Posts Tagged ‘architecture’

I want a new tradition which is to go to sleep in a new place for my birthday. I have been time to time in other places but it was never really a tradition it just happened to work out way. I decided my tradition would start with Charleston.

Charleston you sure are PRETTY!  Shockingly pretty actually.  Houses are so big you can never get the whole photo with your camera.  Block after block, street after street some just take your breath away!

Here is a brief account of my thoroughly enjoyable stay and inexpensive digs that fit the bill perfectly.

I am a budget traveler so if it isn’t cheap, I can’t go so with that I do my research which led me here.  Since I traveled to Charleston for my birthday I decided on a private room as a treat instead of my usual dorm.  I was on the 2nd floor, the Dylan room and the front porch was just outside my window.  Perfect morning coffee spot!  (bring your own if you are up before breakfast being served)

Charleston has free buses and free trolleys.  There is also a $3 dollar bus from the airport to the Visitor’s Center in town.  From there I jumped on the free 213 bus and made by way to NotSoHostel and was dropped off a couple of blocks away.  I used free buses and Uber whichever worked out better during my stay.  Charleston has some very good public transportation as well as a horse & buggy to get you through town.  (poo poo bag attached to horse)  This explains why the streets are pretty clean even on the horse routes.

I went on two outstanding walking tours with “Free Tours by Foot.”  I had used them on a recent trip to New Orleans.  Scott was my guide both tours and he is outstanding, has a passion for history and a love of Charleston that shines brightly.  (and a witty sense of humor)   I did the Historical Walking tour as well as the Civil War.  Did you know that many of the brick houses standing today still have the fingerprint indention’s of the slaves who made the bricks by hand?  I put my fingers right where their fingers were and it was a haunting feeling to say the least.   Charleston had two types of slavery.  There is the gang system (brutal and used throughout slave states) and there is also task slavery considered a bit less brutal.  After a task was completed, the slaves’ time was their own.  This was usually reserved for low country rice plantations.

SCIWAY states:

It has been suggested that the task system allowed far more freedom to the slave. To some degree this is true – tasking could be better than unrelenting gang labor. There was time to tend a garden and raise crops for either home use or sale. But life was never easy. Sam Polite, a freed slave explained what slavery was like.

Every slave have task to do, sometime one task, sometime two, and sometime three. You have for work till task through. When cotton done make, you have other task. Have to cut cord of marsh grass maybe. Task of marsh been eight feet long and four feet high. Then, sometime you have to roll cord of mud in cowpen. Woman have to rake leaf from wood into cowpen …. If slave don’t do task, they get licking with lash on naked back.

Another freed slave, Prince Smith, explained that on Wadmalaw Island

There was three kinds of day’s work on the plantation. One is the whole task, meaning a whole hand, or a person in his prime. He was given two task for his day’s work. A task carried from twenty-four to twenty-five rows, which was thirty-five feet long and twenty-five feet wide. The three-fourth hand was given one whole task, which consists of twelve rows. All the young chillun was included in this group. Us half-hand was the old slaves who did a half task for their day’s work. When it was time to pick cotton, the three-fourth hand had to pick thirty pound and the half-hand twenty for their day’s work. Those who attended to the gin only include the three-fourth hand.

So sad…. I can’t wrap my mind around it but one thing Scott the tour guide said that rings so very true, you need to see and enjoy all the beauty of Charleston but the flip side of  this place in history needs to be addressed and thought about as well, I agree.

There are many many stately homes & plantations you can visit here.  With such a short trip, I was only able to visit one house.  The Nathaniel Russell House.  Here is a bit of information on the stately home.  It was GORGEOUS inside and also had beautiful gardens that you are free to roam.  Next time, I am coming with a book, finding a bench and having a good read pretending I live here.   In the fall, I will be coming for a week.  I found so much more that needs to be explored and I intend on doing just that with the added benefit that instead of 100 degrees it might be 70!  Lord did I sweat, let me count the ways!

Remember Bubba from Forrest Gump?

Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it.

Said in the voice of Jaqen H’ghar, “Does a girl eat shrimp”?

(for you Game of Thrones people)

She does….

