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.

Senj, Croatia

Day 20, Sunday, September 23, 2017                                                                                            Day 21, Monday, September 24, 2017

Sunday was a quiet day. We had planned a rest day Sunday anyways, so the fact that it rained most of the day didn’t really matter. I rested, l journaled a bit and worked on the blog. I was a day behind, so it was good to get caught up. Thanks to everyone who has either ‘liked’ a post or commented on one. It is really nice to know that there are people out there actually reading this. So thank you.

Monday afternoon we visit the Nehaj Senj which is a fortress that was built in 1558. It is high on the hill above Senj.

The main floor of the fortress is now a restaurant.We climbed stone steps up to the second, and third floors, which have historical exhibits, mostly weapons and soldiers uniforms.This is the uniform of the Uskoks, the Croatian soldier of the 1500’s. They sure carried a lot of weapons.

The top fourth floor was open to the wind. The Bora! We were nearly blown off the top of the fortress!

The Bora is a cold wind that blows from the continent through the mountain pass towards the sea.  Senj is the windiest part of the Eastern Adriatic. Of course we didn’t know that when we booked our apartment here!  It is terribly windy up here but the views are great.

This is an etching done in the 1600’s showing the town of Senj, with the walls that protected it and the fortress up on the hill.  

There are still remnants of the old town wall visible today. We see the bell tower and use it to find the town church. I wonder what is behind the curtain on this side chapel …so I peek inside ( I know… I probably shouldn’t have) and find another mummified saint.

The sky isn’t looking too promising, weather wise…but when we return home we are treated to this view from our apartment window. At least we can see a bit of sun. We are planning on visiting the Plitvice Lakes tomorrow so we are hoping that the weather improves a bit.

Vodnjan, Bale and Rovinj, Croatia

Day 18, Friday September 22, 2017,continued.

I am not sure what was going on last night, but nothing was working as it should have. I do love blogging about our trip. It is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family and it is a keepsake of our trip for ourselves. It does take quite a bit of time and effort to post every day, especially when I am not the most computer savvy person, so when things don’t work it can be quite frustrating. My hope is to one day turn these blog postings about our trips into books.

We walked by this interesting mural on the side of a building in Vodnjan as we returned to the car park. Finding parking in the old part of town is always a challenge, but we have been pretty lucky finding public car parks with reasonable rates, anywhere from 4 to 8 Kuna an hour ($.80 to $1.60 an hour)

I love the old towns, with their passage ways and doors leading into interesting little streets, courtyards and gardens. On our way to Bale, the next town on our itinerary today, we stop to visit this Kažun Theme Park, which has the four stages of building a kažun demonstrated and several other examples of different styles as well as dry stone walls.  A kažun is a shelter for peasants and shepherds that was built in areas where it was necessary to clear the stone in order to farm the land.The next town we visit is Bale, pop. 900. It is a quiet rather sleepy little town with very old buildings and very narrow winding streets. There is a gate leading into the town through a tower in the old town wall. The Church of St. Elizabeth has wonderful paintings on the ceiling and walls. This narrow street seems to be serving as someone’s garden.

There is another tiny church here dedicated to the Holy Spirit and built in the 15th Century.  It reminded me of the cave churches we visited in Cappadocia, Turkey.
We find a playground with a picnic table and have our lunch. I peek into a crack in a nearby fence and spot these crocus in bloom. Seems strange, crocus bloom in the spring at home but in the fall here.This abandoned building is just across the field from where have our lunch. We see these sort of buildings everywhere in Croatia.  Old stone buildings in various stages of disrepair or collapse. They are not demolished but left just as they are. Perhaps some day someone will decide to renovate? In any case, it seems like nothing is ever torn down here. Everything is left just as it is, a reminder of times past.Just fifteen kilometres down the highway is Rovinj, pop.13,000. This was originally an island port that was joined to the coast in 1763 by filling in the channel separating it from the mainland, creating a peninsula. We walk up this street looking for the cathedral. Yes, another one! Every town, no matter how tiny has a church or cathedral and usually a tall bellower that is the highest point in the town. The streets here are lined with restaurants, cafes and shops catering to tourists who seem to be quite a younger crowd than we have seen elsewhere.We get sidetracked, (lost) and end up on the backside of the cathedral, so we sit to have little rest and a snack on a park bench, I draw this view while Bob amuses himself with a Games magazine.We finally find the road up to the Cathedral which is dedicated to Saint Euphemia, whose remains are preserved in a sarcophagus inside.Another beautiful Madonna…and we discover that the church is decorated for a wedding.Just a short time later we see the bride and groom arrive with the photographer to take their photos before the wedding.  They are both wearing colourful running shoes. The bride’s were bright turquoise.We slowly make our way back down the streets towards the marina exploring as we go.Little shops are tucked into the tiniest of places, often displaying most of their wares right on the street.

