Old San Juan journal

  • The harbor at San Juan Bay is a hive of activity. There are cruise ships, sailboats, commercial ships, ferries, seaplanes and regular planes all moving about. If you have the opportunity, grab a coffee or cocktail and sit and watch.
  • The cruise terminal docks are also a hive of activity of a different kind as vendors pitch services and wares.
  • The oldest building in the United States, if not counting Native American structures, is in San Juan. The Cathedral of San Juan Bautista dates from 1521 (pictured above).
  • The narrow, European-style streets along with the historic buildings and views of the waterfront make Old San Juan a treasure to walk through. You  can turn the corner and run into something like Capilla del Santo Cristo de la Salud (Chapel of Christ the Savior) from 1753.
  • Some cities are overrun with pigeons. Old San Juan is overrun with cats and pigeons. At Capilla del Santo Cristo de la Salud you will be offered bird seed for sale, but no cat chow.
  • The men’s room in San Felipe de Morro Fortress has a great view of the sea.
  • At night the lights on surrounding hills and cruise ships make for a beautiful sight.

Bonnaroo journal 2016

      • Crowds at Bonnaroo 2016 were lighter than past years. Some estimates put it close to 50,000, which is significantly less than recent years when nearly 90,000 attended. At $325 a ticket, that’s about $13,000,000 in revenue.
      • Traffic into Bonnaroo is usually backed up for hours on I-24 and we have a back way of getting in that lets us bypass that nonsense. This year it didn’t matter as there was no interstate traffic Thursday morning and they had closed our usual entrance. We breezed down to Bushy Branch Road and drove in without a problem.
      • Because there were fewer people they moved the festival walls in closer behind the Which stage and didn’t install as many portable toilets, so the festival overall felt about as congested as in past years. The smaller crowds were most notable during the day on the What stage, where the number of people hanging out on the field was less than normal.
      • It was really hot this year. August hot. For some reason they want to limit RVs to 10 gallons of gas, which is not enough fuel to run a generator (and air conditioner) for four days. We brought in 17.5 gallons, which gave us a little to spare. We split the fuel up between a couple of vehicles so it wouldn’t be noticed.
      • Halsey (image above) put on an energetic show Friday, getting into the crowd. Band of Horses under delivered, in my opinion, and Jason Isbell over delivered. As a side note, while Isbell’s wife Amanda Shires was performing during a Sunday Superjam, Isbell could be seen bouncing their baby on the side of the stage.
      • We got into the pit for 8 performances on the What and Which stages. On the What stage I’m no longer going to stand in the crowd behind the pit. It’s just not enjoyable. Better to go back up the hill and put a blanket on the ground. The ability to get up so close for so many acts makes the ticket price a bargain.
      • Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder stopped a few times during his set to share his thoughts about current events and politics. In this social media age it just sounded like he was reading some annoying Facebook posts. Thanks, Eddie for introducing angry, preachy politics into another aspect of my life.

Bavaria journal

  • Although reserved, people in the street were friendly and willing to meet our gaze and return a smile.
  • Traditional German food in Huntsville seems just as good as in Bavaria. Perhaps traditional German food travels better than other ethnic dishes. Or maybe Huntsville restaurants do a better than average job of presenting it (Huntsville has a lot of traditional German restaurants due to the large number of German scientists who emigrated there following WWII).
  • On the shelf in a grocery store: Mississippi Barbecue Sauce. For those of us from the U.S., Texas would be a more obvious branding choice, or even Tennessee if you wanted something related to the deep south.
  • We were made a couple of times to feel a little foolish for asking questions in a store, compared to Alabama where the clerks would have apologized to us. “Do you have this in blue?” Germany: “If we had it in blue it would be on the shelf.” Alabama: “I’m sorry, we only have it in orange.”
  • The Munich subway works on the honor system. Although we didn’t experience it, there are regular control events when riders are checked and heavy fines issued for not having a ticket. As an observer it’s nearly impossible to tell how well this works. But Germans seem to be rule followers in general. And Googling indicates illegal ridership is pretty low.
  • You are expected you to know how things work or at least to read the signs. In short, they expect you to act like adults. I didn’t see anyone paid to simply stand around telling people which line to get into, as I immediately experienced upon returning to the United States.

Salzburg journal

  • Salzburg is a surprisingly small city. It has a population of less than 150,000 and is smaller than Huntsville, Alabama, which has a population closer to 190,000.
  • It always amazes me in European cities how tourists cluster around just a couple of sites. Mozart’s birthplace, for instance. Yet go just two or three blocks and it feels like you have the place to yourself.
  • Mozart takes precedence over The Sound of Music around the city. This surely reflects the former’s global appeal and the later’s appeal primarily to U.S. tourists.
  • There are a lot of U.S. tourists. Maybe even primarily U.S. tourists. And not as many British tourists as I expected.
  • Everyone speaks English. Even those who profess not to.
  • In the U.S. it’s very easy to buy a very bad beer. In Salzburg it may be impossible. But with the growth of craft beers, the United States now produces some very good beer on par with Bavaria. There are now, for instance, nine breweries in and around Huntsville, Alabama, offering a wider variety of styles than is available in Salzburg.
  • Salzburg is a very comfortable city to visit and navigate as a US visitor.
  • There is a noticeable Italian influence on the city, which makes sense due to proximity, but it surprised me nonetheless.