Burlington, Vermont

We visited Burlington, Vermont on the coldest days of the winter. And from what we’ve heard those cold temperatures were rare even for Vermont standards. It was like we hit the lottery of the coldest days. Yay. Despite the chill, we managed to survive and enjoy ourselves in this town on the shores of Lake Champlain.

We drove north on Wednesday, the first day of the year (Happy New Year!), and we made it to Burlington in four hours. We kept the driving speed low, and we had to stop a couple of times to clear the windshield, as the Golf’s washer nozzles weren’t working–they were either frozen, or the pump had died. The mountains we were driving through were covered with snow. The sky was pale blue with interesting cloud formations. And it was cold, about -1F by the time we reached Burlington.

H. had kept the place we were staying a surprise for me; he kept saying that it was sort of a Motel 7, as in “a slightly better version of a Motel 6”. Of course he was joking, as he has excellent taste (I mean, seriously, look who he is dating *cough, cough*), and he booked us a room at this amazing bed and breakfast called Made Inn Vermont (okay, the name is not that amazing, but anyway…). The place was beautifully decorated in a whimsical way, free of floral patterns and other decor associated with your typical inn. Our room was pretty big, and it featured a record player with a decent record collection, a guitar and a ukulele, books, a black wall where you could create your own chalk art and LED lights around the bed.

We spent a little bit of time at the inn, there were so many cool things to see and explore. Everything was tastefully put together. I really liked the art on the walls, made by the owner’s daughter: acrylic/ink drawings with a screen over them which gave them a ghostly character, same with the monochrome grey/black framed rectangulars along the hallway by the staircase. Slightly spooky and dark. The common sitting room downstairs was beautiful and it was connected to the breakfast area. Linda, the owner (who by the way also decorated the inn) offered us sangria, Heady Toppers and other snacks, which was nice.

We braved the -1F, feels like -19F temperatures and walked the couple of blocks to Church Street, a pedestrian way lined with stores and restaurants. Since it was New Year’s Day most places were closed. But we did check out the record store, the book store and another store selling all things Vermont. We had tea at Dobra Tea (I had the excellent herbal tea made from local herbs). We then went to dinner at Leunig’s, a French bistro and had an amazing meal. We drank some Glug, their warm holiday punch, which was perfect for the cold weather. I had the salmon with the roasted beet risotto, and H. had the macadamia and yuzo crusted mahi mahi. Both were delicious, and when H. asked the waitress for the recipe for the mahi mahi, she responded with a curt “we don’t give out our recipes”. Oh, well. Leunig’s was one of the dining recommendations from my friend Ryan who grew up in Burlington, so thanks Ryan.

Walking back to the inn in the cold was not pleasant. I was alright overall, but it was difficult to breathe in the cold air. And despite the two pairs of socks and tights, my toes were numb by the time we reached the inn. Our room was warm and cozy, and we chilled out listening to records, despite the owner’s repeated reminder about the available HBO on our TV (I don’t watch TV when I’m home, I am definitely not going to watch TV when I am on vacation).

The second day in Burlington was even colder than the first. Everything outside looked frozen. We had a delicious breakfast to fortify us for the day. We wanted to explore around despite the -11F, feels like -32F temperature. The original plan was to go skiing, but we wouldn’t enjoy it in this chill. We drove to Shelburne Bay Park, and walked for a little bit around in the woods, but it was impossible to stay outside in the brutal wind for longer than 10 minutes.  I sort of liked the look of the frozen bay, looking desolate and devoid of any sound.

We went to Shelburne Farms and our visit was limited to the store, where we sampled cheeses, jams and mustard. I bought the clothbound cheddar and the smoked cheddar, as well as a delicious strawberry rhubarb jam, a spicy honey mustard and maple syrup, all locally produced at the farm. Then we checked out the Shelburne Museum, where only one gallery was open. Since we were the only guests the guide graciously gave us a tour and talked about the exhibits, which included old signs, carriages, doll houses, toys and paintings. The most interesting thing to me was the pentimento effect on one of Browere’s paintings about the adventures of Rip van Winkle: you can see the faded form of the girl behind the dog, pretty neat.

And then it was beer tasting time! Our first stop was Fiddlehead Beer Company, a small and new brewery, where we tasted their three beers, the AltBier, and their two IPAs. Although I am not a big fan of IPAs, especially in the winter, I liked all their beers, and bought some AltBier for myself. After that we headed to Magic Hat, which of course is a much larger brewing company. We took the tour and then tasted some of their beers.  There were a couple of more breweries along the way we could have stopped at, but we were pretty tired. For dinner we went to Trattoria Delia, yes, exactly, an Italian restaurant, that had a beautiful fireplace, and stone and wood interior. By the end of the day I felt like I had gained ten pounds, as we were seemingly eating and drinking the whole day. But then again, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.  Thus concluded our second day in Vermont, which also happened to be my birthday. Nice to know I can handle extremely cold temperatures, although being from the Mediterranean I am certainly not designed for them.

