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Road Trip NC to Maine to Cape (part 1)

Since I sold my house and my new house renovations are nearing completion I left on a month long road trip to the NE with 3 other ladies, me in my rv, and the other 3 ladies in 2 trucks pulling trailers. I’m used to traveling by myself so my mantra was “I’ll meet you there”!

Heading north to Virginia I stopped by Hope Plantation the home of former Governor David Stone. The plantation complex offers insights into the late 18th- and 19th-century rural life in eastern North Carolina.

Also on the grounds is The 1763 King-Bazemore House which is a great example of vernacular architecture. It is one of the few remaining examples in North Carolina of mid-eighteenth century “hall and parlor” design. The home has been restored and furnished based on the 1778 inventory of owner, William King.


Virginia

Heading into Virginia the Bacon Castle, is just outside of Surry. It is the oldest brick dwelling in the US, built in 1665 for Arthur Allen. It was originally known as Allen’s Brick House but became known as Bacon’s Castle in 1676 when Nathaniel Bacon’s men occupied it during the uprising that became known as Bacon’s Rebellion.  It is part of the National Park Service.

I also stopped at a neat little shop I discovered on my last trip up that way, in Surry. 

Jamestown Ferry

Our first two nights on the road were spent at Chickahominy Riverfront Park. So I cut off a few miles and avoided the traffic of Norfolk by catching the Jamestown Ferry. It’s just a little bigger than our local ferries, and my timing was perfect, I waited about 5 minutes to board. There has been a ferry running here since 1925.

The campground was perfect too, it’s right on the Capital Trail that runs from Jamestown to Richmond, is on the Chickahominy River. There are trails, fishing, splash pad, horseshoes and other games, and it has an amazing pool. 

The bike ride to Jamestown from the park is about 7 & 1/2 miles and at mile marker 5 is the Spoke & Art, where a cup of coffee and a muffin hit the spot. You can also rent a bike there, even a recumbent trike like mine! The last time I was there they had a trio playing in the outdoor dining area.


It was pretty hot but much of the trail was in the shade and is paved. We rode to the Historic Jamestowne Visitors Center, ducked in to cool off and after riding back to the campground spent a couple hours in the beautiful pool. 

From there I headed west, taking Hwy 5 along the James River and past the James River Plantations. I drove back to a couple of them, just to have a look. Some are grand, some are not! Shirley, Westover, and Berekley are the ones that are most famous but there are many more. Shirley Plantation, settled in 1613, is the oldest plantation in Virginia and the oldest family-owned business in North America, dating back to 1638.

Shirley – photo a little crooked!


I’ve been collecting Virginias LOVE sculptures around the state. I didn’t realize that there is a website listing where most of them are. And that the state reimburses communities and companies that commission a LOVE sculpture as part of the states branding “Virginia is for lovers”. You have to apply for the funding and if approved they state will reimburse you for $1500 towards the cost of construction. What a neat idea. Since, as of this writing there are over 275 LOVE sculptures around the state, it will be a while before I have seen them all. But here are a few that I HAVE seen.

This one is at the Spoke & Art and is designed by my friend and famous sculptor Don Drumm of Akron, Ohio


I drove through downtown Richmond and spotted a few murals I liked and ended up going through a beautiful neighborhood I hadn’t been in before. It always pays to leave early and get there before things get too hectic. It also saves me money because the galleries are not open yet. I still do my best to support other artists wherever I go!


That night we stayed at Natural Chimney State Park. It is the location of the largest Joisting tournament in Eastern US – I’m personally surprised there is more than one anywhere! In fact it was taking place the day we left and has taken place annually since 1821. What the park is most famous for is its natural towers made of limestone dating from 500 million years ago, a time when this area was covered with water. They range in height from 65 to 120 feet above ground level.

Early the next morning I took off and ended up at the Harrisonburg farmers market – very nice. I wanted to go to the White Oak lavender farm but was too early so I was pleased that they had a booth at the farmers market.

I really like driving the “blue highways” instead of the interstate but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet to get somewhere fast. I usually don’t mind driving 81 through Virginia though because its one of the prettiest interstates I’ve driven.


Pennsylvania

All was well and driving was easy until I hit Harrisburg, PA. It didn’t matter if you went straight through town, like my friends did, or took the bypass, like I did, there was at least a hour that we lost with the traffic backup. So I was glad to get off that road for a bit by going to the Hope Hill Lavender farm just outside of Pottsville, since I missed the other one. The view from their mountain top shop was beautiful.

