“I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine.”
The Hotel New Otani Garden of Tokyo

The Hotel New Otani Garden of Tokyo

January 2018 Most large, high-end, hotels place a Japanese restaurant near some form of Japanese Garden, the Hotel New Otani goes one step further. In the middle of Downtown Tokyo, this stunning garden is free to anyone that desires to walk around. The garden was first part of the estate of samurai lord Kato Kiyomasa […]

The Art Houses of Naoshima

The Art Houses of Naoshima

January 2018 The Art House Project was a large leap into the lives of the locals of Naoshima Island.  There are many articles out about how the local people were not sure about the entire Benesse project, and how through the years they have learned more and more about contemporary art, and have learned to […]

An Art and Architecture Heaven on Earth - Benesse Art Site

An Art and Architecture Heaven on Earth – Benesse Art Site

January 2018 Benesse – To Live Well The biggest employer on Naoshima is a Mitsubishi metals processing plant, but due to automation, and therefore, downsizing, the population of the island dropped from around 8,000 in the 1950s and 1960s to a little over 3,000 now. The island has been “saved” by art thanks to Benesse Holdings, […]

New Years in Japan

New Years in Japan

Like many countries, New Years preparations begin before the actual day. There is a very large Shinto Shrine, also called the Hokkaido Shrine Jingu at Marayuma Park in Sapporo.  The snow conditions made a trip there difficult, so I visited the local version closer to town, near the Nijo Fish Market. It was a few days […]

The Island of Teshima and Art

The Island of Teshima and Art

December 2017 Teshima is a rural island in the Seto Inland Sea that, with the nearby islands of Naoshima and Inujima has become a destination for contemporary art. The island also serves as one of the venues of the Setouchi Triennale art festival that is held in the region. The main attraction is the Teshima […]

Teshima Art Museum: an Indescribable Experience

Teshima Art Museum: an Indescribable Experience

December 30, 2017 Teshima is a small island in the Inland Sea of Japan.  It had suffered economically until the Benesse Group, founded on the island of Naoshima, started turning the surrounding islands into art and architecture havens.  I began this adventure on the island of Tashima, and in particular with the Tashima Art Gallery, […]

The Older Architecture of Sapporo

The Older Architecture of Sapporo

December 2017 Getting around Hokkaido in the winter is not the easiest of tasks, so this trip is limited to Sapporo.  There are lots of fun things to keep one busy if you dress warm and have patience. After enjoying the Sapporo TV Tower and the lights in Odori Park, or the Snow Festival if […]

Things to do in Sapporo

Things to do in Sapporo

December 2017 Sapporo is a very walkable city, and what you will notice is the lack of automobiles, most likely due to its incredible train system, subway system, and underground walkways. Sapporo is logically organized thanks to its grid system. The main thoroughfare, Ō-Dōri, meaning “Big Street”, runs east to west across the city and […]

Otaru on the Sea of Japan

Otaru on the Sea of Japan

December 2017 Otaru is a lovely little town situated on Ishikari Bay of the Sea of Japan. It was an Ainu (native peoples of Hokkaido) settlement, and the name “Otaru” is recognized as being of Ainu origin, possibly meaning “River running through the sandy beach”. Otaru was recognized as a village by the bakufu (The […]

Sapporo Beer Garden and Museum - Sapporo, Japan

Sapporo Beer Garden and Museum – Sapporo, Japan

Christmas Day – 2017 The Sapporo Beer Museum and Bier Garten are a fun way to spend an afternoon. The factory was built in 1890 as the Sapporo sugar factory and used as the beer malting plant until 1963.  It was turned into the museum and beer garden in 1966. Registered as one of the […]

Christmas Eve in Sapporo, Japan

Christmas Eve in Sapporo, Japan

December 24, 2017 It is Christmas in Japan, and Sapporo does it big.  Today we spent the day walking the German Christmas Fair, and yes, all the gifts and food are German.  You go for the lights and the people watching unless of course, you want to take home German gifts from Japan. The market […]

Lalitgiri, Ratnagiri and Udayagiri, The Diamond Triangle

Lalitgiri, Ratnagiri and Udayagiri, The Diamond Triangle

December 2017 Over the course of the three days at our last stop, I was able to indulge my passion for archaeology. We visited Lalitgiri, Ratnagiri, and Udayagiri, all within a few kilometers of each other. These three complexes are known as the “Diamond Triangle”. Lalitgiri (also known as Naltigiri) is one of the oldest […]

Exploring Rajgir

Exploring Rajgir

December 2017 All of India is an Archaeology site, so picking and choosing what you want to explore can be difficult when there is such a plethora of sites no matter where you are.  I chose to visit the Son Bandhar caves, which sit at the end of the Jethian Valley Walk as you enter […]

Gijjhakuta - Vultures Peak

Gijjhakuta – Vultures Peak

December 2017 We have begun our second Dhammayatra at Vultures Peak.  This time we are traveling with monks from the Mahayana tradition. Vulture’s Peak may be the second “holiest” place of Buddhism, after the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya because this is the place where the Buddha spent so much time on retreat, in meditation, and […]

The Jethian Valley - Walking in Buddha's Footsteps

The Jethian Valley – Walking in Buddha’s Footsteps

December 2017 December 13th we walked The Buddha Walk. First organized in 2014 by several Buddhist organizations it is intended to revive and spread the history of Jethian-Rajgir valley. Before the walk, everyone from the very small village of Jethian gathers to distribute food to monks in observance of Sanghadana, an ancient tradition that stems […]

Finding Ancient History in Bodhgaya

Finding Ancient History in Bodhgaya

December 2017 Wandering the town of Bodhgaya I could spot this old building peaking above the normal height of many of the other buildings, but it took walking down a dirt alley to actually get to it. It took me some research to find that it was called the Math, which is a word I […]

A Parade and a lot of Speeches

A Parade and a lot of Speeches

December 2017 The 13th Annual Tipitaka Chanting Ceremony in Bodhgaya began on December 2nd this year.  The first morning starts with a loud, decoration filled walk from the host temple, this year it was the Royal Thai Temple, to the Kalichakra. The lead is a horse drawn carriage loaded with the Tipitaka chanting scripts. Before […]

Decorating the Mahabodi Temple of Bodhgaya

Decorating the Mahabodi Temple of Bodhgaya

December 2017 Where does one start to explain the monumental project that putting on the 13th Annual Tipitaka Chanting Festival even is. Thailand was the host country this year and so therefore, the main organizers. There was a phenomenal group of people that came, just to decorate the site. The afternoon of the opening ceremony […]

Working in Bodhgaya

Working in Bodhgaya

November 28, 2017 We arrived in Bodh Gaya on November 21st. The time has been spent preparing for the 13-day Tipitaka Chanting ceremony held at the Mahabodhi Temple Complex, beginning on December 2nd. I will admit that 95% of my time has been spent in the loud and uncomfortable lobby of our hotel, as wifi […]

Vaishali, India

Protected: Vaishali, India

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A Birthday Party

A Birthday Party

November 2017 This is the highest ranking Buddhist in the town of Kushinigar, he is Burmese and he was celebrating his 82nd birthday. After cutting his cake he fed the honored people surrounding him, it was really sweet, and yes, I was also honored with a bite of cake by his hand. The closing ceremony […]

Sitting in the Back of the Tent

Protected: Sitting in the Back of the Tent

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A Parade in Kushinigar

A Parade in Kushinigar

November 2017 Kushinigar is a pilgrimage site because this is where Buddha took his last breath. Our first day in Kushinigar was amazing. It began with a parade. Granted it was a parade of Buddhists, but the town is only a few blocks long with just one street so the whole town participated in its […]

A Relaxed Day

Protected: A Relaxed Day

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Sravasti Day 2

Protected: Sravasti Day 2

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Sravasti

Sravasti

November 2017 Sravasti (or Shravasti) is on the pilgrimage site for Buddhists. One of the reasons is because it is where Buddha performed the Miracle of Pairs. The Miracle of Pairs, also called the Miracle at Sravasti, was performed by Buddha seven years after his enlightenment. The miracle occurred in a contest with heretics, who […]

Our Gracious hosts the Buddhist Vihar Shanti Upvan

Our Gracious hosts the Buddhist Vihar Shanti Upvan

November 2017 Today was another road trip. We were to start at 5:00 as the monk’s last meal must be before noon, and we had a long drive to reach our lunch spot. This is actually their last meal of solid food, afternoon they are allowed liquids, so soup is always served to the monks […]

Road Trip to Sravasti

Protected: Road Trip to Sravasti

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Day two of Holy Days

Day two of Holy Days

November 2017 Today was a repeat of yesterday.  We started quietly, in the heavy fog, chanting under the tree.  We broke for lunch and returned to find the holy day we experienced yesterday was taking place again today. I am just going to share photos of the event, they say more than words. * *This […]

A Road Trip to Sankasya

A Road Trip to Sankasya

November 2017 So the road between Delhi and Sankasya consists of a 6-hour bus ride. Bus rides through India are a patchwork quilt of an agricultural landscape dotted with villages of wonder. But this time the bus trip was occupied by learning the lives of some of the monks. Remember, English is not their first […]

