The Windows of Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb Croatia ArchitectureMy ‘window collecting’ mission in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital city, was as hurried as our day and a half there.

Arriving via Germany, Austria, and Slovenia earlier in the morning, we settled into our apartment, and took to the streets, while dodging raindrops and securing some goodies at one of the local supermarkets. Our whirlwind exploration took us to a café where we enjoyed Latte Macchiatos, then to St. Mark’s Church, probably one of the city’s most well-known landmarks thanks to its brilliant-colored tiled roof bearing the coat of arms of Zagreb.

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Into the Wild American West: Genoa, Nevada

Genoa Nevada USA

Named after Genoa, Italy, but pronounced juh-NO-ah, unlike its Italian namesake, the Nevadan town of Genoa epitomizes the American West. Founded in 1851, Genoa is Nevada’s oldest settlement, and it has the distinction of having had Nevada’s first court, hotel, newspaper, and even its first ‘thirst parlor.’

Like nearby Virginia City, which offers similar wild west charm, Genoa, Nevada has also played host to famous personalities such as Mark Twain. Twain is said to have thrown back a drink in Genoa’s thirst parlor, an establishment which is still in operation today. In more recent times, the town served as the set for the film, Misery.

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The Windows of Basque Country, France

Le Pays Basque France

Nestled in French Basque Country, Saint-Jean-de-Luz is a fishing port and resort town just minutes away from France’s border with Spain.

We book-ended our two-week stay in Bilbao, Spain with day and weekend trips to Bordeaux and Rioja Alavesa wine country, elegant Biarritz, France, and seaside Saint-Jean-de-Luz.

When Shawn, his parents and I weren’t tempted by what was in Saint-Jean-de-Luz’s ground-level windows – most notably the tempting tarts of golden-brown known locally as Gâteaux Basques – we focused our attention upon the buildings’ upper-level windows, and their delightful flourishes.

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The Windows of Novi Sad, Serbia

Novi Sad Serbia WindowsNovi Sad dramatically welcomes visitors with its formidable fortress and clock tower boasting reversed hour and minute hands. Like so many strategic spots in the region, Novi Sad also has a complicated history. It’s been conquered by the Celts and Romans, Byzantines, Hungarians, Ottomans and Habsburgs. The city’s complex past is reflected in Novi Sad’s eclectic architecture, and well-illustrated by the whimsical windows featured here.

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Soaking up the Details (and the Wine) of Saint-Emilion – Bordeaux, France

saint-emilion-bordeaux-france

Enclosed by vineyards producing some of Bordeaux’s most esteemed wine, it’s no wonder that the village of Saint-Emilion is one of the region’s most alluring destinations. During a weekend there earlier this year, I found myself effortlessly charmed by Saint-Emilion’s graceful limestone buildings, its window-boxes brimming with beautiful blooms, its almond-flavored macarons, and elegant wine culture. By day, Shawn and I ascended the 196 steps of the village’s church-tower and explored its vineyards, and by night, we shared exemplary bottles of wine with Shawn’s parents. One night, a generous winemaker sitting at a table beside us even invited us to share a glass of one of this creations. What a way to welcome us!

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The Water Wells of Moldova

Water Wells of Moldova

The Republic of Moldova is perhaps best known for its impressive wine – something it’s produced for thousands of years – and its former status as one of the 15 Soviet republics. If you’re scratching your head and feeling geographically-challenged about where Moldova is in Europe, rest assured that others are often perplexed too. In the UK, a family board game called Where is Moldova even exists.

When we arrived to Moldova one week ago, I also became quite taken by its gingerbread-like homes in all shades of blue and its intricately-decorated water wells, most of which are still in use in Moldovan villages. In Moldovan, the wells are known as fîntînă.

The wells are a ubiquitous site in the village of Rosu. Some are more basic, with only the requisite equipment and roof overhead, whereas others wear latticework, twisted iron adornments, even hand-cut metalwork depicting the silhouettes of people, flowers and flourishes.

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The Snowflake-Like Lace of Kalofer, Bulgaria

Kalofer Lace Bulgaria

In the shadows of the Balkan Mountains in Central Bulgaria, residents in the village of Kalofer have been making lace for more than one hundred years. The artisans initially drew inspiration from traditional Belgian patterns, but over time they developed their own designs, evoking images of ephemeral snowflakes, and silk-like spiderwebs. In Bulgarian, the lace is known as Калоферска Дантела (Kaloferska Dantela).

Today, artisans of all ages painstakingly craft the delicate masterpieces, transforming thread into pieces that depict swans, flowers, peacocks, and even amoeba-shaped flourishes destined for women’s dresses.

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The Roses of Bulgaria

Roses BulgariaIn May and June, residents of Bulgaria’s Rose Valley harvest the landscape’s roses, filling baskets with magnificent pink and red petals, which are then distilled and turned into rose oil for the cosmetic industry. Bulgaria produces the bulk of the world’s supply.

When you consider that it takes approximately 2,000 to 4,000 kgs. (4,000 – 8,000 pounds) of rose petals to make 1kg (2.2 pounds) of rose oil, it’s no surprise that rose oil is one of the most expensive oils in the world.

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