"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, May 30, 2012

The Amazing Faces: Memories of Paris

Statue at Paris, France
My memories of Paris are backed up on those little square plastic disks that fit in my first digital camera. It was a Sony camera that was big and heavy, and I never could get a straight picture from it. Moises became the photographer that trip of 2002. He sure took some great shots of faces in Paris, with all kinds of expressions and in various mediums. I really don't remember where we took all of them, but it is fun to reminisce.

Wall of Arc de Triomphe, Paris

Who is this?

I love the bust above, but who is he? Can anybody tell me?

Also, I would love to identify the below painting at the Louvre. It is fabulous.

Painting at the Louvre, Paris
Oh, and here we are with the infamous camera!

Moises and me with our first digital camera photo taken at Versailles

Monday, May 28, 2012

Romantic Rendezvous: Memories of Paris

me at Louvre 2002
It has been 10 years since Moises and I made our one and only trip to Paris. I may never go back as the trip was so perfect, it could never be topped. We could not have had better weather. It was cool but not cold until the last few days. Our hotel, Hotel California, could not have been nicer nor better located. It was a romantic rendezvous. I hear people say Parisians are not friendly, but we did not find this at all. My husband speaks French, enough to get by in restaurants and grocery stores. We had a warm welcome from everyone we met. The city could not have been cleaner. Every day at 5pm, the street cleaners came by and hosed down the streets. Due to the economic climate in Europe now, I've been told that is no longer possible. I don't know as I haven't been back, but our memories are of the best trip of a lifetime. We love Paris!

A few other gems from that trip ....

face in stone at Louve, Paris

Lion statue at Louvre, Paris
Wall detail at Louvre, Paris

Mona Lisa
The crowning jewel .... the Mona Lisa. She is so small and used to hang in a bathroom, but no trip to Paris is complete without her! More information on this painting can be found here.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Ces53: A Great Graffiti Artist

Graffit by Ces53 in Cholula, Mexico
I stumbled across a great graffiti artist from The Netherlands. He goes by the name of Ces53. He now does a lot more than graffiti, but his graffiti is great and can even be found in Mexico.

Graffiti by Ces53 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Check out his website at www.ces53.com

Friday, May 18, 2012

More on the Eze Cemetery

Eze, France

My friend Jim is also curious about the English language on the graves in the cemetery in Eze, so I started doing some digging. This is what I found so far. Walt Disney loved Eze. Also one of the Vanderbilt women, Consuelo Vanderbilt, whose first husband was a Churchill ... married the second time a man named Jacques Balsan, and they had a place in Eze. They entertained a lot there. Winston Churchill spent some time there visiting them. She also was friends with many of the American socialites. So between the British and American connections, maybe all the gravestones in English make sense. I will keep digging!

Consuelo Vanderbilt with Winston Churchill at Blenheim 1902 (from Wikipedia)

Gravestone with flowers at Eze Cemetery

Some more information on Jacques Balsan can be found here. One interesting tidbit is that Jacques brother, Etienne Balsan, was the first patron of Coco Chanel.

Olga Platonina Dinwiddie gravestone
An aside ...
I found an interesting post on the house that Consuelo Vanderbilt built for the love of her life, Jacques Balsan, in Manalapan, Florida. This article is from 2010 and shows pictures of this great home. To read it, click here. The house really is truly spectacular!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Eze, France: My Favorite Spot

View of the area around Eze, France
On my Holland America Eurodam cruise of the Western Med, my favorite spot was Eze, France. Don't get me wrong - I loved Monaco and Palermo. I found Tunisia interesting and with great people and food. Palermo and Santa Margherita Ligure are spectacular, but the one place that found a place in my heart was Eze, France. More information on this beautiful medieval village can be found here.

at Eze

Eze is everything I love with picturesque mountain tops, wonderful staircases, awesome views and very few people. It is on the French Riviera but is not pretentious. The food is wonderful and there is the most blessed Church that will take up a few posts, I am sure. For now, here are a few impressions of Eze, somewhere I would definitely like to return.


Architectural detail at Eze Church

View from the top at Eze, France
There is also a wonderful cemetery with many gravestones in English. I really need to investigate why.

Gravestone in Cemetery at Eze

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Delightful Details of the Monreale Cathedral

Imperial Sarcaphogus at Monreale Cathedral
The Monreale Cathedral has a bit of everything and a lot of mosaics. It has imperial sarcophagi, cherubs, and great marble floors. I even found online a map to follow all the mosaics as you walk around the Cathedral, but unfortunately I forgot to take a copy with me when I went. Here is the info here
Try not to do what I did ... don't  leave it in your suitcase to find when you get back home! I also never saw the Cloisters, which look beautiful. I am not even sure exactly where they are located.

