"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.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Charity from Dive Choice Mexico

I realize this post is neither gargoyle nor graffiti, but I couldn't help posting for a worthy cause here in Cozumel where I live. Spread the word please. This is what the Christmas season is all about! 




Karen Bloemhoff and Ricardo Garcia buy new toys all year from the money they make from selling donated items. They work tirelessly so the less fortunate children of Cozumel each have a new toy for the holiday season. From the above You Tube video, you can see just how appreciative the children are. Karen and Ricardo run Dive Choice Mexico, a dive operation. For more information on their personalized dive services, click on Dive Choice Mexico.

Karen also runs a very successful property management service and works for one of the local real estate companies. They are married and also have a baby. Just thinking of all they do makes me tired! They are an inspiration to us all here. Hailing from The Netherlands, Karen is a warm and kind hardworking entrepreneur. For all our readers from The Netherlands, Dive Choice Mexico provides service in Dutch!  

Thanks, Karen and Ricardo, for all you do for these children.

Happy New Year! We know a bunch of children in Cozumel will be celebrating 2013 with their spanking new toys!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo courtesy of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2011
As I stated in my Design in Cozumel blog I try to be grateful every day, not just on Thanksgiving Day. Today is my favorite holiday of all. Today I would like to remember New York and New Jersey, pray for the people still affected by Superstorm Sandy. Happy Thanksgiving to all, but a special hug for our friends in the north east. Here in Cozumel, we know what it feels like to lose almost everything. We were devastated back in 2005 with Hurricane Wilma. 

I included a photo of the Thanksgiving Parade in New York last year. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Urban Masters: Great Street Art at London

There is a new street art exhibition that is quite exciting at London. Artists from around the world come forward with their form of street art. This is some of the best and most cutting edge available today.

More information on this exhibit can be found here. The exhibit will be available from November 8 to 19 at Factory 7. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Barcelona to Dover: the Second Time Around

Pew  LaSeu Cathedral at Barcelona 

I am having such mixed feelings about doing the same itinerary from Barcelona to Dover on my next cruise. On the one hand, I know I love
Barcelona and there are always new things to discover in the south of Spain. The cruise goes to very different destinations this time, being on a much smaller ship - we are able to get in to smaller ports.

Santiago de Compostela

Being a smaller ship, the rates are steeper and the price of the cruise category I have is not going down. That is a pity! I also don't relish going into the Bay of Biscay again. Last time we went through a big storm, and I swore I wouldn't go that route again.

But on the other hand, what's not to love about Spain? The ports are interesting, the sun shines every day in April and May, and there are fabulous Cathedrals and Churches everywhere. To top it off, I speak the language, which makes it even more special.

One of my friends from Gibraltar

Alicante, Motril (to visit Granada), Palma de Mallorca in the Balearic Islands ... even a possible chance to go back to both Santiago de Compostela and Gibraltar, which I adored. I am sorry that this Barcelona to Dover cruise doesn't do any stops in Normandy or Belgium. Those were really highlights last time. I also look forward to revisiting Lisbon, which the idea of has grown on me since I was last there, and to also go to Portimao, Portugal. 

Rain on the bus window at Lisbon

I am psyching myself up and hoping the cruise price comes down. I probably won't take the better price on the cabin I have chosen, but use it as an opportunity to upgrade to a better cabin instead. Holland America, here I come!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Viva Mexico: Happy Independence Day

Fireworks in Cozumel night of Sept. 15th for Independence Day

Desiree Duncan of Cozumel: manicure in honor of Mexican Independence Day
Happy Independence Day, Mexico! It has now become a gargoyles & graffiti tradition with the feet, so here we go again. Desiree was kind enough to allow us to post her beautiful Mexican Independence Day manicure. Viva Mexico!

The festivities start tonight and go through tomorrow. 

If you want to know more about Mexican Independence ... the scream of Dolores, click here or Mexican War of Independence

Last but definitely not least, I am making this a graffiti post ... my favorite graffiti in Cozumel ... across the street from the plaza where our store is at 2 and 30th

Graffiti in Cozumel

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Eze Cemetery: Olga Platonina Dinwiddie

Gravestone of Olga Platonina Dinwiddie
First of all, I want to say that the cemetery in Eze is adjacent to the most beautiful Church, a place of peace and serenity. You can see for miles around to the mountains and to the sea. It is tucked in to a mountain side. I believe that a person could not find a more fitting place to be put to rest. 

When I decided to investigate the reason that some of the gravestones in the cemetery were in English, I would never have believed the fascinating information I would find. I picked Olga Platonina Dinwiddie as the first person to check out, as her name is so unique and she has such a beautiful granite stone. Born in 1886 in St. Petersburg, Russia, her former name was Olga Platonina Stenbock-Fermor, and she was a Countess. She was also an accomplished painter and her works are still sold today. There seems to be a mystery surrounding her life. Not much is known other than she was born in 1886 and died in 1956, according to the art dealers who sell her paintings. 

She was known to have spent a lot of time in Paris and possibly Italy. Her most famous paintings are listed as Italian 20th Century and I found two sites in England that has paintings of hers for sale. They are Wooley and Wallis and Newfield Galleries.

