Monday Window: Grand Houses of Savannah

For Ludwig’s Monday Window challenge, I am using his post as an inspiration to present windows of Savannah, GA from our trip there in 2014. These windows are from grand houses (some are mansions) we encountered there.

This might be a government building.
This is a historic Victorian Mansion available for vacation rental.
Mercer-Williams House, featured in the book “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” by John Berendt. It was the scene of the 1981 murder of Danny Hansford by the house’s owner, Jim Williams.
Not a great “window photo” but I love the dual stairway!

Speaking of the book “Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil,” Lady Chablis is a main character and she was still around, at least in 2014!

Lady Chablis (famous because of the book & movie) is still going strong!
Clary’s in Savannah – we had brunch at this place, made famous by Lady Chablis, who often has breakfast here.

Journey to Egypt, Part 9: Valley of the Kings & Howard Carter’s House

December 27, 2018

(This post is part of my travel journal, and also for Your Daily Prompt 3/8/19: Nobility; and for Norm’s Thursday Doors 3/7/19 ).

This morning we visited Valley of the Kings, where there are 62 tombs of Egyptian nobility – specifically, pharaohs, including Tutankhamen. They date from Thutmose I of the 18th Dynasty to Ramses XI of the 20th Dynasty, all rulers of the New Kingdom, and most of the tombs have been raided by tomb robbers. Howard Carter hit the jackpot when he accidentally discovered Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922: most of the burial items had been left intact, giving archaeologists insight into the artifacts that would have been buried in the king’s tomb and outlying chambers.

To get to the Valley of the Kings, we took a motorcoach out into the desert.
20181227_084634To get to the tombs, there were trams shuttling groups of people back and forth.
20181227_090715We were only allowed to take photos inside the tombs if we paid 300 EP (Egyptian pounds), the equivalent of about $15.00.  Only one member of our tour group was willing to pay to take photos. Dale and I decided not to pay and refrain from taking photos, but in hindsight, I should have paid the 15 bucks – after all, it helps the Egyptian economy. Dale is too cheap, in general, to pay and he usually finds a way to take pictures anyway, which he did.

I opted, instead, to pay the equivalent of $30 for a 2-DVD set, including one containing over 11,000 photos taken by Egyptologist Mohammed Fathy all over Egypt. I figured that way I would have photos of everything, including what I missed. I have already posted a few of these photos to “fill in the blanks” and will do so again here.

We visited four of the tombs. The first was Ramses IX, which is the first tomb encountered when entering the Valley of the Kings via the modern entrance.
The king’s body was found in 1881 at Deir el-Bahri, also known as Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple, which we would visit later today. Some of the funerary items are now at the British Museum.20181227_091213
Entering the tomb was via a shat which opened into a long corridor with steps down into another corridor.  This tomb map and some information is from the web site The Tomb of Ramesses IX, Valley of the Kings, Egypt  .
ramesses9 tomb plan.jpg

There were a lot of tourists visiting, and Dale noticed some Asian tourists taking photos with their cellphones and getting away with it (he didn’t know if they had paid the 300 EP). So he started taking pictures surreptitiously. (The unlabeled photos are his.)

Along the walls, there were inscriptions and paintings, no doubt extolling the pharaoh’s victories in battle. Every surface was covered and much of the color has been preserved.


Syrian captives

The texts and decoration inside royal tombs contain illustrations of spiritual texts, including the Book of the Dead (on the left wall). These texts were to accompany the deceased pharaoh through the netherworld into the afterlife, with the expectation of eventual rebirth. Here are two photos I took recently at the Field Museum in Chicago. The first is a piece of a replica of  the Book of the Dead. The second is a diorama illustrating the second phase of the deceased’s journey to the afterlife, receiving protection from the gods during his journey.
Continuing on down the corridor, everywhere we saw spectacular artwork all around us. It must have taken many years for the pharaoh’s artisans to prepare this tomb to receive his body.

Niches line the corridor which contain representations of different gods. Below is a collage of photos taken by Mohammed Fathy of various scenes in Ramses IX’s tomb. The large red circle depicted in several of these photos represent the sun disk.

At the end of the corridors was this doorway, decorated overhead by a snake, the scarab holding the sun disk on a boat, and the eye of Horus, a symbol of protection for royalty.

