Curitiba: Feira do Largo da Ordem

Curitiba, November 13, 2016

Another cool day.  Eliane drove us to the Feira do Largo da Ordem downtown – Carlos didn’t go with us because he hates crowds.


And crowded it was! This feira is a crafts market which takes place every Sunday from 9 am to 2 pm, with well-made craft items, some beautiful, cute or clever.  It is located in the center of the Historic District next to the Presbyterian Church and Tiradentes Square. According to its web site, an average of 15,000 people visit the fair every  Sunday. Sometimes there are expositions of antique cars and the fair is very convenient to having lunch at one of the surrounding restaurants.  Besides craft items including hand made jewelry, paintings, items for the home and novelties, there are also antiques and old books and magazines for sale.  My husband and I both bought t-shirts, and I also bought a tote bag with an araucária (Paraná pine tree) imprinted on it.






On the left, a doctor is giving a prostrate exam and on the right, a woman is having a gynecological exam. In the foreground is a miniature of a dentist’s office and patient.

Free samples of cube-shaped gummy candies were being offered at one booth – I liked them because they were soft but don’t stick to your teeth.  We sampled many different flavors but in the end I bought only two small packages of cachaça-flavored gummies, which will make unique souvenirs.  I also bought a small jar of mango-passion fruit jam, not too sweet.


I tried on a Harry Potter “sorting hat”!

Meanwhile, my husband Dale (who took most of these pictures) noticed the towers of a mosque behind the booths and went to investigate. He photographed the mosque which was just behind the fair – I don’t know why we hadn’t noticed it when we were in this same area the day before!


The mosque, too, was crowded!



As we were leaving, we passed a booth selling items made of metal and…

20161113_134825…a guy selling little insect-like wire things that you press down on to make them jump.  I smiled, thinking they were clever, and wish I’d bought a couple for my cat!


Catch it if you can in Ketchikan

August 23, 2016

Catch it if you can!

Catch what? Why, salmon, of course! Ketchikan, Alaska proclaims itself to be the world capital of salmon.

Dale and I both signed up for a shore excursion. His was salmon fishing! At the end of the day, I was delighted to find out that he had actually caught one, the type known as “pink!” Pinks are the smallest type of salmon and have a milder flavor than the popular “coho.”  On the fishing boat were five people, including him.  Although 15 salmon took the bait, only three were actually caught.  All the others managed to get off the hook before they could be reeled in!


My husband with the fish he caught!

Another man on the boat caught a coho, and since he didn’t want to pay the processing and shipping costs, the boat captain gave it to Dale, since he had elected to have his shipped. So both fish were deboned, filleted, fresh-frozen, and packaged and sent to us, a total of about 15 lbs.! Here is one of the delicious meals we’ve made from it so far:


Salmon (both coho and pink) with sliced vegetables and green beans. My stepdaughter made a wonderful balsamic-based sauce with spices! She used a recipe, but ad-libbed substitutions according to our own preferences.

Catch it if you can! Downtown Ketchikan

Meanwhile, I was on my own quest in Ketchikan.  My excursion (to Misty Fjords National Monument – see separate post) got back in early afternoon, so I decided to look around the town. The tour guide on the excursion had given us all maps as we stepped onto the pier.

Looking at the map, I saw that there were two historical walking tours, one of downtown and the other the western part of town.  Our tour guide had suggested visiting the former red light district, but I sort of forgot about that in my quest for totem poles.

I looked at the map and started the downtown walking tour.  I decided to just see what I wanted and not worry about following the numbers.  First was a sculpture with statues of various figures that represented the people who settled this area.  A Tlingit woman tells the story of these settlers, which include explorers, gold seekers, native tribes, missionaries, etc.

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“The Rock”: A Tlingit woman sits with her drum, singing a song of Ketchikan and its inhabitants – Tlingit, loggers, miners, fishermen, pilots, pioneers.

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Then I walked up the street with a sign arched over it that read, “Welcome to Alaska’s 1st City, Ketchikan, the Salmon Capital of the World.”


Downtown Ketchikan – the neon welcome sign can be seen over a main street.

I came to the historical Episcopalian church, a simple white structure with nice, but not elaborate stained glass windows.  Built in 1904, it was the first church established here.  Since I had no $1 bills, I emptied out all my change as a donation to the church.

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St. John Episcopal Church

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Interior of the church looking toward altar

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Drum used in some services

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I followed that street up to a small park with a totem pole at one end and a historical clock at the other.


Chief Kyan Totem Pole. This is a replica of the original which belonged to Tongass Tlingit Chief George Kyan, whose brown bear crest is the figure at the bottom of the pole. Above Brown Bear are Thunderbird (middle) and Crane (top).

Whale bench!

Bench in the park

There were other totem poles, each with a sign telling its meaning.  The native peoples did not have a written language and used these carved poles to tell the stories of a person or family.

Chief Johnson totem pole

Chief Johnson totem pole (No, I don’t know the woman standing in front of it!)

Top of Chief Johnson totem pole

Top of Chief Johnson totem pole

I then headed up Steadman, where there were a couple more totem poles, then headed up Deermount to find the Totem Heritage Center.


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St. Elizabeth Catholic Church

St. Elizabeth Catholic Church – at the side is an entrance to the Ketchikan mortuary!

