Friday, June 22, 2007


Some of you with long memories may remember when I posted about going to the T.G.I.F.s in Brooklyn. For those of you who don't it is at the bottom of this posting. To make a long story short, I didn't like it. In fact, when people have asked me which is the worst bar that I have been to of the 1000 that I visited in 2005, this one is always at or near the top of the list.

It is with no small satisfaction that I can now report that within about 3 years of it's opening it has gone out of business. And, as you can see from the picture, it isn't because they are in a location where there isn't any foot traffic. Do you think it might be the $10.50 they charge for a Dewar's and soda?

There are very few bars that Bar Man doesn't like, but this was certainly one of them.

Thank God It's Finally Gone

My original take on this place:

59) TGIFs

After getting off the subway in Brooklyn I passed by this place on the way home and it was kind of like shooting a fish in a barrel. This place used to be a very nice restaurant called Gage and Tollers. The owner got into some legal difficulties (can you say mobbed up) and ended up selling the place to TGIFs which then immediately began to disregard the land-marked status of the old place and make changes in violation of the building codes. They were stopped before they could do too much damage.

I had a Dewars and soda and was charged $9.78 which, when you add in the tax that everyplace else just counts as part of the price of the drink, made it a cool $10.50. Now this is the most expensive drink, by far, that I have had to date on my journey, and in a TGIFs, of all places. Needless to say I wouldn't go back there again if I was dragged kicking and screaming.

A Slight Misstep

By and large our trip to Costa Rica was a smashing success. Sure, there was a bit of a disappointment in that we couldn't do our canopy tour due to the rain, but that was offset by the opportunity to toss down shots of local rum. On the other hand, there was one side-trip that we purchased that I would have to suggest you skip. That was the visit to an "authentic" Maluku Indian village.

The Great House

I guess this was authentic if the Maluku have existed throughout the years by operating a giant souvenir shop.

Interior Of The Great House

We were treated to a demonstration of a native dance and ceremony that did have a bit of poignancy about it. It was largely a lament of how the environment was being destroyed by the white man and the Maluku way of life was no longer possible to sustain. They also passed around a variety of masks that were used in their ceremony and explained the meaning of each one. Again, this would have been a bit more impressive if each one didn't also have a price tag.

Maluku Dancers

We all got to join in the dancing but, because we were all dancing, there was nobody to take a picture. I did get one taken of me after the dance was over though.

Bar Man And Instrument

There were a few native huts that we could see, but they were totally empty so it was pretty obvious that nobody actually lived here.

A Typical Maluku Dwelling

At least they did make the souvenirs that they sold and they weren't just some knock-offs from Asia or India.

The Factory

Now I wouldn't have minded this whole thing if there wasn't the continual insistence that this was an authentic Maluku village and that the people really lived here. I just didn't find that plausible. The only "livestock" that I spotted was a nice looking turkey who didn't seem like he would be anyone's meal anytime soon. And, as I mentioned, none of the dwellings looked inhabited or habitable.

The Turkey

Sadly, this reminded me of when I was just a little Bar Boy living in Minnesota. On our family drives up north we would pass, and sometimes stop into, "authentic" Indian villages, complete with a tepee or two and one or two Native Americans (as they are now known) dressed in buckskins and feathered headdresses selling little birch bark canoes, drums, bows and arrows, and other similar stuff.

One of the other draws of this side-trip was the promise of a frog and butterfly garden. For some reason I thought this would be an outdoor area where we would see a variety of frogs and butterflies in their native habitat. That too proved to be a bit of a disappointment. There was a meshed enclosure for the frogs and I spotted two. The Mysterious Chinese Woman claimed to have spotted a third though.

Frog 1

Frog 2

The butterflies were kept in a similar enclosure and, again, there didn't seem to be too many of them. I did get a picture of one though.


All in all I would suggest that if this little side-trip is offered to you, just say no. By the way, everyone in our little group felt the same way and, sadly for the Malukus, nobody bought any souvenirs.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Down The River

No rain in Tamarindo as we got on the bus for our river trip. It was a bit of a ride to the river, but well worth it.

Boarding The Raft

As you can see, it wasn't a very big raft. On the other hand it was a fairly smooth ride. This was about as rough as it got, and was really just a ripple.

