"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.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Memories of Nice #2

Flowers in window at Nice
Looking back, I really enjoyed our walking tour of Nice. It was just such a whirlwind of new experiences that I was slightly taken aback. For instance, when I visited Portofino, it was incredible. Not only was it gorgeous, but the best part for me was that it is small. I only had to take in a little bit to drink up its beauty. But a place like Nice, with its traffic, grime and smells - takes a bit more getting used to. I do hope I get to go back one day and stay awhile.

Woman beggar on steps of a Church at Nice

Within one block, we saw a woman begging for money on the steps of a Church. Walk a bit and there is an amazing upscale art gallery. Nice is like that!

Art gallery at Nice
A shot of Pascal's hand as we were leaving Nice
Back on the bus leaving Nice, I tried to capture a shot of a beautiful building with sky blue shutters. Instead I got Pascal's hand. Thought it came out great, as if to say "Bye, bye Nice!"

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Memories of Nice #1

Wall at Nice, France
I did a walking tour on my last cruise of Nice, France. Like a lot of places, while I was there, I focused on the dirt and decay. But once I am back and can take some perspective and look at the memories of my trip, Nice took on a whole new light. Our guide, Pascal, was fabulous - warm, funny, charming and oh so French. It was a delight just watching her work. Her accent was beautiful and I was amazed at what she could do with a scarf. Just throwing it over her shoulder, she appeared like a queen.

Walking tour of Nice
Pascal is the one carrying the sign, number 2, but you can't see her in this photo.

Trompe-l'oeil wall at Nice

Woman in window listening to our tour guide 

We wandered through the streets. At one point, Pascal stopped to speak and a woman above in a window listened to our every word.

Pascal, our guide, on the left
This is a photo of Pascal taken on the steps of the Cathedral in Monaco where Princess Grace is buried.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Heather's Photos: Paris Vintage Shop Fit for Gargoyles

photo by Heather Wolf Bryan at Paris
Paris is one of those places where gargoyles abound. This vintage shop that Heather Wolf Bryan photographed on her most recent trip there is one such place. I love how the clothing hangs down from the ceiling. You can just imagine a gargoyle or two hiding between the dresses.

Boots anyone? by Heather Wolf Bryan
I am not quite sure what material is covering the structure that holds the boots, but it almost looks like jean material. How creative! Actually in the next photo I can make out it is jean material that covers the structures.

Staircase photo by Heather Wolf Bryan

Funky shop by Heather Wolf Bryan
So if gargoyles have not made it here yet, this is a notice to all gargoyles. Make your way to this vintage shop and make yourself at home. Thanks again, Heather, for the great photos!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

More from Heather: Eiffel Tower

from collection of Heather Wolf Bryan at Paris
I love the above photo as you can see the hurry in the crowd's steps. That is the one thing that amazed and kind of frightened me about Paris. After living in Cozumel a few years when I went there, I just couldn't keep up. Everybody walks so fast. I have seen many photos of the Eiffel Tower. But I love the way Heather has taken a new and fresh look at it.

Eiffel Tower by Heather Wolf Bryan

another great shot by Heather Wolf Bryan
I thought I should include at least one photo of our photographer, Heather, with Ines peeking out on the right hand corner.

Heather and a barely visible Ines on the far right
If you would like more information on the history of the Eiffel Tower, click here.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Paris: Seen from Heather's Eyes

Photo by Heather Wolf Bryan at Paris, France

I haven't been to Paris in twelve years, but it appears it hasn't changed much. It is still one of my favorite places on earth. Even though I didn't get to go this year, I am living my beautiful memories through a friend's photos. Heather Wolf Bryan went with her good friend Ines and Ines' daughter Cari and spent time in a wonderful apartment. 

Photo from collection of Heather Wolf Bryan

Serge Lutens perfume shop at Palas Royal from Heather Wolf Bryan
It amazed me how the things that attract Heather's eyes are exactly the same type of photos that attract me, a gargoyles and graffiti sort of touch. Wonderful architectural elements with almost no photos of humans. LOL

from collection of Heather Wolf Bryan at Paris

Heather took hundreds of photos. I am going to choose a small collection and feature them on Gargoyles and Graffiti this month. I just needed these types of photos to get motivated to write again! Thanks, Heather.

