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1.-Rosecliff

Rosecliff

Whenever Newport, RI is mentioned, Bellevue Avenue with its row of elegant mansions that served as “summer homes” for the wealthy in the early 1900’s comes to mind. Growing up in Newport, I, along with most of the other “natives,” only visited these mansions when we had company from out of state. This summer I decided that it was time to revisit a few of these impressive estates.

 

5-The-Breakers

The Breakers

Mike and I started with a tour of The Breakers, perhaps the grandest of the Newport mansions. I remember visiting it when I was in my teens and guided tours by docents were conducted. Times have changed and the tours now include audio guides that give excellent room by room descriptions along with a history of the people who lived in these “summer cottages.”

The Breakers, which epitomized the Gilded Age, is a 4 story limestone mansion that was modeled after Renaissance Italian palaces. It was built in the mid 1890’s as a summer home for Cornelius Vanderbilt II and replaced the first Breakers which was destroyed by fire in 1892. This 70-room mansion, 33 for staff alone, is located on 13 acres and was designed by Richard Morris Hunt. Many of its rooms were designed and built in Europe then shipped to Newport and reassembled on site.

 

2.-Breakers-Monogrammed-Gat

The Breakers Gates

While one of the most luxurious of the Newport Mansions, the Breakers is not located on Bellevue Ave, but rather two blocks away on Ochre Point Avenue. The first sighting of this “stone palace” is through its ornate monogrammed gates.

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The Breakers Grand Staircase

Once inside the mansion, it’s easy to feel the imposing scale of this building. While all the rooms are impressive, the Grand Staircase in the Great Hall is exceptionally striking. Glittering chandeliers and marble fireplaces adorn massive rooms but the view from the second floor open air loggia made our visit complete — beyond the well-kept, massive green lawn, lay the Atlantic Ocean.

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View of the Atlantic Ocean from The Breakers

 

On another day trip to Newport, we chose to visit Rosecliff. We were more familiar with this mansion since it is the site of the Newport Flower Show which we have attended as judges for the rose horticultural entries for the past several years.

This is not the original Rosecliff which was a wooden cottage owned by George Bancroft, a horticulturalist who maintained a rose garden here (hence, the name Rosecliff). After Bancroft died, his estate was sold to Mrs. Oelrichs and her sister who increased the size of original estate by purchasing an additional 11 acres off Bellevue Ave. They hired Stanford White to design a new Rosecliff, the same architect who designed the Newport Casino. Rosecliff was modeled after the Grand Trianon at Versailles, and is a far cry from the original Rosecliff of George Bancroft.

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Rosecliff’s Grand Staircase

After entering Rosecliff and obtaining the audio tour for the mansion, the first thing seen is the red-carpeted, rococo, heart-shaped grand staircase. It’s no wonder that this venue is so popular with brides.

 

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Oscar Wilde

 

On the day of our visit, the exhibit “Bohemian Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement and Oscar Wilde’s Newport” was on display on the second floor which we reached by walking up this majestic staircase. The exhibit featured a selection of furniture, ceramics, paintings and costumes, among other objects, that revealed the belief of “art for art’s sake,” a movement which Oscar Wilde supported. Below are photos from the exhibit.

 

 

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Bohemian Beauty Exhibit

 

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Bohemian Beauty Exhibit

After viewing the exhibit, we continued on our tour which took us to the focal point of Rosecliff — the 40’x 80’ ballroom, the largest of the Newport mansions. This was where parts of The Great Gatsby with Robert Redford was filmed in the 1970’s, as well as the movie True Lies starring Arnold Schwarznegger in 1994.

 

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Rosecliff Ballroom

One of my favorite rooms was the library with its wood paneled walls and low, intricately designed ceiling.

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Close up of Library Ceiling

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Rosecliff’s Rose Garden

Rosecliff, like The Breakers, overlooks the Atlantic. On our way to the back of the mansion to see the ocean, we walked through the rose garden which had recently been renovated. The hardscape, including statues and urns was fantastic; however, the garden roses were disappointing, as you can see from the photo above.