Shooting The Rapids

Although we were all wearing life-vests, we were told that we didn't have to worry about drowning anyway because the crocodiles would get you first.

Ferocious Crocodile

These crocodiles were just a bit bigger than the ones you used to be able to buy at pet stores. I suppose if about a hundred of them attacked you it could be serious, kind of like being attacked by piranhas. Maybe there were larger ones lurking out of sight and these were just to lull you into a state of overconfidence.

I was more worried about this fellow who loomed up unexpectedly.

The Real Danger

Luckily he didn't appear to be hungry and let us pass without an incident.

We did see a lot of wildlife, birds and bats and howler monkeys.


More Birds

The little bats were interesting. They were just kind of pasted up against the rocks and were about the size of a quarter. The white spots are lichen and the dark spots are the bats.

Tiny Bats

There are a lot of howler monkeys in Costa Rica and you can hear them almost every night once you get away from the larger cities. They are a bit more difficult to see though. This one was quite willing to pose.

Ready For Your Closeup

After a couple of enjoyable hours on the river we disembarked and headed for lunch.


A tasty tilapia lunch (not the one we were served, however).


They do a lot of tilapia fish farming in Costa Rica so there is a good chance that the next time you buy some that is where it originated.

Our trip is coming to an end, but I think I can milk it for one or two more postings. You will simply be astounded my my visit to a..., you will just have to wait.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Friends Of The Mississippi

My brother and nephew are big on the ecology thing and are going to be paddling on the Mississippi to raise money for Friends of the Mississippi River. Friends of the Mississippi River is a nonprofit organization working to protect the unique ecological, cultural, historical and recreational assets of the Mississippi River and its watershed in the Twin Cities. Through education, outreach and advocacy, they are connecting people to the river and raising awareness of how protecting it benefits everyone.

If you are interested in learning more about this organization or would like to contribute to it, click the kayak.

  • <>
  • Tamarindo

    The day broke as rainy as it had been the previous day so there would be no sky-walk or zip-lining. Instead we hopped on our bus and headed for our next destination, the beach town of Tamarindo. On the way we stopped for lunch in Liberia. This is one of the larger cities in Costa Rica and has an international airport. If you were just heading to Tamarindo this is where you would probably fly into. We didn't really explore the town, just stopped for a very nice seafood meal (I had cerviche) and a beer or two.

    No Bar But A Beer

    I couldn't resist toasting this lovely lass who looked like she was raising hers as well.

    Toasting (But Not Frying) A Mermaid

    Tamarindo is a great little town that is growing like mad. It is on the Pacific coast and is very popular with foreigners (people like me). Initially it attracted a lot of beach bums and surfers because of the surf, naturally, and its low cost. It still retains an almost 1950's feel to it in certain areas, but is rapidly being developed as more and more of the wealthy gravitate there. Kind of a pity, really, but there is no stopping progress. See it now before it changes to much.

    A Bit Of The 1950's Flavor

    A Surfside Bar

    The Surf

    Actually, the bigger waves were down the beach a bit, but this place did attract a good surfer and soccer bum crowd, both locals and foreigners.


    It was my kind of place so settling in for a couple of beers wasn't a hard thing to do.

    Settling In

    As I said, it had a nice surfer/soccer feel to it.

    Surfer Soccer Motif

    Later, after showering and changing, I headed back into town from the hotel which was about a mile away down a dirt road. There are plenty of taxis though but the ride is a bit expensive. The price I was quoted was $15 per person, one way. This is an example of how the place is changing with fancy hotels outside of town for the rich. Needless to say I simply walked.

    There are a lot of nice bars and restaurants in town, most are open-air and right on the water. Before deciding upon a place to eat I stopped into one of them for a beer.


    They had a nice enough bar and a friendly bartender so it was a good place to quench my thirst after the walk into town.

    Thirst Quencher

    Of course if sit too long you are never sure what or who you might attract.

    I Sat Too Long

    After a refreshing beer I headed down the street to Nibanna to have dinner and, of course, another libation.



    Tomorrow six of us are scheduled to take a raft down a stretch of river and hopefully we will be able to do that. No rain here now, we seem to have left it behind us. The rest of the group has scheduled another zip-line excursion so they are also hoping for dry weather. Let's keep our fingers crossed.