"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, July 31, 2018

Tetouan Again

Pension in Medina of Tetouan
Walking through the Medina of Tetouan, which is hundreds of years old, our guide showed up a typical Pension or typical small hotel room. Based on the age and dirtiness of the sign, I would not think it would be like the Ritz. 

Herb shop 
Each shop in the Medina would have something outside to identify it. Whether they sold herbs or vegetables, their wares would be displayed. Some areas were more makeshift carts with tarps over, where others appear to be areas where people live and work. 

Vegetables on display

There were some amazing architectural features along the way, including some very nice doors. Below is an example of one of the doors we saw along our walking tour.

Door and entry in the Medina

Then we came across this sheep. Why he has the marking on the back, I am not sure. Is it that the sheep is scheduled to be slaughtered?

Sheep at the Medina
Hygiene does not appear to be a high priority in this area, but by far the worst area we walked through was where they were preparing the animal hides in to leather. The stench was beyond what you can imagine. I kept being terrified I would fall in to one of the vats. Unfortunately the photos that I took of this area were on my phone that was later stolen, so I have no photos to share. Not sure if that isn't a blessing. But I did find a few photos online. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

Tetouan through my Eyes

City streets of Tetouan
The streets upon entering the city of Tetouan before we arrived at the Medina seemed very French in architecture. The balconies do not seem Spanish to me at all, like Madrid, which is heavily French influenced. 

French style balconies
In the backdrop of the photo above, you can see the white buildings, which are reminiscent of Spanish Andalusian towns. But in the foreground the balconies are French influenced with signs in Arabic, Spanish and even sometimes Spanglish. 

Closer to the Medina
As we got closer to the Medina, a Spanish or Moorish influence in the architecture was much more apparent. The buildings in the Medina are hundreds of years old. Our guide told us as a child he lived there and the rent was then like $1 euro a month, now is approximately $20 euros a month (equivalent in Moroccan money) for the small apartments. 

apartment in Medina of Tetouan
There are small and larger apartments scattered through these very dungeon like corridors with low lying roofs and cubby hole areas. The feeling is very claustrophobic. I have no idea what lies beyond the doors, whether hovel or palace. 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Stroll in Morocco

Our guide to Teotouan in Morocco
I promised to tell you a little more about our guide in Tetouan, Morocco. He knew everybody, I mean everybody from  Spanish Ceuta where he picked us up and through Tetouan. When he met us outside the port in Spanish Ceuta very early in the morning, he seemed very brusque and business like. He took all of our passports and formed a packet, with all our passports below and his one top. He explained that he would be vouching for us in his country. I had no idea at that time that they would actually take our passports and keep them at the Moroccan border while we were there. But we would realize later that this was a very good thing, not a bad thing. 

Guides waiting for us at Spanish Ceuta port

We had to go through two border crossings, one to leave Spanish Ceuta which is part of the European Union and then to enter Morocco. Our driver was a great guy, and he spoke Arabic and Spanish, so I communicated with him in Spanish. We were 10 people shoved inside a minivan plus the driver and guide. They put me up front between the driver and guide. I felt crowded, but in the end, I realized was a better location than those stuffed in the back. Off we went.

entering the city of  Tetouan

We passed the beautiful manicured hotel area where, as mentioned, the King has a beach home and descended upon Tetouan early in the morning. The city was still mostly asleep, with the carts and makeshift areas all covered in tarps.
We watched the city wake up. As clean as the beaches were, the city was anything but. It was really dirty and so old.

Market area

Friday, July 27, 2018

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 25, 2018

Tetouan, Morocco: A Feast for the Eyes

our guide at Tetouan

It is hard for me to believe I never posted about my shore excursion to Tetouan, Morocco last September. It was quite the day, which started with our guide taking all our passports and giving them to immigrations as we passed from Spanish Ceuta in to Morocco. They would be collected when we left, which was a little frightening at the time, but all worked out well.

We then entered the cleanest place I have ever seen in my life. The area when you first enter Morocco from Spanish Ceuta is where the Moroccan king has a beach house. Just beautiful. Unfortunately I lost all my photos from my phone when it was stolen, and I didn't have backed up to the cloud. My bad.

About 30 minutes later, we entered the old city, the Medina, of Tetouan for our walking tour.

Entrance to the market
We entered in to the market area before the stalls had opened up. As we walked, we began to see the tarps come off and the areas come alive with vendors.

Vendor selling vegetables

I will save the architecture for another post, but here is just one street sign from the Medina area of Tetouan. Wonderful place.

