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Category: World in Pictures

Christmas markets in Vienna

What is so special about Christmas markets, one would reasonably ask, that an otherwise rational man would travel across six time zones and brave freezing weather for a whole week just to see them. Don’t they mean crowds and trinkets, for which aforementioned rational man has no particular affection? Don’t…

A quick tour of San Francisco

We tacked a few hours of San Francisco sightseeing at the beginning of our recent trip to the California wine country. That time is hardly sufficient to explore anything in depth, but as this was not our first visit to the city – just a first one in many years…

Around Sonoma Valley wineries

In addition to spending time in Napa, we also explored its less glamorous neighbor Sonoma. There are decidedly fewer people, lower wine-tasting expenses (including a couple of places that offer complimentary tastings), but also more muted scenery. The latter was not aided by the fact that the weather turned drab…

Around Napa Valley wineries

The law of diminishing returns kicks in pretty quickly when you hop from one wine tasting to another and, like me, never use the spitoon unless you actively dislike the wine that you are tasting. After a couple of flights, distinguishing characteristics of any given wine become nearly impossible to…

Balloons over Napa Valley

For a variety of reasons, taking a ride in a hot-air balloon never featured in our past travels. I can make many excuses for that, but the fact remains that we were missing out on something pretty breathtaking. And we were aware of that gap on our traveling resume, by…

A few more from Barcelona

We gave ourselves less than 24 hours at the conclusion of our recent Costa Brava vacation to immerse in the vibrancy of Barcelona. That amount of time is grossly insufficient, but thankfully we have been to Barcelona before and could pick just a couple of specific targets to make even…

A morning with Gaudí

Once a trip – hardly ever more than that – I decide to get up early enough to photograph famous vistas in the serenity of dawn. A single night in Barcelona at the conclusion of our recent Costa Brava vacation gave me an opportunity to improve my portfolio of Gaudí…

Girona

I have been to Catalonia and Costa Brava many times in the last dozen years but never visited Girona until this year. I have to admit I was underestimating it as a destination to my own loss. It is incredibly colorful and agreeable to walk around. And visual perspectives such…

Chasing World Heritage: #97 (Carcassonne)

Chasing World Heritage: #96 (Carcassonne)

French town of Carcassonne, a little bit over an hour from the Spanish Catalan border, is fairly laconically recognized on the World Heritage list as an excellent example of a medieval fortified town. It truly is very impressive in this aspect and we took a day on our recent stay…

Palamós

The town of Palamós is home to the only remaining commercial harbour in the Catalan province of Girona. The fishing boats come back in with their catch between 4 and 5pm, in time for the fish auction ahead of the influx of hungry diners looking for fresh seafood. If you…

Castell Gala-Dalí, Pubol

Salvador Dalí was born in Catalonia and the province boasts three major attractions that celebrate the painter’s life and art. The most famous of them is Dalí Theater and Museum in Figueres – day-trippers from Barcelona make it a very popular and slightly overcrowded destination. We visited it once in…

Besalú

Besalú announced itself as a contender for the title of the most attractive little town the moment I caught the sight of it from across river Fluvià. It definitively has one of the most impressive approaches, highlighted by its famous bridge that dates from 12th century. My photographic skills do…

Chasing World Heritage: #96 (Madriu-Perafita-Claror)

Chasing World Heritage: #95 (Madriu-Perafita-Claror)

There are properties on the World Heritage list that have words “cultural landscape” in their name. These sites are relatively large areas whose history and development was directly influenced by the features of the landscape. The Andorran valley of Madriu-Perafita-Claror is one such site, offering an insight into how people…

The Cloisters, New York City

It pains me to admit that until just a few years ago I was not even aware of the existence of Met Cloisters. Its comparatively remote location near the northern tip of Manhattan island played a role in my never being able to set aside time for a visit. Only…

Andorra La Vella

Counting the places I have visited is probably my only concession to any appearance of being vain. I have a couple of counts going. One, well documented in this blog, is my opportunistic chase after World Heritage sites. The other is the count of different countries that I set foot…

Chasing World Heritage: #95 (Poblet Monastery)

Chasing World Heritage: #94 (Poblet Monastery)

My well-known affinity for sacred architecture did not translate into significant appreciation of Poblet Monastery. The World Heritage inscription mentions majestic architecture on more than one occasion and uses the word “important” with a variety of emphatic modifiers to describe its place in the history of Catalonia. I saw an…

Chasing World Heritage: #94 (Tarragona)

Chasing World Heritage: #93 (Tarragona)

An attractive city to the south-west of Barcelona, Tarragona’s claim to UNESCO recognition revolves around its Roman past, as evidenced by a significant number of architectural remains. The long history of the city means that the medieval, Renaissance, and modern architecture in the center coexist with remnants of Roman glory.  Here is…

Monells

I have to give unqualified credit to my friend Arthur. He has made Costa Brava his summer home for twenty years. The law of diminishing returns suggests that he should find it harder and harder to come across something not seen before. But in fact, he continues to discover fascinating…