And just like that the next day came and it was time to head home. Another good breakfast at the inn, another bloody cold day outside. We drove along Lake Champlain, where we witnessed the pretty neat effect of steaming fog. A little bit more driving around Burlington and the University of Vermont. Then we hit the I-89 south, and that was it, so long Burlington, Vermont. You are beautiful and interesting. We shall be back, some time in the Spring or the Summer when everything around us will be green instead of frozen, and when we can stay outdoors for longer than ten minutes at a time. Au revoir.

(See here for more photos from my trip to Vermont.)


Hey Look!

It only took me four months to post these Chihuly photos on flickr! Back in May, I visited the Dale Chihuly exhibition ‘Through The Looking Glass’ at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It was big, flashy, loud and glassy. And sometimes it was impressive. You would go in, look around, take photos, exit through the gift shop, spend money on Chihuly-approved merchandise. I did all the above with the exception of spending money. I took some photos with my other than the iPhone camera, you know, a real camera, and in typical fashion I procrastinated seemingly forever to review, edit and upload them.

So, yes, now that the exhibition is over, a month after the chaotic last days when the lines stretched all around the museum block and people waited for hours to see it, now that no one cares anymore, I have posted the photos on flickr (you can click here for the slideshow). Here are some of my favorites:

FAST Light at MIT

This past weekend of May 7 and 8 the MIT campus in Cambridge and the Charles River got illuminated by many quirky art installations. It was FAST Light, the finale of the three-month-long festival of Art + Science + Technology at MIT.  On Sunday I walked around the campus, enjoyed the scene and the neat art pieces,  and took some photos.

Liquid Archive


Light Drift

String Tunnels

Low Resolution

Oh, the evolution of the image quality through the history of photography: We started in low resolution and monochrome. Then we strove for higher resolutions and color. We went from cameras obscura to film to digital. We created heavy lenses with complex glass systems. We wanted more megapixels, we came to despise the grainy image, we wanted it to be crystal clear.

Then we became overcome with nostalgia of the grainy image. We went back to shooting film. Then we realized our cell phones took low resolution photos. We became obsessed with the faux-vintage look. We used and abused camera phone applications that give that certain look to our photos, we couldn’t get enough of applying the preset filters. We still want our phones to come with cameras with more megapixels to capture clear images, only to reject the clarity in editing and post-production. We killed image clarity with Hipstamatic and Instagram.

The evolution trajectory in image resolution has been from low to high to low-or-high. Clarity and image sharpness are a choice now, which, of course, is a very good thing. Sometimes I do like my photographic images to have a retro look. I like them to be low resolution and almost look like paintings. Sometimes I like things blurry, I like things looking dreamy. In these days that everything seems loud and big and intrusive, I sometimes prefer things to be implied, I prefer things to be subtle.

Snow Day, January 12, 2011

At work on Tuesday we were all talking about the snow storm brewing, kept reading the updated weather forecasts, and started growing anxious, when by the end of the work day we still didn’t know whether next day was going to be a snow day or not. I left work and 15 minutes later I got the call that made me happy: a snow day indeed. Tuesday night I drank wine, stayed up late and watched every news forecast available. They were talking about 18 inches of snow. When I got to bed around midnight, it was still dry.

At around 6 a.m. on Wednesday I woke up by the sound of thunder. I must be having weird dreams, I thought, I should drink less wine next time. I got up around 9:30, looked out of my window, everything was white, it looked like a lot of snow. The bikepath was completely covered by snow, the tree branches were snow frosted, and fat snow flakes were coming down. I turned on the TV and they talked about thunder snow and lighting. Wow.

It was quite windy, as well. By around 2 p.m. I realized I’ve been too lazy and I went for a brief walk from North Cambridge along the bikepath to Davis Square. It was beautiful, fresh snow, few cars on the roads.

Saw cross-country skiers, dogs trying to walk and play in the thick snow layer. And I took some photos, of course. The wind made it a little bit challenging, and it was quite cold: when I finally got back home, my fingers and toes were frozen.

Here’s the slideshow of my photos and here’s the set .


Photo of the Day, July 19, 2010 on Bostonist.com

A photo I took during ArtBeat, the funky arts festival in Davis Square in Somerville was chosen Photo of the Day for Monday July 19, 2010 on Bostonist.com. I took the photo on Saturday, which was a pretty hot and humid day, that is not as refreshing as water, this year’s ArtBeat theme. The water in the inflatable pool looked inviting, the bubbles not so. When I tried to picture myself in the bubble,  I could only think of depleted oxygen supply and suffocation. Yes, you can call me party pooper. But kids, that’s what they like, walking on the water in gigantic bubbles. And it looked like they were having lots os fun.

I decided to do some post production treatment on the original image, using the Photoshop application for iPhone. I kinda like the dreamy hue of the end result. The blue of the inflatable pool is strong and reminds me that I can’t wait for the day I’m going on vacation.