Glenarm, Northern Ireland

You’ve probably never heard of Glenarm. The town is tucked away between its more well-known neighbors along the Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland. Glenarm doesn’t get much press or mention in tour guides, and it definitely shows. The town has one cafe (with very sporadic hours), a small market, three pubs, and no restaurants. It’s far from what I would call a tourist friendly spot. Everyone there is a local, and many families have lived there for generations.

My stepmother used to spend every summer visiting family in Glenarm and recently inherited a house there. This was my second visit to Glenarm, and the first since the house was fully (and beautifully) renovated.

There was some buzz around town about Prince Charles taking an interest in restoring and reviving the town. This could mean that not too long from now, it will become a place that has a draw for tourists. Part of me doesn’t want that to happen, because it’s one of the few places I’ve visited that wasn’t, in itself, a tourist attraction. Not only are tourists not expected here, they also aren’t terribly welcome.

As I mentioned before, Glenarm is along the Antrim Coast, meaning it has a beautiful beach and views of the coastline.

If the beach wasn’t enough, there’s also a nice little forest on the edge of town.

The Glenarm Castle doesn’t seem to be open to visitors. You can have tea on the grounds and visit the gardens, but I haven’t figured out a way to (legally) explore the castle itself. This is a view from the forest.

The only disadvantage of visiting a city like Glenarm is feeling like an outsider, but I think it’s worth it to be able to see a place that hasn’t become just another attraction.

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The Rosebowl Flea Market

The Rosebowl Flea Market in Pasadena is held once a month. I went hoping to find a vintage camera. I did end up buying one, a Minolta Autopack 800, for $8. The only problem is that the film is long discontinued and can only be found and processed very expensively from one or two sites on the internet. I didn’t know that when I bought it, of course.

Beanie Babies! Ah, they take me back…I used to collect beanie babies. I even went to a beanie baby trading conference once when I was 11 or 12. Remember when some of them were worth hundreds of dollars?

This man was selling soft prints of French artworks and film posters. Unfortunately, they were quite expensive.

This is just a general shot of the scene there. It was a somewhat successful day. I got the camera (although I’ll probably never be able to use it), a necklace, and a Louis Vuitton wallet (which may or may not be a knock off, but I don’t really care). Oh, I also had a star sighting! Kirk from Gilmore Girls. That’s one of the fun things about living near L.A. Some other big star sightings I’ve had are Jeremy Piven from Entourage, Stanley from The Office, Larry Wilmore from The Daily Show, Rod Stewart, and Alex Borstein and Will Sasso from Mad TV.

Dog Days

This little guy has been taking up a good deal of my time lately. His name is Zephyr. I adopted him at the end of February from a wonderful dog rescue in L.A.

They think he’s a long-haired dachshund/spaniel mix.

I wanted to take more pictures, but Zephyr got impatient, so these were the best I could get before he ran out of the yard.

A Visit to the Lake Shrine

This was my second visit to the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine in Malibu. It’s a beautiful place, only a few blocks from the beach. You’d miss it if you didn’t know it was there because the property is surrounded by a thick layer of trees. It’s meant to be a place of meditation and reflection, a haven from the rest of Los Angeles.

Some beautiful statues line the path. This one, I assume of Mary and the baby Jesus, was tucked away in an indoor garden.

I love swans. For some reason, this picture makes me think of a ballet. Swan Lake, perhaps?

I believe this guy was some type of heron. I was definitely not expecting to see a bird like him, and almost didn’t, as he blended so expertly with the trees and rocks. At this point, I had taken so many shots of him that I think he had become annoyed with me.

A turtle emerging mysteriously from the waters.

The grounds themselves are unique and lovely, but I was more interested in the animals and birds this time. I was too preoccupied taking photos to really appreciate the meditative nature of the setting, so maybe next time I’ll leave the camera at home and just enjoy the Lake Shrine.

Long time, no see

Well, I took a bit of a hiatus from this blog, even gave Tumblr a try, but I’m finding it difficult to connect with people there without a comment feature. Plus, I really only want to share my own work and not other stuff I find around the internet. So, I’m back! And, I got a Holga!

This is just an orange tree near my house. I did a lot of my first roll test shots around the neighborhood on walks with my dog. Unfortunately, this did lead to dropping my camera, but I think it’s okay.