Catch it if you can: Totem Heritage Center

For anyone interested in totem poles planning a trip to Alaska,  make time to visit the Totem Heritage Center in Ketchikan. You can spend half an hour up to two hours there. It’s not very big – only three rooms.

Admission was $5.00, which got me a guide to the exhibits, but I found it more useful simply to read the placards next to the displays.

Totem Heritage Center

Totem Heritage Center

At Totem Heritage Center


This totem pole commemorates those who gave of their time and funds to establish the Totem Heritage Center.

A group of people has been collecting old totem poles, many of them in pieces, partially destroyed and all lacking their original paint.  A docent there, Margaret, told me that the native peoples used three basic colors derived from materials used to make the colors.  These poles told the story of a family, she said, or an individual, because they had no written language.  Each carved figure represented something: raven, bear, wolf, fish, whale; and many had human faces carved on them also.



Heraldic Pole, Haida. This stood in front of a community house where many related families lived.

Dinosaur at the top of a totem pole??


This mortuary pole is kept inside a glass case. This pole shows a figure of a man holding a large club and a sculpin.

Once the poles were erected, they were left to deteriorate gradually and naturally. Western red cedar weathers the moist climate fairly well. The poles on display were carved in the mid-19th century. They provide examples of traditional carving for inspiration and teaching.


Raven mortuary pole, Tlingit (see next pic)

Raven mortuary pole, Tlingit

In an adjoining room were displays of masks and rattles.


Masks of the Northwest coast, created by instructors of carving classes at the Totem Heritage Center.

Halait (shaman) - Tlingit style mask, 1979; artist: Duane Pasco

Halait (shaman) – Tlingit style mask, 1979; artist: Duane Pasco





Eagle Transformation dance rattle, 2003, by Norman Jackson, Tlingit; Carved from yellow cedar and decorated with acrylic paint. Inside are pebbles and spruce root.

I had limited time – less than an hour – to see the entire exhibit before I had to return to the ship.  I would have liked to spend more time talking to the docent. The other people in the museum were a couple of young people who were there to learn about carving traditions, and they had many questions.

WPC: Face

The Weekly Photo Challenge this week is: Face.   

It always fascinates me to find unusual artwork in unlikely places. I also love folk art. There are some places that I have traveled that seem to be havens of folk art and street art.

Here, for example, is a mailbox I photographed in the old part of Havana, Cuba:


The San Antonio Museum of Modern Art in San Antonio, Texas, has many examples of faces in folk art. Below are just a few of them.

Dog faced stirrups (wood, late 19th century Bolivia) at San Antonio Museum of Modern Art:

Dog-faced stirrups (wood, late 19th century Bolivia, donated by Peter Cecere)

Masks, San Antonio Museum of Modern Art:

Molds for paper mache figures, ca. 1930 (artist unknown) – Celaya, Mexico – earthenware, San Antonio Museum of Modern Art:


Oso (Bear) (painted wood); Toro (Bull) (painted cement, iron) by Felipe Archuleta – (NM, USA). He was a carpenter who had a vision that the Lord told him to “carve wood” so he began a productive career as an artist, carving a menagerie of animals. At San Antonio Museum of Modern Art:

Balloon Man, 4th Street Market, Tucson, Arizona:

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Frank Zappa, Detail from “Hippie Gypsy” mural – Tucson, AZ:

Detail from "Hippie Gypsy" mural - Tucson, AZ

Finally, here’s my husband Dale, posing in a “frame” which we found in a plaza in Tucson, near downtown:

Dale's face framed!

Porvoo, Finland

Aug. 13, 2015

Our last destination on this, our only day in Finland, was in Porvoo, a town of about 50,000 inhabitants. First we drove past a pretty cemetery, which our guide told us was a “hero cemetery” for those killed in wars – this well-maintained cemetery contained gravestones uniform in size and shape. Boxes of pretty red flowers were placed neatly on each grave.

Our first glimpse of Porvoo from across the river

Our first glimpse of Porvoo from across the river. The very top of the Lutheran cathedral can be seen on top of a steep hill.

KODAK Digital Still Camera DSC_0950 DSC_0953Our guide passed out maps of Porvoo with numbers indicated places of interest. One of these, which she strongly recommended, was Brunberg, a candy store specializing in different kinds of chocolate.  We headed there first, patiently waited our turn while plenty of other tourists sampled chocolates and made their selections. I noticed a map of the world on the wall, with hundreds of pins stuck in it. Each pin represented where a visitor to the store was from.


Spiral staircase in Brunberg's chocolate shop

Spiral staircase in Brunberg’s chocolate shop

When it was our turn, we did sample some chocolates, but left without buying any: “The last thing we need is more sweets!” my husband reminded me. We had already bought pastries and a box of cookies at the market in Helsinki that morning.

We strolled down the shopping street, went in a few stores, and admired the simple beauty of this town. As everywhere we’d been, people were taking advantage of the beautiful summer weather sitting at outdoor cafes and strolling the streets, although it was not nearly as crowded as the major cities had been, which was nice for a change!

