Assisi, Italy

Day 42, Monday, October 16, 2017

On our way to Venice we stop in Assisi, to visit the Basilica di San Francesco, which is the burial site of St. Francis of Assisi. Construction of the basilica began in 1228, two years after the saint’s death.  We only have two hours here as we still have a long drive to Venice, and it is definitely not enough time. We walk through this enormous gate into the town…and emerge here. We do not have time to explore the town, so we turn around and head up the street to the Basilica.We are rather surprised to see armed guards checking everyone’s bags.The basilica is very impressive.Here is the main entrance.I must say I had a difficult time as there are no pictures allowed inside! This is one of the most impressive churches we have ever seen. We are surprised to discover that there are actually two churches in this building, one above the other. The walls and ceilings are covered with painted murals by renowned artists of the day, including Giotto, Simone Martini and Cimabue. It is incredible and I so wanted to take my own photographs. I was a bit disappointed in the selection of postcards and other material that depicting the interior of the church. I guess nothing seems quite as good as taking my own photos. These interior views are photos of postcards. Here is the Upper Church with its beautiful rose window.and this is the Lower Church. I could have stayed here for hours, there was so much to see.The altar area of the Lower Church is incredible.Downstairs is the crypt which contains the tomb of St. Francis.
The cloisters is outside so I get to take photos…and here are some of the Upper Church and the big flights of stairs that lead up to it.All too soon we have to leave as we still have a five hour drive to Mestre, which is just outside Venice. I take one last photo of Assisi and the basilica on the hill from the car window.Here is a different postcard view.I love the drive to Venice, the countryside is so beautiful. I told Bob I feel like I have come home. Perhaps I was an Italian in another lifetime?One thing neither of us expected was the smog and pollution.  It has been hazy but I wanted to believe it was just the hazy weather. It wasn’t! I check on the internet and discover that Italy is the most polluted European country! Northern Italy is the worst so we can only hope the situation improves as we head south.  We can barely make out the hills in the distance.

Day 43, Tuesday October 17, 2017

We spent a much needed quiet day organizing our nice new bnb, getting groceries and planning what we want to see and do in Venice.

Cavtat, Croatia

Day 39, Friday October 13, 2017

We spend the day at a little coastal town named Cavtat, which is about a 35 minute bus ride from our apartment. Here is Main Street Cavtat…which is the birthplace and home of one of Croatia’s most famous artists Vlaho Bukovac, (1855-1922). As a young artist he painted the walls of his parent’s home.Here is the view from a room at the front of the house.His studio was on the fourth floor, with huge north facing windows. It is a beautiful atelier…with a ‘modern’ bathroom!I really like his paintings and studies. Next we climb high above the town to the Račić Family Mausoleum. This family mausoleum now serves as a chapel for the town cemetery. The father, son, and daughter all died from the Spanish flu just a day before the son was to be married.  Račić’s widow ordered the mausoleum built and then she died from grief a year after her family’s deaths. The interior is amazing, the inside of the dome is decorated with 136 heads of angels.A view of the town from our walk down from the mausoleum.          Back in town we have ice cream and sit for a while along the water while I sketch the view below. You can just make out the mausoleum on the skyline.

This photo is Dubrovnik way off in the distance.

All too soon the sun starts to set and we catch our bus home.

Quiet Day in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Day 34, Sunday October 8

Today was a quiet but rather frustrating day. We went out to get groceries and pick up two Dubrovnik Cards that give entrance to most of the sites that we want to see. We couldn’t find the tourist office that we were looking for and the grocery store closed early because it was Independence Day. We went to another grocery store but there was no parking anywhere, so we tried a third one.  Google maps said it was there but do you think we can find it? We decide to go to a smaller grocery store nearby. It is closed too, but we finally see the store we were looking for.

Oh yes, and I spilled my whole mug of tea in the car all over my purse and then a small dish broke in my hand when I was using it! That was enough for me.  I stayed home the rest of the day while Bob went for a walk into town and picked up the Dubrovnik cards.

Here are a few more pages from my travel journal.



Split, Croatia

Day 29, Tuesday October 3, 2017

I wanted to post my journal pages in order but I am a bit behind so I am just going to post them as they are finished. Fountain pens, watercolours and pencil crayons aren’t my usual media and I don’t usually draw buildings or landscapes so this is all a bit of a learning curve. I always enjoy working on the pages but sometimes the finished results aren’t what I envisioned. In any case, it will be a nice keepsake of our trip.

We visit Split this afternoon. Although we like to spend our time in the old parts of these Croatian towns and cities the old town is surrounded by the new town.These photos are taken as we entered Split.

There are also the very touristy areas.We make our way into the old town through the Iron Gate…and emerge on the square beside the Cathedral of St. Dominus. This was originally the mausoleum of the Emperor Diocletian in the 3rd Century but it was converted into a Christian church in the 7th Century. It is regarded as the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world that remains in use in its original structure. It is hard to believe this all happened over 2,000 years ago, and now here we are.  There is much to see in every town we have visited, and we are only scratching the surface in the. month we have here.

