Yesterday we drove to Puerto Nuevo in Mexico to do something different than skiing with Christmas (also because I am not that good of a skiier !). It is a very nice ocean town just 30 minutes across the border from San Diego. The environment is identical to where we live but it is far less built-up. It is therefore a lot easier to go off-road motorbiking than it is in OC. They do not mess around here with very small engines. Alex got a 125cc Yamaha quad, Roos got a 400cc Honda. I got a 250cc dirt-bike. There was a 450cc KTM as well but I didn’t feel fully comfortable with that after only having been on a 50cc Puch in The Netherlands. As you can see from the picture below, the views onto the Pacific Ocean were beautiful.
It was a lot of fun however and the girls got the hang of it very quickly. They first got some basic instructions on the quads and then drove a few laps around a soccer field. After that we went on the trails for the rest of the day and it while starting off slowly, they were going quite fast towards the end. The quads on a flat surface can do up to 100 km/h but we didn’t get even close to that of course. For lunch we drove to a taco shop in town and there were other dirt-bikers there as well.
For Christmas we are staying in San Diego for a few days. The hotel is a very nice one. It has hosted Albert Einstein, Charles Lindbergh and 12 US presidents. It is quite old but therefore very different from many of the new large hotels. It’s ideal for that Christmas feeling even if there is no snow in San Diego.
Well… not actually at a museum but we’re watching an evening screening of Night at the Museum 3. Dad was hoping the girls would be up for the last installment of the Hobbit but I guess I have to go by myself in January.
This is the 10th year with this Christmas tree. The girls have decorated it today. What makes it special is that there are ornaments that Roos or Alex made including ones that have their pictures. Most of them are dated and the earliest one is from 2006. There are also a few balls that are still from the Netherlands ( in a box with a guilder price tag )but those are getting rarer …every year we lose a few.
On my return from Kazakhstan, I visited Istanbul and was lucky to have some time to look around the city in the afternoon.
I went to visit the grand bazaar (Büyük Çarşı). It is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. It covers 61 streets with more than 3000 different shops and restaurants. It started in 1455 and has been operating since.
Nearby is the Hagia Sofia. This is a very impressive monument now museum. It started almost 1500 years ago and has been a mosque, Christian church as well as pagan site.
This is my last trip this year and on Monday I will be back home. It was a busy year: almost 95000 miles flown with United alone.
There is quite a bit of snowfall in Kazakhstan this weekend. Since I have a little time to spare, I decided to go see another museum. There aren’t that many museums in Kazakhstan but there is the Central State Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan. It is one of the largest museums in Central Asia. Because of the heavy snow, the museum was virtually empty. To make matters worse, the power went out about 5 minutes after I entered. Luckily that isn’t considered a problem as everything in the museum is mechanical: no electric doors, elevators, etc. It was just a bit dark. What I didn’t know but realized in the museum is that mainly the Russian space agencies launch their space missions from Kazakhstan, from a base called Baikonur. I would have definitely liked to visit Baikonur but it is about 2000 km west of Almaty, so that was not an option. After being in the museum for about an hour, I enjoyed the snow and a cup of tea in a nearby cafe.