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Town hall of Porvoo

Town hall of Porvoo

KODAK Digital Still CameraKODAK Digital Still CameraKODAK Digital Still Camera100_0946DSC_0959DSC_0957DSC_0958We then took another street to the cathedral which wasn’t as steep as the more direct route. There were schoolchildren sitting outside drawing – three young boys were drawing a rectangular monument next to the church, and three older girls were drawing the cathedral itself. An Asian man with an expensive camera was taking pictures of them, which the girls allowed with embarrassed smiles. KODAK Digital Still Camera KODAK Digital Still CameraKODAK Digital Still CameraKODAK Digital Still CameraThe cathedral was open so we went inside.  The walls and ceilings were painted with designs and there were a few family coats of arms hanging on the wall.

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Every church we've visited in the Baltic area has a ship representing the importance of their maritime economies, and to offer prayers for sailors past and present.

Every church we’ve visited in the Baltic area has a ship representing the importance of their maritime economies, and to offer prayers for sailors past and present.

KODAK Digital Still CameraKODAK Digital Still CameraDSC_0961Back outside, we admired the view from on top of the hill before descending the steep street that led straight down to the bridge we had crossed when we entered the town.

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WPC: (Extra)ordinary – discoveries of ordinary life in Finland

Weekly Photo Challenge: (Extra) Ordinary:

I like to notice small things or everyday things when I’m traveling that most people don’t notice in their quest to take a picture of that majestic cathedral or beautiful scenery.  For example, in Porvoo, Finland (a town of about 50,000 inhabitants), we were walking on the main shopping street, when I saw this children’s chair (I tried to sit in it and didn’t fit!) with a crown affixed to the top, so a child could imagine she was a princess on her throne, perhaps:

100_0946The notches on the back of the chair presumably allow the crown to be adjustable for different sized children.

Flowers are often beautiful, but sometimes their beauty is enhanced by focusing on just one flower. While my post about Savijarvi Farm contained many pictures of the “main attractions” – the horses, the furnishings of the house, the food – this picture of a flower is one of my favorites:

KODAK Digital Still CameraAlso on Savijarvi Farm was this row of mailboxes, one for each family living there:

Each family has their own mailbox.Noticing these small things, I think, gives me a connection to the place I wouldn’t otherwise have. While most of my travel pictures are interesting tourist attractions, I love discovering these (extra)ordinary things of daily life.

Half Day in Helsinki

August 13, 2015

Our ship arrived at the port of Helsinki early this morning. I was tired when I got up, but our tour today was fairly relaxed.

View of Helsinki as we approach the port

View of Helsinki as we approach the port

Modern apartment buildings in Helsinki

Modern apartment buildings in Helsinki

Port of Helsinki signOur guide’s name was Mary, an older woman, compared to our young guides the past few days. When she was talking about World War II, she said she was a small child then but has memories of having to flee the city with her parents.
She told us about the history of Finland as we were traveling on the bus.

Finns are bilingual, or more accurately multilingual: there are two official languages, Finnish and Swedish, which are mandatory subjects in school. A family can choose to have their child go to a Swedish-speaking school, but they still study Finnish as well. In school, students are to choose an additional two languages to study as well, and most people speak good English.
In fact, shortly after we got into town, the bus passed a school – the schoolyard was filled with children playing and I saw moms accompanying their son or daughter to school; the children’s faces were expectant and happy, their backpacks clean and new. It seemed to be the first day of school – our guide and the Sweets’ guide confirmed that school started this week.
Their school year is about the same length as ours, and Mary said the school day can be 5, 6 or 7 hours, depending on the school. I wish I’d asked more about education, as Finland is known to have one of the best educational systems in the world, and it is often promoted as a model for education reform.
A little history: In 1812, Tsar Alexander I of Russia declared Helsinki to be the capital of Finland, which was a possession of Russia at the time. What the Finns call the “Freedom War” was a civil war fought in 1918, lasting 4-5 months. It was a civil war between supporters of a socialist revolution in Finland (the Reds) and the bourgeois government (the Whites). Although Mary told us that the Reds favored remaining part of Soviet Russia, according to information I found online, they actually wanted to establish an independent socialist state in Finland. This was a brutal war, as are most civil wars, and the victors get to write history. After the Whites had won the war in May 1918, thousand s of defeated Reds were imprisoned in camps, where they died of hunger and the Spanish flu. In the end, 36,000 combatants died, 27,000 of them Reds. This was in a country with a total population of 3.2 million. (Source)
After the Civil War, many of the White soldiers were brought home to be buried in their local cemeteries. This practice was continued during World War II – whenever possible, they would bring home their fallen soldiers to be buried in “hero cemeteries”. There are about 600 of these hero cemeteries – most Finnish communities have one.
Since gaining independence from the Russian empire in 1917, Finland has had 12 presidents. The first female president of Finland, Tarja Halonen, was elected in 2000 and served until 2012. The current president is Sauli Niinistö.
In the past, Finnish houses were mostly made of wood, but there have been many big fires, including a fire in 1808 that burned ¼ of the buildings in Helsinki, and in 1827, 75% of the city of Turku was destroyed by fire. After that, a law was passed prohibiting the construction of wooden houses.
We arrived at Senate Square, where many government buildings are located, including the presidential palace (yellow building on the square) and a statue of Tsar Alexander II, well-loved by Finns. He declared that Finnish would be the official language within 10 years.

Senate SquareDSC_0850 We had the option of going into the Helsinki (Lutheran) Cathedral facing the square (completed in 1852) or to Market Square, adjacent to Senate Square – or both, but we had to be back in ½ hour. I wanted to see the cathedral, but agreed to go to Market Square first, and enjoyed it to the point of no longer caring about seeing the cathedral.

