"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, February 8, 2016

Cherbourg and Normandy: Simply Wonderful

On the Holland America Ms Eurodam cruise from Barcelona to Dover, we made a stop at Cherbourg, France. I had no expectations. My aunt had been to the beaches of Normandy and found them cold and uninviting, so I decided to take a tour out to the countryside and to Val-de-Saire and Barfleur from the cruise ship. The towns looked charming and picturesque online. 
I actually met a family from Normandy when I was in Athens on a boat cruise and kind of felt sorry for them for having to live there (based on what my aunt had told me.) Little did I know that when I disembarked, I would fall in love with Normandy. It is a beautiful green countryside with ocean views. It just doesn't get better than that. I have heard the winters can be rough, but the day we arrived, it was warm but not hot ... the sun shone bright and the air was crisp. 

The bus meandered along the ocean road until we stopped at a lighthouse. While everyone else took photos of the lighthouse, I asked for permission to run down the road and take a photo of some sheep I saw grazing.

My favorite sheep

Dashing quickly as I knew I didn't have much time, I approached the sheep closest to the fence. She immediately came to me and rubbed her ear against my hand. She was so friendly and adorable. A man appeared with some clover, but she preferred to be petted. I found out from our guide later that they were English sheep. I loved petting her! I stayed as long as I could but when I saw everyone was back on the bus, I ran to catch up.

Amazing espresso and yummy bread and butter
We continued on to Barfleur, one of the most charming medieval towns I have ever been. Famished when we arrived, I went inside the only coffee shop I saw open and asked for a double espresso and pastry. All the barkeep had was french bread and butter. It was the tastiest bread and butter I have ever eaten. 

Back on the bus, we headed through the Val-de-Saire countryside, which is absolutely stunning. Our guide told us that the Camembert cheese comes from this area. I made sure when I returned to Cherbourg to pick up some Camembert at the local grocery. The Camembert cheese available in Cozumel where I live is good for one year. This cheese expires in 30 days as it does not have any preservatives. It was truly the most amazing cheese I have ever eaten in my life. The taste was nutty, creamy and sinfully delicious. After eating that cheese, I wanted to move to Normandy! (I loved the city of Cherbourg as well.) It must be the world's best kept secret.

 More information on Normandy can be found here

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Western Med Cruise: Rome to Rome

Civitavecchia port on the Holland America Eurodam

I cruised the Western Med this time. The people in the above photo look great, but I don't happen to know them. Having traveled solo on three cruises, I end up photographing a bunch of people I don't know but that's okay. Meeting new people is what it is all about. And even if I don't meet them, I end up with some great photos.

My first post from this cruise will deviate from both gargoyles and graffiti. It is about the port of Civitavecchia and the start of my cruise. It was a seven day itinerary on the Holland America Eurodam. I traveled with her last year and loved the ship so much; I decided to sail her again. We sailed to Palermo, Tunis, Barcelona, Monte Carlo and La Spezia, the gateway to Santa Margarita Ligure and Portofino. 

The port of Civitavecchia lies a distance from both Rome and the Fiumicino airport. Cost of a private transfer from the airport to the port: 130 euros with Rome Cabs. Talk about a first class operation! Stefano the owner makes it so easy to book and takes the worry out of getting from the airport to downtown Rome or the port. The driver was waiting for me at the designated location (from a video on their site) with a sign with my full name on it. We went directly to my hotel San Giorgio in Civitavecchia. The driver spoke little English but she smiled and drove well. I was thoroughly pleased with their service. In 2008, I used a different company and it was total bedlam when we arrived. The driver was nowhere to be found and we had no idea where to go. I highly recommend Rome Cabs, and so does TripAdvisor. More information on their services can be found on their website here.

Here is me arriving in my room, which I loved .... 10th floor forward, room 10004. It is about twice the size of other oceanview rooms. I cannot say enough good things about this room, 256 sq. ft. and great for the Med, which is like a big bathtub this time of year (spring.)

me on the Holland America Eurodam

view from the Holland America Eurodam at the port of Civitavecchia
The view from the port is not that great. It is a very industrial port. I prefer Barcelona for the view and the convenience, but Italy is such a wonderful country to visit. Next we are off to Palermo. Ciao!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Scariest Gargoyles in The Netherlands

Gargoyle in Utrecht, The Netherlands by Bartiktom

I am very pleased to see that we now have a big audience on this blog from The Netherlands. In honor of our friends from The Netherlands, I would like to post two great gargoyle photos from this area. I have to say they are the scariest gargoyles that I have ever seen. Paris has some pretty scary ones too but don't compare for the terror factor.

If you are the owner of any of these photos, please contact me by comment and I will be sure to credit you. I did the best I could with the information found on the photos online. As my blog is a labor of love, not for money, I just would like credit on my photos wherever possible, nothing more, and hope to do the same.

Gargoyle, Haarzuilens, Netherlands

I was in Amsterdam at the end of a Rhine Cruise from Basel to Amersterdam. Great place, especially loved the museum area ... We stayed near the Van Gogh, which no American can properly pronounce. I highly recommend it. It was everything I had hoped for. More information on the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam can be found here.