Next stop Lackawanna State Park. Before going there I made a stop in Scranton, there is some beautiful architecture there. And Steam Town! I didn’t stop this time but have in the past. When I was in my twenties I did a lot of railroad drawings and drawing of railroad depots. Some are even in the Western History Collection of the Denver Public Library. Michael and I rode many of the tourist trains across the country and I ride the train whenever I get a chance.

The Lackawanna State Park is lovely but it was a quick overnight stop so we did not take advantage of all that is there.

Then it wasn’t a long drive to Watkins Glen. Route 6 was touted as an artisan trail but I didn’t see much in the way of art but the scenery, the further west you got, was beautiful.


I spotted Trowbridge (the last name I was born with) on the map and had to go see. I thought it was probably a wide spot in the road, and I was right. There was only one house. A lady was mowing her lawn so I stopped to talk to her, she lived in that house and told me Trowbridge was a stop on the railroad, and later the house was an Inn and the trolley ran out there from Elmira. The only indication the area was called Trowbridge was the street sign. Further north and east I saw a town called Conklin (my mom’s side) but didn’t have time to go there.

In Elmira I stopped to see the Carousel. It was built by Looff and not as detailed as the Philadelphia Tobaggon Company ones I’ve drawn, still it is nice to see it preserved and running. The park it’s in is quite lovely with a beach with dragon boats, different rides and a mini golf course. Elmira is where Mark Twain is buried and he spent twenty summers there at his wife’s sisters house. It was in Elmira that Twain wrote portions of some of his most famous books, including “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” 




A quick stop in Montour Falls led me to meet the wife of Magnus Agustsson, a sculptor, and tour their house/gallery. Born in Iceland, Magnus immigrated to the US in the 1950s and became a prominent Pediatric cardiologist and surgeon before becoming a renowned sculptor. His wife is responsible for the beautiful gardens on the grounds. The gallery is the house his wife lives in and every room is full his sculpture. While walking through the house/gallery, (which was packed) I thought to myself, is that going to be me someday??

It was a little shocking to see this waterfall so close behind this house!

New York – Watkins Glen through Ithica

At Watkins Glen we stayed right in town at Clute Park and Campground- there are absolutely no trees in this park and you are park side by side but it was quiet and you were just across the street from Seneca Lake.



We got up early and hiked DOWN the gorge at Watkins Glen State Park. So glad we read that you
could do that because I would not have hiked up the 832 stair steps. You can take the shuttle for $5 and they drop you at the top. The park has a nice swimming pool too.



We went to Corning just to check to see how the downtown was doing and stop in a couple galleries. One I wanted to go into is now permanently closed, I hate seeing that but there were other nice shops like The West End Gallery, Vitrix Glass Studio, Conners Mercantile, and others. Of course if you haven’t been you need to visit the Corning Museum of Glass.

While walking across the street I spotted this metal train sculpture.

Corning Centennial Sculpture

It is part of a historical memorial dedicated to the Corning Centennial.

And you can’t go to the Finger Lakes without going to at least one winery, there are over 100 in the region. The one we chose had outdoor seating with a beautiful view of the Lake.



We headed out and I took a detour to Ithaca. I had been there before and what I remembered most about it was how steep many of the streets are. This visit confirmed my memory! My brake light even came on for a while, I guess they got a little warm, but fortunately it went out again. 

The Botanic Garden at Cornell University is a gem. They have every plant identified so I got a lot of ideas for my new garden.



The Downtown is thriving and there were three American Craft Galleries within 2 blocks, and a Papperie! Two of the galleries are American Crafts by Robbie Dein, Handwork, and there are many more painting galleries I did not make it to.

The other reason for going Downtown was to see the Carl Sagan’s  Planet Walk.    I’ve always been fascinated and dumbstruck reading about our Solar System and the Universe. This walk is a 1 to 5 billion scale model of our Solar System and it really drives home just how big it is. The Moon and Earth were just a few feet from the sun, but Pluto was 3/4 of a mile away! I drove to it instead of walking, glad I went since Pluto is at the Science Museum. I didn’t take time to visit the museum but will next time. Carl Sagan was Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University in Ithaca and this Planet Walk is in his honor.

