"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.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Remembering Taormina: Gargoyles Wanted

Gentlemen in Taormina

It has been four years since I went on the Roman Empire cruise with my niece, Sarah. There were so many wonderful things about that cruise - great ports, the perfect amount of days on the cruise (10) and a fabulous traveling companion. Since that year, I have traveled solo on most of my trips. In 2009, I went to Barcelona and Athens for 5 days each by myself. In 2010, Moises and I went to the Baltic to celebrate our ten year anniversary. In 2011 and 2012, I cruised solo. I have decided after these last two cruises that I definitely like traveling alone. It's not perfect as there are a few lonely moments, but I also get to do what I want when I want. And cruising is a perfect venue for a single middle-aged woman (eeh gads, did I actually say it out loud ... middle-aged.)

Taormina street

I will be 57 this month, so I guess I must admit it, but what is it about getting older that feels the same? Now I understand when a group of 80 year old women out to lunch call each other girls. I just don't feel old. Everybody else just looks way too young. I catch myself in awe when a young person drives by and I think they must be 12. Instead of me being old, the world just looks too youthful!

Moped in Taormina

In celebration of my upcoming birthday, I want to revisit Italy, starting with Taormina. There is something ageless about Rome with its crowds and crumbling ruins, graffiti and traffic, smog and confusion. It is somewhat sad but mostly hopeful. But one of my favorite places in Italy is Taormina, Sicily. It is a wonderful, quaint and friendly small town. Where Palermo, Sicily's capital, is like a loud belch, Taormina is a quiet whisper. 

Greek Theater at Taormina

Taormina is a place that beckons one of my favorite things ... gargoyles. I need to go back to try to find them. I am sure they are hidden there somewhere. If any of you readers have photos of gargoyles in Taormina or other parts of Sicily, I would love to post them here!

Almost gargoyles

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Cinque Terre Once Again

Beautiful photo of Cinque Terre
I read recently that the number of guests that are allowed to enter the villages of the Cinque Terre are going to be limited. Crowds enter these villages during the summer months from the cruise ships.

Vernazza of the Cinque Terre
I did see the villages of the Cinque Terre once from far away when on a tour to Santa Maria Ligure and Portofino. The sherbert colored buildings could be seen atop the mountain cliffs from the highway. I look forward to an actual visit there next year!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Mahone Bay & Lunenburg Homes: Colors of the Rainbow

Mahone Bay home converted to a business

Mahone Bay was our first stop on our fabulous tour with Robert of Halifax. I don't believe Robert really even needs a last name. Kind of like Cher or Prince, he stands out as the premier guide to the Halifax area of Nova Scotia. 

Robert in front of the Angilcan Church at Lunenburg

Wearing a kilt and a stern expression when we met him (he could have just been cold with that skirt on!), we had no idea how charming and entertaining he would be. A former history teacher, Robert was full of information and he told it in the most fascinating way.

Our guide Robert in front of a house in Lunenburg

Note the colors of the winter storm door
He entertained through the entire day, taking us first by bus through Halifax and then on to Mahone Bay and finally to Lunenburg. There were so many gorgeous things about these two towns, but what is the most inspiring of all is how old these homes are. Most are 200 years old, built by German immigrants who were given a stipend by England of a free piece of land, lumber and nails to build a home in an area that is quite inhospitable in the winter.

Mahone Bay even has a sign of the original settlers of the area. I know it is hard to read here, but I blew it up and you can see some of the names below.

There was a huge migration of Germans in the time around 1750 to 1754. I found a great article on the emigration to the Halifax area at this time. You can read that here. Go down to where they talk about entering Lunenburg Harbor for the first time. Britain had promised them land, lumber and nails, but it appears that the Germans who landed in Halifax from 1750 to 1752 owed the British Crown for their passage. It must have been a bleak existence when they first started. It is fascinating reading about this area, and what still remains after over 200 years are the wonderful homes.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Saguenay: Definitely Graffiti-Inspired

Tattoo of our bus driver in Saguenay

If there was one unusual place we visited on our Canada New England repositioning cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Montreal, it was Saguenay, Quebec.
First of all, I was fascinated by the tattoo of our bus driver shown above, and his tattoo kind of set the tone for the entire day. Just kind of weird and bizarre, but interesting.