20181227_091637dIn the burial chamber, the god Nut is represented on the ceiling as part of another spiritual text, the Book of Night.
The burial chamber is empty – it does not contain a sarcophagus.
These photos taken by Mohammed Fathy show details of the ceiling of the burial chamber.
Ramses IX (13)

Ramses IX (14)

Amun-Ra (creator god combined with sun god) – or possibly Horus – stands in the center of a sun disk, flanked by four baboons, which among other things “scream” to announce the sunrise.

Ramses IX (15)

This shows the symbol for a man, presumably the king, sitting in the middle of the sun disk. The goddess Hathor (goddess of fertility and love) is represented by the horns and sun disk, and the wings are the protective presence of Horus, the falcon god, who will lead the deceased to the underworld.

As we made our way back, a man approached Dale, gesturing wildly and demanding, “Ticket! Ticket!” He meant the ticket issued if you pay to take photos. Of course, Dale didn’t have one. He acted all innocent, saying, “I didn’t know” and “our guide didn’t tell us” but the man wasn’t buying it.

I suggested to Dale that he delete the photos with the man watching, but instead the man grabbed Dale’s cellphone and turned to leave with it! Of course, Dale had to follow. Outside, he asked Dale, “Where is your guide?” Whether Mohamed was within view or not, I don’t know, but Dale wasn’t going to point him out. He just looked around and said vaguely, “He’s around here somewhere.”

The man got frustrated and didn’t know what else to do, so he gave Dale his phone back and walked away!
20181227_094943dThe next tomb we went in was that of Ramses VI, which was better preserved and contained a sarcophagus!

Dale once again took a few photos! He was caught again, but once again talked his way out of it, so we do have these shots he took with his cellphone.
He even took a photo of me in one of the corridors of the tomb!
This tomb’s structure was basically the same as that of Ramses IX.

These photos are all from the collection of Mohammed Fathy, from the DVD I purchased.

Fathy even included a photo of the mummy!
Ramses VI (49).jpg20181227_094831
Next was KV 14, the tomb of  King Tausert/Setnakht.20181227_095343
Dale took a few pictures again, but this time did not get caught!


Tausert’s burial chamber


The fourth and final tomb we visited was the long anticipated tomb of Tutankhamun. It was discovered by Howard Carter in 1922 after digging for six years – no one knew who this young king was, but his name had appeared occasionally on ancient writings and artifacts so Carter began excavating in the Valley of the Kings, presumably where his tomb would be.

Tomb of Tutanchamun (7)

Present day entrance to Tutankhamun’s tomb. There is a separate entrance fee for this tomb (100 EP) and photography is strictly forbidden.

Each of the 62 tombs is numbered by the order in which they were discovered (Ramses IX is labeled with K.V. 6). Tutankhamun’s tomb is number 62. Very little is known about this king who died at the age of 18 or 19. He ascended to the throne at the age of eight, as the rightful heir of Akhenaten, the “heretic” king; Akhenaten is believed to be his father, but his mother was not Akhenaten’s beloved first wife, Nefertiti, who bore only daughters. It is speculated that Tutankhamun was the child of one of Akhenaten’s lesser wives, a woman named Kiya. It is also possible that he is not Akhenaten’s son, but rather his much younger brother, next in line for the throne because Akhenaten and Nefertiti had only daughters.

From what I have learned about ancient Egypt, it was very common for pharaohs to have a harem of lesser wives – the principal wife was the preferred mate to produce a male heir, but failing that, the pharaohs had other wives who could produce a son. Whatever the case, Tutankhamun, while officially enthroned at the age of eight (his rule is officially stated as 1333-1323 BCE), had a regent named Ay who was the vizier of his probable father, Akhenaten. Ay had been close to the royal family since Akhenaten (formerly known as Amenhotep IV) was a child. When Tutankhamun was old enough – probably in his young teens – he took the reins of power but unfortunately died after only a few years on the throne.
Tomb of Tutanchamun (5)
Although there has been much speculation about the cause of Tutankhamun’s death – a Discovery Channel documentary even theorized that he was murdered – recent improvements in DNA technology have allowed scientists to determine that he died of malaria, which must have been common in Egypt as it was in much of Africa.