There are lots of bright shutters and laundry high above us.

This street is entered through a low archway. I think Friday might be laundry day as we see laundry hanging from so many windows. Also notice the street pavers that are worn so smooth and shiny.  I wonder how many feet have trod on these stones over the centuries?Soon we are back on the street by the water and we sit for a while in the sunshine, enjoying the warmth and the people watching.
There are also a lot of boats to watch as well! We walk back towards our car which is parked on the street past the very far right of this picture. It is a long walk back to the car and then about an hour to drive home to our cozy apartment. We both really enjoyed the day. It sure is nice to have sunshine after all the rainy windy weather of the first two weeks of our holiday. 

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.

Homeward Bound

December 9, 2015

Our taxi arrives right on time at 9:00 am and we are soon on our way to the airport. I snap one last picture from the cab window of an interesting looking building that is dripping with green foliage off every balcony. I wonder if it is an office building, and who takes care of all this greenery.FullSizeRender

We arrive at the airport in lots of time to relax a bit before we get on the plane, which I really appreciate.  I always like it when we are through security, and settled with a cup of tea. It is only then that I can relax and feel that we are truly on our way to wherever we are going.FullSizeRender

Our good friends meet us at the Edmonton airport with our winter coats.  Yes, we are certainly home. There is snow on the ground and it is a bit colder than Barcelona!  We were up early this morning and by the time we finally climb into our bed at home we have been up for well over 26 hours.  It is always hard to believe that we can travel halfway across the world so quickly.

Thank you to everyone who has been following along on our travels, especially those  who have waited so patiently for these last few posts.  I truly appreciated all the comments and ‘likes’. It helps to feel connected to everyone when we are away. I started blogging to keep in touch with family and friends and as a way to journal for myself.  I was surprised and delighted to discover that people in thirty-five countries were interested in reading about our travels! I also discovered many interesting blogs when I replied to comments and likes.  Blogging is certainly a phenomenon, and one I believe is here to stay.

So, I am often asked where we are travelling to next.  Right now, we have no travel plans for the rest of the year other than some short trips to visit family in Jasper, Revelstoke and Portland.  It is time for some gardening, a few home renovations and making art.  I will keep blogging, perhaps a post every week or two.  Stop by for some gardening and art photos.

 

 

Granada Cathedral and Alcaiceria Market

We are back home and although we had a good flight home it was still 24 hours from the time we got up until we arrived home. It is going to take a while to get back on Alberta time. I have fallen behind on my blogging but I am going to continue posting until I have it completed. Thank you for following along with us so far and I hope you will enjoy the rest of our trip.

Saturday, November 21

We spend another day in Granada, as we want to visit the Cathedral and the Alcaiceria, which is a reconstruction of the Moorish Market that burned down in 1843. This market is a maze of narrow streets and colourful shops that are absolutely crammed full of merchandise. We purchase a few souvenirs and Bob has a few laughs at my rather pathetic attempts at bargaining.

IMG_2488The Cathedral is right beside the market so that is our next stop.  Upon entering the front door this is the what we see.FullSizeRender  Here is a closer view of the magnificent dome over the altar.  FullSizeRender_3This cathedral has a very ornate very large organ. FullSizeRender_4I spotted this stand with several huge medieval books but it was in a roped off area so I couldn’t get any closer to get a good look.FullSizeRenderA bit further on down one of the side aisles I was thrilled to find a display of these ancient books. They were behind glass but I was able to get a much better look at them.FullSizeRender_4The lighting wasn’t the best, but there were several cabinets with books inside. While I was absorbed in studying the calligraphy and painted images, the lights in the cabinets shut off and it was too dark to see them anymore.  I had no idea why the lights shut off and although we returned a couple of times to check if the lights had been turned back on I was out of luck. I am glad that I at least had the opportunity to see what I had.
IMG_2490

We have seen similar skull and crossbones in almost every cathedral we have visited. They are on tombstones embedded in the cathedral floors.FullSizeRender_2The pillars and ceiling are quite ornate and the space they enclose is immense.  Notice how small the people are.
FullSizeRender_3This is a view of the back side of the Cathedral, seems I didn’t take one of the front. If you want to know a bit more about the Cathedral check out this link.  http://www.thousandwonders.net/Granada+Cathedral  It also has some nice pictures.DSC01159There is a suggested walk through the Albaicin, on the hillside opposite the Alhambra so we head out to explore it.  The beginning of the walk was quite nice.FullSizeRender_3I quite liked this ‘Granada’, or pomegranate, on the front of one of the buildings we passed on our walk.FullSizeRender_2We do find this lovely little garden and one other garden attached to a little museum along the way.  In the museum garden there are several orange trees loaded with ripe oranges, and we ‘borrow’ one to eat later.FullSizeRender

