“Pic of the Week”, June 8, 2018: Burj Al Arabia

00 Burj Al Arabia, Dubai (8)

In a country of spectacular modern buildings and architecture, the Burj Al Arab more than holds its own.  A beautiful white structure, it was built to resemble a dhow sailing into the blue waters of the Persian Gulf.  The Burj Al Arab was one of the first big constructions in modern Dubai and like the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Statue of Liberty in New York, it has come to symbolize today’s Dubai.  

Some of the Particulars:
The Burj Al Arab is considered one of the world’s great luxury hotels and is the third tallest hotel in the world.  It’s built on an artificial island 280 m (920 ft) from Jumeirah Beach and is connected to it …

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.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

Back at the Getty Center, Los Angeles

Getty Center Museum 11-2016 (7a)

When I have free time while traveling in greater Los Angeles, I love to visit the Getty Center — well worth a full day’s visit, especially if you’ve never been there before.  There’s no admission fee but you have to pay $15.00 to park for the day (so if you’re dropped off by a friend, the entire day would be a freebie).   There’s a large parking structure adjoining the 405 Fwy in Sepulveda Pass and from here visitors takes a tram uphill to the Getty Center.  The tram/funicular ride takes just a few minutes and when you exit you enter a beautifully crafted world of art and architecture.   I enjoy walking the meticulously maintained grounds and taking in the ever …

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“Pic of the Week”, December 1, 2017: Disney World’s Swan and Dolphin Resort

31 Disney World Swan Resort

I attended a medical meeting at Disney World not long ago which was held at the award-winning Dolphin and Swan Resort complex.  I’d never been to these hotels before and found them to be pretty impressive.  Very massive modern structures, with over 2000 rooms between the two of them, they had interesting architecture, sitting beside a man-made lake.  The resorts are near the Disney Boardwalk and very close to one of Disney World’s entrances.

Boat services on the lagoon allows guests to get from the resorts to various water-based destinations around Disney World, such as Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Each hotel has many restaurants and those I tried had excellent (albeit not cheap) food.  

I was a little surprised that …

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.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

The Griffith Observatory: Los Angeles’ Art Deco Treasure

01 Griffith Observatory

One of Los Angeles’ most famous landmarks is the Griffith Observatory, which is situated on a hill (in massive Griffith Park) overlooking the Los Angeles basin.  Designed to be an observatory of the planets and stars, it’s a beautiful Art Deco structure that houses space and science exhibitions and has a great planetarium. 

While smog obscures the views from the Observatory most of the time, the place is especially memorable for its great views on a clear day like the one I had the

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.All Trips / Europe / Italy

Palermo’s Palazzo dei Normanni

02 Exterior of Palermo Palazzo del Normanni (2)

Palazzo dei Normanni (Palace of the Normans) is the old Royal Palace in Palermo, Sicily.  It was built in the 9th century by the Arab/Islamic rulers for the harems of their emirs.  It was expanded and renovated by the Normans who subsequently conquered Sicily in 1072.  The Norman kings transformed the building into a multi-functional complex that served as an administrative center and a royal residence.  During the period of Norman rule, Sicily thrived and prospered.

The Palazzo sits on the highest spot in Palermo and is the oldest royal residence in Europe.  After the Normans left, Palazzo dei Normanni was not used for several centuries.  But the palace returned to an administrative role in the second half of the sixteenth century, when the Spanish governors chose …

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.All Trips / Europe / Spain

Escoles de la Sagrada Família (Sagrada Familia School)

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Situated beside and overshadowed by the vast and magnificent La Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona is a small schoolhouse built more than a century ago.

The Sagrada Família Schools (Escoles de la Sagrada Família) building was constructed in 1909 by Barcelona’s favorite son, architect Antoni Gaudí.  The school was made for the children of workers building the cathedral, although other children from the neighborhood also attended.  When construction of La Sagrada Familia cathedral began, it was at the outer edge of Barcelona making it hard for the worker’s children to walk to school — hence, Gaudi’s motivation to built the school near that cathedral during its first phases of construction, as you can see from these photos in this …

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.All Trips / Europe / Spain

Palau Güell, Barcelona

Palau Guell, Barcelona 04-2016 (86)

Palau Güell is a mansion designed by Barcelona’s favorite son, the highly imaginative architect, Antoni Gaudí, for tycoon Eusebi Güell.  It was to be the first of their collaborations.  The home was built between 1886 and 1888 and is in the El Raval neighborhood, near the popular pedestrian mall, la Rambla.  It’s part of Barcelona’s “Works of Antoni Gaudi” UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The building was refurbished in 2011 and is fresh and beautiful throughout.

Palau Güell was the first important commission Antoni Gaudí received as a young architect.  Mr. Güell (a wealthy industrialist and patron of the arts) asked Gaudí to build him a unique urban home.  The result is Palau Güell, a great example of Art …

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.All Trips / Art / Massachusetts / North America / Northeastern USA

Art, Architecture and Literature: A visit to Boston’s Public Library

06 Boston Public Library

Many people I know are fond of books, so visiting libraries during our travels is an obvious extension of this interest.  Some libraries are fairly dull, but others are far more than places where books and magazines are stored.  They are buildings of great architectural beauty.  And a few even have interesting art displays, enough to warrant their consideration as small “art museums”.  Such certainly is the case with the Boston Library, a place you can wander about for hours taking in all of its charms.  Of course, it’s all completely free.

The Boston Public Library system is the second largest in the United States and contains approximately 23 million items, including 1.7 million rare books and manuscripts.  Its annual circulation is …

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