A Holy Day

A Holy Day

November 2017 Day two in Sankasya started out with a lovely morning of chanting. We always break for lunch and in Sankasya lunch has been at a Burmese monastery. We are traveling with a crew of Indians from Bodh Gaya, and that includes a cooking crew. However, to earn meta it is good to cook […]

An Ashram and a University

An Ashram and a University

We spent the day and night at the Sri Aurobindo. It is an Ashram that was begun in Pondicherry with the Delhi campus built in the 1950s. The ashram was our host for an all day chanting ceremony and a Dharma talk. We also ate our meals there and spent the night. Wikipedia description: “The […]

A Difficult Day

Protected: A Difficult Day

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Wrapping up Sarnath

Wrapping up Sarnath

Bits and Pieces of Sarnath November 2017 I had the chance to head into Varanasi and go to the Kriti Art Gallery. It is owned by Navneet and his wife Petra. I had met Navneet at the chanting ceremony, but this was the first chance I had to meet Petra as she had been traveling. […]

SINI

SINI

Sarnath and SINI November 2017 We are staying at the Sarnath International Nyingma Institute. SINI is an amazing complex built brick by brick, literally, by a handful of volunteers. While the final product is the result of hundreds of people it was driven by one powerful and stunning woman, Tsering Gellek, Tsering (think Serene) is […]

A Day of Fun and Culture

A Day of Fun and Culture

Sarnath Day 2 November 2017 Day two was a day of fun and relaxation. We rose at 5:00 in the morning to go for a river ride on the Ganges. I have done this trip before and if you are interested in photos and history please click here. This trip was all about the monks. […]

Tipitaka Chanting in Sarnath, India

Tipitaka Chanting in Sarnath, India

Day one in Sarnath was spent chanting the Dhammachakka Sutra in the shadow of the Damekh Stupa, where it is thought Buddha delivered his second sermon. On day one we were very separate groups all divided by language with only the common thread of any group that has just been thrust together. The morning opened […]

Entering the Unknown

Entering the Unknown

November 2017 I am at a total loss as to how to convey what is actually transpiring on this journey. The coming together of cultures with a huge language barrier and incredible cultural and educational differences is not something we all experience every day, if in fact in one’s lifetime. These comings together are not […]

Detroit's Giant Tire

Detroit’s Giant Tire

Along Interstate 94 West Between the Southfield Freeway interchange and Outer Drive overpass Allen Park, Michigan This giant Uniroyal Giant Tire was originally created by the Uniroyal Tire Company for the 1964 New York World’s Fair, as a Ferris wheel. The wheel was designed by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon, the architectural firm that designed the […]

The Way to the Copper Canyon

The Way to the Copper Canyon

Tijuana to El Fuerte via Los Mochis May 2, 2017 There are many ways to travel to Mexico’s Copper Canyon, but, as Californians, we chose to go through San Diego.  It is a simple, and amazingly efficient walk across the bridge from San Diego to the Tijuana airport.  $16 in advance, purchasable on- line, for […]

Chihuahua Pacific Railroad

Chihuahua Pacific Railroad

El Fuerte to Cerocahui May 3, 2017 It would be normal to begin your Copper Canyon train ride in Los Mochis where it begins but the area between there and El Fuerte is apparently not terribly interesting so it is easier to take a car to El Fuerte and begin there. You are told to […]

Cerocahui, Mexico

Cerocahui, Mexico

Cerocahui, Mexico The Place of Grasshoppers (pronounced: Sara ca hooey) May 3, 2017 The Jesuits were either directly in front of, or directly behind the Spanish conquistadors in so many of the conquered countries of Spain. The Spanish encroachment, by missionaries and settlers alike in the Copper Canyon, led many of the local Indians, the […]

Traveling to Urique, Mexico

Traveling to Urique, Mexico

The Road to Urique May 4, 2017 The road from Cerocahui to Urique took about 2 and 1/2 hours one way on an unpaved very bumpy road.  The photo of the road above is of a nice stretch of the road.  The trip is absolutely worth it for the stunning views of the canyons of […]

Tarahumara or Rarámuri

Tarahumara or Rarámuri

May 5, 2017 Kuira-Ba is a Tarahumara word. Kuira means hello, and then adding the Ba means Good Morning, Good Afternoon or Good Night. The Tarahumara Indians have a fascinating history, it will take a long time to see how well it survives the future.  Many Tarahumara are found in the bigger towns and are discovering […]

Creel, a fast changing town on the Chihuahua Pacific Railroad

Creel, a fast changing town on the Chihuahua Pacific Railroad

May 2017 The town of Creel was established by Enrique Creel. History views him as both monster and paragon, as always, the truth lies somewhere in between, but that is for a further dissertation. Enrique Creel founded the town in 1906 while he was Governor of the State of Chihuahua. He had planned it as […]

The Road to Batopilas

The Road to Batopilas

May 2017 It is impossible to describe the drive from Creel to Batopilas. The first portion of our drive took us through the Tarahumara Indian lands, of which you pay a nominal entrance fee. The roads here are dirt and they are intended to drive you to small areas of interest with women selling Tarahumara […]

Batopilas, Mexico

Batopilas, Mexico

May 2017 Enchanting is the only appropriate word I can find for the small pueblo of Batopilas, in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. ¡Me Encanta! would be my next few. We visited in the first week of May 2017 and were the only non-residents in town. December and January are the busiest months for Batopilas, and […]

Divisadero, Mexico

Divisadero, Mexico

May 9, 2017 Our day began with a train ride from Creel to the Divisadero area. The trip is rather quick, with one stop before reaching our destination. That stop is called Divisadero and passengers are given 20 minutes to disembark and marvel at the junction of the Tararecua Canyon and the Urique canyon below. There […]

Main Street Railroad Station in Richmond, VA

Main Street Railroad Station in Richmond, VA

1500 East Main Street Richmond, VA March 2017 This glorious building was not included in the VSA Spring study tour, but you could not help walk past it if you explore Richmond at all, and especially if you walk from downtown Richmond to the Shockoe District. The Main Street Station was built in 1901 by […]

Bolling Haxall House

Bolling Haxall House

2111 Franklin Street Richmond, VA March 2017 The Woman’s Club, that is housed in Bolling Haxall House, was founded in 1894 with the mission to advance education.  The house is one of the few private clubs, cum museum, in the US that is open to anyone that comes and knocks on its door.  The Woman’s […]

Off the Beaten Path in Richmond, Virginia

Off the Beaten Path in Richmond, Virginia

There are always weird and wonderful things that one finds when traveling, and here are three that I found in Richmond. The Markel Building 5310 Markel Road This 1962 building by Haig Jamgochian, was inspired by a foil wrapped potato.  Don’t believe me? Check out the historic marker sign next to the building. As the sign […]

Two Unique Churches in Richmond, Virginia

Two Unique Churches in Richmond, Virginia

Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church 815 E. Grace Street and Confederate Memorial Chapel 2900 Grove Avenue Saint Paul’s is located directly across the street from the Virginia State Capitol, and has long been a popular house of worship for political figures, including General Robert E. Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The first Episcopal church in […]

Virginia State Capitol

Virginia State Capitol

Virginia State Capitol Richmond, VA March 2017 Virginia’s State Capitol, located in Richmond, is the third capital city of the U.S. state of Virginia and houses the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere. Thomas Jefferson is credited with the overall design of the new Capitol, together with French architect Charles-Louis Clérisseau. The design was […]

Monument Avenue

Monument Avenue

Monument Avenue Richmond Virginia March 2017 Monument Avenue is either a bone of contention or an art gallery, and stirs emotions in all. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and a National Historic Landmark in 1997, making it, more than likely, an unchangeable force, as the NHL listing is the highest […]

Richmond, Virginia's Old City Hall

Richmond, Virginia’s Old City Hall

1000 E Broad Street Richmond Virginia March 2017 This High Victorian Gothic structure was designed by Detroit architect Elijah E. Meyers and was completed in 1894. Old City Hall served as Richmond’s city hall until the 1970s. This is the third Richmond municipal building on this site, and occupies an entire city block. The original […]

Egyptology and Richmond, Virginia

Egyptology and Richmond, Virginia

Monument Church 1224 East Broad Street The Egyptian Building 1223 East Marshall Street March 2017 Egyptian revival is an architectural style that uses the motifs and imagery of ancient Egypt. It is attributed generally to the public awareness of ancient Egyptian monuments generated by Napoleon’s conquest of Egypt and Admiral Nelson’s defeat of Napoleon at […]

Maymont

Maymont

2201 Shield Lakes Drive Richmond, Virginia March 2017 In 1893, Major James H. Dooley, a wealthy Richmond lawyer and philanthropist, along with his wife, Sallie, completed this elaborate estate in Richmond, Virginia on a 100-acre site overlooking the James River. The house was occupied until Sallie May Dooley’s death in 1925, her husband had predeceased […]

Richmond, Virginia's Canal Walk and Edgar Allan Poe

Richmond, Virginia’s Canal Walk and Edgar Allan Poe

The Edgar Allan Poe Museum 1914 East Main Street March 2017 Though Poe never lived in the building, the museum serves to commemorate his time living in Richmond. The museum holds one of the world’s largest collections of original manuscripts, letters, first editions, memorabilia and personal belongings. The museum also provides an overview of early […]