We spent a fair amount of time checking our map and trying to figure out which way to go. The route was not well-marked and we had to backtrack more than once. It was a long walk up lots of steep roads and really for what we saw we weren’t sure it was worth the effort and time, but at least we got some exercise.FullSizeRender_2

This is a view of the Alhambra from a viewpoint on a terrace by some restaurants near the end of our walk.FullSizeRender_4

On the way back to the bus we pass this building with its ‘street art’ and bricked up windows.  We saw so many apartments and buildings like this, empty and/or abandoned, right beside occupied buildings and shops. I sure wouldn’t want to be living in an apartment next to an abandoned empty building.  FullSizeRender

Mijas and Granada

Tuesday, November 17

We leave for Granada today which is a good thing as our balcony is positively swarming with workmen this morning. Too bad all this painting is going on as it made it difficult to fully enjoy our apartment, which was really quite nice otherwise. We met some people in Seville who told us about a pretty white village named Mijas so we stop for a visit on our way to Granada.imageOne of the first things we see as we set out to explore Mijas are a lot of donkeys tied up along the main street. These are the donkey taxis that were first started in the 1960s by a local resident who used the donkeys to transport goods.  Early tourists wanted to take pictures with the donkeys and asked to have rides and the tips they offered were more than his day’s wages…and so began the donkey taxis.  I thought that they didn’t look very well cared for and that they were not very healthy and wasn’t interested in making them give me a ride.image image  So, here is the donkey ride I chose.imageWe found a lovely stone bench overlooking the valley and had our picnic lunch here.  imageThere is a very old tiny church which we visit and we want to buy a few things at their little shop but the store didn’t have change for 20€ so we said we would come back later, but when we return they are closed, so we are out of  luck.

mijas-villas.com has this description of the church:”Hidden away in a corner of the village, overlooking the wonderful valley leading to the coast, is the hermitage of the ‘Virgen de la Peña’. Built into a rocky outcrop by Mercedarian monks in 1520. Inside is the image of the ‘Virgen de la Peña’, the patron Saint of the village. According to the legend, she appeared on this spot on the 2nd of June 1586 to two young shepherds that had been led there by a pigeon. Subsequently an image of the Virgin was found concealed in a recess in the tower where it had been hidden for 500 years. In 1656 work started on the sanctuary cave, which is nowadays always decorated with flowers and pictures as offerings.”imageWe then walked around the edge of the town along some of the old original stone walls which offered more great views of the valley below.imageWe enjoyed the gardens along the way which were very well maintained and had more flowering plants than we have seen elsewhere as well as many water features.  It was very pleasant and relaxing.imageWe stopped to watch these rock climbers but they take a long time getting ready to climb so we have to move on. imageWe climbed a little tower on our walk through the town and it gave a nice opportunity to see the roof tops and how tightly packed together the houses are.imageI often see older people sitting on doorsteps or walking along the streets and wish I could take their pictures but I don’t want to be rude or intrusive.  I was able to take this fellow’s photo after we walked by. image

What is not to love about a street as pretty as this?imageCars manage to drive along the narrowest streets and we find them parked in some of the strangest places.  This car had travelled up the street in the second picture.  You may be able to see that the street became much narrower further on. We have no idea how it managed to navigate past the flower pots on this very narrow road or how it is going to turn around to get out of there.  We climbed steps to get to this road!imageAll to soon it is time for us to hit the road.  We need to be in Granada by 6:00 to meet our host for our next apartment.  The scenery changes soon after we leave Mijas, it is drier and we start to see olive trees.imageWe have seen graffiti everywhere we have been in Spain and Portugal.  These tags are all along the highway walls.imageSoon we are driving through mile after mile of olive groves.  We can’t believe how many fields of olive trees there are, stretching as far as the eye can see in all directions. I snap these photos as we drive by so they aren’t wonderful but they do give at leat some idea of all the trees we see on the way to Granada.image

I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to write a comment or ‘like’ a post on this blog. WordPress just sent me a notice that my blog has more than 100 likes and that “my stats are booming and I am getting lots of traffic”  I’m not sure exactly how important that is but I think when people like a post or comment it makes it easier for others to find the blog on search engines.  I am still relatively new to blogging and need to do a bit more research into all this.

I started the blog so friends and family could follow my travels and as a place to show some of my art and I have been rather astounded to find that my blog has had 7,223 views by people in 50 countries since I started it for my trip to Paris in 2014.  So, if you do enjoy a post please feel free to offer a comment or press that like button.  I am behind on responding to comments but I do read them all and I am always thrilled that someone takes the time to comment on what they have read.

