Tag: travel

Valencia: City on the Med

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Here is another illustrated small book, this one on our favorite place to live, Valencia, Spain.  You can swipe through the pages with your finger on a touch screen.   Enjoy!   

Valencia: City on the Med

 

 

Our Years in Paris (illustrated) | Illustrated

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It turns out that traveling makes us far happier than any material wealth ever does!

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Some strange art and impressive art at the University of Vilnius

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Petras Repšys  (1940) painted a rather strange set of scenes on the ceiling and walls of a room at the University of Vilnius.  It is worth a look.  He is a graduate of Vilnius Art Institute (1967)  Works in sheet, book, graphic arts, ex libris, easel paintings, frescoes, sculptures, medals. The exilibrisus began to develop in 1969 .  Here are some photos of his fresco “Seasons of the Year,” executed from (1974-1984).

Petras Repšys Seasons of the Year

Petras Repšys Seasons of the Year

Petras Repšys Seasons of the Year

Petras Repšys Seasons of the Year

 

For further information consult https://lt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petras_Rep%C5%A1ys

On the ground floor you will find the fabulous ceiling of the University book store

U of Vilnius book store

U of Vilnius book store

U of Vilnius book store

U of Vilnius book store

U of Vilnius book store

U of Vilnius book store

U of Vilnius book store

Russ folk dance, videoed in St Petersburg Russia | Russian folk dance

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Rome Struggles, Rome Beckons | Rome’s modern struggles

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View From Castle San Angelo

Rome Struggles, Rome Beckons

We landed in Rome’s Ciampino airport.  We are barely on the ground and already Rome’s disarray hit us.  

The last time we landed here there was only one bus to Termini, Rome’s central transit point.  We presumed that was still the case when we bought our tickets from the vendor in Valencia’s airport, thinking what a good idea it was to sell tickets ahead of time.  But then we walked out the front door, saw the bus platforms and four bus lines” names, but the name printed on our ticket was not there.  I asked several staff and passengers to find which line was ours. We stood in that line for 15 minutes (at least we were shielded from the hot sun).   The confusion was not over, however. as we were told to get in another line, whose placard was for another company. Indeed our bus appeared but as we waited we wondered if we had been mislead.  Then there was getting on the bus.  Italians do not stand in line, they crowd around the door, outflanking you. Eesh-  I was already exhausted.  And the struggle goes on and on.  Why?  Because Rome is chaotic like a turbulent fluid.    

Traffic moves like a raging river one moment and a logjam in the next, herking and jerking until the wee hours.  Yet like the fluid that finds its level, people get to where they are going, eventually, competing with each other and the buses and trams.  The latter are what the drivers avoid using, but once in their cars they spend lots of  time trying not to hit them and the other cars and the jillion darting scooters.   Everything would work better if most everyone used mass transit, or the recently added bike lanes which they might do if there were enough buses, subways and bike lanes,  but there aren’t since people spend money on cars instead.  

The enormous trash bins are another sign of chaos.  They are emptied daily yet each day overflow in an unsightly mess.  Rome city government is getting advice on how to solve their trash mess from Palermo, of all places- that’s how bad it is.  Even the upscale neighborhoods of the city have these problems, such as on Viale Giulio Cesare, which runs past the windows of our summer abode.  Down a bit from our place tourists by the millions line up for St. Peter’s and the Vatican Museum.  The back streets are lined with upscale stores, wine bars, restaurants and made to measure shops.  But trash mars the area.  The platforms upon which the containers nicely sit hold four dumpsters, one for household trash and three for recycling.  They need perhaps two more but there’s no room on the platform and cars take up the room otherwise available.  

