"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.

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

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Almost Gargoyles, Jesus and a Street Cleaner

at Barcelona 

Guess it is a bit of a stretch to think of these guys as almost gargoyles. Obviously they are not, but I do love the little guys on each side, maybe cherubs!

Street grate in the Barri Gothic at Barcelona

I photographed this street grate on my walk in the Barri Gothic, somewhere between La Rambla and Jaume I. I am attempting to translate from Spanish, even though the words are in Catalan. Basically, it means "in recognition of all that served the city and dated 1993," and it shows the symbols for all the different trades. I wish we could have those here in Cozumel. I just love this grate. 

Jesus from the Cathedral at Barcelona

I believe I took this photo at the Cathedral as I meandered through the old streets of the Barri Gothic. Being May Day, all that was open was hotels, a few restaurants and the Churches. I love the way the light hits the lit candles on each side of Jesus.

Street cleaner at Barcelona

The sun shown brightly once leaving the Cathedral. I photographed some street cleaners on a side street off La Rambla. Many of the street cleaners are women. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Santiago de Compostela: The Way of St. James

There were two reasons why I took the cruise from Barcelona to Dover. The first and most important was that we did an overnight in Lisbon. I thought it would be the highlight of my cruise, but in reality, I enjoyed so much more the three places I didn’t even care if we visited – Cherbourg, Brussels and Gibraltar. (Just goes to show our expectations don’t always match our realities.) The second reason was to visit Santiago de Compostela, the third most important pilgrimage site of the Catholic world. It did not disappoint. This blog covers my observations and enchantment with this lovely city in Spain. 

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral

Protesters or pilgrims?

Our group: Brendan, Tiara, me, Yvette & Neil. Ray took the photo.

Walking on to the plaza of Santiago de Compostela, I entered a surreal world of hundreds of years ago. There was a mist in the air and it was chilly as we stood in front of the Cathedral. Our group of five, two couples I met through Cruise Critic (I got so lucky meeting them) and myself traveling solo, had the most wonderful guide imaginable. Brendan of Guided Galicia drove us to Santiago and the remaining area in a lovely new Mercedes van. I assumed I would bone up on my Spanish on the drive, but to our amazement, Brendan hails from New Zealand, so he speaks wonderful English! He told us that he and his lovely Galician wife and their two children live in Vigo, Spain.

Brendan could not have been more cordial and knew so much about the surrounding area, but let me not digress. 

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral

The Mass was going on when we arrived at the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. Three priests performed the Mass and it was beautiful. The scent of incense was heavy in the air as we wound our way around the different areas of the Cathedral. I did not feel right about taking pictures inside, even though many people did. I would love to have the memories but it just didn’t feel like the right thing to do. 

There are some wonderful youtube videos of the Mass at the Cathedral. Here is one I especially like:

Outside Brendan showed us the marker for the Way of Santiago de Compostela, and there are so many routes to get there. I also saw a marker in front of the Godiva shop on the main square of Brussels. 

Marker for the Way of St. James in Santiago de Compostela

You can walk the way of Saint James from England, Portugal, Brussels or even closer locations in Spain. There are hundreds of websites and blogs devoted to the pilgrimages of the young and old that make their way to this religious city, the capital of Galicia. 

One of the blogs I especially like is:
Camino to Santiago de Compostela

wall outside the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela

Me in front of one of the sweets shops

And if you happen to find yourself in this area, either arriving by cruise ship to the ports of Vigo or La Coruña, or by pilgrimage, contact Brendan from Guided Galicia. You won't be disappointed. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Nice, France: the Second Time Around

Nice, France

I love the way the light is shining down on the gentleman walking the streets of Nice. I took these photos on a walking tour of the city. While there, it felt dirty and frenetic. But looking back at these photos, I can enjoy the unique architecture of this wonderful place.

Our lovely guide Pascal

Who can resist such wonderful shutters? They look so inviting.

Furniture store in Nice
In Spanish the word is Muebles, here it is Meubles. I am always on the lookout for furniture stores around the world since we have a furniture store in  Mexico!