"Gargoyles & Graffiti"chronicles architectural elements that I find interesting or unique in my travels. Gargoyles are my passion, but today graffiti (which I hate but am learning to love as it is everywhere) is as much a part of architecture as the gargoyles and decorative railings that thrill me.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cause of Death for Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse Inquest

The cause of death is finally in on Amy Winehouse. She had five times the legal limit of alcohol in her system when she died. Her alcoholism killed her. I have to admit it really bothered me when her father would be on TV, saying she had kicked drugs three years before. He seems like a wonderful man, don't get me wrong. But the ignorance of people not realizing that alcohol is a drug is what I find frightening. She never found sobriety. As long as she was drinking, she was not sober.

Alcohol is a legal drug, but for many of us, it is really a liquid poison. One drink is too many, a thousand never enough. For those of us whose last drug of choice is alcohol, we know all too well that life goes down very quickly. Alcohol was my last drug of choice. I took my last drink when I was 31. I am now 56. 

I only wish Amy Winehouse could have found the joy I found, and the pain. Because life without drinking or drugs can be very joyful, but also very painful. When we begin to feel again, it sometimes seems overwhelming. That is where the concept of one day at a time comes in. For me, I have even practiced one moment at a time. 

The fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous makes it possible to learn a new way of living without the crutch of alcohol or drugs. What most people don't realize who are not alcoholic is that drinking is but a symptom of a greater problem. The problem is in ourselves. We are people who cannot deal with life and so we drink or take drugs. Stopping the drugs or alcohol is only the beginning. We need to find real sobriety, but all I can say to someone out there who is sick and tired of being sick and tired, just go to one meeting. All you need to join is a desire to stop using drugs or drinking alcohol.

I got where I am today one day at a time with Alcoholics Anonymous. Thank you, AA. And for those of you still suffering, there is a way out. Just come to one meeting. It is a program that we work one moment at a time if necessary. 

Amy, we will miss you. I only wish you could have found what I did. RIP

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Street Art in St. Petersburg, Russia

Graffiti art in St. Petersburg

A festival was held a few months back in St. Petersburg, Russia. Its focus was street art, not graffiti. The art is really spectacular. More information on the festival can be  found here

The art is sophisticated and quite beautiful. More images can be found on graffiti.org. Click here

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Canterbury: Mixed Review

Sarah & Liam in Canterbury 
I have mixed feelings about Canterbury, England, which I visited after my Barcelona to Dover cruise. On the one hand, it was great to see my niece Sarah and meet her boyfriend. On the other, the town was just so so. I adored the Abode Hotel and was welcomed like a princess and loved my room. Hats off to the Abode Canterbury!

Abode Hotel Canterbury staff including Nick, Housekeeping Manager

Cute shops many from London

There are plenty of cute shops as well, but the amount of cigarette butts and dirt and garbage on the street surprised me. Add the weather, which nobody can do anything about ... it was just so windy, it made it hard to enjoy walking around. The Marks and Spencer's was a real plus, what a store! My niece took me there for the first time, and I went back three times during my two day stay. Got hooked on the bacon sandwiches. There is nothing like bacon in the UK. It is delicious.

Canterbury Cathedral from outside gates
Square by Cathedral gates

The Canterbury Cathedral was not at all what I expected. It was nice, but not really to my liking. Maybe I have been spoiled by all the gorgeous Cathedrals in Italy that I have visited. It seemed very sparse and plain. 

The town itself has a travel agency, where the staff were actually rude to me when I walked in to inquire about tours. I walked in behind two women and the man said, "Picked up somebody, did you?" And the women turned up their noses and said in unison, "She is not with us." And the three of them began to laugh. Obviously I left without booking a tour. 

There was a street musician who was quite good.

Street musician

Of course the highlight of my time in Canterbury was the few hours I got to spend with Sarah and Liam. It had been three years since I had seen my niece, so it was worth it to go.

My niece Sarah

Highlights: family and the Abode Hotel
Lows: Canterbury Cathedral & the town itself

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Taormina: Revisited

I knew as I was posting on Sunday that I hadn't located all my photos of Taormina, Sicily. I remembered snapping a few photos of the locals huddled in groups discussing the elections from the day before. 

locals huddling discussing election results

closer up view in front of amazing shop

And of course all the architectural details I love so well in another of my gargoyle posts.

Wall detail in stone

Door detail

Post detail
Taormina is chock full of wonderful details. It is laid-back, safe and full of friendly people. It truly is one of those rare and special places on earth. I got to thinking maybe I needed an excuse to return and I stumbled on a language school that teaches immersion Italian. Now that would be special.

If you are interested, check out Babilonia Italian Language School

Sounds like a dream come true!

Last but not least, a photo of the youngest member of our tour group in Taormina. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Achilleion Palace in Corfu: Gargoyle Delight

My niece Sarah with Sissi in the background

On our Roman Empire cruise, my niece and I took a tour to Corfu, Greece that visited the Achilleion Palace. It was built by Empress of Austria Elizabeth of Bavaria, also thankfully known as Sissi, as her real name is a mouthful. The palace was designed after the mythical Greek hero Achilles. After Sissi's death, the German Kaiser Wilhelm II bought the Palace and used it as a summer residence. More info on the Palace can be found here

Palace entry ceiling

But the interest for me was all the architectural wonders. You may say it is gaudy or you don't particularly like the style, but I found the Palace fascinating. It is beautiful in a very different way. Taken all together it is almost too much, but if you stop and observe just one stair railing or one chandelier or the way the light hits a painting, it is truly magnificent.

By the staircase

Detail of one of the ceilings

Wall detail

Decorative railing

The Palace also has amazing grounds and a view of the ocean that is truly blessed. I will have to dig out the view for another post. For now, check out this palm tree.