Tutankhamun was buried in a hurry; his original tomb (no. 23) was not completed at the time of his death. Tomb 62 is smaller than average for a pharaoh’s burial site. (No. 23 would end up being the tomb of his successor, Ay.)
Tomb of Tutanchamun (4)
In 2007, his mummy was removed from the marble sarcophagus where it had been since Tomb of Tutanchamun (6)the tomb was opened to the public. The body, without its mummy wrappings, is now on display in his burial chamber. We had seen several of his coffins, as well as many funerary objects and his burial mask, at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Photography, even if you’ve paid 300 EP, is prohibited in Tutankhamun’s tomb. Even Dale didn’t take illegal photos there – I doubt he would have been able to talk his way out of that infraction!!

The tomb has four rooms, but only the burial chamber is decorated.
Inside the burial chamber is one of the gilded coffins in which the king’s mummy had originally been placed. There was an old man, dressed in the galabeya (a type of afghan) that traditional Egyptian men wear, in the chamber with a flashlight. He smiled at us with a mostly toothless grin and shone the flashlight onto the body’s blackened feet. I’m not sure why he did this, perhaps there was something particular we were supposed to notice about Tutankhamun’s feet. In any case, the rest of the body was covered with a shroud so only his lower legs and feet were visible.

Mohammed Fathy includes these photos (including of Tutankhamun’s body above) in his small collection of photos from the “boy king”‘s tomb, but they are not labeled and I don’t think he took them.
Tomb of Tutanchamun (1)
Two views of the burial chamber in different lighting.

Tomb of Tutanchamun (9)

Items found in King Tut’s tomb, apparently while in storage


Informational signs about Tomb no. 62


This informational sign is at Howard Carter’s house.


Adjacent to Valley of the Kings is the home of Howard Carter, the archeologist who discovered and excavated Tutankhamun’s tomb. We took a short tour through the house.

In 1908, Lord Carnavan was introduced to Howard Carter, who had spent the previous 17 years working in Egypt, but at that time was unemployed and at a low point in his life. In January 1909, Carnavan offered Carter a job and help in building a house, which was dubbed “Castle Carter.” 20181227_105637d


The garden


The doors of Howard Carter’s house (posted for Norm’s Thursday Doors, 3/7/19).
A small door in a corner (for a dog maybe?) – open…
and closed.
Door of a safe
Doors and a mirror of an armoire

Information for this post was obtained from:

Fodor’s Egypt, 2009 edition.
Web site page The Tomb of Ramesses IX, Valley of the Kings, Egypt (linked above) .
My own notes and photos.


Open House Chicago 2018-Part 2

This post continues our brief tour of Open House Chicago 2018. The second building we toured was right across the street from the Gunder House.
20181013_130955It is the Conway House, now the property of Sacred Heart Schools as the Driehaus Center20181013_131527
The home was designed by the architect William Carbys Zimmerman in the Tudor-Revival style, and built by Richard Francis Conway for $40,000.  Conway’s paving company also built Lake Shore Drive. The architect also designed several of the Chicago Park District’s field houses.
Richard Conway, the house’s owner, was a widower with 11 children (good Catholics!). He also had a houseman and two servants. In early 1922, the house was sold by the Conway estate for $78,500, a considerable sum in those days.
The restored building is a survivor from the days when Sheridan Road was a millionaire’s row. This is the front entrance of this building which is rarely open to the public.
In the 1950s it became the North End Women’s Club. In 1959, Sacred Heart Schools purchased the house and Hardey Preparatory classes were held there until 1972.
This landmark home now hosts events on the main floor and has offices for Admissions, Communications and Development on the second and third floors. It has a third-floor ballroom, Ionic columns, mahogany woodwork and even lion gargoyles guarding the drainage outlets on the porch.
The first floor is lavishly decorated with period furniture.
The staircase was carpeted with floral patterns.
Interior paneling
The interior design, windows and fixtures in this curved room were beautiful.
An alcove with beautiful stained glass windows

Miniature chairs – there were two of these. I took a photo of my husband standing next to one of them to get perspective on their size.

Embossed wallpaper detail
Upper floor window seen from the outside of the building
Since 1972, the house has been home to the Religious of the Sacred Heart, Parents of the Heart activities and an early childhood intervention program for families in the neighborhood.