Hollywood Cemetery

Hollywood Cemetery

412 South Cherry Street Richmond, Virginia March 2017 Hollywood Cemetery is the resting place of two United States Presidents, James Monroe and John Tyler, as well as the only Confederate States President, Jefferson Davis. It is also the resting place of 28 Confederate generals, more than any other cemetery in the country. In the late […]

Shockoe Hill Cemetery

Shockoe Hill Cemetery

Fourth and Hospital Street Richmond, Virginia March 2017 Just north out of the downtown area of Richmond, Virginia is Shokoe Hill Cemetery. Originally called the “burying ground” it opened in 1820, its original 4 acres has grown to a little over 12 acres. There are an estimated 300,000 bodies buried in Shockoe Hill, these include […]

One Architectural Day in Athens

One Architectural Day in Athens

October 25, 2016 Athens held the Olympics in 2004, and its stadium, like many after the Olympics, is abandoned and sad. There is much speculation that the Athenians were so wrapped up in the crash of their economy to properly find re-use purposes for the buildings, but there is other discussion that they just didn’t […]

Heraklion, Crete

Heraklion, Crete

October 23, 2016 You come to Heraklion to visit Knossos, but it is a city worth exploring as well. It is the largest city and the administrative capital of Crete also the fourth largest city in Greece. On the 23rd of May 1941, German bombers dropped bombs over the city on anything standing. At the […]

Knossos: Myths amongst the Ruins

Knossos: Myths amongst the Ruins

October 22, 2016 Heraklion is one the top of everyone’s list to visit when they go to Crete. The reason for this is Knossos. Knossos is crowded with tour buses pouring off of cruise ships, and tourists exploring on their own. The walk to the entry of the site is rampant with tchochke shops and barkers luring […]

A Road Trip of Ruins

A Road Trip of Ruins

October 21, 2016 Phaistos The day began by visiting Phaistos, an important site of the Minoan civilization. The Minoan civilization, which flourished in Crete during the second millennium BC, ranks among the great civilizations of the ancient world. It had four places of power, areas that are called palaces, Knossos, Phaistos, Mália and Zakros. The lands […]

Wandering the Amári Valley

Wandering the Amári Valley

October 20, 2016 The Amári Valley is not for those with an agenda. The drive is through some lovely and barren terrain, interrupted rarely by small towns that appear to be completely uninhabited. The joy is in the hidden surprises. The valley is towered over by Mount Idi, an often-used crossword puzzle word for you […]

The Holy Monastery of Arkadi

The Holy Monastery of Arkadi

October 20, 2016 People come to Crete for many reasons, I came to get off the beaten path as often as possible. This was the first stop in the wanderings around the Amári Valley.  The Amári Valley sits at the foothills of Mount Ida and Mount Kedros. The Monastery of Arkadi or Moni Arkadiou is about […]

Rethymnon, Crete

Rethymnon, Crete

October 20, 2016 So many of the Cretan towns are built on the same model, i.e. large protective walls in various states of decay, a fort, a small port and tiny winding streets.  The joy is, that they each have their own personalities as well.  Rethymnon, while, if one were reading a description, would be […]

Katholiko Monastery, a very, very hidden gem

Katholiko Monastery, a very, very hidden gem

October 19, 2016 Today we moved from Chania to Rethymnon with a side trip to the Katholiko Monastery or Monastery of St. John the Hermit. We began by getting terribly lost leaving Chania. That is not that difficult as roads and sites in Greece have always been terribly marked. After many small winding roads, and […]

Chania Continues

Chania Continues

October 18, 2016 In 1620, during the Venetian rule in Crete, the constant threat of the Ottoman Turks led the Venetians to fortify Chania with Firka Fortress at the harbor. It was originally built with 319 cannons, 30,695 cannonballs and 414 pounds of gunpowder. Firka means barracks in Turkish. It is possible to still see the […]

Χαίρετε From Chania, Crete

Χαίρετε From Chania, Crete

October 17, 2016 Chania, Crete is a fascinating city with an equally fascinating history. It is a large city with an old town, Kasteli, that sits on the water with its narrow streets, hotels, restaurants and classic tourist perfect village, and I mean that in a good way. Originally a Minoan settlement, the area around […]

High Above Istanbul

High Above Istanbul

October 15, 2016 A boat ride up the Golden Horn is worth the trip if you have the time. I have already written about the Eyüp Sultan Mosque and the fascinating gravestones that surround the mosque. A trip to the Pierre Loti Café can be incorporated into the same visit if you plan ahead, if […]

Off the Beaten Path in Istanbul

Off the Beaten Path in Istanbul

October 14, 2016 There are so many places to explore in a city that covers almost 600 square miles with a population of over 14 million people. One that is worth venturing out for is the Sakip Sabanci Museum. The museum’s permanent collection of the Arts of Calligraphy is comprehensive and stunning. It is comparable, […]

Two Beautiful Train Stations in Istanbul

Two Beautiful Train Stations in Istanbul

October 13, 2016 The Istanbul Haydarpaşa Terminal was a major intercity, regional and commuter rail hub as well as the busiest railway station in Turkey until 2012. Found on the Asian side of Istanbul, a ferry ride on the Kadikoy – Eminonu line will take your right past the terminal. The closure of the station […]

Antalya, Turkey

Antalya, Turkey

October 12, 2016 Antalya is an interesting town. The city has a population of almost 2 million people, which almost doubles in the summer time, spread out over an area of 8000 square miles. It is hard to fathom its size, but the heart of Antalya is the walled ancient city of Kaleiçi. The historical […]

Termessos, Turkey

Termessos, Turkey

October 12, 2016 Termessos was built at an altitude of more than ½ mile up Solymos Mountain in the Taurus Mountain Range of Turkey. It sits in Mount Güllük-Termessos National Park. You are able to drive up a little ways, but the rest must be seen after quite a steep walk. It is well preserved, […]

Kaş, Turkey

Kaş, Turkey

October 10, 2016 The town of Kaş is a lovely, unspoiled, tourist town that sits on a hill and runs down to the Turquoise Coast of southwestern Turkey. It is filled with fabulous restaurants, quaint shopping and a view from everywhere that is just stupendous. One of the ways that people spend their time in […]

Xanthos and Letoön, Turkey

Xanthos and Letoön, Turkey

October 9, 2016 I am on the Mediterranean and have already written about the tombs of Myra. I did so without really addressing the Lycian culture. Now is the time to do so. Lycia was a geopolitical region in Anatoli in what are now the provinces of Antalya and Muğla on the southern Mediterranean coast, […]

Agriculture of Turkey

Agriculture of Turkey

October 9, 2016 You will find tomatoes and cucumbers at every meal in Turkey; in fact there is a salad on every menu called a shepherd’s salad that is nothing but these two ingredients in one form or another. I would normally be thrilled with this, but the first few I had I realized immediately […]

Myra, Turkey and Saint Nicholas

Myra, Turkey and Saint Nicholas

October 8, 2016 Myra was an ancient Greek town in Lycia in the fertile alluvial plain between Alaca Dağ, the Massikytos range and the Aegean Sea.  It now is part of Turkey on the Mediterranean Sea. The first known reference to Myra was when it was listed as a member of the Lycian alliance in […]

Yörük Köyü

Yörük Köyü

October 2016 This is really an adjunct to the post on Safranbolu. The town of Yörük Köyü is just a few miles outside of Safranbolu, but has not been restored.  This gives one an excellent chance to see what is underneath the plaster finishes of a completed Ottoman House.  This post will just be photographs, if you […]

Safranbolu, Turkey

Safranbolu, Turkey

October 6, 2016 In researching about the homes of Safranbolu I came across the Gülevi Safranbolu dissertation on the history, preservation and future of Safranbolu. It is a text worthy of a thesis, and difficult to absorb without having a full understanding of the area. I found it to be a necessary piece of writing, […]

121 Miles in over 4 Hours - What a Road!

121 Miles in over 4 Hours – What a Road!

October 4, 2016 Our day began this morning in the town of Abano. We had driven from Sinop the day before along the coast of the Black Sea. After overnighting in a “resort” hotel with only 6 other guests in this off-season we chose to take the coastal road all the way to Amasra. There […]

Driving parts of the Turkish Black Sea

Driving parts of the Turkish Black Sea

October 2, 2016 Our Black Sea journey begins at Sinop and will end in Amasra. Sinop sits on the most northern edge of the Turkish side of the Black Sea coast. Long used as a Hittite port, the city proper was re-founded as a Greek colony from the city of Miletus in the 7th century BC.. […]

The Outer Edges of Inner Anatolya

The Outer Edges of Inner Anatolya

October 2, 2016 Our last day in Central Anatolia was spent in Amasya. Amasya is on the short list to become a world heritage sight for Mount Harşena and the rock-tombs of the Pontic Kings. This centuries old city lines the Yeşilırmak River. You can still see parts of the fortified ancient city of Amasya […]

The Hittite Empire of Anatolya

The Hittite Empire of Anatolya

October 1, 2016 The reason to drive nearly 200 miles across Central Anatolia is to visit the center of the Hittite civilization. No one is certain about the origins of the Hittites, or for that matter, how they got to Anatolia, but it is clear they arrived sometime before the 2nd millennium BC. The Hittites […]