Since I found her gravestone and was able to investigate the genealogy of her husband, Donald Mackenzie Dinwiddie, I was able to piece together some information on her life. I found that she married in 1929 at the Brentford Registry Office in the UK. The man she married had an incredibly interesting past. His grandfather was David Dinwiddie from Penpont, Dumfrie-shires, Scotland, who spent most of his life working for the British Crown in India. His grandmother was Mary Mackenzie, who was born in India, but her family roots were from Glasgow, Scotland and Dublin, Ireland. The grandfather, David Dinwiddie, wrote his memoirs and they are incredible. If you are interested in what life was like in the 1800s in the British colony of India, click here

But the most amazing thing I found was on a genealogy site, and it was written by the nephew of Donald Dinwiddie. For the article, click here. But the gist of it is this ... Countess Olga Stenbock-Fermor fell out of a taxi in Paris in the arms of the man who would become her husband. It doesn't get more romantic than that. I never thought I would find such a wonderful fairy tale life from one grave stone! RIP, Ms. Olga!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Eze Cemetery: Mary Margaret Townsend

Peggy Davis possibly Mary Margaret Townsend
Gravestone of Mary Margaret Townsend

This was the first gravestone photo I took in the Eze Cemetery. It was so hauntingly beautiful and unique that it struck my eye. I never really focused on the dates that she was born and died, and only realized after finding out more about her that she only lived 25 years.  With a name like Mary Margaret Townsend, I assumed I would not find much information on her, but I could not have been more wrong. 

Mary Margaret Townsend was also known by her stage name, Peggy Davis. She had been a Broadway (Ziegfeld) Follies girl and first married at the age of 12. Her first two husbands were both bigamists and both marriages were annulled. She ended up on the French Riviera with her third husband and died, apparently of suicide or accident. Her car went over the embankment near Eze on one of the Cornice roads. She drank two double brandies, then wrote a quick note and drove off. There is much speculation about what actually happened that night, but it truly sounds like something out of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel or even the plot of The Blind Assassin.

From one website I found, her husband said .... 

"My wife adored the Riviera. Here she desired to live, here she died, and it is fitting that she rest here forever," Mr. Townsend remarked after the funeral service. And in that grave ended the remarkable career of a stage butterfly, who, at the age of 25, had lived more than most women of 75.

More information about the life of Mary Margaret Townsend can be found here

Another exert from the same website ...

March 30, 1931
Birmingham, AL

A nine-year-old girl, whose nimble feet, and soprano voice attracted attention here in 1914, became a Broadway Follies beauty known as Peggie Davis and later the wife of David Townsend, Wall Street broker.

She was born here December 31, 1905, as Mary Margaret Laird, and in childhood she showed unusual ability in dancing and singing and won much attention.

Her father was a traveling salesman, and the family has since moved from the city.

The titan-haired beauty was married at age 13 to Colonel J. A. Davies, 43, of the ordinance department, United States Army, November 3, 1918. The marriage was annulled a year later. At the time the action was filed here she was working in the films in Los Angeles. Her complaint charged Davies had another wife in Texas.

Among the pictures in which she appeared was "Under Two Flags” with Theda Bara.

I also found a notice about her death in a 1931 newspaper from Florence, Alabama. Mary Margaret Laird (her maiden name) was born in Birmingham, Alabama, according to this newspaper account. Click here to read the full article.

I wonder now what drew me to these particular graves. This was definitely a sadder tale than the first. RIP, Mary Margaret!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Holland America: Towel Animals

Flying pig?

There are so many wonderful things about sailing with Holland America. I know from the cruise critic board, that HAL is not for everybody but it is for me. I like that the crowd is older and there aren't many children. I like that we turn in early. I don't go to the discos or shows anyway after being so tuckered out from the day tours. I love the art and the gorgeous flower arrangements. I love the tradition and the creative furniture. I love the cabin stewards from the Philippines and Indonesia that are so nice and normally have been on HAL ships for a long time. They know the ship and are well-trained.


One thing I really love that the stewards do is make those great towel animals. They tend to match the towel animal to my mood. If I am grumpy and tired, they might make me a scorpion. If I am playful and happy, I get a monkey hanging in my room when I come back from dinner. 

Definitely a monkey
I am not quite sure what the first towel animal in this post is. Does anybody know? Maybe a flying pig?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Panoramas at Monaco A and B

Panorama Monaco A

Panorama Monaco B
These two photos are very similar but not exactly the same. Which one do you like better?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

In Heaven at Monaco

Lovely Pascal,our guide, on the left

From the Holland America Eurodam, I did a tour of Monaco, Eze and Nice. We drove along the Corniches and went to three amazing places. I don't know what took me so long to report on Monaco, which I adored. I also loved our guide, Pascal. She is so beautifully French, with swept up hair and a lovely way of flipping her shawl. Her style and grace made our day just magical. She was polite but firm under pressure, and taught us so much about the area.