Open House Chicago 2018-Part 1

Open House Chicago is an annual event – on a weekend in mid-October, about 250 buildings in the Chicago area are open to visitors. Each has a few volunteers who can tell you about the building. It is sometimes called the “architecture tour” because many of these buildings were built 100+ years ago and some were designed by well-known architects.

Chicago is known for its diverse architectural styles. It is impossible to visit all the buildings during the Open House weekend, and especially if you only dedicate a few hours to seeing them. I had wanted to go downtown, but Saturday was unseasonably cold, so we chose an area that we could easily drive to and find parking near the various sites. Another priority was to get into buildings that are rarely open to the public.

We saw three sites on the Far North Side of Chicago. The first of these was a rarely-open old mansion, called the Gunder House at the Berger Park Cultural Center, 6219 N. Sheridan Road, in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago. This was a booming, affluent neighborhood in the early 1900s until after World War II.
20181013_124953This house was designed by Myron H. Church in the Classic Revival style and was completed in 1910. It was built for Samuel and Nettie Gunder, who paid $20,000 for it!

Like many of these historically significant buildings, there were many interesting details in the design as well as interesting doors and windows. I am going to blog about each of the sites, but this first post of OHC 2018 incorporates two photo challenges: Norm’s Thursday Doors and Nancy’s Photo a Week Through Glass.

We easily found street parking and headed for the front door, with the official OHC 2018 sign out front.
Same door, from the inside
Many of these big, old houses had several fireplaces, often beautifully decorated.
The Viatorian order of Catholic priests owned the Gunder House and neighboring mansion to house student priests for 30 years.  In 1945, the coach houses were converted to dormitories.
When they moved, the priests sold the mansions to the Chicago Park District in 1981 for half the price of offers from developers.


Internal door separating rooms, with beautiful stained glass ornamentation


The same door from the passageway behind it.

The ornamentation is based on the style of the Italian Renaissance.
Most of the rooms were nearly bare of furniture.


This group of arched mirrors shows the room behind me, with its curved alcove.


This is the same room from outside, in back of the house.

The design of the house reflects an early 20th century taste for historic-revival houses based on Classicism.


I climbed the stairway to take this photo of the windows on the stairwell. The 2nd floor was roped off.


Farther up the stairs is this little window.

The Park District had plans to demolish the house, but the community rallied to save it. It was restored, then used by a non-profit cultural center from 1987 to 2012.
Currently the mansion is in disrepair.  The Chicago Park District is renovating it with supplementary funds raised by Berger Park Advisory Council volunteers.
The Advisory Council hopes to generate public interest in the mansion’s use for community activities.

Having finished our tour of the first floor, we went out back to see the park’s children’s play area and view of Lake Michigan.



WPC: Works of Art

Sue W.’s Weekly Photo Challenge this week is Work of Art.  Works of art are everywhere – an artist’s painting, a mural on a wall, a beautiful building, or natural works of art – a sunset, a rainbow, blooming flowers, animals – and animals creating their own works of art!  A work of art doesn’t have to be spectacular – it can be quite “ordinary” as long as it is aesthetically pleasing. Here are but a few samples of works of art I have photographed.

Artwork at the Art Institute of Chicago:


John Singer Sargent (American, 1856-1925), La Carmencita, 1890, oil on canvas




Charles White (American, 1918-?), Abraham Lincoln, 1952, Wolff crayon and charcoal on paperboard

Colorful mural on a wall in Des Moines, Iowa
Political art in a café, Des Moines, Iowa
Modern sculpture, Mason City, Iowa
Stockman House, designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Mason City, Iowa

Nature’s works of art:
An arrangement of orchids at a supermarket
Lotus flower, Chicago Botanic Garden
Wild sunflowers in my neighbor’s garden – she looked at this scene and said she had a natural work of art right in her backyard!
Sunrise, Des Moines, Iowa (seen from our hotel room window)
Trees bending over and reflected in a creek, Sabino Canyon, Tucson, Arizona
KODAK Digital Still Camera
Yellow-breasted weaver making a nest to attract a mate (not only is the bird a work of art, but he has created his own work of art in this intricate, tightly woven nest), Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania
Works of art can also be heard, rather than seen – here is violinist Joshua Bell playing “The Swan” by composer Camille Saint-Saens.



