Friday, July 30, 2021

Strolling Around Napa, California

Our first trip after Covid-19 vaccinations is back to California, to Napa.  It's a little strange to be a tourist in a place that we moved from last winter, but now we get to stay in downtown Napa.  When we lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, we never stayed in Napa, only making day trips or staying outside the city.  Now, we have the opportunity to explore Napa and find it delightful.

We start with a walk over to the Napa River, passing some of the majestic buildings of downtown Napa, a mixture of old and new, much rebuilt since the 6.0 earthquake in 2014, the largest earthquake to hit the San Francisco Bay area in 25 years.

Downtown buildings

Modern times:  restaurants extending into and taking over the streets

On the river

In the1890s, this was a booming waterfront, where steamships brought cargo and tourists to and from San Francisco Bay Area cities.  Now, the old Napa City Mill is a bustling entertainment district.

Napa city mill from across the river

The Napa River Flood Project has created miles of hike and bike paths along the river, along with paths, sports/entertainment areas in the riverbed, a kayak launch, and wetlands/tidal marsh wildlife habitat.  This Dry Bypass Channel is designed to divert 50% of the river flow in a 100 year flood, diverting water around the city to where the downstream channel has been widened. 

In and along the river bed

We cross the river to the Oxbow Public Market, a great food hall, farm stand, and gathering place a short walk from downtown.  The 40,000 square foot (3,715 square meter) market opened in December of 2007 and is still going strong.

Oxbow Public Market

Behind the market, the hike and bike path continues along the river, running behind the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Copia, a branch of the culinary college that opened in 2016, located on the grounds of the former Copia Center for Wine, Food, and the Arts, founded by vintners Robert and Margrit Mondavi and funded partly by Julia Child (including a restaurant called Julia's Kitchen, now closed).

River path a short distance to the CIA

The Center is currently closed to the public, but the grounds and architecture are beautiful and fun to stroll.

CIA grounds

And, of course, this being Napa, there are vines everywhere, along the roads, along the sidewalks, around the parking lots, filling the fields.


Returning to the river, we walk a ways along the paths and enjoy the view as we return to downtown.

Along the river

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Fuxing Park in Shanghai

I've heard of Fuxing Park and even walked by previously, but, now, it's time to visit.  Fuxing Park is right in the middle of the colonial-era French Concession and around the corner from the former residence of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, first president and founding father of the Republic of China.  Sun Yat-sen was instrumental in the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) and was appointed Provisional President in 1912.  Fuxing Park was built around the same time, in 1909, with a lake, fountains, gardens, and covered pavilions covering about 10 hectares (0.4 square miles).

Fuxing Park and Gardens

I enter the park through the main gate at the intersection of the Fuxing Road and Chongqing Road (South), I immediately start to walk down the beautiful paths meandering through the gardens.

 Park paths and gardens

Wandering further into the park yields tranquil scenes for resting, contemplation, meeting with friends, or just hanging out.

Resting areas and lake

And, even further into the park, I arrive at the fountains.


And, of course, in Shanghai no garden is complete without wedding party photography in process.

Wedding party photographs in the park

As I get close to the upper exit of the park, I find people ballroom dancing, across from an imposing statue of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, created to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the death of Engels on August 5, 1985.

 Ballroom dancing in the park

Statue of Marx and Engels

Leaving the park, I head over to and up Suzhou Creek to the Mengquing Theme Park on Environmental Protection of Suzhou Creek (quite a mouthful!).  Suzhou Creek was cleaned up and rehabilitated between 1998 and 2008 and the park was established to celebrate the cleansing of the river with a theater, displays, and an exhibition hall, all emphasizing environmental water science education.

I wander through the park for its gardens, sculpture, and activities.

 Sculpture and gardens in the park

 And, of course, a stop to listen and appreciate a singing group practicing in the pavilion.

Group singing

As we are getting close to the Chinese National Dragon Boat holiday, the park is being set up for Dragon Boat races on the river in a few days.  The Dragon Boat holiday is a national Chinese holiday occurring on the 5th day of the 5th month of the Chinese calendar, thus alternately called the double fifth festival.  This festival is said to have originated from locals paddling out on boats to scare the fish away and retrieve the body of Qu Yuan, a patriotic poet who drowned himself in 278 B.C.  The holiday has been held annually for more than 2,000 years and the dragon boat races are a symbol of the attempts to rescue and recover the body.  Dragon boats are so named because the front and back are both in the shape of a traditional Chinese dragon.

On the way to the park exit, I pass a children's play area with playground equipment and a large collection miniature vehicles.

Play area

Now, it's back along the Suzhou Creek to the hotel and on with my day.