Lutheran cathedral, built in 1852The market stalls sell a lot of produce – mouth-watering berries of various kinds, and many vegetables.

Berries in the market

Berries in the market

Lots of people come to the market to have breakfast before going to work, and we saw some sitting at small cafes within the market having a cup of coffee accompanied by a pastry or some other food item purchased there.

DSC_0848 It’s not surprising that Finns drink more coffee per person than anywhere else in the world, considering their harsh winter climate. One booth had a sign saying “Lapland Food”. On the menu were two different preparations of reindeer and other unusual things, with each menu item listed in five languages!

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At another stand, a girl was selling a variety of pastries, mostly wrapped in packages of 2 or 4. They were all homemade at the family’s bakery, she said. Dale wanted to get only one of a few different kinds but she said she couldn’t do that. So he bought two cheesecake and two blueberry filled pastries (both non-fat and made with only natural sugar, according to the vendor). I also chose a box of cinnamon cookies (NOT sugar free!) we had sampled – they were light and wonderful! We intended to share these goodies with the Sweets later. Dale calls them “Finnish danish”!
We bought pastries at this stand.Many other items are sold in Market Square, including T-shirts, hats and a variety of craft items, including antlers and things made out of them.
KODAK Digital Still CameraKODAK Digital Still CameraOur guide pointed out a main shopping street nearby which is heated in the winter, so it always remains dry for consumers’ shopping convenience! Also, in Helsinki’s downtown shopping area, there is free day care – they take the kids to the park while the parents take time for shopping.
Our second stop was the Rock Church (Temppeliaukio Church). It was in a square called Temple Square because it was intended that a church be built there. The result was the Temppeliaukio, completed in 1969, carved out of a natural bedrock formation with stones placed together to complete the round walls. Overhead was a circle of tightly wound copper threads, almost like a flattened coil with no center hole. Light filtered in via high windows separated by vertical slats beneath the copper ceiling.

DSC_0871DSC_0873There were no statues or icons and the altar couldn’t be simpler in this Evangelical Lutheran church. It was kind of refreshing after the luxury of other churches we’d seen. It might have even been peaceful and spiritual if it weren’t flooded with tourists.

The altar

The altar

In this picture you can see the windows encircling the ceiling, the balcony and the main floor below.

In this picture you can see the windows encircling the ceiling, the balcony and the main floor below.

At first, the Finns disliked both the Rock Church and the Sibelius monument (see below) – it was the time of the Biafra famine in Africa, and the people felt the money would have been better spent to help others. But now these attractions are visited by half a million people per year, so the locals no longer feel that way!
Finland’s people are about 84% Lutheran, 2% Orthodox, and there are approximately 14,000 Roman Catholics, 16-17,000 Muslims, and a smaller number of Jews.
We passed the Olympic stadium and Village. In 1939, the Olympic Stadium and Village were built in Helsinki in preparation for the 1940 summer games. Although the Olympic games were cancelled when World War II broke out, they were finally held here in 1952. There is a statue near the stadium of a Finnish runner, Paavo Nurmi, who broke many records and won nine gold medals during the Olympic games of 1920-1928. He dominated distance running in the 1920s and was dubbed the “Flying Finn.”
DSC_0976Mary told us that 50% of Finland is forested. The country has 188,000 lakes and many islands (Helsinki is built on a series of islands, as are Copenhagen, Stockholm, and St. Petersburg). There are 5,100 rapids on the rivers.
June 21-23 is called midsummer, when the sun never sets. Midsummer Eve is a national holiday, when people eat special food, get together to socialize, go into the sauna, then swim in cold lake water! On Midsummer Day (June 22), Helsinki empties out – Finns go to summer cottages with family or friends. Only 5-6,000 people remain in the city.
Our last major stop in Helsinki was at the monument to honor national composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957). To me, the main structure looked like a series of organ pipes, but that wasn’t what the artist intended. Sibelius never composed organ music.

KODAK Digital Still CameraThe monument was the result of a fundraising effort and a competition was held. Eila Hiltunen was declared the winner, but she was only commissioned to finish the project after some months of debate. A compromise was reached in the addition of a realistic element alongside the abstract one. In shaping Sibelius’s face the sculptor depicted him in his creative age, although many Finns are more familiar with him as an old man.

DSC_0979Hiltunen used stainless steel for the project, which is fortunate, because 35 years later the monument shows no sign of aging or corrosion. The monument was completed in 1967, ten years after the composer’s death.
KODAK Digital Still CameraKODAK Digital Still CameraFor more information about the fascinating artist that designed the Sibelius monument, click on this link.
I started humming the famous melody from Finlandia to myself. It was a favorite of Mary’s and I told her we had recently had a memorial service for my mother, who had requested it be played at her funeral.
When we returned to the ship later that afternoon, we went out to the front of Deck 5 to watch as we pulled away from the dock in Helsinki. We listened to some of Ian’s commentary about the things we passed, and Dale, especially, took many pictures!


