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The church at Alkadi monastery in Crete

Arkadi Monastery and its Tragedy

Just a week or so after visiting the Ter Apel cloister, a place of peace and contemplation, I arrived at The Holy Monastery of Arkadi in Crete, a similarly contemplative religious place. Arkadi is Eastern Orthodox, while Ter Apel was Catholic and then Protestant, yet it looked to me as if the monks in both places…

a bulls-head "rhyton" from Knossos, apparently used for libations. It can be filled through a hole in the neck and the liquid can be poured out through the snout. Carved from stone, with inlays of shell, rock crystal and red jasper.

Knossos and the Minoan Mystery

On my recent trip to Crete to lead a workshop, I was able to visit just a couple of sites, one of which was Knossos, a UNESCO World Heritage tentative list site (along with the four other Minoan palace ruins in Crete). I was looking forward to seeing these ruins of an ancient civilization, the…

carving above the door of Sant Felix in Vilac, Val d'Aran, Spain

Medieval Churches in the Val d’Aran, Spain

There’s something special about the medieval churches in the Val d’Aran, Spain. All are quite small, stone-built in Romanesque style, and date from the 11th to the 15th century. Many have a similar floor plan: a basic rectangle contains two rows of stone pillars, dividing it into a nave with an aisle on either side. While…

view across the Val d'Aran from the Baquiera Beret ski resort, Spain

Val d’Aran: Skiing in Spain!

It never would have occurred to me that ski resorts even exist in Spain. I just happened to meet some representatives of Pyrennees Experience at the World Travel Market last year who told me about the Val d’Aran. Their timing was perfect. My son, 17 years old, who normally asks for very little, had just…

I think this was the mezzano, at the Italian Days Food Tour

Italian Days Food Tour

Our tour guide from Italian Days Food and Wine Tours was far too cheerful for such an early start. We had been picked up at seven in the morning—before sunrise in mid-January—and denied even a cup of coffee before leaving. Our hotel’s breakfast only started at seven, so we had run downstairs and grabbed a…

the front of Hotel El Ciervo

Hotel El Ciervo: a bit over-the-top … but in a good way!

I wasn’t even going to write a review of our hotel, the Hotel El Ciervo, here in Vielha, Spain. It was just a place to stay while we explored the Val d’Aran in the Pyrennees and its ski resort, Baqueira Beret. Or rather, while I explored and my husband and son skied. I’m not being sponsored…

The entry hall of Osteria de Poeti in Bologna, Italy

Osteria dè Poeti: Classic Bolognese Food

On my recent trip to Bologna, my friend Shobha (of Just Go Places) and I were fortunate enough to be hosted by Hotel Touring, which I reviewed in an earlier post. The hotel also arranged for us to eat one evening at a nearby restaurant, Osteria dè Poeti (site in Italian only). This was particularly…

San Luca Portico in Bologna

Walking the Portico di San Luca in Bologna

For centuries, in the city of Bologna, Italy, a byzantine image of the Madonna and Child was carried ceremoniously from the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca every year during Ascension week down to the Cathedral of San Pietro in the city center. It stayed there overnight, then was carried back up. The problem…

Only one part of the breakfast on offer at the Hotel Touring

Hotel Touring: quality in a great Bologna location

When I met Manuela Stagni at the World Travel Market in London and saw her enthusiasm in describing her hotel, the Hotel Touring in Bologna, Italy, I made a note to keep her in mind if I ever traveled in Italy again. A couple of months later, when she mailed me an offer to stay…

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