Thursday Doors: The Richards House B&B

The Richards House is a Bed and Breakfast lodging in Dubuque, Iowa. I reserved online in advance and had no idea what it would look like, but I guess I imagined a sunny white or yellow house with a fancy sign out front. Instead, when we arrived at the address at dusk, my heart sank. It looked like a haunted house! Even spookier because it had been raining!
I reminded myself of the old adage, “You can’t tell a book by its cover” but even so, I mounted the wet stairs* with trepidation. And we were richly rewarded – inside the house, we were surrounded by old-fashioned opulence! The family who built and owned this house previously were obviously quite wealthy, and the neighborhood contains many big old houses that most likely have been repurposed.
20181001_090245All the doors and windows at the Richard House had stained glass on and over them.


These elegant double doors were the front entrance to the house.

Even the door hinges were beautiful!
Our hostess, Michelle, showed us many features of the house, including these door hinges. She and her partner have owned the house for 29 years, which she calls “a work in progress.” They bought the house as a “fixer upper.”


This corner of our room shows the door to the room and the open door to the bathroom.

The bathroom had some old-fashioned features, including a genuine “water closet” that made a loud racket when the flush chain was pulled!

Our bathroom did have a modern shower with a glass door, but one of the rooms downstairs had a half bath plus this:20180930_171912This shows most of the room we stayed in – I was standing in front of the door when I took this photo.
Our chandelier and fireplace (there are fireplaces in each room, each of them surrounded by unique tiles).


Michelle invited us to have a “snack” – in the hallway outside our room was a refrigerator with boxed wine and two crystal cake holders, one of which was blueberry cake and the other pumpkin cake, both left over from that morning’s breakfast.  Plates, glassware and silverware were provided. I poured Dale and myself glasses of wine and helped myself to a large piece of pumpkin cake.
I wanted to take pictures of everything in the house before we left! In the morning, we joined five other people at the dining room table for an amazing breakfast – warm (freshly made) blueberry cake, bacon, egg casserole, French toast, freshly squeezed orange juice and rich coffee served in mugs with “The Richards House” embossed on the side.


Dining room windows


Dining room chandelier

Door to our room from the outside
Doors to other rooms (I think the house can accommodate 8 couples maximum at one time):
There is also a living room, or parlor, with this baby grand piano. Michelle told us that when they first got it, it had several coats of white paint on it!
Other fireplaces (there were a few more I didn’t have a chance to take photos of):

Looking down on the reception table from upstairs* where our room was:
Window on the stairwell:
Ceiling and embossed wallpaper details:

For $85 per night, this place was a steal, with all the amenities that were offered! There are different prices, I think, depending on what room you are in. A young single man paid $64 for his room. This was our last night in Iowa – the next night we were in our own bed. I strongly encourage anyone who stays overnight in Dubuque to book lodgings at the Richards House. You will not be disappointed – it’s so much cozier and interesting than a hotel room!

*If you have trouble with stairs, please note there is a stairway (about 6 steps) to get up to the front door of the house, and you should let the proprietors know that you need a downstairs room.

Posted for Norm’s Thursday Doors, 10/4/18.



CFFC: 100 Years Old and Counting…

I am combining two photo challenges here:  Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge with the theme of books or paper and Nancy Merrill’s A Photo A Week Challenge with the theme of over 100 years old.

For several years, I have been working on a writing project, which is a book about my ancestors.  Fortunately for me, the son of my great-great grandfather compiled writings by his father and grandfather, which makes research a whole lot easier! I was also helped by my second cousin, Jeff Charles, who gave me a lot of other material he had collected as well as a comprehensive family tree. I met him and his sister Carolyn for the first time in 2012, when we went to Ohio to visit places where my ancestors had lived and worked.

Log cabin June 2012

My husband and I visited this log cabin – the original home that my 3-greats grandfather built in the 1820s to house his family and also serve as a school – in 2012. Thomas E. Thomas spent his younger years in this house. Unfortunately, there was a fire two years later and the log cabin burned to the ground!