Our ticket to visit the Church also includes climbing the bell tower, which also has a sign saying that we do so at our own risk.  I wonder about doing this after our last bell tower adventure. This tower is 187 feet tall, 23 feet taller than the one in Trogir but somehow it is not as scary to climb. The stairs and railings feel more substantial, just safer somehow.
Here we are at the top…and here are the views in all four directions.

One more picture of the stairs on the way down, and it is along way down! those are the bells you see in the bottom of this picture, and they are near the top of the tower!

We stop on this landing for another look around…before we reach the very narrow stone steps that take us back to ground level .Yes, we were way up there!

Next stop is the Baptistry of St. John which used to be the Temple of Jupiter. I love the large hands and feet of this sculpture, and the gorgeous ceiling.We also visit the crypt below the church which is dedicated to St. Lucia of Syracuse. She was tortured and killed because she dedicated her life to God although her parents had promised her in marriage. She is the patron Saint of the blind because she was also blinded before she was beheaded. This is part of the old Palace walls.  Notice that there are apartments on the right hand side that are still occupied beside windows that are open to the sky.We leave the old town through the Golden Gate…and find this enormous statue. We are told by a taxi driver that it is good luck to rub his toes, so that is what Bob is doing.I decide I can use a bit of luck too!  Those are very big toes!

Crikvenica, Croatia

Day 24, Thursday, September 28, 2017

About 40 minutes north of Senj is the is the town of Crikvenica, which is one of the most popular tourist resorts in this area. It has a long pebble beach and we finally feel like we are at an ocean beach. It is a beautiful sunny day and 25 above.There aren’t a lot of people on the beach but we do see quite a few people in the water, which I think is still a bit cool. We walk south along the beach to the Kaštel Hotel which used to be a monastery in the 14th Century. It is pretty quiet down this end of the beach so we walk in the other direction…

looking for a spot to sit and have lunch. I find this old abandoned hotel, the Miramare, to draw, so we sit here for a while but sitting on a pebble beach isn’t the most comfortable.

We find softer seats and enjoy a drink gazing out at the ocean. 

There seem to be a lot of portrait busts in Croatia and I particularly like the attitude of this one.These begonias and potato vines grow about ten times larger than they do in our back yard!On our way to Senj we drove on this elevated highway but we had no idea we were up so high. Today we parked right underneath it.

I snap these two pictures from the car window on the way home. The late afternoon sun was reflecting on the water and the Bura (wind) was picking the water up off the surface of the ocean in places.Too bad that isn’t visible in these photos.I tried to get a picture of this bell tower on the way to Crikvenica  but was too late and missed it again coming home but I was able to snap this photo in the rear view mirror.

Here are a few more journal pages. I am behind but I have bits and pieces finished between these pages and today’s drawing. It was great to sit and sketch on location today. I have managed that a few times but definitely need to make more time for this during the rest of our holiday.

Rabac, Labin and Senj, Croatia

Day 19, Saturday, September 23, 2017

Today we drive to Senj, about four hours south of Pula.  We wanted an early start so we can visit a couple of towns along the way.  First stop is Rabac, which is a popular seaside resort.Even if we could afford these five star hotels we both think we prefer our little Arbnb’s .We wandered along the beach and found place to sit and then remembered that we had left the cell phone in the car, sitting in plain view, so we cut short our beach visit. I was surprised at how warm the water was. Of course our car is parked way up at the top of the hill overlooking the beach!

Rabac is only 4 km from the town of Labin, pop. 12,000.

We wander the streets of Labin and end up at the Gothic Church of the Blessed Mary’s Birth. I liked the book stand that looks like a little dragon. Closer inspection revealed it was only a bull with wings, but I so liked the idea of it being a dragon.

We decide to climb the bell tower. The entrance fee is only 7 Kuna each, about $1.40, which is so reasonable.  I am surprised at how inexpensive the entrance fees to museums, churches and monuments are in Croatia.  I don’t suppose it will be that way in Italy though.  We climb up 68 very old steps that are almost like ladders to get to the top of the tower. This is the view looking down the opening beside the stairs which has the two ropes for ringing the bells hanging here. It is a long way down!

There are two bells at the top…

and great views. This is looking towards Rabac.

The narrow streets are paved with stone which is rutted from centuries of passing wagon wheels. At the front of this photo you can see that these stones are placed on edge so that they will not shift easily, They are at least ten inches deep which surprised me.

Many of the streets are only wide enough for pedestrians, or perhaps a burro or two?

We have seen lots of cats in Croatia but this is the first kitten and it is so tiny.There are several artists displaying their work along the streets.  I wonder who buys this kind of art?

This stone wall was growing plants and purple flowers, they are some sort of campanula I think. There are hills to climb…and lots and lots of steps…

and then more steps.  