Lost in Old Town Tallinn! (Tallinn part 2)

August 10, 2015

When the bus dropped us off in Old Town Tallinn, the first thing I noticed were the hordes of people everywhere! Since there were six cruise ships in port, each containing an average of say, 2,000 passengers – plus Tallinn has become a popular destination in Europe – Old Town was swarming with tourists. (Never mind the people that actually LIVE there who were navigating those same spaces!) The sidewalks were narrow and so many people passing that you were often forced to walk on the uneven cobblestone streets. This also meant that groups led by guides, who held up signs with their tour’s number, often stretched along considerable distance and it was hard to keep up, especially if, like me, you often wanted to stop to take a picture.  Which I did, often.

Our Matthew-Crawley- look-alike guide, Uve, gathers us around to give us a little history of what we were seeing.

Our Matthew-Crawley- look-alike guide, Uve, gathers us around to give us a little history of what we were seeing.

Uve told us we could have some free time to explore shops and go to the bathroom. There were several amber shops with beautifully decorated doorways.

Amber is a major product of the Baltic Sea.

Amber is a major product of the Baltic Sea.

Although we were right next to Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Church, we
didn’t go in because of the crowds and Uve said we’d see Orthodox churches in St. Petersburg.

Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox church

Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox church

We did, however, enter St. Mary’s Church, built in 1240 and now a Lutheran church.

Episcopalian Church

St. Mary’s Lutheran Church

Family crests covered the walls, some quite large due to one-upmanship. Uve told us this was a common and prestigious thing to do. Families also had their own pews, each sectioned off by a small door with the family’s name on it.

Looking toward the main altar.

Looking toward the main altar. Note entrances to pews have little doors – families had their own section.

Having your family crest on the wall of the church gave you status. It established your family's importance in the community.

Having your family crest on the wall of the church gave you status. It established your family’s importance in the community.

The organ was the most impressive thing in St. Mary’s Church. It is the largest in Estonia and has over 5,000 pipes.

Largest church organ in Estonia.

Apostles painted on the side of the pulpit stairs

Apostles painted on the side of the pulpit stairs

Both St. Mary’s church and Alexander Nevsky cathedral are in the area of Old Town called Toompea. Our group headed to a lookout platform, where we could see Old Town Tallinn below and take photos.  To get to this advantageous spot, however, you first had to patiently wait for someone to move and then worm your way through the crowd that was clicking away. Meanwhile, there was a teenager there who was doing fancy soccer moves for the public, a red cap on the ground in front of him for tips.

KODAK Digital Still CameraAnother young man was standing in front of a sign that said “Toompea Coin Minting”. After creating the coin, he would sell it to you on a lanyard.

KODAK Digital Still CameraWhen I finally reached the vantage point to take photos of the town below, I could see why it was such a popular place for tourists. Below us lay Old Town Tallinn and beyond, as far as the dock where our ship was anchored, the Tallinn Balloon floating overhead.

The Eurodam can be seen just under the Tallinn balloon.
KODAK Digital Still CameraBack on the walk, I got behind again – it was near a turn into another narrow street – and lost sight of my group and Uve with the sign. They’d obviously turned a corner, but which one? A crowd of people were ascending a narrow alleyway, so I went with the flow, figuring I’d catch up with the group at the top. Just then a man was coming the other way wheeling his daughter in a stroller and I had to move aside to let him pass. Meanwhile, a stream of people squeezed their way around me on my right. When I reached the top, I looked left and right – by that time, there no sign of them. So I guessed: I went right. KODAK Digital Still CameraI came to another lookout point in a small square where outdoor restaurants were full of chatting customers, and on the right was part of the old wall that once surrounded the town, and a tower which may have been part of a gate at one time. There were steps going up the side of the wall to a restaurant located in the tower, and I saw people climbing the stairs. Not many though and I was sure it wasn’t my group.

At this point, I was lost and came into this square with a section of the old wall and restaurants.

At this point, I was lost and came into this square with a section of the old wall and restaurants.

I asked myself if there were any hints about where they might be. I had heard Uve mention something about checking with the café to see if our lunch was ready. Did he really say that? If so, they could be on their way to lunch. Did anyone know I was missing? Uve always counted – surely he’d know. But how would he find me?
I left the square with the old wall and busy restaurants and tried to retrace my steps. I got back to the street that I’d been on before turning into the alley, and peered down other streets leading off it. No sign of them.
I began wandering aimlessly, trying to think and not panic. I came up with nothing – no plan of action and feeling sorry for myself that I’d miss lunch! Eventually I found myself once again in front of the orthodox church where there were hordes of people coming and going and as I approached entrance to the church, I spotted a green Eurodam sticker – more than one! Yes!

KODAK Digital Still CameraThis group’s stickers had the number 10 on them. At least they’d be returning to the same ship. I asked a man if I could stay with their group, that I’d been separated from mine. Was there room on their bus?
He said yes, but I should talk to their guide. He led me to her; she was among the throng now inside the church. A golden wall full of icons was visible above all the heads. I took one picture. (I later learned no photography was allowed inside the church!)

The woman in blue looking up is the guide of tour group #10,

The woman in blue looking up is the guide of tour group #10.

