Christmas Markets came late to the UK. It’s not that the UK didn’t celebrate Christmas. Since Victoria’s Albert brought the Christmas tree to England the Brits have done it up in grand style. Before Christmas markets, in the European fashion, came to the UK there was always Covent Garden with its stalls and decorations and Regent Street moving out from Piccadilly Circus. (Below are some … Continue reading Brexit Or Not, London Gets European Christmas Markets
The posts below are all from a working trip to Istanbul in May 2016. The first picture is or the old Roman aquaduct. Then there are the city walls. You can see where they are being rebuilt and where they are in a state of delightful decay. Then there the mosques, old wooden buildings and other wonders of Istanbul. Go to the bottom of the … Continue reading Istanbul 2016
Suzi and I are running a workshop in a Hilton Hotel in Istanbul. We’re working with Syrian broadcasters. We could be in any Hilton Hotel in the world. This one is far from the interesting parts of the city, surrounded by new high rises and vacant lots that will soon hold new high rises. One intriguing pair of towers is named “Ant Hill.” No kidding. … Continue reading Istanbul Oddities.
Thursday night was our last night before I took off for Tbilisi. At sundown we were on the Galata Bridge over the Golden Horn. It was a beautiful night with the call to prayer melding with tram bells and music from the floating restaurants. We had dinner in an outdoor cafe on a small walking street. “Turkish Delight on a Moonlit Night.” Continue reading Golden Horn at Dusk
One evening, at sunset, we went to the park between Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque. We watched the night architectural lights come on at both buildings as the sun set and the evening call to prayer came from three different minarets. Carpet shop owners complained about the lack of business as they tried to get us to visit for a cup of tea. (More … Continue reading Evening Call to Prayer
Instnbul has a hop on- hop off boat that cruises between Europe and Asia in a two hour round trip. Continue reading Istanbul’s Hop on – Hop off Boat
We took the new light rail to the Spice Market. This week Istanbul is full of the world’s humanitarian aid leaders, at the Humanitarian Summit, but because of terrorism threats tourism overall is way down. One man said “come into my shop. I have everything but customers.” Continue reading Istanbul Spice Market
On Monday we met our friend Andrea Lemieux, a former IREX, colleague for lunch and a visit to one of her favorite places in Istanbul. The Kariye Museum (Chora Church). Constantine built it outside the walls of Constantinople, although this version of the church was erected by Justinian. The Turks made it a mosque, plastering over the artwork, but in 1945 it became a museum. … Continue reading The Kariye Museum (Chora Church)
The last time we were in Istanbul the Suleymaniye Mosque was closed for renovation. This trip I finally got in to see a mosque that has intrigued me since I took a history of architecture class at St. Olaf. I love the light, the color, the curves — the whole way it comes together. Continue reading Suleymaniye Mosque
Istanbul (not Constantinople) loves cats. According to Andrea some neighborhoods have free cat clinics where vets care for strays. Some folks take their pet cats to the clinic for free care. People leave bowls of water and people keep kitty kibble in their pockets to leave little piles. At the cemetery by the Suleymaniye Mosque water bowls sit discreetly behind headstones. We watched a kitten enjoy … Continue reading Kitties of Constantinople
This trip I decided to spend two jet lag nights in Munich, or rather Freisling, a small town near the airport. This time I decided to take the train from Freisling to Fussen and the onward bus to Hohenschwangu and Mad King Ludwig’s Neuschwanstein (New Swan Rock) Castle. I priced out second class rail and bus connections at €58 but the lady at the ticket … Continue reading A Train Trip through Bavaria.