Rome’s other issues contribute to the strain.  Refugees, street people, tax avoidance, pollution, street trash.  The list is seemingly without end-  this is not an easy place to run, so no wonder there’s so much dysfunction.   And yet people come, because Rome eternally beckons.  Where else would you find an Eternal City,  a city of such high art?  There are countless richly decorated and appointed churches, public buildings and monuments, private palaces such as the Pamphili Palace, still occupied by the family but mostly a museum.  There are Egyptian columns and Roman era ones such as Trajan’s which tells the story of the conquest of Dacia, modern day Romania.  And there is ancient Rome. Every shovel full brings up a history lesson, it seems.  This is why Metro Line C is not yet done after so many years, delaying one of the remedies for the chaos.  There is plenty of cultural modernity to bring you in and keep you here.  Wanted in Rome publishes huge lists of things to do-  concerts, expositions, talks, walks, plays and of course opera.  The Italians invented this high soap.  Good grief, are they melodramatic or what?  http://www.wantedinrome.com/whatson/.  

 

Summer brings the Music Fest, starting June 21.  Nighttime is filled with outdoor concerts and plays and acrobats and who knows what else, all free, and all the ones I have seen have been very good.  My favorite venue is atop Castel San Angelo.  Order a glass of wine and enjoy the music and the view of St Peter’s!!  And of course any time of day or night have a cappuccino.  Maybe you’ll find a delightful something to draw.

Then there’s the odd public service we ran across.  At Ottaviano metro, where you exit the subway for the Vatican, there is a free water spot.  Rome has had public drinking fountains, these little green creatures called ‘nasoni, for eons.’  They run constantly.  But this fountain is different, like the old milk dispensing machines, standing some 2 meters/7′ tall.  You put your bottle under the spout, press the button showing the size bottle you have and presto!  You can get fizzy water as well, yet it is totally free!   What?  

Only in Rome would you get free carbonated water.  How do they manage this and yet not be able to adequately handle the trash and sweep the streets?  Or perhaps more importantly, why bother with this at all? Perhaps it has something to do with the trash.  Millions of plastic bottles filled with water fill landfills and float in the Tevere that winds through the city.  Can we help if we give away the sparkling water?  I’d say so.  

The government is trying.  You can see that with this strange giveaway, with the trash platforms, another metro line.  But you see the challenges everywhere you go, the trash strewn streets, the refugees, the homeless, the African street vendors.

June 2016

Zambia: Watercolors from the bush | zambia watercolor paintings

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Zambian Women -6- Around-Fire

We visited the village where our nephew Travis worked as a Peace Corps volunteer. It was a fabulous visit despite the primitive conditions- the people were just so loving and friendly. These are the only ones I still have and I am offering them for the next week at special prices.   See blog on Zambia for further accounts of this special journey.

 

Zambian Women -6- Around-Fire
Zambian Women -6- Around-Fire, A3, 11.5 x 16.5″ watercolor on fine art paper $450

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women Dance in Zambian Village, our Peace Corps visit, A3, 11.5 x 16.5"
Women Dance in Zambian Village, our Peace Corps visit, A3, 11.5 x 16.5″ $450

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tanzanian Plains, watercolor, A3, 11.5 x 16.5", acrylics on paper
Tanzanian Plains, watercolor, A3, 11.5 x 16.5″, acrylics on paper (sold)

 

Young Women Carry Cassaba, watercolor, 11.5 x 16.5"
Young Women Carry Cassava, watercolor, 11.5 x 16.5″ $350

Young Zambian Woman
Young Zambian Woman $350

Woman Carries Chickens $350

Woman Carries 5 gallons of water
Woman Carries 5 gallons of water $350

Heart of Lightness- we arrive at Trav’s village to an amazing, loving reception complete with chorus! $350

Heart of Lightness- we arrive at Trav’s village to an amazing, loving reception complete with chorus! $350

Heart of Lightness- we arrive at Trav’s village to an amazing, loving reception complete with chorus! $350

Woman Collect Sand $250

Travis' Hut in Zambia (sold)
Travis’ Hut in Zambia (sold)

Aranjuez, the summer palace of the Spanish royalty | Summer Palace Aranjuez, Spain

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Palcio de Sivela, Aranjuez

Aranjuez is just south of Madrid and home to the summer palace.  It was built in the second half of the 16th century under Phillip II.  The town was originally inhabited only by the court but now is a small but vibrant town dominated by the tourists who visit the palace.