Every church I passed by that had graveyards, I would duck into explore for a bit and   Charleston had many old hauntingly beautiful ones.  There are many ghost walks in Charleston and some of them are through these cemeteries.  I didn’t see or feel any but I  did announce to anyone listening, you go about your business and I’ll go about mine.  🙂


I walked miles and miles, ate everything , met loads of nice people, road in a horse & buggy  and learned lots of new things.   What more could a girl want?   Well one thing, 80 degrees or less.  That could be very good.

Charleston Strong

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My visit was after the memorials held to honor the victims .  Here is a link to the Charleston Strong tribute.

Random photos from my trip

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OH and btw being a Maryland girl I consider myself to be a crab con·nois·seur !  We are crab fanatics!  The She-Crab soup was GREAT!  Next time, I plan to explore all things crab as well.  *I might bring my own can of Old Bay*  We shall see.

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Useful links:   Nathaniel Russell House   Free Tours by Foot    NotSo Hostel

It’s an older place but who cares that just brings on the ole Southern charm!




My favorite months in Italy are May & September.  If you have an opportunity to visit any other month of year, I recommend you seize the moment.  The moment for me came in November.  My agenda was to revisit Rome and an overnight trip to Assisi.  I only had eight nights.  That’s rather short for me.  I generally always stay two weeks in Europe.  I decide eight will have to do and I shall be utterly grateful for them all.

I have visited a lot of the usual tourist attractions so for this trip, I decided let’s try to visit some places off the radar plus whatever I happen to stumble upon while roaming.  I did not think this fellow would be one of them.  We gazed at each other a long long time.  Love at first sight.


My Buddy


Let’s see what is going on in Rome & Assisi



This is a video I made for my trip to Sicily.   I am very happy with the results!


Maybe it was my cool room which I loved with all the Spanish touches that shot me with such a Spanish feeling.    This place evoked what I had always imagined.  It’s crazy but I felt Spanish.  In my own mind, I could start speaking it fluently at any moment.  Now to be fair, that is in my own mind.   In reality, I know maybe five things.

Seville oozes a charm.  It has the most orange trees I have ever seen in my life.   Thousands.  It’s a bittersweet thing because from what the locals told me you can’t eat them because they are very bitter.  Luckily someone told me that or I would tried to make my own juice in the morning.   They are beautiful and decorate the city in a magnificent way.

Not to take anything away from the other places I have visited in Spain but somewhere in my heart where I was feeling Spanish I have decided I am Andalusian Spanish.  It must be the case.   It has everything I want to see and feel….small tiny lanes, adorned balconies, siesta, yes God grant me siesta, I could do that in life.   There are bells, the tapas, animated conversations and a vibe I can’t almost describe but it’s there.  My friends felt it too!

Strangely enough I didn’t have a whole lot planned for Seville.  I usually have big ol list but for here I did not, I did have a few things but really left it to let’s see where the Spanish winds take me.  The winds first brought us to the Cathedral with the lane full of outside cafes which is extremely up my alley.   I am a huge fan of cafe life and people watching.  I found out that old saying from my mom “your eyes are bigger than your stomach” is true since I always ordered too many tapas.   I like the smiles in Seville.   I like the history as well.  One of my papers, I did bring along was on a free walking tour with Pancho.  It was a kind of spur of the moment thing.  We met the others at the fountain by the Cathedral and were off for a walk and a bit of history.  We learned of girl who snitched on her father in the Jewish quarter.  She had a boyfriend she wasn’t supposed to have and with that a great many tragedies were endured and deaths.  Roads of sorrow. See it’s not ALL beautiful oranges thru the lanes of Seville.   We learned of father and sons battles and King Alphonso’s gratitude for Seville’s loyalty.  The eternally grateful symbol is stamped all over Seville.     Look for it!  We know why several crosses were placed in areas to keep down the partying at residential squares.   We know what the local word  is for tourist girls and romance.  We saw a beautiful balcony that’s in a movie and up to that point I was thinking that needs to be my Juliette balcony but alas someone else already stole the idea for Don Juan.  We saw where the Romans have been and what they left as in columns.   Our guide was a lively bright girl from Poland.  I think her name was Anna.  I’m not going to tell you everything about the walk so you can experience this on your own.  One thing I do not recommend with Pancho Tours is the meetup later to go see the Flamenco.  I didn’t care for it or the location but I highly recommend the walking tour and DO TIP!!!

