Category Archives: travel

Hotel Room

Cinque Terre in Terrible Pictures

After a few hours of trains, we arrived in Monterosso!

Monterosso is the northernmost of five cities perched on the edge of the Mediterranean known as Cinque Terre. As our last major event we planned on hiking along the trails between the cities and relaxing on the sunny beaches of the Mediterranean. Let’s explore this last destination with the worst of my worst pictures.

1. Our hotel? Hotel Porto Roca? AMAAAAZING. This picture was taken at night, and I think we rotated it backwards.

2. SERIOUSLY… LOOK AT THIS VIEW (deeply overexposed)

If you’re going to stay in Monterosso, make sure to stay in OLD Monterosso. New Monterosso isn’t as quaint. Old Monterosso is connected to New Monterosso with a pedestrian tunnel.

3. The Pedestrian Tunnel – nothing in this picture is in focus.

I think I actually got a picture of Jen taking that picture of the Hotel Porto Roca sign up above. Please note, I am making a shadow puppet on her body – I am particularly proud of this.

4. The water was beautiful, here’s some water with some rocks in it with some trees around it. Pretty D- composition if I do say so myself.

Yes, our vacation was pretty excellent. Right up until the last day when I got food poisoning – presumably from some local fish. I threw up SO HARD that I blew a blood vessel in my eye. It was like sharknado out of my mouth except with local sea bass.

I asked Jen to document the event.


NEXT WEEK, I will post some good pictures of our 11 days in Italy!

Tuscan Hills

Florence in Bad Pictures (Part II: The Chianti Region)

Ahh, Chianti.

Jen and I took a one day trip into wine country as part of our exploration of the Tuscany region. Here’s a photodocumentary of our adventure featuring the worst photos from the trip.

We hopped in a van with 6 others and started winding our way out of downtown Florence. I was lucky enough to have a window seat as we soon began passing through beautiful tuscan hills. Olive trees and Vineyards extended as far as the eye could see. The landscape, peppered with castles and villas, was idyllic in every way. While we were zooming along the road, I leaned out the window with my camera to try and capture the scene and caught this first perfectly timed picture:

1. Tuscan hills: There is an amazing villa immediately behind that sign.
Tuscan Hills

The focus of this trip was Chianti.
Chianti was one of the first alcoholic beverages that I found myself enjoying. Defined by DOCG as a red wine with at least 80% Sangiovese grapes, Chianti is preferred by the locals with cheese or bread – almost never alone. It’s also conveniently cheap almost wherever you go! An expensive Chianti shouldn’t be more than about $35.

2. At the first winery, my face once again appearing fairly quasimodo.

3. Wine Cellar! Taken in shutter priority mode without proper timing.
Wine Cellar

Our second winery was at a beautiful villa, complete with gardens and dining room where we tried 6 different wines and enjoyed cheese, honey, and pasta. We relaxed in the gardens before venturing back to the city.

4. Jen took this gem of the gardens. I stepped in at the last second and she got this shot of my camera. That’s my chin in the upper right.

After a wonderfully relaxing day, we got back to the hotel.

5. Our hotel room. The lights switched off just exactly as I snapped the shot.
Hotel Room

Tune in tomorrow for terrible pictures from Cinque Terre!


Florence in Bad Pictures

After three days, I was pretty eager to get to Florence. Venice is a small small city and while it has a lot of charm and romance to it, after three days we’d seen most of it.

Florence was my favorite. We arrived and rattled our way through the cobblestone streets with our rollerbags. Our Hotel was GORGEOUS and just a stones throw from the Duomo.

Enjoy our worst pictures.

1. The Duomo – Build in the 1400’s it still stands as the largest masonry dome in existence. I was so enthralled by the Duomo that I took out a book on its construction once we got home. Here is the Duomo (translates to ‘home’ not ‘dome) taken with incredibly shaky hands.

2. The inside of the Duomo – One of our trip highlights was climbing the inside of the Dome. In addition to seeing the very cool construction methods, we got great views of Florence from above. The climb was tight spaces and narrow steep stairs coupled with mildly numbing heights. This shot shows Jen on the far left and some random lady in the tight spiral staircase to the top.

3. Tools to build the Duomo! Brunelleschi not only developed the clever means to build the huge masonry dome, he also designed many of the tools used for construction. Check out this sweet out of focus picture of a selection of his tools

4. Cacio Vino Trallalla – Perhaps our most beloved lunch, this little place is off a side road by the Ponte Vecchio. Run by a cute Italian couple, the restaurant provided top notch food and extreme charm. Here I am looking pretty dang Quasimodo.

5. Michelangelo’s David – A must see on any trip to Florence, Michelangelo’s David was impressive beyond all my expectations. This picture captures the SmartBrick, a device that monitors the cracking of the marble.

Thursday, get stoked for bad pictures from our trip out to the Chianti region!


Venice in Bad Pictures

We flew into Milan and on our first day in Italy took a train over to Venice. We had gelato and promptly got lost in the maze of streets and bridges. We stayed three days and checked out all of the standard tourist destinations. The problem is that it’s very hard to take a bad picture in Venice. The place is beautiful – still, let’s try.

1. Piazza San Marco – flooded. At night. With terrible exposure.

2. Ponte de Pune – translates to “fighting bridge”. Back in the day people used to fight and see who could knock the other into the water first. This selfie is very poorly aimed.