Our guide at the goat farm

Besides the eery tattoo, we went to visit a goat farm. To me, the goats looked like sheep. But when I came back, I looked up the information on these guys and they were definitely goats. They are goats with mohair. Guess I learn something new every day.

Goats that look like sheep to me

The baby goats

It was a bizarre day all around. We went to a presentation at a small museum to see how fjords form. It was like going to a school room from the 1950s where they tried to be space age. Very odd. Then off to the  Le Chevrier du Nord goat farm, and after a musuem that we saw the works of Arthur Villeneuve. He was an eccentric man who painted the outside and inside of his house with tons of murals. I will do a separate post on him. He became quite famous and traveled all over the world. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Gargoyle-Inspired Photographs by Stephen Crome

Cemetery at Glendalough by Stephen Crome
I love reading the posts by fellow travelers on Holland America Line fans Facebook page. I especially love the photos of Stephen Crome, and all the wonderful places he visits. His recent photos of Dublin include an area I knew nothing about until today. That is the Glendalough area that was founded in the 6th century AD by St. Kevin and became a monastic city. 

Another from Stephen Crome of Glendalough
by Stephen Crome
More information on this wonderful place can be found here.

Another great photo by Stephen was taken at Irishtown, Dublin. It lies outside the medieval city walls.

Irishtown by Stephen Crome
Thanks Stephen for the wonderful, gargoyle-inspired photos and my chance to learn new things today! Finally my favorite photo ....

Photo by Stephen Crome

Stephen mentioned on Facebook he took the tour with Paddywagon Tours. Looks like a great one for anybody who makes it to Dublin. That is one of my bucket list dreams.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

I Love Montreal Part 2

The hotel where I stayed
Continuing my I Love Montreal series, I want to comment on the awesome hotel I stayed at. Le St Sulpice is in the port district of Montreal, about a block from the water and right behind the beautiful Cathedral. The location is perfect, and the port area of Montreal is really charming. The staff at the hotel are top notch, food was great and the suite I had was Heavenly.

On arrival I was given complimentary chocolates and bath products. I couldn't have felt more special. Franny took great care of me throughout my stay, the concierge. I was upgraded upon arrival. The suite I had consisted of an entry area with chairs, a living room with sofa, chairs, TV and a small kitchen. It also had a separate bedroom with a super comfy queen bed. The room looked out on the courtyard, where I had lunch the first day of my stay. 
Living room area of the suite

Saturday, August 6, 2016

I Love Montreal Part 1

Statue near the Port of Montreal
I never expected to love Montreal as much as I did. A lot of people had told me how much I would love Quebec City, and maybe I just didn't spend enough time there as we only had the one day. I liked it, don't get me wrong. But I loved Montreal. I loved the people, an amazing mix of young people and many from Paris. 

Crepe restaurant I visited
I loved the food, from the hotel food eating on the terrace on the only warm day of my trip. The restaurants I ate at included food at the museum, a crepe restaurant and even a coffee shop. The most beautiful though was the French bakery I had breakfast at, which deserves its own post. The pastries were so beautiful, I even have one as the screen saver on my phone.

Crepe Suzette

I just wish next time I visit, it is warmer!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Venice Graffiti

Graffiti at Venice

On my walk around Venice, I spotted graffiti here and there. After traveling in Italy extensively over the last five years, it just doesn't bother me anymore. It is a form of expression that goes back to Roman times. Below is an example from the Roman Colosseum. I found the Colosseum graffiti photo on a blog, Makenzie's blog.

Graffiti at Roman Colosseum

Some more photos of graffiti I found on Venice.

