Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Amazing Architecture

As Professional Innsitters we get to work in a lot of beautiful homes: old victorians, charming cottages and modern town houses. We do not get to see places like this! On our recent vacation we saw lots of amazing architecture and I'm going to share some of my favorites with you...

A lot of truly amazing architecture is to be found in Portugal. Both of these two palaces are in Sintra. The Pena Palace above is a fantastical pastel concoction that sits on top of a mountain looking down on all the other palaces. From there you can take a lovely stroll down to town.The Regaline Palace is done in the Manualine [lavishly overdecorated] style of architecture that is so popular in Portugal. This one because has a 100ft deep well with carved staircase that you can follow down to a cave!

 Here's another Manualine Palace ,a really lovely complex with a lake surrounded by palm trees- the Mataeus Palace in the Duro Valley outside of Porto. Yup, it's where good old Mataeus Rose wine was made. It is sill a winery and they make much better wine now - good thing Kirk was driving on our tour of the Duro Valley so that I could sip as much as I wanted! We stopped at several wineries some in palaces and some in old farmsteads.

Look closely at this amazing architecture - uh huh, human skulls used as molding! This is the Chapel of the Bones in Evora. All the walls in the chapel where made of bones to remind us how fleeting life is. Spooky!

This wonderful architecture is in Morocco but it is called the Portuguese Cistern because it was designed by a Portuguese architect. It is a hauntingly lovely cistern that has been in El Jadida for 800 years. Now the floor is covered with just a few inches of water to create beautiful photos such as this one.

Morocco itself is filled with amazing architecture - lots of very ornate plaster, stone, glass and wood work. The Islamic decorations are very geometric and detailed and some of them are very ancient. This door way is a mosque in Fez. Of course we could not go in but our guide showed us where to stand to get a peek and take a picture while the local men went to worship.

 This classic horseshoe archway is in an old Madersa or school that has been in Fez for 900 years - it used to be a place for Islamic students to study and now it is a place for tourists to be amazed.

As you can see we had an amazing vacation and the architecture was a big part of it.
What sort of architecture do you like best?

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Travels with TayCee

My little grandaughter, Eleanor, calles me TayCee... I know, too cute right? This year on our vacation from Innsitting Kirk and I went to Morocco and guess who went with us? Well, of course her mother came along too so it was a real family affair.  I have to admit I was nervous about a baby in Morocco but she was treated like a princess and it was a great place to have a little one.

   Here we are having breakfast in our apartment [part of an old palace decorated with the most beautiful tile and plaster work you have ever seen] before going out to explore the ancient city of Fez. Our "home" was right in the middle of the warren of streets that makes up the old Medina but Noura [that's Arabic for Eleanor] did just fine with the crowds, donkeys, and noise. We had fun seeing sights and shopping - in the leather market she was given a tiny pair of slippers with sequins on them.

That night we had dinner at a restaurant called the "Ruined Garden". Yup, it was in a beautifully haunting ruined garden attached to a ruined palace. The food in Morocco is not varied but it is delicious - farm to table is the only way.  Noura loved the tagines: rice with vegetables and chicken cooked in a cone shaped pottery dish then brought to your table as a pyramid of food.

From Fez, we went to the Sahara - what a stunning place! Noura got to ride a camel and loved it. Here she is getting up close and personal with TayCee's  mount. Behind us is Ali, our host, who set up our camel ride in the desert and just LOVED the little one. He watched over her with an eagle eye. When she was ill, he brought her yogurt and as we left he gave her a hand made shirt that said "sahara" on it.

  Then on to Marrakesh. We had another Medina apartment. This one had a lovely private roof top deck with a covered sitting area and then a skylight to the "riad" below. This photo is a "dance party" on the deck before going out for the evening.  The baby's favorite thing in Marrakesh was a fun horse drawn carriage ride from the famous "al Fna" square  back to our "home".

Our last stop in Morocco was the seaside town of Essouria where Noura and TayCee loved to get their toes wet in the ocean. Here we had a magical blue and white house right on the ancient city walls and we had lots of fun exploring the fortifications. Of course we also took time to buy a few last trinkets from Morocco and have a few more great dinners.

What wonderful
    Travels with Taycee!!