May 31, 2014

Cannes. November, 2012

My beloved friend Patti shares my enthusiasm for taking on an assortment of different names. In Cuba, she was Que Lastima, while I retained my traditional Latino moniker ChiChi Fargo. In Rome, I am Svendita Totale, in Turkey, Ekmek Kadayif. She also goes by Chaka Cohen, Patrice Giselle, Jocelyn James, Miss Piatelli, and is currently featured on Facebook as Tapenade Roulet. (She wanted the single, mysterious one-word Tapenade, but Facebook, alas, required a last name.) I took this photo in the central market in Cannes as an homage.

May 30, 2014

Cannes. November, 2012

When Jacques Pépin came to the US of A for the first time (to work at Manhattan’s Le Pavillon in 1959), he says he was shocked that he couldn’t find any mushrooms in the markets. Except for maybe some cultivated white button variety. Now, of course, it’s different. But back then, imagine his surprise, especially as he’d come from France where an assortment like this is an everyday thing.

May 29, 2014

Monaco. November, 2012

Hey, when did all this happen? The last time I’d been in Monaco, in 1972, it was a somewhat sleepy beach town with tiny, family restaurants on quiet alleyways, a modest port, a walk-to public beach and a casino and fancy hotel up on one hill. I turn my back for one minute! (Actually almost 40 years.) And now it’s covered with skyscrapers, filled with yachts. I went looking for the charming train station of revered memory and found that it’s now underground (with skyscrapers built above it), the beach nowhere in sight. You forgot to say, “May I?”

May 28, 2014

Civitavecchia, Italy. October, 2012

Some traditions hold fast in spite of the encroaching digital age. Like these death notices, a frequent sight in Italy, especially in the South. In this case, a funeral home has its own board for postings. But it’s more common to find these broadsides pasted on walls across the city, letting friends and neighbors learn of a loved one’s passing. These are rather tame graphics compared to those I saw in Naples some 25 years ago.

May 27, 2014

Ischia, Italy. October, 2011

On my morning run around this island neighbor of Capri, I encountered many Italians who were also here on vacation. And the morning fish market. And some lovely gardens and beach clubs, closed after the season. And while I ran out to this castello/fortress accessed by a small causeway, I declined to return later in the day to tour the torture museum. Non, grazie.

May 26, 2014

Amalfi, Italy. October, 2011

As luck would have it....  When I see the various talismanic items hanging from rear-view mirrors in the US of A -- rabbits’ feet, rosaries, red pepper/horn combos, fuzzy dice, etc. -- I remember the simpler approach seen here in this Italian coastal town, a request to Italy’s patron saint (a title he shares with St. Catherine of Siena): “St. Anthony of Padua, protect me.” So noted.

May 25, 2014

Milos, Greece. October, 2011

A lazy Sunday morning stroll to the top of the island of Milos (as in Venus de....) The streets were deserted. We encountered goats and other livestock, but no people. They were all in church. Or hiding and pretending to be in church. No one's fooling Dr. Blake.

May 24, 2014

Amalfi, Italy. October, 2011

“You want my parking space? Take my handicap!”

May 23, 2014

Amalfi Coast, Italy. October, 2011

As beautiful as it is by day, there’s something spooky and magical about this coast as darkness falls. Streetlights outline the few mountainous roads. Other lamps look almost volcanic. This was taken from our on-deck dinner table as we left Amalfi one evening and headed toward the island of Ischia.

May 22, 2014

Amalfi, Italy. October, 2011

One of the many small produce setups here in this coastal town. I love that the “Don’t touch!” sign is in many languages...and that the first is English. That means you! Grazie!

May 21, 2014

Amalfi, Italy. October, 2011

Gesundheit. Actually, it means “street urchin” in Neapolitan dialect.

May 20, 2014

Amalfi, Italy. October, 2011

I love the rich roster of visuals here outside a sign shop in Amalfi. One of Che. Two of Marilyn. A few Fiats. A few affirmations. And a “no smoking” sign that everyone in town will ignore.

May 19, 2014

Amalfi, Italy. October, 2011

No, I’m not in a bad mood. I’m trying to assume a fashion-model insouciance. Not very successfully. But the steps here leading up to the cathedral in Amalfi’s main square beckoned. All those horizontals.

May 18, 2014

Monemvasia, Greece. October, 2011

Height is not the only challenge you face in climbing to the top of this island fortress. Signage is another. But that’s all part of the fun, I guess. Following what you think is the path, winding up in someone’s private courtyard, backtracking, taking a different (also wrong) route, until you finally reach the top. And when you look down, like this, well, not for those with acrophobia. Like Jay.