Wandering from Ürgup to Sobessos in Turkey

Wandering from Ürgup to Sobessos in Turkey

September 29, 2016 The Keslik Monastery sits just on the outskirts of Taşkinpasa. The Monastery held about 250 people and had two cave churches. The first one is Archangelos church and the other one Saint Stefanos church. There are wonderful frescoes in the Archangelos church, but they are so badly covered with soot that you […]

Soğanli, Turkey

Soğanli, Turkey

September 30, 2016 Our day began in the Soğanlı Valley, (The Valley of Onions). This is about off the beaten path as you can get, not only due to the drive, but the remoteness of the valley itself. Around the sixth century the Christian inhabitants of this region created a vast network of tunnels into […]

Walking the Ihlara Valley

Walking the Ihlara Valley

September 29, 2016 The Ihlara Valley sits near Mount Hasan and Mount Melendiz, two of the three volcanoes of Cappadocia.  The valley  is a canyon about 300 feet deep, and was formed by the Melendiz River. Due the valley’s plentiful supply of water and hidden places, this was the first settlement of the first Christians escaping from […]

Selemi

Selemi

September 29, 2016 The Selimi Cathedral is not a highly visited area, mainly because the walk is extremely difficult. If you are going to do the walk to the top of this mountain I suggest very good shoes. It can be confusing, but important to understand that the entire mountain is called Selime Cathedral. There […]

Derikuyu, not for the faint of heart

Derikuyu, not for the faint of heart

September 29, 2016 Derinkuyu (Deep Well) is just one of many, many underground cities lying underneath Cappadocia. In fact they believe there are at least 36 underground cities in the area, only a few have been excavated.  It is really difficult to describe how claustrophobic the spaces are, how one has to stoop over for […]

The town of Göreme and the Open Air Museum

The town of Göreme and the Open Air Museum

September 28, 2016   Cappadocia is a large region that includes many towns, named by the Persians it means beautiful horses. Today I am in Göreme. The time that the Göreme was first settled is unclear, but it could date back as the Hittite era, between 1800 and 1200 B.C. The location was central between […]

Nemrut Daği, King Antiochus and the Romans

Nemrut Daği, King Antiochus and the Romans

September 27, 2016 There are several important historical sites with Nemrut Daği.  One of these is the Tomb of Karakus, located on Karadag Mountain. Antiochis was the second daughter of King Antiochus I Theos of Commagene and Queen Isias Philostorgos. Unfortunately very little is known about Antiochis. The identity of her husband is unknown however, she […]

Mount Nemrut, Turkey

Mount Nemrut, Turkey

September 27, 2016 The Kingdom of Commagene was an ancient Armenian kingdom of the Hellenistic period (between 323 and 31 BC). Commagene has been characterized as a “buffer state” between Armenia, Parthia (north eastern Iran), Syria, and Rome. Little is known of the region of Commagene prior to the beginning of the 2nd century BC. […]

The drive from Kayseri to Mount Nemrut

The drive from Kayseri to Mount Nemrut

September 26, 2016 Turkey is a vast country with lots and lots of open space between its cities. I am off to visit Mount Nemrut, but it is not easy, it includes long drives through the same scenery for hours. The day began at 9:00 in the morning with a long drive from Kayseri. A stop […]

Kayseri, Turkey

Kayseri, Turkey

September 25, 2016 Kayseri surprised me, I had read some article that gave me the impression it was a very small and backward city. That is absolutely not the case. Kayseri is one of the more conservative cities of Turkey, but it is far from small or backward. It is, in fact, a large and […]

Laodicea, Turkey

Laodicea, Turkey

September 24, 2016 Just a short bus ride from Denizli is the ancient city of Laodicea. Established between 263 and 261 BC, the city was built on the river Lycus. It was located in the Hellenistic regions of Caria and Lydia, which later became the Roman Province of Phrygia Pacatiana. Laodicea contained one of the seven churches […]

Pamukkale

Pamukkale

September 24, 2016 Pamukkale means “cotton castle” in Turkish. The area contains hot springs and terraces of carbonate minerals left by flowing water. The ancient Greco-Roman and Byzantine city of Hierapolis was built on top of the white “castle” which is 8,860 feet long, 1,970 feet wide and 525 feet high, and too awe inspiring to […]

Hieropolis

Hieropolis

Hieropolis is a fascinating place to visit as there are only a few historical facts known about the origin of the city. The Phrygians built a temple, probably in the first half of the 3rd century BC and this temple would eventually form the center of Hierapolis. In 133 BC Attalus III bequeathed his kingdom […]

3 Jitneys, 2 Gentlemen, 1 Çay

3 Jitneys, 2 Gentlemen, 1 Çay

I chose to stay in the town of Denizli for this leg of my trip.  I cannot recommend my hotel, or the town for that matter, but I have not met anyone that can recommend a hotel or the town either.  It is possible it would have been better to have stayed up the mountain […]

Thoughts on Istanbul in September

Thoughts on Istanbul in September

September 22, 2016 I wanted to write about a few things to wrap up this part of my Istanbul trip. This is also a great place for me to post some pictures that have no rhyme nor reason. Turkey is changing, for good or bad is not my place to say. I had an opportunity […]

Troy

Troy

September 21, 2016   Did you know that the story of the Trojan Wars was told in a set of 12 narratives titled the Epic Cycle, which possibly dates from the eighth to the sixth centuries BCE. The Illiad and the Odyssey are the only complete works remaining. Regarding Troy, I would like to quote […]

The Grand Bazaar of Istanbul

The Grand Bazaar of Istanbul

September 20, 2016 The Grand Bazaar needs no words, photos will do all my talking. You might like a little history however, so here goes. The Grand Bazaar (Kapalıçarşı) in Istanbul is one of the largest covered markets in the world with 60 streets and 5,000 shops, and attracts between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily. […]

Not Your Normal Itinerary in Istanbul

Not Your Normal Itinerary in Istanbul

September 20, 2016 This is not my first time in Istanbul, so if you are looking for a rundown on the highlights, such as the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, I am sorry. The emblem of the town of Istanbul was designed by Metin Edremit, after winning a 1968 contest put on by the Municipal […]

Some Unusual Architecture in Montreal

Some Unusual Architecture in Montreal

September 18, 2016 This is the Grande Bibliotheque, a public library in Downtown Montreal. Its collection is part of Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), Quebec’s national library. * The library’s collection consists of some 4,000,000 works, including 1,140,000 books, 1,200,000 other documents, and 1,660,000 microfiches. The majority of the works are in French; […]

More of Montreal, its landscape and architecture.

More of Montreal, its landscape and architecture.

September 17, 2016 Montreal is laid out in an interesting pattern. Every fourth street was created wider in order to allow horse drawn drayage carts to turn around. There are public parks spread throughout and more common that in most towns, but not consistent such as you find in New Orleans. One of the main […]

One day in Ottawa

One day in Ottawa

September 16, 2016 In 1841, Lower Canada (now Quebec) and Upper Canada (now Ontario) joined to form the Province of Canada. Its seat of government alternated for many years. In 1857, Queen Victoria was asked to select a permanent capital. Surprisingly, the Queen chose the  lumber town of Ottawa over the established cities of Toronto, Kingston, […]

Montreal, Canada

Montreal, Canada

September 15, 2016 Walking all around Montreal Attempting to get a sense of history and architecture Montreal, is the most populous city in Quebec and the second most populous municipality in Canada. Originally called Ville-Marie, or “City of Mary,” it is named after Mount Royal, the triple-peaked hill in the heart of the city. Montreal […]

Lily Pond

Lily Pond

125 W. Fullerton Parkway Lincoln Park Chicago, Illinois Chicago’s official motto is “Urbs in Horto,” which translates to “City in a Garden”, much of the garden aspects of this town can be attributed to Alfred Caldwell and his mentor Jens Jensen. Lily Pond is the work of Alfred Caldwell. During the depression, Caldwell worked on […]

Boulder Man

Boulder Man

951 Chicago Avenue Oak Park, Chicago On the piers flanking the entry to Frank Lloyd Wrights 1898 architectural studio in Oak Park, Illinois, sit these two pieces, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and executed by Richard Bock. “Boulder Man” is the most valuable of Richard Bock’s work.  He originally designed and modeled the piece to […]

Standing Lincoln

Standing Lincoln

Off N. Lake Shore Drive near W. North Avenue Chicago This is one of the two sculptures in Lincoln Park that were bequeathed to Chicago upon the death of lumberman Eli Bates. This 12 foot tall figure known as the “Standing Lincoln” was the first of Saint-Gaudens’ statues of Lincoln. He received the commission for […]

Shakespeare in Chicago

Shakespeare in Chicago

N. Lincoln Parkway West and W. Belden Avenue Chicago According to the Chicago Parks Department: “When Samuel Johnston, a successful north side businessman, died in 1886, he left a sizeable gift in his will for several charities as well as money for a memorial to William Shakespeare in Lincoln Park. A competition was held to […]

Eli Bates Fountain

Eli Bates Fountain

This whimsical fountain is known as both the Eli Bates Fountain and “Storks at Play”. Eli Bates was a Chicago lumberman who died in 1881. He bequeathed a fund for the commission of Standing Lincoln, also by Saint-Gaudens, and this fountain, both to be placed in Lincoln Park. Installed in 1887 it was a joint […]