I explained to her my dilemma and she called the company she (and Uve presumably) work for. A stream of Estonian followed but it sounded encouraging. My group, she said, was at St. Nicholas Church, which was a bit complicated to get to from here. However, after that they were going to a restaurant in Town Hall Square. I fished out a piece of paper advertising the upcoming Russian bazaar on board from my bag, and also provided her with a pen. She wrote down the name of the restaurant – MAIKRAHV – and told me it was located inside the town hall. She was emphatic on that point.
She also offered to let me stay with them (but they weren’t having lunch and were leaving earlier) or go to Town Hall Square to look for my group. She told her group that she just needed a minute to show me the way.
The way was simple. She pointed out the street and told me to continue down it – “Go down, keep going down” until to the right I would see the square. It was a big square, she said. I couldn’t miss it. I decided to go, so I thanked her and off I went, tucking the piece of paper into my pocket.
I descended the long cobblestone street, passing along another section of the old wall on my right; on the left, free-lance artists displayed their work for sale.
100_0339After passing under a gate, I saw a large square to the right, full of outdoor restaurants with shade umbrellas over them, all of them bustling with people.
KODAK Digital Still CameraThe square was lined with tall, colorful buildings with streets leading off it like spokes of a wheel.

100_0345Town Hall Square

As soon as I stepped into the square, I spotted a young woman wearing an apron, obviously a waitress or something. I pulled out the piece of paper and smiled expectantly at her.
“Do you speak English?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said.
“Can you tell me where this restaurant is?”
I showed her the slip of paper with the restaurant’s name. She didn’t say anything; she seemed to be at a loss for words but led me to the front of an outside restaurant near the one where she’d been standing, and gestured with her hands, holding them open like, “here it is.”
What? This made no sense. Where was the town hall? I thanked her and then went up to a young man standing in front of the next restaurant.
“Can you tell me where is the town hall?” I asked him.
He pointed to an old medieval building across the square that had looked like it might have been a church at one time. I thanked him and headed over there.Town Hall Square (finally!). The town hall is the old building in the center.There was a door open, which led down a few stairs into a dark interior. A sign outside indicated there was some sort of art exhibit inside. I saw a man wearing a uniform standing in the shadows. I approached him and explained that I was looking for a restaurant inside the town hall, and showed him the name. He said the town hall did have a restaurant, next door, but it was called Dragon.
“Perhaps it had this name before, I don’t know. You can ask them.”
Strange. Why would the guides’ company give me a name of a place that no longer had that name? Even so, I went next door to check it out.

Over the Dragon restaurant

Over the Dragon restaurant

As soon as I entered, I was pretty sure this wasn’t the right place. A woman wearing a long striped dress with an apron over it and a fitted cap was ladling out soup into cone- shaped ceramic bowls. She was also in charge of the register and dealing with customers.
“Excuse me,” I said. She turned and looked at me.
“I’m looking for this restaurant.” I showed her the slip of paper.
She glanced and said, rather brusquely, “across the square” and nodded in that direction. I didn’t interpret her tone as rudeness – she was just very busy and hadn’t time for pleasantries.
Beautiful old buildings on the squareSo I crossed the square once more and came to the same guy in yellow I’d talked to before; only this time, I showed him the name of the restaurant. He pointed to a doorway – sure enough, the name was printed overhead. I wouldn’t have noticed it before, what with all the tables outside and people sitting at them enjoying the outdoors. I was now beginning to understand what the first girl had been trying to show me.
“It is our restaurant,” he said.
He hadn’t seen the group wearing stickers like mine, but perhaps they were inside the restaurant. He led me partway to the entrance.

I finally found our group! They were about to have lunch in this restaurant.

Sure enough, down a short flight of stairs, I saw Uve standing there! What a relief!
He did know that I (or someone) had been missing, but said they’d waited for five minutes for me, then had to go on their way. They had just arrived at the restaurant, and I saw everyone sitting around tables in the dimness. There was an empty seat next to a bearded man, and I asked if anyone was sitting there. The man said it was available, so I sat down. His name was David and his wife, sitting across from him, was Paula. They were from Halifax.
The meal was excellent and came in three courses: salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing; chicken breast over julienned vegetables, in a sauce that was very tasty if a bit peppery; and dessert cake: two layers of white cake, with a filling and topping of gelled blueberries and raspberries.
On our way to our last stop – shopping – Uve showed us the ruined wall of a church, where tombstones from the 14th and 15th century were displayed.
KODAK Digital Still CameraOld tombstones (described in previous picture)Old tombstoneFinally it was time for shopping! Paula and David were not going to let me out of their sight! Uve  told us to meet in front of McDonald’s in half an hour. The three of us stuck together while shopping, and I probably bought at least one thing I wouldn’t have otherwise. In retrospect, I wish I had purchased a piece of amber jewelry – expensive, but I may never have another opportunity!

Here's where we did a lot of shopping. Open stalls on the left, against the old town wall, shops on the right.

Here’s where we did a lot of shopping. Open stalls on the left, against the old town wall, shops on the right.

Our meeting place

Our meeting place

Charleston, SC: Palmetto Carriage Tour

Wed., March 26, 2014

We had ordered tickets for a Palmetto Carriage tour the night before, so we proceeded directly to the Old City Market, adjacent to the Red Barn, where the tour was to start. For booking in advance, once again we got free parking.

DSCN8546It was a clear, but chilly day, and in the barn it was even colder! A warmer room was adjacent to the barn, where people could buy tickets or snacks from a couple of vending machines; however, the barn was interesting – there were a lot of things to look at, such as old-fashioned horse-drawn carriages, horses and mules, and amusing signs.


feed buckets

feed buckets


Our tour wasn’t leaving until 11:15, so we had some time to look around the Market a little.