My great-great grandfather, Thomas Ebenezer Thomas, was a Presbyterian minister and an abolitionist who became fairly well known in southern Ohio where he lived and worked. His son, Albert published a book of his father’s letters in 1913.
20180521_110744_001These letters are correspondence between him and his children, colleagues, relatives and friends. The book also contains photographs of family members, which I have been inserting into the narrative of my book.


Top, my great-great grandfather, Thomas E. Thomas; bottom left, my great-great grandmother, his wife, Lydia Fisher Thomas; bottom right, one of their daughters (who never married) Leila Ada Thomas.




Top Right: My great-grandfather, John Hampden Thomas. He had three daughters, who are pictured here. Top Left is his oldest daughter, Elizabeth (known as “Aunt Bet”); Bottom Right: his second daughter, Mary May (“Aunt Pol” or Polly); Bottom Left is my grandmother, the youngest, Isabel Rogers Thomas, who became known in my family as “Gogo.”

Gogo (my oldest sister’s attempt at saying “Granny” – the nickname stuck!) married Allen Perry Lovejoy Jr. and had three sons. Allen P. Lovejoy Sr. had a house built in Janesville, Wisconsin, located in the historic center of town. All the houses of that area are now being restored and/or preserved. Gogo’s husband died young, tragically, of the Spanish flu, which was an epidemic in 1918. My father never knew his father and Gogo was the only grandparent who was alive when I was old enough to remember.

In addition to the book I’m writing, I also have a blog about these ancestors, called We Are Such Stuff IV (4th volume of ancestral history – my mother wrote the other three and called the series “We Are Such Stuff.”) The blog also includes transcripts of some of my father’s letters to my mother when he was stationed in Europe during World War II.









Thursday Doors: Some Amsterdam Doors

Before our trip to Tanzania, we spent four days in Amsterdam. It was winter and gloomy, but not too cold to walk around. Amsterdam is a great city for walking! I took more photos of doors than I have here, but I lost my phone at the end of our trip and for some reason, the photos didn’t upload into the Google Cloud. These were taken with my camera.

On Jan. 30, we had booked a tour to see the Anne Frank House (which has to be done online in advance), and also a walking tour through the Jewish Quarter. We walked and did some sightseeing in the morning before those tours. These photos are from that day.

The oldest building in Amsterdam is the Old Church (Oude Kerk), located, as it happens, in the middle of the famous Red Light District! SONY DSC

Here is more of the façade of the Old Church:

On our walk in that area, I took photos of other interesting doors:

Between the Old Church and Our Lord of the Attic Church (which I will write about in another post) was this doorway:

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We also passed a “Coffee Shop” – which is not a place to have lunch! It is where people go to smoke marijuana (hence the name over the door), but I guess you can get coffee there also.
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On our way to the meeting point for the walking tour, we went through Amsterdam’s Chinatown.
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Most people in Amsterdam commute to work either by public transportation or by bicycle. Weather is no deterrent! They just bundle themselves up against the cold and wind. So it is not unusual for an entrance to have several bicycles parked outside.
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At the end of the walking tour, we arrived at the Anne Frank House. We were not allowed to take pictures inside, but my husband insisted on having a picture taken of him at the entrance to the house.

Norm’s Thursday Doors is a weekly feature in which people share their photos of doors and entryways, and runs from Thursday to Saturday morning. Check it out!


Louisbourg, Nova Scotia

This is my travel journal for October 3, 2017, but also fits into Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week: The letter L with at least two syllables!

Today our ship docked at Sydney, on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. We had signed up for an excursion to the fortress of Louisbourg, which my husband visited back in the ’80s, and likened it to Williamsburg, Virginia. The excursion was to leave at 11:00 but we were a little late getting started due to difficulty in placing the gangway. It caused a people jam on the stairways going down to Deck 3, but eventually we were all on our way.



The port of Sydney, Nova Scotia from the m/s Veendam


On the bus, our guide introduced herself as Almina, and the driver was Edmund. Almina told us a lot about Cape Breton Island, Sydney, and Louisbourg – which she pronounced “Louburg.”

She had put a map of the fortress on each seat so I followed along on the map as she told us what we were going to do as a tour and what were the highlights to see on our own.