I recommend the following:

Do climb the Giraldo tower.  I had the bad knee from a spill in Barcelona and just took my time going up and made sure to stop at all the windows for views.  I spent so much time here I missed the entry for the Alcazar.  I thought I would be able to fit it in later in the trip but could not, big regret but something for next time right?  My friends did see it and absolutely loved it!

Do visit the Cathedral and the tomb of Christopher Columbus.  Will any of us especially in America ever forget the year 1492?   It’s been tattooed in my brain since I was a child.

I did not get to lots of things in Seville.  There just wasn’t the time on this trip but I am extremely happy and grateful with all that I did get to see and do along with cafe life.    I sacrificed a night to go to Granada for the Alhambra palace.  That was no mistake but I surely wish I would could have had more time for my  Andalusian Sevillian Spanish life I was leading.   It was incredible and that was just Seville!  Imagine visiting all the others?  I will!

Granada’s  post is next and the best reflection photo I have ever taken in my LIFE!!!  I’m so proud of that photo!

ciao for now,

I have to say Barcelona sure took me by surprise.  Maybe I thought it was going to be like Madrid?  I liked Madrid.  Had a trip there in May.  Surprisingly it is nothing like Madrid.   Spain reminds me more and more of Italy with each place you visit having its own personality.  Since I’m new to Spain I am just discovering these aspects.  It’s a grand discovery.  That’s what travel is about for me, different people, places and things.

Now to the man, Gaudi.  I am most enchanted with Michelangelo.  I love everything about him, contrariness and all, that’s what gives him spice I think.   I didn’t expect that Guadi would be so artsy and so interesting.  As you explore Barcelona, visually taking in the delights Gaudi has left you, you feel gobsmacked (learned that from my British friends).  What a man way before his time but who came along at exactly the right time.  Here is a link for a bit of background on him.

The Food:  Jamon, Jamon Jamon !!   I need it everyday.  We almost had it every day.   I found my self staring at it in shop windows mesmerised just as much as looking at a pretty dress!  Ahhhh, there it is……come to momma !

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The Flamenco:  Saw my first show in Madrid and once is never enough.  I never knew the dance would make you feel like you can’t breathe.  I don’t mean while dancing, I mean while watching, while sitting.   We went to Tarantos two evenings and the first night got to meet the papa of one of the dancers who was so proud.  No wonder, she was terrific.  The second night, this time it was a guy who stole the show.  I do believe my friend Vivian started to whimper and cry a little.  Flamenco does it to you like that you see.

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The Market:   We were only able to get to one incredible market called Boqueria.  Before visiting inside we decide to have some beer and jamon right outside of it which was nice because we got to meet two couples that were interesting to talk to, one from the midwest in the USA and the other from Sweden.  Sweden made my eyes go big for a second since I am a big Alexander Skarsgard fan liking that he’s not too big for his britches and doesn’t let fame go to his pretty head.  I also like his family especially what I read of the granny.  The husband has done work with the family.    Of course, I joked well if you see him around town tell him Jeannette said hi.  For you ladies who don’t know who Alexander Skarsgard is take some time to view google images.  It won’t disappoint.  Fire engine hot baby!  lol, True Blood fans well, I guess I don’t have to tell you a thing.   Okay so after meeting these two nice couples I hear a fellow from a nearby table asking, “did you say you are from Baltimore”?  Yes….we are, he said me too”!!!   Well fancy meeting you here in the dead of January in Barcelona.  I asked why are you here?  He said vacation.  I don’t know why I had in my head that I’m the only person in January visiting for a vacation but somehow I did.  He had a plate of seafood and we say, oh you are a Baltimore boy for sure.  So after the snack, we head into the market.  This market is sensational and graphic all at the same time.  Some things I am not used to seeing in a market or anywhere for that matter.  I saw a bowl of I think rooster heads?  What is somebody going to do with that?  I bet something good I don’t know about.  I saw rabbits hanging and fish so fresh it was still blowing bubbles.  Now that’s fresh!  The Swedish couple we met told us they always go to the seafood inside the market that cooks it up for you.  Stools are scarce so I suggest hang on the sidelines and dash to one if you see somebody get up.    Deciding what to choose is hard because there are so many choices.  Watching them grill it is a delight in itself.  I want to squirt my seafood with all the things I saw in bottles at home when I’m grilling.  We asked finally, hey what’s in that bottle?  It looked like greenish water.  It was delicious and I will ask my friend Vivian what was in it exactly because I can’t remember right at this moment but I will tell you.  I have every intention of grilling shrimp or something this summer with that concoction.