The bonus of going to the Sciencenter was seeing this mosaic mural. A few years ago I went to Philadelphia to a workshop and helped Isaiah Zagar work on one at St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, this is much the same style with lots of mirrors. Maybe I can find a place at Rhem to do one, I didn’t think I could get away with one on East Front. 

On my way north I saw a sign for Bellows Falls. I remembered that the Erie Canal passes through there so took a detour. What I didn’t remember was the Women’s Rights Museum.

I took a quick break at Auburn to see Harriet Tubmans Home. She was illiterate, but help scores of slaves escape bondage and went on to become a Civil War nurse, a Union spy, the first woman to lead American military forces in combat and a renowned suffragette.





I drove through Skaneateles wishing I had time to stop but instead headed north to Lysander where my great great great grandfather died in 1837. We cannot find where he was buried but his wife and 12 kids headed west to Ohio afterwards. There is a cemetery in the town but I didn’t have time to walk through to look for a grave. I will have to say Lysander is a beat up little town but Sara Smith Schenck thought enough of it to make this cement planter, the only thing indicating that you are in the town of Lysander.

Now I REALLY had to hurry to get to Wellesley Island State Park. It’s a huge park and well done! And just a short distance to the Canadian border.

The park has a nature center, a marina, a beach, a store, and golf course plus 432 campsites that were very spacious. Wellesley Island is one of the Thousand Islands in this part of the Saint Lawrence River. There are actually 1800 islands, and I was told that to be considered an island, a piece of land must stay above water throughout the year and support a living tree. I have passed in the vicinity of the Thousand Islands both on the Canada side and the US side before but never had time to stop. I’ve read about the Boldt Castle for years and was thrilled to finally have a chance to take the boat ride and to visit it.

From afar it’s pretty impressive but you can’t tell how well it is maintained until you get off the boat. The Castle, boathouse, and island all belong to the The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority. Construction began on Boldt Castle in 1900 for millionaire hotel magnate George C. Boldt as a tribute to his wife. Boldt Castle was designed as their summer dream home. The castle rivals those I’ve seen in Europe. the TIBA is painstaking restoring it, It’s probably half done. And the grounds are exquisite. If we would have read about the boat house we would have taken the boat to see it too, but didn’t realize how impressive that looks from the Castle! Before the TiBA acquired the Castle it had sat vacant and unfinished for 70 years. It’s well worth a visit, and the boat ride was fun too, seeing the other grand, and not so grand homes on the other islands.




Back to Wellesley Island, one of the two towns on the island is Fineview. And in Fineview is Thousand Island Park, founded in 1875 as a Methodist Campground, TI Park thrived as a family retreat with a Chautauqua atmosphere of religious, cultural and recreational activities. It is also full of beautiful gingerbread houses! We ate dinner at the Hotel sitting on the huge wrap around porch.


I took a quick trip to Clayton, just down the road. It has lovely shops, is right on the River, and is the home of the Antique Boat Museum and The Thousand Island Museum. What I enjoyed the most was sitting on the river eating lunch and watching the boats go by.


Then it was time to head to Old Forge, but I wasn’t through with the Thousand Islands area yet. On my way out off the island out of the corner of my eye I caught what looked like giant crows in a field. I was going too fast to stop so had to go to the next exit, 6 miles away, and come back to check them out. Yes indeed they WERE giant crows. They are by Sculptor Will Salisbury. I couldn’t find a measurement of them but I’m guessing they are 10-12 feet tall. Pretty cool.

The stop in Old Forge was very interesting. The camp we stayed at, Bald Mountain Colony, is on the grounds of what once one of the resorts you read about that the Adarondiaks were famous for. One of the earliest camps in the area The Bald Mountain House was on Third Lake in the Fulton Chain of Lakes, and there are 8 lakes in the chain. The Bald Mountain House was an early Adirondack resort hotel built in 1893 near Old Forge, by Charles M. Barrett. Designed to accommodate 140 people, the hotel offered luxurious amenities, daily activities, and relaxing mountain air to guests who often stayed for the entire summer season.

Everyone ate at the main building and there was a casino, horses, boating and all other types of sports to be played croquet, tennis, there was a dance hall, a soda fountain, and a bowling alley . The house was finally demolished in the 1960s when the “tent and trailer blue jeaned crowds” arrived. Now the property holds trailers and has 3 sites for transients like us. 