Diorama of the Fortress of Louisbourg

In 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht gave Newfoundland to the British. During the period between 1719-1744, it was populated by cod fishermen, merchants, and pirates (besides the native people, of course). At this time the fortress was built and expanded.
The period of 1745-1748 was the siege of New England Loyalists and France gained control of Louisbourg. In the second siege, during the French and Indian Wars, in 1758, the fortress was attacked again. The battle lasted seven weeks, France lost, and the fortress was destroyed.

SONY DSCUntil 1928, only ruins remained – foundations of houses and other buildings, including the house belonging to the Fizel family, above. After that, a team of archaeologists and historians began excavating the site and detailed documents about the fortress were found.


Fizel family effects



20171003_124246In 1960, a reconstruction project was begun, which hired mainly unemployed people for the meticulous rebuilding of the fortress. The reconstruction expanded and continued to add more structures up through the 1990s.





SONY DSCLouisbourg became part of the national parks system and uniformed guides reenacted life as it was in the 1700s.

Almina gave us 3 questions to find the answers to:
1. What is the difference between a fort and a fortress?
2. What vegetable did they NOT grow here and why?
3. Why do some of the buildings have a fleur-de-lis on them?


Some of the buildings are topped with a fleur-de-lis.

As a group, we first went to building #13, the engineer’s residence, where a servant – a woman dressed in period costume and acting completely in character – showed us how she made hot chocolate, while another servant passed out cups of cocoa to everyone.20171003_114045

The female servant said it was time consuming, so she had to get up early when the master wanted it. She told us she’d been up all night making ours! Assuming we were guests of her employer and having to serve us hot chocolate, she concluded we “must be rich.” But, she noted as she looked around, “I don’t see any lace.” She wondered about the women who didn’t have husbands, asking if these women worked. One of the women in the front said she had a pension.

“A pension? I don’t know what that is,” the servant said convincingly.20171003_114140
She herself was not married, she told us – she’d worked in this household since she was a teenager and if she’d fallen in love and wanted to marry, she would have lost her position. She said this matter-of-factly, but there may have been a tinge of bitterness behind her words. Now that she was older, she didn’t expect any of the young men or soldiers to take an interest in her anyway. But on the other hand, being single meant she didn’t have to share what she had with anyone. As for the family she grew up in, she left them behind in France to take this job and lost contact with them.


Furnishings in the engineer’s home:

She talked about an important part of her job, preparing food: lobster was a poor man’s food – it was so common and besides, rich people didn’t want to eat creatures that were “bottom feeders.”

Someone asked her about what vegetables she grew in the garden. She named some, like beans, but when someone inquired about potatoes and tomatoes, she said they didn’t grow them. Tomatoes, she said, are poisonous: “They’re a member of the nightshade family.” Although this is true, Almina said it’s not the real reason they didn’t eat tomatoes in 18th century Louisbourg. Although the people of that time didn’t know this, the real problem was that their dishes were pewter. Something in the tomato reacts to the pewter, rendering them unsafe to eat! (Lesson: Don’t serve tomato soup using a pewter ladle!)


Another fleur-de-lis

I was impressed with this “servant” – she totally stayed in character.


The soldier talks to our guide, Almina.

Outside, we met a soldier, dressed in a uniform with a white coat and layers of wool stockings. He told about life as a soldier in that remote outpost, and showed us how he primed and shot his musket – he could get off about 3 shots a minute, and that’s because he was very skilled at it.


Soldiers were issued uniforms upon arrival at the fortress, which they had to pay for, so right form the start they were indebted to their officers, since few of them had the money to pay for the uniform outright, and so they had to earn the money first. If they didn’t have a uniform, they would be cold and have trouble staying alive in this windy place.

Soldiers worked from dawn to dusk, seven days a week. They bunked in barracks full of fellow soldiers. The picture he painted of that life was bleak, but men enlisted in order to have steady employment and a certain amount of status compared to a common laborer or a man who couldn’t find steady work. They were dependent on the good will of their commanding officers, who “gave” them things (actually sold them, because it would be deducted from their pay) and looked out for them.SONY DSC
For a serious infraction, a soldier might be shackled to a wooden horse that stood in the yard. The offender would mount the horse and his feet would be shackled underneath. His hands would also be cuffed. He would have to remain there, enduring the vagaries of the harsh climate as well as the taunts of his fellow soldiers, until his commanding officer saw fit to unshackle him.