The trip:  Now to explain my trip a bit, me and Vivian started our trip in Amsterdam.  To be honest when I was researching a reward flight ticket to Europe in January Amsterdam had the lowest taxes so Amsterdam it was.  Now as you know, that could never be a bad thing.  It was cold, wonderful, beautiful and sad meaning the Anne Frank house.   My friend Chris got to fly in from London and meet us in Amsterdam.  We had a great time together, laughs, frozen feet and a bit of humor from an older local in Amsterdam who told Chris (when she had been saying she was tired from the flight)  oh yeah!….that jetlag from an hour flight will do you in,  we laughed but to her defense she arrived at night.   lol…..  She couldn’t go to Barcelona with us so it was me and Vivian exploring Barcelona together. Searching for warmer temperatures the south of Spain was looming in my head as well.   Between friends advise and researching the trip it slowly evolved into Amsterdam, Barcelona, Seville, Granada, back to Barcelona than back to Amsterdam for the flight home.  A lot of traveling yes which is exhausting but sometimes I get a wild hair and want to fit in as much culture and change as I can possibly muster.  Other trips, I like to hang in one place and not move around so much.  With this report I’ll include Seville & Granada separate.

What we saw and did:

Sagrada Familia – from the outside…. we were too late for our timed ticket, yes a bummer!

La Pedrera, Casa Mila ….don’t miss this if you go to Barcelona

The Barrio Gotico – we did a walk from National Geographic traveler guide, what a wonderful area

La Ramblas – oh up and down we will go…..many times but only ate at one restaurant there

Park Guell – incredible views over Barcelona.  We stayed till dark, what a park !

Barcelona Cathedral – don’t miss the geese in the side courtyard, the Cathedral is stunning

Palau Guel – again like all items by Gaudi, incredible!

Columbus monument – next time I want to take the elevator to the foot

the Port area – reminds me of Annapolis

Hop on and off bus – we spent two days riding this bus.  What a wonderful overview and was so easy.

We met a bunch of girls in a restaurant, there were several tables and none of us knew each other but we all started talking and the waiter said why don’t you all move closer together so we did and when the restaurant closed we took him too!  We partied like rock stars us and the young girls.  The waiter took us to a place that was like a speakeasy.  They played ragtime music and I started feeling like a flapper.  We all loved it, what a cool place!  We danced at bars that I cannot remember.  I had a spill on one of these black things in the road that are like a road blocks, hurt my knee and hand.  That was a huge ouch for a few days and I limped around and took Aleve.


I have a lot more photos I’ll be loading in Flickr.  (top of my blog page is the link for flickr)

I like when tall ships and naval vessels visit Baltimore.  It makes our little piece of the world sparkle, creates memories for all and gives everyone a chance to meet people from all over the world.  Here’s a bit of my tiny piece.  This celebration is to commemorate the War of 1812.  Baltimore was the prize but the British didn’t get it and we got a song.  The National Anthem.

Here’s a list of the visiting ships.  I did not get to make it to all of the ships but loved everything that I did get to see and the people I met.  We had great fun aboard the Guayas and learned “dancing” is a universal language.  So is smiling!   🙂


ps:  I’ll add links in the comment section that you might find interesting.  (feel free to comment tho)

Ciao for now and a hug  to Germany for this:

As it left Baltimore, the German frigate Hessen raised its nation’s flag. Tucked behind the bridge, the warship flew an extra set of colors: an orange-and-black Orioles banner. 

That’s our baseball team!