While there we visited The Adirondack Experience, which used to be called the Adirondack Museum. The new name is more apt I suppose because it consists of 20+ buildings. Much like our history center there are interactive things you can do like paddle a canoe, break up a log jam, climb a fire tower and so on.


The View Center for Arts and Culture is in a beautiful building in Old Forge and they were hosting the 40th Annual Adirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolors. The show was pretty impressive.

And lastly we visited Old Camp Sagamore. It was also built by William Durant and was later owned by Alfred Vanderbilt and now belongs to Syracuse University. Like where we were staying at the Colony, you could stay in the main lodge or in rather nice cabins on the property. In fact you can still do that.


I made a quick stop in Saratoga Springs, remembering how neat the downtown was, and still is.


Next stop Arlington, Vermont!

This was a month long trip so it is taking 2 blog posts to cover it.

Part 2 coming soon.

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Road Trip Colorado and Utah

I’ve been making a trip to Colorado every year for the past 4 years. Michael and I lived there in the 80s and I really miss parts of it. It’s so beautiful but like Michigan, where I am originally from, I don’t want to be there in the winter. I visit my friend who was a woodworker and also owned a gallery for 40 + years.

This years trip took us to Glenwood, Aspen, Grand Junction, Moab, Telluride, Crested Butte, Denver, and Boulder.

On the way west I saw this sign during a pitstop in Frisco. It’s really become a neat little town.

VAIL

And we made a quick stop in Vail at the Betty Ford Alpine Garden. It was founded in 1985. And always have to stop at Piece Art Gallery, used to be Pismo when I knew the owner, a beautiful glass gallery. We carried some of the same artists but the main reason I stop there is to see the work of Stephanie Trenchard. She does this amazing cast glass sculpture. Here is an example. I met her years ago at an ACC show in Baltimore. She had this piece that was 6 feet tall of a lady. I’ve never forgotten it. At the time I could not afford it. There have been a few pieces of art I wish I would have gotten through the years and that piece is probably #1.

This is a crevice garden, I’ve been taking photos of these whereever I’ve seen them, like Botanical Gardens in Montreal, the Bronx, Plants Delight and Denver and plan to make one at my new house. I love the way the rocks are on their edge. It’s what we always called a rock garden but the difference is the rocks on edge I guess.
Columbine, the state flower of Colorado

Glenwood Springs

We always start our trips with a soak in the hot springs in Glenwood Springs, it’s probably the part I miss most about our time living there. It was especially neat to go in the winter with snow all around and steam rising off the pool. There used to just be the old springs but in 2015 they opened Iron Mountain Hot Springs. This year we just went to IRON Mountain because it was really hot out and they have shade. They also have 16 small pools, each with a slightly different temperature, and one larger cool pool. AND they have a bar although I can’t imagine driving home after soaking in hot water, in the sun, for a couple hours, and drinking on top of it. We did not partake!

We stayed at Four Mile Creek B and B owned by a jeweler, and a musician. They both owned a gallery with the friend I was traveling with, A Show of Hands in Cherry Creek – Denver. The rooms are full of art, as is the yard, and the food is really good.


Aspen


An afternoon drive up Hwy 82 gave me my Aspen fix, I love that town and enjoyed the 6 years we lived there. A lot was still shut down from Covid but we walked around and enjoyed the beautiful city. I always love seeing the Maroon Bells, just look to the right as you begin to enter town.

Hotel Jerome

But before we got to Hwy 82 we took the back road to Carbondale – thats Mount Sopris ahead, we could see it out our window from Aspen, from the other side of it obviously.



Carbondale

On the way to Aspen we stopped in Carbondale at True Nature Healing Arts. They have an amazing garden, restaurant, and labyrinth. Did you know there is a website that shows the location of labyrinths around the world? They list 6150 worldwide and 166 in North Carolina, including the one Martin made on Guion Street here in New Bern.




We then headed off towards Utah, stopping in a gallery in downtown Grand Junction. It’s been about 35 years since I’ve been there and they have done a lot with their downtown. It’s full of sculpture and thriving businesses. My favorite part is they took their very wide Main street and made part of it into a park on each block, traffic still goes two directions and there is parking but also now trees, shade, benches, etc.

