"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, 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. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

More of Tunisia

Police enjoying breakfast in front of the Medina at Tunis

I thoroughly enjoyed our stop at Tunis while on the Med Glamour cruise. I have heard others say it is dirty and crowded, and even though it is, the people are lovely and the country is fascinating. Information on the Medina of Tunis can be found on Wikipedia here. We arrived early on a Sunday morning. The government offices are covered with barb wire as they had a revolution only a year or so ago. The police presence was strong, except it was a pretty laid back affair, with the policemen enjoying a breakfast of fried meat in pita bread around a cart. Reminded me of the breakfast taco stands in Cozumel.

Tunis architecture

Blue doors of Tunis
The architecture of Tunis is amazing, with beautiful blue and yellow doors. The stonework is also quite impressive. The homes in the Medina area are some of the most expensive of the country.

Also don't miss the Bardo Museum. It was undergoing a move that I believe had been going on for a while. I snapped a few photos of the local people, really beautiful. I especially liked the one of this little boy.

Adorable boy at Bardo Museum
More information on visiting Tunis can be found here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sardi's Restaurant New York: Still Great

Postcard from Sardi's Restaurant
What's not to like about a restaurant that's been around for 90 years and hasn't changed much in 30. Don't get me wrong! The carpet and furniture are new, the waiters top-notch and the food is delicious. What I mean is the same level of quality and wonderful ambiance I found at Sardi's as a naive 30 year old still exists today. 

My friend Lisa had planned a wonderful lunch for us in the theater district of New York. I found the area too crowded and run down. The restaurant we attempted to eat at was too crowded and loud. And then, there it was ... a place that holds a special place in my heart. We left the first place, each of us dragging one of my suitcases, fighting the crowd, the wind whipping around, looking like rain. Like an oasis in the desert, I saw the sign ... wow, Sardi's. 

I had a romantic dinner there 30 years ago before going to a show on Broadway. The food was still as good, the atmosphere divine. Lisa had Caesar salad and I had the tomato and mozzarella salad. They were both perfect. If you would like to try it out when in New York, here is a link to their website. Enjoy and tell them I sent you! (Just joking, they would have no idea who I am.)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

New York, New York

My friend Lisa at a midtown diner 
My travel to Rome included a stop at New York. I had not been to the city in over twenty years, and I was excited to see it again. I watch scenes every week in one of my favorite shows, Gossip Girl. Unfortunately I saw neither Blair nor Serena, but I did meet up with a good friend and client, Lisa.

The taxi ride in was quite eventful. The driver, who was new to the city and from Africa, kept asking me where my hotel was located. I kept telling him I had no idea. I gave him the exact address, and the whole way there he sweated if we were going the right way. When we finally arrived on the street in midtown where the hotel was located, he told me we had passed it. But I told him no, as I fortunately had google mapped the location earlier and knew it was next to Ruth's Chris steak house. I saw the steakhouse a bit up the street. I have to say I was never so glad to get out of a cab. 

I stayed at a four star hotel which was fine, but the price seemed outrageous to me for what I got. Welcome to New York! The bed was comfortable and the room was decorated tastefully. I did get a kick out of where they locate the safe though.As you can see in the picture below, it was located on a shelf in the closet way over my head. I had to get on a chair to use it.

Safe location at the hotel

Lisa met me at the hotel the next morning and we went to breakfast and did some shopping. The little diner we went to had a great omelet and even better service. I snapped a few photos going to the bathroom though. It was really creepy and felt like something out of Criminal Minds. I kept waiting for someone to pop out and grab me.

Staircase to diner bathroom

Written on the inside of the stall at diner bathroom

Thanks again, Lisa, for your hospitality and taking me shopping. Per my pleading, we even took a ride on the subway!

Me in the subway NYC

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Tunisia: Worth a Look

Wall detail in Tunisia

On my cruise of the Western Med from Rome to Rome, one of our stops was Tunisia. I had heard varying comments from not worth getting off to the best port on the cruise. Since the cruise was full of awesome ports, I don't think I can say that it was my favorite spot, but I can say that I liked it and that is was the most exotic place we went. It is a Muslim country, but the people drink wine. It is mostly laid back with bothersome vendors, so I felt right at home. Cozumel is the same.

I did the Best of Tunisia tour, which was probably too much. If I ever go back, I would like to do a more extensive ruins tour, and I refused to go up for the Turkish rug presentation. I am allergic to wool, and I could feel the sneezing coming on when I hit the stairs. But the shop owner chit chatted with me while the presentation was being made, and I liked the people. They were heartfelt and warm.

Hat making demonstration in the Medina of Tunis

We went to the Bardo Museum, the Souk of the Medina (basically the Market), Carthage ruins and had a great lunch at what seemed to be a country club. The president of Palestine was at the Bardo when we first arrived, so our guide took us to the Medina before most of the shops were opened, and then we returned to the Bardo. It was a great way to see the Souk without all the crowds. Finally, we went to Sidi Bou Said, a village with blue and white houses. That felt like the tourist trap to me, but the houses were interesting. 

Shop in the Medina of Tunisia

Friends I met on the Best of Tunisia tour
I met a great couple on this tour that I spent time with throughout the cruise. Thanks for the great memories, Mee Len and Spencer.

Camels at the port of La Goulette
I will report more on each of the spots we visited. But I want to say, do not shy away from Tunisia. After just going through a war, they need the business and it is really interesting. To me, the people make the place and I liked the people of Tunisia. Our guide was especially nice.

Guide at Tunis