The main entrance is through a gate that leads onto a large courtyard.

 

Palacio de Aranjuez pen and ink
Palacio de Aranjuez pen and ink, (5 x7″, 12.7 x 17.8 cm- to purchase see bottom)

 

Palcio de Sivela, Aranjuez
Palcio de Sivela, Aranjuez

Visitors would have entered through the doors to be confronted with a magnificent marble staircase and a ceiling high above.   Nowadays visitors enter through a much smaller entrance in the Renaissance style wing.  This style features a rather flat presentation, with pediments of various sorts adoring the windows.  Here you can also see the Romanesque arches, rounded versus the sharper edges of the Gothic style.

The interior visitors access is limited to two floors.  Once you climb the main staircase there perhaps a dozen rooms.  Some are more what you might expect in terms of high and painted ceilings, luxurious furnishings, and rich colors.  Others are intensely decorated with ceramics:

 

Aranjuez Ceramics
Aranjuez Ceramics

 

 

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Aranjuez interior

 

 

The palace sits on the conjunction of two rivers, the Tagus and Jarama.  The rivers feed numerous fountains and maintain the extensive gardens.

Fountains Aranjuez
Fountains Aranjuez

Fountains Aranjuez
Fountains Aranjuez

Aranjuez River Tajo
Aranjuez River Tajo

Nearby is the Palcio de Sivela, built in 1860 and completely restored in 1988.  Here is my impression of it

Palcio de Sivela, Aranjuez
Palcio de Sivela, Aranjuez (watercolor, 5 x7″, 12.7 x 17.8 cm) sold!

 

The pen and ink—

Graz, Austria, a small city that is home to dozens of museums

June 2016

After an overnight in Dusseldorf, we flew in a prop jet into the small airpport in Graz, Austria.  It’s a tiny airport, and but a 10 minute walk to train station.  Before long we were exiting the system and taking the wrong exit, so we added a kilometer to our walk.  We missed a turn and added a bit more, but then we got to the door.

Graz is 200 km southwest of Vienna, just about an hour by train.  It is the second largest city in Austria and home to six universities with 44,000 students.  The University of Gray is the city’s oldest.  It was founded in 1585 under Archduke Karl II. There are over 30,000 students in it alone.  The entire city is a World Heritage Site (1999).   Slovenia is its nearest neighbor (to the south); Hungary is not far to the east.  Graz is home to just 310,000 residents.

 

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View of the downtown from the funicular that goes to Schlossberg Castle

Graz was settled as far back as 5000 BC, likely for two reasons.  First is the Mur River, which flows swiftly this time of year.  This facilitated transportation and commerce.  Second, there is a large and steep hill just off the river, not 5 minutes from our place, which made for an excellent natural fortification, which has never been breached.

Hitler visited in 1938 and was welcomed and the Jewish community subsequently destroyed. In 2000, on the anniversary of the the Kristalnacht pogroms the city presented the Jewish community with a new synagogue to replace they one destroyed. Some 15% of the city was destroyed by Allied bombing, but the Old Town was largely spared.   Graz surrendered to Soviet troops at the end of WWII.

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The city has dozens of museums.  We bought a pass that allows entrance to 12 of them for 30 euros.  So far we have just visited the Modern Art museum, largely given over to an incomprehensible installation.  However there were some genuine works or art as well.

Riverside Drive, Wilhelm Thöny, Austrian Artist. Graz 1888- 1949
Riverside Drive, Wilhelm Thöny, Austrian Artist. Graz 1888- 1949

We’ve had a few snacks and light meals thus far.  Soup.  It’s June and the people are eating hot soup!  With temperature in the low 20’s c (under 72f) the days are cool and the nights a bit on the chilly side, quite the contrast with Valencia, from where we just came, and where summer temperatures can hit 40C.

 

Here are views of Graz from the top of Schlossberg Castle.

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