Cisco


On the way to Moab we took US 6 off of I-70 to visit the wide spot in the road, the town of Cisco. It’s a very funky tiny village but seems to have become a tourist attraction, the official population is 4. It was a railroad town but in Eileen Muza started an artist residency. There can’t be more than a dozen buildings and most might best be described as shacks.



From there we passed Fishers Towers, this is where you first get a glimpse of what eventually becomes the Grand Canyon.

This is an amazing area of some of the tallest freestanding towers in North America.

Just before you get to the towers you cross the Colorado River. Up until 2008 there was this neat bridge over the Colorado River called Dewey Bridge.

It was destroyed during a brush fire so just its skeleton is left.

Remains of Dewey Bridge



I generally don’t like bridges but for some reason I liked this one. It was a suspension bridge, one way, and the decking was wood planks that bounced up and down as you drove over them, so disappointing that others don’t get to experience it.


Moab

Moab was next, I usually go west in the fall but this year I went in June, It was 109 degrees the three days we were there! I LOVE Arches National Park but we didn’t hike too much because of the heat but were able to see most of the major arches and just seeing the canyon walls is breathtaking.



The next day we got up at 5 am to drive into Canyonlands National Park, the road to it is almost across the street from Arches. We got up early to see the sunrise at Mesa Arch. It was a fairly short hike from the parking lot, we weren’t the only crazy people to be there that early, there were probably 40 other people there too. A lot has changed in this park since we were there last, the roads were all dirt and the signage was limited, I don’t think there was a visitors center either.



On that trip we were in our 1969 VW bus and were tooling along when three big horn sheep ran in front of our vehicle, they might have been going 10 miles an hour! In unison they came to a screeching halt and turned to look at us.

This year there were some fires so everything was a little hazy. We didn’t actually see a fire or where the smoke was coming from until we headed south out of town. Don’t know what people do that live where there are fires and have respiratory issues, three days was enough for me to be coughing and having a runny nose.

In this photo you can see the plume of smoke.


Telluride

Telluride was our next stop, visiting all the galleries and shops. The beautiful waterfall is Bridal Veil Falls, a 365-foot waterfall at the end of the box canyon overlooking the city. Hiking and off-road trails pass by the falls and it has a hydroelectric power plant at its top. In winter people actually climb up the frozen waterfall. I say NO WAY.

Ophir, Ouray, and Montrose


North of town we drove part way over Ophir pass, as far as the little mining town of Ophir which has a population of 193. The towns elevation is 9700 feet. I was impressed with the flowers on the utility poles in town and I’m sorry I didn’t get a photo of them or the lemonade stand we stopped at. I said to the girls that they probably didn’t get much traffic (dirt road, over a high mountain pass, 11789 feet), but they said they did pretty well! We did drive all the way over the pass years ago when we had an old Land Rover.



We stayed in Montrose, visiting their botanical gardens, THEY have a crevice garden too!. Montrose isn’t all that pretty but it is the shopping hub for the whole area.

\


Ouray is another mining town north of Montrose and over the mountain from Telluride. It also has a hot springs. We were going to soak in it but it was too hot, and there is no shade. So we just gazed at it longingly. Lots of nice shops, lots of restaurants and some galleries, all packed with people.


I remember doing a drawing of this Hotel years ago
.


A Trip over Red Mountain Pass was hair raising with logging trucks, no guard rails, and steep dropoffs. You pass Yankee Girl mine and a host of others. There are no guard rails because the road is open all winter, the road is narrow, and the snow plows have to push the snow off the edge.

There is a parking lot across from the Yankee Girl that has signboards talking about the history of the mines and the railroads.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Leaving Montrose it’s just a short drive to the south rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. It’s interesting because there is a lot of red rock around but the cliffs in this canyon are black, or at least appear black due to the fact that it is narrow and is in shadow most of the time. This canyon is one of the best exposures of ancient (nearly 2 billion years old) Precambrian-aged rocks in the world.



A quick stop at a coffee shop in Gunnison, the Tributary, kept us going – then we went up the Gunnison Valley to Crested Butte.