 

 

 

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Rosecliff Terrace Facing Atlantic Ocean

There are many other Newport Mansions left to explore. I think the Marble House and The Elms are next on our list. For more information about visiting the Newport Mansions visit http://www.newportmansions.org

 

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1-Rijks-Museum.Mike

Rijks Museum

What drew us to our recent visit to The Netherlands, besides tulips, was its world-class museums. On our “Bucket List” of great museums to visit were the Rijks and the Van Gogh, as well as the Mauritshuis in The Hague. The Rijks and Van Gogh were both conveniently located in Amsterdam’s Museumplein, a large, park-like square surrounded by museums that also included gardens and a large water feature and just a short tram ride from our hotel. Using the tram is the best way to travel around Amsterdam and see the sights at the same time. Tram tickets can be bought for 1,2 or 3 days at most major hotels and allowed unlimited rides.

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Amsterdam Tram

 

 

In anticipation of exploring the museums, we bought museum passes which enabled us to skip any lines, although we found out by doing some research beforehand, that tickets for the Van Gogh and Anne Frank House were available on-line only.

The Rijks Museum

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The Little Street by Johannes Vermeer

The first museum we visited was the Rijks that housed a collection of the Great Dutch Masters which included our favorite – Johannes Vermeer. We had heard that there could be long lines, but when we arrived at mid-morning on a weekday in April, we walked right in. (When we returned to the Museumplein a few days later on the weekend, the queue at the Rijks was very long.) After looking at the museum map, which gave us a floor plan and highlights of the collection, we made a bee-line to the four Vermeer paintings in the permanent collection: Woman Reading a Letter, The Milkmaid, The Love Letter, and The Little Street. The Little Street was our favorite and we brought home a print to remind us of this great painting and iconic museum.

16-Nightwatch

The Nightwatch

Mike was eager to see Rembrandt’s Nightwatch which wasn’t hard to find since it took up an entire wall and had its own museum security detail stationed nearby. It was amazing to stand in front of this great painting. A picture doesn’t do it justice.

3-Delftware.The-Rijks

Delftware

We wandered the galleries, enjoying the display of Delftware, and came across an impressive ship model that caught Mike’s eye.  After a few hours in the museum and a visit to its gift shop, we strolled around the Museumplein, where I stopped to rest a bit near the fountain. Then we hopped back on the tram.

The Van Gogh Museum

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Van Gogh Museum

We had purchased on-line tickets for the Van Gogh Museum for 10:30 AM on a Saturday morning. This is the only way tickets are sold, so if you plan on visiting the Van Gogh, make sure you buy your rickets in advance. (We saw a few disappointed visitors who walked up to the ticket window at the Van Gogh, only to be turned away.) This museum was modern, bright and airy and consisted of two buildings — the main building which houses the permanent collection and the exhibition wing which where temporary exhibitions are displayed. Photography is not allowed at this museum, a disappointment, but also a blessing, since it allowed us to take the time to view Van Gogh’s paintings up close and personal, and not through a camera’s eye.

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Almond Blossoms

The permanent collection of Van Gogh’s works was impressive with 200 paintings and numerous drawings arranged chronologically, depicting the various periods of the painter’s life. We enjoyed the range of Vincent Van Gogh’s works, from the dark and gloomy “The Potato Eaters” to his glorious “Sunflowers” and “The Bedroom.” I was especially taken with the Van Gogh & Japan exhibit which highlights the Japanese influence on Van Gogh’s paintings. I loved his “Almond Blossoms” and took home a journal covered with this print as well as a pillow cover.

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Seascape near Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer

Mike and I really liked the Van Gogh painting called ”Seascape near Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.”  We liked it so much that we bought a large poster and also a large postcard that we keep on our computer desk where it reminds of this visit to the Van Gogh Museum as well as the diverse talent of Vincent Van Gogh.

 

The Mauritshuis

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Mauritshuis

After 5 days in Amsterdam, we moved to the small city of Haarlem, 12 miles away,  to experience Holland outside of Amsterdam. We took a short train ride from Haarlem to the Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague.

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Haarlem Train Station

It took only 45 minutes plus a short walk to the Mauritshuis where we knew the famous “Girl with a Pearl Earring” was on display. While we had seen “Girl” at the Frick Collection in New York a few years ago, we were excited to view some of Vermeer’s other paintings that are part of the permanent collection at The Mauritshuis. We weren’t disappointed. We saw “Diana and Her Nymphs,” a painting very unlike all the Vermeers we were familiar with, and  “View of Delft” which was fabulous. After meandering through other galleries where we admired several magnificent Steen paintings as well those of other Dutch Masters, we found ourselves drawn back to the “View of Delft” and decided we had to take a print of it home. Next trip, I’m going to bring an empty suitcase along.