3. Street shot – Classic Mike D. Started the timer and set the time wrong.

4. Gondolas – Hilarious traffic jam.

5. Tourists go home! – Interestingly, tourism is Venice’s ONLY industry. Sure there’s Milano glass, but even that is deeply dependent on tourism.

6. List of Doges – A list of all the Dukes of Venice! Out of focus and completely uninteresting.

Next up? Florence.

and… We’re Back!

We are back from our Italian honeymoon adventure! It was an epic 11 day trip through Venice, Florence, and Monterosso (Cinque Terre). We have 1300 photos, so get ready for pictorial overload!

Well, not really.

Here’s the deal. We’ve all seen more than our share of beautiful vistas, impressive architectural feats, and flawless art – so instead I’m going to post a combination of our atypical pictures bustling with personality, and the comically bad pictures.

So get excited: The Italy 2014 recap is coming.


On Thursday I zipped out to Ohio for the day to meet a customer with a colleague. We had the luxury of taking the company plane; a rare treat that saves us a wealth of time and the pains of airport patdowns and lines. The machine is a small Cessna Mustang from 2010 – with fairly up to date technology. The cockpit glows from the multitude of bright electronic maps and screens.

It’s mostly quiet inside the cabin. There’s a constant growl from the engines, but it’s comfortable enough to carry on a conversation. The plane itself is fairly steady – we weren’t deeply effected, outside of a schedule setback, by the 100knot headwind.

That headwind was just one piece of the wacky weather that marched into New England on Thursday. While we were out in Ohio the fog rolled through Connecticut like a tsunami of marshmallow fluff. On our landing approach the cabin carried an eerie light, illuminated via the thick white clouds that blanketed the windows. As the plane began its descent I looked to the cockpit and watched the altimeter.

Mike D: We’re at 1000 ft.
Colleague: Wow. Clouds are low.
Mike D: 800.
Colleague: Can you see anything? I can’t see anything.

Note, we were landing in Hartford which has an elevation of about 180ft. So at this point while our altitude was 800, we were only about 620ft off the deck.

Mike D: 700.
Mike D: 600.
Colleague: That can’t be right. I still can’t see ground.
Mike D: We’re at 500ft.

At this point one of the two pilots was looking out the window trying to see ground. The other pilot kept his hands tightly on the yoke.

Mike D: 400ft.
Still complete white.
Mike D: We’re at 300.
Colleague: this is crazy
Mike D: 250.

Suddenly, the pilot pulled back hard on the yoke and threw the throttle all the way forward and we climbed climbed climbed from 250 to 4000 in what felt like seconds.

The pilots kicked into action mode and immediately started pulling out charts, flipping switches and bantering back and forth. A decision was made. We took a hard turn looped around and 30 minutes later were on the ground in New Haven, where the winds of the sound held the carpet of clouds at bay.

It was more fascinating than frightening. It was interesting to be able to witness the decision and the action of a pilot in a less than ideal situation. Both of the guys in the cockpit are ex-airforce guys and it was quite clear given their reactions; The pilots acted with impressive authority.

When we first got in the plane, one of the pilots guided us through the emergency exits. “If we’re in an emergency and you need to escape the aircraft, pull this lever, turn it clockwise, pull the door in and it’ll come right off. If it comes to that feel free to pull the rest of us out of the plane too.”

And while I never felt at risk, I’m still glad to be home!


One of my colleagues out here in Ohio pointed out an unusual trend. Rental car agencies, when they give you keys to the car, give you two keys.

This in itself is not unreasonable. Hotels typically give you two swipe cards. This way if you have two users, you’re cool. Except for the odd fact that the keys are connected via a crimped metal cable. You can not separate the keys.


I looked into this a bit and it looks like the reason for doing this is to assure that the two keys, which are required for resale, are not lost. If one key was ever lost by a user, then the rental company would be required to make an expensive replacement. I guess the car companies presumed that the minor inconvenience to their customers is not worth the potential cost for key replacement.

Boarding groups boggle my mind

Gate opened.

Welcome to flight 3503 with service to a place you probably don’t want to go. This flight is uncomfortably full so we are limited in overhead baggage storage. Please make sure you take advantage of the underseat storage. Anything larger than a loaf of bread will need to be gate checked.

At this time we’ll be boarding senior citizens and anyone with disabilities who require additional time on the jet bridge.

Now, we would like to welcome active, uniformed military personnel to board.

Families with infants are now encouraged to board.

All families traveling with children under 4 are now invited to board the aircraft.

We will now be accepting first class passengers through our priority lane.

Group one is now welcome to board.

Platinum members of our rewards program can now board.

Participants in our credit card Milage Premium program can now board.

Group two can now board.

Gold level rewards program travelers are now welcome to board through the priority lane.

Group three is invited to board through the economy lane.

Passengers without carry on luggage can board at this time.

Group four can now board via the economy lane.

Anyone named Phillip can now board.

Group five is encouraged to board.

Group six is invited to board the aircraft.

Silver level rewards program travelers are now welcome to board through the ‘we call it silver, but its virtually worthless’ lane.

All remaining passengers with a group assignment can board at this time.

Any passengers without a group assignment can now board.

Standby passengers with seat assignments can now board the plane.

Last call for flight 3503 to a place you probably don’t want to go? Last call for flight 3505?

Gate closed.