South Carolina is home to the palmetto tree, which is pictured on the state flag. Whole cottage industries arose with creations made from these trees. We saw beautifully-woven baskets made from palmetto fronds, a tradition of the African-American population here. I would have bought one but even the smallest were out of my price range! So I took pictures of them instead.

DSCN8549 DSCN8550 DSCN8551

Another mule-drawn tour

Another mule-drawn tour

When it was time for our tour, the carriage pulled up to the platform where tour-goers were waiting. Our guide helped us in, and then fetched some blankets, because it was going to be cold in an open carriage today. The carriage was drawn by two mules, each of whom had a name and distinct personality traits, as our

Our young guide

Our young guide

young guide explained. The mule on the left was lazier than the other, so the right-hand mule would bump the lazy one’s rump to get her going again! The mule on the right also tended to lean into the left mule.

The guide was very knowledgeable about Charleston’s history and the story behind the mansions we saw, and he told many anecdotal tales to keep us entertained. There are many “haunted” tales associated with certain buildings – in fact, there are ghost tours, but we weren’t going to stay in town late enough to go on one.

I took a lot of pictures, but even if we had just returned from this trip yesterday, I wouldn’t remember the names of most of the places we saw! Charleston’s historical district is characterized by small, winding streets as well as cobblestone streets -although only a few of these have been preserved -and large manor homes, built for the elite of the 19th century. These elites had made their fortunes through business or trade, and certainly many of them owned slaves. Charleston is still proud of its Confederate heritage.

I loved the ironwork and many of the decorative facades. The homes are beautiful architecturally, and several of them offered tours, although we didn’t take any of them.

DSCN8556DSCN8557?????????????????????????????????????????DSCN8561 DSCN8563 DSCN8565 ???????????????????????????????????????????????????DSCN8571 DSCN8572One can tour the Edmonston-Alston House, on High Battery, to experience early 19th century elegance (built 1825). It contains  furnishingsof the Alston family. I zoomed in on one of the balconies because of the decorative ironwork. (I don’t know what the black and purple sashes are for.)


Headed toward the harbor

Headed toward the harbor

Look at the columns on this house, which are are slightly “crooked.” (Most noticeable if you look at the railing along the side of the balcony). This was done for a reason. Boats arriving into the port of Charleston could align themselves with the columns to guide them into the harbor.



The same house from the front

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Calhoun mansion, one of the houses that holds tours

Calhoun mansion, one of the houses that holds tours

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????In this picture, people are waiting for a tour in front of the Calhoun mansion; note the chandelier in the front hall.

Below: Facades

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DSCN8593Below, Charleston Hat Man. This little “man” (all made out of hats – look closely!) is a symbol of the city, and you find him here and there on buildings or signs. Personally I found him to be a bit sinister.?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Episcopalian church

Episcopalian church

Looking toward the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, one of Charleston's most important historical landmarks.

Looking toward the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, one of Charleston’s most important historical landmarks.

Back at the Market after the carriage tour, we once again encounter the Charleston Hat Man:


Weekly Photo Challenge: Juxtaposition

Juxtaposition: Defined by dictionaryBoss:  an act or instance of placing close together or side by side, especially for comparison or contrast.

I have a file that I call “unusual pics” because of unexpected or unusual combinations of things.  I especially like the following:

IMAG1389My son’s ashtray was sitting outside on the deck where he goes to smoke. The other day after a snowfall, I noticed cigarette butts sticking out of a little pile of snow that had fallen on his ashtray!

mop & maple seedsIn another season, also on our deck, a mop had been left out after cleaning the deck. It was the season when maple trees drop their seeds, so our deck was soon covered with maple seeds which mingled with the strands of the mop.

??????????????????????????????????????This little religious shrine was set up in a corner of a nail salon. Above the religious articles is a display case full of nail polish colors.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I found this scene, in Dayton, Ohio, curious: A half-buried fire hydrant surrounded by a field of clover!

But nowhere is juxtaposition more deliberate and strange than at The Orange Show – an art-performance exhibit in Houston, Texas.  Jim McKissick, the builder/artist was retired and decided to pay homage to his favorite fruit, the orange. He collected a lot of miscellaneous things, and put them together in unusual ways. Here are some examples:


?????????????????????????????????????????????????????A female Santa with rosy red lips!

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????This is the “main stage” outside. We were told performances are still held here, although I don’t know what kind – perhaps circus-type shows for children.

The Orange Show is one of several interactive art installations throughout Houston. Most famous of these is the annual car parade held in May, but we were  able to visit the Beer Can House and Smither Park (a work in progress). More on these works of art in a future post!


Peru Journal: Last day – Lima/Huaca Pucllana

July 6, 2008

We returned by plane to Lima where we were to spend the day, then board a flight to the U.S. that night. We were given a “day room” at a hotel in the Miraflores district, where we were able to keep our luggage and rest.

Today was an interesting but frustrating day. Jayme, Dale and I spent the morning at some local tourist markets – lots of mass-produced stuff at rip-off prices. Being our last day, I was very anxious to do something interesting.

