a.k.a. Photo of the Week

“Pic of the Week”, December 15, 2017: Hotel Las Torres, Chile

00 Hotel Las Torres, Torres del Paine (3)

Much like the Grand Canyon’s El Tovar hotel or the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park, Hotel Las Torres is situated in the heart of a beautiful park ecosystem, in this case Torres del Paine National Park.  As such, it offers a unique opportunity to see the region while providing most expected creature comforts.

Founder Antonio Kusanovic Senkovic was the son of Croatian immigrants and became a successful cattle farmer.  In 1979 he bought the Cerro Paine ranch, located at the foot of “Torres del Paine” mountain range.  On this 8 thousand acre ranch, he began his cattle breeding business.  In the early 90´s Mr. Kusanovic built 9 rooms with a small restaurant to welcome the many tourists arriving from all …

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“Pic of the Week”, December 8, 2017: Bagpipes at Sunset, Colombo

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I’ve taken more time to relax and watch the entirety of a sunset over the Indian Ocean than anywhere else; the majority of these were at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo.   And I’m not alone.  Usually 50 — at times upwards of a hundred — guests are there alongside me enjoying it as well.

During my visit to Colombo this year I discovered the hotel had added a new twist to the sunset ritual.  A Sri Lankan bag-piper playing a dirge, together with one of the hotel employees, solemnly and slowly march out to the edge of the sea at dusk.  The uniformed man methodically lowers and folds the flag as the sad tune from the pipes mixes with …

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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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“Pic of the Week”, November 24, 2017: Dubai’s Perfume Souk

00 Perfume Souk

Dubai has a number of market districts, including a perfume souk.  It’s located in the Deira neighborhood, not far from the gold and spice souks.  Arab perfumes are not the light flowery affairs you find in European shops — here the scents are spicy and quite strong, and tend to linger.  Arabian perfumes are oil based so they may leave a stain when sprayed on clothes, so be careful when using them. 

Of course perfumes from around the world are also sold in Dubai’s perfume souk and many shops will even custom craft a scent if you ask,  but the local fragrances are a specialty.  As are the decorative jars the perfumes can be stored in.   The perfumes are reasonably …

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“Pic of the Week”, November 17,2017: Palmetto

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The most common palm tree in the United States is the saw palmetto, a hardy plant capable of growing in habitats as diverse as sand dunes to swampy wetlands.  It is a fire-resistant and attractive low maintenance plant commonly used in landscaping, and is slowly growing and capable of living hundreds of years.  

Saw palmetto can be low to the ground, like a bush, or grow into a tree 25 feet tall and 7 feet wide.   What I and others find attractive about the plant are its leaves which earn the plant its name, being edged with small but sharp spines that can tear skin and cloth.  Saw palmetto blooms from April to July, producing white flowers that ripen …

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“Pic of the Week”, November 10, 2017: Las Teresas Tapas Bar, Sevilla, Spain

05 An Evening walk in Santa Cruz, Seville (109)

While exploring the winding alleys and lanes in Seville’s old Jewish quarter of Santa Cruz, one of the people showing us around suggested we stop for a snack at a small tapas bar.  We were all game because it looked like an interesting place.

Founded in 1870, Las Teresas has been run by the same family for almost a century.  Las Teresas is what a typical, traditional tapas bar feels like and I was charmed by it.  There are, of course, a number of Iberian hams (jamón) hanging from the ceiling.  I loved the old feel to the place and how the walls were plastered with memorabilia.  The food we tried was extremely good.  The service was friendly and the clientele …

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“Pic of the Week”, November 3, 2017: Famine Memorial, Dublin

Famine Memorial 1

A friend once told me that good public art should capture your attention and “get you in the gut”.  That’s certainly true of the Famine statues on Custom House Quay in Dublin’s modernized Docklands.  These gaunt figures commemorate the Great Potato Famine of the mid-19th century (1845 – 1847), referred to as An Gorta Mór –“the great hunger”.   The location is historic as it was the site of the first voyage of the famine exodus on the ship Perseverance. The work is entitled “Famine” and was presented to the People of Ireland by Norma Smurfit in 1997.

During the great famine approximately 1 million Irish people died and a million more emigrated from Ireland, reducing the island’s population by about 25%. …

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“Pic of the Week”, October 27, 2017: Two Churches in Boston

03 Trinity Church

By American standards Boston is an old city, although compared to those in Europe and Asia it’s still a juvenile community.  Boston is a great city to explore on foot, with a lot of famous historic sites.

During my wanderings on my last visit I came across two old churches only a few blocks apart.  The more interesting of these is Trinity Church, an Episcopalian church on Copley Square across from the Boston Library, and a National Historic Landmark building.  It was constructed in the mid-19th century as the 3rd church home of the parish and is renowned for it’s architecture and art.  Select tours of the site are available.  

Old South Church’s present building was completed in 1873.  It is …

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