Street sign in Medina of Tetouan

Thursday, June 28, 2018

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

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Holy Terrors: Gargoyles on Medieval Buildings

Doing some research for a nonfiction book I want to write, I stumbled across this book on Amazon.com. The book is by Janetta Rebold Benton. More information on her can be found here. She is a Fullbright Scholar and art historian.

The book that caught my interest is Holy Terrors: Gargoyles in Medieval Buildings. Below is the description from Amazon. Seems like a must read to me for any gargoyle lover.

Book Description

April 1, 1997
The true gargoyle is a waterspout, an architectural necessity that medieval artisans transformed into functional fantasies. In clear, lively language, the introduction to Holy Terrors explains everything that is known about the history, construction, and purposes of these often rude and rowdy characters. The three chapters that follow are devoted to the gargoyles themselves, in human, animal, and grotesque form. Delving into their sometimes funny, sometimes mysterious meanings, Dr. Benton's entertaining text puts these irresistible creatures into the context of medieval life, and she provides a guide to gargoyle sites, so that readers can visit their favorites. This is, amazingly, the first book for adults to provide a full overview of medieval gargoyles, and it is bound to increase the already numerous legions of gargoyle admirers.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

La Sagrada Familia: Home of Gargoyles

La Sagrada Familia at Barcelona

 The last time before this trip I visited La Sagrada Familia was in 2009 at 8am. I can't remember if I bought my ticket ahead of time or not. I don't think I did, but there was no line. A few people arrived as I was walking through. It is a sight to see and I missed it the last two times I was in Barcelona, so I decided to go back again. I heard in the metro that the lines were forever long, so I opted to just take some photos from the outside.

Cleaning of La Sagrada Familia

Even though the Church is not completed, restoration work is going on now to clean it. From the photo above, you can see what has been cleaned and a part that remains. It is still as magnificent as ever. This time though there were hundreds of people waiting to get in and a line of people waiting to buy tickets that wrapped around the front and both sides.

Getting there was half the fun. I decided to use the metro as I had a T-10, a ticket for 10 passes and had only used 2 yesterday. I could have walked but after my excursion to the MNAC yesterday, I realize how out of shape my legs really are. So I walked to the Passeig de Gracia station and tried to get on the L2 to the Sagrada Familia exit. Just as I went to board the train, an announcement was made that the L2 was down. So I was lost in underground hell for about half an hour. In the end, I took a round about way but finally made it to my destination. When I walked out of the metro, there I was, right in front of one of my favorite places on earth - La Sagrada Familia (the Sacred Family.)

Another view of La Sagrada Familia

Man speaking French and waving in front of La Sagrada Familia

As I took photos of the front, a man speaking in French said something to me and waved for the camera. The crowds were everywhere. I especially loved seeing all the young people around.

Young people in front of La Sagrada Familia

More information on this wonderful Gaudi creation can be found here. It really is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been and a great home for gargoyles. 

Monday, April 30, 2018


my friend Susan McClung taking a photo of Lunenburg
I could probably do a hundred posts of the town of Lunenburg. That is how impressed I was with the place. Combine it with Mahone Bay down the road, and it is Heaven on Earth. We were there before season started, and it was quite chilly. Sometimes I had to stomp my foot up and down to shake off the cold before snapping a photo. Susan was braver than me. When she was taking this photo, I was on the bus where the heat was on.

Lunenburg on the water
Lunenburg is a town of sherbert color houses that are 200 years old and not only still standing, but meticulously kept up. It is a hilly town with friendly folks and a wonderful, calm ambience. We weren't there in the summer, but I have to believe it livens up a lot.

One of my favorite photos of Lunenburg
The photo above is engineering at its best. This appears to be a handmade boat ramp.

Another wonderful building is the old Lunenburg Academy, which used to be a school. Definitely a gargoyle-inspired building, I think it would be a great place to film a horror movie. Next to the Academy is the Lunenburg Cemetery.

Lunenburg Cemetery

Saturday, March 31, 2018

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

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

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!

Monday, March 26, 2018

North Pacific Crossing

Well it is that time again, when my cruise for this year is getting close. Now down to less than 30 days. So what do I do? Look for the cruise for next year. A month or so ago, I planned to go back to Europe. But with the bombings in Brussels and the fact I have visited so many ports there already, I decided to go to Japan, if all works out. 

I have such an interest in the ports on the North Pacific Crossing, 19 days, from Yokohama, Japan to Vancouver. I am especially interested in a tour that takes us to the Ainu People of Japan. They are definitely both a gargoyle-inspired and graffiti-inspired people, based on their wonderful costumes and their unique tattoos.

Ainu people 1904 from Wikipedia

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

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.