May 17, 2014

Off Monemvasia, Greece. October, 2011

So many blues. The sky, the sea, the umbrellas. And Dr. Blake’s blue shirt, compliments of the Noise Reduction Technology Group at Bose, the most respected name in sound. I sometimes wonder why Dr. B is making this same face in so many of our photos. Could he be about to be saying “cheese”? It’s not working.

May 16, 2014

Monemvasia, Greece. October, 2011

At the tippy top of the island fortress of the old town of Monemvasia, this church. At one time a mosque, then a church, then a mosque again, etc. All because this small island was  conquered so many times by so many different cultures. It’s said that this building was modeled after Aya Sofya in Istanbul. Well, maybe. But what this one lacks in mosaics and other embellishments, it makes up for with sea views.

May 15, 2014

Approaching Sicily. October, 2011

It’s exciting to be at sea, especially on Windstar Cruises, recommended to us by our pal David many years ago. Sailing with them has become a part of each autumn for us. And rough seas or calm ones, the craft is so stable we hardly feel a thing. But from time to time, we do see a thing. Like when a wave grows higher than our cabin’s portholes and our view takes on an almost-lunar, New England Aquarium perspective. Like this.

May 14, 2014

Monemvasia, Greece. October, 2011

Because so many of the buildings on this small island are built along the steep cliffside, their windows (such as they are) give onto the sea. Like this one in the back of a small cafe we passed on our way up, up, up to the very top of the island.

May 13, 2014

Monemvasia, Greece. October, 2011

When you’re on an island that’s really more like a mountain rising sharply out of the sea, it’s not surprising that everything seems to be made of rock. Buildings, walls, walkways, staircases, everything.

May 12, 2014

Athens. October, 2011

The bread seller of Plaka. Look at all the stuff this guy is selling. We bought a bread ring, covered with sesame seeds just like Turkish simit, but more crusty and less chewy. And look at how fastidiously those things are stacked.

May 11, 2014

Athens. October, 2011

Follow the signs. Or just look up. In either case, get there early in the morning before both the sun and the tourists become too intense.

May 10, 2014

Aegean Sea, Greece. October, 2011

Dr. Blake takes to pampering much better than I do. Seen here, dining on deck at the seafood restaurant Le Marché on board the Wind Surf between Santorini and Athens. The sailing yacht carries a maximum of 300 guests, and so the dining and the service can be very private and personal.

May 9, 2014

Athens. October, 2011

Even as a little kid, the Erechtheion was always my favorite building of the Acropolis. I liked that the columns were ladies. The porch of the caryatids. And so it was a real thrill to finally visit. The Parthenon, sure, mighty impressive. And copied in Nashville and evoked in so many other neoclassical buildings around the world. But where else do they have maidens holding up the place?

May 8, 2014

Athens. October, 2011

Even surrounded by construction equipment and scads of other tourists, the Acropolis retains its evocative pull. Imagine, these temples have been here, visited regularly for thousands of years.

May 7, 2014

Santorini, Greece. October, 2011

Knowing the English, you can just about make out the Greek, no? At least the first two syllables.

May 6, 2014

Mykonos, Greece. October, 2011

Secret hiding places. Old ones. So many here on Mykonos. (I hope my friends Lisa and Chris find them all on their visit later this month.)

May 5, 2014

Mykonos, Greece. October, 2011

Thirty seconds into my visit to this sunny isle and I understood right away why it makes such sense that the Greek flag is blue and white. If Georgia O’Keefe were Greek, this is where she’d have lived.

May 4, 2014

Mykonos, Greece. October, 2011

Just in case you don’t understand Greek, a handy English translation is provided. Though the streets of this island are so narrow, who could find a way to park anyway? (I love how the slash goes right through, rather than over, the P in this “forbidden” sign. Those Greeks.)

May 3, 2014

Mykonos, Greece. October, 2011

Our sailing yacht, the Wind Surf, seen from our perch by the windmills on Mykonos. When the ship is anchored offshore like this, the back opens up and becomes a sports deck. Kayaking, swimming, water skiing. Nice to sail the Aegean, warm weather, warm water.

May 2, 2014

Mykonos, Greece. October, 2011

White-washed walls. Painted wood (usually blue, this time brown.) Flagstone walkways. A piece of sea sparkling in the sun. Clear blue skies. Mykonos.

May 1, 2014

Mykonos, Greece. October, 2011

One of dozens of alleys like this on the sun-bleached island. So much white that any splash of color stands out. Blue doors and shutters. Pink blossoms.