This is the second part of a letter. For the first part see the post posted just after this one. The train pulled into Fussen and everyone ran for the 78 Bus to Hohenschwangu to visit Schloss Neuschwanstein and Schloss Holenschwanagau. The guys from Cancun got on the first bus out to try to get on the ticket line for Neuschwanstein. Neuschwanstein is the castle … Continue reading Neuschwanstein
The Lille Christmas Market is the first one I have attended in France. Lille bills itself as the most Flemish town in France. It’s thoroughly French in language but the architecture is more Flemish-Dutch. It is the heart of French Flanders and the market is in the heart of Lille. The Lille Christmas Market had crafts and that interested me more than the others I visited … Continue reading Lille, France Christmas Market
Hasselt “Winterland” Market is, perhaps the most commercial Christmas market we have encountered in Europe. It reminds me of the tables under the grandstand at the Minnesota State Fair. There was a collection of kitchen wares, knives, trinkets, I half expected to see a Vegimatic and a Pocket Fisherman. Some of this “State Fair” feeling is accentuated by the tent like pavilions with tables on … Continue reading Hasselt Winterland, 2014
The last time I was at the Brugge (Bruges) Christmas fair, in 2007, it was a short visit. It was raining and cold. The skating rink in the middle of the main town square was more slush than ice and, while the city is one of the prettiest in Belgium, I didn’t really enjoy the visit. This year was completely different. It was a clear … Continue reading Brugge (Bruges) Christmas Market, 2014
Christmas Markets started in Central Europe, Austria and Southern Germany, and have moved up and down the Danube and spread out from that waterway across the continent. London has always had great Christmas decorations and shopping, but the European style Christmas Market crossed the Channel only in the 1980s. Today there are Christmas Markets, Fairs and Faires, throughout England, with the big one in Hyde … Continue reading Covent Garden, London, 2014
Valkenburg is perhaps the most unique, and possibly the most interesting, Christmas Market in Europe. I have been back to this market in The Netherlands three times now. The first two times with our friends Dave and Carol Lam. (The last visit was 2007, to see my post from then click here.) We were here this year because we were in Brussels for Carol’s funeral. … Continue reading Valkenburg Christmas Market, 2014
These are two letters from Serbia I wrote about Thanksgiving from 2010 and 2011. 2010 (Suzi is in Egypt, I am in Belgrade, Serbia) Thanksgiving morning was the first cold, clear day of the season. Some of the lights in the flat worked, some didn’t work. So I called the landlord. By 9:15 I had an electrician. It appears a trolley bus jumped the lines … Continue reading Thanksgiving in Serbia, 2010 and 2011
1995, Tirana, Albania The Rogner Hotel in Tirana had a big Thanksgiving feed this year. We took our neighbors Vera, Syri and Eda with us. They often express curiosity about this hotel, so we saw our chance. No one understands why Syri, Vera, Suzi and I have become such good friends. They don’t speak much English, we don’t speak much Albanian. We communicate in a … Continue reading Thanksgiving in Albania,1995. With Bob Dylan
We have been through Lille before, many times on the train from London to Brussels, but have never seen more than the railway station. This time we went with our friend Dave Lam and his daughter Rachel to visit the Lille Christmas Market, which is the subject of a different post. I found it a charming city even though I didn’t get much outside the … Continue reading Lille “The Most Flemish Town in France”
Hasselt is the chief town of the Belgian commune of Limburg. It is near the Dutch border and there is a similarly named province in the Netherlands. Suzi and I visited Hasselt after Carol Lam’s Funeral with Dave, and their adult kids. We went because of the Hasselt Winterland, a Christmas Market, but found the town interesting in its own right. The begijnhofsite is now … Continue reading Hasselt, Belgium and the Begijn Movement.
When the St. Pancras railway station opened in 1868 its wrought iron and glass train shed, designed by Henry Barlow, was the largest single structure roof in the world. It was 689 feet long, 240 feet wide and 100 feet high. The station was the pride of the Midland Railway and was fronted by a Victorian gothic revival hotel, The Midland Grand, designed by George … Continue reading St. Pancras International Railway Station
I woke up at the St. Pancras Hotel in London this morning at 5 AM with a great sense of quiet and thankfulness. Normally when I wake up early it is because of some imagined fear or excitement for the day ahead. This was different, a sense of calmness kept me awake. It had been a difficult week at the funeral of a dear friend. … Continue reading Thoughts on the way home.
It’s Throwback Thursday. This is a letter from November, 1993. I edited out the middle of the letter, where I talk about our time in Vlora, for reasons of length. But I remember we went swimming in the Adriatic Sea on the last day in October. The return bus trip was on Halloween night and there was a full orange moon. At least that’s what … Continue reading A 1993 Albanian Bus Adventure, Tirana to Vlora and back