By the way, the first graffiti says "Ti amo" which must mean the same as "Te amo" in Spanish, or I love you!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Sorrento Staircase to Heaven

Sorrento staircase
On a tour of the Amalfi coast on the Norwegian Jade, I literally passed through a restaurant. It wasn't open for lunch. There was the most amazing staircase railing, and I just had to photograph it. Looking for new material for my blogs, I decided to sort by date and I found these photos from 2013. They are gems.

Detail of the staircase
I love how a chair is stored under the rustic staircase. It is just awesome work, and I would think made from a local tree. This staircase to Heaven is definitely gargoyle-inspired.

Sorrento Restaurant
According to their website, shown here, this is where canneloni was invented. The place is just full of history. Wow.

I even found a photo of me I liked. Now that is a miracle!

Photo of me May 2013 on excursion of the Amalfi Coast

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Ancient Salona: Where Gargoyles Go to Die

Member of our tour tries out a grave at ancient Salona

If there was ever a place that gargoyles would prefer to die, it would be the ancient city of Salona. I went there on a tour that included ancient Salona and medieval Trogir while cruising on the Norwegian Jade. Founded by the Romans and very close to Diocletian's Palace at Split, Croatia, the ancient city is amazingly well preserved. It had all the requisite Roman city items: walls, a forum, a theater and an amphitheater. But what makes this site so wonderful is the amount of preservation. After having been to Olympus, Greece where all the good stuff is in the museum, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the ruins in their natural state.

Map of the ancient Salona site

Well preserved Ancient Salona near Split, Croatia

Ancient Salona became the capital of the Roman Province of Dalmatia, according to Wikipedia. More information on this gargoyle-inspired and spiritual place can be found here. We spent about an hour walking around. 

Detail of the ruins at Ancient Salona

I could have taken a few more hours without the other tourists. We had a unique crowd on our tour bus, a large group of retired military and their wives. They fought over seats on the bus like we were going to war. It was embarrassing the way they hogged the front seats.

Our group including retired military men and their wives

But the place was awesome and I just did what I always do, made the most of it. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

More Santa Margherita Ligure

Police station kiosk by waterfront

Continuing my post on Santa Margherita Ligure, these are the impressions I got while walking around the town. It has a wonderful home town feel. 

Fellow cruisers in front of a smoke shop

Self-service cigarette machine

I am not recommending smoking by any means, cannot stand it. But I found this self-service cigarette machine interesting to look at. 

Restaurant facing the waterfront

Where are the children?

All along the waterfront, Santa Margherita Ligure has things to do - restaurants to eat at, hotels to sleep in and even rides for the kids.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Revisiting Santa Margherita Ligure

Santa Margherita Ligure May 2012

One of my favorite stops on the Holland America Eurodam cruise of the Western Med was Santa Margherita Ligure. Originally we were supposed to tender there, but there was a change of plans and we ended up tendering at La Spezia. I chose to take the tour to Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino, and I am so glad I did. It was a hard decision as the other tour I wanted to do was Cinque Terre. The really cool part of our tour was that the bus actually meandered through the area of Cinque Terre, so we were able to see the houses perched on the hills from our bus, and I just couldn't miss Portofino. I loved Portofino, but I think I liked Santa Margherita Ligure even more.

Notice the Holland America sign at the bottom of the photo
Why, you say? Portofino is amazing. It has star power and is totally walkable. There are charming hotels and great restaurants and what's not to love? But Santa Margherita Ligure is a real place. When the sun goes down and the cruise ships and yachts leave, Portofino nearly closes up, but SML continues. It has banks, police, a Cathedral, real estate offices and restaurants for the local people. I would love to return to both places, but I think I would stay in SML. Our walking tour was fascinating!

Italian flag-inspired building
Cathedral detail at Santa Margherita Ligure

Real estate office ceiling at Santa Margherita Ligure

If you would like to visit this area, there is great information on Fodor's site about this area of the Italian Riviera, just click here.