order (as one would expect of the Swiss. Needless to say, I am in heaven. :)) And I finally got to meet Jonathan’s husband Michael for the first time, and we shared a tasty meal in the charming nearby town of  Carouge, followed by a gelato and short walk around.

Today I will go to the city center and have a general tourist walkabout. The last time I was in Geneva was over 20 years ago, and the only thing I remember about it from that time is that it was exceedingly boring.  I suspect that I will find it more interesting this time around, but I will let you know later tonight.

A somewhat frantic race to the finish line

9
Apr
2014

I really should plan for longer trips here, there is always so much to do, and today in particular I was running around like a mad man. I did work in time to have a couple of nice meals though, highlighted by pastilla and mechwi and friendly fun talk with friends and colleagues. I will probably be back again in a month or two for another round of project work, there is so much to do. That said, I am very happy with all that we accomplished, and it was nice catching up with people while here, and experiencing warm and sunny days for a change.

Tomorrow I will head to Geneva to visit my old friend Jonathan (no, not the other one) for a few days, and then I will finally head back to NYC.

I’m off

2
Apr
2014

The title of this post refers to several things actually.

I’m off my diet, at least the strictest part of it. And to celebrate, last night we treated ourselves to an amazing meal at Del Posto. Five-course tasting menu, amazing cocktail and bottle of wine. Everything was so tasty and rich. The bread, the pastas, the mains, the desserts and various amuse-bouches. And that leads me to…

I’m feeling off. Especially after my healthy eating of the past month, I think re-introducing all of the above at one time was too much. I felt bloated and queasy much of the night, and didn’t sleep very well, alas. I was hoping to be better rested today because, finally…

I am off to Morocco for work again. I leave tonight from Newark, fly through Geneva and connect an hour after I land to a flight for Marrakech. I will be there for about 8 days, followed by a few days stopover in Geneva to visit my old friend Jonathan who I haven’t seen in a few years.

I’m off to pack, catch you later.

 

Heading home

27
Oct
2013

I really didn’t do much that was touristy this time in Marrakech, it was really all work. That said, it was interesting work and it was nice spending time in a few of the places I had been before and seeing some of the nice people I had met here before (and meeting some new ones). It maybe too early to tell, but it looks like I will be coming back here a few more times in relation to this project. I am now having breakfast in my hotel, and awaiting my 2 hour ride to Casablanca (the alternative was to take the 40 min flight at 5am), where I will catch my flight back home to New York. I left the US over a month ago, and this trip has taken me to so many fantastic places, and allowed me to reconnect with a group of wonderful friends.  See you on the other side of the Atlantic.

Re-bonjour, Marrakech

24
Oct
2013

I have to admit I didn’t expect to be back in Morocco this soon after my first trip 6 months ago. But this time I am here for work, so it is a bit more formal. The hotel they have put me up in is a western style boutique hotel, and it is nicely designed with a lot of nice touches, even as I am reminded of the chaos of certain places (there was a dog barking loudly just outside my not very soundproofed window much of the night). I am staying til Sunday, at which point I will finally head back to New York. After more than a month on the road, I am ready (even though I am excited to be back in Morocco).

babb

Off I go

23
Sep
2013

As one can no doubt tell from the date of my last blog post, it has been almost three months since I have written anything. There have been several reasons for this including an incredibly busy summer, a general malaise with blogging, and a redesign that I have spent far too much time waiting to complete.

The redesign you see before you. To tell the truth, I am not entirely happy with it and will probably change it again soon. Nevertheless, it does contain a few things I think are working well, and that I will incorporate in the final design. For one, I was looking for a way to highlight some of the literally thousands of photos I have taken on my travels over the past several years, in a way that invites greater exploration or curiosity. To that end, the photo at the top of every page is a random one that will change with every page load. Clicking on it will take you to that photo in my vast, picasaweb collection. Secondly, I have included mapping that will give greater context to my posts, since so many of them are written in so many various places around the globe. On a page of many posts, the map at the right will show the locations of all of the posts on that particular page. On a single blog post, it will show the location of that post. Of course this will require me going back through all of my old posts and adding such information to them. I have gone back several months in my posts and done just that. All future ones will be made with a location, and I will eventually get to all of the old ones. Lastly, the blog is now much more responsive when using a mobile device, and will resize appropriately. As I said above, I am not entirely happy with the new design despite having some elements I really like, but I was sick of letting it languish. Better to put it out there and see how it works, then tweak or change later.

Another reason to pick this all up again is that (you guessed it) I am embarking on another grand trip. I leave today for Belgrade (to see my dear friend Boris), then off to Paris, then Venice, then Hamburg, then Marrakech, then back to New York. The last two, Germany and Morocco, are work related (or work mixed with pleasure). Stay tuned for the photos and updates!

 

Takes me back

6
Apr
2013

It has been over 10 years since I was last in Amsterdam, and it all seems so familiar (in a very good way). I am reconnecting with old friends and making new ones, which is quite nice. I am staying with my friend Xavier who I know from when we worked together in LA about 10 years ago. He and his roommates are really lovely, and their place is located in the beautiful center of Amsterdam. Later this evening I will have drinks with my friend Stijn who I met while traveling in Thailand in 2006, and tomorrow I will have dinner and drinks with another friend, Jasper, who I haven’t seen since 1993. It is funny how the internet makes reconnecting and staying in touch with people so much easier. I am really glad I decided to stop over here on my way to Morocco, it is such a beautiful city.

canal

On the eve of a big adventure

3
Apr
2013

It is finally here, I take off tomorrow for Amsterdam for a few days, followed by Morocco for three weeks, and finally Spain for a few days. I will be gone for a month for a much needed vacation. The last month has been the busiest I have ever had, completing no less than six (yes six!) websites, if you can believe that. Stay tuned over the next month, as I should be blogging in force, with lots of photos and commentary (unlike the last couple months in which I had very little time to say much of anything about anything).  I am super excited!

That time again

25
Feb
2013

The last fews days have been rather frustrating on both the work and personal fronts, alas. Maybe it is the winter blahs. Fortunately, I am already putting in place my favorite remedy: planning my next trip. This time, I am going to Morocco. I have always wanted to go but for whatever reason, other places always came first. In a strange way, I guess I owe my decision to finally go on this trip to the French army’s recent invasion of Mali, followed by the hostage-taking in Algeria. It really made me think about the changing nature of North Africa, and that if I wanted to go to Morocco, I should probably do it before the prevailing cultural winds make it impossible for someone like me (you know, Gay-American-Communist-Jewish-Atheist, or however I am viewed) to consider doing so safely. Plus I have friends in Marrakech who invited me on a fascinating trek with them through some Berber villages in the mountains. Then I convinced my wonderful friend Marites to come meet me afterwards for a two week trip around the country. We have yet to figure out exactly where we will go, but I imagine it will include Marrakech, Casablanca, Fez, Tangier, and several small places in between. Maybe we will even venture into the Western Sahara, who knows. In any event, I just booked my flight the other day, and as fate would have it, one of the cheaper itineraries took me through Amsterdam going (where I will spend 4 days with friends) and Madrid coming back (where I will spend 2 or 3 days). So all in all, it should be an awesome trip. Stay tuned for more deets.