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When we visited Poland I noticed a style of passenger van being used in the tourist trade with which I was not familiar.
A little research revealed that it’s a Polish made van, the ‘Nysa 522’, a symbol of the Communist era. It was manufactured in Nysa, Poland from 1958 – 1994. Nysa built it to be a multifunctional van and it was used for carrying cargo and passengers, less commonly as ambulances. Nysa vans were also commonly used by the Communist Militia.
The company did little to improve the van over the years, powering them with relatively gutless 2.2 or 2.5 l engines. When the Soviet Union collapsed and Democracy re-emerged in Poland, sales of better quality and more popular imported vehicles …
One of the most photographed sites in Lake Bohinj is this church. It’s about 700 years old (although it was constructed over several hundred years) and sits at the lake’s outflow, adjoining an attractive stone bridge. The church is an important cultural landmark, but I think the main appeal is its beautiful “picture perfect” natural setting.
The Church of St John the Baptist in this region has a history dating back to the early years of Christianity, but this building was constructed in the Middle Ages. The nave is of Romanesque architecture. The walls and ceilings are covered with 15th- and 16th-century frescoes, some of the oldest in Slovenia.
As you enter the church you’ll see some interesting murals, as well as the …
Berlin’s Neue Synagoge (New Synagogue) was built between 1859 and 1866. It was the largest synagogue in Europe, with a capacity of 3,200 worshippers. It’s a beautiful building that was very unique for its time. It has a Moorish appearance, its architect having been inspired by the Alhambra in Granada, and has spectacular gilded domes that can be seen for some distance.
The New Synagogue has an important history. Jews in pre-WWII Germany were mostly well-integrated into Germany society. That ended abruptly with the rise of Nazis. The New Synagogue was damaged on Kristallnacht (November 9, 1938), when Nazis burned synagogues and destroyed the homes and businesses of Jews across Germany. The New Synagogue was damaged by fire on Kristallnacht but …
One of the more striking pieces in Paris’ Louvre, at least in my humble opinion, is this statue known as “Winged Victory”, or the “Nike of Samothrace”. It’s an ancient work dating to around 200 BC, and originates from Samothrace, a Greek island in the north Aegean Sea. Its creator is not known.
The marble statue stands nearly 8 ft tall and depicts Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, wind-blown with her garments clinging to her, triumphantly stepping toward the front of a ship. The work was probably created to commemorate a successful sea battle.
The statue was unearth by French diplomat and budding archaeologist, Charles Champoiseau, in 1863. He reassembled the 23 blocks that comprise the ship and sent the figure …
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a beautiful shopping arcade in Milan near the Duomo, is the oldest shopping mall in Milan and one of the oldest in Europe.
In 1860 the government of Milan held a competition for the redevelopment of the area between the Duomo and the Scala Opera House. The winning design was submitted by Bolognese architect, Giuseppe Mengoni. The first stone of the mall was laid in 1865 by King Victor Emmanuel II, after whom the arcade is named. The Gallerie was opened for business about 2 years later, but work on the structure continued for another decade, especially on the grand entrance from Piazza del Duomo. In a sad note of irony, Mengoni fell to his …
Parked near Wawel Hill in Krakow is a rather fancy old truck, all done up as a beer delivery truck — down to large wooden kegs sitting in its bed. PIWO is Polish for “beer”. I thought this was extremely effective advertising.
The flat bed truck is a Barkas V901/2, an East Germany brand which was made in the 1950s. There were many other chassis put on this frame, but this style was the most useful and popular. These trucks were used in the Eastern European communist block until after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)
Our favorite restaurant in Ljubljana turned out to be the one recommended by the owner of the apartment we were renting. Slovenska Hisa Figovec was only a 5 minute walk away and featured traditional Slovenian food, which is exactly what we wanted to try. We enjoyed their food and service so much we returned for a second dinner during our 3 day stay.
The restaurant is centrally located in a historic inn more than 200 years old, although the restaurant only opened in 2017. The interior is warm and cozy and it is busy, so it’s not a bad idea to make a reservation. During our second visit several large tables in restaurant were occupied by tour groups (Rick Steves), so having had …
One of the great places to explore when visiting Venice is the Franciscan church of Santa Maria dei Frari (St. Mary of the Friars, commonly known as the Frari Church).
As with many things in Venice, the Frari Church is an old building. The church was originally constructed between 1236 and 1338, then rebuilt in Gothic style two centuries later. It’s considered a minor basilica and is dedicated to the Assumption of St. Mary, Mother of Jesus.
While the church is well known for its spacious architecture, it is best known for the many fine monuments and terrific works of Venetian Renaissance art it displays. This beautiful art is still situated exactly where the artists knew it would be placed and where it …