"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, August 18, 2013

Gargoyles Wanted: Bergen, Norway

Bergen Norway Hanseatic District from wikipedia
If there is one place that should have a sign out looking for employment for gargoyles, it is Bergen, Norway. I haven't been there yet, but I am really psyched to get there. I looked at a few shore excursions that took me away from this lovely town, but I may just get off the ship and walk around. There is so much to see right in Bergen.

The above photo of the waterfront first of all, with all the painted wooden buildings. The Hanseatic Museum is also supposed to be fascinating. 

Photo: Regin Hjertholm of old Bergen

Throughout the old sections of Bergen, there are museums and displays dating from the 10th century and on. A gargoyle would look great in that dentist chair!

Bergen view from above
I am dying to find out where these photos of Bergen were taken. There are tours that take you on the funicular and then you walk back down. Maybe this view can be seen from one of the lookouts on the way. I don't know yet, but plan to do a lot of research to find just the right things to do in Norway. I know that Bergen is often called the gateway to the Fjords.

Bergen, gateway to the Fjords
Again, I am off solo on this one. Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast Panorama
As I mentioned in my last two posts, the Amalfi Coast and the town of Amalfi have the most beautiful views. I loved all the little towns along the way that we passed through.

Amalfi Coast view

More inforrmation on this beautiful part of the world can be found here. I did something different this time. The last two times I did the Amalfi Coast by road, so this time I did it by sea from Salerno to the town of Amalfi and back. More to come on what I saw!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Cruising Solo: Sorrento

Me at a lovely restaurant in Sorrento

Cruising solo is always interesting and fun, at least for me. I get to meet a whole lot of people I probably wouldn't otherwise. On my last solo cruise on the Norwegian Jade, I ate most of my meals alone. Sometimes I brought my Kindle, other times I chatted across tables with other cruisers. 

Fellow cruiser from Norwegian Jade

Another fellow cruiser from Norwegian Jade

I met a lovely couple at lunch on a tour of Sorrento and a boat tour from Salerno to Amalfi and back. I don't remember their names, but I do remember their kindness and their unique story. They live in northern California and buy condo buildings and refurbish them. We had more fun discussing the pros and cons of the different cruise lines. Like me, they are avid travelers and love to cruise as well. We just hit it off for that one fab lunch. I never saw them again after that.

I also took a lot of great photos at Sorrento. We did a walking tour and it is full of gorgeous architecture.

Architectural detail from a Church at Sorrento

One of my favorite photos
This photo is so amazing! I took it as a gentleman was running in to the Church, not to be late for Mass.

More architectural goodies from Sorrento to follow! 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Palacio del Marques de Dos Aguas at Valencia

Front entrance doors of the Palacio del Marques de Dos Aguas
One of our stops on our western Transatlantic cruise will be Valencia, Spain. I always spend a lot time researching all the sites before we go, angsting over which ones will make the best tour. I had a friend comment recently that he thinks cruises in Europe are not good as you spend so little time in port. Maybe it is because I do so much research ahead, but I thoroughly enjoy the time in European ports and always feel like I picked the best tour possible. I have often felt I would want to go back for another visit, but I never felt the day was not long enough. Of course I tend to pick longer tours, typically 8 to 9 hours when available.

Exterior of the Palacio del Marques de Dos Aguas

One thing that caught my eye at Valencia, Spain is a building called the Palacio del Marques de Dos Aguas. It houses a ceramic museum and is the 6th best rated attraction on TripAdvisor UK. The roccoco exterior is incredible. More information can be found here. I have no idea whether we can get there from our cruise, but I want to see it if I can. Truly a gargoyle paradise!

Interior display at the Palacio del Marques de Dos Aguas

Sunday, August 4, 2013

First Transatlantic Planned

Palma de Mallorca
Last year when I opted to change my cruise mid-planning and go on Norwegian Jade instead of the repositioning cruise on Holland America Ryndam, I truly regretted it later. I worried that the Ryndam was too old, which I still wonder about as I have not been on her. But knowing how wonderful the service is on Holland America, and knowing the layouts of their ships and how much personal space each person has - I truly believe my concerns were not valid. Nevertheless, I chose to try NCL one more time and it will be my last. There are those who love Norwegian Cruise Line. I am just not one of them. It is too casual and I don't like the layout of the ships, with their very narrow corridors. They just don't thrill me architecturally either, especially the Jade, which is a ship that was made to sail Hawaii. There are still many Hawaiian themed features that are just weird for Europe.

Pink tower at Palma de Mallorca

But one of my biggest regrets was I did not make it to Palma de Mallorca. So Moises and I began to plan in earnest our fifteen year anniversary cruise a bit early. We will be going in October of 2014, instead of July 2015. In my mind, better nine months early than three months late. Moises has been wanting to do a western Transatlantic for a while. I found this itinerary on the Celebrity Equinox. It is just perfect, 14 days with stops in Spain and the Canary Islands before the transatlantic portion. It also goes to Palma de Mallorca.

Harbor Port Andratx at Mallorca

Cannot wait to plan this trip!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lusting After Funchal, Madeira at Portugal

Funchal, Madeira at Portugal
My husband and I are finally taking the plunge and looking in to a transatlantic cruise from Barcelona. I have been lusting after a visit to the Canary Islands. My husband wants to do a transatlantic. That is one cruise I prefer not to do solo, so we have combined both ideas and come up with an itinerary that goes to the Canary Islands and then arrives in Fort Lauderdale.

Major avenue at Funchal

Market at Funchal, Madeira

In my research, I stumbled on Funchal, Madeira. It is a stop on quite a few transatlantic including Princess and Holland America. We are looking at Celebrity and they don't stop there. But there are so many other wonderful spots on their transatlantic cruises, I can do this island another time. I will put a Canary Island itinerary on my bucket list.

Beautiful avenue at Funchal

Funicular at Funchal

One of my favorite things - a funicular. If you would like more information about Funchal, please click here. Information provided by wikipedia wikitravel.