.All Trips / Europe / Italy

Palermo’s Botanical Garden (Orto Botanico)

01a Orto Botanico

While Sicily itself is green and lovely after the rains, Palermo doesn’t have many spacious parks or gardens.  This is in part why exploring Orto Botanico di Palermo (Palermo Botanical Garden) was a treat for my wife and I.  It covers about 30 acres and has a large and interesting variety of plants that are pleasant to stroll through.  Orto Botanico also conducts research for the Department of Botany, University of Palermo. 

The garden dates to 1779 when the University created a chair of “botany and medicinal properties” and dedicated a plot of land for a botanical garden.  The goal was to grow and study plants that useful had medicinal properties.  The garden was moved to the present site in 1786 when …

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“Pic of the Week”, March 8, 2019: Weddings in Krakow

Weddings on Wawel Hill (19)

I’m a sucker for weddings.  I understand that many couples don’t stay married, but there’s something appealing about the excitement, optimism and pageantry of the wedding day that appeals to me.  I fondly remember my own wedding day some 33 years ago (still happily married), and more recently those of my two sons.  I’m old-fashioned enough to consider marriage the cornerstone of civilization.

While traveling, I like to take the opportunity to snap photos of wedding couples when possible and I’m not being intrusive.  There were a lot of weekend weddings in fall in Krakow, some of which I had a chance to photograph.

As always, my very best wishes to each of these couples.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to …

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Karl on | Comments Off on “Pic of the Week”, March 8, 2019: Weddings in Krakow
.All Trips / Europe / Food / Spain

A Market in Barcelona’s Gracia Neighborhood

Gracia Market, Barcelona

Having visited Barcelona’s huge and busy La Boqueria market, an interesting place but teaming with tourists rather than residents, I made a point of trying to visit a smaller community-oriented market in the city during our week’s visit.

Gracia is a small neighborhood within Barcelona that doesn’t have any major tourist attractions within it.  It’s a place in which people work and live, rather than a tourist destination.  We walked through Gracia on our way to Gaudi’s Park Guell and passed a community market on our way, so we popped in.  I wish I’d noted the name of the market, but sadly I did not.  

In any event, it’s a great market.  Much smaller and more intimate than La Boqueria, …

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.All Trips / Car Culture / England / Europe

Toys for Boys! The Cotswold Motoring Museum and Toy Collection

12 Cotswold Motoring Museum and Toy Collection Jaguar XK 140 1956

As with all good museums of its type, a visit to the Cotswold Motoring Museum is like stepping back in time.  Located in one of the most beautiful parts of England, in the town of Bourton-on-the-Water, the museum is housed in a building that once functioned as a mill. 

A modest admission fee lets you explore the many features inside (see link above for details).  There is an assortment of interesting vintage cars, caravans and motorcycles dating from the early 20th century through the 1970s.  You can see the museum at your leisure as you walk from one gallery to the next.  Most of the vehicles are of English vintage, but not all are.  Lining the walls …

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.All Trips / Europe / France

The Eiffel Tower at Night

00 Paris 05-2013. Eiffel Tower at dusk and after dark (35)

Everyone loves the Eiffel Tower!  In today’s post I wanted to talk a little about the transformation that takes place at the Tower with the setting of the sun.

As the glow of the sun fades, the Eiffel Tower shines!  Plus it’s a good time to view the Tower as it’s not very crowded.  The views in the gallery below were taken from the Park Champ de Mars southeast of the tower.  It was a pleasant atmosphere — many people sitting on blankets and enjoying the sights.

Beyond the regular lights that illuminate the tower, there’s a twinkling show of lights that lasts for five minutes every hour on the hour.  There are apparently some 20,000 strobe lights on the tower, installed for …

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.All Trips / Europe / Italy

A Day of Mosaics: Visiting Villa Romana del Casale, Sicily

24 Villa Romana del Casale (189)

I like to visit UNESCO World Heritage sites when travel allows because they are uniformly interesting.  Villa del Casale is no exception as it has some of the best preserved and most extensive Roman mosaics anywhere.  The place is situated off the main tourist path in the central hills of Sicily and was a little hard to find, but the lovely well-preserved floor mosaics make it worth a little effort to get to.  It’s about 3 km from the town of Piazza Armerina.

Villa Romana del Casale was built in late Roman Empire, around the middle of the 4th Century AD, as a hunting lodge for a wealthy Roman (whose name is unknown).  The overall architecture is similar to many villas …

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“Pic of the Week”, January 18, 2019: The Metropol Parasol, Seville

IMG_4334-001

It’s hard to miss the massive Metropol Parasol, which is said to be the “World’s Largest Wooden Structure”.  Not sure how to verify such a claim but it certainly is large.  It measures 150 x 70 meters (490 x 230 ft) and is about 26 meters (85 ft) tall.

The structure was designed by German architect Jurgen Mayer and was completed in 2011 as part of the revitalization at Plaza de la Encarnacion.  It consists of 6 interwoven large mushroom-like structures built of birch panels which provide welcome shaded relief from the warm Spanish sun.

Metropol Parasol is one of Seville’s newer structures and is becoming an icon.  It’s home to a museum (with Roman and Moorish ruins displayed), a market, restaurant …

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Karl on | Comments Off on “Pic of the Week”, January 18, 2019: The Metropol Parasol, Seville
.All Trips / Europe / Germany

Berlin’s unique Museum Island: a UNESCO World Heritage Site

03 Berlin Museum Island (2)

Situated on an island in the Spree River, Berlin’s Museum Island (Museumsinsel) is home to five world-renowned museums.  The space is shared with Berlin’s great Cathedral, the Berliner Dom.  In 1999, the Museum Island complex was declared a UNESCO World Heritage. 

The five museums on Museum Island are:

1) Pergamonmuseum (Pergamon Museum):

Opened in 1930 — the last museum on the island to open but also perhaps the greatest of these museums.  This museum alone attracts around one million visitors every year and is currently under refurbishment. Its collection includes the Pergamon Altar and  Ishtar Gate.

Bode Museum, Berlin's Museum Island

Bode Museum, Berlin’s Museum Island

2) Bode-Museum:

Opened at the northern tip of the island in 1904 and with a renovation completed in 2005.  It has an …

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