Hmmmm

Crested Butte

I used to do an art show in Crested Butte every year. One year I drove the VW bus over Cottonwood Pass, it’s remote and the summit is 12126 feet, only to lose my clutch half way over it. I managed to make it to Crested Butte and some guys helped me find someone to fix it while I did the art show. These were the days before cell phones. Thinking back I had some very interesting experiences roaming the mountains by myself. I could have gotten out of the jams easier if I would have had a cell phone. Of course who knows if I would have had service. I could do a whole blog post about those experiences! Losing the fuel pump in the middle of an intersection in St George after being in the desert alone miles from humanity; blowing a piston through the top of the engine between Grand Junction and Glenwood where there is NOTHING for miles and miles and hitching a ride with a guy with a gun laying on the backseat; helping people get unstuck on Independence Pass at the narrowest section and being the last person to make it down before they closed it for the winter ; then losing the clutch, yikes!

Crested Butte seemed a little more touristy than it used to be but it was still nice to be there. We ate in a great Thai restaurant, Ryce Asian Bistro, visited all the galleries, and stayed at Elevation Hotel and Spa where we swam in the pool and soaked in the outdoor hot tub.

Front Range

Back on the Front Range we went to the Farmers Market in Boulder, visited downtown Louisville, and looked at murals in Denver.

The mural program in Denver is called Crush Walls, it’s been going for a dozen years. Each year they paint over some of the murals. Last year 80 murals were painted. I don’t know how they decide which ones to keep. These are some of my favorites.

Our last treat was to visit the Denver Botanical Gardens. It’s a beauty.



Then I zoomed home to finish cleaning out East Front Street house, work on new house, and get ready for my next RV trip to the northeast in late summer. And get some artwork done – the Artists Studio Tour is coming up the first Saturday of November – my new place will be one of the stops and then I’ll be the featured artist for November at Carolina Creations.

Stay tuned and stay safe!

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Road Trip Southern Italy Part 2 Lecce to Ostuni

Lecce is in the heel of Italy’s boot, with olive trees as far as the eye can see. It is called the Florence of the South because of its baroque architecture. As we found in Bari the shops close from 1-3 for siesta! I don’t remember them doing this in other parts of Italy I have visited. And it might just be in the old part of town that this happens.

While the history of Lecce goes way back the period Lecce is most famous for is the 17th century when the Palaces and churches were built in the Baroque style out of soft local limestone. The Basilica di Santa Croce is the focal point of the old city with its amazing facade. But there are many other fabulously decorated churches in this small space.


You can still see ruins of a Roman amphitheatre which is at the dividing line of the old and new city. The amphitheatre is surrounded by buildings put up by Batista – Fascist architecture – which we saw a lot of in Napoli. It is partly buried because other ancient building were built on top of it. In its day it would hold 20,000. It is still used today for concerts and celebrations. Only the lower tier of seats remain. Near the square theatre there is a pre-Roman necropolis where Messapian inscriptions have been found.

There are a lot of beautiful shops with local art. I don’t recall seeing the pumi before. Pumi are decorative elements in a form recalling a bud that is going to bloom. Symbolizing prosperity and fertility, in the folk culture of the Southern Italy they defend from evil. Deeply rooted in the traditional culture of the ‘heel of the boot’, Pumi are very popular in Puglia, decorating magnificent palaces as well as simple balconies. I could do without the fertility but had to have one to take home.

We had a great time shopping in Lecce, both Bobbi and I met artists and purchased there work. We saw a lot of earthenware sculpture with a white glaze – love it.

This region is also famous for its papier mâché.

Scenes from Lecce.

We went to Otranto for a quick visit, and had a wonderful farm to table meal and wine tasting close by.

We left Lecce the next day and drove to Ostuni – the White City on the top of a hill. Ostuni is located in a region that has been inhabited since the stone age. It is believed to have to been founded by the Messapii, destroyed by the armies of Hannibal during the Punic Wars and then re-built by the Greeks – hence the Ostuni name meaning “new town.”

Its whitewashed defensive walls and houses in the old town with many winding streets, steps and beautifully decorated, colorful window frames can make you think you’re somewhere in Greece. Ostuni’s history is shown predominately within it’s architecture; with many buildings still standing dating back as far as 990 AD when the city was sacked by the Normans and added to it’s own county. The majority of buildings date from 1300 to 1463.

Our guides recipe for limoncello
Translation 1 litre grain alcohol 96 proof
8 organic lemons
1 1/2 pounds sugar
1 litre water
Peel the lemons (use none of the white)
soak the peels in the alcohol for 2 weeks in a dry dark place
strain through a fine linen cloth
make a syrup with the sugar and 1 litre water
———-
for Christmas he adds a cinnamon stick and 16 cloves
strains again
and salute!
It must be drunk very cold – put it in the freezer and drink it from there.
Our lunch spot in Ostuni

As I discovered the last time I was in Italy the further south I got the more I liked the food and the fewer people there were – well once you get away from Napoli.

