"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.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Holland America Noordam: Gargoyles Galore

My niece Sarah (on left) and me
Holland America Noordam is a beautiful ship. I especially love her as she is gargoyle themed, or that's the way I see it. Who can resist the wonderful chairs by the elevator or the awesome chandelier?

Chairs by elevators

Atrium chandelier

The Noordam's architectural features are both sophisticated and fun. Walking around the ship was a delight, as I took in all the touches that make it so special.

Decorated elevator doors

Spa area waiting chair
Fun and funky lounge seating

Funky bust

Having been on both the Holland America Noordam and the Eurodam, I have to admit I love the artwork and the furniture more on the Noordam. The Eurodam is delightful, but I found the artwork not to my taste. I believe more money was spent on the artwork on the Noordam, or at least it appears that way. But that is not to say I don't love the Eurodam. I do. The special touches on the Eurodam include the Silk Den, Tamarind Restaurant, a wonderful Pinnacle Grill and an equally awesome chandelier.

Bon voyage!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sweden's Summer Waterways: A Real Treat

On our Baltic cruise, we left Stockholm and traveled towards Helsinki. The waterways leaving Stockholm are incredibly beautiful, dotted with islands and clear blue waters.  I so wanted to jump off the cruise ship and stop and have a picnic or linger with my feet in the water.

Leaving Stockholm

Ferry at Yxlan, Sweden
Ferries are a popular mode of transport between these remote islands. At Yxlan, we saw a car ferry unloading. More information can be found about rental cottages near this remote island at:


The weather in late July was absolutely perfect, not humid but nice and warm. It really felt like a slice of Heaven. My husband, Moises, enjoyed taking photos off our balcony of the ship as we made our way to Helsinki.


Pleasure boat in waters from Stockholm to Helsinki

Sunday, March 18, 2012

What to Do in Palermo?

Cathedral in Palermo

I haven't decided yet what tour I want to take in Palermo, Italy. One tour from the ship goes to the seaside town of Cefalù, the other one does a panorama of Palermo and then on to the Cathedral in Monreale. Both tours sound great. 

More information on Cefalù can be found on wikipeda ... click here. Monreale, on the other hand, is considered to be one of the best representation of Norman architecture in the world. Click here to read about Monreale on wikipedia. 

Monreale Cathedral

One client of mine recommended the seaside town and walk. Another client insists I will love Monreale. I feel torn. If anyone has an opinion, let me know  your thoughts.

William II at Sicily at Monreale

Friday, March 16, 2012

Dubrovnik: Gargoyles Found

Dubrovnik was the first stop of our Holland America cruise, Roman Empire. It  is a hidden gem on the Adriatic Sea. The color of the sea reminds me of where I live, Cozumel, with its clarity and color. I believe the water is a lot colder though. Add mountain vistas, gargoyles and medieval buildings - you begin to see why I loved Dubrovnik. This is definitely a gargoyle post, with a definite lack of graffiti. 

In the middle ages, it was known as Ragusa, and rivaled Venice for maritime activities. Some more info on its history can be found here 

Gorgeous fountain on our walking tour
Dominican monastery courtyard
We did a walking tour of the old part of the city and went to an outdoor cafe afterwards for lunch.

Fort Lovrijenac

One of our stops was at Fort Lovrijenac. It can be seen from all over. More information on this fort can be found here

A great day was had by all in our group, but in all honesty, other than the fort and the view from the vantage point on the bus tour, all of the city of Dubrovnik was very accessible. If I go back, I would definitely do Dubrovnik without a tour and just walk around and soak up all the gargoyle effects.

Our tour bus

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Gargoyles in Gdansk

Main street of Gdansk, Poland
What better place to encounter gargoyles than in Gdansk, Poland. Gdansk is chock full of baroque architecture. Some of the best architecture can be found in its areas churches. More info on the churches of Gdansk can be found here.

Walking down the main street as you first enter Gdansk, I was struck by how unique and different each house is. It made me wonder, could this place be real or is it a manufactured tourist trap? 

From wikipedia.com:

"With the defeat of German state the planned genocide of Polish population classified by German authorities as "subhuman" was averted and Polish population returned to Gdańsk. Already before the end of World War II, the Yalta Conference had agreed to place the city, under its original Polish name Gdańsk, under de facto administration of Poland, and this decision was confirmed at the Potsdam Conference.
A Polish administration was set up in the devastated Gdańsk on 30 March 1945. New Polish residents were settled in Gdańsk, 3,200 in April and more than 4,000 in May and June 1945. As of 1948 more than two thirds of the 150,000 inhabitants came from Central Poland, about 15 to 18 percent from Polish-speaking areas east of the Curzon Line that were annexed by the Soviet Union after WWII. Many local Kashubians also moved into the city. The deportation of the German populace started in July 1945, thus the pre-war populace soon became a small minority within post-war Gdańsk.[46]
Between 1952 and the late 1960s Polish artisans restored much of the old city's architecture, up to 90% destroyed in the war.[47] Initially the reconstruction of parts of the inner city (Główne MiastoGermanRechtstadt) was controversial. As a result of anti-German sentiments and the new settler's at least indifferent attitude towards the unknown, German city a modern architecture was preferred.[48] The decision to reconstruct a traditional old town was politically motivated in order to symbolize the city’s "reunification" with Poland[48] and limited to the area of the Główne Miasto..." 

More on the history of Gdansk can be found here. So if most of the city was destroyed, what did they use to recreate the old city? It just felt like too many styles crammed into such a small area. Has anybody else noticed this? It is beautiful, but is it real? That is my question. But whether real or not, a good time can be had ... from the jewelry shops to cotton candy stands. You can even get a fake tattoo.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Portofino and Santa Margherita

Portofino, Italy

My excitement level is rising as I anticipate my Western Med cruise at the end of April and beginning of May. I cannot wait to see Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure. I haven't decided yet whether I will take a ship's tour that includes a boat ride to the Abbey at San Fruttuoso and Camogli, or wander down the road from Santa Margherita to Portofino on foot with a small group of friends (I plan to make.) Both ideas have their pluses and minuses. Sometimes it can be exhilarating to take off not quite knowing where you are going or when you will get back. On the other hand, there are just so many must see things I need to pack in a few hours. Guess I will figure it out there.

Walking route from Santa Margherita to Portofino


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Gargoyle Heaven: St. Mary's at Gdansk

Mary in St. Mary's Church at Gdansk
St. Mary's Church in Gdansk, Poland is a gargoyle Heaven. There are so many unique and wonderful architectural features that it has taken me four posts to really appreciate all that is there. From the black Mary above to the gargoyle iron, the old iron chest and the skulls and skeletons everywhere, the place is amazing.

From wikipedia:
St. Mary's Church (PolishBazylika MariackaGermanMarienkirche) or, properly,Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (PolishBazylika Mariacka Wniebowzięcia Najświętszej Maryi Panny w Gdańsku) is a Roman Catholic church in Gdańsk, Poland, which is the largest brick church in the world. It was begun in 1379. (The tallest brick church is St. Martin's Church, LandshutGermany.)

Note the skeleton in the far left corner
There is a skeleton-looking creature in the far left corner of this structure. Does it have wings?

Skull and crossbones