"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.

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