Photo by Heather Wolf Bryan at Paris

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Day at St. Maarten

Moises and me

When Moises and I decided to go on a Caribbean cruise on the Norwegian Getaway, we didn't choose it for the itinerary. After three or four Caribbean cruises and living in the Caribbean as well, it just isn't about the destinations. It is more about sea days and relaxing and spending some time together away from the office.

our guide Francia
So at our stop in St. Maarten, we decided to just get off the ship and wing it, see what was out there to do. Moises is not fond of ship tours. There was a boat off the ship that took us in to the town and from there we navigated to an internet cafe with wifi. Beware that in the Caribbean Islands, there are some of the most expensive roaming charges out there. My phone tried to connect via roaming for both the day in St. Maarten and St. Thomas and left me with a horrendous bill. Turn off roaming! Worst part was I never even had service, just my phone attempting to connect over and over again.

We approaced a few taxi drivers until we came upon a really nice young woman named Francia. She hails from Haiti and spoke many languages. She was a bit new to the taxi game and one of the older gentlmen encouraged her to take our fare even though we only had a $100 US bill and wanted just a taxi ride to the French side. She honestly told us she didn't have change, but the older guy said we could get in on the French side, which is totally incorrect as the French side is in Euros. Long story short, when we got over to the French side, I wasn't thriled to get out, so we opted instead for a full island tour for the $100 dollars we had with Francia. She was a lot of fun and we had a great time!

my husband Moises
We did see some minimal hurricane damage, mostly downed trees and debris. The island is a lot bigger than I realized, and there was a lot of traffic. But we had a great day and learned some interesting things that I don't think we would have found out about on a group tour. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Gargoyle Door Knockers of Lake Como

Door knocker at Villa Monastero in Varenna, Lake Como, Italy
Courtesy of Yvette Sedeño
Gargoyles are definitely welcome at Villa Monastero at Lake Como. My friend and fellow traveler, Yvette Sedeño, took amazing photos of her last trip to Europe. I admired her door knocker photos, so she willingly agreed to share them with us. They are special. 

Door knocker at Villa Monastero in Varenna, Lake Como, Italy
Courtesy of Yvette Sedeño

Yvette is a wonderful woman with an amazing husband, whom I call Ray. I have trouble with his first name! She is full of style and grace, and I have even visited her lovely home. Walking in is like entering a villa in Provence. Yvette shares the travel bug, and she has been all over the world. We met on a Holland America cruise from Barcelona to Dover. She was kind enough to include me in their tour of Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

Yvette and Ray at Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Here are a few gargoyle-inspired door knockers. I hope she sends me more of her fabulous photos for this blog. I am waiting, Yvette! :)

Door knocker at Villa Monastero in Varenna, Lake Como, Italy
Courtesy of Yvette Sedeño

Door knocker at Villa Monastero in Varenna, Lake Como, Italy
Courtesy of Yvette Sedeño

More information on Villa Monastero can be found here

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Windmills and Edam Cheese in Volendam

Our last stop on our Rhine river cruise was Amsterdam. There was an optional tour that we took to the coastal town of Volendam. The town is small, on the ocean and full of charm. We had a nice, relaxing afternoon there. On the way, we stopped at a windmill.

Near Volendam

More information on Volendam can be found here. My niece, Sarah, and I spent a delightful afternoon enjoying pastries, walking around the tourist shops and visiting the ducks by the beach. 

Volendam beach area

We also saw a demonstration of how wooden shoes are made and of course, my favorite ... the Edam cheese. Right now, I have a "queso de bola" in my refrigerator ... a large Edam cheese, which is a Yucetecan tradition. My husband did the honors of opening the cheese in the traditional way. He is from Merida and edam and gouda cheese is very important to us here.

