"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.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Canada Once Again, Oh My

Mahone Bay
The main thing I remember from my Canada New England cruise two years ago was how cold I was the whole time I was there. I did a repositioning cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Montreal, and I loved it. I especially loved the ports in Nova Scotia and Quebec. But in Gaspe for example, there was still snow on the ground and ice in the streams. I want to go back next year. But this time, I prefer to visit a little later in the spring, almost summer.

Needed hat and gloves
So the itinerary I want to do goes to many of the same ports, but I plan to do different tours. For example, at Quebec City, I plan to go to St. Anne de Beaupre shrine. It is one of the most visited pilgrimage sites in the world. If you want to know more about it, click here

Statue in Old Montreal
I hope to stay at the same hotel in Montreal. It was one of my favorite hotels in all the world. Le Saint Sulpice located behind the Cathedral in Old Montreal.

A fabulous hotel in Old Montreal

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Great Architectural Features of Cathedral at Lucca

Lucca Cathedral
St. Martin Cathedral in Lucca, Italy is chock full of the most amazing architectural features. I could have stayed there for hours, but alas, we only had a little time there. Our guide was awesome, but we had a lot of ground to cover that day.

Holy Water font Lucca Cathedral
The entire Cathedral is done in marbles, including the floors, much of the walls and the ceiling is mosaic tiles. The Cathedral is both Gothic and Romanesque.

Interior of St. Martin Cathedral at Lucca
Floor of St. Martin Cathedral at Lucca

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

More on the Lucca Cathedral: A Gargoyle's Dream

St. Martin's Catheral at Lucca is a gargoyle's dream. From the gorgeous ceiling to the resting place for the Volto Santo (the Holy Face of Jesus), the Cathedral history goes back to Pope Alexander II, former Bishop of Lucca. The Pope built the Cathedral on the site of a former Church to accomodate the Holy Face of Jesus.

The Holy Face is now housed inside a very secure location shown here.

Holy Face at Lucca Cathedral

From the Sacred Destinations.com site Lucca Cathedral ... 

According to medieval legend, Nicodemus did all the carving work but the face, which he hesitated to complete for fear of not doing it justice. He fell asleep, and upon awaking found the face beautifully carved - the miraculous work of an angel. The Crucifix of the Holy Face was buried in a cave for safekeeping, where it remained for centuries.
It was rediscovered by Bishop Gualfredo, who was on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land when its location was revealed to him in a dream. To allow God to decide where the Crucifix should be kept, the bishop set it adrift on an unmanned boat in the Mediterranean Sea. The Volto Santo arrived on the shores of northern Italy, where the Bishop of Lucca, also prompted by a dream, put it into a wagon with no driver to determine its final location. The two oxen pulling the wagon stopped of their own accord at Lucca in 782.
The Volto Santo was placed in the Church of San Frediano, but the next morning, it was found to have been miraculously transferred to San Martino. For this reason, the legend explains, San Martino was designated the cathedral of Lucca (an honor previously held by Santi Giovanni e Reparata).
As usual, the real story is probably a little less exciting. There is no known mention of the Volto Santo before the 11th century, and for stylistic reasons it seems to be a 13th-century copy of a 11th-century original, perhaps necessitated by pilgrims chipping away at it. The original may have itself been based on an earlier model, perhaps a Syrian work of the 8th century.
The Volto Santo of Lucca was highly revered in the Middle Ages and attracted pilgrims from across Europe. Many copies were made and distributed, Lucca produced coins stamped with its image, the medieval French invented a St. Vaudeluc from a corruption of its Latin name (vultum de Lucca), and King William II of England (d.1100) was said to have sworn oaths per Vultum de Lucca ("by the Holy Face of Lucca").
There are many more great architectural features of this beautiful Cathedral, which I will discuss in another post.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Lucca Revisited

Cathedral of St. Martin in Lucca
Lucca was a fairy tale place, a place that I not only loved to visit ... but also a place I could see myself moving to. It is just that special. We arrived on the Holland America Westerdam and there was a huge storm while we were in Lucca. Later that night, the rains continued after we left the port of Livorno. Unfortunately it caused landslides, which led to the death of seven people. Very sad situation. My condolences to the families.

