Jnster: the story of an outdoors enthusiast in NYC and wherever he wanders...

Friday, October 03, 2008


Here are a few new pictures from my latest exciting climbing trip: 10 days in Oregon.
The trip consisted mostly of climbing at Smith Rock State Park, + some hiking in the Cascades, an afternoon of climbing at French Dome, and some gentle hiking in the Columbia River Gorge and on Cannon Beach, on the Pacific Ocean Coast.


I got to meet some of my relatives that I had never met before, who live in Portland, and traveled a bit with my mother and step dad. That's an original vacation. Weather was perfect 9 days out of ten. Who says it always rains in Oregon!

I also met my friend from Nicaragua Angie, and climbed with Craig from Seattle, Richard from New York, Jason from Portland, and David our ropegun from Lyon. He really inspired us in climbing stronger and harder. He led his first 5.12 and I top roped it: even if I took multiple falls I was able to finish the damn route!

Like I said in Seattle last July, I love the West Coast!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

All Points West

I can't resist inserting the New York Times article about the All Point West music festival I went to last sunday:

They took some incredible pictures,

The times didn't seem to like it very much, but to me it was perfect. Seeing Jack Johnson playing was like a dream. We stayed all afternoon, did not get rained on too much, and also attended concerts of Ben Harper, Amadou&Mariam and a few others.

The festival was the most "eco-friendly" I had ever seen. They had this creative idea of encouraging people to pick up discarded water bottles in exchange for goodies like t-shirts and CDs. Anyone who knows how much I despise those small water bottles can imagine I really enjoyed the scavenger's hunt, and of course got myself a cool Green T-shirt.

My pictures (with Jerome and Malini as guest stars):


Saturday, August 02, 2008

Half marathon pictures

As my fans are asking for results :-), here they are: I ran the half marathon faster than expected.
1hr47min, instead of a goal of 1hr55.
Pretty happy too as my local fans (!) showed up at the finish line: thanks to Malini, Arnaud, Katia and Paul for supporting me. [Pictures coming soon].

As promised, the pictures from surfing are here:


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sport around New York

I've been surfing 2 more times in Long Island (pictures coming soon), and the season's not over!
Jean-Luc and Fanny brought me a Decathlon rashguard from France so now we can be team Tribord with Vincent when we go surfing.

Also went on a longish bike ride from Manhattan all the way to Rockaway beach, riding on the Brooklyn bridge, different neigborhoods of Brooklyn, Coney Island and Rockaway which has a totally different feel from New York. Only got rained on once
:-) Purchasing a bike this year was definitely a great idea.

Also, when I find the time, I go running to Central Park to train for the NYC half marathon (coming up in two weeks). Here are a few pics of the Japan day race. I know I haven't trained enough this year, just hoping to finish the NYC half in a decent time.


Climbing in Washington state

Just came back from an unplanned trip to the West Coast. I went there for business, but had a few days off as it came right after the 4th of July week end.
I met Craig, a friend of Richard's there and we did some spectacular climbing in the Tieton River area.

1 day of sport climbing on andesite volcanic rock (up to 5.10d)
2 days of crazy exposed multi pitch mix trad/sport climbing.
1 day of driving around Whidbey island, enjoying the Pacific ocean and the nice Pacific Northwest weather...

On climbing days, I was worried about rattlesnakes after reading the guidebook but finally we did not see any, and I was more worried about the exposure, the loose rock and the lack of protection on the first pitch of both climbs. How about a pitch with only one bolt and no natural protection on crumbly rock to start the day? Fortunately for our party Craig stepped up and showed how it's done.
He led all the trad pitches, including the infamous Jenga traverse (see the pics) while I led the bolted pitches.

Seattle Trip (Climbing Tieton River and Whidbey island)

Overall, an excellent week end, with sunny weather, camping in the woods, cooking on a big fire etc... Things I haven't done in years! Looking forward to the September Oregon trip now!

