Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

My favorite place to visit while on a trip to Las Vegas is The Conservatory & Botanical Gardens at the Bellagio Hotel.
This year the huge rocking horse greeted visitors as they walked in.

Last year's momma and papa bears made with fresh carnations were a huge hit so they did an encore this year.
See Papa Bear from my last year's post.
He had a different colored scarf and, of course, different fresh carnations.

My favorite is the baby bear made with 6,000 fresh white carnations.

A holiday decoration would not be complete without a bigger-than-life Christmas tree, ornaments, bells, and toy soldiers.
If you are interested, here is a link to a time-lapsed video of how they built this display.

Look at all those people coming to visit the garden. It made photography difficult.
Even the penguins were losing their cool with their arms (flippers) up in the air.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and wishing everyone a Happy 2013!

- Karen

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Department Store Tree

Wishing everyone a happy holiday!
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- Karen

Saturday, December 22, 2012

New Cafe Discovery

My friend and I were scheduled to meet at Starbucks the other day, but due to the cold and rainy weather, the place was packed inside and not a single seat was available.
We decided to try our luck at the cafe down the street which neither of us has been to.
Here is the interesting mural outside the parking lot of the Sunnyvale Art Gallery Cafe.

Since it was supposedly the "end of the world" on the day we visited, I thought it was appropriate that we came here.
A closer look of the mural looks like alien spaceships invading a city, yet sprouting out beautiful butterflies all in a field of tulips. What could it mean?
This and many of Nick Giannini's paintings really gets you thinking.

This is the interior of the coffee shop. Between the hours of 4pm to 6pm, the cafe's proprietor closes up shop which he calls his "siesta" time. We arrived at 3:30pm and just made it in the nick of time.
The cafe is also looking for penny donations so they can re-tile their floor with coins.

Attached to the cafe is an art gallery where local artists can display their crafts and where art classes are held.
It also houses a flower shop, an art supply store, and a used book & magazine store.
One can spend hours here and my cappuccino was good too!

- Karen

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: At the North Pole

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- Karen

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Union Square Holiday Fun

Union Square, a 2.6 acre park in downtown San Francisco, was established in 1850 where pro-Union rallies were held during the American Civil War.
Today, it is a popular park with a large Christmas tree in the middle of the square every year.
The 97 ft. monument next to the tree was dedicated to Admiral George Dewey who was victorious at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War of 1898.

Close-up of the tree.

Every holiday season, an ice skating rink is placed in the park.
For $10 adults and $6 children, a family can enjoy 90 minutes of wintry fun.

For non-skaters, visitors can hang out and enjoy the sunshine.

- Karen

Friday, December 14, 2012

Holiday Pet Displays

What is everyone looking at?
Every holiday season as far as I can remember, the window displays at the San Francisco downtown Macy's department store draws a large crowd.

What do people see?
Cute pets up for adoption by the SPCA, a non-profit animal welfare organization.
Volunteers also stand by to collect donations from the public. According to the SPCA website, $400,000 (305,000 Euros) have been collected in the last 7 years during the holiday window displays to find shelter for 2,300 homeless animals.

As of last Saturday, 117 animals have found homes!

You might even see the animals live on 4 different webcams if you watch during "window hours".

- Karen

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Golden Guardians

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- Karen

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Randon People in San Francisco

I love visiting San Francisco especially on the weekends. The crowd is huge and you will never know who you will see.
Like these excited kids on the cable car.

A street musician in a silver monkey costume.
He/She was the reason why the kids were so excited above trying to get his attention.

A woman feeding pigeons in Chinatown. She said she does this everyday.

A festive balloon lady at Union Square enticing visitors to buy a twisted balloon animal for their kids.

- Karen

Friday, December 07, 2012

New Stadium Construction

A new 68,500 seat San Francisco 49ers professional football stadium is being built a few miles from home in Santa Clara, California. Groundbreaking started April 2012 and this is how it looks like as of a few days ago.

The stadium didn't come about without plenty of controversy. Some of the issues ranged from moving the San Francisco team to play in another city almost an hour away to locals revolting against having it built in their backyard to disagreements of having their city contribute to its building cost. On the other hand, it will create new jobs in the area and hopefully gain additional revenue for the city.

Whether people are For or Against the new stadium, local voters approved its development and I see progress every time I drive by scheduled for the Fall 2014 opening.

- Karen

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Burney Falls

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- Karen

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Los Altos Festival of Lights Parade

Last weekend, a nearby town held his 35th annual Festival of Lights parade through its downtown streets. One could feel the excitement in the air as people packed the restaurants and every inch along the parade route was brimming with spectators. The lights and holiday music put everyone in the mood for the upcoming holiday season.
Here are some photos of the hour-long parade...

Friday, November 30, 2012

Beyond the Doors

The last segment of my San Francisco City Hall tour leads to more private areas of the city's offices.
This door leads to the foyer of the Mayor's office where his assistants work. From inside, another door leads to the Mayor's private office which we did not get to see.
The statues outside are of former Mayors of San Francisco, Dianne Feinstein on the left who is now a California Senator and George Moscone on the right was assassinated in 1978 while in office. As a matter of fact, this week marked the 34th anniversary of his tragic death by a disgruntled employee.

This is the Board of Supervisors Chambers where they hold meetings and conduct city business. There are 11 Supervisors representing different districts of the city. The public is welcomed at these meetings to hear what they have to say.
The wood paneling is made of the now extinct Manchurian Oak so the window blinds have to be drawn to preserve the wood.
You can't quite see it, but the carpet pattern is of dahlias, the official flower of San Francisco.

These two photos were taken inside the International Room where the Mayor meets with VIPS. The items on display are gifts to the city from various visitors over the years.

- Karen

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - San Francisco City Hall Dome

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- Karen