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View of Delft

Vermeer Centrum

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Nightwatch in tiles at Royal Delft

The next day we boarded a train bound for Delft to visit the Vermeer Centrum. (Train travel in Europe is clean, reliable, and economical.) We had heard the criticism that all the paintings here were reproductions, but we found that the experience of touring the Centrum was not disappointing. Where else could we get to see full-size images of all of Vermeer’s paintings as well as an in-depth look into his life?  It was well worth the trip as was our tour of the Royal Delft showroom and factory, a 20-minute walk away. We were delighted to find during our tour, Royal Delft’s version of Rembrandt’s “Nightwatch” and Vermeer’s “The Little Street.”

Anne Frank House

9-Anne-Frank-HouseLast, but high on my wish list, was the Anne Frank House. Buying tickets wasn’t easy — they were available only on-line 2 months prior to a desired date. I had almost given up hope until I realized, just by playing with a few dates, that the closer I got to the date of our visit, the greater the availability of tickets. I felt lucky when I managed to get 2 tickets for the day before we were to fly home.

It was a rainy day as we waited in line at our scheduled entrance time but time passed quickly as we struck up a conversation with a couple from Texas. Once we were inside and started the tour, though, there was very little talking and only in hushed tones. Climbing the narrow stairs to the top floor and walking through the mostly empty rooms that had some of Anne Frank’s mementos was a chilling experience.

10-Anne-Frank-StatueI left with a feeling of melancholy and great sadness to know that Anne Frank survived two years in those rooms, only to be discovered, arrested, and killed  months before the end of the war. Who betrayed the Frank family? It seems that, even all these years later, nobody knows the answer the that question.

Our exploration of these museums gave us an insight into the history and art that The Netherlands has to offer its visitors, as well as memories (and mementos) we’ll treasure.

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1-Bruges-Markt

Bruges Markt

Angelina and I like to drive part or all of each trip we take whenever possible. Driving gives us the freedom to move at our own pace, make unscheduled stops, and change our itinerary on the fly.  However, driving in Europe presents additional challenges that we do not encounter with domestic travel. The insurance is pricey plus left-side driving in the UK and Ireland requires a mental driving adjustment as does scooting around endless round-abouts.

That said, we picked up our Hertz mid-size, 4-door sedan in Amsterdam and headed for Bruges in Belgium. We cruised comfortably along the motorway, careful not to exceed the posted speed limit. The penalties for speeding in European countries are harsh and there were speed cameras everywhere we traveled throughout both countries. Crossing the border from Holland into Belgium was anticlimactic, simply a small welcome sign.

After three hours on the road, we arrived in the medieval town of Bruges in the Flemish region in northwest Belgium. We stayed in a hotel on a quiet slip of a lane in the old town that we would never, ever have found without the GPS in the car.

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Tea-Rooms around The Markt

We spent three days in Bruges (Brugge in Dutch) which has maintained its quaint character with narrow cobbled streets and  picturesque canals. The historic Markt, market square, is the center of the old town and ringed with stately historic buildings and lots of shops and “tearooms.” The menus in all the tearooms in the Markt were similar, not much different than what we eat at home. But when we strayed away from the tourist areas, venturing down the side streets, we found small eateries that served great Flemish meals — all within walking distance of our hotel. I had no problem finding gluten free choices.

4-Bruges-Restaurant.TearoomOne of my favorite meals was a bowl of chicken stew with roasted potatoes and a fresh salad.

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During the day, the streets were packed with visitors but emptied out in early evening. The nights were surprisingly cold (mid-April) and we were glad that we packed jackets and long sleeved shirts.

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Speaking of food, Belgian chocolate has an international reputation for quality and now we know why. There was no shortage of chocolateries in Bruges, each shop featuring a wide assortment of chocolate, usually providing samples to taste. And taste we did. We brought a half dozen boxes home and later wished we had brought more.

5-Bruges-Canal

One afternoon we took a 2-hour walking tour of Bruges, stopping at churches and other points of interest, fully appreciating the extent of the canal system and the role it played in the commercial development of this part of the country. Each bridge over a canal presented a picture-postcard photo opportunity for us and the throng of other visitors that crammed the town each day we were there.

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On our second day, we drove an hour to Ypres in Flanders, an area devastated in World War I. The town was completely destroyed by 1919 but has since been re-built to look exactly as it did before the war. This is where the “In Flanders Field Museum” is located and one of our planned stops for the day, The museum was easy to find in the center of Ypres and impressively depicts the horror of WWI in Flanders with a series of extraordinary exhibits. We spent several hours there and the museum alone was well worth the trip.