Another neighborhood shot. It was strange to see a hawk, though. There are often sparrows and crows perched on the electrical wires, but not hawks. So, I was lucky to have my camera with me.

A school bus, obviously shot from inside my car (don’t worry, I wasn’t driving).

This double exposure was taken in a Chinese supermarket near my house.

All of these were shot with a Holga 135BC using Lomography 400 speed film. You can look forward to more Holga shots in the future. I still find it amazing what a $35 toy camera can do.

Flashback: Food in Japan

No travel blog about Japan would be complete without some discussion of food. Of course, there are plenty of noodles, rice, and sushi to be found. However, the big cities like Kyoto and Tokyo have a wide array of food from around the world. The photo above was taken at the Straw Hat Cafe in the Ghibli Museum where I ordered a hamburger:

I remember, during my trip to Paris several years ago, being served a hamburger like this one. I still don’t understand the concept of bathing a burger in sauce and topping it with a fried egg, but this hamburger dish I was served at the Straw Hat Cafe was surprisingly tasty compared to the monstrosity I had in Paris.

Of course, I also sampled the staples of Japanese cuisine, including unagi over rice. Unagi, for those who don’t speak sushi, is eel. Yashi, the owner of Ichiensou in Kyoto, directed myself and some fellow hostel folks to this hole in the wall unagi joint. It was delicious.

This was one of the few pricey meals I had at a somewhat upscale restaurant in Nara. I got a combo meal with cold noodles, assorted pieces of sushi, tempura, rice, and a dipping sauce for the noodles.

I stumbled upon an adorable cafe/shop along the Philosopher’s Walk in Kyoto. The shop was filled with trinkets and jewelry and a couple of small tables for dining. I ordered a “cured ham” (prosciutto) pita sandwich with fries. The ham was tasty and the fries were excellent. I was pleasantly surprised at how good the sandwich was. In fact, I wish I had one now…

I went out to dinner again with some of the hostel guests in Kyoto and we found this noodle place. They bring you the noodles and fixings and you fry it yourself right at the table. I ordered BBQ noodles with beef.

There’s a much longer story behind this shot than I should probably go into. Basically, I went on an outing with several hostel guests one night to find a bar. We came upon a small bar in an alley with a sign out front that said: “Men 15 yen, Lady’s [sic] Free.”

After negotiating to have the male only entrance fee waved, we entered, only to discover that we were actually in a Girl Bar. Girl Bars are sort of like strip clubs without the stripping part. The women flirt with the male customers (mostly older Japanese business men) while serving them drinks. As uncomfortable as we were at first, we ended up befriending the manager, Hiro (the man behind the bar in the photo above). He let some of us behind the bar and started making us weird green and blue drinks like the one in the photo. It turned out to be a very fun night.

Just for fun, here’s a picture of me with my bowl of unagi at the back alley unagi restaurant.

This post completes my Japan flashback series. I really enjoyed looking at my photos from the trip again and I hope you enjoyed them too. I had an amazing experience and can’t wait to go back to Japan someday.

Flashback: Kyoto (Part II)

I adored Kyoto. This Tori is located by the entrance to Heian-jingu, my favorite Temple of the trip.

This is one of the Temple buildings at Heian-jingu. In keeping with the spirit of my trip, it was raining that day. It actually looks quite serene and deserted, but the Temple grounds were packed. Turns out it was a free admission day so, despite the rain, the Temple was overrun with tourists. I went to the Temple with Andrea, a girl I met at my hostel in Kyoto. Andrea is from England and at the time was taking a six month trek through Asia after losing her job. Sounds good to me.

I really enjoyed the figurines and shrines that popped up everywhere, even in the most unexpected places.

This bridge was near the entrance to the Sagano Bamboo groves.

This beautiful bird was my second crane sighting of the trip. I’ve heard that cranes are good luck, so I hope I got a little of that during my trip.

The Philosopher’s Walk. Named after a famous philosophy professor who used to walk the cherry blossom lined path and think important thoughts. I tried to think important thoughts, but didn’t come up with much. The path is apparently more impressive when the cherry blossoms are in bloom.

Along the Philosopher’s Walk, I discovered the entrance to a shrine. It was completely devoted to rats.

Rats, in Japanese culture, represent fertility. I originally thought it was just a bit overweight, but it’s actually pregnant.