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March 27, 2019

Austria: Fertö / Neusiedlersee Cultural Landscape and the Semmering Railway


Fertö / Neusiedlersee on light wind day

In Central Eurpoe, near the border of Austria and Hungary, are two UNESCO World Heritage sites, “Fertö / Neusiedlersee Cultural Landscape” and the “Semmering Railway”. We “visited” both briefly on way from Bratislava Slovakia to Graz Austria. (more…)

January 25, 2019

France: Nantes, Château des ducs de Bretagne


Inside the walls at the Château des ducs de Bretagne in Nantes

Nantes’ Château des ducs de Bretagne, or in English the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany, is the historic base for the rulers of Brittany. Oddly Brittany’s main castle is not in the Region of Brittany, at least now. (more…)

January 18, 2019

France: Saumur and the Château de Saumur


Château de Saumur sits in the Loire Valley vineyards.

The Loire Valley is studded with famous châteaux. Indeed, UNESCO has inscribed “The Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes” on its Heritage list, lauding the valley’s historic towns and numerous grand châteaux. Though the towns are interesting, it is the châteaux that motivate most visits. They are truly over the top. (more…)

January 6, 2019

France: Tournon-sur-Rhone, Train de l’Ardèche


Train de l’Ardèche works its way up the Doux River valley.

Near Tournon-sur-Rhone is one end of the Train de l’Ardèche, a historic steam train that runs up the rugged River Doux valley. Today the historic railway functions as a tourist train. (more…)

France: Tain-l’Hermitage, Valrhona’s Cité du Chocolat


Chocolate that looks almost too good to eat.

We visited in Tain-l’Hermitage, along the Rhône River, in May of 2018. The complex is essentially a discovery museum for the Valrhona chocolate brand. Displays describe the history of Valrhona and the steps in sourcing and producing the company’s chocolate. It is reasonably well done and undoubtedly a destination for chocoholics. (more…)

December 25, 2018

Spain: San Millán Yuso and Suso Monasteries


The San Millán de Yuso monastery

Leaving San Lorenzo de El Escorial we headed to San Millán de la Cogolla. It was a journey from monastery to monasteries, from the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial to the Yuso and Suso Monasteries in San Millán. Though both destinations are know for their monasteries and are UNESCO World Heritage sites, they are very different. (more…)

December 23, 2018

Spain: The Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial


The Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial

The Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial is an expansive complex of religious buildings about 26 miles to the northwest of Madrid. El Escorial’s buildings have served many functions. They were used as a monastery, basilica, royal palace, pantheon, library, museum, university, school, hospital, and rotting room. Today the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial is a popular site for day trip for tourists visiting from Madrid. El Escorial receives over 500,000 visits each year. (more…)

Spain: Toledo


Toledo Spain

A long time ago, twenty-five or thirty years earlier, I had the opportunity to visit Toledo Spain on a day trip. It was an interesting visit though too short. I realized then that there wasn’t enough time to take in this historic city in one day. I vowed I would return and spend at least a night. At the least I assumed it would be quieter and more atmospheric to see Toledo after the day-tripping tourist crowds have departed. (more…)

December 21, 2018

Spain: Madrid, Palacio de Cristal del Retiro


Madrid’s Crystal Palace from the outside

The Palacio de Cristal (“Crystal Palace”) is a garden conservatory located centrally in Madrid’s Buen Retiro Park. It was built in 1887. Astute tourists undoubtedly research all of the places to see in Madrid and head to the Crystal Palace as part of their tour plan. (more…)

December 19, 2018

Spain: Zaragoza, The Co-Cathedrals


La Lonja and la Catedral-Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar

A cathedral is by definition a Christian church holding a cathedra. Cathedra, the Latin word for seat, is, in the context of a church, a bishop’s throne. The cathedral is in effect a bishop’s throne room. (more…)

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