Next post Road Trip Italy Part 3

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Road Trip Brussels Gent Luxembourg Maastricht Trier Bastonge then home

Road Trip Brussels – all I can say is WOW. I didn’t know what to expect and never expected Brussels to be so beautiful with so many vibrant neighborhoods. And the most beautiful square I have ever been in. It beats Paris, Rome, Venice, London, NY, Florence – its called La Grand Place. My pictures just don’t do it justice so you can see more at this link from UNESCO – a video. It was truly breathtaking. A lot of the ornamentation is covered in gold so the whole square looks like a jewel.
BRUS2BRUS3BRUS4BRUS5

BRUS1

 

In a walkway just off La Grand Place is the 1902 statue of local hero Everard ‘tSerclaes. Rubbing the statute is said to bring you a year of good luck (hope it works even though this is a reproduction of the original) and a guarantee you will return to Brussels. Everard was Lord of Kruikenburg and was killed during the fifteenth century when he was defending Brussels.

bruslagrand3

Brussels is a city of great contrasts. It is the headquarters of the European Union with a section of the city devoted to that with high rises and lots of new buildings. It makes you wonder what was taken down to build the new.

beu

The population of the city is over a million with 2 million in the metropolitan area, and there are traces of civilization that go back to the stone age, the Romans were here and the original settlement that was to become Brussels was begun around 580 AD.

You see buildings that span the centuries with a building from 1600 next to one built in 2018 and any of them might have a comic strip mural painted on their side.

There are many, many parks and lots of green spaces, refreshing compared to many large cities. My favorite park was The Petit Sablon Square, just a few blocks from our hotel.  The park is surrounded by statues depicting medieval professions.

There is a lot of public art including…

You can’t talk about Brussels without the Manneken Pis being brought up. The statute was designed by Hiëronymus Duquesnoy the Elder  and put in place around 1618. It was replaced by the current statute in 1965. They make a big deal out of him, he has hundreds of costumes (like 1000 or so!) and his clothes are changed several times a week and a ceremony is held each time – go figure.

Belgium has more comic strip artists per capita than any other country. There are at least 50 murals and many statutes devoted to the art all over the city. Some of the popular strips born here are TinTin, the Smurfs, and Lucky Luke to name a few. To see more and read more about them follow this link.

One of the things we saw throughout Belgium was the Espalier and Pollarded trees.
I’ve talked about Espalier before but Pollarded is a new word for me.

A tree that has been pollarded (pruned) means the upper branches are trimmed to control the height of the tree. Because we were there early spring the new growth had barely started. After years of being trimmed back the tree develops these “knots”. They say this way of trimming actually extends the life of the tree.

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If I knew it, I had forgotten it (sorry Father VanHorn),  that Brussels is the world capital of Art Nouveau. There are over 300 Art Nouveau buildings there and probably hundreds if not thousands of buildings with Art Nouveau tiles on their facades. Victor Horta is the most well known, and his home is open to tour.

 

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A couple fun shots followed by signs…

 

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There were two walls built around ancient Brussels, the Halle Gate is the last remnant of the second walls of Brussels. The first wall was built in the 13th century, the 2nd in the 14th century. The Aneessens Tower is a remnant of the first wall.

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At the cities edge is the Atomium. It has nine steel spheres that form the shape of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. It was built for Expo ’58, the 1958 World’s Fair. Five of the nine spheres, including the very top sphere are open to the public. The spheres house an exhibit of dedicated to Expo ’58, a restaurant, and a snack bar. It is GIANT!! 334 feet tall.

Reminecant of Paris’s Arc de Triomphe Brussels’ Triumphal Arc was built for the 50th Anniversary of the founding of Belgium.
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And yes, that is a giant carton of fries on the right. Everywhere in Belgium promotes their fries, but don’t ever say French fries!

There are a lot of beautiful churches and monumental buildings in the city.

After Brussels we visited Ghent, or Gent, which has a beautiful medieval city center, Trier the oldest city in Germany, Bastogne to see a WWII museum and a quick fly by of Antwerp.