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Photo albums

I have done too much in the past two months. I'm just back from Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I spent the week for work stuff and some fun time. I even managed to run a 10k race, and placed 4th, but there were barely 10 competitors...

Life has been going so fast, no time to relate all the exciting moments.

Laura visited on her way from Nicaragua to England. We went to see the Yankees play in the Bronx. It's the historical last season at the Yankees stadium. Fun facts: we ordered foot long hot dogs from a machine, the Yankees lost, we sat in the rain, and I got a cold :-) Let's go Yankees!

Eglantine and Pierrot visited for a week end, and we had a spectacular evening at the Guggenheim museum for First Fridays. It felt like it was "the place to be" in NYC that evening. The "I want to believe" exhibition from Cai Guo Qiang was original, aesthetic and very interesting.

I'll try to catchup with pictures of the other trips:

Cool climbing festival in West Virginia. A bit too rainy for my taste, but some great time spent with friends. As we said, there are 2 kinds of people now: those who went to The New River Rendezvous, and those who didn't:

New River Rendez Vous 2008

An excellent day at the Gunks. Congrats to Matt for leading Madam G (one of the most exciting lines I've ever climbed), and to Marianna for not being scared on her first day climbing outside.

Gunks, one year later

A surfing session in Long Beach, Long Island. We have a lot of enthusiast surfers in the group now. I was able to stand up on my first attempt. So much easier than Puerto Rico.

Surfing Long Beach

And some nice additions to the Nicaragua gallery:


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Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Ah... Nicaragua... Land of Spanish words pronounced without the final "S", old US schoolbuses concerted into local transportation blasting reggaeton and salsa, best surf break ever in my short surfer experience...

What a cool trip it was.

2008 - Nicaragua

My first time as a solo traveller, and also the first time realizing that I was flashpacking, among a horde of genuine backpackers. Everyone was travelling for 2, 3, 6, 20 months.... And I was there for only 10 days!

Also, just a thought: I realized solo travelling actually means the opposite of travelling on your own. You meet plenty of cool people and travellers and can actually do activities in group.

I only visited 3 places, but it felt like I was also on a 2 month trip. I'm not sure my pictures do it justice.

- Satyed in Granada at the beginning and on my last night in Nicaragua. Beautiful Colonial architecture surrounded by multiple volcanoes. According to the Lonely Planet, it is the oldest city on the American mainland. Quite impressive. The city has been sacked and burnt by pirates, but is now well restored with bright colors....
Stayed at La Siesta, a hostel owned by French "expatriate" Boris and his Nicaraguan wife Marcela. Really nice people, they cook the best French crepes since a long time.

I met lots of travellers (Helge the Norwegian Kurt Cobain and his friend Maria, Laura from Brighton, Angie from Portland...) over cheap local beer and rum at the Bearded Monkey, the unofficial backpackers hangout... We went on a long bike ride to Laguna de Apoyo, a gigantic crater lake. Ah, when it's 36C outside and you got lost on your way on winding road, nothing can match a swim in the fresh water of the crater lake!
Went back to Granada right before sunset and caught my first eerie glimpse of Volcan Concepcion , a perfectly shaped active volcano on my next stop an island of Lake Nicaragua called Ometepe.

- Ometepe: beautiful bi-volcano island, relaxed vibe, even quite hippie on the part of the island farthest from the ferry. We hiked up Concepcion but the guide would not take up to the crater because of a recent eruption. Demasiado peligroso!
We stayed at the beach in Charco Verde, had delicious fresh seafood, and could even kayak a bit around Lago de Nicaragua! (amazing views of Concepcion).

The next day, Angie and I toured the island on mountain bikes around the other volcano (Maderas), and added a hike to Cascada San Ramon. Strenuous day of 38km of bike + 6km of hiking mostly in the burning sun. I think I stayed 2 hours in the hammock doing nothing but relaxing after that...
We stayed in a super basic 19th century Organic Farm, in a funky dorm, where you don't even sleep on a bed, but on a sort of cot made of wood and a piece of tarp... Never done that before in any other country! Beautiful sunset over Concepcion (again), and ice cold Victoria beer shared with fun people: Quebecois bikers, ex-peaceCorps marathon runner JeanDaMachine, the desilusioned Australian surfer dude and others...
In the morning, hawler monkeys woke us out of bed and it was off to a long bus+bus+ferry+colectivo+colectivo+colectivo transfer to the final destination.

