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December 3, 2017

San Francisco: The Embarcadero


Looking back at the Embarcadero waterfront: Perhaps the best thing that happened as a consequence of the Loma Prieta Earthquake was the demise of the freeway that once dominated this area.

San Francisco has a storied freeway history. There were once grand plans to build a web of cross-city freeways. These plans fell to the determined opposition from the city’s residents. In the end, only the stubs of the planned highways were built. San Francisco remains to this day without a through freeway link between the US Highway 101 to the north and south of the City. Though it is less convenient for drivers, there is little doubt blocking the construction of the cross-city freeways preserved the character of many San Franciscan neighborhoods. (more…)

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France: Provins


Provins’ formidable ramparts

Entry 873 on the UNESCO World Heritage list is titled, “Provins, Town of Medieval Fairs.” UNESCO’s listing honors Provins role as the location of one of the Champagne fairs, an annual cycle of trading fairs held in towns in the Champagne and Brie regions of Northern France in the Middle Ages. These fairs were crucial to the medieval European economy and were integral to the early development of international trade and the wool industry. At their height, in the late 12th and the 13th century, the fairs linked the cloth-producing cities of the Low Countries with the Italian dyeing and exporting centers. (more…)

November 28, 2017

San Francisco: Dogpatch


Abandoned buildings on San Francisco’s waterfront

Dogpatch is a mixed-use neighborhood on the bayside of San Francisco. Its location is cutoff from much of the City by the two main freeway arteries that run north south through the eastern side of San Francisco. The freeways make the neighborhood convenient for those who need to commute down the peninsula. But at the same time, the location makes Dogpatch less convenient to the City’s services and attractions. (more…)

San Francisco: Conservatory of Flowers


A water lily blooms inside the Conservatory of Flowers.

Construction of San Francisco’s Conservatory of Flowers was completed in 1879. It is the oldest building in Golden Gate Park. The conservatory is worth a visit not just for the collection of rare and exotic plants but also for the building itself. As an added bonus in 2017, when we visited, there was a special exhibition, “Butterflies and Blooms,” featuring an assortment of North American butterflies and moths. (more…)

November 26, 2017

France: MuséoParc Alésia

Filed under: Architecture, Europe, France, Photography, Travel — Tags: , , , , , — anotherheader @ 2:23 pm

A mock-up at MuséoParc Alésia shows the preparations for the battle of Alésia.

Not far from Montbard France is Alise-Sainte-Reine, the location of the last major engagement between Gauls and Romans in 52 BC, the Battle of Alésia. Recently an interpretive center, the MuséoParc Alésia, was constructed to explain the history of the battle. The French have a knack for morphing their historical sites into popular attractions. (more…)

France: Ancy-le-Franc


Château d’Ancy-le-Franc’s courtyard

Deep in the Burgundian countryside is the commune of Ancy-le-Franc. Ancy, once in the domain of the Dukes of Burgundy, is anchored by an attractive chateau. Motorists whizzing by on the nearby Autoroute du Soleil might spot a brown tourist sign encouraging passersby to explore the town’s chateau. (more…)

November 25, 2017

France: Tanlay

Filed under: Architecture, Europe, France, Photography, Travel, Travel, Writing — Tags: , , , , , — anotherheader @ 4:30 pm

Château de Tanlay

Situated on the northwestern border of France’s Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region is the village of Tanlay. Though this commune is home to around a thousand residents one residence stands out, the Château de Tanlay. Separated from the rest of the community by a water-filled moat and a ring of gardens, the manor house is the central attraction in the town. (more…)

November 21, 2017

France: Châteauneuf-en-Auxois


The “new” château at Châteauneuf-en-Auxois

is one of at least 33 communes in France with “Châteauneuf” in the name. The Côte-d’Or version features a turreted castle that overlooks the Autoroute du Soleil or A6. We’ve whizzed through the area many times on the freeway and have seen the château with its ferry tale turrets on the hilltop. On the side of the autoroute a brown tourist sign tells passing motorists that the Château de Châteauneuf is nearby. Through the windshield Châteauneuf, up on the hill in the distance, looked interesting. But passing by at 130 kph it never was convenient to visit. It wasn’t until we traveled through the area by canal that we actually had a chance to explore the town. (more…)

November 11, 2017

San Francisco: A Tourist in One’s Hometown?


The Embarcadero at twilight

More than 30 years of my life have been spent in the San Francisco Bay Area. When asked by people overseas where I’m from, I usually say San Francisco. But that’s not really the case. Living on the San Francisco peninsula or in Berkeley for 30 years is not quite the same thing as living in the City. (more…)

November 9, 2017

France: Guédelon Castle


The castle appears mostly complete.

Have you ever visited an old European castle and wondered how it was constructed hundreds of years ago? Without heavy equipment how could a society move the heavy stones and beams required to build such structures? Many of the answers can be found at Guédelon Castle, a historical theme park a little less than three hours south of Paris via the motorway. (more…)

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