Around lunch time we ran into Val and Sharon and decided to take a cab to a local restaurant that was near some ruins located in the middle of Lima. We decided to cram all 5 of us into the cab, against the driver’s wishes! He took us to the periphery of the ruins – no one was quite sure where the entrance was, and we decided to try to find a restaurant nearby, which we did.

I looked for my bag containing my wallet in order to pay for our lunch, but realized I didn’t have it with me! I must have left it at the hotel, although I could swear I had it when we left. Oh well, with my ADD brain, it was very possible I was mistaken. I worried, though, about leaving it at the hotel, exposed to getting stolen. Dale said not to worry – our room was locked up and no one would go in there. No maid service was necessary, because we hadn’t spent the night.

We walked to the site of the ruins, walking all the way around the outer wall before we finally found the entrance! I had very few coins to my name at that point (I’d been trying to use up all my Peruvian money) and had to borrow from one of the others to pay the entrance fee.

These ruins, known as Huaca Pucllana, belonged to the people known as the “Lima Culture” and remains were also found belonging to the Wari Culture, (500-900 AD) which influenced the Lima Culture in its final century.

The Lima Culture flourished along the Peruvian Central Coast during the years 200-700 AD. The Huaca Pucllana site, located in the Miraflores district in urban Lima, was built as an administrative and ceremonial center. The central pyramid, made of adobe and clay is constructed from seven platforms. It is surrounded by a plaza and a large structured wall which divides the complex into two sections, one ceremonial and one administrative.

On our guided tour, our guide explained each of the dioramas which depicted life in the Lima Culture.

On our guided tour, our guide explained each of the dioramas which depicted life in the Lima Culture.

10561058This diorama shows how the thousands of bricks used in construction were made.

The pyramid was built to express the power of the elite priests to control the natural water resources of the area, including control of the valleys of  Chancay, Chillón, Rímac and Lurín, as well as their religious domination.

The administrative sector and the urban zone were located towards the east of the surrounding wall and were probably used for public meetings, to discuss control and improvement of production. A number of small buildings, including storage rooms completed this part.


In the ceremonial sector, including the pyramid, on the western side whose enclosure is over 500 meters in length, 100 in width and 22 in height, the priests conducted religious ceremonies honoring the gods and ancestors. Here deep pits were found in which offerings of fish and other marine life were made to appease the gods.



Urban Lima in the distance gives a perspective of the expanse of this archaeological site.

Urban Lima in the distance gives a perspective of the expanse of this archaeological site.


This hairless dog is apparently a regular visitor to the site!

This hairless dog is apparently a sort of mascot of the site!


Archaeologists found many artifacts that shed light on the Lima Culture’s economy. These included textiles, decorated ceramics, bones, stone tools and remains of alpacas, guinea pigs, ducks, fish and other molluscs, corn, pumpkins, beans and fruits like cherimoya, lúcuma, pacae, guayaba. Labor included fishing, working on plantations, gathering and hunting, manufacturing of handicrafts, textiles, basketry and tools. They also constructed and maintained irrigation canals. Textiles were simple, made from alpaca or vicuna wool, and pottery included ceremonial jars decorated with snakes and fish, in black, red and white.

1079Burial sites were also found in the pyramid, most notable of which contained remains belonging to the Wari Culture (500 AD-900 AD). Among them were the remains of the “Señor de los Unkus” (The Lord of the Unkus), which belonged to the first tomb within the ceremonial center to have been discovered completely intact. In this tomb there are three burial shrouds containing the remains of three adults and a sacrificed child.

Wari graves were subsequently destroyed by later cultures, and by the time the Incas arrived in the region, this site was already considered an “old sacred village.”

However, in October of 2010, archaeologists announced the finding of an undisturbed grave, containing 4 mummies from the Wari Culture, including an elite woman and three children.

Another interesting feature is a series of cave-like holes carved out of a section of the pyramid wall, apparently destined to be tombs of Chinese immigrants, which were also found in other sites along the coast. Those at Huaca Pucllana were presumably never used, as they appear unfinished and no remains have been found in them.

1078Excavation was begun on the site in the middle of the 20th century,  when the top of the pyramid was exposed.   In 1991, it became a historical and cultural park, which now includes a museum , a park with native flora and fauna, a handicraft gallery, a tourist restaurant and of course, a store.

Interesting window facade of a nearby bookstore

Interesting window facade of a nearby bookstore

Upon returning to our hotel, I searched the room for my wallet, but couldn’t find it. I asked at the reception desk but nothing had been turned in (I thought maybe I’d left it in the lobby). It soon became clear that the bag containing my wallet had fallen onto the floor of the taxi and I didn’t notice because 5 of us were crammed in the back, sitting on each other’s laps.  Since it was never returned to me or to OAT, whose Lima address was included in an ID in the bag, I have to assume the annoyed taxi driver found it and kept the contents, which included quite a bit of cash. I had already exchanged my soles for U.S. $200 to give to our guide, Boris, which is what everyone else was giving him also. I had no choice but to go to an ATM and withdraw another $200 to give him. Fortunately, however, my passport was not in that bag.

1083We spent the late afternoon at Lima’s modern mall, from which there was a splendid view of the ocean. This was our farewell to Peru. Later that night, we were on a bus to the airport and by early the next morning, we were back on U.S. soil.

This concludes my Peru Journal! I hope those who have been patient with me and followed it over the last year have found it interesting and enjoyable!