The sparse military chapel

From there, Almina took us to the military chapel, where she narrated more about the life and history of Louisbourg. We were given free time to explore the fortress, but we were to be back at the bus by 2:45 p.m.


Next to the chapel is a museum of found objects.

20171003_124143In the summer, there are lots of tourists here and the place is fully staffed with costumed employees demonstrating various aspects of life in 18th century Louisbourg. In October, things are winding down, but some of the staff remains. There is still lots to see.SONY DSC





Lackey’s room


We missed some of the demonstrations, though, such as the lace makers, because Dale and I went to the Hotel de la Marine to have lunch. It was 18th century food served by waitresses in period dress. We had pea soup, which contained sliced carrots and was served with bread. It was quite filling.SONY DSC

However, we had to wait about 10 minutes for a table and the service was a little slow. At the table where we were seated was a young German couple from Nuremburg in Bavaria, who were travelling on their own, although they did have an itinerary and booked places to stay. They had rented a car and were doing a lot of hiking. We enjoyed talking to them.SONY DSC





Answer to question #1: a fort houses only military, while a fortress has both military and civilians living there.
Answer to question #2: Tomatoes, because they thought they were poisonous.
Answer to question #3: The fleur-de-lis, the symbol of France, was placed atop buildings owned by the French government.



If we had more time, we would have been able to see everything there was to see in October. If you don’t mind crowds, however, you should visit Louisbourg in the summer when everything is in full swing.  It is definitely worth a visit if you travel to Cape Breton Island.

A walk in Rio’s Flamengo neighborhood

November 24, 2016

Today is Thanksgiving in the U.S., and since Carlênia, my sister-in-law, has dual citizenship, I had promised her we’d take her to a nice restaurant of her choice for “Thanksgiving” dinner. She chose a famous Italian restaurant, La Fiorentina, conveniently located in Leme* just a couple of blocks from the apartment where we were staying.



Carlenia at La Fiorentina


Later that afternoon, we took some of our clothes to Carlênia’s apartment in Flamengo to wash, since she has a new washing machine and the apartment where we are staying doesn’t have one.  To escape that confined, crowded space, Dale and I decided to take a walk to Flamengo Beach. Before we left, Carlênia told us the best (safest) way to get across the busy streets to the aterro (area that has been filled in with land) and the beach, but Dale insisted we cross the busy streets right away – I was afraid we’d get run over because the cars come around curves without even slowing down. Well, we made it across – barely! – and went through an underground passage below the busiest street, which was essentially an urban highway. Once safely across, I worried about getting back safely!

We went through a little park honoring Mexico and its relationship with Brazil before we got to the underground passage.

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A park on the beach side contained a fairly large building with undulating arch roofs – it seemed to me that it had to be the modern art museum, although people were hanging around it and no one was going in; also there was no sign. I later found out from Carlênia that it was O Porcão, a churrascaria that had gone bankrupt and closed.


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Defunct restaurant O Porcão


We took our shoes off and walked on Flamengo Beach.


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Sugarloaf Mountain, as seen from the Flamengo aterro



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KODAK Digital Still Camera

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KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

When we left the beach and put our shoes back on, we were near “Posto 2” and a bridge over the highway. The bridge ended right next to a crosswalk, to my relief! We crossed and followed that street all the way back to Carlênia’s street, Oswaldo Cruz.

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One of the few remaining houses in the beach neighborhoods of Rio – a historic house with beautiful gardens around it.

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KODAK Digital Still Camera

I never did see the bar Bel Monte that she had told us to use as a landmark, although a few days later, we passed it by car and she pointed it out.

The names of the streets in Brazilian cities are mostly of people significant to the history or culture of that city. Walking around Rio, I noticed something I’d never noticed before during all the times I have been in this city: the street signs have a short, one-sentence, bio of what that person was known for. If the street is named after something other than a well-known person, that is explained too, except maybe for obvious ones like XV de novembro (Nov. 15 – Proclamation of the Republic, which every Brazilian schoolchild has learned in elementary school).


*Leme (which means “rudder”) is a neighborhood located on the far eastern end of Copacabana Beach. From our apartment there, you can see the whole curve of Copacabana Beach to the west.


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View of Copacabana from “our” apartment in Leme