Fountain of Time

Fountain of Time

6000 Cottage Grove Avenue Chicago, Illinois Fountain of Time, or simply Time, is a 126 foot long sculpture by Lorado Taft, within Washington Park in Chicago, Illinois. The sculpture was inspired by Henry Austin Dobson’s poem, “Paradox of Time”. “Time goes, you say? Ah no, Alas, time stays, we go”. The sculpture includes Father Time, hooded […]

Eternal Silence

Eternal Silence

  The Eternal Silence, (also called Eternal Silence or Statue of Death)  marks the grave of Dexter Graves, who led a group of thirteen families that moved from Ohio to Chicago in 1831, making them some of Chicago’s earliest settlers. Graves died in 1844, seventy-five years before the creation of the statue, and sixteen years before Graceland […]

The Conga

The Conga

  Americans think of the Conga as a kitchy dance done in a line.  It is a very different thing in Cuba.  During the weeks leading up to Carnival the streets fill with the Conga on any given day at any given time. The Conga is both a drum (traditionally called a tambore or tambadora) […]

The Mosaics of the Marquette

The Mosaics of the Marquette

The Marquette Building 140 South Dearborn Chicago This spectacular, and difficult to photograph, mosaic is in the rotund of the Marquette building.  Designed by J.A. Holler of the Tiffany Company it depicts the Mississippi voyage of Louis Jolliet and Father Marquette. Louis Tiffany was the son of jeweler Charles Tiffany. His career took off after the […]

The Marquette Building

The Marquette Building

The Marquette Building 140 South Dearborn Chicago   These four bronze plaques sit above the entry doors of the Marquette Building in Chicago.  They were done in 1895 by Henry MacNeil (1866-1947).  At the time MacNeil shared a studio in the building with painter Charles F. Browne. Louis Jolliet and Jesuit Father Jacques Marquette, were […]

Valladolid, Mexico

Valladolid, Mexico

We were in Valladolid for only a few hours, with the main intention to have lunch and visit the convent.  That is not nearly enough time to get to know and enjoy this fabulous colonial Mexican town. Named after Valladolid, at the time the capital of Spain, the first Valladolid in Yucatán was established on […]

Coba, Mexico

Coba, Mexico

January 2016 The ruins of Coba lie approximately 22 miles northwest of Tulum, in the State of Quintana Roo and remained little visited, due to its remoteness, until the first modern road was opened up in the early 1970s. Coba is located around two lagoons, which gave it its name. Coba means ‘waters stirred by wind’ or ‘ruffled […]

Tulum, Mexico

Tulum, Mexico

The city of Tulum is not something to write home about.  It, like Cancun and Playa del Carmen developed due to, and for, tourism, it does not, in any way, represent the architecture or spirit of Mexico. However, at the edge of the city sits the great ruins of an ancient civilization, and they are worth […]

Baracoa, Cuba and the road to Maias

Baracoa, Cuba and the road to Maias

October 2015 Baracoa is the oldest city in Cuba and sits as the far east end of the island. Baracoa means “the presence of the sea” in the Aruaca language, which was spoken by the original inhabitants of this area, the Taino. The town of Baracoa was founded in 1511 and immediately became the political […]

The White Sand Beaches of Eastern Cuba

The White Sand Beaches of Eastern Cuba

October 2015 If one heads North of Baracoa you get to Playa Maguana. This absolutely stunning white sand beach has a small government run hotel (Villa Maguana) with its own small private beach and fairly decent restaurant and bar. I have stayed in many government hotels in Cuba, do not let this photo fool you, […]

Cuban Road to Freedom from the Spanish

Cuban Road to Freedom from the Spanish

October 2015 This trip goes from La Demajagua to Bayamo, the trail marks the beginning of the Cuban struggle for freedom from the Spanish. What is most striking to me is that it is farmland for mile after mile.  After hours of driving through countryside without seeing anything but a few farm houses, crops and tractors, you get a […]

Cuban Families in the Countryside

Cuban Families in the Countryside

October 2015 There is nothing like being a member of a Cuban family, there is love, fierce loyalty and drama, drama, drama.  It was time to spend a day and night with the family in the countryside, and that meant drinks, food, drinks, food, love, hugs, kisses, and family politics. Let me begin in Contramaestre. […]

Museo Zoologico de Piedra

Museo Zoologico de Piedra

October 2015 The Museo Zoologico de Piedra This fun little diversion about 12 miles east of Guantanamo is the brainchild of Ángel ĺñigo Brito. Ángel was a farmer and self-taught sculptor. He began carving these animals in stone around his property in 1978. The sculptures graphically depict life in the wilds, and yet can be […]

Jardin de los Helechos

Jardin de los Helechos

October 2015 One day, out for a hot and steamy drive from Santiago de Cuba, we tripped over the Jardin de los Helechos.  It was after closing time for the park, but as we poked our noses around, the delightful director stepped out, beckoned us in, and gave us a full private tour. The Jardin […]

Morikami Japanese Gardens, Delray Beach, Florida

Morikami Japanese Gardens, Delray Beach, Florida

October 2015 Morikami Museum and Gardens were established in 1977 after Mr. Morikami bequeathed the land for the garden. The Japanese influence to this part of Florida is interesting. In 1904, Jo Sakai, a new graduate of New York University returned to his home in Miyazu, Japan to organize a group of farmers with hopes of experimenting […]

McKee Botanical Garden, Vero Beach, Florida

McKee Botanical Garden, Vero Beach, Florida

October 2015 The McKee Botanical Garden began its life in 1932, when land speculator Arthur G. McKee and architect Waldo E. Sexton opened McKee Jungle Gardens. This, originally, 80-acre, garden in Vero Beach, Florida was designed by landscape architect William Lyman Phillips from the office of Fredrick Law Olmsted. By the 1940s more than 100,000 […]

Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

October 2015 Jim Thorpe was originally called Mauch Chunk (Bear Place in the Lenape Indian Language).  It is the seat of Pennsylvania’s, Carbon County, and is called both “Switzerland of America” and “Gateway to the Poconos”. This was the company town of the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company. The company developed a gravity-fed rail system […]

History and Architecture of Scranton, PA

History and Architecture of Scranton, PA

October 2015 Scranton Pennsylvania is the county seat of Lackawanna and the 6th largest city in Pennsylvania. Incorporated in 1866, it saw its hey-dey in the Anthracite Coal boom.  At that time the population was about 102,000, today it is about 76,000. Electric lighting was introduced to Scranton through the Dickson Locomotive Works in 1880 […]

Lackawanna Station - Scranton, PA

Lackawanna Station – Scranton, PA

October 2015 This is now the Radisson Hotel, however, it originally was the Lackawanna Train Station a vital piece in the development of Scranton, Pennsylvania. Scranton began as an iron mill town, these mills began manufacturing iron rails for the trains, which till then, had been imported from England.  This manufacturing made the organization of railroads […]

Masonic Hall - Scranton, PA

Masonic Hall – Scranton, PA

October 2015 The Masonic Hall in Scranton Pennsylvania is so massive, this postcard is the only way to show it in its entirety. The building is loaded with Masonic iconography, including this dragon unfurling its wings over the entryway. The reference is to the Draconis star system which equals light, light being the symbol of […]

Walking Scranton Pennsylvania

Walking Scranton Pennsylvania

October 2015   This is the Lackawanna County Courthouse at 200 Washington Avenue.  It was designed by Isaac G Perry in the Romanesque Revival Style and built in 1884.  It utilizes a local West Mountain stone The third story was added in 1896 by architect B. Taylor Lacey.  The interior has been so radically modified […]

Wilkes-Barre, PA - Its History and Its Architecture

Wilkes-Barre, PA – Its History and Its Architecture

October 2015 Let us start with, how do you pronounce Wilkes-Barre? The town was named in honor of British Parliament members, John Wilkes and Isaac Barre and throughout its history, the city’s name has gone through various spellings, including Wilkesbarre, Wilkesborough, Wilkesburg, Wilkesbarra, Wilkes Barry and Wilkes Berry.  The two widely accepted ways to pronounce this hyphenated name […]

St. Stephens Church - Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

St. Stephens Church – Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

October 2015 Saint Stephen’s church is a masterpiece in understated elegance and master craftsmanship.  It sits on South Franklin Street and is a downtown landmark. The church is built of locally-quarried yellow stone, and was the second church that Philadelphia architect Charles M. Burns designed for the site: the first, built in 1885, burned down on Christmas Day […]

Luzerne County Courthouse

Luzerne County Courthouse

October 2015 This is the Luzerne County Courthouse, it is an architectural wonder, not to be missed if you are in Wilkes-Barre. Wilkes-Barre was once part of Connecticut. At the beginning of its history, the territory belonged to Northampton County, Connecticut.  In 1786, after the establishment of Pennsylvania’s claim to the disputed territory, Luzerne County was formed […]

A Small Sample of the Architecture of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

A Small Sample of the Architecture of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

October 2015 This is the Memorial Presbyterian Church, at 29 West North Street, built in 1872. It has been abandoned and is searching for a new loving owner. The church was built by Calvin Whitehead, he lost his three children to scarlet fever, and they are memorialized in these stained glass windows “being dead, might […]

Hollenback Cemetery - Wilkes-Barre

Hollenback Cemetery – Wilkes-Barre

October 2015   The Hollenback Cemetery Association was formed in 1855 with 15 acres gifted by Colonel George M. Hollenback. Although this is the cemetery for the “upper crust” it resides in a neighborhood that is primarily surrounded with old miners homes. In 1887 John Welles Hollenback gave an additional five acres as a gift […]

