"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 31, 2013

Split About Split (Croatia)

Diocletian Palace street at Split from Wikipedia
It's about time I finally got down to checking out the areas of my cruise next month. I already signed up for excursions, and honestly I am really glad I did, as most of them are already closed out. It will probably be a big free-for-all on the Norwegian Jade the first day trying to sort out everybody's shore excursions. 

One place I was really happy to get away from and see some medieval towns was Split, Croatia. Little did I realize the town itself has so much to offer. The Diocletian Palace, built at the turn of the 4th century by Roman Emporer Diocletian, looks spectacular. I found some photos on Wikipedia today that blew me away. Gargoyles would sure be comfortable here!

So I got out my cruise docs, checked the time of my tour and lo and behold, we get back to Split early enough, I should be able to do a private trip to see the Palace. Those are usually the best parts of my days. Traveling solo can make visits to places by myself a little daunting, but by going with a group in the morning, I usually befriend some kind soul who is willing to trek around the town with me in the afternoon. That is my hope.

Spinx in Split from Wikipedia
There is an underground area of the Diocletian Palace that looks like it has great shopping as well.

Underground the Diocletian Palace from Wikipedia

More information on this magnificent Palace can be found on Wikipedia here.

Hopefully I will get to see Ancient Salona, Medieval Trogir and the Diocletian Palace at Split all in one day. Gargoyles, here I come!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Pamukkale and Hierapolis: Close to Izmir

Pamukkale from Wikipedia

I haven't even left on my cruise for this year and I am already researching cruises for 2014. The same ship I am on this year, Norwegian Jade, has a cruise that looks amazing. I would love to do it. It overnights in Istanbul and goes to a lot of other fab places. I just might put down a deposit on a great room in anticipation and see if I like the ship. (Fingers crossed.)

Since I've been to Ephesus, I did not want to return there when we dock in Izmir. I am looking for something else to do and stumbled on this tour of Pamukkale and Hierapolis. Viator has a Tour of Pamukkale and Hierapolis that looks awesome. Pamukkale is a site of petrified lime cascades that have been used since Roman times for their thermal waters. 

Hierapolis from Wikipedia

The Roman city of Hierapolis is built on solid limestone layers. The name means sacred city and you can visit the Apollo Temple that rivals Delphi in beauty and importance, according to Wikipedia. More info on Hierapolis can be found on Wikipedia, click here.

Now I have to hope that if I take the cruise, they offer a tour to these two great places.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Santorini: Our Favorite Place on Earth

Santorini (officially Thira)

View from up top by cable car (see it peeking out?)

I have had this discussion dozen of times. "What's your favorite place on earth?" Had it recently with my friend Jim (whom I have never met in person - yet.) That is the beauty of the internet. He is my facebook friend and what a friend he is. I write a blog post and put it on facebook page. A while later, a like appears and invariably it is from my new friend, Jim. Anyway, he and I were discussing and reminiscing, and Jim and I both love Santorini the most.

There is just nothing not great about Santorini, except maybe for the donkey sh**, which is why I took the cable car and not the donkey trail when returning to the ship. 

My niece Sarah walking the cobblestone streets of Oia

My niece and I spent a day on our Holland America Noordam cruise in Santorini. Approaching it, it appears as if there is snow covering the mountain peaks, but in reality, it is the white houses perched on top, all strung together so closely, like lights on a Christmas tree. It doesn't make sense the way it is laid out. We couldn't even get from one town to the other without getting on a cable car or in a crazy taxi, but it is truly Heaven.

Love the wheelbarrow

The architecture is so unique that now when I see a photo of Santorini, I know it is on this wonderful island in the Cyclades archipelago of Greece. This is what Wikipedia says about Santorini (or officially Thira.)

"Santorini is essentially what remains after an enormous volcanic explosion that destroyed the earliest settlements on what was formerly a single island, and created the current geological caldera."

For more info on Santorini, or Thira, click here

Fabulous door

Santorini workshop
My best find was a local workshop on the island. Kind of reminds me of our workshops here in Cozumel - I'm thinking it must be an island thing!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day Memories

McDevitt's Men Shop at Peebles Corner (Enquirer Archives 1931)
A post today on my Facebook page was from one of my favorite cousins, Kevin Keefe. I guess it appeared because today is St. Patrick's Day and the article was about the store my grandfather and his Irish brothers owned, McDevitt's Men Shop.

I remember as a precocious three year old getting up on a stool to "run" the cash register. After hitting a few keys, I turned to look at my grandpa and great uncle's beaming faces, I declared to them it was time I take over the store as I was up to running it. My dad worked there every Saturday when I was a kid, helping my grandfather and his brothers try to heal an ailing wound. The store had become a dinosaur by 1968, when they finally closed it. 

It wasn't always that way. Started by my great grandfather, it was a marvel at the turn of the century and made the original owner a millionaire twice over. He started the store in 1897 and had made a million by the year 1900. He decided to sell the store and move to Oregon to be closer to his brother, who was a priest. My grandfather was just a little boy then and he always spoke about the biggest flowers in the world being from Oregon. But after a few years, the family moved back and his father reopened the store and made it a great success. 

They were even asked to go in to the first mall in Cincinnati, but the brothers thought malls were probably a passing fancy and passed on the deal. By 1968, the neighborhood could no longer handle a fine men's clothing store and our family store closed. Will's Pawn Shop relocated there in 1977 and closed their doors at that location in 2005.

Peebles Corner before McDevitt's Men Shop was located there

I found an earlier photo from before our family store was built. Note that the cable car wires are not there yet. I have some bittersweet and wonderful memories of our McDevitt family life around this intersection. The family Catholic Church was right down the street and I remember the day my dad's cousin had his 25th anniversary as a priest. By then he was a monsignor and had come back from Rome. I remember he liked the red wine and pasta he ate while visiting the Vatican.

Many of our family members are now scattered far and wide, but a good part still remain in Cincinnati or close by. Thanks for sharing this article with us, Kevin. Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone! It was a good day to walk down memory lane. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Towel Animals on Holland America

Elephant towel animal on the Holland America Noordam
Now that I have locked my cruise in on NCL, I am getting nostalgic about the wonderful cruises I've had on Holland America and all the things I will miss. I only hope NCL can be half as good as HAL. One thing I love about HAL are the wonderful towel animals. Doesn't matter which ship I am on, whether the Eurodam or the Noordam, the cabin stewards make these great towel animals that we come back to after dinner.

Towel monkey hanging on HAL Eurodam

Towel monkey hanging on HAL Noordam 

The above two towel monkeys look a bit alike, but note the difference. Both hang from a hanger, but the first monkey has his legs really stretched out and monkey #2 almost looks like he is sitting or swinging with his legs up. Monkey #1 has a long face, where monkey #2 almost looks like his towel tongue is hanging out.

Which do you like better?