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In Flanders Fields Museum – Ypres, Belgium

Early the following morning, we left Bruges to return to Amsterdam by taking the North Sea route, planning to spend the day exploring the dramatic measures the Dutch have taken to hold back the North Sea. As we crossed the border heading for the Dutch coast, we encountered round-about after round-about during the 90 minute drive, reminiscent of our motoring through the west coast of Ireland. Eventually, we drove through the Western Scheldt Tunnel, a 4-mile long tunnel under an estuary of the North Sea and arrived in Middleburg. We stopped for a quick lunch, got gas (€1.66 per liter/ $7.63 per gallon) and continued our drive toward the North Sea.

11-Dutch-Wind-TurbinesAs we approached the coast, the landscape changed with the mighty North Sea on one side of the highway and Dutch farmland and huge wind turbines on the other. Half of The Netherlands lies below sea level and Dutch history is replete with periodic floods. Late one night in February 1953, a fierce winter storm crashed ashore at high tide breaching dams and dikes and flooded almost a half million acres of fertile farmland — the mother of all floods. While the Dutch quickly repaired the damage, they realized that a stronger system of barriers were necessary to prevent such a re-occurrence.

Out of this disaster came the Delta Project, an incredible series of dams, dikes, levees,  and storm surge barriers designed to hold back a restive North Sea taking 40 years and $13 billion to complete.

10-Driving-Atop-Storm-SurgeOur route took us along the top of one of the storm surge barriers with an exit at Neetltie Jans, an artificial island created as part of the barrier. We parked and walked to the massive barrier and saw 62 steel gates that open and close as needed. The tide was coming in, rapidly rolling and roiling, a sober reminder of the power  of the North Sea.

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We continued on to Amsterdam with a great deal of respect for Dutch engineering.

We flew home two days later. Once again our daily routines had paused while we enjoyed a journey to a new and exciting far away place.

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2-Chute.-Tulip-Time-at-Keuk

Keukenhof

Holland and Belgium were high on our Master Bucket List, so Angelina and I combined a trip to both countries in April to coincide with “tulip time” in Holland. Since the tulip season only lasts for eight weeks, from mid-March through mid-May, we figured that the last two weeks of April would be ideal to see the best of the annual Tulipmania and we were right.

1-Chute.-Bed-of-tulipsThe absolute best way to experience Holland’s premiere flower species is a visit to Keukenhof, “kitchen garden” in Dutch, well known for its annual public tulip extravaganza. While we are not crazy about bus rides, we booked a half-day bus tour from Amsterdam that included skip-the-line admission and let someone else drive. The weather was sunny and the hour’s drive through the Dutch countryside past tulip fields in bloom was the perfect start to the visit. At 32 hectares (79 acres), Keukenhof is a huge garden featuring over 7 million early, regular and late blooming flowering bulbs — 800 varieties of tulips plus crocus and daffodils. In addition to this flower power, Keukenhof has 6 pavilions featuring elegant arrangements, changing displays of cut flowers as well as events, lectures and other activities.

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Keukenhof Pavilion Bridal Display

We picked a perfect day with perfect weather to visit this tulip paradise at peak bloom. It was spectacular! The only drawback was the crowd. The annual attendance easily tops 1 million and it felt like most of them were there that day. But we expected this and it did not diminish our enjoyment of this magnificent display of Dutch floriculture. We arrived shortly after noon and roamed on-our-own through the garden. We meandered along winding paths with bed after bed of gorgeous tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. We stopped in several pavilions, each featuring impressive displays and arrangements. We finished in the gift shop, of course, for a souvenir to remind us of this great garden.

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While it’s not possible to absorb the entire Keukenhof experience in one day, our tour gave us three hours in the garden and that was enough. The return ride to Amsterdam was pleasant and we made it back in time for dinner. It was a very good day and a stress-free way to visit Kueukenhof.

To see more of Holland, we spent 3 days in Haarlem, a smaller city only a short distance from Amsterdam where we planned to take trains to Delft and The Hague. It was in Haarlem on a Sunday afternoon while out for a walk that we noticed a commotion a few blocks away from our hotel. When we got closer we discovered the Bloemencorso, Dutch for “flower parade,” parked in Haarlem city center.

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Dragon Float

The parade, an annual event and a very big deal in Holland, had started the day before near Keukenhof and went for 26 miles through other Dutch cities ending in Haarlem where the floats and decorated vehicles remained on display but only for one day — the day we were there. How’s that for serendipity!

