David Hasselhoff? Evidently a bigger draw in Europe than he is in the US of A. Good luck to him. The other surprise of a similar nature that I had on this trip was when I saw the posters all over Monaco announcing a big concert by “still available” Lionel Ritchie. Good luck to him, too.
September 29, 2014
Our first trip to Croatia. And our first stop there on our Windstar cruise: Pula. See the Roman ruins, check. Head for the fish market, check. The day’s catch was just being unloaded and this bounty of orada caught our eye. Pula is so close to the Italian border that many of the people we met there spoke Italian. Good thing, too, as my Croatian is a bit rusty (aka nonexistent.)
September 28, 2014
September 27, 2014
What madness to be seen here in this mosaic’d neighborhood on the outskirts of Havana, not far from the super-secure complex where Fidel lives. At the urging of local artist José Fuster, many of the residents have covered every conceivable surface with bits of mosaic tile, creating a vision that’s hard to reconcile with everyday life as most of us know it. All just part of the “anything goes” life in Havana.
September 26, 2014
In the Basilica of San Marco, Venice’s most elaborate church, the observant visitor doesn’t really know whether to look up at the golden mosaics in the domes and on the ceiling, or to look down at the elaborate mosaics and tilework on the floor. You can do both, of course. Here’s a downward look from a recent visit.
September 25, 2014
I have run past this mosaic lizard many, many times. It’s on my “running route” along the dry Santa Cruz riverbed, just where a welcome water fountain sits. And as much as I love seeing it, I never have my camera with me as I run. Until this last visit when I made a point of bringing along my trusty Canon point-and-shoot.
September 24, 2014
Our friend Mary takes such good care of our Gloucester gardens. And I take good care to cut flowers and arrange them from time to time. Seen here, a small bouquet with old roses, wild daisies and a beautiful green shade of zinnia, one of three arrangements I put together, laughing, for a July wedding.
September 23, 2014
September 22, 2014
Grass? In Venice? Open space, too? Yep, if you’re willing to take a two-minute boat ride across the channel to the island of Giudecca. Relatively free of tourists, this blessed respite from the crowded mainland offers quiet neighborhoods, restaurants that natives frequent, room to breathe, room to move. I’ve stayed on GIudecca each time I’ve traveled to Venice and I always will.
September 21, 2014
Meet two artists. Standing on their creation. Danny (right) and Jon removed my rotting wooden front steps and replaced them with a beautiful set of brick-and-granite stairs and walkway. Here they are having just finished their work on a “heat advisory” day of temperatures in the 90s with humidity pushing the “feels like” close to 100. Good guys.
September 20, 2014
September 19, 2014
September 18, 2014
I love walking through a new city early in the morning. Especially if it’s one on the tourist circuit. We arrived in Dubrovnik before the onslaught of tourist buses and managed to see most of it unimpeded. Though on our way back to our boat, we did pass this tour guide rallying her charges, and this souvenir salesman offering god-knows-what for one euro.
September 17, 2014
The remnants of Pula’s Roman past are scattered all across the city and seemingly taken for granted by the locals. Here at this magnificent Temple of Augustus, situated in the small, sheltered Forum just two blocks from downtown, folks were sitting on the steps with their sandwiches and coffee, chatting away just as we might on a park bench. I discreetly tilted my camera upwards, removing all the interlopers from view, so as not to offend the gods.
September 16, 2014
If you hadn’t read the location above, would you have guessed this photo was taken in Manhattan? Nick and I came across this great store (staffed by a Latvian man) as we were taking an evening stroll. Everything Central American, especially Mexican. And, because it’s in NYC, everything more expensive than it would be in Mexico, por supuesto. Still, beautiful to look at. And to remember something a wise friend once told me: “Just because you like something, doesn’t mean you have to own it.” Words to live by.
September 15, 2014
September 14, 2014
On our way to Lisbon from this lovely university town, Dr. Blake cannot resist the urge to make his “moose face” when I attempt to take his picture. We’d been through Spain and northern Portugal and were making our way to the capital, and I was looking at our luggage in this picture. Far left is the purple sports bag that fell apart in Lisbon a few days later. Anyone know how to say “duct tape” in Portuguese?
September 13, 2014
September 12, 2014
One thing I learned early in my European travels: Once the official summer season ends (September 1), the locals rarely go into the water. Only the foreign visitors. It was true in Italy. And also true here in Portugal. In this resort town favored by British and German tourists, there wasn’t a single Portuguese bather to be found.
September 11, 2014
Dr. Blake loves this praça in downtown Lisbon, commonly known at Rossio Square. In spite of the cobblestone work that makes any newcomer lose his balance and feel seasick. To lengthen the experience, we managed to find a refrigerator magnet that features a photo of this wavy pattern, resting now in his Gloucester, MA, kitchen, a room with a real view of the real sea.
September 10, 2014
Molecular Gastronomy. Barcelona is its birthplace, its home. And so, we settled into Comerç, 24 for our grand tasting menu. There were many courses. Lots of foam, lots of geometry. A teeny-tiny flower here and there. Everything was pretty. And precious. And while it was a memorable and once-in-a-lifetime experience, I kept thinking of a friend’s warning when I’d told him we were planning to dine here: “Eat first.”
September 9, 2014
I love this mailbox on the facade of what might be Madrid’s main post office. I’m guessing the building’s status because it had eight such beautiful mailboxes along its front. Although with Madrid’s grand scale and tendency to add tasteful embellishment whenever possible, it might just be a neighborhood local.
September 8, 2014
September 7, 2014
Photography was forbidden inside this historic mosque in the western part of Turkey near the Greek and Bulgarian borders. But I’d come all this way just to see this mosque, so I only took a dozen or so discreet shots. Just look at the ceiling of this dome. Can you blame me?
September 6, 2014
Old and traditional this mosque may be, but it’s got a very modern electronic display there that indicates the times during the day when Muslims are called to prayer. Tourists, especially those in hotels near mosques, are often shocked awake early in the morning by the amplified calls broadcast from the mosques, summoning the faithful.
September 5, 2014
This man spends his day peeling and preparing artichokes for sale. I was so proud of the fact that I knew the Turkish word for artichoke (enginar), that I felt prompted to say it to him. You can see his reaction here. I guess I was more impressed than he was.
September 4, 2014
September 3, 2014
“Weasel is a nice cat,” says Dr. Blake each time I bring up the name of David (seen here) and Simon’s cats (one of them.) Several years later and Weasel is still a nice cat. Not shy. And like many a Siamese, talkative, responding in kind to each “meow” sound I make.
September 2, 2014
Mosaics in Istanbul, each more intricate and dazzling than the next. Like these in one of the domes of Holy Savior in Chora (often translated as Saint Savior) just outside the center of the city. A bus or a taxi or a metro (plus a walk through some dicey neighborhoods) will get you there. And just in case the mosaics aren’t enough reward for your troubles, there is an excellent restaurant, Asitane, right next door.
September 1, 2014
What a mess! Me, not Marilyn. Well, maybe Marilyn, too. I remember what I felt like this hungover morning when my friend Artie picked me up (at the Chateau Marmont, if you please, which has seen its fair share of hangovers and overdoses) and kindly took me on a tour of the must-see spots in Los Angeles and environs. By the time we got to Venice Beach later that afternoon, I was back to normal. Or whatever normal was in those days. And ready to start in all over again. The past.