We both like exploring these little towns that are not so ‘touristy’ but soon it is time to make our way to Senj. We decide that we will avoid the toll highways, which we soon discover is a bit of a mistake.  We have about two hours of driving on very hilly winding roads with quite a few hairpin turns.We are both rather relieved when we are back on a major highway. It is much easier driving and certainly a lot faster.  Not all of Croatia is old, we just like the old parts the best.  There are more modern areas around the old parts of towns, with new fancy buildings and quite a few of these generic sort of apartment blocks.  They are not very attractive and many of them look quite neglected and in need of repair. These are some of the nicer ones that we have passed along the highway.
This is our first glimpse of Senj, our home for the next seven days, and yes, of course it has a church on a hill!

Pula, Croatia

Day 15, Tuesday September 19, 2017

Well, it was raining all night and still raining when we got up this morning but it stopped mid morning so we decided to go check out Pula. We found a parking lot and this is what we see when we get out of our car! An incredible Roman Amphitheatre.

But…I turn around and this is what I see…

The sky is very dark but we go check out the Amphitheatre and hope we don’t get wet. We decide to walk around the amphitheatre today and go inside on a drier day when we might not have to leave because of the rain. There are some great views from the outside.

We take a walk around the central part of the old town and we see some more Roman monuments: the Temple of Augustus, The Roman Twin Gates and and the Triumphal Arch. Image 2017-09-19 at 9.06 PMBy now it is raining quite heavily so we make our way back to the car, passing this interesting looking candy shop with huge candies. The banana candies are life size!Of course as soon as we get home the sun tries to peek out, but it doesn’t mange to do so for very long and soon it is raining again.After a late lunch Bob reads and I work on my journal which, of course I am already behind on.

 

 

Our Extra Day In Amsterdam

Day 9, Wednesday, September 13, 2017

All of Holland was on a severe storm alert so that was why our flight was cancelled yesterday. I decided I was staying home today and catching up on my journal.  I love to journal when we travel but with blogging and journalling I sometimes get a bit behind. My blog has been giving me a bit of grief, some of the settings have changed, either I did it unknowingly or the site has been updated. Not sure which, but it is a nuisance, and it has been taking me much longer than it should to do each post.  I think I have sorted it out, but then a new challenge arises.  

I need good light to photograph my journal pages so I can’t do it when we get home late.  A scanner would be so much better but I can’t carry that around with me! When I can I draw on location but I also use my photos as reference when needed.

The view looking down from our third floor window into our neighbour’s yards.I worked on this page wile we waited in a cafe for our entrance time to the Van Gogh Museum.

What can I say, I just loved these little statues! 

Somehow I got this page out of order, I labeled it Saturday and then wrote Sunday’s activities on it.  White Out is handy in an art kit.

I finally got up the nerve to start sketching on the tram. This always seems intimidating to do but once I start it really isn’t so bad.  The young gentleman in the hoodie knew I was drawing him. When we got up to exit the tram I showed him the sketch and he smiled. Most people don’t really seem to mind all that much if they figure out what I am doing. I like to draw with a ballpoint pen, that way I am committed, and there is no erasing.

Quiet Rainy Day in Amsterdam

Monday, September 11, 2017

We were going to go to the Rijk Museum today but I needed a down day and it is windy and raining, so we decided to stay home have a quiet day instead. Yesterday we walked almost nine miles, and the equivalent of 25 flights of stairs, or so my Fitbit tells me!  No wonder I am tired.

Some friends and family are curious about our Airbnb apartments so I thought I would include a link to each one we stay at. If you are interested take a peek.     Airbnb

Here are a few photos that never made it into previous postings.This little sculpture was in the street right outside the Oude Kirk. Bob thought it a strange placement right outside a church and asked me what it meant.  How am I to know?Our apartment host is an artist who makes tiles that are for sale in museum shops. The kitchen ones are playful takes on antique tiles and they are mounted in her bathroom and kitchen. She also very generously gave us one as a gift.We saw this couple walking Saturday and as they passed by everyone started to cheer and clap.Now, we saw this fellow with his brand new tattoo two days ago at Dam Square and the strange thing ( other than why anyone would want this tattoo on their head) is that we saw him again two times yesterday, once in the afternoon and again in the evening.  What are the chances of that happening in as big and busy city as Amsterdam? I almost felt like we should say hi! I love people watching and Amsterdam is a great place for that.  I just wish I had a chance to draw or take a photo of some of the interesting faces we have seen.

2016??

I thought I would post every week or so after our Spain and Portugal trip but 2016 just flew by and I must confess I didn’t accomplish what I had anticipated.  It was a year with lots of family and health stuff, so art making and travel was put on the back burner for a while.

I did manage to complete one project that was long overdue.  Eighteen years ago I took some photos of my sister-in-law and nephew with the intention of painting a portrait.   There is quite a long story behind the creation of this portrait, this one is actually version #2, but I won’t get into that today.

Finally, I was able to deliver this portrait much to the surprise and delight of my sister-in-law and her family. It is a pastel painting, 19″x 25″.img_3134