Road trip Luxembourg Maastricht Trier – On our way to Luxembourg we stopped at the town of Maastricht. It’s the shopping mecca for miles around, designer clothes and lots of other high end shops.
The one I was interested in was the bookstore. Probably the most beautiful bookstore in the world in an old cathedral.

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Maastricht became well-known through the Maastricht Treaty and as the birthplace of the euro.     Maastricht has 1677 national heritage buildings . It was part of the Roman Empire, they don’t know when the Romans arrived but it is known they built a bridge over the river here in the 1st century AD.We went on to Luxembourg, and stayed in Luxembourg City.

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Luxembourg City

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I was embarrassed to learn how much I did not know about the role of this city in the history of the world. There have been inhabitants here for 35,000 years, since the Stone Age!  Today there are many offices of the EU here.

Outside of Luxembourg is the Luxembourg American Cemetery where more than 5000 American soldiers are buried along side General George Patton. The Battle of the Bulge took place here and over 90,000 allied troops lost their lives but won the war.
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It was very sobering.

We then travelled to the oldest city in Germany, Trier. It was inhabited by the Celts in the 4th century BC and the Romans conquered in the 1st century BC. It is home to some major Roman ruins.

The Gate The Porta Nigra, remains from the Romans as does the Basilica which was part of a large castle built by Emperor Constantine.
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In another part of town there are remains of the largest Roman Bath outside of Rome.

Other spots around town.

The next day we started making our way toward Brussels. On the road to Bastogne we saw these markers every kilometer. Liberty Road marks the route the 3rd US Army of General Patton and the French 2nd DB (armored division) followed in 1944 during the Operation Cobra.
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We stopped at Bastogne and visited the Bastogne War Museum. It was an amazing and sobering experience. I’d like to know if our government officials who have never gone to war no less served in the military, have visited some of these museums to be reminded of the devastation, and yes what happens if you don’t fight when necessary.
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The museum was very well done and the 3 theaters were actually movie sets that you were sitting in.
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The Belgium countryside was beautiful and every once in a while you’d see a castle or large chateau.
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Gent or Ghent is another city with a beautiful medieval city center.

Some people say Ghent is the place to go rather than Bruges. But I fell in love with Bruges, it seemed more intimate to me, yes there are probably more tourists there but I loved it!!

These disks measured about 4 inches across and there were dozens of them in the street, don’t know why but there they were.

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Everywhere you turn in Belgium they are selling chocolates, beer, fries, and waffles!

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A few signs…

Odds and ends around town.

 Met and amazing sculptor working in bronze,  Jurga.

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Whew! What an amazing trip. Had to end it with a nice glass of Kriek.
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Next Road Trip England, London and the Cotswolds to visit gardens!

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Road Trip – Havana

My sister and I just got back from a cruise, the highlight was Havana. It was overcast while we were there so my photos aren’t as bright as I would like them to be.

We learned a lot about the country, the people were very friendly and caring.  And like us, they don’t always agree with the priorities of their government.

I would have liked to get outside of the city – next time.

The American cars were great! Most of them are used as taxis, there are other cars and newer cars they just aren’t American cars, a lot of the newer cars are Russian.

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cuba15We heard that the economic situation for the people is somewhat better since Americans have been going – one reason is that Americans tip while Europeans generally don’t, and the people we encountered all spoke English, and it was very obvious that most of the population is poor. They do have a good education system (98 percent literacy rate) and healthcare. We were shocked to hear that their infant mortality is lower than in the US.

The city must have been stunning before the revolution, now a lot of it is in ruins, the government is slowly renovating buildings, the government buildings first, then the historic buildings, then last the family homes, and very few of them have been done and  the citizenry just doesn’t have the money to do it themselves.

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The guide said people own their homes, they have been passed down generation to generation, and usually 3 or 4 generations are living together, and generally a working person might make 20-30 dollars US a month.

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Part of Havana is a UNESCO site and receives help to restore buildings. There is a section of Old Havana that has been restored. The section contains churches and historical sites.

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I saw this factory that was open to the street.

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Under Raul Castro people are able to own certain businesses, the taxes paid to the government on their earnings are high (we heard many times – the government always wins) like here. So for some people things have improved.

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The building in the background was built to resemble our capital, once renovations are completed it will once again hold Cubas general assembly.

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Next trip, Florida Panhandle and Key West!