Castillo de Loarre and San Juan de la Pena

On Tuesday we visited Castillo de Loarre, a beautifully preserved Romanesque church and fortress that was started in 1071, over 900 years ago!  A film called Kingdom to Heaven was filmed there, I think in 2005. This is our first view of the castle.

image These are the ornate windows in the Queen’s tower.image  We had to watch our footing in this Medieval castle.imageWe were surprised by this para glider overhead, then we saw many more of them as there was a jumping off spot on the mountain just behind castle.image

There was an amazing panoramic view of the valley below us…image and this was our view while we had a picnic lunch!imageAfter lunch we headed to the San Juan de la Pena Monastery.  On the way we pass Aguero, a little village nestled at the base of dramatic eroded stone cliffs.  We would have loved to stop and explore, but there just isn’t time. I thought three months would be so much time but there is so much to see everywhere that we have to pick and choose.

imageThe new monastery has an interpretive center built over the old ruins.  It is the modern building  to the right in the photo below. It is a huge long building with a glass floor to view the excavated ruins below.  I find it rather unnerving walking on a clear glass floor!imageimage image

Then we go below and walk through part of the excavations.  There is also another enormous building with more ruins and figures to walk through.image

We catch a bus to the old Monastery which is sheltered under a bulging rock.  It was founded  in 920 and the Holy Grail is said to have been kept here to protect it from the Muslim invaders.  There is a replica in the chapel.image image image

The cloister has beautifully carved capitals with scenes from the Bible.imageWe have a bit of time before the bus comes back to pick us up (there is no where to park near the Monastery) so I start a sketch.

image

On the way home we drive through several long tunnels that cut right through the mountains. This one was over a kilometer long!  image

So What’s Next?

It is hard to believe that it has been almost three months since I was in Paris and last posted anything.  Because I tried to cram as much as I could into the last few days in Paris I was pretty tired by the time I boarded the plane home.  Then once back home it took at least two weeks to adjust to ‘real life’.  I have to admit I missed Paris and I especially missed drawing every day, having the luxury of so much time to myself, and being able to do whatever I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do it.  Being in such an amazingly beautiful city that celebrates history and art was a wonderful experience, one that I hope I will be able to repeat someday soon.

So what’s next?  I need to find a way to incorporate a bit of my ‘Paris life’ into my life at home.  Finding balance in one’s life is a challenge many, or perhaps most people face.  I have a wonderful family and friends and I want to have time for them but I need to carve out space and time for being creative on a regular basis, time for myself.  Ideally I would be working on making art every day, or at least most days.

I started that process by attending life drawing sessions twice a week after I came home. We have a great artist organization In Edmonton called Harcourt House that offers life drawing sessions three times a week.  harcourthouse.ab.ca/  I would like to continue attending two or three times a week.  Two of the sessions are from 7:00 to 10:00 pm which is kind of late for me, but I am going to do my best.

Here are some drawings from my Harcourt House life drawing sessions.  I decided to try drawing in pen and ink to change things up a bit.   I used a fountain pen with black ink for the first three drawings.

DSC04585 A 15 minute pose,

DSC04586 and a 20 minute pose.

DSC04589

This pose was only 10 minutes which is a bit of a challenge with two models.

DSC04588This 30 minute pose was drawn with a Bic Black ball point pen, which gives a completely different mark than the fountain pen.  It is almost like drawing with a pencil, changing pressure while drawing varies the darkness and width of the line. It is great inexpensive drawing tool.  A box of 12 pens is less than three dollars.

I also want to post regularly on this blog, probably not daily, but perhaps once or twice a week.  I think it will morph into more of an art blog, with occasional travels included. I am  not sure exactly how I feel about keeping a blog, still struggling with the idea of putting myself ‘out there’ but I have had such positive feedback from so many people that it has encouraged me to continue, at least for now.

I have fallen behind responding to comments, but I will get that taken care of in the next couple of days, so take a look if you have left a comment.  I do love it when people  comment on the posts and I do my best to respond to all of them.  Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to leave their thoughts.

It is the beginning of a new year, with all the promise and possibilities that brings and you may be wondering if I made any New Year’s Resolutions?  I did – my resolution is to draw everyday.  Yesterday I was about to go to bed when I realized I had forgotten all about drawing, and on the very first day!  So at 11:30 I sat down and did a half hour of drawing but I must admit it was a real struggle.  I haven’t been drawing very much the last two months with travelling (more on that later) and it showed.  It didn’t take long to lose the facility and confidence that I was starting to feel while I was drawing daily in Paris.

Did anyone else make a New Year’s resolution?  Was it art related?

 

All the Best in 2015!