Lunch at a Bhutanese Farmhouse

Lunch at a Bhutanese Farmhouse

Haa Valley, Bhutan September 2015   Our small group was treated to lunch in a farmhouse in the Haa Valley. Tea is a very vital part of the social fabric of Bhutan.  It is served the moment you arrive in the home, and usually with snacks.  In this case the top basket is the typical […]

The Haa Valley

The Haa Valley

Haa, Bhutan September 2015 The Haa valley was not opened to tourism until 2002, it is the home of the Queen Grandmother, and is a culturally rich, and very lush valley developed around the Haa Chu (river). Two of the most visited sites are the  7th century Lhakhang Karpo (White temple) and Lhakhang Nagpo (Black temple) at the […]

The Four Friends

The Four Friends

Bhutan September 2015 This is the story of the Four Harmonious Friends. It is found everywhere in Bhutan. The image is of a bird, rabbit and monkey standing on each others shoulders and then they all stand on the back of an elephant. It is the epitome of social harmony. It is said that the […]

Prayer Flags and Ghost Catchers

Prayer Flags and Ghost Catchers

Bhutan September 2015 Most people throughout the world have been exposed to Tibetan prayer flags, but the Bhutanese take the prayer flag a few steps further. The five colors of the prayer flag are red for fire, yellow for earth, green for wood, blue for water and white for metal. You will often see flags […]

Crafts of Bhutan

Crafts of Bhutan

Bhutan September 2015 In Thimphu there is the Thimphu Institute for Zorig Chusum. This school, established in the 1970s is for preserving the traditional crafts of Bhutan. The course of study is between 5 and 6 years and teaches the 13 original crafts. Students are tested and then placed in the craft school most appropriate […]

Punakha Dzong

Punakha Dzong

September 2015 Punakha, Bhutan The Punakah Dzong is one of the must do’s of Bhutan, situated at the convergence of the Mo Chuu and the Po Chuu, it was the second dzong of Bhutan and  was built by the Zhabdrung in 1637.  The Punakah Dzong serves as the winter home for the Je Khenpo (Buddhist […]

The Intimate Relationship between the Market and the Table

The Intimate Relationship between the Market and the Table

September 2015 Punakha, Bhutan Chilis and red rice are the main staples of Bhutanese cooking.  A typical Bhutanese meal may consist of nothing more than red rice and Bhutan’s national dish ema datse.  Ema datse consists of large green, sometimes red, but always hot, chilies prepared in a cheese sauce. The cheese is somewhere between a […]

Chef meets Chef

Chef meets Chef

Hotel Zangto Pelri Punakha, Bhutan September 2015 Chanterelles (Sese Shamu) are in season in Bhutan, so our mushroom expert and chef extraordinaire, Jacinta, bought a bag, no, you don’t get to pick them out, they are bagged by the seller prior to your purchase.  So after much deliberation as to the best bag, Jacinta purchased these […]

Namgyal Chorten and a perfect walk

Namgyal Chorten and a perfect walk

September 2015 Punakha, Bhutan The walk to the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten begins by crossing a delightful, and very stable suspension bridge. The area under the bridge serves as a pushing off spot for rafting and kayaking down the Mo Chuu. The walk is through lovely rice paddies with the first breathable stop being the […]

Drukpa Kunley - The Divine Madman

Drukpa Kunley – The Divine Madman

September 2015 Punakha, Bhutan The ride from Thimphu to Punakha goes across the Dochu La pass.  At the top of the pass is a collection of 108 chortens. The chortens were built by the eldest Queen Mother, Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk during a conflict on the border with Nepal.  Nepalese marauders had come […]

Buddha Dordenma

Buddha Dordenma

This is the Buddha Dordenma a gigantic Shakyamuni Buddha statue the sits in the mountains just outside of Thimpu, Bhutan. It is one of the largest Buddha rupas in the world at 169 feet tall. The statue is made of bronze and gold gilt.  The statue alone cost $47 million US, and was built by Aerosun […]

Tshechu

Tshechu

September 2015 Thimpu, Bhutan Tshechu literally means day ten, and  are annual religious festivals of Bhutan.  Each Dzong (province) has its own festival and they are held on the tenth day of the tenth month of the lunar Tibetan calendar. They are religious festivals, but they also serve as social events and places for people […]

Archery, Khuru and Dotsho

Archery, Khuru and Dotsho

September 2015 Archery became the national sport of Bhutan in 1971. Played between two teams, the distance to the target is about 476 feet.  The small targets are cut from wood and painted. The targets usually measure about 3 feet tall and 11 inches wide. Bullseyes are called karay. Traditionally, Bhutanese bows are made of bamboo, and arrows […]

Paro Dzong

Paro Dzong

September 22, 2015 Paro, Bhutan Dzongs serve as the citadel of each of the 20 districts of Bhutan, they are awe inspiring architectural wonders. Dozens were built of stone or rammed mud and lots and lots and lots of timber.  The wide planked Bhutan Pine floors are just one part of the woodworking mastery in […]

Kyichu Lhakhang

Kyichu Lhakhang

September 22, 2015 Paro, Bhutan Blessed Rainy Day Today is Blessed Rainy Day, a national holiday in Bhutan marking the end of the monsoon season. Today all natural water resources in the country are considered to be sanctifying and the people are encouraged to take an outdoor bath in order to be cleansed of “bad deeds, obstructions […]

Mystical and Magical Taktshang Goemba

Mystical and Magical Taktshang Goemba

September 22, 2015 Paro, Bhutan There are many photos one see in ones life and thinks how wonderful it would be to visit.  What the photo does not tell you is how difficult that can be. The Tigers Nest Monastery is one of the most venerated religious sites in both Bhutan and Bhuddism.  The monastery […]

Introduction to Bhutan

Introduction to Bhutan

Written on September 21, 2015 From Paro, Bhutan 59 Degrees F and raining The moment you land in Bhutan you know to dial it down several notches.  It is a slow moving and peaceful country. To safeguard its environment, religion and culture, the country has adopted a controlled tourism policy. Although there is no longer […]

Cuban Education

Cuban Education

2015 I often hear people say that one of the advantages of Cuba’s socialist system is the free education.  My answer is, you get what you pay for. My “Cuban family” has two smaller children, seven and nine, and I am appalled at their education. It is fair in math and science, but history is the […]

Bonaventure Cemetery of Savannah, Georgia

Bonaventure Cemetery of Savannah, Georgia

I have had a fascination for cemeteries for much of my life.  My love of them comes from their quality of art.  The rich and famous often hire the best sculptors of the time to memorialize their loved ones, so I often think of older cemeteries as large outdoor art galleries. With that concept in mind […]

Architectural Styles of Savannah

Architectural Styles of Savannah

The architectural styles of Savannah are varied and, thanks to many preservationists, available for us all to study.  There are hundreds of tour companies, riding in a variety of vehicles or by foot.  There are many books out on Savannah Architecture, better forums than here to get a decent education.  I will also say that […]

Details of Savannah

Details of Savannah

There is so much cast iron in Savannah but one of the more impressive pieces is the fountain in Forsyth Park The iconic fountain was selected out of a catalogue of ornamental ironwork by Janes, Beebe & Company of New York . Known simply as design Number Five, it was one of a handful of […]

Savannah Tidbits

Savannah Tidbits

There are so many wonderful architectural styles in Savannah, with details galore.  I wanted to focus on a few items of interest that aren’t often talked about.  The Archway in a private home delineated the private rooms from the public ones.  The parlor and the gentleman’s office in this house are the two rooms that […]

The Square as the Heart of Savannah

The Square as the Heart of Savannah

I studied the squares of Savannah in Urban Planning classes at school.  I was anxious to finally get to see them, but nothing compared to being educated further by Robin B. Williams, the Chair of the Architectural History Department at Savannah College of Art and Design.  He has a book coming out in the fall […]

Cotton is King

Cotton is King

May 2015 Savannah, Georgia is like other towns in the United States that have a plethora of historic architecture.  They have more houses to tour than is humanly possible and more historical groups than can be counted on both hands and all toes. Savannah suffered greatly in the beginning of the second half of the […]

Savannah Fried Chicken and More

Savannah Fried Chicken and More

May 2015 Food in Savannah is Southern and then some.  As a California girl, I will admit that I am not the absolute fondest of fried food and the lack of fresh vegetables, but the South is growing up and I found lots to crow about. I want to start, however, with one of the […]

Two Hours in Charleston, South Carolina

Two Hours in Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston is steeped in Southern history and they are proud of it, beginning with their flag.  The South Carolina flag was designed by Colonel William Moultrie in 1775.  The first flag simply had a crescent moon with the words liberty written on the moon. That design flew over a fortress on Sullivan’s Island where Moultrie […]

Beaufort, South Carolina

Beaufort, South Carolina

May 2015 I am in the south for the Victorian Society Annual meeting. I have never been to this part of the south, and am anxious to explore the architecture and the history. Today was spent in Beaufort, South Carolina, a one hour drive from Savannah, Georgia.  I did not even know this town existed until […]