The last part of the trip was dedicated to surfing! Yes I am totally addicted now. San Juan Del Sur is famous for being gringozied, so I decided to stay directly on the surfer's beach (Playa Madera), outside of town. At day we surfed (3 days in a row), and at night gather around the bonfire... We had the beach adn waves only for us on some occasions (early morning or close to sunset when the day visitors were back in town). Being able to stand up on my board was an unforgettable feeling for me, it was just like a dream. Once I repeated the move over and over, I realized I'm not a complete beginner anymore. But... I still got beat up in the bigger waves, so I still have to practice a lot to follow in Aaron and Ingar's steps...

That's in store for the next trip...

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Monday, March 10, 2008

America Latina

I'm looking forward to my next vacation, coming up at the end of the month, in Nicaragua.

I guess I couldn't wait so long, and had to take an extra short break. When I heard of a surfing trip organized by my climber friends, I hardly hesitated and joined in.
Aaron, Kelly, Kaori, Ingar and me only took 1 or 2 days off for this long week end in Puerto Rico, but it felt like a 2 week vacation! It was my revenge with the island and this time my camera did not get stolen ;-)

We rented a nice apartment almost on the beach and basically surfed all day, starting one morning at 7am! There are few things in life better than surfing at sunset (sunrise is bit cold to my taste), even if you really suck at surfing. I think I understand a little all the coolness about surfing now. On the last night, I even fell asleep while having the feeling of catching a wave. It sounds so stereotype, but it's true. And it help that we could hear the waves from the apartment.

Well, unlike Aaron and Ingar, I am definitely not an expert. It was my first try at this sport, and even after 3 days of practice, I can still say I am a total beginner. But, I'm kind of hooked on surfing and plan to go again in Nicaragua!

Pictures of the trip are here below, and on Aaron's website: http://www.aaronbudd.com/pr/

Surfing Rincon - Puerto Rico

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Back on the right track

Yes, I feel I am back to life, after a few difficult weeks.
I've been living an active lifestyle lately, going out quite a lotand balancing with a lot of climbing.

Jenny took me to the Jazz at Lincoln center, where we had the best seats in the auditorium, and I was able to meet Wynton Marsalis backstage and speak to him for a minute! Very classy jazz, with the Lincoln orchestra virtuosos and many guest star players.

I also went to one of my first NYC art exhibition opening, in the Meatpacking district. The major pieces of Japanese artist Shinjo Into were on display. I was surprised that people did not seem to care about the buddha statues and calligraphies, but were more there for the scene. It was great for people watching: models, hipsters, cool photographers etc.... I met Kaori and her friends there and we headed to Buddakan afterwards... Which is an even nicer restaurant than Megu, and affordable! I think I have a new favorite in NYC now...

Picture courtesy of the New York Times, how can you not be amazed by the main dining area?:

And, last but not least, Arnaud took us out for a low key birthday party at Fat Cat, a jazz club I hard heard of a lot in the West village. The place was yet another excellent discovery: huge cavernous room, lots of obscure microbreweries on tap (you all must know I'm a beer snob), tons of sofa to sit confortably listening to the live band, and games (chess, ping ping tables, billiards etc). We had a great night, and I even beat (almost) all of them at ping pong. Damn, a crazy Alskan guy showed up at our table and eventually won every game....

As Arnaud says, this city is infinite...