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Rembrandt Float

These floats were constructed with bulb flowers only — tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and croci. Some floats even featured bulbs only in the design. These floats were amazing! The quality and imagination, not to mention the hours of tedious handwork, were a testament to the pride that the Dutch have for their famous flowers.

Bulb Float

All Bulbs

Equally amazing were the train rides we took to Delft on one day and The Hague on another. We enjoy train travel in Europe because they’re clean, fast, reliable and an inexpensive way to take side trips. The routes to both cities took us past tulip fields in bloom, row after row of  tulips — rainbows stretching to the horizon. Another unplanned bonus to our trip.

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Tulip Fields

Holland and Belgium were everything we had expected them to be and combining them into one trip was fairly simple. We chose to travel within the two countries by auto and that allowed us the flexibility to wander at will, always a good thing for us. More about this to come.

Time stands still for us when we’re away and this trip was no exception. We are already reviewing the Master Bucket List, eager to start planning our next adventure in 2019.

Tulipmania only lasts for 8 weeks. If you want to experience Tulip Time next year, Keukenhof is scheduled to open on March 21 and close on May 19 in 2019.

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1-Lead

Angelina and I presented a lecture at the Maine Flower Show in Portland last week. We had been invited to speak last fall and were looking forward to the drive to Portland, one of our favorite New England cities. Fortunately, the weather cooperated and did not snow as it had on and off all month — good for the show, better for us.

Even though our program slot was for 10:30 on Saturday morning right after the show opened, the lecture room was full with mostly Mainers but also visitors “from away” as they say in Maine — New Hampshire, Connecticut, Vermont, New York and a few Canadians from New Brunswick. We thought that our “Roses for New England” program with an emphasis on cold-climate rose gardening would hit the spot and it did. The show provided a generous two-hour time slot for each program which allowed for plenty of Q and A after the PowerPoint presentation was complete. This is often the best part of  lecture and where we connect with our audience.

The flower show was staged at Thompson’s Point along the Portland waterfront. Unlike the slick convention facilities at other big New England cities, Thompson’s Point was a large older wooden structure that was transformed for four days into an oasis of spring amidst an otherwise wintry month of March in Maine. A big, heated tent connecting to the main building accommodated the overflow of vendors. The venue was rustic and absolutely perfect. Very Maine.

After our program, we walked the show and chatted with vendors and exhibitors.

2-Pick-upOne exhibitor took an old pick-up truck — a real beater, all rusty and dusty — and packed the bed with annuals that spilled out into the rest of the garden display. A wild explosion of color.

5-Water-FeatureAnother was a realistic water feature — a pond surrounded by native Maine plants and trees.

3-Stone-CourtyardMy favorite was an impressive fieldstone courtyard complete with niches, stone shelves and raised stone beds of flowers, herbs and lettuce plants. A dramatic display of Maine masonry.

Attendance was high with lots of foot traffic streaming throughout the garden area as well as among the vendors. The crowd was festive and, judging by the armfuls of merchandise, free spending — the life blood of every flower show.

Since we had a long drive home, we left early but first stopped to have lunch at Becky’s Restaurant on the waterfront — a popular Portland landmark with really good food at reasonable prices.

The state of Maine is huge, as large as the rest of New England combined, and Angelina and I have been driving up at least once a year for decades. We enjoy road trips along Downeast Maine’s jagged Atlantic coast up to Acadia National Park and beyond as well as long, long drives in rural Maine north and west into the mountains and on into Quebec.

The Maine Flower Show gave us another opportunity to visit this unique northern New England region, to enjoy a taste of spring in the middle of winter.

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4.-Mille-Miglia-Car-Race-Si

Mille Miglia – Siena Italy

Sometimes the most memorable moments of traveling are those that are unexpected and spontaneous. Even though Mike and I enjoy planning our trips and organizing our travel itinerary, we find it’s often the unanticipated and unplanned events that are most rewarding.

1.-Pizzeria-Trattoria-on-ViOne was an impulsive decision that took us into a trattoria on Via Cavour in Florence. When walking back to our hotel, we saw a small sign that said Pizzaria Trattoria on a very plain looking storefront. We decided to go in. The place was small and charming with covered tablecloths. As we stepped inside, we were greeted warmly by the owner who spoke only a little English. We spoke even less Italian but communicated enough to convey that yes, we’d have his gluten-free pizza and a carafe of wine. We watched as he poured the dark red Chianti from a wooden keg on top of the bar. We lingered over the delicious wine as we enjoyed a very tasty gluten-free pizza. We still reminisce about this Trattoria on Via Cavour especially when drinking a glass of Chianti.