The best Albariño I have tasted - Galicia, Spain

The best Albariño I have tasted – Galicia, Spain

This is not a plug for a winery, this is about a Spanish gentleman that makes great wine.  I had the pleasure of meeting Clemente Sequeiros when he escorted my friend Julie B. and I around the Vigo area, house hunting.  Clemente is an architect as well as a winemaker, a scholar and a gentleman. […]

Househunting in Galicia

Househunting in Galicia

March 2015 I have traveled to Galicia, Spain with my friend Julie B. to go house hunting.  The house is for her and her husband, not for me, I am just along for the adventure. Househunting in a foreign country is always a different experience, and Spain is no different.  There are the rules you […]

Taking the Waters at Balneario de Mondariz

Taking the Waters at Balneario de Mondariz

What ever happened to Taking the Waters?  What a lovely way to pass the time, and yet you only see people doing so in Hercule Poirot TV shows and old movies. Balneario de Mondariz is one of hundreds of “spas” that dotted Galician Spain in their heyday, and we stayed there for just long enough […]

The Lamprey

The Lamprey

It is Lamprey season in Galicia Spain.  If you are a queasy about cuisine, I suggest you stop reading right here and right now and move on to the next post. The lamprey’s actual genealogy is of some question, but basically it is a jawless creature that affixes itself to a fish or other aquatic animals using suckers […]

Skiing Courchevel

Skiing Courchevel

Courchevel is the name of a ski resort in the French Alps. It is a part of Les Trois Vallées, the largest linked ski area in the world. Courchevel also refers to the towns of Courchevel 1300 (Le Praz), Courchevel 1550, Courchevel 1650 (Moriond), and Courchevel 1850, which are named for their altitudes in meters. That […]

Raclette at Hotel Courcheneige

Raclette at Hotel Courcheneige

Food at the Hotel Courcheneige is excellent, and we walk away from dinner every night astounded and sated, however, one night we decided to vary from the normal fixed menu and have Raclette. What a fun evening! Raclette is a Swiss dish which is also indigenous to parts of Switzerland. It is also the name […]

Miscellaneous thoughts on Courchevel

Miscellaneous thoughts on Courchevel

Winter 2015 The Airport Courchevel’s airport stops you in your tracks. It has a very short and steeply sloped runway, which is only 1722 feet long and has a gradient of 18.5%. The airport approach is through deep valleys, which can only be performed by specially certified pilots. On landing there is merely a very steep […]

4 Hours in Geneva

4 Hours in Geneva

The train from Courcheval, France arrives in Geneva at 2:00 p.m. and we had a 7:00 dinner reservation, followed by a 4:00 am wakeup call for our flight out to Spain. Given paperwork time for check in, and the time it takes to find your brain and make sure it is still in your cranium […]

Paris - March 2015

Paris – March 2015

It is hard to believe that I was in India just a mere 5 days ago, it is days like this that I know I am a very lucky gal.  I am here in Paris with two very, very dear friends Julie and Kristen, it is a three day stop on our way to skiing […]

How to Exhaust yourself in Paris

How to Exhaust yourself in Paris

When you only have three days in Paris, there are just a few things that have to be accomplished, and no matter how many times you have done the Eiffel Tower, I think it is a must for every trip.  I am sure that many would say it is cliche, but I just think it […]

You want to go where in Paris?

You want to go where in Paris?

Morning began with perfection and one of the world’s biggest sugar rushes, Chocolate Chaud at Angelina’s.  The chocolate comes in a great big pitcher with a side of whip cream for you to add at your discretion. A walk through the Tuileries to catch the 69 bus.  These gardens were once the formal gardens of […]

Random Thoughts on Paris

Random Thoughts on Paris

A LITTLE SHOPPING We really had absolutely no time for shopping, but I do love the individual neighborhood shops of Paris. I had walked by a small store in the morning that I could tell, simply by looking in, Kristen would love. She was looking for a new bag and found a stunning one in […]

8 Hours in Washington D.C.

8 Hours in Washington D.C.

November 2014 What do you do in Washington D.C. when you have a day and you have already seen “the famous”  National Monuments?  Well here is my wild and crazy schedule.  Some of it is walkable, some of it was done by cab and some of it was done on mass transit.  That part is up […]

Bat to Bat Days in Louisville, Kentucky

Bat to Bat Days in Louisville, Kentucky

July 2014 Louisville is an interesting town.  Everyone knows it for the Kentucky Derby, and I have always wanted to go, not to see the Derby, but to see the fireworks display on the bridges the night before. I found myself in Louisville for the weekend in the middle of June, and yes I suffered […]

Chicago River Cruise

Chicago River Cruise

June 2014 There are several river cruises available to take in Chicago, and I highly recommend that you take at least one.  While it is a touristy thing to do, it is also a great way to see the city, and can be a great place to cool off if your day gets too hot […]

Eataly

Eataly

43 East Ohio Street Chicago, Illinois This is Eataly and an experience not to be missed! Owned by Mario Batali, Oscar Farinetti, Joe and Lidia Bastianich, Adam and Alex Saper, Eataly is an extravaganza,covering 62,000 square feet, on two floors, that is EVERYTHING Italian. In January 2007, Italian businessman Oscar Farinetti converted a closed vermouth factory in […]

Chagall in Chicago

Chagall in Chicago

10 South Dearborn Exelon Plaza Chicago Composed of thousands of inlaid chips in over 250 colors, this mosaic is by Marc Chagall.  Titled The Four Seasons, it  portrays six scenes of Chicago. Chagall maintained, “the seasons represent human life, both physical and spiritual, at its different ages.” The design for this mosaic was created in Chagall’s […]

Gillette Castle

Gillette Castle

67 River Road East Haddam, Connecticut This, truly unique residence was commissioned and designed by William Gillette.  Gillette was an actor who is most famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes on stage. Gillette’s estate, called Seventh Sister, was built in 1914 on a 184-acre parcel on top of a chain of hills known as the Seven […]

The Blue Garden and the Arthur Curtiss Jones Estate

The Blue Garden and the Arthur Curtiss Jones Estate

School has finished and I am spending a few days with dearest friends Robert and Gail Ornstein.  Robert is an architect in Providence, and is working on the restoration of Blue Garden, a Frederick Law Olmsted garden, and as architects who visit with other architects know, I had to see the sight and Robert was […]

Newport, Rhode Island

Newport, Rhode Island

I arrived in Newport today (May 30, 2014) to begin an 8 day course on the History and Architecture of the area.  Class does not start until this evening, which gave me the opportunity to grab the first, of what I hope will be many, lobster rolls during this visit. I headed to Flo’s Crab […]

Early Newport

Early Newport

We were told when this course began that we would learn the meaning of “Death March” or “Sherman’s March to the Sea”, well it is day one, and yup we learned it right away. First stop was Trinity Church.  It is important to begin with a bit of Newport history, which at this point in […]

Newport - The Calm before the Storm

Newport – The Calm before the Storm

  So, I have come to the conclusion that the reason these are called death marches isn’t just because we hike for miles and miles, but because our esteemed Professor Richard Guy Wilson, heads straight out without a care in the world.  There are thirty of us, and watching him step off the sidewalk into […]

So You Want an American Renaissance...

So You Want an American Renaissance…

Today was a day of only 3 houses, but what houses they were.  All three houses were designed by Richard Morris Hunt. Our first stop was Ochre Court.  Built between 1888 and 1893 for Ogden Goelet.  These houses are well documented as to the craftspeople.  The Ochre House sculptor was Karl Bitter, however, much of […]

MM&W meet LaFarge

MM&W meet LaFarge

Our day started at the Channing Memorial Church.  (E. Boyden and Sons 1881).  William Ellery Channing was the foremost Unitarian preacher in the United States in the early nineteenth century. We were at the church to view the John LaForge stained glass windows.  I promised I would tell this story, so here goes.  Charles Lewis […]

Floors, Ceilings and Walls

Floors, Ceilings and Walls

Our day began at Slater Mill.  The mill is part of the Blackstone River Valley, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Pawtucket is the local Indian word for place of falling water.  Slater Mill is the last mill standing in the valley.  This stone building is actually the Wilkinson Blacksmith shop.  When the Englishman Slater convinced the […]

Castles, Views and the Servants

Castles, Views and the Servants

After a morning of lectures we headed out to Belcourt Castle.  Belcourt is a R. M. Hunt building( 1891-94).  The house was built for Oliver Hazzard Perry Belmont, with changes done when he married Alva Vanderbilt once she divorced William. The house has been purchased by Carolyn Rafaelian, founder of Alex and Ani.  She is restoring […]

Out and About in the Countryside

Out and About in the Countryside

We began this morning in my favorite genre, Japanese revival.  The house is just lovely, as are the couple that own it.  They still have a lot of restoration to go, but what they have done is just perfect.  The house is called the Knapp house and was designed by Ralph Adams Cram in 1894. Cram […]

Arbiters of Taste and Where We Are Today?

Arbiters of Taste and Where We Are Today?