The views from up top by the Cathedral where Grace Kelly is laid to rest are incredible. Monaco, including Monte Carlo, is a fairy tale place. What's not to love? But if I came back, I would have to stay at the Hotel de Paris, which I believe would set me back a pretty penny. Had to laugh when I saw Hugh Hefner's Girls Next Door attending a TV event in Monte Carlo, and they stayed at the Hotel de Paris. More information on this hotel can be found on their website here.

View from the top at Monaco

Archtectural detail at Monaco

When we were there, they were setting up for the Gran Prix, so they had moved the ever present Yellow Submarine from in front of the Aquarium to a back lot. A giant baby had taken its place. Too bad I can't find the photo of the baby. If I do, I will post later!

Found the Yellow Submarine

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Passing Through Rapallo II

Hotel Stella at Rapallo
I couldn't resist snapping this photo of a dog standing outside the Hotel Stella at Rapallo. He just looked so cute, like either he was waiting for somebody or reading the sign. 

Rapallo is a small town not far from Portofino. As reported in "Passing Through Rapallo I," it doesn't have the charm of either Portofino or Santa Margherita Ligure, but it is a pleasant town chock full of lovely architectural details.

Window frame detail

Rapallo, Italy
It appears that there are some really wonderful things to see in Rapallo if you can actually get off the bus. I did some research for this blog post and am intrigued. For some great photos of Rapallo, click here. This area of Italy I believe is often overlooked, and I really loved it. The region is Liguria and it is just beautiful.

Nautical-themed curtains

Almost everything in this part of Italy revolves around the sea. You can see a nautical theme in almost everything, including the curtains shown above. I also love all the metal roll down protectors that they use against the afternoon sun. You can see them rolled up here.

Roman bridge

Italy is always fascinating, because no matter where you go ... there is a reminder of the past. Rapallo is no exception. There is a Roman bridge that we went under driving through town.

Next time I want to do more than pass through Rapallo. I want to stop and enjoy its sites.

Passing Through Rapallo I

Rapallo, Italy
On our bus ride from La Spezia to Santa Margherita Ligure, we went through a town called Rapallo. It was not nearly as charming as Santa Margherita or Portofino, but there were some amazing architectural features. The basic home style is quite like all of Liguria, with the sherbert pastel colors. 

Architectural detail of Rapallo
The buildings were quite whimsical and I liked the size of the town. More information on Rapallo can be found here. Wikipedia estimates the town size at about 34,000 inhabitants. We just passed by twice, once on our way and one coming back. It stuck in my memory for some of the great features.

Rapallo railing
Rapallo recycling
Throughout Italy, recycling is everywhere. I thought that was great. As you can see from the above photo, there are four different types of containers for recycling. The streets were clean. There was an ever present layer of grime from all the buses and cars, which seems to be pretty much throughout Italy until you get in to the countryside.

My favorite photo of Rapallo

My favorite photo of Rapallo is above, a boy pretending to kick his friend as they wait for the bus (I assume.) There is just something so universal about this photo. Boys being boys!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tunis: Rue de La Kasba

Rue de La Kasba

Our tour group from the Holland America Eurodam took an early morning stroll along Rue de la Kasba by the Medina at Tunis. It was quiet, almost nobody about. The only thing we heard was the sound of a few shopkeepers moving display cases around, and we smelled the ever present aroma of dust and cigarettes. 

Ever present beautiful blue doors

Minaret of Al-Zaytuna Mosque
Our group

Our feet ... could not resist!

I love how the street signs are in Arabic and French. The name of the street is also a great combo ... Rue de la ... Kasba. More information on this lovely area can be found here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Gargoyles Reborn: Cathedral at Barcelona

Cathedral at Barcelona

I felt as if the gargoyles were reborn while entering the old Cathedral at Barcelona, Spain. I visited on the 1st of May, which is May Day and in Europe ... it is celebrated big. Nothing was open except the Churches, the hotels and some restaurants - even the department stores and museums were closed. So I went back to the Cathedral I loved and took some interior shots. I paid extra to get in to the best areas. Well worth it. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Good Morning La Spezia

Arriving at La Spezia, Italy

Waking up one morning on our cruise as we pulled in to La Spezia, Italy, I snapped a few photos. It was a foggy morning with a chill in the air, probably about 65 degrees F. It was early, before 7am. The sun was coming up as we arrived. There was nobody out and about on deck. It was glorious.

Rounding the corner to dock at La Spezia

No gargoyles or graffiti, but I loved it! 

I do have to share one embarrassing story about La Spezia. The night before we arrived, I drank about 2 gallons of water. The next morning, I drank three or four cups of coffee. Way too much liquid, in other words. So when I desperately had to go to the bathroom after the ride on the tender and before we left on the bus, I eventually found a place. But guess what? It was a hole in the ground with marble sides for my feet. That was quite an experience .... a coffee shop near the marina at La Spezia.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Basilica La Seu at Barcelona

Floor design Basilica la Seu

Looking up at the stain glass windows at Basilica LaSeu

Pew design

Outside wall Basilica La Seu

Entrance Basilica La Seu

More photos of what I refer to as the old Cathedral at Barcelona, which is officially the Basilica La Seu. It is one of the most spiritual places I have ever visited. This was my third trip and I finally went in and "set a spell." I thanked God for this great opportunity.