So There's That

the writer meets the photographer

To Madrid, a love letter

Written by and Photography by Charla in Travel

This is the first of a three-part series. To arrive in Spain in grand fashion you cannot do better than Madrid’s Atocha train station. Our high-speed train glided into the giant terminal after reaching speeds of over 300 kilometers per hour on its three-hour trip from Barcelona. This same trip when I was a college student decades earlier was a 13-hour bus ride or an even longer train ride. Every time I return to Madrid I flash back to my student days and notice how different the city is between now and then,…read more

Inspired by what to eat at a French farmers market

Written by and Photography by Charla in Travel

The American writer Ernest Hemingway in 1950 wrote to a friend, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” Sometime after I returned home after a year of studying abroad more than twenty years ago, I devoured Hemingway’s brilliant memoir of life in 1920s Paris, A Moveable Feast, and let his spare yet descriptive writing paint me back into the street life and café…read more

Day 3 in Europe | Nice, France

Written by and Photography by Charla in Travel

The Promenade des Anglais is a long, elegant avenue running along the edge of Nice, France that touches the waters of the Mediterranean. It has several lanes of traffic, a palm-lined median, tall buildings on the city-side and a wide sidewalk on the sea-side. The Promenade does everything right in urban planning, if one were to consult some of my favorite sources on the topic. Bikes for rent in Nice, France Place du Palais de Justice The wide sidewalk is often filled with residents, tourists, old, young, the midday lunch…read more

Day 2 in Europe | Hungry in Cinque Terre

Written by and Photography by Charla in Travel

There are few things quite as happy as sitting to lunch with an empty stomach, a group of friends, a possible glass of red wine, and being presented one local Italian dish after another: Caprese salad with mozarella cheese so creamy and fluffy that I almost fell asleep on it. Sharp marinaded olives on a bed of lettuce and tomatoes sprinkled with oregano and olive oil. Then pasta served with fresh-caught shrimp, clams and mussels in a tomato sauce with basil and more olive oil. How fresh was the tomato…read more

Day 1 in Europe | The Art of Hanging Out in Lucerne, Switzerland

Written by and Photography by Charla in Travel

The first days of spring are a cause for celebration in any country and sometimes the best celebration is simply going out into the sun and hanging out. I have always loved the café culture in Europe ever since living abroad as a student and I did my own celebration when the café culture came to the U.S. This culture of hanging out and epic people-watching did not disappoint in Lucerne, a medium-large city in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, on the Saturday before Easter, when the sun was breaking…read more

The Simple Kitchen: Learning to love tri-tip, one slice at a time

Written by and Photography by Charla in In the kitchen, The Simple Kitchen

I used to live in fear of the tri-tip, the iconic cut of meat that realized long ago it does not need to sit in the high-brow category of expensive cuts like rib-eye, tenderloin or the top-dollar standing rib roast. My past experiences with tri-tip have not given tasty results, or were tough and chewy. After all, the tri-tip is cut from a part of the cow that is rudely called “the bottom sirloin subprimal cut” and it seems to appear mostly in touristy magazine articles for the town of…read more

Exploring Downtown Tacoma

Written by and Photography by Charla in Travel

The first thing for a visitor to remember about Tacoma is that it is not pronounced “Tack-coma” but “Tuh-coma”. That’s a rookie mistake that hopefully I’ll make only once. Then again, a part of my heritage tempts me to say “We’re in Warshington” rather than “Washington”. While vaguely permissible elsewhere, this will definitely not fly in the Pacific Northwest. Tacoma, a port city simmering and seething under Seattle’s shadow, has struggled for years to find its place in the landscape of cities on the Puget Sound. The pessimistic stories about…read more

A Day of Sailing on the Puget Sound

Written by and Photography by Charla in Travel

There is something about sitting on a sailboat with no motor running, nothing but a mild breeze pushing us along at 3 miles per hour, and the only noise is the waves lapping against the side of the boat and an occasional distant freight train or another boat speeding by. You are forced to slow down and move at the pace of the wind and the water. Alternating between the sails and the motor, Scott meandered the boat around this part of Puget Sound, past large and small islands, ferries,…read more

Day Three around San Francisco | The View from Coit Tower & North Beach

Written by and Photography by Charla in Travel

This is the final post in the series “Three Days Around San Francisco”. Before I was in the fourth grade, my parents packed the car with me and my two sisters, and left Southern California for a road trip to San Francisco. Between the usual visits to extended family, we spent a day driving around the City. They say that our most vivid childhood memories are the ones that are emotionally intense, which would explain my clear recollection of us kids sitting the back seat of our station wagon (this…read more

Day Two around San Francisco | Neighborhoods

Written by and Photography by Charla in Travel

This is the third post in the series “Three Days around San Francisco”. On my many walks around San Francisco when I lived there in the 1990s, I would often stare with envy not at the gorgeous apartments, their luscious interiors, epic views and smart, sharply dressed inhabitants. No, I would stare with envy at the bougainvilleas. They are a beautiful, wild, haughty, untameable plant native from South America and happily growing in Mediterranean climates everywhere. Everywhere, that is, except my backyard. Whether in any of my many Bay Area…read more