    We were asked to read a few books before class started.  Henry James An International Episode and A House of Mirth by Edith Wharton.  I enjoyed An International Episode, but truly had a hard time plodding through A House of Mirth.  I came to the conclusion this it was because I really became […]

Baku, Azerbaijan

Baku, Azerbaijan

I arrived at 9:30 last night April 29th, 2014 after leaving San Francisco at 3:00 April 28th.  Flights like that make one know that people circumnavigating the world before the age of jets must have been a very special breed of human. I woke to this view of the Caspian Sea. * The day began […]

Baku, Azerbaijan   Day 2

Baku, Azerbaijan Day 2

We began the day at the Fountains Square,  a public square in downtown Baku.  The name derives from the presence of dozens of fountains throughout the square first constructed during Soviet rule of Azerbaijan.  The square was completely renovated in 2010. * I instantly fell in love with this carousel, and yes that is an octopus occupying the […]

Day 3 in Baku - Still Exploring the City

Day 3 in Baku – Still Exploring the City

When taking the funicular yesterday we ended up at Martyr’s row.  Like so many city’s around the world have, this is an area of war memorials.  I waited until today to go into them as there is so much history tied up in this tiny area of grave sites and memorials. At the top is […]

Leaving Azerbaijan

Leaving Azerbaijan

 I feel like I have just stepped up to the water fountain and haven’t even had a chance to reach for a glass in the cupboard and we are leaving. The name Azerbaijan is Persian and means “protect(or) of Fire”, which is said to have a direct link with Zoroastrianism.   But lets begin with our visit […]

Tblisi, Georgia

Tblisi, Georgia

Tblisi is the capital and the largest city of Georgia.  The Mtkvari River runs through the middle of it and it has a population of roughly 1.5 million people. Tblisi was founded in the 5th century by the monarch of Georgia’s ancient precursor Kingdom of Iberia, and has served, with various intervals, as Georgia’s capital for more than a thousand years.  Tbilisi is diverse […]

Tblisi to Kutaisi

Tblisi to Kutaisi

We began our day heading straight out of Tblisi to Kutaisi.  Today was an entire day of archaeological sites, and a very, very long day in the bus, so not too many photographs. This is an archaeological group and our visiting professor is Gocha Tsetskhladze, who is Georgian, studied at Oxford, was there during the […]

Vardzia

Vardzia

Today was a fascinating day.  Not just for what we saw but how long it took for us to get to where we were going.  We were approximately 3 hours away from our destination.  What this says is there are literally no places to stay in Georgia.  The hotel we are staying at in the […]

Bakuriani back to Tblisi

Bakuriani back to Tblisi

Uplistsikhe Cave Town, “Lord’s Fortress”, is one of three cave towns in Georgia. We saw the first one, Vardzia, yesterday and we will see the third tomorrow.      Uplistsikhe was founded in the Bronze Age around 1000 BC and was inhabited until the 13th century AD.  Between the 6th century BC and the 11th […]

David Gareja Monastery and the East of Georgia

David Gareja Monastery and the East of Georgia

Today we had a 2 and 1/2 hour drive  out of Tblisi. Our destination was the David Gareja Monastery complex.   There are a few things about this drive.  We are heading south east towards the Azerbaijan border. This is classic steppe country, a semi arid desert, that is essentially just wide open country, no […]

Tblisi to Yerevan

Tblisi to Yerevan

Armenia is much smaller than Georgia, covering only 11,482 square miles.  It is a country of only 3.2 million people and 98% are ethnic Armenians.  The capital is Yerevan and it was established in 782 BC.  One third of the population of Armenia lives in Yerevan. Armenians call themselves Hyastan after Haik the great great […]

An Archaeological Day - Yerevan to Sisian

An Archaeological Day – Yerevan to Sisian

Today we drove from Yerevan to Sisian – approximately 130 miles, at 30 MPH, through windy, sometimes gravel roads, for a day that began at 9:00 and ended around 8:30. We stopped at a beautiful monastery, which I will get to, however, today was about three incredibly important archaeological digs. The first was Kamir Blur, […]

Sisian, Armenia and its Environs

Sisian, Armenia and its Environs

  Mt Ararat   We stayed the night in a very interesting hotel in the town of Sisian.  This time I was a tad more prepared with shampoos et al, but it is sparse, none-the-less. Today our first stop was Carahunge, This place is called Armenia’s Stonehenge, and I don’t think anyone really knows what […]

Our last day in Armenia

Our last day in Armenia

We begin our last day heading back to Yerevan.  We are taking a slightly different route, but again, due to the state of the roads we are traveling a little over 20 MPH and the day is a very, very long one. Our first stop is a Jewish cemetery in Yeghegis which was rediscovered in […]

Dublin - Day One

Dublin – Day One

Dublin February 2014 I am traveling with my friend Mari Zatman.  Mari is a travel agent so this trip is a Fam (familiarization). trip for her, and I get to be her companion.   I wanted to come over and see some of Dublin as the Fam trip does not include Dublin.  We arrived at […]

Dublin - Day 2

Dublin – Day 2

Tá lá breá ann (It’s a Beautiful Day)   Okay that truly is the only thing I can attempt to write in Gaelic, and I would have loved to say it WAS a beautiful day, but that just won’t come up in google.   I have heard a lot of languages in my life, and […]

The Art of Saint Stephen's Green

The Art of Saint Stephen’s Green

Saint Stephen’s Green is a small park in the city center. The park has a very rich history in itself, but it is also the home to many a great statue. The entry to the park is graced with this statue of Wolfe Tone by Edward Delaney.  Wolfe Tone is the father of Irish Republicanism. […]

Public Art in Dublin

Public Art in Dublin

  Like any old European town, Dublin is littered with statues to the famous, and often, the long forgotten.  I am only going to focus on the pieces that captured me in an other than, historic fashion.   The first is truly a cliche, and the fact that I caught her alone and not covered […]

Harps and Shamrocks and some Guinness Thrown in for Good Measure

Harps and Shamrocks and some Guinness Thrown in for Good Measure

Shamrocks and Ireland are synonymous.  This comes from St. Patrick and the use of the shamrock to represent the Holy Trinity.  The name shamrock is derived from the Irish seamróg and simply means “little clover”.  However, did you know that it is NOT the symbol of Ireland? That honor goes to the harp. The coat of arms of […]

Pubs, Pubs, Pubs

Pubs, Pubs, Pubs

Pubs and Ireland, an unbreakable bond in everyone’s mind.  There are approximately 800 pubs in Dublin at this time. However, over 1500 pubs have closed in the last 5 years.  So, when a friend tells says “you must go to…. greatest pub in Dublin, we had so much fun…”, be prepared.  Some of the pubs […]

Rain, Rain, Rain

Rain, Rain, Rain

We have been very fortunate with our weather, but we fear that is about to run out. Ireland has been suffering from storms, the likes of which they have never seen.  The average rainfall is approximately 49 inches a year and of course, there is more in the mountainous regions.  They have had 120 inches […]

Glendalough and Moher and an Aron Sweater for Warmth

Glendalough and Moher and an Aron Sweater for Warmth

These two sites are exactly what one’s minds eye sees when they think Ireland. This would be more the case if photos showed up better. Glendalough About 35 miles outside of Dublin Glendalough comes from the Gaelic Gleann da locha meaning the Glen of two Lakes Glendalough is home to one of the most important […]

County Kerry without the Rain

County Kerry without the Rain

Well, we lucked out today, cloudy and cold, but nowhere near as much rain as we experienced yesterday. We joined the ocean at Kenmare Bay. We drove the Shea Head to the Dingle Bay. Then we gasped at the Great Blasket Island. The Blasket Islands were inhabited until 1953 by a completely Gaelic speaking population. The […]

Ogham Stones

Ogham Stones

February 2014 We had a few moments to kill when we had a flat tire on our bus, so we headed over to University College Cork (UCC).  The UCC collection was started in 1861 and the last stone was added in 1945.  With the exception of one all are from County Cork. Ogham (pronounced Om) […]

Camino de Santiago

Camino de Santiago

September 2013 September 2013 My dear dear friend Julie Belott asked me a few weeks after Michael passed away if I wanted to hike the Camino de Santiago with her. My first statement was absolutely, my second was What is the Camino de Santiago? These posts, that I wanted to add to my blog are […]

Camino de Santiago - Hiking Day 2

Camino de Santiago – Hiking Day 2

September 2013 I started my morning by hiking up a hill to Castromaiar. Castro means stone in galician, and at the top of the extra 1 kilometer I walked was the ruins of an old Roman encampment. Just amazing how much history is in this countryside, and most of it hidden behind fabulous stone walls […]

Camino de Santiago - Hiking Day 3

Camino de Santiago – Hiking Day 3

September 2013 14.1 miles – 29,482 steps – Rain for about 15 minutes – more about that. At the end of our walk yesterday in Coto we finished at a delightful little hotel. The place was owned by a husband and wife. There was a bar set up under a tent outside and that is […]

Camino de Santiago - Hiking Day 4

Camino de Santiago – Hiking Day 4

September 2013 14.9 miles and 35,000 steps Promised to give an update to last nights meal, good but no where near as good as the home cooked food from the night before. Galitian Soup, Veal and Torta de Santiago. The Torta, you see everywhere. Almond flour, almonds and powdered sugar. I am sure it is […]

Camino de Santiago - Last Day of Hiking

Camino de Santiago – Last Day of Hiking

September 2013 9.9 miles – 23,500 steps Today was bitter sweet. My feet are so glad we are done, and frankly I could not have done anymore without a few days rest, but none-the-less, it has been a journey worth it all. The last leg is really uneventful. Truth is most of it is through […]