But I did find some great architectural elements. Here are a few ...

Not a gargoyle but he is a great cherub

Closeup of one mosaic

Marvelous marble work at Monreale Cathedral

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Monreale Tour

Monreale Cathedral Interior
I took a tour to the Monreale Cathedral on my Eurodam cruise from Rome to Rome, Western Med itinerary. It was included with a panoramic of Palermo. Monreale is a small, quaint town and quite charming. It was packed the day we were there with tours from the cruise ship and other land tour groups. In fact, it was so crowded that our guide recommended we return an hour later as they had a wedding scheduled, and we went through right before they closed the Cathedral for the wedding. Seemed a bit risky to me, so I couldn't help myself and slipped in beforehand to view the Cathedral with some of the crew setting up the wedding party. 


Our group from the Holland America Eurodam

Monreale rooms to rent

Our guide gave us free time to check out the town and shop, which seems to be most of the cruisers favorite past time. I dislike shopping for souvenirs, so I went for coffee and wandered around. I love the above sign. Notice they take MasterCard, Visa and American Express to rent their rooms! (Universal language, right?)

My favorite graffiti in Monreale translates almost the same in Spanish, "pequeña mia, te amo" basically means "my little one, I love you."

"Little one, I love you" in Italian

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Monreale: More Than the Cathedral

Captivating woman at a coffee shop in Monreale
I promised a post on the Monreale Cathedral, but I have decided to post instead about the town. I found a wonderful coffee shop with the best cappuccino. The lovely woman who works making the espresso and cappuccino is a real pro, and the coffee was exquisite ... just like I like it - strong, not bitter. We could not communicate very well as she only spoke Italian, and there I was trying to speak to her in English and Spanish. We used a lot of hand signals and smiles. She took me over to the cashier stand, where her mother proudly showed me photos of her granddaughter, the daughter of the one who makes the coffee. The shot above I took candidly. It is my favorite of her.

The Cathedral at Monreale is the highlight for many people. It was very crowded and not really to my liking. The mosaics were impressive, but it was very dark inside. I preferred the Cathedral in Palermo, but Monreale is a charming, tiny town. 

Elegant gentleman outside the Cathedral

I love this shot of a local walking around the town. He has great posture and a jaunty cap. The drivers were crazy, almost running us down as we took photos and gawked. Here is a shot of our group from the Holland America Eurodam.

Holland America Eurodam group tour "Palermo & Monreale"

This is a shot of the view we had from the hill by the Cathedral.

View from Monreale
Promise Cathedral photos tomorrow. 

P.S. Can you find me in the first photo? I am barely visible in the mirror taking the photo!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Gargoyle Heaven: Terminal at Palermo

Cruise terminal at Palermo

The architecture of the terminal at Palermo was really interesting. I loved the fact that the leather seats were a little frayed. It was a premonition of what was to come, elegant but worn. 

There were lovely frescoes on the wall and the use of fine woods and leather. It reminded me of an era when the cruise liners made their way across the Atlantic. 

Close up of a fresco
As I stated earlier, I loved Palermo, much to my surprise. I found an article about this cruise port on cruise critic that pretty much sums up Palermo. That information can be found here. But it must be experienced to fully comprehend. One day was definitely not enough. I would love to go back.

Staircase at Palermo Terminal

Even though there were no gargoyles, I truly believe a gargoyle would be very happy to hang out here. I know I was!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Falling in Love: Graffiti of Palermo

Street in Palermo, Sicily

Everyone I spoke to before I left on my cruise said don't bother with Palermo. Make your way directly to Cefalu or Monreale, as Palermo is ugly and dirty. That's what they said, but that is not what I found. I cannot judge a place by how it looks but how it feels to me. Palermo is dirty. Palermo is full of graffiti and people. It is a jumble of all these things I rationalize are things I do not like. But guess what? I loved loved loved Palermo. 

Somehow the mix of old buildings and crowded streets combined with thousands of years of history, the sun, olive oil and smiles brought tears to my eyes. Even the graffiti did not bother me. It almost seems like it belongs here. 

Palermo is a mix of all that is good and bad in the world, with a dash of hope mixed in. It does not apologize for not being neat and tidy. I felt love and goodness. Here are some of the shots I took of the graffiti. 

Then I came across this, the Cathedral in Palermo. What's not to love!

Entering the Cathedral area of Palermo, Sicily