St Martin's facade in Lucca

The walk around Lucca started out wonderful. Our guide was amazing. She was an Italian woman who had grown up in California, and then returned to her country of birth as an adult. Therefore both her English and Italian were impeccable. She was nice too. Just lovely.

our lovely guide in Lucca

Here she is again
The tour included the Cathedral, another Church and some statues honoring the opera singers, including Puccini. One guy from our group wandered off to try to locate the plaza where they honor him. I wasn't that brave, as the place was a bit of a maze and I am really glad I didn't. He got lost and we almost had to leave him behind. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Lucca: Everything I Thought It Would Be and More

Outer walls of the city of Lucca
The cruise I took on the Holland America Westerdam last month had its first stop in Livorno, which is the gateway for Florence and Pisa. I have been to Florence a few times, and even though I really love it, I wanted to explore and see something new. Pisa just didn't interest me. I am glad I decided on Lucca.

Column detail from St. Michael's in Lucca
We went to both a Church and the Cathedral when in Lucca. Our guide was great. She was born in Southern Italy, but had moved to the United States as a girl and returned to Italy with her son as an adult. Therefore, her English was perfect. 

More detail from St. Michael's Church
St. Michael's was absolutely beautiful, and we visted it from the outside. More information about this beautiful Basilica can be found here.

Lucca is an amazing place and the only town we went to on the entire cruise that I could actually picture myself living there. If only, right?

Photo of our Holland America tour group on our walking tour
This was definitely a gargoyle inspired tour.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Girona Part 2: Cathedral and Gargoyle Sentiments

Pigeon homes at Girona Cathedral
The Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Mary of Girona has some superb architectural features. The pigeons who live there agree. According to wikipedia, St. Mary of Girona was started in the 11th century in the Romanesque style, and later continued in the 13th century in the Gothic style. More great information on this great Cathedral can be found here on wikipedia. I always love the fascinating story of all the European Churches and Cathedrals.

Another pigeon home at Girona Cathedral
It is definitely a place where gargoyle-sentiment abounds. Note the following architectural details.

It is also a spiritual place. The aura is quite lovely!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Girona Part I

Girona from the bridge
I had anticipated my trip to Girona and Figueres for months before I went in April of this year, 2013. It has taken me all these months to actually want to sit down and write about it. I prefer to find the positive about a place, and so I waited until I could find something interesting and unique about Girona. In reality, now that I review the photos, it really is an amazing place. But the day I took the tour from Barcelona, it was raining and cold. Photos show Girona off better than how it looked on this dreary day. I saw all the crumbling and uncared for buildings, that I may not have seen on a sunny day. The first thing we all did when we arrived was buy umbrellas from the tourist office.

Young woman from our tour of Girona

Our rain-soaked tour group at Girona

It rained off and on throughout the tour. The highlight of Girona is the Jewish quarter and the Cathedral. Our guide never took us through the Jewish quarter that I know of. He instead walked us by the Cathedral and through a labyrinth of streets and then left us on our own to find our way back. That was especially nerve-wracking for me, as I was traveling alone and don't have a good sense of direction. I also was approached by a stranger and that was disconcerting. A very nice young student walked me back to where I needed to meet the bus, after I told her he was following me.

Girona Cathedral stairway

The Girona Cathedral was really beautiful. I didn't see it all, as there was an additional charge for the rest of the tour inside and for some reason, I decided not to continue. It escapes me now why I didn't continue the tour. But the outside of the Cathedral was really impressive. I loved all the architectural details and will do a few more posts on this wonderful structure.

Architectural details of the Cathedral at Girona

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Dali Whimsy at Figueres

On the wall of the Dali Museum at Figueres

The Dali Museum at Figueres, Spain is one of the most outlandish places I have ever visited. For me, it was just too much all thrown together. Individually some of the pieces are quite shocking but wonderful. Taken together with all the crowds, it was overwhelming. But now, as I look back, I can appreciate certain elements. I loved the Jewelry Museum right from the start but didn't realize he is buried in that area in a crypt. My loss. That would have been interesting to see. 

Supposedly bread represents freeing the mind
In Dali's crazy and whimsical world, bread supposedly represented "freeing the mind." I found this on a blog that has some great information, Traveling with Sweeney. The link is here. I think Cathy Sweeney definitely enjoyed the Museum more than I did. By the way, I really like her blog and highly recommend it. Birds of a feather, I assume, as she loves to travel just as I do. She even goes solo sometimes, as well as with her husband. I do the same.

