The Glorious City of St. Petersburg | Part II

As someone who grew up during the Cold War and its aftermath, the splendor of Russia’s churches and palaces was a revelation.  I read enough Tolstoy and Chekhov to know that religious institutions played a major roll pre-1917, but in St. Petersburg as in Moscow, their beauty and stature were impressive to behold.

Continue reading “The Glorious City of St. Petersburg | Part II”

When in Rome | Go to Naples

Italy’s high speed trains make almost anywhere an easy trip from Rome. While it is certainly possible to spend endless amounts of time in Rome, getting away for a day has numerous advantages.  Just over an hour away, Naples is an excellent choice for ancient history buffs, pizza lovers and those who love all things Christmas. We arrived in Naples and it was a short … Continue reading When in Rome | Go to Naples

Palazzo Colonna, Rome, Italy

When in Rome | Spend Saturday like a Noble

Staying in one city for a week affords the opportunity to see places that are off the beaten path. A highlight of this Roman holiday was a visit to the Palazzo Colonna, open Saturdays only from 9:00 – 14:00 pm (last entry at 13h15). The Colonna family started construction on their palace in the 14th century and  has resided here ever since.  Oddone Colonna aka Pope Martin V appointed the Palace as the … Continue reading When in Rome | Spend Saturday like a Noble

Imperial Forum, Rome, Ancient Rome

When in Rome |

Bad News first: Rome is in the midst of major renovations with scaffolding and temporary enclosures covering the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum and numerous other monuments.  Good news: much of the work is complete. Trevi Fountain reopened last week after 17 months of work and has never looked better (although the massive crowds make it hard to see). Work on the Spanish Steps is expected to be complete … Continue reading When in Rome |

Istanbul | Exploring Karaköy and Fetih

En route to Iran (posts on that amazing country coming soon), I spent three nights in Istanbul.  I stayed at Vault Karaköy,  a terrific boutique hotel, a short walk and a world away from Sultanahmet. Think Brooklyn vs Manhattan or Left Bank vs Right,  albeit on a much smaller scale.  From my fifth floor room, I could in see the minarets on Sultanahmet in one direction while the Galata Tower loomed in the … Continue reading Istanbul | Exploring Karaköy and Fetih

Travel as Time Warp

Once I decide on a destination or itinerary, weeks, even months of research, planning, and preparing ensue.  I read books about the history, politics and sometimes geography of country/countries I will visit.  Whenever possible I immerse myself in novels and movies as well. I spend countless hours on the internet visiting sites both destination-specific and travel in general. Travel Magnolia’s Pinterest boards are full of … Continue reading Travel as Time Warp

Pack Light and Carry On

I once traveled for ten days in four countries with a day pack. That was a long time ago. However, I do try to take only a carry-on size roller bag and a backpack whenever possible. My favorite suitcase conforms to European carry-on size restrictions, but has a zipper expansion feature that means I can bring home more than I take. I leave today for a … Continue reading Pack Light and Carry On

Must See | Tokyo | Meiji Shrine

Timing is everything, or at least a lot. When we made plans to visit the Meiji Shrine, we had no idea that the day would be spectacular and that many families would be celebrating Shichi Go San (7-5-3), a celebratory right of passage that dates back to the Heian period.  On this occasion, boys who are aged three or five and girls who are aged three or seven are  dressed … Continue reading Must See | Tokyo | Meiji Shrine

Naoshima, Japan

Naoshima Part III | Wrap Up

Perhaps what makes the Naoshima experience so memorable is the combination of sublime contemporary art and architecture with the traditional fishing villages and shrines. We were struck by the sensitivity to and respect for the environment that pervades these islands and is manifested throughout. Hiroshi Sugimoto restored an Edo Period shrine and added a new superstructure in his 2002 work “Appropriate Proportion.” The optical glass staircase he designed links the … Continue reading Naoshima Part III | Wrap Up