Category Archives: Cities

Seratonin Explosion! (Seattle, Again)

I just got back from my second excursion to the great Northwest city of Seattle, to visit my old friend Peter and his wife Audrey.  My previous layover was not substantial enough of a visit for me to feel satisfied with how much I’d absorbed of the city, so I decided that I had to return! (Read my last Seattle post, Coffee Jitters)

 

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My prior trip was spent exploring the downtown portions of the city.  The financial district, the coffee shops, the tourist traps.  While impressive and seemingly unique, there is just so much more to Seattle.  It has become a mecca for naturalists and creatives because of its immediate proximity to water, forests, and mountains.  I had not fully appreciated the depth of how much nature means to the people there until I experienced it first hand.

 

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Unfortunately we did not have enough time to jaunt into the deep wilderness due to time constraints, but I was able to see enough to be convinced that all modern cities should aspire to be what Seattle has become.  The city is obviously in touch with it’s presence and effect on the surrounding nature.  Public transportation uses green energy to cut down on emissions,  and I often noticed how the streets were absent of garbage and detritus.

 

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The city is built around a series of lakes and bays, so as a result there are breathtaking views everywhere.  I couldn’t help but feel relaxed just sitting in the back seat of Pete’s Subaru as he chauffeured me around town, to music that is so expertly curated by him and is such a reflection of the scene and vibe that is the Pacific Northwest.  I’m pretty sure that I caught Seattle at the best time.  It wasn’t overcast for the majority of my trip (despite how it might appear in these photos), and I can imagine how the winter months might start to feel oppressive to the uninitiated.

 

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The people there are polite but carry an edge that I could best compare with East Coasters, although not as black humored.  I found myself having to second guess my salacious comments for fear of sounding boorish, but Pete and Audrey assured me that I was not offensive 🙂

 

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The tech industry is thriving in Seattle.    I’m told that this is due to the city’s proximity to California, as well as Asia.  Amazon basically owns a portion of downtown Seattle.  Blocks and blocks!  Its pretty scary, actually.

 

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Pete and Audrey’s friend Greg blessed us with a lovely boat ride through the inner lakes of the city.  It was a pleasant surprise, and I’m so thankful that we could get on the water in a place that is so deeply maritime in culture.  We didn’t get to see Bill Gates’ (probably ridiculous) house, but we saw yacht after yacht, basically stacked on each other.  I had to ask them “Where do these people take these things?  Do they just stay docked and look pretty?”.  But of course they take them out, inspiring so many Entourage episodes.

 

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I thought to myself the entire time how its no wonder legendary musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam derived so much inspiration from the city and environment.

Shouts out to my good friend John Dstruct (alias) and his daughter Hannah, who I was fortunate enough to have lunch with after so many years of working on music with him in the supergroup, Robot Death Squad.

 

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Respect the Bagel (Montreal)

Last week my good friends and I took a trip up to Montreal, Quebec for a quick summertime getaway.  We chose Montreal because we’d heard that it’s a great place to experience in the summertime.  That it is!

Montreal is actually built on an island that was apparently formed from a volcano.  At the center of the city is a rather large hill called Mount Royal that offers a great view of the sprawling city below.

 

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Once we arrived in Montreal, my friends and I hiked up the hill after dropping off our gear at our hotel.  The hike itself was fun and challenging, and definitely worth it for the view!  There were people all over it, jogging and cycling up and down the roads and trails.  For us, the hike took about 45 minutes to an hour. I wasn’t exactly timing it because I was blinded by sweat and exertion.

 

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Montreal

 

Montreal is very pedestrian friendly, but due to its rather immense sprawl the people have taken to cycling to meet their commuting needs.  There are bikes all over the place.  I was actually really impressed by the city’s cycling accommodations.  Bike lanes get their own curb-isolated partition of the road.

Le Plateau, which is the more hip part of the city, is covered with restaurants, shops, and lovely townhouses with wrought iron staircases.  The city is covered with so much green. There are parks all over the place and lots of old trees, which really complements the beautiful row houses.

 

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After about half a day I really started to notice the street art.  Graffiti is unashamedly present on every street, and its beautiful.  It’s a lovely contrast with the European vibe that you get from the architecture.  The murals that cover entire building sides are so impressive, and its obvious that the city allows their local artists to thrive and expand in their element here.

 

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Montreal

 

My friends and I spent a chunk of time downtown in the financial district.  Montreal’s economy is obviously healthy and strong, as there was no shortage of looming skyscrapers to block your sunlight.  The streets are all well manicured and kept tidy, and the indoor public spaces like the Underground City are meticulous and gorgeously lit.

 

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Montreal

 

 

Montreal

 

The thing that impressed me the most about Montreal is how friendly and patient the people are.  Even if you’re a tourist or outsider, you’ll be treated with tremendous politeness and grace in every store and eatery.  Every sign in the city is in French and the first thing you’ll hear when you walk into any establishment is a greeting in French.  Of course once they realize you don’t speak French, the English comes at you naturally. My mom said it best, that she’d never been to a city where the people were so fluently bilingual.

 

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I made an effort to smile at everybody, try and dispel the American stigma that I’ve been aware of since I was younger and living overseas.  I did notice that the smile-backs are a little guarded, but there is absolutely no lack of friendly reciprocation.  I don’t think the Montrealites were appreciative of my raucous disposition after a few drinks (our poor Uber driver), but they’ll survive.

 

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I got to spend some time by the water.  Not exactly the best views, but flooded with tourists and their DSLRs.  I felt like I did a tremendous amount of walking to experience what every other big city with a waterfront has to offer.  At least I found a bangin’ pizza spot that appreciated my propensity for tipping.

 

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If you go, don’t forget to try a bagel.  I scoffed, but man…respect to the Montreal bagel.

Also shouts to my buddies’ Hyun and Eric for not throwing their hands up in front of their faces every time I took a picture of them.

Night Shots With the Zeiss Batis 25/2

Just trying out the new Zeiss Batis 25mm F 2.0 on my Sony A7II.  Wonderful performance!! Really pleased with this lens. Distortion in virtually nonexistent (and even less so with some Lightroom adjustments).

So happy with this lens. Can’t wait to take it out into nature in the daytime.

 

Night Shot with Zeiss 25/2

 

Night Shot with Zeiss 25/2

 

Night Shot with Zeiss 25/2

 

Night Shot with Zeiss 25/2

 

Night Shot with Zeiss 25/2

Richmond

Just a quick post on some photos I took of Richmond.  This was my first time seeing the city’s core, and I really enjoyed it.  The vibe there is laid back, with lots of breweries and young people bouncing around with their young people enthusiasm.

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My favorite aspect of Richmond is that it’s still in it’s early stages of gentrification, so you have a lot of old industry peppering the city.  Lots of exploration potential!

My good friend Carter, also known as Alcrani in the Drum & Bass community, was gracious enough to host my visit.

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Carter’s kitten, Funyons, is the sweetest cat I’ve ever experienced.  Such an intuitive little girl.  Something about Drum & Bass producers and their cats.

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Photos taken with:

Sony A7II
Sony Sonnar 55mm/1.8 FE ZA