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Facebook and restaurants

Sometimes I wonder if Facebook will kill my blog. It's much more practical nowadays to create posts in Facebook, add images, and all your friends get notified immediately.
Problem is: my blog's audience is not all on Facebook.
And also posting on Blogger is not that hard either. So I think I'll keep my blog for a while.
I may even turn it into a culinary blog. I've been to quite a few great restaurants and bars lately, mostly in Tribeca (where my office is for now) and Soho.
Unfortunately I have no talent for writing reviews and all I can say is "that was really good"... I'll never be able to live as a food critic :-)

Over the past weeks,

- My colleagues and I went to a weird small British restaurant in the West Village called Tea and Sympathy. Food was very exotic for me, but I would not say it was very tasty. It felt very strange to me that people would pay this range of prices (it's not cheap) for British food.
- Industria Argentina (Tribeca) has excellent uruguyan meat and subtle Mendoza Malbec to pair with.
- After the meat extravaganza, we went to the Brandy Libray (Tribeca), where we sipped high quality Single Malts seated in leather couches. Very classy.
- at Balthazar (Soho) I tasted Armagnac for the first time, with dessert. Very very French atmosphere. I was disapointed that they did not have Macon La Roche Vineuse on their wine list. When I visited the winery in December they told me Balthazar was their largest US buyer.
- I loved the hip, young atmosphere at Novecento (Soho), and the beef salad, paired with another good Argentinian Malbec.
- Sushi Samba (Village) reminded me a little about Nobu: loud music, trendy atmosphere and excellent service. Plates were beautifully aranged and the Pisco sour felt authentic (at least as what I had in Chile).
- I went again to my 2 favorite wine bars: Vino Vino in Tribeca (very upscale and classy, excellent choice of cheese), and Louis 649 in the East village (go for the Live jazz!)


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Du vin, du pain, Dubai: emirate to clone Lyons - Times Online

This is the most surprising news I've heard about Lyon. Can you imagine my reaction when my co-worker asked me: "Hey, isn't Lyon the city you're coming from? They're building a replica in Dubai".
I am really interested in seeing the result, as the builders promise that the true Lyonnais ambiance will be recreated there!

Du vin, du pain, Dubai: emirate to clone Lyons - Times Online

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Ski in France and Switzerland

Geoffroy had invited me to a friend gathering in La Grave, a mythical ski resort in France, where the whole mountain is purely backcountry, unsecured and ungroomed trails. 1800m of elevation difference from top of the lifts to the village!
I didn't know exactly what to expect in terms of difficulty. As Geoffroy was injured, he couln't ski but instead Julien joined me, and we spent a great day of skiing in challenging, but mostly manageable terrain. I only had to bail once, when we mistakenly got to the top of a steep couloir (couloir du lac).

The next day we drove to Serre Chevalier and had a more mellow skiing day, as my sore muscles reminded me that I hadn't practised any cardio sport since May (damn broken ankle). Both days featured beautiful views, -Ah, I love the Alps-, but it was pretty cold and I wasn't too keen on taking pictures as a consequence.

On January 3rd, Benoit took me skiing to a tiny Swiss resort in Switzerland (Evolene), where I practised ski touring for the second time of my life. It was rather exausting (Again!), as I had regular ski boots and freestyle backcountry skis (heavier than touring skis). Air at 3000m was definitely thinner. Again the views were spectacular, and the skiing actually much better than in La Grave, as we could hit slopes of powder snow, where no one had skied since the last snowfall. 1600m of elevation difference from the top to the village, quite a big number too.

Ski @ La Grave, Serre Chevalier, Evolene

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Short stop in Amsterdam

As I missed my transfer flight from New York to Geneva at the Amsterdam airport, I had a few hours to go to the city center and walk around. I had never been, and was very pleased with my afternoon walk. Coming directly from the US, I was particularly striked by the numerous bicycles, canals, and the beautiful architecture.

First view of the canals:

Train station:

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Amsterdam 2

Yes, I found a Chinatown, as in most cities I visit :-)

Boats on the canals, peaceful and quiet atmosphere (especially considering that I was coming from Manhattan)

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Amsterdam 3

Look at the signs: it's Haarlem, not Harlem!
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Amsterdam 4

Ever seen a parking lot for bicycles that big?

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