More bread and other symbols

I especially loved the Moses statue. Don't know why he has an octopus above him, but why not? I took a photo of the original Moses by Michelangelo in Rome. (I have to admit I like the one in Rome much better.) Doesn't hurt either that Moses is my husband's name, actually Moises ... the Spanish spelling. I try to snap Moses photos wherever I go. In the photo I took, I didn't crop out the little boy. I think he is quite significant.

Moses statue with a little boy

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Dali Museum Disappointment and One Highlight

Crowds at Dali Museum at Figueres
Not being a fan of crowds, I really did not like the amount of people I had to contend with at the Dali Museum at Figueres, Spain. The old theater, which is the location of the Museum, is not a nice place. It is old and run-down and based on the number of people that go through there, why can't they close for a few weeks and spiff the place up? I posted a review on TripAdvisor called "Dali Museum is Not for Everybody." You can read it here, and it pretty much sums up how I felt about the place. The day also was rainy, windy and chilly. I bought an umbrella along the way and put up with the tour, but like another TripAdvisor member advises, stay in Barcelona where there is a million wonderful things to do and see.

There was one real highlight ... the jewelry museum portion. Now money was spent here and then some. It is a real jewel! Pun intended. I especially loved the following pieces.

The Honeycomb Heart, 1949

The Living Flower, 1959

Necklace of Entwined Limbs, 1964

Thank you to the wonderful security guy who pointed me in the direction of the Jewelry Museum after I had abandoned the tour I was on. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Oh My Cod: Great Eatery in Mahone Bay

Photo of the lovely owner of Oh My Cod Restaurant
Well I have been back from the Canada New England cruise that started in Fort Lauderdale for months, and now I am finally posting photos and remembering the great things I did and saw. One thing that has been nagging at me for months is the promise I made to a lovely young woman shown here, that I would do a blog post about her gorgeous restaurant, Oh My Cod, in Mahone Bay, Novia Scotia.

me in Mahone Bay in front of Oh My Cod
The restaurant is awesome, and is just one of the lovely things about the gem of a town. We were there so early that most of the local owners were scraping, painting, landscaping and generally getting ready for the tourist season. I had one of the workers take my photo in front of Oh My Cod while they were working on the outside deck area.

outside deck renovation from the end of April 2016

Thank you, kind soul, for taking my photo. As I am writing this, I cannot find the business card that the owner gave me, but I was able to find their website online and am now a friend on their Facebook page. If you ever make it up to this beautiful town in Nova Scotia, please stop and have a bite at Oh My Cod.
For more information, their website is here. Become their fan on Facebook at their Facebook page here.

More on Mahone Bay in another post!!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

La Aurora Part 2

La Aurora workers
As mentioned in my first post on the La Aurora cigar factory, the workers all smoked cigars. They seemed quite oblivious to us milling around and taking photos of them, so I think they get a lot of tours.

Displays from La Aurora

The tour included a lot of history about the making of the factory, how it grew and what it is like today. If you would like more information on this tour, click on La Aurora cigar factory.

The tour guide at the factory, Eugenio, was awesome, but the best person of all was our tour guide for the day, Chucky. He was fun. He was entertaining and he was kind. More about Chucky later. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

La Aurora Puros (Cigars)

La Aurora Cigar Factory
Our best tour on our Christmas cruise on the Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam was called Santiago Insider. It was to the oldest city in the Americas, Santiago de las Caballeros from Amber Cove, Dominican Republic. When I read the information on it, I was expecting to go to a little old town. What is actually there is a bustling city of a million people. 

La Aurora entrance
The highlight of the tour was the La Aurora Cigar Factory. In the entrance, there were some old vehicles they have used over the years. The tour was so interesting, as we walked from phase to phase of the making of cigars. The only difficult part for me was the perk of working there is you get to smoke as many cigars as you like. So all the employees and also our tour guests were puffing away. I had to ask to be let out of the room. It was so smoky, I couldn't breathe.

Equipment for making the cigars

Cigar maker

My favorite part of the cigar factory was watching the workers in the break room.

Break room La Aurora