When we visit different cities, we are always on the lookout for rose gardens to visit. Even if the gardens won’t be in full bloom, we go any way and manage to find some aspect of the garden to enjoy.

We set aside an entire day to visit Le Parc de Bagatelle located in Paris’ 16th Arrondissement. With no easy access by metro or bus, we took a taxi. Our goal was the Roserie de Bagatelle – a very famous rose garden we had heard so much about; but it was late September so we knew that most of the roses had “gone by.”

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Sole e Luna at Bagatelle

While we were wandering around the garden, we came across a rose bush that had clusters of fresh, bright yellow roses surrounded by red buds. It was a variety we had never heard of – Sole e Luna. The hybridizer was an Italian rose breeder named Barni and the variety, not available in the United States, is one I would never have seen had I not gone to Bagatelle. What a treasure it turned out to be. Even though this rose is not for sale here in the US, my photograph of Sole e Luna is hung where it brings back memories of our trip to Paris and Bagatelle.

Roses aren’t the only unexpected treasures we experienced while traveling. While driving from Rome to Florence through Tuscany, our driver Marco stopped in Siena. After lunch, we took a leisurely walk through this ancient Tuscan hill town and wandered into the Piazza del Campo, the historic Siena square, looking for some gelato. As we enjoyed our Italian ice cream, a parade of magnificent vintage sports cars roared into the Piazza. We were luckily in the right place at the right time to see part of the famous Mille Miglia Classic Car Race, a 1000 mile race that goes through cities in northern Italy like Siena and Florence. (See photo above.)

5.-Thatched-Cottage-Adare-IOne thing we hadn’t planned on seeing when in Ireland were the famous thatched cottages which  are rapidly disappearing. But while driving to Limerick where we were to meet up with Mike’s cousin, we made an unplanned stop for lunch in the town of Adare. As we walked about the town after a quick lunch, we spotted a few of the remaining cottages with picture-perfect thatched roofs. Definitely a bonus to our Irish adventures.

While we’ll always remember the iconic attractions we’ve seen like the Louvre, the Colisseum, the Cliffs of Moher, and the Vatican, it’s the unplanned and unstructured components of our trips that are the most vivid and memorable.

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1-Nightlight

Several years ago, Angelina was rummaging through a box of things that had belonged to her mother and discovered an old fashioned nightlight. What made this nightlight interesting was the image on the glass light diffuser, a 3”x 4” replica of a painting, a painting of friends sailing into the surf on a catboat. The artist captured the differing values of ocean blues and teals, the rolling Atlantic swells, a solitary buoy leaning towards the boat, and the young sailors peering intently into the horizon seemingly pre-occupied with some unknown thing. Both Angelina and I thought this was a compelling marine scene, something you would expect to see somewhere in coastal New England, maybe on Cape Cod.

What was this painting in the nightlight? Did it have a title? Who was the artist? Where was it painted? Since the glass image had no identification of any kind, where did it come from?  The plot thickened.

We enjoy viewing this wonderful picture every day; it’s the last thing we see when we turn on the nightlight in the bathroom before turning in.

Anyway, fast forward to last May when we packed up for a two-week road trip to  Philadelphia then on to Washington, DC. In DC we stayed near the Mall making it convenient to visit all the monuments and memorials, the Air and Space Museum, the United States Botanic Garden, and the National Gallery of Art.

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National Gallery of Art

It was while we randomly roamed through the National Gallery of Art that we serendipitously discovered, totally by accident, the original art that inspired our glass nightlight — Edward Hopper’s “Ground Swell” — hanging in a gallery of American art. Eureka!

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Ground Swell by Edward Hopper

2-Ground-Swell-ID“Ground Swell” was, indeed, painted by Hopper on Cape Cod in 1939. We have since learned of Hopper’s recurrent themes of isolation and alienation and mystery. Much analysis has been made of “Ground Swell’ — just what did Hopper mean? Art critics claim it was a dark omen, a harbinger of World War Two. Really?

Angelina and I don’t know what he meant — maybe he didn’t mean anything — we just know that we like it. We bought a print in the gift shop and now that hangs in our home. Now we have two “Ground Swells” but we like the one in the small nightlight with its still unknown origin the most.

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