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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…)

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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…)

Italy: Genoa


Looking up inside Duomo di Genova, Genoa’s cathedral

Somewhere around twenty years ago, I got a brief glimpse of Genoa between trains. It seemed an interesting place to visit. There was motivation for a return stopover but it took some time to get back. Indeed, it wasn’t until the very end of our road trip in 2016 that I had an opportunity to see Genoa again. (more…)

October 9, 2017

Sicily: Palermo’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites


Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of Virgin Mary
Cattedrale metropolitana della Santa Vergine Maria Assunta, Palermo’s Cathedral, is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site.

By the time we arrived in Palermo Sicily, we were definitively on our way back to France. Weather reports told us that it was cold and rainy up north. Being thin-blooded, we planned to shiver through France as quickly as possible. We would stop briefly to winterize our barge Wanderlust at her mooring on the Saone and then head to Paris for the flight back to the States. The 2016 European road trip was coming to a rapid close.

(more…)

October 7, 2017

Sicily: Palermo 2016

Filed under: Architecture, Europe, Food, Italy, Photography, Travel, Travel, Writing — Tags: , , , , , , — anotherheader @ 4:10 pm

Visitors tour the roof of Cattedrale metropolitana della Santa Vergine Maria Assunta, Palermo’s cathedral.

Eight years had passed since we visited Palermo. Palermo was far from affluent in 2008. And when returned in December of 2016, it was clear that the intervening time hadn’t helped things. What was then a gritty and rundown city is now grittier and more run down. (more…)

September 26, 2017

Sicily: Palermo Street Art

Filed under: Architecture, Europe, Italy, Photography, Street Art, The List, Travel, Writing — Tags: , , , , , , — anotherheader @ 9:05 am

I gather that ENNE_ink is a tattoo artist.

Conditions in Palermo are ideal for street art. The city is large enough to support an art scene. At the same time, it is poor enough that the municipality can’t afford to remove every mark the walls that appears. Indeed, building owners sometimes solicit street art. It can be an improvement over the urban decay. (more…)

September 25, 2017

Sicily: Cefalu


Duomo di Cefalù from the piazza.

Acknowledging the distinctive combination of Arabic and Norman architecture, UNESCO has designated the 12th Century Arab-Norman buildings in Palermo and Cefalu as a World Heritage site. The Normans were known as brutal conquerors. Less well known was their tendency to assimilate culture elements from the people they conquered. After the Normans ended Saracen rule in northwestern Sicily, they embraced Arabic architecture and constructed numerous distinctive buildings that combine the Norman and Arabic styles. UNESCO honors this cultural fusion with its World Heritage designation. (more…)

August 12, 2017

Malta: Valletta


Ricasoli East Breakwater

Malta’s jewel is its capitol Valletta. Valletta sits on a well-defended peninsula surrounded by its sheltered harbors. The fortifications and walls that ring the central city speak to Valletta’s military importance. Malta’s history reads like a “Who’s Who” of Mediterranean civilizations. The Greeks, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Saracens, Aragonese, the Napoleonic French, and the British have all left their marks on the island nation strategically positioned in the Mediterranean Sea to the southwest of Sicily. (more…)

Malta: Valletta, Saint John’s Co-Cathedral


Inside St. John’s Co-Cathedral

In 2016 we left Wanderlust to make tourist visits to various places around Europe. During the year we visited Aix-en-Provence, Marseilles, Annecy, and Salins-les-Bains in France on three separate trips. In October we took the TGV and Eurostar to London for 6 nights. Another trip took us to Bern and Interlaken in Switzerland. Towards the end of the season we traveled to Corsica France, Italy (Sardinia, Sicily, and Genoa), and then to Malta. Just before we returned to the States we visited friends in Freiburg Germany. All told I count 27 overnight or longer stays in various European cities and towns. Add in the 21 places along the waterways that we stopped at as we took Wanderlust from Auxerre to Saint Jean de Losne and it seems we’ve did a lot of roaming in 2016. (more…)

July 16, 2017

Sicily: Scicli


San Bartolomeo, one of several attractive churches in Scicli Sicily.

I must admit to having a minor obsession with completing travel orientated lists. If I read an intriguing list of places to see, there’s a risk that it could become a goal. For example, several years ago Frommer’s published a list of the must see alpine passes in Switzerland. We’d planned on driving the southern route through Switzerland. Once I saw Frommer’s list, we added detours to our route so that we would visit all five passes Swiss passes mentioned in the article. As it turned out the passes were a worthy goal; the route is spectacular. Nevertheless, even if Frommer’s list was completely lame, it was unavoidable that we would visit all of the passes. Lists must be completed. (more…)

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