"Queso de Bola" at my house

What I didn't realize when I bought the cheese, it is not just the cheese that makes it "queso de bola," but a distinctive Yucatecan dish that you make with the hard part of the cheese. It acts as the bowl and you fill it with meat, some of the gouda cheese and other delicacies. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Black Forest: More than Cake

The Black Forest region of Germany is close to my heart. Not only do many of my family relatives come from this area, but it is also an unspoiled and beautiful part of the world. On our Rhine River Cruise from Basel to Amsterdam, our first stop was the Black Forest region. My niece, Sarah, looked forward to the Black Forest cake. I prefer a different type of German chocolate cake that my grandmother used to make. It is made with dark cocoa and chocolate pudding layered in the middle. It also had coffee in the icing. It was not as sweet as Black Forest cake, but it did have nuts on top. Too bad I don’t have the recipe, but nobody could make it like my Grandmother Luh anyway, so maybe it is just as well I don’t try. Miss you, Grandma, and not mostly for the cake.

My niece Sarah on the left

We felt the difference when entering the Black Forest region. It was less populated, the country roads meandered, and I could hear bird song and waterfalls. Leaves crunched under our feet as we walked along the creek bed and took photos.

We also enjoyed the giant cuckoo clocks found in the Black Forest. It was quite amusing to see one of the river cruisers, Peter, a travel writer from Australia – purchasing cuckoo clocks for his family down under. More information on these wonderful clocks can be found here.

Houses of the Black Forest region
Black Forest farm

The Black Forest region is like stepping back in time, from the houses made of local Black Forest timbers to the traditional costumes and food. And as usual, my favorite thing on any trip is to see the local animals. We went to an outdoor museum that was replicas of times past. I found it a bit dull but the site of the cow cheered me up!

My favorite Black Forest cow

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Combarro: A Room with a View

On the cruise from Barcelona to Dover, we toured a few small towns outside of Vigo, Spain with funny names like Poio (pronounced like chicken in Spanish, pollo) and Combarro.  Combarro is a sleepy fishing village with the most amazing grain storage facilities. It is also famous for witches and a special pomace brandy called orujo. But for me, Combarro felt like a mystical, magical place where anything could come true. Witches rode on broomsticks in the shops and people gathered in the narrow streets speaking in whispers and laughing. 

It is a place where time stands still. I relished the few hours we spent in Combarro.

Combarro, Spain

Grain storage houses called horreos

As I stepped from the minivan, I felt the warm sun on my back and gazed out on a perfect scene with small, colorful boats. Walking slowly through the town, I felt as if I was in a trance. I gazed at the granary houses made of sparkling granite. I snapped a photo of a plastic table and chair set with a perfect view and thought to myself, “a room with a view.” 

My room with a view

I yearned to sit down but didn’t dare as witches in the form of dolls and statues hung everywhere, from every surface in the shops to sprawled out on the sidewalks. I found a stone staircase to nowhere.

Stairway to nowhere

Witches everywhere

If you would like to know more about Combarro, check out:
Combarro Travel Guide

And here is a little more information on the area of Galicia, Spain where Combarro is located.
wikipedia Galica (Spain)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Sidi Bou Said

Our guide with the no. 3 in his hand

Lots of tourists of all nationalities

Sidi Bou Said souvenirs

Sidi Bou Said postcards

Sidi Bou Said decorative plates

Sidi Bou Said camel souvenirs
Sidi Bou Said in Tunisia is supposed to be an artist colony. I found it very colorful but more of a tourist trap. It still was great though, if you can get over all the people trying to lure you to their stalls. The difference is in Tunisia if somebody asks for a price, the supposition is that you want to buy the item, and that you are now in the negotiating phase of the deal. Unfortunately us Americans didn't realize this until far too late. Once I asked for a price, the young gentleman followed me down the street reducing the price until I almost had to run away from him. I honestly was just curious how much something cost. I really didn't want to buy it. Honestly, I can't even remember now what "it" was. 

Just a word of advice, if you find yourself in Sidi Bou Said, don't ask for a price unless you really want to buy the item. It may even be some kind of insult to then walk away. But go ... it is a fun place. The people are pushy, but in a smiley and fun-loving sort of way.

More information on Sidi Bou Said can be found here